Tag Archives: Historical

The Secret Horses of Briar Hill – Megan Shepherd/Levi Penfold

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By Megan Shepherd
Illustrated by Levi Pinfold

 

ISBN: 9781406367584
Imprint: Walker
Distributor: Walker Australia-HEDS
October 1, 2016
Australian RRP: $19.99
New Zealand RRP: $22.99

Just to continue on my ‘historical’ trail for the day, this is a simply beautiful novel which I read a few months ago and let slip down to the bottom of the pile (thank goodness for holiday cleaning frenzies!).

Set in Second World War England, Emmaline has been evacuated away from the bombs. But this is not just about escaping bombardment to safety, because Emmaline along with many other children of the time contracted tuberculosis. My knowledge of history is not deep for this period, despite having had a RAF father in Bomber Command and I certainly had never realised that due to the cramped and often unsanitary living conditions resulting from bomb devastation TB was rife, particularly amongst children.

Briar Hill Hospital in Shropshire has its fill of these poor kids many of whom were destined not to survive. Emmaline is not one of the worst – at first – and when she arrives she makes an amazing secret discovery. There are winged horses in the many mirrors at Briar Hill. Only she can see them and they call to her constantly.

She first discovers a beautiful horse called Firefox outside the mirrors and in the garden but it seems that she is not alone in this secret. The handyman Thomas appears to have some uncanny connection as well. Emmaline fights her disease but also begins a battle with the Black Horse, who wants to take the horses away. She writes to the Horse Lord – and he responds. But the Horse Lord cannot protect everyone and everything and soon Emmaline begins to see the purpose of the existence of the winged horses.

This is richly imaginative in both writing and illustrations, a wonderful and poignant tale of love and loss, the power of words and writing and fantasy.

Highly recommended for children from around 10 years upwards

The Turnkey – Allison Rushby

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ISBN: 9781925126921
Imprint: Walker Books Australia
March 1, 2017
Australian RRP: $16.99

More mystery and history and another great read following my last post. Clearly a talent for beautiful writing and an interest in history runs in this family!

In this gripping story the mystery and history are wrapped up in a spooky supernatural plot. Flossie Birdwhistle is twelve and the youngest turnkey in living (or not living) memory. A turnkey is the guardian and keeper of a cemetery and Flossie’s responsibility is huge given that she is in charge of one of London’s oldest and most well-known graveyards, Highgate.  As such she must ensure that those in her care must be kept safe and undisturbed in their eternal rest.  Difficult at any time, during World War II, with London being blitzed beyond comprehension Flossie’s task is even greater.

This charge becomes even more complex when Flossie comes upon the ghost of a German soldier who appears to be carrying a strange object. Her suspicions aroused, Flossie begins to investigate and before too long is embroiled in a very sinister plot which threatens not only her cemetery but her country at large.

Fascinating and intriguing, this is a novel that will be loved by readers from around 9 or 10 years old.

How marvellous to read two fabulous novels both with such unusual plots and such strong ‘Mighty Girl’ protagonists in just a few weeks!

Highly recommended for your library shelves – and yourself!

Rose Ravensthorpe Investigates: Black Cats and Butlers – Janine Beacham

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Rose Ravensthorpe Investigates: Black Cats and Butlers – Janine Beacham

MAR 28, 2017 | 9781510201286 | RRP $14.99

Hachette Au.

Imprint: Little Brown Books for Children

This has been one of my favourite reads of the past few weeks. Described as “The Clockwork Sparrow meets Downton Abbey”  it is really energetic and engaging novel.

Rose is meant to be a properly brought up young lady but somewhat rebels against this classification and when butlers all over London begin to be murdered including her own beloved Argyle, Rose determines to find out the truth.

Set in a quite Edwardian period Rose teams up with her not-so-bright friend and discovers a hidden world of secret guardians of York – butlers sworn to protect and serve.

Amidst complications of grave robbers, her father’s mission to destroy the opium trade from the Far East and an over-the-top magician, Rose becomes a trusted ally of the butlers’ secret society.  As the butlers wield their concealed rapiers, Rose unravels the dark reason behind the murders and triumphs exultantly.

Despite the darkness of the murders this is what I would describe as a ‘fun’ read. The prose simply rolls along and one must turn the page quickly to keep going until the denouement.

With mystery and history and a judicious splash of humour, this is a terrific addition to your library shelves for readers from around 9 or 10 upwards. I’m definitely looking forward to the next instalment!

 

Chronologica: the Incredible Years that Defined History – compiled by the Whitaker’s Almanack team

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Allen & Unwin Australia

Imprint; Bloomsbury

ISBN
9781472932945

December 2016

RRP $ 34.99

This is exactly the kind of book I would have loved as a rather nerdy child. I had quite the obsession with books of ‘general knowledge’ and random facts and perused them for hours.  Clearly, why I love trivia competitions so much now!

Since December 1868, the famous Whitaker’s Almanack has been published in the UK chockfull of all the year’s happenings. As an iconic publication, the work has been referenced in other literary texts from Stoker’s Dracula to Fleming’s Moonraker.

This volume spans 100 years and devotes three pages to each year featured covering several topics.

For example, 1789 – why was this year important? George Washington was elected as the first American president, sailors mutinied on HMS Bounty and the Storming of the Bastille initiated the French Revolution.

I have had such fun ‘dipping’ into it over the past few days and I know that kids with similar tastes will love doing so as well.  There is something to fascinate all types of tastes from popular culture (when was Nintendo founded, the creation of the first pizza) to more serious historical events.

For your non-fiction reader, this would be a terrific addition to Christmas shopping and would certainly keep him/her absorbed for quite some time over the holidays!

Highly recommended for children from around ten upwards.

Geis: A Matter of Life & Death – Alexis Deacon

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Walker Books Australia

ISBN: 9781910620038
Imprint: NB NOBROW

Release Date: September 1, 2016

Australian RRP: $29.99
New Zealand RRP: $32.99

geis f ‎(genitive singular geisenominative plural geasa)

  1. a solemninjunction, especially of a magical kind, the infringement of which led to misfortune or even death
  2. atabuspell or prohibition

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/geis

This is going to tick a lot of boxes for quite a number of your readers. Firstly, it is yet another sumptuous graphic novel I have had the pleasure of receiving recently. Secondly, it is supernatural AND historical AND fantasy.  Finally, it is the first in trilogy so readers who love the continuation of a saga will really go for it.

The matriarch chief/ruler of an island lies dying and has no natural heir.  She summons her strongest magic ever.

“One of you I will spare. For the rest I claim you all! Your hearts will beat to feed my magic, your bodies will be shells for my puppets and my slaves, your minds will be shattered and broken.”

Fifty souls are called in the night for a contest that will determine the one worthy of taking her place.  This is a trial like no other and begins the first task.

This is another first novel and I predict the start of an amazing career for Alexis who graduated in 2001 from the University of Brighton with a first class Honours in Illustration.

Definitely a name to watch – this is highly recommended for readers from Upper Primary onwards.