Have you heard about Print on Demand?
It's a great way to sell products, either in bulk or one by one, with a design that you have found, or even a design that your customer wants.
It could be a Print on Demand coffee mug, T-shirt, hoodie, posted, backpack ..in fact anything that you can print on.
You just upload your design to a pre-set template online, play around with it (centreing, zooming, adjusting colours, fonts and backgrounds as necessary) and then upload it to the print on demand site, place your order and pay - it will ship to you, your friend, or client, in a matter of days.
If you have any interest in this, you can get a ready made platform, FREE OF CHARGE & FOREVER at Groove Digital - you get a full suite of programs and appls, web builders, landing pages and e-commerce facilities.
You can find it HERE
Once you are in and signed up - go to the left hand pane and you will see "Marketplace" - click in there and you will have ready access to lots of "done for you designs" that you can sell on your new pages.
If all this is a bit strange at first, remember that your free subscription also includes FREE membership of Groove Academy and the Groove Digital Facebook page, as well as fantastic free support.
Even if you are not planning to go online and build webpages right now, just think about this.. COVID-19 has forced us all to rethink careers, ways to earn money and new directions to take. Online shopping habits are changing. I read a blog, just the other day which said that Amazon's sales in 2020 are where they had expected to be in 2030!
That means that, not only are more people changing their shopping habits and buying online, but more people are alse setting up ONLINE SELLING outlets, whether they be full on e-stores, Facebook selling, Amazon, eBay, Etsy or dropshipping platforms such as Groove Kart.
So, even if you don't need this right now, I sincerely recommend that you should sign up and just sit on it - as soon as all the Groove suite of products come out of Beta development, which could be anytime they will no longer be free, so this is a once in a lifetime GROUND FLOOR opportunity and I really recommend that you take a good look at it.
You can get it FREE FOREVER - right here - https://groovepages.groovesell.com/a/8twGFJdQVGtZ
Go for it - nothing to lose!
Have a great week,
Get your FREE Groovepages
+61 439 715 643
.. and don't forget to join the Mediagate Mob
In this day and age, any business that wants to thrive must go online.
With so many things going on around the world, and global changes that will forever impact the way people live and do business, going online is no longer just an option.
Not only to maintain their success, but even just to survive.
Sure, there are tools that are already available that any business can use to run their entire company and processes digitally.
However, any minimum amount of research will tell you that most of these products are expensive, complicated and limited in customization.
In other words, not very user-friendly, and definitely not suitable for all business owners, especially those who are less tech-savvy and might even be on a budget.
I mean, who can afford to invest thousands of dollars a month into a bunch of complicated tools, and on top of that, hire employees to manage the systems, right?
Well, if this sounds familiar in any way, I have some good news for you.
As an online marketer and blogger myself, I am always looking for new solutions for these everyday challenges we face as business owners.
Today, I am very excited to introduce you to my latest discovery.
GrooveFunnels is, by far, the best way I have found to be able to build websites, sales funnels and sell digital products online.
The best part? It’s FREE.
But the free value does not end there…
You see, GrooveFunnels is not just a website and sales funnel builder.
The co-founder of GrooveFunnels, Mike Filsaime, is actually a veteran in the Internet marketing space, and has put all his experience and expertise into one of the best suite of marketing tools I have ever seen.
I’ve also signed myself up for an account (it’s free), and for the past few days, I’ve had the chance to play around with it.
And you know what?
I can definitely tell you that this 100% free tool is perfectly capable of running your entire business, maybe even better than some of the expensive complicated tools out there.
I’m not exaggerating by any means…
From what I’ve seen so far, GrooveFunnels includes everything that I need to run my online business, all for absolutely free.
Here’s just a quick list of what I’ve gathered so far:
FREE sales, page and funnel building platform
I’m not even joking when I say that I am planning to change my ENTIRE online business over to GrooveFunnels!
I mean, why wouldn’t I?
