NEW BOOK – THE FLIGHT OF BIRDS – ALAN HOWARD (OUT NOW)

Friday, 25 June 2010

Thanks to all my other positive reviewers on Amazon, too.

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, twisted and surreal....., 3 Feb 2010
By A R Hartley "unstable_elementuk" (Hull, UK) -

“The front cover of this instantly reminded me of the old silent movies like "To the Moon" and the modern music video remake that The Smashing Pumpkins did for their song "Tonight Tonight". For me this was an instant draw, realy urging me to see what this book served up.

Its almost like a modern Alice in Wonderland, a surreal twisted book aimed at children but with enough hidden depths for Adults to enjoy. It throws away the old barriers and guides of writing for children and is purely a work of a great imagination.

I was so pleased to read something refreshingly different and despite me being 27, not exactly a child, i still realy enjoyed this and i have to admit i want to read the following book which you get a taster of at the end of this book.

The scattered drawings are beautiful and give a full view of this strange world the writer is pulling you into, only adding to is already great atmosphere.

I truely hope this auther writes a full length book in the style of these short stories, its about time we had someone who can bring something different and exciting to the table of childrens books.”

5.0 out of 5 stars Great bedtime reading for 7-12 year olds - a cross between Alice in Wonderland and Harry Potter!, 17 Jan 2010
By Ms. L. M. Penney "mlmp" (UK) -

“I met the author at a local book signing and was intrigued by his enthusiasm, great talent for drawing and complex vocabulalry. My daughter (8) - loves the book. We read a chapter each night at bedtime and she cannot wait for the next part of the journey.

It is not an easy book to read out loud - but that is part of the challenge. The outstanding illustrations compliment the text perfectly and add explanation to the complex storyline.

The vocabulary is challenging (especially when written in dialect!)but exciting and the story line a cross between the crazy world of Alice in Wonderland and the mystery of Harry Potter. I would recommend for children 7 - 12 ... not sure about adults on their own. I probably wouldn't read it myself, but for children, yes, hence the high rating. I tend to pick it up to admire the quality of the amazingly detailed illustrations which tell a story themseleves.

Your child needs a good comprehension of the English language to appreciate this book fully, although it gives great scope and opportunity to explain what the more complex words and English idioisms mean e.g. "False sense of security".”

5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and cute, 22 Dec 2009
By Mr. Di Zendle "Piping hot potato!" (Potato, Potato) -

“From the TERRIFYING front cover, I was worried that this book would be too frightening for a young audience - however, I was completely wrong. Curd the Lion has just the right mix of tension, adrenaline, and super-cuteness to keep any young reader engaged.”


5.0 out of 5 stars A thoroughly original and enjoyable romp!, 15 Dec 2009
By Flossy (Surrey) - S

“I bought this book quite a few months ago, but felt compelled to write this review having seen some others here.
I have to say that I vehemently disagree with those who state this book is terrible and not for children. I found the story compelling and the illustrations amazing (no pun intended). The sketchy style of some of the illustrations is reminiscent of E.H. Shepherd and adds to the charm in my opinion. The writing style does remind me of Lewis Carroll to some extent without being derivatory, the comparison is more with the conjuring up of a strange and magical world where incredible characters appear around every bend.

There truly is something for all ages here, from young children who will love the illustrations and the pace of the adventure, to adults with an appreciation of nonsense, wit and puzzles and some memory of how it feels to be a child caught up in the fun of a tale.

The puzzles are clever and although hard to puzzle out, worth a shot! Certainly there are challenges in reading this book, but we don't all want to be spoonfed literature. It is far from a hard read.

I would recommend this book for children of ages 8 and up who are solid readers (although this would be great to read to a child as a bedtime story, a few chapters at a time) and for any adult with a spirit of fun and a love of new adventures in literature.”

4.0 out of 5 stars A great story with wonderful illustrations but is it really for kids?, 7 Dec 2009
By Max -

“Alan Gilliland has written a delightful, often non-sensical story with strong echoes of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: AND Through the Looking Glass (Penguin Classics). And the illustrations really bring the story alive - they are all hand-drawn by the author and make this a book to be kept and treasured.

The story revolves around the animal toys owned by two twins, Henry and Henrietta. When a Great Raven steals Henry and Henrietta's mother's brooch, the animals set off to find the raven and return the brooch. Curd the Lion, Pilgrim Crow, O'Flattery the snake and Sweeney the Heenie (a Hyena) meet various characters along the way and have some frankly bizarre adventures.

All this is great fun, and well worth a read, particularly when Gilliland has illustrated the important events in the story so well.

I can't help wondering, though, what sort of child this book is aimed at. The word-play in the book is really quite complicated - meaning that some of the jokes and whimsy would be missed even by an adult. And the structure of the story is quite complicated too - I had to go back and re-read chapters to understand it at points (though perhaps that's just me!)

Lastly to really appreciate the pictures you have to be reading the book yourself, yet to really do justice to the word-play and whimsy in the book you'd need to hear it read aloud.

None of these points should put you off buying this book, reading it for yourself or for an older child - it's great fun and something to treasure.”

