Posted by: billpurdue | May 7, 2011

A Children’s Book for all Ages

A number of new titles have been catching my attention in the last week or so. The first is, I suppose, intended as a  children’s book, but is being enjoyed by all ages. Perhaps enjoyed is not the right term, as it is quite a sad story. In My sister lives on the mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher [Orion Children’s £9.99 978-1444001839], Jamie is still trying to come to terms with his sister’s death five years previously in a terrorist attack in London. Other members of the family are all affected by the death – his father turns to drink, his mother moves in with another man and his sister dyes her hair pink. As I said, it’s a book for all ages, but you can read a review of the book by a twelve year old on the Guardian books website.


A short while ago I was enthusing about a crime writer, completely new to me, Alan Bradley, author of the Flavia de Luce novels, of which the latest is A Red Herring without Mustard [Orion £9.99 9780752897158]. I was therefore interested to discover that you can read an interview with Alan Bradley at Bookdagger, the website for enthusiasts of crime fiction. The next Flavia de Luce novel (the fourth in the series) is I Am Half-Sick of Shadows which is due out next year.


Like many people of a certain age, I seem to be on the mailing list for updates about Age UK (formerly Age Concern). In the latest bulletin I found a short piece about a special deal with Waterstone’s to offer readers 10% off a small selection of titles including The King’s Speech
by Mark Logue and Peter Conradi and The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory. I checked out the Age UK website and it appears that the 10% discount is only available if you spend £20 and you need to order online, as I understand it. Doesn’t sound like a wonderful offer to me, but it’s worth checking out. By the way, the selection of titles available for this offer will change from time to time.

Now, regular readers will know that I’m a rail enthusiast, but I hope I don’t qualify to be called an “anorak”. Anyway, there are a few new titles that I think are worth mentioning. The first is not just for railway fans, but anyone who enjoys train travel. On the Slow Train Again by Michael Williams [Preface Publishing £14.99 978-1848092853] is a second selection of  twelve interesting rail journeys in the UK. These journeys are on the railway network which survived the cuts of the Beeching era, so can still be travelled today. The Evening Standard  described the book as “an evocative tour of our heritage”.


The second is really for the rail enthusiast, or perhaps the historian. The LNER Handbook by David Wragg [Haynes £27.50 978-1844258277] completes the series of handbooks about “the big four” ie. the four railway companies which existed from 1923 until nationalisation of the railways in 1948; the Southern, the Great Western, the London, Midland and Scottish and the London and North Eastern – LNER. This is a very detailed reference book, but it also has plenty of monochrome illustrations. Wouldn’t mind this one myself.


Now something for the real rail “techie”. Haynes are well known for their workshop manuals for a wide variety of car makes and models. In recent years  the workshop manual idea has been applied to a much wider variety of.. well almost anything really. There’s the USS Enterprise Manual,  the Baby Manual: Conception to Two years  and even the Wallace and Gromit: Cracking Contraptions Manual . Now you can buy the Haynes manual for the newest steam locomotive on the railways of Britain: 60163 Tornado, the replica locomotive that was built from scratch and is now much in demand to haul steam specials all over the country: The Tornado Manual: New Peppercorn Class A1 Locomotive [Haynes £19.99 978-1844259892]. As you can deduce from the title, the book explains the its construction, operation and maintenance. It’s a must for those who understand the workings of this now famous steam locomotive, but I think the details would be lost on me. I just like to look at it and admire it.


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