Sunday, 3 July 2016

3D Review - A Lottie Lipton Adventure - The Egyptian Enchantment - Author Interview with Dan Metcalf

3D Review -  Lottie Lipton  -  Author Interview with Dan Metcalf

Dan Metcalf is a writer and author of children's books such as The Lottie Lipton Adventures. He lives in Devon with his wife and two sons. He enjoys books, films, comics and making up stories. He has so far absolutely refused to grow up.

What was your favourite children’s book as a child? 

I remember reading the BFG by Roald Dahl and being amazed by the world that he created and the way that he described all the giants, the land in which they lived and of course the food they ate. It helped that my headteacher at the time had read the book in assembly to the whole school, giving the characters fantastic voices and acting out every scene.

What is your favourite children’s book as an adult?

I think my favourite author is Philip Reeve, but I would be hard pressed to pick a favourite by him. Mortal Engines was the first book that got me into his writing, so I'd have to say that, but Here Lies Arthur is masterful.

What do you think makes children’s books so inspirational?

Children’s imaginations are absolutely limitless and I think the best books tap into that. The author takes the vast aircraft hangar that is a child's mind and fills it with amazing characters, out-of-this-world landscapes and compelling plots. An author is just a director, filling the stage in the child's mind with actors and sets, but the stage is infinite and the budget unlimited! Adult books might tend to stick with what the adult knows, occasionally throwing a tasty crime or two, but the best ones stretch the reader's mind and get them to imagine something outside of their own experience.

Why did you start writing for children?

I started out writing scripts for radio and TV, but I was swept away with inspiration after working in a bookshop and discovering the books of Philip Pullman, Tim Bowler, JK Rowling and David Almond. I soon realised that I was able to achieve everything I wanted to do as a writer by writing children's books. I wanted to inspire, educate and entertain. Hopefully I've managed to do some of those!

What made you want to write this book?

I love adventures and wanted to create a book that would get the reader using their puzzle-solving skills as well. I also wanted a girl to be at the centre as I felt there was lots of adventures involving boys.

What is your favourite aspect of writing for children?

Getting out to meet them! I do a lot of events at schools, festivals and libraries and it is great (and a little scary) to stand in front students and hear them talk about reading, writing and their favourite books. I love the activity of writing as well, which is good as that's what I spend a lot of time doing, but I can often look up from my notebook at the end of the day and realise I haven't spoken to anyone all day! I think it's important that I get out and talk to children as I think I might go mad if I didn't (some might say that's already happened...)

Do have to do much research for the Lottie Lipton Adventures?

A fair bit, yes. Most of the artefacts mentioned in the books can actually be found in the British Museum (a few aren't, like the legendary Trident of Neptune and the magical Cairo Cat) I used a lot of books that were written by the British Museum staff to find them. I also ended up using the British Museum website, which everyone should take a look at; they've a great educational section called Young Explorers which was a great help when writing The Lottie Lipton Adventures!

Questions from Lilianna our child reviewer:

Did you visit the British Museum when you were writing this book?

I've only visited twice in my life; once when I was ten and again twenty years later! I wrote the first Lottie Lipton story soon after that second visit but I haven't had a chance to revisit it recently. Maybe I'll only visit it again in twenty years time, and again twenty years after that? That's the great thing with museums, they'll always preserve history while the rest of us get older and older!

Do you do adult puzzles like Sudoku all the time?

Not all the time, no. I love doing them but I'm not that good at them! I spend most of my time writing books but I find that if I ever get stuck then if I do a puzzle or two it keeps my mind turning over without distracting me. I stick to the paper ones, because if I used a phone app or internet games I'd be too tempted to sit and waste time on websites like Facebook and YouTube!

Saturday, 2 July 2016

3D Review - A Lottie Lipton Adventure - The Egyptian Enchantment by Dan Metcalf - Adults Review

Adult Review

Have you ever visited a museum and wondered what it’d be like to live there? Imaging what it would feel like, to slide along the polished wooden floors in the empty galleries and see artefacts up-close? Well, wonder no more, this is exactly the life of nine year old Lottie Lipton, who lives with her great Uncle Bert in an apartment with the museum he works at; The British Museum London.

