The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean ‘Telt by Hisself

17797383.jpgDavid Almond is a well-known YA author who has written some acclaimed books such as

His novel that he penned last year, The True Take of the Monster Billy Dean, might be one of the most bizarre books that I’ve ever read. It is written phonetically from the point of view of young Billy Dean who lives out his existence in his bedroom, locked away from the outside world, in a small cabin with his young mother. Billy’s father makes erratic and increasingly disturbing visits to the cabin to visit Billy and his mother during which he berates Billy for his illiteracy and preaches about the dangers of the world.

Throughout the novel we come to learn that they reside in a village that had been destroyed by bombs during World War II. When Billy’s father suddenly stops coming back to the cabin, his mother finally exposes him to the world – and Billy is astonished by what he sees. The other residents of the town soon realize that there is something special about Billy. Local medium Missus Malone has her own plans for Billy, and as rumors spread of “The Aynjel Childe” and his power to cure the sick and speak to the dead, the boy becomes another kind of prisoner entirely.

This tale, although disturbing at times, is incredibly fluid and intriguing. The phonetic telling can be hard to get past at first, but it really lends itself to the tale and how Billy views his world and how he experiences it.

Books for Keeps


Books for Keeps is an online British magazine that reviews hundreds of children’s books a year and publishes articles about children’s writing. In this week’s issue, they announced the winner of the Guardian’s Children’s Fiction prize just awarded in November to David Almond.

They also shared the shortlist for this year’s Costa Book Award which is of the the UK’s most prestigious literary prizes. This year’s shortlist includes:

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge        Sophie Someone, Hayley Long

Jessica’s Ghost, Andrew Norriss          An Island of Our Own, Sally Nicholls

Indie Bound: The independent booksellers website

Home Indie Bound is a web site reporting information and best-seller’s lists from independent book stores around the country. Although their best-sellers may sometimes coincide with the NY Times lists, the indie bound lists often have surprises and differences that do not appear on the more common book lists. They seperate sales into categories such as Mysteries, Travel, Cooking, Children’s, Political, Music, Graphic, etc..  Especially useful to support smaller, local businesses, Indie Bound is a site worth visiting.


Coloring Book Clubs

I just read an article in American Libraries online about the coloring book clubs that have sprung up for adults recently. It mentioned that the popularity of coloring for adults have been helped along by an early coloring book that was published in 2013 by a Scottish illustrator, Joanna Basford, titled Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book, which has sold 6 million copies on Amazon. She has several other titles, Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book, which was released this past February and Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book, just released this past October. Who knew that there was money to be made by designing coloring books for our adult patrons? Check out Anya’s display as well with neat sheets to color, and grab some pencils and markers and get started. A great way to decompress…


“The Tortoise and the Soldier”

This excellent new book by Michael Foreman is based on the author’s friendship with Henry Friston.  At the age of 18, Henry enlisted in the Royal Navy just as World War I began.  He and his shipmates saw action in Egypt, specifically near the Suez Canal.  They performed a number of duties from digging trenches, to being stretcher bearers, to fighting the enemy on land and sea.

During one land battle Henry dove for cover after being knocked off his feet from a bomb blast.  He was frightened, struggling to breathe believing that he was a “goner.”  As he rolled into the crater something hit him on the head.  That something turned out to be a living tortoise.  This encounter begins the story of Henry and the tortoise which he named Ali Pasha.

Michael Foreman met Henry many years later.  Foreman was a cub reporter working for a small newspaper in the English village of Corton.  He interviews Henry for a story for his newspaper.  Little by Little Henry shares with Michael his adventures during the war and his “rescue” of Ali Pasha.

This true story will appeal to a young reader who has an interest in history. It is an inspiring tale of courage and friendship between a young boy and a tortoise.  The watercolor illustrations of soldiers, battle scenes and the book’s settings bring to life the story.9781627791731_p0_v1_s192x300.jpg