Hay 2019: Jessica Townsend

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One of my ‘Hay highlights’ was seeing Jessica Townsend as she told everyone about the wonderful world of Nevermoor and Morrigan Crow. Her bubbly personality and quick humour made the session full of fun as she told us how she became a writer- and how much she loves her job!

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Telling us that it took her 10 years to write ‘Nevermoor’, Jessica encouraged everyone to keep trying and never give up on their dreams. We were all delighted when she confirmed that ‘Nevermoor’ is going to be a series of nine books, the title of the third to be announced soon.

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Morrigan’s adventures continue in ‘Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow’. Invited to become a member of the Wundrous Society, Morrigan is looking forward to an exciting education as part of Unit 919; however, she soon finds that she is to be taught nothing but the evils of Wundersmiths whilst the rest of her team learn exciting new skills. In addition to this, someone is blackmailing the unit to keep Morrigan’s talent as a Wundersmith secret and with mysterious disappearances taking place, Morrigan finds herself viewed with suspicion and dislike. Will Morrigan be able to control her Wundersmith powers?

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‘Wundersmith’ is every bit as enjoyable as its predecessor. Jessica’s infectious sense of humour permeates her writing and her world-building is second to none. The amazing Hotel Deucalion would be a fabulous place to visit, populated by wonderful characters and Nevermoor is as whimsical as ever. Yet ‘Wundersmith’ also shows the darker side of this magical place and Morrigan’s isolation and treatment at the hands of others is uncomfortable reading. The story moves at a pleasing pace towards its satisfying conclusion. I can’t wait for book three to discover what happens next!

Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow Jessica Townsend

Orion ISBN: 978-1510104440

You can read our review of ‘Nevermoor’ here.

Between Tick and Tock

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What would you do if you could stop time? If there was a space between tick and tock, how would you fill it? Everyone always seems to be in such a hurry that there’s never any time to see the little moments. The grey city streets are certainly too busy to notice. But if the hands of time could be stopped and everything shuddered to a halt, the whole world might come to a standstill. What a wonderful thing that would be.

Liesel does have the ability to pause the clock and stop time. She watches the busy world rush by and knows when it’s time to briefly stop the clock. Where there once was frenzy, everything is now frozen in time. She uses the paused moments to make the dull grey city glow with pretty colours. And whilst the clock appears to be holding its breath, Liesel skips through the stillness, making magic happen. Quarrels are mended, baby birds are lifted to safety and library books are returned on time!

It isn’t long before the clock calls Liesal back; the city and its inhabitants cannot remain permanently frozen in time. The ticks and tocks soon return and everything is as it once was. The city splutters back to life, and thanks to Liesal’s kindness, it is all the better for her watchful care.

‘Between Tick and Tock’ is a lyrical tale of what it would be like to stop the clock and fill the moments of time with little acts of kindness. This is a book full of subtle inference and wonderful opportunities for discussion. It is the second picture book by Louise Greig and Ashling Lindsay, the first being ‘The Night Box’. Greig’s experience as a poet is evident in this book by her clever use of language and Lindsay’s colourful, simple illustrations really bring the story to life. 

In the classroom, this book could be used to start a series of ‘what if you could stop time’ short stories. Scenarios from the text could be used to inspire free writing e.g. ‘Two ladies in hats stand like statues…’ or ‘The silent city wears a frown…’. Writers could use their senses to write about the city when it stops: what can they see, hear, smell, taste and feel. They could also write from memory about something they have experienced, imagining what it would be like to stop the clock- a birthday party, a ride on a train or a trip to the supermarket.

Between Tick and Tock  by Louise Greig, illustrated by Ashling Lindsay

Egmont ISBN: 978-1405286596

A Year of Nature Poems

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‘A Year of Nature Poems’ is a beautifully illustrated collection of seasonal poems, one for each month of the year. First observations of this collection of poems are that it has a traditional feel; on closer reflection, it is nostalgic celebration of the phases of life and the changing of the seasons.

Each of the twelve poem begins with an observation of the month, setting the scene. Some poems feature fascinating facts about nature, for example the murmurations of starlings, the lifespan of Mayflies or the varieties of daffodils. Other poems focus on environmental decline and climate change. The common theme in all of the poems is the conclusion that true beauty can be found in nature.

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Each poem reflects the changing landscape of the seasons: the skies; ponds and rivers; meadows; forests and woodlands and even a dive under the seas. Important messages about the wonder of nature are paired with personal connections with the environment, inviting the reader to reflect themselves. Figurative language and other poetic devices require the reader to draw on inference skills to make an emotional connection.

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Amongst the seasonal celebrations, Joesph Coelho also shares personal memories from his own childhood: the calming power of spring showers, enjoying his mother’s memories, holidays with grandma, heartache and love.

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Joseph Coelho is an award winning children’s author and poet best know for his poetry books, ‘Werewolf Club Rules’ and ‘Overheard in a Tower Block’. Kelly Louise Judd is an American artist who is inspired by flora and fauna. Her beautiful illustrations frame each poem, aiding the reader to imagine each changing season.

In the classroom, this book could be used as a reference for writers to create their own season poems; play with the language of the original poems or pair their own personal memories with the weather or changing seasons. It is a wonderful collection- a true celebration of the world we live in.

A Year of Nature Poems Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Kelly Louise Judd

Wide Eyed ISBN: 9781786035820