Calum’s New Team

I liked this book. I can’t claim to have understood all the football in Danny Scott’s Calum’s New Team, but it didn’t seem essential. It’s the first of several footie books about Calum, who has moved to a new town and starts a new school, and who only wants to play football.

Danny Scott and Alice A Morentorn, Calum's New Team

It’s for younger readers. Whereas Calum is in Primary 6, so about ten or eleven, I’d say the writing is easy, and the print large enough, to read that you could be much younger than that. If you’re into soccer, anyway.

Calum makes a few new friends, including the statutory girl football player, but also makes an enemy of the son of the local football star, who rather fancies himself. Without the correct boots, Calum finds it hard to join in, and is barred from trying out for the team because he only has plimsolls (which were ‘good enough’ for his Dad…) to wear.

This is a feelgood sports story, so things work out eventually.

Nice writing style and no embarrassing stuff. You only need to like football. And to be able to sympathise with a boy who has to use his dog as goalie [not very good at defending the goal] when he plays all alone.

(Trading cards inside, drawn by Alice A Morentorn, who also illustrated the book.)


I’m trying not to think the phrase ‘The Mirror Cracked From Side to Side’ but it’s hard. Quick, give me some other mirror quotes that have a more cheerful outcome!


While we take some time getting used to facing the mirror image of a wall of books as we enter the living room, I live in hope that the mirror won’t fall down. We got it months ago, but found it was wanting in some respects (does anyone have the kind of mirror clips that this one lacks?), which is why it has only just been hung. Hopefully for a very long time.

The old house also surprised us with a mirror after many years, although not one with books. If you entered the room the right way you’d get the reflection of a lamp in the far corner, which I always liked.

But as I said, here we get books, which is sort of suitable. Who is the fairest Bookwitch of all?

Ode to the Bookwitch

If I’m not careful I’ll sprout poetry or something. I feel as if I could do anything. Almost. Were it not for the knees.

Yesterday the Resident IT Consultant and I celebrated something which has not happened yet. Family and friends turned out to be quite skilled at cheating at giving no presents [by strict order], and it’s really interesting to see what lengths people will go to. Flowers are ‘not really gifts.’ Cardamom pods don’t count. A bag if not wrapped, likewise. Nice try my friends, and so kind of you.

And then there was Helen Grant who felt that writing an ode was no present either, having slaved away over her Keatsian style poetry for hours. Weeks? Maybe months? She has generously agreed to my sharing it with you.

Ode to the Bookwitch on her 60th Birthday

If Sweden’s ever mentioned, you will find

(Though less well known than Germany or France)

That certain things will quickly come to mind

Like Stockholm Syndrome, ABBA, or perchance

Surströmming with its most distinctive whiff.

The Billy bookcase from IKEA – yes! –

Has fixed the Swedish nation in our hearts

Though we’d be joyful if

We didn’t have to scratch our heads and guess

The way to make the bookcase from the parts.


This smörgåsbord of Swedish joys bestowed

Upon the grateful world is not complete

Unless we list the Swedish folk who’ve showed

How ripe with talent is their land, replete

With expertise and triumph – only look

At Greta Garbo, Björn Borg and poor

Stieg Larsson, sadly cut off in his prime,

The Muppets’ Swedish cook

And PewDiePie and many, many more

That I could name if only I’d the time.


And now I feel the time has come to name

Another Swede we ought to celebrate,

Who also has achieved a certain fame

By telling us which books are crap or great.

The Bookwitch works her magic all the year;

She lovingly composes each review

With honesty – no flattery or spite;

She bravely does not fear

To give her praise where praise is clearly due

But warn us if the book is rather shite.


But why, you ask, would anybody swap

The wondrous land of Sweden for these shores?

Precipitation never seems to stop

And only ducks can stand it out of doors.

Yet even witches have a tender heart,

In spite of how formidable they look,

And love can cast a spell they can’t withstand.

So, as to live apart

Would be a tragic ending to life’s book,

She made her future in this barb’rous land.


Two masterpieces of her own she’s done:

A debut work and then a sequel too!

The first a rather literary one,

The other, scientific through and through.

Her sixty years she bears with girlish ease

As magic through the ages shall prevail

And witches never really show their age

(Except perhaps their knees);

So may her story be a merry tale

With happiness until the final page.

[Helen Grant 15/5/2016]

Isn’t that great? And kind? I should really wait until the right day, but my heart is full now, so I won’t delay.

