Monthly Archives: August 2011

My name is Gaynor Allen and I’m the Children’s Book Buyer at Tesco. I’m also a mum and a reader and have a bit of an R-Patts obsession! So imagine my joy when I discovered that author Francesca Simon had at last decided to bring a ‘vampire’ into a story about her most Horrid of creations…

With her wild imagination and sharp sense of humour, Francesca introduces the possibility of a vampire to Horrid Henry’s world. Horrid Henry and his classmates are heading to the museum for a sleepover, but are his teachers, Miss Battle-Axe and Miss Lovely, really what they seem to be? Or are they really ZOMBIE VAMPIRES?

Here’s Horrid Henry’s guide to how to spot a vampire:

  • Big huge scary teeth
  • Drinks blood
  • Only appears at night

Younger readers can enjoy being spooked by this funny take on a vampire story (though it might make them look at their teachers a little bit differently!) and I’ll enjoy sharing this with some of the children that I know… and maybe passing on my love of all things paranormal to them too!

We’ve had great fun at home coming up with our own vampire names from this brilliant vampire name generator. Horrid Henry’s arch enemy Moody Margaret is “Goddess of Scandinavia” also known as “Mother of the Vile”, and described as “vile, foul, filthy and greedy”!

And to make this book even better, it comes with a special limited edition 3-D front cover!

To celebrate the publication of  Horrid Henry’s latest adventure we have a special competition: you can win 1 of 10 LIMITED EDITION Horrid Henry and the Zombie Vampire kids t-shirts (aged 7-8 years). Simply answer the below question:

What would your vampire name be and why?

Regular readers of the blog  and Twitter followers of ours will know that for the last couple of weeks we’ve been running the Tesco Tea Party competition, to mark the release of Angel Adoree’s great new book, The Vintage Tea Party.

Sadly, the competition is now at an end and before we go any further, we’d like to say a massive thanks to everyone who got involved. Reading back over the entries it’s clear that a lot of thought went into some of those answers and we’ve had a great time going through them all.

Since our blog is still very much in its infancy – although I can’t believe we’ve been blogging for a month already! – we didn’t expect anywhere near the number of entries we ended up with. We had just under 300 of you getting involved through the blog and on Twitter!

But, time time has come to draw the name from the proverbial hat, so, without further ado…

*Drum roll begins*

The winner of the Tesco Tea Party, picked at random, was … Sharon Griffin!

*Horn fanfare, possibly streamers*

Sharon’s perfect fantasy tea party would be herself, a woman called Clarabella Cupcake, a pot-bellied pig and a mouse. Certainly one of the more imaginative answers we received. Hopefully her choice of 12 friends that she invites to her real tea party will be slightly easier to cater for – and ideally, human.

Condolences to all those who didn’t get lucky this time. We’ll be running more competitions in the future so check back or keep an eye on your Twitter feed for an early heads up.

A little while back, Isobel Akenhead got in touch with us on Twitter to ask us what our favourite childrens books were. Now, this may seem like a simple enough question with, you’d imagine, a simple enough answer, but I really struggled with it. As I was trying to pick mine I realised that while a lot of the books I read growing up had now faded from my recollection, there were a small number that had stuck fast and that to choose between them was almost impossible.

After mulling this over a little while, I ended up singling out Moon Whales by Ted Hughes, in particular the edition with illustrations by Chris Liddell. But there were others; The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery, Skellig by David Almond and the obligatory Roald Dahl bookor two. These were the books that first got me into reading and without them I’m tempted to think I would be quite a different person.

Which is why I was so put out to learn that Britain is now ranked 25th in the world in a study of children’s reading habits and that children in the UK are more likely to read emails or websites than books. For me and a great many others that I know reading is an important part of growing up and some of the books you read when you are young will stay with you for good. It seems a terrible shame that so many children in the UK could potentially go without this formative and enjoyable experience.

With this in mind, we’d love to hear your thoughts on why you think it’s important to keep kids reading and how you think this can be done – you can also check out a handy list of reading ideas in Tesco Magazine. No matter how outlandish or simple your idea may seem, any contribution to the discussion would be great.

