One book that I loved as a child was The Flying Classroom by Erich Kästner. It is the story of two warring schools, a production that must go on, and a kind man who lives in a railway carriage.
At the beginning of the book, Kästner tells you that he was an adult trying to write a story for children, and that he has gone up to the mountains to do it. There was something incredibly exciting about this for me. It felt like being invited backstage to meet the actors after a play and having those actors speak to you as an equal.
I also liked how real the world of the book felt, how there was no
obvious message being thrown at you, and how normal all the kids seemed
compared to some of the other stories that were around.
Reading him again, it strikes me that the adults in his books are as real as the children too, something which can sometimes be rare in children’s books, where the grown-ups are either horrifically evil or unbelievably good-hearted.
The Flying Classroom was the last book published by Erich Kästner before the Nazis took control of Germany. Under their regime, his books were banned and destroyed during mass book-burnings held throughout the country.
Ben Brooks is the author of Stories For Boys Who Dare to be Different 2, which tells the stories of 100 famous and not-so-famous men and boys who broke the mould and changed the world without slaying any dragons or rescuing any princesses.
The 8th of March is fast approaching, we’ve rallied our feminist spirit and, you guessed it, we’ve got a stack of books to get through to get us prepared for the big day! And top of that list is Almost Love by feminist powerhouse Louise O’Neill. Here’s Louise talking about what motivated her to write the book…
So get stuck in to Almost Love now, with this super exclusive extract.
Half term is here, and although we’re so pleased to have the kids around, there’s nothing we need more right now than activities to keep them quiet. Enter Ben Brooks and Quinton Winter, the duo behind Stories for Boys Who Dare to be Differentand Stories for Kids Who Dare to be Different! These books each feature 100 figures, every one of them an inspiring pioneer and creative genius in their own way. They all broke the mould and made their dreams come true. The books encourage kids to challenge the status quo and be unashamedly themselves. And the great news is, there’s a new one! Back due to popular demand isStories for Boys Who Dare to be Different 2…
We’ve been thinking about what makes the ultimate February read… lushly written escapism? Check. A captivating adventure? Check. A touch of magic? Absolutely. It just so happens that our February Book of the Month The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo ticks all of these boxes!
So to celebrate its publication, we’re organising a huge international online buddy read! All you have to do is tune in every Monday at 8pm as we discuss sections of the book using #NightTigerTogether. It’s kicking off on Monday 18th February with chapters 1-10, and here’s a super exclusive extract to whet your appetite: http://bit.ly/NightTigerExtract
And if you fancy a real treat, here’s chapters 1-10 of the audiobook, read by Yangsze Choo herself: http://bit.ly/2S4Kulq
With Valentines Day looming, we’re feeling the love here at Team Bookends. And what is better than a bookish rom com to get you in the mood? Here are our top 5 picks for the ultimate Valentines movie marathon…
10 Things I Hate About You
This 90s classic is a re-imagining of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew – what could be more bookish?! We’re big fans of the Sylvia-Plath-reading Kat Stratford and her fiesty retorts to Heath Ledger’s moody and elusive Patrick Verona, and that scene where she reads the poem in English class… gets us every time!
You’ve Got Mail
If you haven’t seen this star studded rom com, you’re really missing out. It’s got the ultimate bookish meet-cute, with Tom Hanks’s character Joe Fox meeting Meg Ryan’s Kathleen Kelly in a bookshop (who here hasn’t fantasised about this?) Co-written and directed by Nora Ephron, master of the rom com, the witty back-and-forth is second only to the gorgeous bookshop that serves as much of the backdrop. We’re in book heaven.
Another book-based-on-a-film phenomenon is the fabulous Clueless – rewritten from Jane Austen’s Emma, the infamous Cher Horowitz is based on Austen’s eponymous heroine Emma Woodhouse, while her step brother Josh takes on the role of the charming Mr Knightley. And it’s not just the romance we’re swooning over – those matching checked outfits worn by Cher and Dionne are iconic to say the least…
If you haven’t read Helen Fielding’s original book that inspired the film, it’s an absolute must! Super relatable and laugh-out-loud funny, Bridget is the ultimate anti-heroine.
For movie buffs and book lovers, a trip to Notting Hill to visit the bookshop (which is run by Hugh Grant’s character in the Richard Curtis classic) is essential. But fun fact: The Travel Bookshop never existed at 142 Portobello Road; this site was an antiques store and then a furniture store. It’s now a gift shop called Notting Hill (with a sign saying ‘The Travel Book Shop’ above). The real book shop that William’s was based on is around the corner at 13-15 Blenheim Crescent.
