What We Are Reading Right Now #23

Today is World Book Day and so it seemed really appropriate to post about a load of books that we have been reading lately.


The Mother Person: The Dogs of Littlefield by Susan Byrne and published by Penguin Books.

I was looking for a quick and easy read and a novel set in “Littlefield” named as one of the ten best places to live in America… added with a bit of a mystery of “why do the neighbourhood” dogs keep on dying? Well this turned out not to be the quick mystery read set in suburbia that I was expecting – but it was a very intriguing read and I found myself sneaking off to the couch in quiet moments – to read just one more chapter. This book is really about the angst and anxiety that is exists in small town living… it is a peak behind all those charming white picket fences into the real lives, the worries, the warts and all of the local inhabitants. As you read along you realise that even the “best places to live” really do have their faults. The thread that runs through the tale, that keeps you reading on and on… why do the neighbourhood dogs keep on dying. Obviously somebody is poisoning them, and in particularly public places. What do these deaths mean, so many reasons present themselves. If it wasn’t for the distraction and intrigue of wanting to uncover the mystery of the poisoned dogs, I may well have found this book overwhelming – the characters certainly do walk around this book with an unusually high proportion of anxieties and paranoia’s. If you aren’t quite as serious as I am, you may well find it an amusing read, I found it a little dark – can people seriously be this anxious about everything. An interesting read, not what I was expecting at all but certainly worth reading on to find out what was going in the neighbourhood.

The Hoods Are Reading…


Hood #1: Roald Dahl’s Mischief and Mayhem illustrated by Quentin Blake and published by Penguin Books.

Our lover of all things Roald Dahl grabbed this book when it landed in the review book. It is a quick and easy read packed with the usual Dahl silliness, lots of it. This is an all ages kind of book, al my children will love reading it… Any Dahl fan would enjoy this – it contains short extracts from many of his children’s books and then some Dahlism’s to keep you on your toes. It is filled with clever pranks, and it is not called “Mischief and Mayhem” for nothing… for instance how to make “the hot chocolate that isn’t” just add, dare I say, a couple of gravy granules – euch. This is a Roald Dahl book that is packed with projects, tricks and things to figure out: “How to disguise yourself as a coconut tree.” Clearly a must read for all Dahl collectors.


Hood #2: Jony Ive the The Genius behind Apple’s Greatest Products by Leander Kahney and published by Penguin Books.

Well who doesn’t love a good biography and Jony Ive certainly has had an interesting life. I confess I read this book quickly before I handed it over, it is always good to check a biography before handing them over to my kids to read… and what an interesting person. One of those folk that genuinely think way out of the box, but more than that he was able create and implement his ideas in a way that other folk can’t. This book is series of tales collected together that demonstrate just how different his thinking is and how he has used his creativity, to build his design empire. This is a great read, you are not going to learn a lot about the man behind Jony Ive and you are going to learn less about the “magical” company of Apple. But you will learn a lot about creativity and transforming ideas into concepts and into actual products and a working business plan. You will learn a lot about his amazingly different design ideas and you will glean quite a bit about the ethos behind the “Apple Machine.” This was a great read and one I have noticed my teens going back to to read the odd sections again.


Hood #3: The Executioner’s Daughter by Jane Hardstaff and Published by Penguin Books South Africa.

A classic case of don’t judge a book by the cover… actually the title or the blurb. Have to say, none of my kids were keen to read this grizzly looking book. I couldn’t resist and gave it a try, and while the lead player is girl called Moss, in the time of Henry VIII, the book is definitely not about executions. The story is of course not about her role as the executioner’s daughter, there is so much more to it. The book has a grim start, her job is to catch the heads in her basket after an execution and of course you have to witness one execution to realise the whole social-outcastness of her situation… in order to see how desperate she is to escape it all. Then you move on to the true story a young gal, coming into her own… a mysterious past and her desire to get away as far and as fast from her life under The Tower… Anyway on my recommendation Hood #3, tried it and really couldn’t put it down… the story is intriguing, with real historical figures that pass through the pages. Amidst all the reality there is an old lady called the “Riverwitch.” Moss is living a dangerous life and she is rescued and called to rescue a young lad, Salter. They become friends indeed and depend on each other. This book has a bit of everything… Royalty, mystery, a life that appears to belong in a fairytale and ultimately friendship. It is the the friendship that keeps you reading on… you want to see what happens to Moss and Salter so you keep on turning the pages.


