Battle for Gullywith and reading

Susan Hill’s blog is full of excitement at the moment with the imminent launch of The Battle for Gullywith (I was lucky enough to read it early, for my review click here). Check out this fantastic trailer which had my 2 and 4 year old flocking to my computer with lots of questions “What’s that?” being the predominant one, now all they have to do is learn to read! Actually talking about them learning to read, it’s getting exciting how close that is actually getting for Girl Lacer, she’s at a nursery attached to the school she’ll hopefully go to (find out at the earliest April 23) and it’s been fantastic, it’s no hot house but they’ve managed to teach her most of her letters by associating her classmates names with the first letters of their names, which is great except for those letters which arn’t the first letter in any of her classmates names! She can also now do basic addition and subtraction, knows how to rhyme and will lecture you at length about what foods are healthy and which arn’t. So school ‘proper’ and the journey to learn to read starts in September and I’m so excited for her, of course she gets read to (lots) now but to be able to open up that ‘uniquely portable magic’ (Stephen King quote) at will, wow all those adventures she’s going to be able to go on! I hope she’s going to be a ‘reader’, I know some kids arn’t and I’m not going to push her but still, no actually all the signs are good, she’s always loved books since a little baby but I’ve sensed recently that she’s getting a little bored of picture books. Boy Lacer I think loves books even more, when he was a baby it wasn’t a teddy he wanted to sleep with it was a book (not anyone in particular), he’d stand up in his cot and go “book, book!” we’d give him one which he’d lay down on his mattress and then promptly lay down on and fall asleep!

But back to Gullywith, there’s a lovely interview in the Independent, with the fantastic news that there will be a sequel, yipee!

The Battle for Gullywith

The Battle for GullywithWell that didn’t take me that long to read! I received Susan Hill’s The Battle for Gullywith yesterday and I couldn’t put it down, I’ve been reading so much Boy Lacer has taken to mimicking me by sitting next to me on the sofa where I’ve been sitting with the book, my other on-going read (Stephen King’s On Writing) in his hands with his head buried in it (upside down of course). In fact he seems to have walked off with Stephen King somewhere, so if I can’t find it again I won’t learn much more beyond what is a passive sentence is (and now I finally understand those Word readability statistics!).

Anyway back to Gullywith; The Battle for Gullywith is Susan Hill’s first children book for some time, it tells the story of 10 year old Olly’s move from London to the countryside, to the run down house of Gullywith. However, with the help of an awful lot of menacing stones (Susan Hill does for stones what she did for ‘innocent’ Venetian paintings in The Man in the Picture) and a battle hungry stone king in a submerged castle, things do not go to plan. But with some friends and a lot of heroic tortoises on Olly’s side . . . well you’ll just have to read it to see what happens.

I’m going to feel like an Amazon junk mailing here but I’m going to say it anyway ‘If you liked Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising Sequence (and I’m talking about the books, not the awful film) you’ll love The Battle for Gullywith’, there’s a similar mythological, children used as agents for ‘good’ feel to it, plus set in the sumptuous English countryside with it’s lakes, hills and forests playing key, dramatic roles in the storyline. I suspect there will also be some comparisons to Harry Potter (if anything because it’s published by the same publisher) but yes, if you liked Harry Potter I suspect you’ll like Battle for Gullywith as well, there’s a similar vein of magic going on beneath everyday normal reality (although no witches or wizards). It wouldn’t surprise me if they made a film out of it either (although please not made by the makers of the aforementioned ‘awful film’).

So, my copy will be off to my daughter’s school on Monday (the condition of me ‘winning it’), I think this book is going to be devoured by a lot of very happy kids and as for me, I really hope there’s a sequel.

March has turned into February

It’s grey, wet and dismal outside, just like last month basically. I know this bad weather isn’t exactly breaking news but whereas it came into the week with drama it’s leaving the week like a grey, oppressive, slightly damp blanket. My March bounce has fizzled under the drizzle, I’m drowning under dirty laundry and as usual we’re broke.

Me and Boy Lacer went into town (again) this afternoon whilst Girl Lacer was at nursery, principally to get some ham (we’re completely out of sandwich fillings, oh the exciting life I lead) but really the thought of an afternoon of (much needed) housework following a morning of (much needed) housework was too much so I was looking for an excuse to escape, so I went off in search of some bright shiny shop lights and dragged the poor Boy Lacer window shopping again. I am a great believer (read escape artist) in the principal of ‘going for a walk’; when Girl Lacer was a baby we lived in basically a dormitory suburb with not much to do, so when I used to take her for walks all I could do was wander round the empty streets with only builders and other bored mums with babies as signs of human life. Now where we live there’s a great big shiny shopping centre down the road, filled with chains I used to be able to afford to shop in when we were on two salaries, so today I checked out Monsoon, where they have some lovely 70s inspired Indian tops at far from 70s prices, I discovered a new cookbook I want in Waterstones called In the Mood for Food by Jo Pratt, which looks lovely, just the sort of food I cook and I ate a way too big bar of chocolate.

Bombay Print Smock Top

So after the ham was actually purchased, me and Boy Lacer returned to pick up Girl Lacer from nursery, 20 minutes early, so we had to wait outside in the aforementioned drizzle. We returned via the playing field that is between us and the school, so the Boy Lacer could toddle along without getting in anyones way. About half an hour later (Boy Lacer walks very slowly) we were finally at the gate the other side of the playing field and Girl Lacer rushed the final yards home ahead as usual, however she rushed back, just before me and Boy Lacer were about to enter our front gate, a parcel in her hand and a little bit of stardust on a dreary day.

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The Battle for Gullywith by Susan Hill, I ‘won’ it on her blog (I was one of the first twenty people to put my name in the comments section for that particular post), it’s won on the condition that once I’ve read it, it goes to a school, so I’ll be donating it to Girl Lacer’s school, ooh about next Monday (this will definitely not take long to read). I’ve already managed to read the first chapter (I sneaked into the kitchen and shut the kitchen gate) and well if the first chapter is anything to go by it’s going to be very very good. Girl Lacer is already looking forward to when she’s old enough to borrow it from the school library (although I suspect I may end up buying a copy anyway!)