Tag Archives: David Roberts


Tinder is for older readers. I don’t know quite how old, but don’t be fooled into thinking that if it has got pictures, then it is childish. Sally Gardner has based her new book on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Tinderbox, which I can only remember vague details of. Don’t be fooled into thinking that if it was inspired by Andersen, that it will be childish. If you are an adult, you can handle Tinder. Probably.

You can have picture books for older readers. That’s something Sally wanted, once she herself became a young adult. And now she has written such a book, and it’s been illustrated by David Roberts, in pretty scary, but fantastic detail.

Sally Gardner and David Roberts, Tinder

Set in the Thirty Years War, Tinder is about a young soldier who has seen dreadful things, and who cheats Death when he meets him. But was that a good thing?

Strange happenings occur to our wounded Otto, and he meets a girl with whom he falls in love. He meets a witch – or two – and he acquires a tinderbox. There are werewolves and other – far worse – creatures. Some of them are human. Otto finds a fortune and lives like a king. But the question is if that’s a good thing?

Sally has really worked magic on this old story, and it is fascinating and exciting, as well as creepy. You can barely put it down. It being a fairy tale, you know you’ll get both the good and the bad. But good will triumph. Won’t it?

I’ll leave you to find out.

Sally Gardner and David Roberts, Tinder

Pre-mcbf midweek miscellany

Fearing I might not be able to bite you this weekend, I will give you a mixed bag of stuff today instead.

Fear. Yes. It’s the done thing. Meg Rosoff blogged the other day about all the dangers of going to the library. Is it safe now to admit to having omitted to fit a stair gate when Offspring were at their most vulnerable? I am a coward most of the time, but there are some things I feel you just need to risk, or we risk (hah) losing sight of common sense. I eat old food, too.

Shortlisted books for the Scottish Children's Book Awards

And I am afraid I daren’t say anything about this rather excellent shortlist for the Scottish Children’s Book Awards 2012. The three books for older readers comprise one author whom I admire a great deal (Elizabeth Laird) and the other two just happen to have written what must count as my bestest books (so far) this year, even outside Scotland. That’s Elizabeth Wein (odds that an Elizabeth wins?) and Barry Hutchison. And I see that even more favourites narrowly missed the shortlist. They clearly need a longer shortlist. Or more awards.

The younger shortlists (you know what I mean!) are also full of jeopardy, with people being eaten and there being nuts, soldiers, crocodiles and lions.

A man who lives dangerously is Tony Higginson of Formby Books. He works too hard. Now he has added to his burden and blogs in his spare (double hah) time. Double danger there next Thursday (and I’m telling you now because I plan to be busy for a while) when he has invited customers to a crime barbecue. I mean, books and flames! Stephen Booth is the one who will be flambéed. Or was that the burgers?

This is assuming Tony makes it through his day. I believe I have counted three more events he’s doing that day, which is the day I already have so much on that I am wondering if I can crawl out of bed for the piano tuner at the crack of dawn. I suppose, take one event after another… But no trips for me to the coast and Tony.

Next year I’ll send out dates when I’m available.

Is it a book?

Stupid question, perhaps. It is obviously a book. It’s sort of a picture book, and kind of a comic. And maybe an ordinary illustrated short book/story. My mind wants to pigeonhole, and I can’t. Not totally.

The Dunderheads

The Dunderheads by Paul Fleischman with pictures by David Roberts had been lying around for a while. It looked quite interesting, because I could tell it was a more grown-up creature than a small child’s picture book. Too many words to count as a comic, and yet…

It’s pretty good, actually, with overtones of Roald Dahl’s Matilda. I was also going to say that it reminded me of something else I’d recently blogged about, on the subject of group solidarity, but I can’t think what it was now.

There is a not very nice teacher. ‘Confiscating was her speciality.’ So that’s what she did. Took things from her students. Until the day she took something and they decided to take it back. It’s a really good story about children cooperating, and someone knowing exactly who is good at what.

One-eared china cats are more loveable than you’d think, and someone gets their comeuppance.

World Book Day books

Dare I admit to somewhat dubious behaviour on my part? Early last week when I read somewhere about the WBD tokens, which would be handed out to all school children, I swore a bit, because Daughter didn’t get hers the last couple of years. Not a big deal, but annoying. Who knows how many other children haven’t had theirs?

Then the girl comes home with six tokens. End of swearing, I promise. It seems she first got her token. Then when the rest of the tokens weren’t wanted by the ungrateful non-readers in her form, the form teacher gave her all the rest, too.

We went to town, literally and figuratively, on Saturday, dividing up our shopping between two bookshops, to lessen the imagined burden. Since this year’s WBD books come as two-in-one, we ended up with 11 titles. The uneven number is because Julia Donaldson had a mini picture book all by herself, with illustrations by David Roberts.

The Tyrannosaurus Drip Song even comes with music, so I’ll get my pianist to try it out later. It’s about a baby duckbill dinosaur who is born in a T Rex nest, and is bullied by the big dinosaurs. But he’s no wimp…

If memory serves I think it’s possibly the first time there has been a picture book among the WBD offerings, which is good, because not all school children are big readers.

I’ll get back to the other books later.