Archives for October 2017

October 30, 2017 - Comments Off on Creepy Classics

Creepy Classics

From supernatural dinner services to an ominous Other Mother with buttons for eyes (BUTTONS!), these brilliant books make perfect Halloween reading, and also come highly recommended as classics of the very highest order.

 

Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce

With his brother ill, lonely Tom is sent to stay with his aunt and uncle. He seems set for a summer of boredom, until the grandfather clock strikes eleven, twelve, THIRTEEN! Soon afterwards, he discovers a splendid garden and catches sight of a girl in old-fashioned attire, Hatty, with whom he forms an unforgettable friendship. But the seasons are slipping by, and Hatty is growing up, and it’s almost time for Tom to leave. A beautifully haunting tale that weaves its magic on a multitude of levels.

 

The Owl Service by Alan Garner

It might be fifty years old, but this winner of both the Guardian Award and the Carnegie Medal still packs a powerfully original punch. When Alison hears an unsettling scratching on the ceiling, she’s led to discover a dinner service in the attic. Weird, wonderful and abundant in Welsh legend, supernatural suspense and tension, the latest edition of this classic includes an introduction by none other than Philip Pullman.

 

Grinny by Nicholas Fisk

First published in 1973 and recently re-issued to petrify new generations, this brilliant blend of suspense and sci-fi features The Most Terrifying Aunt in Literature, ‘Grinny’, so-named for her ever-present eerie smile. Tim’s diary recounts the chilling discoveries he makes when Grinny comes to visit, and it soon becomes clear that she’s far from the innocent eccentric he’d assumed her to be. The new edition also includes a sinister sequel.

 

And now for a couple of contemporary classics:

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

When Coraline moves house she discovers an unexpected corridor beyond a bricked-up wall. It seems to lead to another house that looks rather like her own – except nothing is as it seems … In this creepy world beyond the wall Coraline encounters the button-eyed Other Mother and Other Father who want her to stay with them, and Coraline must muster all her mettle and wit to escape. Readers new to this dazzlingly original tale also have the delight of deciding whether to get hold of the edition illustrated by Chris Riddell or Dave McKean, both of which are stunning.

 

Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror by Chris Priestley

A truly chilling collection of short stories in the gothic tradition of M. R. James and Edgar Allan Poe, exquisitely illustrated by the inimitable David Roberts. Uncle Montague lives alone in an old house and has a penchant for telling his young nephew terrifying tales whenever he visits. But, as more tales are told, and a broader narrative is unveiled, one begins to wonder if these might not be tales at all … The suspense is truly masterful, and the dénouement deliciously dark. Also look out for Tales of Terror from the Black Ship and Tales of Terror from the Tunnel's Mouth

 

Happy Halloween reading...

 

October 23, 2017 - Comments Off on The Brilliant Books of Malorie Blackman

The Brilliant Books of Malorie Blackman

Seeing as the current issue of Scoop features an awesome interview with the one and only Malorie Blackman (former Children’s Laureate, and all-round, all-time, incredible writer), and seeing as the interview will surely inspire new readers to investigate her books, we thought we’d provide an overview of some of her work.

First up comes Cloud Busting, which is one of the most moving and uplifting accounts of friendship you will ever read. Sam thinks Davey is a total loser and definitely doesn’t want to be friends with him. He doesn’t even want to be seen near him. But when Davey saves Sam’s life, a bond grows between the two boys, and even Sam has to admit that Davey’s pretty fun – and then something awful happens to Davey … Told in verse, with a different form used for each chapter, this is a subtle and poignant cautionary tale about the destructive power of peer pressure, and a soul-lifting celebration of friendship and individuality.

Robot Girl is a succinctly thought-provoking read in which a girl discovers that the project dominating her scientist father’s time and energy might bring more than fame. In fact, his work might unleash a dangerous monster … With echoes of Frankenstein, this futuristic thriller is published by Barrington Stoke, whose books are written and designed to be inclusive of dyslexic readers.

Malorie’s Noughts and Crosses quartet is a mind-blowing achievement, a series of heart-thumpingly gripping page-turners that explore inequality, racism, prejudice and segregation to powerful effect. Sephy and Callum have been friends since they were very young but, in their society, they’re divided by the fact that Sephy belongs to the dark-skinned ruling class of the Crosses, while Callum is a ‘colourless’ member of the Nought underclass. Until their society becomes a more equal place, their blossoming romance is strictly forbidden, and destined to lead them into great danger. The story evolves and engrosses across the four books, and comes hugely recommended as one of those rare reads that will change the way you see the world.