It’s FREE, and it’s probably the BEST suite of marketing tools I have ever seen in my life.
By the way, there’s more…
I didn’t even mention some of my favorite benefits of GrooveFunnels.
As a member, I’ve also received a TON of community benefits.
I’ve been able to join their private Facebook group, connect with marketing experts inside, get help with all my problems, access private training within their own academy, ask questions through their helpdesk, and meet other like-minded entrepreneurs just like me to make the best use of these tools.
So, if you’re like me… Striving to grow your business, looking to learn more about marketing and getting to know some of the best in the industry at a more personal level, then you won’t want to miss out on this opportunity.
Sounds great, right?
But you might be asking… what’s the catch?
The catch is that GrooveFunnels is free, but for a limited time only.
GrooveFunnels is in its pre-launch phase, which means that many of the products have still yet to fully launch.
When they do, and as the products continue to get upgraded, GrooveFunnels may no longer be free anymore.
This means that now is the time to sign up for your free account, which would also qualify you for the additional software upgrades that they make as time goes on.
Awesome deal, right?
It’s called being at the right place, at the right time.
And that’s where we’re at right now :)
Don’t wait any longer, because I’m honestly not sure when this free offer is going to go away.
Do yourself a favor and sign up for your free GrooveFunnels account right now, and I will see you inside of the Facebook group.
Have you noticed that the internet is this huge morass of information overload?
Everybody is trying to sell something, but disguised as free information to get your attention so that you will put your name on their mailing list.
There is MLM, Bitcoin Trading, Forex Trading, e-commerce, Ebay, Amazon, book stores, membership sites, marketing gurus and a million and one other people competing for our attention.
There are some great products out there and many great offerings. I don't know about you, but my email inboxes (yes, plural) are overflowing with new deals, new offers, set and forget, just press this button and get rich, the "Secrets that the big banks don't want you to know" and about a million and one other "shiny objects". You could spend your life looking at them all, trying them, investing in this course or that, losing your money and getting disheartened.
So here are a couple of hard and fast rules:
Rule No #1 - there is no such thing as a "get rich quick" scheme.
Rule No #2 - there is no such thing as "making money on autopilot".
Rule No #3 - there are no automated bots out there that will make you rich while you sleep.
Rule No #4 - Facebook ads are great but don't use them if you are not prepared to monitor them, test what doesn't work and tweak, and really learn the craft - don't just set your budget and come back in a month - if you do, you will have lost your money and made no sales - same for Google, Bing and others
Rule No #5 - time equals money - so if you don't have money to invest, you can still succeed but it will take a lot of time
Rule No #6 - if you re going to bootstrap your business without investing, you can, but be prepared to work HARD, HARD, HARD
1. Find your business niche, find a guru to follow in that niche, then stick to them like glue.
2. Be a follower and look at all their material, but don't join any expensive programs too early on, because a lot of the stuff that they charge big bucks for can be found on their websites, or their YouTube videos.
3. Get on social media, and comment.
4. Get on Quora and Reddit and comment.
5. Join a bunch of like-minded Facebook and Instagram groups and post regularly, but don't sell, just be yourself and establish your credibility
6. Get a blog going - it doesn't matter if you blog daily, weekly or fortnightly, just be consistent
7. ALL THE WHILE - you need to be BUILDING YOUR LIST - you will hear it ad nauseum - THE MONEY IS IN THE LIST, DON'T QUESTION IT, JUST ACCEPT IT, so get yourself and autoresponder and start building your audience - ASK ME HOW
HERE IS THE IMPORTANT BIT - THE GLUE THAT WILL PULL ALL THIS TOGETHER
1. Ditch the shiny objects and get on a single-minded path.
2. UNSUBSCRIBE from all email that does not take you down that path, and don't be distracted by shiny objects.
2. Set up a diary/ calendar that forces you to go down that path - you won't always stick to it, but it is a FRAMEWORK and don't beat yourself up, if you don't follow it to the letter - after all, it is a GOAL and goals are chased but not always met, but the good thing about that is that you can set your mental "self-correct" button and force yourself to get back on track - that is the beauty of goals and to have them you should have them written down.
