"Steve and FranDan - Take On The World"
Author - Ron Butlin
Front Cover Credit - James Hutcheson
Published by Birlinn
Grown - ups who currently come along to our story-times at the Book Worm know that a picture story book I love to read at any opportunity is the very funny "Here comes the Trolls" by Ron Butlin. So I was very excited to be given this book for readers 9-12 ahead of its publication date.
The publishers describe this book as "an adventure story for today's world." Well get fastened in because this is page after page of non-stop action.
Steve, Fran and her twin brother Dan are close friends that have been having problems with cyber-bullies at school. The friends have no idea who is making the hurtful comments but decide that they have had enough of the name calling that keep appearing on their social media pages and decide to build a raft, collect supplies and escape from it all for a few days. This decision leads to a challenging, scary and often dangerous adventure that the friends and Steve's dog Nessie will never forget.
The book has been written for readers 9 - 12 and deals with the struggle of cyber bullies and the impact that it can have on school children.
The Characters .
The friendship is an important part of the story, it is a strong friendship all with very different personalities, especially the twins which shows through when things start to unravel. The three different personalities carries them through and when there are some tough decisions to be made they stick together.
I really enjoyed Fran as a great character a born leader looking for ways of solving obstacles they encounter and when they stumble onto a hidden package and the owners of the package stumble onto them it is Fran who has to come up with a plan to save them all from a terrible fate. It is Fran who organises the few days away and plans what they will take with them and keeps the boys together when things start to unravel.
There is a subtle exploring of Steve's emotions towards his friend Fran. Steve's feelings for Fran begin to change when they are in tight spots and there is nothing like a sense of danger to make you look at someone in a different way. There is a real connection here of the mixed emotions that hormones bring along. All three friends have to tap into all of their emotions but it is Steve's rage, hurt , disappointment, fondness and fear that I really connected with. There is a great moment when he has an opportunity to deal with the Cyber bullies later in the novel and Ron Butlin really taps into the rawness of the feelings you would have towards those who had caused you so much hurt that you had needed to run away.
The PlotFriendships and action/ adventure with a very large helping of bad people in the mix.
The best laid plans are never quite as straight forward as you might hope and Steve, Fran and Dan are no different to anyone else. When the friends leave everything behind for a few days Steve cannot leave his mobile phone behind even though the bullies have made him miserable, the pull of social media has him checking on what the bullies are saying about their disappearance much to Fran's confusion.They lose their raft in less than 24 hours and their tent and have to find shelter else where. An old hermit cave seems perfect until they discover something buried in the cave and the owners of that discovery arrive and everything begins to get very scary from then on in. The cyber bullies as I have already mentioned do get dealt with as do the criminals but I am not going to reveal anymore.
There were so many times in my Secret Seven/Famous Five days of reading that I dreamt of collecting a few tins and sneaking away for a few days in a tent, the thought of an adventure for a few days. Who wouldn't escape from all the madness of school life and just be with people you like? It all sounds perfect. Fishing, chatting, swimming in rivers and camping under the stars. Steve, Fran and Dan have the same plan and even make it happen but of course all the best laid plans....
I couldn't put this book down it is absolutely jammed packed with adventure and action and there are lots of twist and turns to keep you guessing what is going to happen next.
5 Star rating from the Book Worm.
This fantastic new novel is on sale from Thursday 25th May and your Book Worm will be stocking it. Feel free to reserve a copy from your favourite Indie Book Shop by sending Lesslie an e-mail thebookwormatselkirk@gmail
MUSEUM MYSTERY SQUAD AND THE CASE OF THE MOVING MAMMOTH
By (author) Mike Nicholson; Illustrated by Mike Phillips
"Some people think that museums are boring places full of glass cases, dust and stuff no-one cares about: wrong! In a hidden headquarters below the exhibits there’s a gang ready to handle dangerous, spooky or just plain weird problems: the Museum Mystery Squad.Techie-genius Nabster, mile-a-minute Kennedy, and sharp-eyed Laurie (along with Colin the hamster!) are on hand to tackle the surprising conundrums happening at the museum. From moving pre-historic creatures and secret Egyptian code breaking to missing treasure and the secrets of the famous, there’s no brain-twisting, totally improbable puzzle the Squad can’t solve.————–There’s nothing deader than a mammoth — not just dead but completely extinct. So how can it be moving at night?In the Case of the Moving Mammoth, the Squad investigate the museum’s new star exhibit, on loan from Tyrone O’Saurus, ringmaster of the travelling Dinosaur Circus. There must be a reasonable explanation for a shifting stuffed prehistoric animal. Can they sift through the clues and unravel the puzzle before the museum faces a mammoth-sized problem?...."
