Tag Archives: Patrick Ness

Who are you and what is real?


Quite by chance I have read a series of books recently which, whilst all being very different, have all had a spooky continuity. They have all asked questions about reality and identity, and involved stories about people trying to find themselves and get back home.

Screen shot 2014-08-15 at 3.50.36 PMThe first book,  Nowhere Boys by Elise McCredie,  is based on an Australian television drama series [by Tony Ayres and Beth Frey] that won the Australian Film Institute Award for best Children’s Television Drama in 2013. It is a fantasy adventure about four very different teenage boys who spend a night in the bush when a school excursion goes wrong. But when they return home, they discover that they are trapped in a parallel world where no one recognises them and they no longer exist. What has happened? Is it magic? Is it demons? Why has this happened? and how are they going to get home?

The second book, Flip is Martyn Bedford“s first young adult novel [although he has published five novels for adults]. Flip is a much more intense psychological thriller about a boy called Alex who wakes up one morning to find himself trapped in the body of someone else; this person shares the same birthday but nothing else. He lives in very different part of the country, he has a sister not a brother, he is popular, he is good at sports and he has lots of girlfriends. Alex knows that at his core he is not Philip, or Flip, but where is his “unique inner essence”,  is he really a “psychic evacuee” and how can he return to his family?

The third and final novel I read was More Than This by Patrick Ness. It has been described as a “tense thriller” about “love and survival.” Our copy in the library has a lovely message at the front of the book from the author especially for Australian and New Zealand readers! In it he explains that this book started as an idea in his head whilst he was in our “part of the world”. More Than This begins with Seth drowning; then he wakes up. Where is he? Is he in hell? Is he dreaming? Is he living in his imagination? Little by little we find out about Seth as he tries to reconcile his past with his present. I wont spoil your delight of discovery by telling you any more, but I would say that this book is perhaps the most demanding and challenging  read of the three.

Mrs H.

A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!


Horse, Equus Caballus by Chuck Coker

Welcome back to school! The New Year is well underway and here we are already in February, where did January go? In the Chinese Astrological Calendar this is the beginning of the Year of the Horse. In total there are twelve animals and everyone is allocated an animal according to the year of their birth. If you were born in:

1996 You are a rat
1997 You are an ox
1998 You are a tiger
1999 You are a rabbit
2000 You are a dragon

The twelve animals that make up the Chinese zodiac are also connected to five elements – wood, metal, fire, water and earth, and so to be precise, 2014 is the year of the wood horse. In Chinese mythology we are told this signifies ” fast victories, unexpected adventure ….energy is high and production is rewarded”. Hang on tight, it sounds as if we are in for an exciting ride in 2014!

As this is the Year of the Horse I thought I would put together a little quiz on books which feature horses. As I have discovered there are a remarkable number of books, plays and songs with horses.  “I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name , It felt good to be out of the rain”. This is just one song that comes to mind (now 42-years old) which was a hit for the band America.

How many of the following questions do you know? If you want to know the answers, then follow the links.

1. What are the names of the horses that belong to Davy and Todd in the Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness? The first book in this wonderful series is The Knife if Never Letting Go.

2. What is the title name of the famous horse that features in the book by Anna Sewell?

3. What is the name of Percy Jackson’s horse? The Percy Jackson books are written by Rick Riordan and if you want to know more about them then visit the official website here.

4. There are three horses in Animal Farm by George Orwell. Clover is the motherly horse, and Mollie is the vain horse that is more concerned about ribbons than revolution. Who is the strong horse whose motto is “I will work harder” and yet ends up being sent away to the glue factory?

5. In The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis there is a talking warhorse from Narnia who was captured by the Calormenes as a foal. What is his name?

6. In Christopher Paolini’s first book in the Inheritance Cycle called Eragon, fifteen-year-old Eragon names his first horse after his grandfather. What does he call him?

7. War Horse by Michael Morpurgo is about a horse purchased by the army for use during World War 1. It is the story of how the horse changes owners throughout the war as Albert, his first owner, tries to bring him safely home. What is the name of this horse?

8. The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans is a novel that has also been made into a film. It is about a horse that becomes traumatized and uncontrollable following an accident and how his owner asks a “horse whisperer” (someone who has spent his life curing horses) to help. What is the name of this horse?

9. Gandalf the White in Lord of the Rings by John Ronald Reuel Tolkein rides a horse that can understand human speech and run faster than the wind, can you remember his name?

10. And lastly, if you didn’t manage to remember any of these horses I’ll give you a bonus point if you can name Woody’s horse in Toy Story (not really a book) but a good story.