I use Google Calendar and I have daily, weekly, and monthly routines set out - now I know that I am not always going to stick to those routines, but it is always a great place to come back to if you have gotten yourself off track.
If you have a single minded purpose and a framework, and you keep putting one foot in front of the other, while following a plan, then you will eventually break through to success. Remember the old story of the hare and the tortoise - don't be the hare, unless you are totally focussed. Be the tortoise, make some mistakes, correct them, and keep going.
I stress that your plan is YOUR PLAN - there are no hard and fast rules - just be consistent and persistent.
Above all, have fun with it, find mentors and listen to them and do what they do and say. The internet business experience can be a lonely journey if you don'g find some buddies. Ask questions, join groups, and once you start having success, you will be invited to groups and masterminds. Just be patient.
See you inside the Mediagate Mob Group!
Self-isolating? Now’s the time to self-improve: You Could Just Laze Around and Watch TV, but why not use the time to Learn a Language, Pick up the Guitar
Unashamably borrowed from: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/event/article-8179675/Events-tips-make-lockdown-work-you.html
Look on the bright side. Self-isolation can be an opportunity for self-improvement. The internet can help you learn almost anything and can connect with talented teachers in the virtual world. There’s never been a better time to acquire a new skill or take up a new interest, so here are 15 mind-expanding ideas to keep your brain fit during the crisis. ..
READ MORE HERE ...
I wrote a book a while back about International Trade - sent it out into the ether and waited to make money - quick as a flash, nothing happened!
Turns out that part of the books' text contained some link to an Amazon site - big no-no, apparently.
So after a lot of argie-bargie, we figured out the problem and my book is finally published - so , as you do, I decided to write a little rhyme about the whole experience - well, why not do a bit of double dipping?
So here we go:
GOTTA LOVE SMASHWORDS
Wrote a book
Happy with it, take a look …. Nobody did
Apparently, I included a link that was not right, OK
That big dog company that starts with “A” and ends in “zon”
Who da thunk it?
Took me weeks to work it out – what tha??
Let it go for months, no telling how many royalties I lost
How do you compute that cost?
My Book finally got published tonight.
What a palaver!
Some erroneous links, almost a cadaver!
Stone bloody dead mate, and I couldn’t find them
My mates at Smashwords, god bless em!
Who knew? A conundrum
Alt + F9 – damn – found ‘em
No more links, bloody Amazon.
The elephant in the room in more ways than one.
All those lost royalties..
I s’pose it helps if you read the Style Guide.
You get busy, you forget, you put it to one side,
probably would be better to publish a real book,
with a real editor to overlook
but, hey, where’s the fun in that?
I’ll probably self-publish the next one, too,
which will include this little tome,
and this little poem ..
well it will be a book of poetry
and Amazon won’t get a look in
Self publishing should be a win-win
They used to call them ‘mongoloids’ – imagine that!
If everybody had a pejorative moniker, mine would be “four eyes, fat bastard, lucky he still has hair”
Fair? Who cares?
What would yours be?
Imagine going through life labelled as a sub-human,
Mongoloid! That would be about as bad as it gets.
They are some of the most beautiful personalities on the planet.
I know .. I had an aunt who was born into that affliction,
What a restriction …
.. on life, not that she ever fretted about her lot
Knew no better, no airs, graces
Just occupied her little bit of space on the planet,
Spreading love and warmth
And we nieces, nephews and others
Were all the better people for it
My wonderful grandpa and his wonderful wife,
My beautiful grandma, Milly,
Said no, she is no freak, she is our beautiful girl, and that’s just how it was..
And how it’s going to be, church, state, do-gooders, anyone else,
Don’t cross me.