For older readers (14+), we also recommend Boys Don’t Cry, in which a bright teenage boy with a promising future is literally left holding the baby as he awaits his A level results, and Chasing the Stars. Published earlier this year, Chasing the Stars sees Malorie combine two of her greatest loves – Shakespeare’s Othello and science fiction – to create an outer-space-set epic that tingles with romance, danger and distrust.

To see a full list of Malorie’s books, head here, and happy reading, Scoopsters!

 

October 2, 2017 - Comments Off on Interview with author Angie Thomas

Interview with author Angie Thomas

At the start of Black History Month, we’re delighted to publish this fantastic interview with Angie Thomas, author of the incredible YA bestseller The Hate U Give, which is also set to hit the big screen in the near future.

The Hate U Give is a powerful wake-up call of a novel about racism, the Black Lives Matter movement, social inequality and not giving up, told through the eyes of unforgettable sixteen-year-old Starr. Not only is this a breathtakingly smart and important book, and not only is Angie an amazing new voice in YA fiction, but this interview was conducted by talented young book reviewer, Josh. Huge thanks to Josh for making this happen, and to Angie.

Could you describe the book in the length of a tweet?
A sixteen-year-old girl is the sole witness when her childhood best friend is killed by a cop.

Where did the idea come from?
I first wrote The Hate U Give as a short story when I was in college, as a reaction to the shooting of Oscar Grant in Oakland, California. Like Starr, I lived in two different worlds – my poor, black, neighbourhood and my upper-class, mostly white college. Being in these two different worlds, I heard two very different conversations about Oscar. At my school, he was a thug who deserved what he got, but in my community he was one our own. My anger, fear, and frustration led me to write. I put the short story aside after graduation, but as more of these cases continued to happen, I found myself angry, afraid, and frustrated again. So I decided to write the book that became The Hate U Give.

What was it about the Black Lives Matter movement that inspired you in particular?
The Black Lives Matter movement finally gave a voice to what so many of us had been saying in the black community for so long. Police brutality is not new – social media is new, cameras on phones are new, and these two things have allowed the world to see what we’ve been saying for decades. I just hope that my book helps more people understand why we say Black Lives Matter.

One of the key events in the book is the fatal shooting of Starr’s unarmed friend Khalil by a police officer, which happens really early on in the book. What made you want to centre the plot around this?
I wanted to make this the focus of the plot because for so many of us, this has become an active, daily conversation. I wanted to write it for the teens in my community who saw themselves in Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and so many others, but didn’t know how to process their feelings. I wanted to give those kids a mirror and other people a window into what they are dealing with.

Did you write any parts of your own life into this book?
Yes. Like Starr, I grew up in a neighbourhood that’s known for all of the wrong reasons. I never witnessed the shooting dead of a friend, but I’ve witnessed shootings and I’ve lost childhood friends to gun violence. I also found myself straddling two worlds in college, and every day I had to figure out who I was, where I was.

Would you like your book to form part of a conversation about racism, and what would that mean for you if it was?
I hope that my book does help foster some of these conversations, and I hope it helps readers, teens in particular, realise that their voices matter. We must confront racism head-on. It exists, it is prevalent, and it continues to divide us. If The Hate U Give helps tackle it in any way, I will consider it an honor.

The movie rights for your book were sold to Fox 2000 before it was even published, and Amandla Stenberg is set to star. What does this mean for you? Are you excited?
I’m extremely excited about the movie and hope to have more news on it soon! Knowing that my story will reach more people through the film means everything to me.

You were also the first recipient of the Walter Dean Myers Grant from We Need Diverse Books in 2015, a grant awarded to unpublished diverse writers looking to write children’s or YA books. How did it feel to be told you were receiving the grant? Do you believe that the grant is necessary and why?
I was completely shocked that I won the grant and considered it a huge honour – I still do. Not only did the grant help me financially, but it gave me an added boost in the eyes of publishers. The grant is definitely necessary. It puts a spotlight on writers who may otherwise be overlooked. The work that We Need Diverse Books is doing as a whole is necessary, not just for writers but for readers as well.

What’s next for you? Are you planning to write more books?
I’m currently working on my second novel. It’s not a sequel or a spin off of The Hate U Give, but it is set in the same neighbourhood. I call it my ode to hip hop.

And finally, are there any tips you would give to aspiring writers?
Although you will get a lot of rejections along the way, remember that it only takes one ‘yes’ to change everything. And above all, always write for yourself first and foremost.