Last week, Angel Adoree and a host of suitably vintage-looking pals threw on their finest glad rags and got together to celebrate the release of Angel’s new book, The Vintage Tea Party

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Jana Oliver’s Demon Trapper series is set in Atlanta, Georgia, a city in which demons walk the streets and demon trappers take it upon themselves to protect the public.

The second instalment in the Demon Trapper series, Forbidden, was released in the UK earlier this month. There’s a great review of Forbidden over on Ink Scratchers, well worth a read if you are a fan of YA fiction with a healthy dose of the paranormal.

We were lucky enough to get five minutes of Jana Oliver’s time to talk about Forbidden, why she prefers demons and angels to vampires and werewolves and the future of the series.

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 Lionel Shriver – We Need to Talk About Kevin

We Need to Talk About Kevin stormed the charts when it was first published in 2003, and it went on to win the 2005 Orange Prize amid huge critical acclaim. Since then, the novel has been adapted for the big screen, with national UK release set for October this year. If you haven’t yet read the novel, I’d strongly recommend picking up a copy.  Alice Reeves writing for The Vibe describes the novel as “an absolute triumph in storytelling … nothing is as it seems and the ending is ultimately heart-wrenching and completely unexpected”. For Books Sake was also struck by the ending – it “made my stomach flip.

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Since word first got out that J. K. Rowling & co had been working on a website ambiguously called, Pottermore, there has been a great deal of speculation as to what exactly the website was, or did. Here are some of my favourites, via Jotzoom:

  • It’s a Harry Potter branded smartphone
  • It’s a new series of Harry Potter related books
  • It’s a iOS game for iPhone, Ipad

Not quite, guys.

But now, all that conjecture has been put to rest as the gates to Pottermore have been flung open and entry has been admitted to one million avid Potter fans.

From what I’ve heard, it’s somewhere between a social networking site and an interactive environment that lets users explore the Potter world and discover more about the books and the characters. Pretty cool, don’t you think?

In fact, of all the theories that were being bandied about prior to its launch, this is probably the one that I would have liked to see the most. Everyone knows that books need to find fresh, exciting ways to ‘go digital’, and perhaps sites like Pottermore could be a model for successful titles in the future.

But more importantly, reading about Pottermore has got me thinking, wouldn’t it be great to be able to explore other novels in a similar way, to interact with both the characters and the landscape and experience the book from an entirely different perspective. As soon as I had this thought I envisaged myself navigating ‘Cochadebajo de los Gatos’ from Louis de Berniere’s The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman, or Orwell’s Oceania from Nineteen Eighty Four. 

So, if you could  see one of your favourite novels bought to life in this way, Pottermore-style, which one would it be?

The other day we were chatting to a few people on Twitter about the film adaptation of One Day, in particular, the decision to cast Anne Hathaway as Emma Morley. Now, I only finished the book a couple of weeks ago and while I empathised with both characters at different points throughout the novel, Emma was my favourite, by a mile. In fact, this response seems fairly typical, as Rachel Cooke pointed out in the Guardian:

“Like lots of women, I am proprietorial about Emma, who is, like me, from the north, and who attended, and at roughly the same time as me, an unexpectedly posh university – Edinburgh, in her case.”

Now, I may be not northern and I may not be a woman but for whatever reason I did identify with Emma Morley and I know it will be tough to see her lifted from my imagination and up on the silver screen, as it always is with film adaptations. Still, I am determined to remain open minded and enjoy the film as best I can, despite my reservations.

But not every fan has been so forgiving. I think in this instance the fact that the book resonated with so many people has actually been at the heart of the public outcry. Emma Morley was described as pretty throughout One Day but she was never a Hollywood starlet. She was awkward at times and riddled with self-doubt and it was these qualities that bought her down to Earth in such a way that she felt like someone you might meet in the street and hardly notice. But if I met Anne Hathaway in the street there’s every chance I’d come over all giddy and ask her to sign whatever I had to hand…

OK, so maybe I do harbour some slight reservations, but I don’t think that all is lost, as Janey from Lady Writer points out:

“I’m fairly sure that there were similar voices of dissent when Renée Zellweger was cast as Bridget Jones, and now you’d be hard-pressed to imagine anyone else playing her.”

