Just Dahl-ing: Fantastic finds for a Friday…

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“My candle burns at both ends,

it will not last the night.

But ah my foes and oh my friends

it gives a lovely light”

Roald Dahl’s motto

Well my friends, I am in a particularly Dahl-ish mood today (as is the case with all of us at one point or another) so I have compiled a small collection of quite fantastic finds related to the good man himself.  For the iphone/pad/pod/potato owners, you can spruce up your phone with a Golden Ticket inspired decal!

Got a birthday coming up? Theme it Wonka and snatch these amazing character cake toppers!

But my best, and possibly the weirdest, find yet – a full set of pens crafted around characters from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Here, my friends, is the answer to the question “What do you get that book lover who has everything?”

Each of these beauties is available for purchase at the links below:

Ipod decal: http://www.etsy.com/listing/87689801/the-golden-ticket-iphone-44s-decal

Cake Toppers: http://www.etsy.com/listing/51715867/willy-wonka-and-the-chocolate-factory

Pen set: http://www.etsy.com/listing/92003417/the-entire-set-of-character-pens-from

Laybuy now for Christmas!

Bruce

Some All Hallow’s Eve Reading Suggestions: From Teeny Halloweenies to Great Big Scaredy-Cats…

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Right then. The Eve of All Hallow’s is nearly upon us, sso Mad Martha and I have donned our festive witches hats and combined our knowledge to bring you some appropriately ominous reading suggestions for the whole family.

For the little monsters (0-6yrs):

These picture books all promise spine-tingling, knee-knocking terrors at a level that is age-appropriate for the littlest ghoul or ghostie.

Our favourites for this age group are the classic tale of witch and cat, Meg and Mog by Helen Nicoll and Jan Pienkowski; and the terrifying cuteness that is The Scariest Thing in the Castle by Kevin Sherry.  We also recommend the gentle plots and warm fuzzy illustrations of Spooky Spooky Spooky by Cathy MacLennan and Boo, Bunny! by Kathryn O Galbraith.

Our PICK OF THE BUNCH for this age group however is

Fragoline and the Midnight Dream by Clemency Pearce

We defy you not to be caught up in the wild rumpus created by this fiery-haired little minx’s nocturnal adventure!

For Bigger Beasties (7-10yrs):

We are in agreeance for this age group that two stories stand out above the crowd.  The first is the cheeky tale of a grandfather with a penchant for carnivorous plants and feeding his family…to the carnivorous plants: The Bodigulpa by Jenny Nimmo.  Secondly, we could not go past the perennial favourite and highly relevant cautionary tale, The Witches by Roald Dahl.

For Teen Terrors (10yrs +):

Take a meander through the macabre with these suggestions for older readers.  First in this garden of ghostliness is Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, which follows the story of Bod, the child of murdered parents who is taken in and raised by the folk of the local graveyard.  Next, Kirsty McKay’s first offering Undead will scratch your itch for simple, gore-filled mayhem with her humourous take on teenagers holding out against the zombie apocalypse.  Finally, for a wander through territory that echoes with the howls of the damned, Neal Shusterman’s short story collection Darkness Creeping: 20 Twisted Tales cannot be left on the shelf.

Our PICK OF THE BUNCH for this age group however, is

Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror by Christ Priestley.

This, the first in a terrifyingly terrific series, is a collection of short stories with fantastic twists and quirky characters that will linger with you long after the initial fright has faded.

For grown-up gore-fiends:

For an informative historical foray into death in the UK capital, Catharine Arnold’s Necropolis: London and its Dead, is just the ticket.  This non-fiction title escorts the reader through the fascinating world of London’s major burial sites, from plague pits and charnel houses to the spectacle of a royal funeral.  For a lighter factual read, Mary Roach’s Six Feet Over: Adventures in the Afterlife charts the bizarre and highly questionable  attempts that have been made to scientifically prove the existence or otherwise of life after death.

Our PICK OF THE BUNCH for this group is

The Small Hand by Susan Hill.

This short tale maintains a delicious atmosphere of creepiness as, during an unscheduled visit to an overgrown manor house garden, Adam Snow feels pursued and ultimately pressured by a ghostly small hand in his.

We hope that these selections provide some options for those craving seasonal spookiness.  Please feel welcome to add any more to this list if they occur to you.

Until next time,

Bruce and Mad Martha

Introducing Mad Martha….and bedtime books for little gargoyles.

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Mad Martha, pictured here on a holiday visit to the Cumberland Pencil Museum.

I feel it would be remiss of me at this stage not to introduce to you someone who shares shelfspace with me.  Mad Martha is another denizen of the shelf, who shares my role as book guardian, and also defends the shelf against spider hordes as and when necessary.  I have extended an invitation to her to join me in my blogging endeavour, and she has kindly accepted that invitation.

Now, to the business of musing.  I have been asked by a follower to share my knowledge in the area of books that are best suited to ushering little gargoyles (and fleshlings) off into the land of Nod.  While there are many books that fit this criteria, I have selected three that I feel do the job admirably…

A classic of the “digital” age

The first of these is Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, by that wizard of wordsmithing, Mem Fox.   The gentle rhyming text assists little ones to count their own digits instead of the more traditional counting of sheep, in the pursuit of drowsiness.  A word of caution however: the repeated refrain of this book “and each little baby/as everyone knows/has ten little fingers/and ten little toes” may make it a controversial choice for those who do not possess a full complement of fingers or toes.  Or indeed, those that possess a full compliment plus reinforcements.

Who’s in charge here?

Next is Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! by the incomparable Mo Willems.  This titanic struggle betwixt reader and pigeon will be all too familar to parents of  stubborn little fleshlings, for whom sleep is a dirty word.  Parents will enjoy the tried and true excuses trotted out by the manipulative pigeon and reading the book with their offspring should significantly reduce a young fleshling’s arsenal of bed-avoiding strategies.  And no, you can’t have a glass of water.

This won’t take long…

Finally, Snugglepuppy (A love song) by Sandra Boynton is the perfect way to sing your mini-me to sleep.  It’s true, the important message in this book doesn’t take long, but it is well worth conveying at any time of day. Loudly. So that the neighbours can hear. And develop a deep-seated envy of your wonderful connection with your young fleshling.  And wish were half the parent you are.

Please feel free to comment and share any other wonderful bedtime books that you feel should be added to the list.

Finally, today is Roald Dahl Day…you may wish to celebrate by eating copious amounts of quality chocolate.  Or perhaps a giant peach.  I wish to celebrate by sharing this quote from the man himself – about the value of bookshelves.

Until next time,

Bruce.