4.0 out of 5 stars Imaginative & Fun!, 9 Feb 2010
By Mr. M. P. Duffy (Littlehampton, West Sussex United Kingdom) -

“Although I can see why this might not be for some, if you have a love of the absurd it's a fantastic book. The illustrations are brilliant & distinctive, the text fast paced yet challenging, which is why I feel this book will appeal to both adults & children. Although not an easy read by any stretch of the imagination, it more than repays the effort expended in reading it. Overall worth a shot!”

4.0 out of 5 stars Beanie Babies with Bite!, 21 Jan 2010
By Neil Goodacre -

“‘The Adventures of Curd the Lion (and Us!) in the Land at the Back of Beyond’ is the first book by Alan Gilliland that I have read. I'm not even sure if there are any books preceding this one, though there are definitely more to follow.

This particular tale follows the tale of Curd the Lion, its titular character, as he and three fellow soft toys embark on a fantastical adventure to save themselves from being condemned to the charity shop. Along the way, Curd and his party encounter all manner of strangers - some good, some bad, some familiar and not so - before everyone comes together for the epic final showdown.

Gilliland's tale deals with the issues you might expect to find in any adventure story - courage in the face of adversity, betrayal and redemption, that sort of thing - but he delivers it with such clever wordplay and a twisted logic that makes for a very refreshing read.

The only issue I have with this book is that it's hard to identify who it is intended for. The key characters are toys, which you would expect from a children's book, and it is illustrated throughout (by Gilliland himself, no less) but the images are monochrome, often with a sinister air to them, and the narrative is, I would imagine, too complicated for a children's book. Gilliland himself says that the book is intended to be "free range" (ie appeal to everybody) but I feel there is a danger that, by trying to appeal to everyone, it may not really appeal to anyone.

And that would be a crying shame because this really is a great title. I look forward to reading it to my little boy when he's a bit bigger.”

4.0 out of 5 stars Adventure for soft toys.................., 30 Dec 2009
By T. Walker (Bedfordshire, UK) -

“The tale is of four soft toy animals who go in search of a stolen brooch that must be recovered to keep them from being discarded. The writing is Reminiscent of that of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear. The author has succeeded in delivering on a book that incorporates a terrifically funny yet mysterious story, full of larger-than-life highly improbable characters. The story and the characters are original, to say the least. He's also delivered a story that is full of tongue-in-cheek humour and skilful word-play. Highly recommended!”

Thanks to Dr. K.E.Patrick, reviewer on Amazon.

Galvanised by Dr. K. E. Patrick’s very kind review of Curd on Amazon, I tried to write him a note.
This failed, because of a glitch that ensures I cannot buy anything from Amazon - to wit - no matter how many times I change my password, my email and password never match!

So Here goes. My open letter to the kind Doctor, in the hopes he has a Google alert for his name in operation.

To Dr. K.E. Patrick,
May I thank you and all those others who have responded
positively to my first book (I have not posted before because it seems churlish
to engage in self-defense against those negative reviewers). I am writing to
invite your your two children to go to the www.ravensquill.com website where
they can download a poster to print out (up to about A2 size, I’m told) with
lots of illustrations on it. I would also love to receive their own opinions
(bottom of review page) to add to that page with their names attached. Thanks
again. I am writing the sequel more slowly than I would like, because my
illustration workload (for the Penguin Group, Osprey the military publishers,
Brown Reference Group and others) is so heavy. I also sign copies every
Saturday and through half terms and holidays, mainly in a major book retail
chain.

By way of thanks to all my other positive Amazon reviewers I am going to post their reviews in the next post with ditto likewise hopes.
Meanwhile, here’s his review:


5.0 out of 5 stars A gem -- challenges strong readers without mature content, 22 Jun 2010
By Dr. K. E. Patrick (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)
This review is from: The Amazing Adventures of Curd the Lion (and Us!) in the Land at the Back of Beyond (Hardcover)

“I am always struggling to find books that are challenging and engaging for my 9- and 7-year-old without having too much mature content. This book is exactly what I look for in those terms, and seem to be exactly what my children want, too.

Other reviewers have mentioned the illustrations. Those, and the size of print, large enough, clean enough, are a great mix for young, ambitious readers whose eyes are still a bit far-sighted.

The humour, though slated by another reviewer, is one of my children's favourite parts of the book: names like King Ziggu (a rat) and Queen Mumbie-Bumbie (a bee, of course!) and the Dodongs (two-headed dodo) and Corbie (the crow) and the Minorbore (like a minotaur, only boring); they like the puns and the riddles, even the unsolvable one about why the wren-drive is like a sat-king; they like the illustrations and the map at the start; and the chapter titled Pilgrim's Progress, about a crow chasing the jackdaws.

My 9-year-old wants to put this book as one of the best of all time, along with The Hobbit and books by Frank Cottrell Boyce.

Basically, a great quest book for children that parents won't mind reading aloud. What can be better than that???”

‘Curd the Lion’ to be an e-Book soon.

Being created by eBook Architects, Joshua Tallent (who is quoted as being the man who “wrote the book for KIndle”).
Should ready by 21st July he says and should work fine across most devices.