Tag Archives: C J Dunford

There were bests in 2021 too

I worried. But then I nearly always worry. What did I read? Was it any good?

As always, I read. And yes, it was good, even in 2021. I read fewer books than usual, and with a larger proportion being old, adult or a translation, I have left those out. It’s handy that I make my own rules here.

I’ll put you out of your misery right now. The book standing head and shoulders above all the other really great books is Hilary McKay’s The Swallows’ Flight. Set in WWII, it’s a story I can’t forget (and these days I forget a lot).

Hilary’s is not alone in being a WWII story, as 50% of my 2021 winners are. I don’t know if this is proof that many more such books have been published recently, or if it just shows how much I like them.

The other five are Phil Earle’s When the Sky Falls, Morris Gleitzman’s Always, Liz Kessler’s When the World Was Ours, Tom Palmer’s Arctic Star, and Elizabeth Wein’s The Last Hawk. The latter two are dyslexia-friendly books.

Debi Gliori’s A Cat Called Waverley also features a war, but a more modern one. The illustration below makes me cry every time, and it has that thing which makes a picture book truly great.

Waverley is Scottish, as are C J Dunford’s Fake News, Barbara Henderson’s The Chessmen Thief and Roy Peachey’s The Race.

Last but not least, we have an animal story from Gill Lewis, A Street Dog Named Pup, and a ‘historical futuristic fantasy’ in The Outlaws Scarlett & Browne by Jonathan Stroud.

These twelve gave me much pleasure, and they were not in the slightest hard to choose. If the publishing world continues to give me books like these, I will have no reason to give up [reading].

The Fake News launch

You already know there was a launch last night for C J Dunford and her Fake News, talking to Dr Noir, aka Jacky Collins, about what she had done and why and how.

Caroline, as she’s really called, is completely new and unknown to me, which makes her all the more interesting. She has her own teenagers, and her youngest son is also a non-reader, and she dedicated Fake News to him in the hopes that he’ll start reading. There was a little bit of adult pressure on him last night, so I’ll be contrary and hope that he can withstand this push to read.

But anyway, Caroline knows teenagers and what they are like, which as I said shows in the book. She spoke for a while with Dr Noir, and we were promised some mystery guests, which, being me, I didn’t relish at all.

They turned out to be Alex Nye and Philip Caveney, also with Fledgling Press, and so were totally welcome and it was good to see them. I should learn that they are unlikely to drag strangers in off the streets to discuss literature. Dr Noir withdrew and left the three of them to chat about how they write, and to compare notes, and to sing the praises of Fledgling.

I have to agree. Fledgling publish a bunch of varied books for all kinds of readers, all with some Scottish connection.

This was another event where the Resident IT Consultant was quite satisfied, because he’d just finished Fake News and was feeling enthusiastic. Even Daughter muttered positive comments about what she heard, so clearly it’s an interesting sounding story, whether or not one ends up reading.

Caroline is already writing a second book, about something else, but didn’t rule out returning to our Fake News team later on. Although, as she so nicely put it, she feels she left them in a good place, so they don’t absolutely need a sequel.

So, that was quite an acceptable book launch!

Fake News

‘I’ll send out a copy of Fake News too’, said the publisher in response to my comment that while C J Dunford’s new YA title looked quite promising, I didn’t have a lot of May left in which to read it. But she clearly knew what she was doing, guilting me into finding more reading time.

Only joking! Once Fake News was here, I could tell it was a book for which May had to be stretched a little. But it has caused me much trouble, I have to tell you. The first afternoon when it was lying on my table, to be picked up by my hands, I had to – twice – remove it from the hands of the Resident IT Consultant, who, unbidden, declared it looked really good. And as I was racing through the book, I attempted to stop for little breaks every now and then, but it was actually impossible to stop. I closed the book and opened it again within seconds.

This is an intelligently written story – which will be why a certain somebody thought it was an adult novel. Let me just say it takes much more to write quite so sensibly and entertainingly for a YA audience. Partly set in a school, and also in the bedrooms of the four children involved, it doesn’t sink to the usual levels of such tales.

Three teenagers, one 11-year-old (he’s so clever he’s been moved up a few years at school) and a dog, decide to give the world some more fake news. Just to prove it can be done and that we are gullible. They do it for several good reasons, or I wouldn’t have approved. And there are aliens.

Possibly the aliens were why things happened the way they did, but that was also a lot of fun. And can you believe teenagers are so young these days they haven’t watched ET? GCHQ might have been involved. And eco-warriors. A creepy wannabe journalist, some surprisingly decent teachers at school, and the question of whether pink and purple go together.

Fake News is so much fun. You too will want to read it, even if there is very little May left. You can have June.

See you at the launch tonight?