Tuesday 30 October 2007

My Dad's a Birdman - David Almond

David Almond, author of the Carnegie medal winner "Skellig", is back with this delightful new story aimed at young children and beautifully illustrated by Polly Dunbar. Almond shows once again his love for birds with this surreal tale of a dad who's determined to learn how to fly in order to win the Great Human Bird Competition! Everyone thinks he's crazy, including his little and wise daughter Lizzie. But is he really? Probably. But he's also full of hope and dreams. He believes that faith and courage will be enough to make his body leave the ground and reach for the sky. So much that he manages to involve Lizzie in his funny and absurd plan. For an adult reader Lizzie's dad will maybe appear at the beginning as the worst example of fatherhood. He is so obsessed with his idea that he doesn't even dress in the morning. He hangs around in his dressing gown waiting for Lizzie to make breakfast and go to school. Then spends all his time practising and sewing his feathery wings. He even eats worms and flies just like a bird. What kind of dad is that? That's exactly what Auntie Doreen says when she visits her poor niece. Sensible and practical Auntie Doreen who knows what really matters for a young girl: sums and spelling, and dumplings. But is it really?

I love this book. It uses light and humourous tones to deliver a great message for children (and grown ups who forgot how it's like to be children). That the best time you can have is the time you spend fulfilling your dreams, together with the people you love. Lizzie's dad has his mind elsewhere, but as soon as he shares his project with his daughter, she embraces as her own, no matter what the outcome will be. Together they have a great time creating the most beautiful wings ever seen, and soon enough they become "The Crows", ready to jump and take off.

"Nothing fancy for the crows. No machines or engines, or slings or elastic bands. Wings and faith and...dare I say it?...love!"

I hope parents will read this together with their children, and that they will let themselves go crazy sometimes, just for the fun of it!

Thursday 18 October 2007

Spooky Bookworms Carnival is up!

The new edition of the Bookworms Carnival is up at This is the life. This month is all about Halloweeny stuff. If you're looking for something to read to get you in the spooky mood, look no further! Lots and lots of reviews (including mine:P), one author interview and much more. Enjoy!

Wednesday 17 October 2007

Anne Enright winner of the Booker Prize!

Read the article on the official website.


I was very happy this morning to hear that Anne Enright won . I was hoping she did, even if I haven't read her book yet. She's Irish (a Dubliner!) and a woman, so that was enough for her to earn my preference. I hope I'll be able to read her book soon even if it sounds like a fairly depressing read. Anyone read her yet? Should I run and get it now? what about my never-ending pile of books still sitting there?
Ah well, I guess they'll have to wait a bit more. The next century probably.

I'm aware I haven't been updating my blog much lately, but not having internet connection at home, house-hunting (yes!! I have to move - AGAIN, i can't believe it), and being very stressed at work, doesn't really help my writing let alone my reviewing of other people's books...
Anyway, I hope to post new review soonish:)

Friday 5 October 2007

I'm not scared - Niccolò Ammaniti

Michele Amitrano is a 9 year-old boy. He loves cycling with his bike named “Crock”, playing Subbuteo with his friend Salvatore, and imagining he is Tiger Jack, his Navajo Indian hero from the comics. Until one day he doesn’t need to pretend to live a dangerous adventure anymore, because he has a real one to deal with. It’s the day he discovers something that should have stayed hidden. Something that will show him that what his father had been telling him – “Monsters don’t exist. It’s men you should be afraid of”- is dreadfully true.

This could have been a perfect pick for the “something about me challenge”. It reminds me so much about my childhood in Sicily. The heat, the golden wheat fields, the running competitions, paying the forfeit after losing a race, the discovery of an abandoned house far away from home and the thrill of going inside, looking for some kind of treasure. The carob tree that we loved to climb. The dry river at the end of the field. The fights over who had to go and feed the dogs/wash the dishes/lay the table.
I was afraid of ghosts and my grandfather told me the same thing as Michele’s father once. He lived with Mafia all his life. He knew that men could be a lot more dangerous than monsters or ghosts.

That’s why maybe it felt authentic to me. The way children’s world is re-created is so true. Their funny logic, their rules, their stories, their fears are just like I remember them. If you can’t, then it means you have to read this book. It’ll help understand how kids’ minds work. It’ll remind you that they are always watching and listening, trying to make sense of our crazy logic.
Parents in this story are angry, frustrated, mostly poor and desperate to go far away, to the “North”. They don’t have time to listen to Michele, who has a secret bigger than him and would like to share it with his father. He’s sure that he will sort everything out, that he will make the monsters go away. But in the end, when grown-ups fail him, Michele will have to face his fears all by himself.

I’ve read this as part of the Movie Challenge. I’ve seen the film before reading the book and I loved it very much. It’s visually and emotionally stunning, the actors are perfect, the tension well built. For once I can’t say “the book is better” because both have something to give to the story. Through the book we get to hear Michele’s thoughts, while the film gives us the power of the visual emotion. Both are highly recommended!

Wednesday 3 October 2007

Life updates and writing progresses...

Ahhhhhhhh!!!I'm so exhausted!!!!So much is going on in my life at the moment I don't know where to start! I've recently:
1) Moved out for the 4th time this year.
2) moved in into a beautiful new apartment, hope it lasts this time.
3) started a as senior bookseller (yay!promotion!!) in another, much bigger bookshop of the same company and
4) last but not least, I've tried to keep that resolution going....BUT, obviously, with so much going on, I haven't had much time. Or energy.

Last night was the first proper writing session I had since I posted my definitive resolution. And it ended up being an editing session, actually. How come anytime I re-read what I've written months ago, it sounds like crap??? I keep changing expressions and sentences to try and make it simpler. I don't like boring, long sentences, but, for some reason I write them a lot. Maybe I should wait till the first draft is finished and then start editing.
Anyway, I think I'm getting somewhere. Re-reading had made me want to write more so I think I'll do some tonight.I have some notes scattered around so I'll write them down properly and see how they sound.
The big problem is that I don't have internet at home yet!!!TRAGEDY!!!
I hope I get it sorted soon. Now I'm writing at work and my break is just over, so I better get going:)
...It's chaos outhere!!!!!!!