My mum, one of four girls,
Brought Lil up, no big deal,
The love in that household was palpable.
Lillian, my beautiful aunt
Did not know the meaning of “can’t’
Just … is and now, though probably not always how
She could knit, play the piano a bit,
Not much else, but loved her TV shows
No burden to anyone, just a beautiful soul
Sixty six when she died,
of course we cried,
But we also celebrated a magnificent life,
Would never make any man a wife,
Though she had a few movie faves
We shared a few laughs and raves about them
Almost seven decades, unheard of for a “mongoloid”
A term to avoid, at all costs, now that we know better.
These days, if you are not overly affected
You are not as protected, you are included.
Down syndrome kids have jobs, some have careers
Mature bosses love them,
They give back in spades,
Respect cascades, in both directions,
We have moved on, we now understand
and thank goodness
how grand to see what they bring
to the betterment of our souls.
A great thing.
[Copyright John Gates – 2019]
Sometimes, late at night you do some of your best (or worse) work, depending on the wine .. here is one from last night.
I thought it was time,
to write a rhyme ...
No particular theme.
no particular time,
Just that, for some reason I'm
wanting to rhyme..
Never done it before
can't think why,
It's not that hard,
just a stage in my ...
My lovely wife,
I never gave it a try
again .... life..
seems to get in the way,
takes over your day,
sunshine but no hay
...need to make some
and go, and though
we are busy we are also
life's not that protracted
that we can't redact
some of our daily routines
that are meaningless acts
Disdain for routine, wonder why?
getting older - new things to try
before the bucket and its list run dry.
Bucket list - now there's an idea.
how many events
in our crazy career,
did we really miss out on?
nearly .. really, ?
Probably not many, if honesty's a thing,
you navigate through life,
you see what it brings,
roundabouts and swings, mostly
forks in the road, avoid the ghostly
experiences, wherever you can
tell yourself you've been your own man,
..... carried the can .. or was it the bucket
nearly got that one to rhyme too, damn it.
Dont think I'm able to jump out of a plane,
get older, bloody vertigo,
plays with your brain.
even, it seems,
if only in dreams.
You know, those ones where you climb
to the highest bit
then you look down,... oh-oh, i think I'm ...for it!
then you wake up, that was close ..
...nearly got that to rhyme, too ..
This is becoming otiose.
never mind the iambic pentameter
that was a close and frightening parameter,
..whoops!, but I digress
mind's scrambling, bit of a mess.
motorbikes, need for speed,
no, should have done that
when I was sowing my seed
a long time ago,
fast cars, never a thing
happy to be prince, but never the king
Horses, boats, gadgets, disdain for all
but one majestic sport makes them all pall ..
Early in life, discovered the magic.
a lifelong Rugby tragic,
played it, coached it, involved every way
love it, and live it every day
Knees are shot, brain is not,
I think I'll take my writing skills
out for a begrudging, limping trot.
Write about anything,
we've got plenty of time,
Maybe some of it will rhyme.
Time .... will tell ...
[copyright John Gates 2019]
NEWS DESK - THE JAKARTA POST
Jakarta / Tue, April 23, 2019 / 03:04
The Edinburgh Castle in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Shutterstock/DiegoMariottini)
World Book Day, celebrated every April 23, is here. Online travel booking platform Agoda has listed nine places in Asia, Europe and the Americas that all bookworms who want to follow in their favorite authors’ footsteps should visit.
1. Kobe, Japan
Author Haruki Murakami´s hometown Kobe used to appear in some of his stories, including in his debut novel in 1979, Hear the Wind Sing. His works, such as Kafka on the Shore and 1Q84, are known for surrealist elements and melancholic themes.
The quiet beauty of Ikuta Shrine, Arima Onsen and Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge in Kobe is often captured in his books. A recommended place to stay in the small, seaside city is Arimakoyado Hataya Ryokan.
