Books

Review: How the Sun Got to Coco’s House by Bob Graham Rating 85%

Review: How the Sun Got to Coco’s House by Bob Graham

Bob Graham’s most recent title, How the Sun Got to Coco’s House, was highly commended for the Charlotte Zolotow award, and it’s easy to see why. As the title suggests, it relates how the sun travels around the world during the Earth’s orbit, eventually finding its way to the home of a little girl called Coco and illuminating her day playing in the snow with her friends.

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Review: Mrs Engels by Gavin McCrea Rating 76%

Review: Mrs Engels by Gavin McCrea

Longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, Mrs Engels by Gavin McCrea enlivens a piece of history that few are aware of, looking at the relationship between Frederick Engels and a poor worker from the Irish slums by the name of Lizzie Burns.

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Horace Panter: I appreciate that a new audience is eager for information

Born in Croydon in 1953 Sir Horace Gentleman Panter met Jerry Dammers while doing an art degree at Coventry University. Together with Lynval Golding, they were the founding members of the iconic ska band, The Specials, setting out to change the world by making people ‘dance as well as think’.

Contributing to Manchester’s Louder Than Words festival, Horace Panter, who evidently requires no introduction spoke with The Fountain about the festival, which celebrates words within the music industry.

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Review: The Evenings by Gerard Reve Rating 60%

Review: The Evenings by Gerard Reve

The cover description of Gerard Reve’s The Evenings proclaims “the most exhilarating novel about boredom ever written.” As exhilarating as boredom can be, presumably. Translated from its original Dutch to English for the first time since its 1946 publication, The Evenings is the story of Frits, a young office worker who lives, not altogether happily it seems, with his parents. The action – though I use this word loosely – takes place in the evenings of the title, over ten days during the Christmas period, because Frits’s days are simply occupied by work. It is the hours after he leaves the office and before he arrives again that concern us. Although not much really happens then either. He eats dinner, visits people, goes to the cinema, and has nightmares, and that’s about it.

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Review: Flint & Pitch Reclaim This Script, Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival 2017 Rating 88%

Review: Flint & Pitch Reclaim This Script, Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival 2017

Flint and Pitch took their wonderful cabaret evening to Paisley’s very own Arts Centre, as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival, opening up discussion on some imperative and highly topical issues. With a wonderful line-up that included Stephen Watt, Colin McGuire, Denise Mina and Kathryn Joseph, Jenny Lindsay with her curated cabaret, aroused the crowd with a varied bill.

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Review: Alan Hollinghurst Rating 69%

Review: Alan Hollinghurst

To say that Alan Hollinghurst introduced me to homosexuality in 1988 may be a slightly overstated claim. As a student of a London Music Conservatoire, I thought I was pretty familiar with the gay scene. But on finding a discarded copy of The Swimming Pool Library on a tube train, my eyes were opened to a world well-beyond the camp milieu of my college Student Union. Hollinghurst’s first novel shocked and thrilled in equal measure, and despite the huge class differences between us, I felt this writer was saying something significant.

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Review: Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson Rating 100%

Review: Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson

The 25th anniversary edition of Owl Babies features a text in the front of the book that describes how its authors ‘touched on a timeless truth – capturing the attachment and deep affection between a mother and child with humour and tenderness.’ The back features two quotes from the authors themselves – Martin Waddell comments how the book was inspired by seeing a young child lost in a supermarket, repeating the phrase “I want my mummy” over and over again, which of course became key to the story. He adds also that he hopes he has reassured each child who reads it that their fears are reasonable, and that their loved ones will always be there for them. Illustrator Patrick Benson, meanwhile, talks about the challenge of creating a world that was ‘realistically dark, but ultimately unthreatening’, and about helping to abate a child’s fear of the night and reassure them that their mum will always be there. Judging by the fact that the book has shifted four and a half million copies since its initial publication in 1992, and was subsequently adapted as a short animation for the Channel 4 Schools show ‘Rat-a-tat-tat’, they have clearly succeeded in their aims. 

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Review: Treasure Hunt by Alice Melvin Rating 96%

Review: Treasure Hunt by Alice Melvin

Award-winning Edinburgh-based illustrator Alice Melvin has chosen to mark ten years of her relationship with the Tate Gallery by releasing Treasure Hunt, a keepsake activity book aimed squarely at the over fives. It’s a charming little collection of activities that your child is sure to love, particularly during the autumn and winter months.

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