Tag Archives: Lindsay Littleson

The Titanic Detective Agency

We should at least be safe from sequels. The fact that Lindsay Littleson’s crime novel is set on the Titanic sort of rules that out. The days are limited as it is, with three child passengers on this famous ship finding mysteries and setting out to solve them, unaware that time is even shorter than the official expected arrival in America.

Lindsay Littleson, The Titanic Detective Agency

As one of the few people on earth who have not seen the film, it was interesting to learn about travelling on the Titanic; the different passenger classes, for instance. And interestingly, Lindsay didn’t make up her characters. They are real passengers (and the fact that they were, does in no way guarantee that they survive), and this makes everything more realistic.

Like Johan from Knäred. I was gratified to find someone who could have been practically a neighbour, on the Titanic. Johan was poor, so travelled in third class, on his way to join his father and older sister, having left his mother and younger siblings behind in southern Sweden. He speaks no foreign languages, but still manages to befriend Bertha from Aberdeen and her young friend Madge.

It’s not the mysteries that matter; it’s the Titanic and the lives described. You meet people and even though you know what will happen, you have no way of knowing who will die and who survives, or what will become of the survivors, for that matter.

Learning about a catastrophe in this way brings home the awfulness of both the voyage, but also of how people lived and why they travelled and what they were hoping for, or fearing, in America.

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‘One of the best jobs in the world’

Librarian tree

That could describe my ‘job,’ but in this case it’s what Deena Wren who has just been awarded the 2019 Scottish Book Trust Learning Professional Award, said at the Lighthouse in Glasgow last night. I think I’d like to be a pupil at Beeslack Community High School, if I could have her as my school librarian. Take everything good that could possibly be said about a librarian, and that’s what everyone at the school did say as they were interviewed for the video we were shown at the award ceremony.

Alan Windram at Scottish Book Trust Awards

Last night was an award-studded event where the winners of the 2019 Bookbug Picture Book Prize, Alan Windram and illustrator Chloe Holwill-Hunter were presented with their prize money for One Button Benny. Following last week’s announcement, John Young was there to receive the Scottish Teenage Book Prize, and Kerr Thomson, one of the runners-up was also present.

Theresa Breslin at Scottish Book Trust Awards

And after all that it was time for the Outstanding Achievement Award to be given to Theresa Breslin for her thirty-year-long career as an advocate for children’s literacy and libraries. I know how hard Theresa has worked, and she’s also written ‘a few’ books. About fifty. Ever modest, Theresa praised Deena Wren for her excellent work, telling us what it had been like when she did an author visit at her school. (Something about sandwiches, I believe.)

The Lighthouse was full of teachers and librarians out in force to celebrate their own, and – I’m guessing – to have a nice night out. There was wine, and the thing to eat right now seems to be deep fried cauliflower, with some sort of dribbled chilli icing. I might have eaten quite a few of those.

Theresa Breslin at Scottish Book Trust Awards

As usual I encountered Mr B, Theresa’s ‘stalwart husband,’ along with a Theresa ‘twin’ who turned out to be her sister, and I’m just not saying anything about how old anyone is. There were daughters, and at least one niece, and possibly friends and neighbours. The award was embargoed, so it had been awkward inviting people along without saying what to. Theresa herself came and sat with us, for at least a minute, before she was called upon to get up and talk to people.

I’m glad Mr B was there with his camera, as mine really didn’t enjoy the dark, or the fact that I am short and couldn’t reach far. One junior Breslin even climbed up on a chair.

Scottish Book Trust Awards

As I took a few turns round the place – which unlike me is quite tall and narrow, and might explain the name Lighthouse – I encountered Barbara Henderson, down from Inverness. It seems that we both sort of invited ourselves… Barbara introduced me to Kerr Thomson, and also to Lindsay Littleson whom I’d not met before. The conversation then strayed to unicorns.

John Young, Kerr Thomson and Barbara Henderson

It was the kind of evening when you remember why you read and why it’s something most of us need. Reading makes us feel better. And your reading can improve if you have access to good librarians with a passion for books.

(Photos of Theresa by Tom Breslin)

Guardians of the Wild Unicorns

Suddenly there are unicorns everywhere! And I thought they were extinct. I mean, not real. They are mythical creatures often found in fiction. As in Lindsay Littleson’s brand new book Guardians of the Wild Unicorns, where they are an endangered species. But real. Maybe.

Of course they are. Rhona and Lewis can see them clearly, starting when abseiling while on a week’s wildlife experience with school.

And when they find a .., well I can’t tell you what they find. But they know they have to do something and go looking for unicorns to save. In case they are real. Which they are.

Lindsay Littleson, Guardians of the Wild Unicorns

But there are bad people in this world, even in the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and the two children know they need to act before it’s too late. It’s quite magical, but also very real and gritty.

Lewis is a loner who would rather do anything but be out there in the wilds. His only friend, Rhona, loves it, but then she has kept her home life a secret, meaning Lewis has no idea what she’s wanting to escape from. At least she’s nice and warm in the jacket from the school’s lost property box.

Together these two courageous, and occasionally scared, children meet magic in the woods. And their teachers have no idea!

The Mixed-Up Summer of Lily McLean

What we need now, as one storm follows the last, is a summery book. And The Mixed-Up Summer of Lily McLean is it. Scottish summer, but still.

Think It’s a Wonderful Life, and you’ll be on the right track. Poor Lily doesn’t know what to think. She hears a voice. She could be crazy, or she could be pursued by a ghost. Both are awkward when you are eleven, living in a cramped council house with you mother, older sister and three younger siblings. She has her own space, under the stairs, where she occasionally hides. (Personally I don’t see how there could be any spare room in there, if it’s such a small house. But the Harry P reference is a nice one.)

Her teen sister refuses to go with their gran on holiday on Cumbrae, so Lily gets to go on her own, with their rather loud and opinionated grandmother, to spend a week in a caravan. Or does she? Will Lily’s ghost/craziness prevent her one and only holiday for the summer? Even if it’s only the ten minute ferry-crossing from her hometown of Largs, over to Cumbrae.

Lindsay Littleson, The Mixed-Up Summer of Lily McLean

This is actually rather nice. It’s not just the family’s circumstances or lack of money and drunken ex-stepdad and friend problems, and skipping the last week of school. You think you know what you are in for, and then the ghostliness adds another dimension to what could have been a fairly ordinary story. You can tell something major must happen, but what, and how?

Admirably short and an easy read, but still full of everything that’s important in life.

And now I want to go to Cumbrae.