(But I got my ‘revenge.’ One guest rather carelessly suggested that if we wanted nothing because we already have too much, perhaps they could assist by taking stuff home with them. So I forced partybags on them as they left… That’ll teach him.)

Too much chocolate

Daughter and I both remembered this book, Lulu and the Chocolate Wedding by Posy Simmonds. It’s been reissued, and you can’t have too much Posy. Possibly too much chocolate, however, as becomes evident from poor Lulu’s experience.

Posy Simmonds, Lulu and the Chocolate Wedding

She is to be a bridesmaid at her aunt’s wedding, and the anticipation is building up enormous expectations for the day. But children will be children, and somehow Lulu eats rather a lot of chocolate the night before. Nightmares follow and she is sick.

Sick bridesmaids won’t do, so Lulu has to stay behind. (After all that waiting and longing!!) Still tired and under the influence, Lulu dreams a wedding cake dream while she waits for the bride and groom to return.

But all’s well that ends well. The mice get the beetroot and the little bride (off the cake) is found.

There will be no chocolate at Bookwitch Towers today. Well, only a token bit of chocolate substance, and absolutely no wedding cake. The Resident IT Consultant and I are doing what we do every ten years, throwing a party because we are crazy and don’t know better (although we ought to). Never again. Or at least not for another three weeks.

But here’s to not being sick. We won’t even be serving beetroot. (The swede I ate last night doesn’t count.)

The redesigned Meg

Meg Rosoff’s website  has a new design. I didn’t feel it needed it, but then I’m the kind of witch who believed her kitchen was new, when it was actually over twenty years old. It just felt new because I designed it and remembered it like yesterday.

Enough about my kitchen. I can see why Meg wanted a new look, what with winning the ALMA and all that and – perhaps – not having changed anything for a few years. Winning a new award and presumably getting lots more hits will be the kick in the backside you need to make change. Or at least hoover.

Meg Rosoff website

I like it. By that I mean it’s interesting and edgy. It can probably also qualify as a migraine trigger, and I say this as Meg’s number one fan. I do like it. I just need to look with some care.

What it does have, are some new(ish) short stories. I’ve not even had time to read them yet, but I keep thinking about them, and look forward to settling down with the laptop once life quietens down.

Or possibly I will do it sooner, in case I’m not able to wait ten years.

Pet Dragon

To be perfectly honest, I’m rather dismayed. I always considered myself as totally up to having a pet dragon. They are sweet and adorable (think Puff), if somewhat large. They are loving and have a charming bit of attitude (think Debi Gliori’s Ffup), or anything else (also Debi Gliori).

M P Robertson and Sally Symes, Pet Dragon

I wasn’t expecting this! Sally Symes and M P Robertson have compiled a fairly comprehensive guide to looking after a dragon. Apparently you have to be mad to even consider it, and not object to feeding whole cows to your pet every now and then.

That is if you live long enough to do much of anything. Dragons are far more hazardous than I’d imagined. They might eat the vet (in which case I fail to see why you should make an appointment with the dragon-specialist. You may as well have the budgie-specialist eaten) and I can see this will be frowned upon by some.

M P Robertson and Sally Symes, Pet Dragon

Curry is no good, except for when it is being eaten. Repent later, I believe.

So, I will probably not get a dragon unless I can have the loveable Gliori kind. That’s a disappointment, but if I can live with that, I’ll be so much happier (than not living with a dragon). But the guide is right there, should you want to read up on where you’re going wrong with yours.


‘You could have asked for a Spitfire,’ said Daughter.

Well, maybe I could have, but I didn’t and it’s not important.

I might have mentioned that Elizabeth Wein was handing out planes at the Scottish Book Awards in Glasgow in March, and I got one too. Not a Spitfire, obviously. Elizabeth handed out more planes at Yay!YA+ in April, but I felt it would have been greedy to ask for another one.

The not-Spitfire

I’d be willing to bet my plane isn’t a Sopwith Camel either, as that is a WWI plane and I trust Elizabeth went for WWII ones. Although, she did set her Ethiopian adventures during the period between the wars, so not necessarily.

Anyway, when she was last here Daughter asked for permission to build my non-Spitfire on account of her past as a plane builder. Apparently she used to buy them at the post office when she was little. I don’t remember that at all.

When she turns up this weekend I might get her to build Tom Palmer’s Sopwith Camel, even though it is not a Spitfire, and not polystyrene but the inside of a book cover.

There is something about planes.