The Book Worm Verdict
As a R eader - There is so much to keep you busy in this book. There are lots of fab' interesting facts and things to do. There is a quiz to see which of the squad you are most like and you can find out Dinosaur would make your best pet. There are also some great fact finding - find out what is taller than a T-Rex.
There are also some really terrible jokes that you can keep repeating to the grown-ups. Threaten to keep repeating these jokes and in a matter of minutes they will be agreeing to give you double pocket money for your silence.
There are some great drawings/illustrations and there are plenty of them.
I also like the characters Kennedy, Nabster, Laurie and Colin (the hamster). Just like my friends they are all really different and that's what makes the squad work so well together.
As a Grown -up - There is so much to love about this book. A quick shout out for those with dyslexic children the font and spacing is good as is the creamy pages. I realise there are many things to look at but it has had the thumbs up from a few customers who need to look at this before a purchase.
Educational value - Wow this book has so much to offer there is so many inter-active parts to the book. There is distance measuring, graphs height charts, diaries, list planning and mind mapping; all of this is within a great story with some great characters. the illustrations and change of style and font flows well with the drama and excitement used through the characters speech .
Did I mention the bad jokes? They will have you groaning in seconds and your children will torture you with them because they are going to think they are VERY, VERY funny.
A great story and characters, lots of hands on interaction/involvement, fun illustrations, terrible jokes and a great read whether you are sharing your story-time or you are an independent reader.
***** Star Book Worm Rating.
Mike Nicholson will be at the Melrose Book Festival in June 2017 and his books are on sale at The Book Worm in Selkirk. The only Indie bookshop in the Borders dedicated exclusively to Children's books.
Fir For luck - Author Barbara Henderson
Based on real life events, Fir for luck is a tale of the brutal Highland Clearances, when land owners cared more about sheep than people.
This novel is a beautifully written historical novel of a time where a community are to be ordered to leave the village they have built, farmed and worked together.
Janet is a 12 year old girl who we quickly learn is a head strong determined school girl. She isn't crazy about her teacher and avoids lessons only to find herself at the receiving end of a leather tawse (strap).
One day Janet spots a rider, the men are all away from the village and the rider is about to serve a writ that demands everyone leave the land and find a place to settle elsewhere. The man on horseback is a Sheriff appointed by the owner of the land to serve the writ and give the tenants (Janet's village) two days to clear the land.
These are harsh times and a tenant had no rights to the land and once a writ is served the tenants must then do as they have been told. On the day the sheriff arrives and there are only women and children are on the land but the writ is not served.
What happens after that results in unexpected friendships, a solidarity between villagers near and far and a determination to stand proud and not bow down to the landowner without a fight.
I really enjoyed Fir for luck - I had no knowledge of the Highland Clearances so although a fictional story the historical background is true and that for me as the reader was part of the appeal. I enjoyed gaining a better understanding of these really difficult times; although times were tough and home comforts were not those we now have come to expect there is a real comradery that is often a rare thing in modern society.
Janet is a strong girl who loves her family, often head strong and frequently finds herself in trouble for not staying put and doing as she is told. Her determination on more than one occasion brings help to the village and it was impossible for me to put the book down as I often willed her to succeed and take care whilst she ploughs head first into most things.
A must read book and I would definitely recommend this book for schools studying Highland clearances and for all readers who love novels based on historical times.
A Book Worm 5 star read.