Being Home-educated Lottie spends times doing what she loves: solving puzzles and riddles, and she has proved herself quite the detective in other stories in the series which have seen her outwitting master criminals and finding hidden priceless artefacts.

With the assistance of her Uncle Bert and the museum caretaker Reg, she time and time again outwits the mean museum curator Sir Trevelyan who is constantly scheming to get Uncle Burt sacked form his job and both him and Lottie evicted from the museum. 

In Lottie latest adventure The Egyptian Enchantment, the team strive to control a group of mischievous enchanted Egyptian Shabti Dolls before they destroy the museum and cost Reg his job. Lottie must use all her skills of deduction to solve the puzzles to regain control of the Shabti Dolls, before Sir Trevelyan finally gets his way.

Lottie Lipton adventures always fun packed fast moving adventures penned for younger readers. Dan Metcalf masterfully creates a balance of humour, adventure along with bring in an educational element by including puzzles and riddles for the reader to solve alongside Lottie. The books are further enhanced by vibrant illustration by Rachel Panagarry. 

Come back tomorrow to read an interview with Lottie's creator Dan Metcalf!

Friday, 1 July 2016

3D Review - A Lottie Lipton Adventure - The Egyptian Enchantment by Dan Metcalf - Child Review

A Lottie Lipton Adventure - The Egyptian Enchantment by Dan Metcalf

Child's Review by Lilianna aged 8

This book is about a 9 year old girl call Lottie Lipton. She is very inquisitive and lives with her uncle Bert. She doesn’t go to school, but her uncle gives her harder homework than school would. The homework is always puzzles and mysteries. Lottie loves solving puzzles and comes across some real life puzzles when her uncle orders some Egyptian artifacts.

The book has real Egyptian hieroglyphics and facts, and has some puzzles that the reader has to work out. The answers are in the book, so if you get really stuck you can cheat and look them up (but I enjoyed working them out!).

I enjoyed this book because they tell you the facts in an imaginative way, like the spells on the shabtis. I really enjoyed the whole story, but my favourite part was doing the puzzles. Some were hard and some were easy. I liked the maze the most.

I have enjoyed lots of other books but this was my favourite so far so give it a go!

If you liked this then pop back over the next few days to read our adults review, and find out more about the world of Lottie Lipton with an interview with her creator author Dan Metcalf!

Monday, 27 June 2016

Congratulations Nicki Thornton on winning the 2016 Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition

Today we at Space on the Bookshelf, we are celebrating one of our own, the lovely Nicki Thornton. You may know that all us blog authors, at SOTB, are also writers of children’s fiction and are all aspiring to be published. The road to publication is a tough one, with many hurdles and stiff competition, and bucket loads of rejection.

Nicki is a true trouper and has been writing for a long time, she’s is no stranger to the hardships writers face, but she’s had some fantastic achievements along the way. Nicki made the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition Long-List way back in 2012, with her middle grade novel The Sleeping Beauty house.

Then earlier this year, Nicki got a further accolade as her Novel, ‘The Firefly Cage’ was Honorary Mentioned in the prestigious SCBWI Undiscovered Voices Anthology. 

‘The Firefly Cage’ then went on to win Nicki the 2016 Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition! This is no mean feat, as the competition is open international and has thousands of entries every year, and has to impress no less than ten judges!

We are immensely proud and uber-excited about Nicki’s achievements, and are looking forward to her book being published in 2017.

I hope you will join us at SOTB in congratulating Nicki on this fantastic achievement.



Saturday, 25 June 2016

Tommy V Cancer - 3D Review - The Terrible Tale of Melody Doom - Tommy Donbavand – Editor Interview with Danny Pearson

Today we are concluding our 3D review of Tommy Donbavand's, The Terrible Tale of Melody Doom with an interview with his editor Danny Pearson.