So maybe it will be a turn up for the books, maybe Hathaway will shine and the film will perfectly compliment the book’s considerable, if short lived, reputation as a modern classic. At this point in time it’s far too early for to say. What I can predict with near certainty is that almost everyone that has read that book will be itching to watch that film – if only out of sheer curiosity.

Anyway, I’ve had my say, it’s probably time I step off my soapbox and let everyone else chip in. So, what do you reckon, can Anne live up to Emma Morley?

What You Don't Know by Lizzie Enfield

You’ve been together for fifteen years. You’ve got two gorgeous kids and a great career. All the boxes are ticked. You wouldn’t be tempted by a plain, slightly balding man called Graham … Would you?

When Graham Parks walks into Helen Collins’ life, the last thing she expects is to fall for him. He’s nothing like her handsome, successful husband, Alex. But as harmless flirtation to develops into something far more complicated, soon Helen’s perfect world begins to unravel, and it’s time to make the difficult decision between what she does know and what she doesn’t.

What You Don’t Know is, as Cuckoo author Julia Crouch describes on her blog, “a gripping read. I started reading it yesterday, and am having to force myself to put it down to get on with my work”. From the great opening line – “She wondered what it would be like to sleep with him” – readers will find themselves struggling along with Helen as she is pulled in two directions by her husband and new man Graham.

Although What You Don’t Know seems on the surface a typical chick-lit conundrum between two men, at the heart of this novel is the thought-provoking issue of feeling as though life may be passing you by. After fifteen years with the same man, and the rest of her life with him and their two children stretching out before her like a film she’s seen too many times, Helen can’t help but feel as though she’s missing out. But is the grass really greener on the other side?

Click here to get your copy of What You Don’t Know from Tesco Books

Here at Tesco we’ve been mulling over why it’s sometimes tough to decide which book you want to read next. Obviously, there’s no end of great books to choose from – but somehow, it rarely seems as simple as just picking the one that takes your fancy.

And then, we had an idea…

Perhaps it’s down to how we discover new books. Whether online or in store, books tend to be listed alphabetically, or by genre. But when was the last time you had a sudden urge to read a book specifically by an author whose surname begins with ‘S’, or ‘T’?

Choosing a book is rather like choosing a film; what do I feel like watching – something that will make me laugh? Something to tug on the heart strings? Something that will keep me on the edge of my seat until the very end?

We asked around and time and time again we got the same answer – we choose books to suit our mood.

So, with this in mind, we want to try something out. We’re going to group books – every kind of book; fiction, non-fiction, autobiography, anything goes! – according to how they make us feel, nothing else.

And we’re going to be testing this out in about half of Tesco’s stores from the 25th August onwards.

But before we do so, we want your opinion on the books we’ve picked. So, here they are:

Handpicked to carry you away

For those moments when you want to switch off and tune out, immerse yourself in another world.

Victoria Hislop – The Island

Kate  Mosse – Labyrinth

Carlos Ruiz Zafon – The Shadow of the Wind

Julia Gregson – East of the Sun

Kate Quinn - Mistress of Rome

Katherine Webb – The Legacy

Justin Cronin – The Passage

Handpicked to make you think… talk… and think again

These are thought provokers, the sort of books that you could chat about no end. Not necessarily easy-reading, but certainly rewarding.

Jodi Picoult – Harvesting the Heart

Andrea Levy – The Long Song

Maggie O’Farrell – The Hand the First Held Mine

Tea Obreht – The Tiger’s Wife

Asne Seierstad – The Bookseller of Kabul

Erin Kelly – The Poison Tree

Michael Robotham – The Suspect

Handpicked to turn your heart in somersaults

These are truly rollercoaster reads – up one minute, down the next.

David Nicholls – One Day

Jenny Colgan – Meet me at the Cupcake Café

Sarah Winman – When God Was a Rabbit

Emily Giffin – Heart of the Matter

Lauren Oliver – Delirium

Nicholas Sparks – The Notebook

Dorothy Koomson – The Ice Cream Girls

So, if you’ve read any of these books, get in touch either by leaving a comment or on Twitter, we’d love to know how they made you feel and which mood you think they would suit the best.