How did you do? By the way, “A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!” is a quotation from Richard III by William Shakespeare (Act 5. Scene IV). You can find all the books mentioned in the quiz in the library. Happy horse reading!

Mrs H.

Blood Red Road by Moira Young

Blood Red Road

Blood – Life and death; Blood relatives

Red – Danger

Road – Journeys

This is a gripping story about Saba on a dangerous journey in search of her brother. A journey which involves many life and death situations; the title sums it up well.

It is amazing to think that this is  Moira Young’s first book and that she also won the 2011 Costa Children’s Book Prize. The author is a Canadian, but now lives in Bath, England and some of her landscape descriptions could well be the open spaces of Canada.

This is another book  written as the writer speaks, so if you you’ve read The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness and this style didn’t bother you, then you will also enjoy this book. I must admit that I didn’t even notice that there were no speech marks around any of the conversations, and that I find this style of writing adds to the characterisation, and helps the reader get straight into the story.

For example:

I keep runnin after ’em.

I’ll find you! I scream.

They disappear into the red haze.

Lugh! I scream. Lugh! Come back!

My legs go out from unner me. I fall to my knees.

It wont take you long to read because you wont be able to put it down. There are nine sections but each one is broken down into many short sequences headed by a crow. The crow is a character in the book called Nero and “he does what he always does, which is perch on my shoulder an caw real loud, right in my ear, to tell me what he’s thinin.”

The writing is fast paced, there are a lot of surprises, it is a thriller and a love story.

If you need any further reason to check it out, let me just say that Ridley Scott‘s production company has bought up the film rights (although the project is only in the “in development” stage.) Ridley Scott is known for Blade Runner, Alien, and Black Hawk Down.

Enjoy this trailer…..

A Monster Calls wins a prize

Photo used with permission by Pablo S. Rios

Via Flickr Commons [http://www.flickr.com/photos/pablosrios/3939567065/sizes/m/in/photostream/]

A Monster Calls is a story about Conor and a monster that “shows up after midnight. As they do.” The story is about fears and nightmares, love and loss and the pages are streaked with wild, dark illustrations to match.

Find the book on our bookshelves

For the second year running Patrick Ness has won the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway award. This year the award is for A Monster calls a novel by Patrick Ness from an original idea by Siobhan Dowd. Patrick Ness never met Siobhan Dowd but was asked whether he would turn her work into a book after her premature death from cancer prevented her from writing the book herself.

However, not only did Patrick Ness win an award but so too did Jim Kay,  for his illustrations in the book, which won the Kate Greenaway medal. On the jacket of the book it says, ” Jim Kay studied illustration and worked in the archives of the Tate Gallery and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, two experiences that heavily influence his work. His images for A Monster Calls use everything from beetles to breadboards to create interesting marks and textures.”

Patrick Ness writes, “Stories don’t end with writers, however many started the race. Here’s what Siobhan and I came up with. So go. Run with it. make trouble.”

This is an unusual book, well worth reading.

Mrs H.

A Monster Calls – by Patrick Ness

In this wonderfully moving book, Patrick Ness has taken and developed an idea left unwritten by English writer, Siobhan Dowd, when she died an early death from cancer in 2007. It is an impressive book on all counts, about a young boy, Conor, who is struggling to come to terms with the imminent death of his mother after a long fight with cancer. The book is  beautifully presented with eerie black and white illustrations throughout to complement the story, and it leaves the reader feeling immensely saddened and humbled by the beautifully-told story of life and death.

A BBC News item of 5 August 2011 gives Patrick Ness’ own explanation of how the book came about: Patrick Ness: Why I wrote A Monster Calls. The novel has already won a number of awards, and I feel certain that there are more to come.

Mr F

Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness

Patrick Ness has won the 2011 CILIP Carnegie Medal for his novel Monsters of Men the final novel in his Chaos Walking trilogy. As well as enjoying the trilogy, and meeting the author when he visited New Zealand last year I’ve had a soft spot for Patrick Ness since he chose my name for one of his characters.

He used the award ceremony to speak out against the closing of libraries in the United Kingdom. He said, ” There’s so much prescription in the lives of young people, but a library’s a place that says “Look! Here are the doors of the world and you are free to choose”. Librarians are simply tour guides for all of knowledge …. Sometimes it ‘s fun to get lost. Sometimes you learn exciting new things you don’t expect. But how much more can you discover when someone can point you in the right direction.” Wise words.

If you would like to read more, see the Guardian.co.uk article “Patrick Ness accepts Carnegie medal with fierce defence of libraries.”