Danny Pearson is senior editor at Badger Learning. To find out more about Danny and Badger follow
@Danny_D_Pearson  and @BadgerLearning.

What was your favourite children’s book as a child?

I would love to say something romantic like at the age of four I had my head in The Wind in the Willows or War and Peace, which are pretty much the same book, but I can’t. I loved non-fiction books especially a book that may not have been entirely appropriate for me at a young age - The Usborne Guide to the Supernatural World. Worth a look see if you ever get the chance. The images alone are horrific. I don’t know how Usborne thought it was appropriate for anyone under the age of 18! But no complaints from me as they all helped mold me into the human I am today.

What is your favourite children’s book as an adult?

I have become a massive fan of picture books. To tell a story using a very limited amount of words (sometimes now words) is a tricky task. A lot of professional writers struggle when faced with the limits of a low word count. I am a very visual being and I love to see how the illustrator has interpolated the writers words.

It is impossible for me to narrow down all the books I have seen and to say ‘That one... that one there is the best there has ever been!’ But I will say among the best modern picture books I have seen are The Day the Crayons Quit and Oi Frog. Again, worth a look see if you ever get the chance.

What do you think makes children’s books so inspirational?

Passion!!!... and a good marketing team who have a bottomless pot of gold as their budget,

Illustration's by Peter Richardson
What made you want to work in children’s publishing?

I heard it paid well. I can confirm that it does not. Unless you are JK Rowling.

But in all honesty I used to work in a Waterstones store. I was promoted to looking after the entire Children’s department and from there my love of children’s books came flooding back. I wanted to be on the ‘other side’. I wanted the chance to make the books!

What makes The Terrible Tale of Melody Doom stand out?

The plot is great and it grabbed my attention as soon as it arrived onto my desk.

Following her supervillain parents being captured and locked away in jail, Melody Doom is adopted by a family who couldn’t be more different to hers.

Her goody two shoes foster family are a complete nightmare. They sing songs, wear bright colours and, worst of all, play charades every night! Melody knows she needs to escape, but how?

Hatching a plan involving her fluffy pink foster sister as a sidekick, Melody attempts to break into the jail and release her parents. But will the pony-loving princess give the game away?

Find out in The Terrible Tale…

I loved it!

Badger Books Gems are designed for challenged readers. Does this impact how you edit these books?

Massively! Thankfully Tommy is an expert at writing for reluctant/ struggling readers and knows what language we can use. The imagery in these books can say more than what a 100 words can a lot of the time. Tricky, long and hard to decode words are out in most cases. This does make it very difficult for an author to keep the story entertaining but the prized authors I work with make it look easy.


Tommy V Cancer was initially started to create moral support for Tommy and his family in the difficult time, but as his battle has gone on, the reality of being a jobbing writer (like any self-employed professional) has reared its ugly head; income. So if after reading this of any you wish to find out more about Tommy’s battle, or how to support him, visit: Tommy V Cancer.

Also Don't forget to check out the other posts in the Tommy V Cancer Blog Tour...

Friday, 24 June 2016

Tommy V Cancer - 3D Review - The Terrible Tale of Melody Doom - Tommy Donbavand – Childs Review

Continuing our 3D review of Tommy Donbavand's The Terrible Tale of Melody Doom, as part of the Tommy V Cancer Blog Tour today, with a review from our child reviewer.

Child Review by Bea aged 12

This is a funny, twisting tale that makes you laugh so much you could squirt Melody’s’ parents have been sent to prison, and she thinks it’s her job to break them out. Though there is one problem in her way: Mr and Mrs Sopper and there ‘adorable’ daughter Rose Petal. These characters are crazy, but won’t let Melody see her parents. Also Melody knows she can’t do this alone but there’s only one person that can help and that’s Rose Petal. Thinking that this is all a game, Rose Petal joins the team. But when Melody arrives at the prison the pink princess has betrayed her, and something more terrifying than her own death awaits Melody with open arms…

This book is so funny that you will spit popcorn out your nose (if you are eating it, which i was OUCH!). There is no other book like it, it is very unique. The story is told by Melody’s point of view. The book is written by Tommy Donbavand.