A row of torii at the Ikuta Shrine in Kobe City, Hyogo prefecture, Japan. (Shutterstock/Scenes from Japan)
2. Camarines Norte, the Philippines
Author Ricky Lee grew up in Camarines Norte in the central Bicol region of the Philippines.
Lee has worked with Filipino directors Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal, and his screenplay manual Trip to Quiapo is used in communication colleges in the Philippines.
Camarines Norte has beautiful beaches such as the Calaguas group of islands, Apuao Grande Island and Bagasbas Beach. Enjoy the Philippines at the One Platinum Hotel.
3. Belitung Island, Indonesia
Fans of Andrea Hirata´s best-selling novel Laskar Pelangi (The Rainbow Troops) should visit Belitung Island in Indonesia. His childhood was spent on the island, as was his path to fulfilling his dream.
Enjoy the picturesque white sands and clear blue waters of Tanjung Kelayang Beach, then stop by at the Traditional House Belitung as well as the literary Museum Kata Hirata, set up in 2010 to inspire people to pursue their dreams. Stay at the Arumdalu Private Resort in Tanjung Pandan, Belitung.
Tanjung Kelayang Beach in Bangka Belitung Islands. (Shutterstock/Rudi Golden)
4. New York, the United States
The Big Apple is always worth a visit. Admirers of the romantic story To All the Boys I've Loved Before can see where author Jenny Han started her career as a young adult fiction writer.
The Jun New York Midtown III apartment is the best place to explore the vibrant city and its attractions, such as the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge and Broadway.
Read also: Indonesian publishers short-listed for London Book Fair’s Excellence Awards
5. Aracataca, Colombia
Renowned author Gabriel García Márquez's hometown of Aracataca, Colombia, inspired him to write the novel One Hundred Years of Solitude.
Along with Casa del Telegrafista museum, the Gabriel García Márquez Museum House is a must-see for all fans as it shows the author´s reconstructed childhood. The Agoda Home in Parque Los Novios is located in Santa Marta, close to Colombia´s famous Tayrona National Natural Park.
6. Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh was where the Harry Potter series of author JK Rowling came to life, even though she is actually from Yates, England.
Feel the magic in cafés where the famous author went to write and see other attractions such as the Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Botanic Garden, Dynamic Earth, Underground Edinburgh and the Scotch Whisky Experience. Spend the night at Radisson Collection Hotel, Royal Mile Edinburgh.
7. Florence, Italy
Italy is well-known for its delicious pizza, dolce far niente (the art of doing nothing) and poet Dante Alighieri. It is highly recommended to visit the birthplace of the Renaissance and the capital of Italian culture: Florence.
It is where the poet met Beatrice, the love of his life and person who inspired his most famous works such as Vita Nuova and The Divine Comedy. Explore the romantic city and stay at Domux Home Repubblica.
8. Istanbul, Turkey
Orhan Pamuk´s most notable works are Snow and The Museum of Innocence, with the latter used as inspiration for a museum in Istanbul. The author was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2006 and holds the prestige of being the first Turkish Nobel laureate.
His works are recognized for hints of politics and Turkish culture. Visit the Hagia Sophia Museum, the Blue Mosque and book your room at Fer Hotel.
The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. (Shutterstock/Artur Bogacki)
9. Dubai, the United Arab Emirates
Plunge into the world of Dubai where award-winning short story-writer Mohammad Al-Murr was born. He has published over 10 collections of short stories. One of them, Dubai Tales, captures life in Dubai and its contrasts of modern thinking and pride for tradition.
Visit the Palm Jumeirah and enjoy the view of the Burj Khalifa from your apartment at the Residences by Emaar. (sop/wng)
More on the theme of Childrens books - how to get them reading and loving it?
There is an old proverb that is applicable in many life situations, none more so than this -
"if you give a man a fish, he can feed his family for a day - but if you teach that man to fish, he can feed them all their lives.." (anon)
The same can be said for reading.. just giving a child a book might engender a love of reading, but working at it and teaching your child that reading is fun and worthy, can make them an avid book reader for life.
