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#BookReview "Norman Space Bat" by Jake Evanoff

This is a lovely story about Norman, a little bat who is perfectly happy with his “particularly average life” until he accidentally ends up going on a series of amazing adventures. He is kidnapped, he goes into space, he is trained to save the world! It’s a great thing to teach children about how exciting things can happen despite modest beginnings! Throughout the book, he meets friends like him and others who are very different, a fantastic thing to encourage children to embrace friendships with others from various backgrounds. The story is enhanced by exciting illustrations which show the variety of characters as they undertake their adventures. I absolutely fell in love with the Overwatchers, and the villains were wonderfully dastardly! The tone is perfect for 5-7 year olds, but the language used in the story is really advanced for a child to read themselves. It is somewhere between a picture book and a chapter book. I would recommend it as a book for an adult to read  to  a child,
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#IndieApril Craggy the Coo: Nicol's #ShareYourShelf blog!

I was warned ahead of this week that the theme of one of my blog posts would be “Share Your Shelf”. And, if I’m honest, I’ve been putting this one off because it was always destined to out me as a nerd of the highest (or should that be lowest?) order. My bedroom shelf contains very little in the way of fiction. It is largely stocked with books that have gathered more dust than an Egyptian mummy, and might one day find their way into a Museum of Nerdery. Specifically, my shelf runneth over with titles relating to either Scottish history and geography, or to seabirds. In some cases, my books are dedicated specifically to Scottish seabirds. As a boy, I was obsessed with how many pairs of Manx shearwater bred on the Isle of Rum, or how many gannets occupied the Bass Rock as opposed to St Kilda or Ailsa Craig. I was consumed by a need to visit all of the major seabird colonies around our shores. Ailsa Craig regrettably remains on my bucket list, but if you haven’t set foot on Hirta or the B

#IndieApril Craggy Blog: My Inspiration

When I’m asked who my favourite author is, I also tend to consider who my favourite writers have been at various stages of my life. When I was very young, Roald Dahl could not be beaten. Like many children, I found his sense of mischief combined with superlative storytelling and Quentin Blake’s glorious illustrations irresistible. In my angsty teenage years, I must have re-read JD Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye  about 20 times, dreaming of leaving boarding school and running off to the States with just a rucksack on my back (which I actually did for a year when I was 17. I wasn’t quite as rebellious as Holden Caulfield though. It was all above board.) But the writer who has stood the test of time with me most, and was taken from us far too soon, is Iain Banks. I love the twisty intrigue of Complicity , in which my hometown of Langholm has an early cameo. I adore the assault on the hypocrisies of organised religion that lie at the heart of Whit . In my teens, I was traumatised in a can’t

#IndieApril Craggy Blog: Plotting Craggy's Path

There’s nothing like a global pandemic to make you appreciate the life you had before. Without the freedom to roam around Scotland, my debut book would never have happened. And I’m grateful to this day that it was done and dusted before Covid struck. The fact I’ve been unable to travel the country again to launch Craggy the Coo Wants a Place to Call Home is a trifling inconvenience in the great scheme of what we’ve all endured over the past 13 months or so. I’ve been asked how I picked the places that Craggy travels to in the course of his journey. If I’m honest, they really picked themselves, based on where I happened to be or personally chose to visit in the 18 months or so it took me to put the book together. So let’s start at the start. The first picture I ever took of Craggy on location was in the village of Rockcliffe, Dumfries and Galloway in January 2018. That stretch of the Solway coastline brings back magical memories from my childhood when, to quote one of my favourite autho

#IndieApril Craggy Blog: On the Hoof!

When people say they’re doing something “on the hoof”, it generally implies they’re making it up as they go along. When it came to writing my first book, I did so on the hoof in more ways than one. The photos that feature in Craggy the Coo Wants a Place to Call Home  were snapped all over Scotland, from the top of mountains to the surface of Loch Ness. But the words that accompany the pictures were largely concocted near my hometown of Langholm in Dumfries and Galloway. I’m relatively notorious in these parts for embarking on epic walks of 20-30 miles around the surrounding hills. And while most people would carry their phone to chart their route or maybe listen to music, I used mine to put words to my pictures. Having all the photos of Craggy’s travels on my iPhone meant I could weave a clear narrative together based on where he happened to be, and what could be seen in each image. So I would set off on a long walk armed with all I needed to create the verses and his direction of trav

#IndieApril Craggy Blog: An Introduction to Craggy

Craggy the Coo was given to me as a Christmas present by my mum way back in 2017. She knitted him from scratch, using her own artistry to produce the woolly mammal who – almost three and a half years later – is about to be unleashed to a brand new audience. I can’t really remember how Craggy’s evolution began. But I remember thinking from the moment I held him in my hands that I ought to repay my mum’s creativity and generosity in kind. The wee coo whose adventures are documented in my first ever book took his first steps out of my hometown of Langholm, Dumfries and Galloway in early January 2018, and he’s never looked back. I’ve packed him in the coo-themed case (well, wash bag if I’m honest) that keeps him safe on each trip I’ve taken around Scotland. And he got to experience some of my favourite parts of the country, in order that I could share those places with a generation of young readers. The idea of travelling widely, armed with a healthy dose of curiosity but a sense that some

#ShareYourShelf for #IndieApril: Meet Nicola Niemc

Thank you to the Crowvus team for featuring me on your blog! So excited to be able to showcase my books; after all, the next best thing to reading books is admiring them on a shelf! I try to keep my books in a rough order based on genre, and I also have larger books at the bottom of the bookcase and smaller at the top. Is it just me that does this?? Starting from the bottom shelf, I have my chunky hardbacks (hardbacks… so luxurious…). Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters series is a fairly recent discovery; set in ancient Ireland where the gods of the forest still hold sway, this is a beautifully complex family saga which has helped inspire my current work in progress. Families tied together by magic, wicked spirits, and undying love – perfect for any hopeless romantic. Also on this shelf is Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall trilogy (useful for picking up medieval details), and the complete Sherlock Holmes – a car-boot find for 50p with lovely, vinyl-like pages. The big black folder at the end is cr