So there you go – the perfect Valentine’s weekend spent indulging in delightful bookish rom coms and dreaming of bookshops…
‘Sumptuous and moving. Velton weaves her tale with the threads of betrayal, thwarted dreams and good intentions gone awry‘ Laura Purcell
‘A richly imagined and brilliantly twisty tale’ Anna Mazzola
‘A plot as finely detailed as Spitalfields silk’ Stacey Halls
WHEN ESTHER THOREL, the wife of a Huguenot silk-weaver, rescues Sara Kemp from a brothel she thinks she is doing God’s will. Sara is not convinced being a maid is better than being a whore, but the chance to escape her grasping ‘madam’ is too good to refuse.
INSIDE THE THORELS’ tall house in Spitalfields, where the strange cadence of the looms fills the attic, the two women forge an uneasy relationship. The physical intimacies of washing and dressing belie the reality: Sara despises her mistress’s blindness to the hypocrisy of her household, while Esther is too wrapped up in her own secrets to see Sara as anything more than another charitable cause.
IT IS SILK that has Esther so distracted. For years she has painted her own designs, dreaming that one day her husband will weave them into reality. When he laughs at her ambition, she unwittingly sets in motion events that will change the fate of the whole Thorel household and set the scene for a devastating day of reckoning between her and Sara.
THE PRICE OF a piece of silk may prove more than either is able to pay.
‘A sumptuous garden maze of a novel’ Kirkus Reviews
They say a tiger that devours too many humans can take the form of a man and walk among us…
In 1930s colonial Malaya, a dissolute British doctor receives a surprise gift of an eleven-year-old Chinese houseboy. Sent as a bequest from an old friend, young Ren has a mission: to find his dead master’s severed finger and reunite it with his body. Ren has forty-nine days, or else his master’s soul will roam the earth forever.
Ji Lin, an apprentice dressmaker, moonlights as a dancehall girl to pay her mother’s debts. One night, Ji Lin’s dance partner leaves her with a gruesome souvenir that leads her on a crooked, dark trail.
As time runs out for Ren’s mission, a series of unexplained deaths occur amid rumours of tigers who turn into men. In their journey to keep a promise and discover the truth, Ren and Ji Lin’s paths will cross in ways they will never forget.
Captivating and lushly written, The Night Tiger explores the rich world of servants and masters, ancient superstition and modern ambition, sibling rivalry and unexpected love. Woven through with Chinese folklore and a tantalizing mystery, this novel is a page-turner of the highest order.
Remember your Just-In-Cases. Beware Tall Buildings. Watch
Raised by her mother and Maeve on Slanbeg, an island off the
west coast of Ireland, Orpen has a childhood of love and stories by the
fireside. But the stories grow darker, and the training begins. Ireland has
been devoured by a ravening menace known as the skrake, and though Slanbeg is
safe for now, the women must always be ready to run, or to fight.
When Maeve is bitten, Orpen is faced with a dilemma: kill Maeve before her transformation is complete, or try to get help. So Orpen sets off, with Maeve in a wheelbarrow and her dog at her side, in the hope of finding other survivors, and a cure. It is a journey that will test Orpen to her limits, on which she will learn who she really is, who she really loves, and how to imagine a future in a world that ended before she was born.
‘One of the most hilarious books I have read for a very
long time. Olivia writes with great warmth and wit – a fantastically funny
debut.’ Emma Cooper, author of The Songs of Us
Perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella, Katie Marsh and Marian
Keyes, Olivia Beirne’s The List That Changed My Life takes its readers
on an hilarious and heart-warming journey of a lifetime, showing us what it
means to really be alive.
Georgia loves wine, reality TV and sitting on the sofa after
work. She does not love heights, looking at her bank account, going on dates,
or activities that involve a sports bra. And she will never, ever take a risk.
That is, until her braver, bolder, big sister finds out that
she won’t be able to tick off the things she wanted to do before turning thirty,
and turns to Georgia to help her finish her list.
With the birthday just months away, Georgia suddenly has a
deadline to learn to grab life with both hands. Could she be brave enough to
take the leap, for her sister?
An unusual dalmation, a TV star with cancer, an
out-of-control budgie. Charlotte Rea has seen them all, and more.
Animal Matters is Charlotte’s diary of real-life
cases written during a one year of her work as a veterinary surgeon in a
24-hour inner-city London animal charity. The diary reveals the reality of
working as a vet, how it can be both emotional and amusing, one minute you can
be consoling an owner on the loss of their much-loved pet, the next trying to
catch an escaped budgie. Charlotte mixes deeply sad moments with amusing and
unimaginable ones along with more detailed accounts and reflections back on her
training and the experiences she has come up against over the decade since she
Throughout the book you will get to know both the animals
and the people and how close the bond between us can be. Charlotte also
discusses contemporary issues in veterinary medicine such as animal euthanasia,
RSPCA welfare cases, mental health issues within the veterinary profession,
ethical concerns around pedigree dog breeding and the laws on dangerous dogs.
Animal Matters is a moving and heartwarming book about the unconditional love between animals and humans.