An intriguing book with magic woven through it, and an enjoyable tale of the dominant characters getting their comeuppances.

The blurb

“The Kendrick family have been making world-famous dolls since the early 1800s. But their dolls aren’t coveted for the craftmanship alone. Each one has a specific emotion laid on it by its creator. A magic that can make you feel bucolic bliss or consuming paranoia at a single touch. Though founded by sisters, now only men may know the secrets of the workshop.

Persephone Kendrick longs to break tradition and learn the family craft, and when a handsome stranger arrives claiming…

Photo by Anna Kolosyuk on Unsplash

It’s Wednesday afternoon on the 18th of March as I write this, and here in the UK it’s just been announced that all schools in Scotland and Wales will be closing from Friday. It seems highly likely England is going to follow suit, with other countries around the world already having sent children home.

Like many parents, I’ve already been thinking ahead and worrying about how this will go: not just about what it’ll mean for my work, but also about the challenge of sudden, not-really-prepared-for home-schooling. I’m hopeful that we’ll be getting sent lesson plans and/or homework by my…

A wonderful sequel to the also-wonderful The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, which pulls you deeper into the characters you already know, as well as some marvellous ones you don’t.

The blurb

“For Thaniel Steepleton, an unexpected posting to Tokyo can’t come at a better moment. The London fog has made him ill and doctor’s orders are to get out.

His brief is strange: the staff at the British Legation have been seeing ghosts, and his first task is to find out what’s going on. But staying with his closest friend Keita Mori in Yokohama, Thaniel starts to experience ghostly happenings himself. For…

A deliciously creepy detective novel with plenty of Wicker-Man weirdness, set in a village where every day brings a new saintly restriction.

The blurb

The third book in Jeff Noon’s widely acclaimed ‘Nyquest Mysteries’ find our protagonist caught up in a new mystery that delves into nightmares, Saints and the answer to his father’s disappearance

In the winter of 1959, private eye John Nyquist arrives in the village of Hoxley-on-the-Hale with only a package of cryptic photographs, and the frail hope of finding an answer to a question he’s been asking since his childhood.

But the villagers offer little help, as each…

A characterful historical novel set in an alternative version of 16th-century England, with a teenage ‘Sin Eater’ getting caught up in a dastardly court plot.

The blurb

“A Sin Eater’s duty is a necessary evil: she hears the confessions of the dying, eats their sins as a funeral rite. Stained by these sins, she is shunned and silenced, doomed to live in exile at the edge of town.

Recently orphaned May Owens is just fourteen, only concerned with where her next meal is coming from. …

Games consoles are fun. Board games are fun. So what could be more fun than a ‘programmable game console and board game’ aimed at families, then? Not much, hopes British company Technology Will Save Us, which has just unveiled its new Arcade Coder kit on crowdfunding website Kickstarter.

The kit’s centrepiece is a tablet-shaped board of 144 LED buttons, arranged in 12 rows of 12. Each of those buttons can be programmed using an iOS app called Games Studio, with drag-and-drop coding that will hopefully be familiar (to children and adults alike) from Scratch and various other kids-coding apps.


Fabled’s new book is called ‘The Future is Make Believe’

Parents spend a lot of time thinking about how we can encourage our kids to read more stories, but what about writing them? British company Fabled is trying to help on the latter front: it has a website that aims to be a safe space for children to write and share stories with friends and parents or carers alike. Now it’s collecting some of those stories in a (printed) book, as part of a fundraising campaign on crowdfunding website Kickstarter.

If you’ve not seen the site before, it starts with a blank page where children can start to type their…

The UK’s next Prime Minister is going to be Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt. Given that fact, you’ll forgive me for drifting off into a happy dream world where our next PM is a baker, broadcaster and author instead. Or perhaps it’s not just a dream…

“I might just run for prime minister,” said Nadiya Hussain, said baker / broadcaster / author, in her opening keynote at the Children’s Media Conference last night. “Free chocolate for everyone! I can’t change the world but I might run for prime minister. You never know!”

If only. For now, Hussain has plenty of…

“It is time for the media to begin treating this emergency with the severity it deserves… Where are you in this movement? What have you been doing to avert this crisis?”

Those were the words of climate activist Noga Levy-Rapoport, who made the opening ‘changemaker’ speech at the Children’s Media Conference in Sheffield last night (disclosure: I’m on its advisory board). She’s one of the organisers of the campaign that has seen young people across the UK go on ‘school strikes’ to express their views about the climate emergency.

CMC’s audience includes people from across the world of children’s media…

It feels like a long time since the announcement of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, an official game set in J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world, made by the team behind Pokémon Go. Mainly because it is a long time: that original announcement was made 19 months ago in November 2017. It was an enticing prospect: another mobile augmented-reality game that would get Potter fans out walking in the real world casting spells, battling monsters and hunting for artifacts – alone or with their friends.

Earlier this year, the game was released in Australia and New Zealand for ‘beta’ testing, but last Friday…

Stuart Dredge

Scribbler about apps, digital music, games and consumer technology. Skills: slouching, typing fast. Usually simultaneously.

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