I think this book would be great for anyone who loves a laugh and a bit of trouble!

Tommy V Cancer was initially started to create moral support for Tommy and his family in the difficult time, but as his battle has gone on, the reality of being a jobbing writer (like any self-employed professional) has reared its ugly head; income. So if after reading this of any you wish to find out more about Tommy’s battle, or how to support him, visit:Tommy V Cancer

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Tommy V Cancer - 3D Review - The Terrible Tale of Melody Doom - Tommy Donbavand – Adults Review

One of the most special things of the children’s writing/blogging community is of being part is being of group of lovely and empathetic people. Whether it’s a tsunami across the other side of the world or an individual writer in need, the writing community gets together to usher support where it is needed. We Space on the Bookshelf are very humbled to be participating in the Tommy V Cancer Blog Tour along with many other lovely and fantastic writing and children’s literature blogs and bloggers, in support of one such writer, the extremely talented and hardworking Tommy Donbavand who is literally fighting for his life.

Initially, I was worried about what SOTB could contribute to the blog tour, and then it was obvious, we would put together a 3D Review of one of Tommy’s books, to promote his fabulous writing, and hopefully inspire you to go out and buy some of his books. As we at SOTB have a particular interest in books for challenged readers, we picked one of Tommy many reluctant reader titles, The Terrible Tale of Melody Doom.

Over the next three day we will be looking at Tommy’s challenger reader book, The Terrible Tale of Melody Doom, form different perspectives; a adults review, a child review, and an interview with his editor Danny Pearson.

Adults Review

Ask any writer and they’ll tell you that picture books are very difficult to write, as with such a frugal word count, EVERY word counts. So writing a book for reluctant readers who find reading challenging due to having a reading age lower than their actual age, and therefor having to deliver an engaging story within a minuscule word count most is no mean feat. This is exactly what Tommy achieves with The Terrible Tale of Melody Doom.

The story is fun and mischievous, bringing humour and empathy to the character of Melody, the daughter of two incarcerated criminal masterminds, Captain Doom and Dame Dread. With both her parents serving life sentences, Melody is placed in the care of the sickly-sweet Soper family and even worse sharing a room with goody-two-shoes Rose-Petal.

But Melody has a plan to free her parents and return with them to life of dastardly endeavours, she just needs some help to put it into motion, and who better to get doing her dirty work, then naive Rose-Petal? Melody and her unwitting accomplish Rose-Petal initiate the plan, but there is one variable that Melody has considered; that the Soper Family can make anything and everything a game, and Melody finds herself being outwitted.

Tommy’s writing has brought a beautifully plotted charming and funny story with a hilarious twist. The book, a Bagder Gems title, is written with easy digestible vocabulary, but also includes a list of the more challenging words at the front of the book, so that the reader has a head-up and knows to expect them. Another great feature of the book is the questions at the end of the story, which means that the story can be discussed, and therefore engaging the reader and encouraging them to think more deeply about the story thereby helping with their comprehension. To further enhance the story, the book is illustrated throughout with full colour vibrant pictures by Peter Richardson.

The Terrible Tale of Melody Doom is a masterfully constructed story which will appeal to middle-grade and early teen readers, but written in an accessible and inviting way. I would recommend this book to any reluctant reads of this age group, or even competent readers who may enjoy a lighter quicker read. Tommy is a great writer and we hope you join us in wishing him a speedy recovery.

Please come back again tomorrow to read a review by twelve year old Bea.

Tommy V Cancer was initially started to create moral support for Tommy and his family in the difficult time, but as his battle has gone on, the reality of being a jobbing writer (like any self-employed professional) has reared its ugly head; income. So if after reading this of any you wish to find out more about Tommy’s battle, or how to support him, visit: Tommy V Cancer.