The Skeleton Tree - blog post image

The Skeleton Tree

The reader is immediately inside the head of Stanly, a young boy who is trying to balance his inquisitive sense of adventure with responsibilities for his younger sister. The author gets the balance of entertainment and message just right, with Stanly constantly torn between the frustrations of having a younger sibling and concern that she is in poor health. Ventrella skilfully communicates the complexities of family life with Stanly alternately hating and adoring his little sister.

I had thought the story would be about a skeleton tree but it is really about family, love and loyalty. Stanly’s mother is busy, distracted and worried & he has developed a great coping mechanism for when his brain is going to explode; Slurpy the zombie lopes around in side his head and eats all his worries. And worries he certainly has. There is a skeleton in his garden that only Stanly and his sister seem to see, he needs to win a competition to earn back the attention of his errant father, and his sister's ailing health keeps him and his mother constantly on their toes.

I would think Skeleton Tree would be an enjoyable read for ages 8-10 - boys and girls alike.

Skeleton Tree will be available to buy in the Autumn - watch out for it! It is worth the wait and I will remind you on my blog too.

My Thoughts

From my Instagram feed and the other book reviews you could be forgiven for thinking I am overly keen on trees. You would not be wrong. Ever since reading about the Ents in The Hobbit I have been intrigued by magical trees and those of you who know me understand that tree climbing and tree houses are in my blood. So, when I saw Skeleton Tree book for review on NetGalley I snatched it up. It is always a treat to get an early copy so huge thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for this advance edition.

I like to think that stories are where our imaginations take us when they are off the leash and Kim Ventrella’s was definitely running free with this one. The concept of a skeleton growing in your garden is fantastic and there are so many places a writer could go from this starting point. Ventrella seemed to know exactly where she was headed and holds tight to the story line giving us a rocketing read from the very first page.


The Skull In The Wood - blog post image

The Skull In The Wood

Deep on Dartmoor, cousins Matt and Tilda discover a skull. And from that moment black things happen. Birds and animals turn bad, and there's talk of the return of an old curse. An adventure story that draws on the myths and legends of Dartmoor when thirteen year old Matt comes down from London to stay with his cousins .

The Skull in the Wood would appeal to boys and girls alike and, depending on their reading level, would be a fun read for anybody from about 9 - 13. It would also be a great one to read aloud though maybe not at bedtime!

My Thoughts

I picked this book because I loved the title and the setting, on Dartmoor, takes me back to my childhood of stomping across the moors, losing wellies in the bogs and fearing the fog that can fall in minutes and lose you forever ! I am also, as I have told you before, something of a sucker for Chicken House books so knew I could trust this one to be good before I opened the first page.

The story of The Skull in the Wood is told by three main characters - Tilda, Matt and Kitty - who alternately recount events as they saw them through their eyes. It is a mechanism that works well and carries you along at quite a pace. Sandra Greaves sets Matt and Tilda against each other with some fabulous bickering, irritants and competitiveness that, if we are honest, most of us will recognise from some stage in our lives. It is this conflict that drives the story and takes it to a very satisfying conclusion. Hopefully Greaves has left enough out of this one to furnish a sequel.


TALES FROM THE RIVERBANK - blog post image


I have to tell you about a very special regatta I was privileged to attend at nearby Bisham Abbey - a beautiful medieval building ... 

Our Castle By The Sea - blog post image

Our Castle By The Sea

Growing up in a lighthouse, 11-year-old Pet's world has been one of storms, secret tunnels, and stories about sea monsters.  


Teachers - have you discovered @BookPenPals? A new initiative pairing authors & illustrators with schools to make reading recommendations via postcards. They're pretty oversubscribed, but if you're interested it might be worth getting your name on the waiting list. They have some fabulous authors on board.