Hood #4: Artemis Fowl the Eternity Code Graphic Novel, by Eoin Colfer and published by Penguin Books South Africa.

A natural mistake that folk often make is that Graphic Novels are a “dumbing down” of the real thing – they are nothing like that. They do make books accessible to my middle boys that they would be daunted to read as full novels. Artemis Fowl really need no introduction in the world of children’s fiction… my boys have loved reading through his antics. I have to say that I found myself wandering through this book, saying just one more page while Hood #4 waited his turn to read. It is funny, but serious, the characters are all larger than life – the baddies are bad and the goodies are well… not that good. The book opens with the not so humble Artemis saying, “My name is Artemis Fowl, and I am a genius.” Artemis is a boy armed with power and money and a string of fairly bizarre friends from fairies to dwarves… this is fast paced, action filled fun and my guys loved reading this.


Hood #5: You Wouldn’t Want to Be Married to Henry VIII by Fiona MacDonald).

Hood #5 has recently discovered biographies in the children’s history reference section of our library… and for the first time ever, apart from years of reading cook books, he has become quite lost… reading his way through famous person after famous person and often a not so famous person too. He has loved this series of books. There is a stream of “You wouldn’t want to be…” books. The illustrations are funny, so are the words and a whole lot of information is passed on through little snippets and factual bites. These books are pitched at just the right reading level, not to mention amusement level, of an emerging reader and I can see piles of facts being stored in his general knowledge repertoire… just waiting for a gap in meal-time conversation.


Hood #6: The Giraffe and the Pelly and ME by Roald Dahl and published by Penguin Books South Africa.

This book is not a new one, just a lovely classic repackaged and I am so happy to share with our newest readers… and yes we are thrilled to have another Roald Dahl fan in the family. The book is typical Dahl: a lovely story, overrun with a sense of “what is right,” and well-presented in layers of fantastically described candy. Billy and his three window cleaning friends just happen upon a robber, while cleaning the windows of the Duke of Hampshire… the Duke of course offers a fantastic reward and all their dreams come true… what could be better in a story written for young people but enjoyed by everyone.


Hood #7: Jody’s Beans by Malachy Doyle.

Another book that has been well received in our weekly pile of library books is the story of Jody’s Beans. A little girl is presented with some bean seed by her Grandfather and together they plant a circle of beans… as the seasons spin around so her beans become a bean Teepee. The illustrations are beautiful, the kind of artwork that makes you feel that you are literarily part of the book. This book is nothing short of inspiring and I can see that we are going to have to find space for a bean teepee in our garden.

And the se7en + 1th Books:


Hood #8: I Do Not Eat the Colour Green by Lynn Richards.

We borrowed this book from the library and we have read our way through it about ten million bazillion times. It is the delightful story, all written in rhyme, about a little girl, Marlene McKean… who will, of course, not eat the colour green. I have a feeling our littlest person loved this book so much because he had a really close affinity to the main character. A series of inevitable events does indeed lead her to try something green and she loves it… A story very close to “someone we know’s” true life experience!!!

We would really like to thank Penguin Books South Africa for providing us with a number of books to review for this post. We would like to declare that we were not paid to do these reviews, just provided with books. All the opinions are as usual, entirely our own!!!

6 Replies to “What We Are Reading Right Now #23”

  1. Lovely set of books! I always like to read book reviews and now have about 3 I want to personally read. My 9 year old (English second language) has just discoverd Roald Dahl and is totally hooked.

  2. Dear Cat, I am so glad to hear that you enjoy our book reviews. You won’t believe it but I have a mountain of books to review right now and two more posts like this one lined up for next week and the week after!!! Hope you have a fabulous weekend!!!

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