One post that I recently read, told of a man who got his little baby boy reading while in the cot. Got the child into such a routine that the baby demanded a book every morning. What a gift!
"... Research has proven, time and again, that reading is the key to success. It is a skill that crosses all barriers: economic, religious, ethnic and social. It requires little, if any, financial investment since public libraries are free to use...." [https://buffalonews.com/2019/04/17/letter-spread-the-joy-of-reading-through-books-for-kids/]
If you want a smart society, then make people smart. Teach children the joy of getting lost in a book, a great story. It doesn't matter if you are six or sixty six. I have struggled with my own kids to get their heads out of the smartphone or the tablet, and have had limited success. Fortunately, now they are writing songs, so at least some literary effort is being made.
So, I would like to suggest that it is up to our generation - (I am a baby boomer) - to generate younger peoples' interest in reading.
When I was a young Naval officer, I spent a lot of time away from home - no internet, no smartphones, not much in the way of TV or movies at sea, so, naturally you read - the Navy has a nickname for everything - a good story was a "dit" - various types of dits - 'warries', 'cowdy's' 'detective dits' - probably the most prominent - sometimes a biography or an autobiography, but anything you can read reasonably quickly from your bunk in your limited downtime (not forgetting of course, those highly literary articles that were the only reason we read "Playboy"). Well, it was more or less words on paper so that probably qualified.
But I digress.
Thousands of new books published every day - how to read them all?
Who cares, you can never eat at every restaurant either, but you can have a good, old-fashioned go at it.
There is a finite number of letters in our alphabet, and virtually a finite number of words in our vocabulary, so, in theory you could say that there must be a finite limit to the number of books that can be written. Who, in their right mind, would believe that?
They say that if you put ten thousand monkeys in a room, each with a word processor, for a long period of time, then, statistically, one of them could write "War and Peace" - I'd like to see that. The human brain is not a logic super computer that works purely on statistical theory. The synapses of our brain don't work on pure logic, and thank goodness.
It is this absolute wonder of the human psyche that we need to impart to our children. Whatever intellectual stimulation we dish up they will soak up.
Happily, we are seeing a great new trend of people writing more childrens' books - it may be that that is because it is a relatively simple genre to write and is a vehicle that is loved and for which there is huge demand on the newer platforms like Amazon and the like.
Whatever the explanation, it seems that the Gen X and now Gen Y parents seem to be adopting it as they are the generations that grew up with social media and electronic platforms and are now seeing that it is important to start their offspring on the right path. If that engenders a love of reading in the coming generations, I will be their greatest admirer.
Kids are our future. Let's get them ready for it with the best start we can.
17 APRIL 2019
THE BEST NEW CHILDREN’S BOOKS FOR EASTER - FROM FLOWERS AND FRIENDSHIPS TO WOLVES AND WARS.
BYAMANDA CRAIG – New Statesman
Hope springs eternal, and in children’s books at least, spring’s hopes are eternal too. Flowers and friendships can banish the blues – even when you’re Cyril of Cyril the Lonely Cloud (Tim Hopgood, Oxford University Press, £11.99, ages 3+), always being blamed for ruining the day. Floating over picnics, cities and oceans, Cyril gets bigger and sadder until he comes to a hot new land. A joyful, witty celebration of rain and difference.
What Do Machines Do?
Some childrenare more interested in machines than nature, and for them What Do Machines Do All Day by Jo Nelson and Aleksandar Savic is riveting fun. Cranes, computers and vending machines have never looked more handsome (Wide-Eyed, £11.99, 3+).
But what about manners?
When a Dragon Comes to Stay
Caryl Hart and Rosalind Beardshaw’s When a Dragon Comes to Stay (Nosy Crow, £6.99 3+) has some excellent tips about what not to do when it comes to sharing toys, eating at table and being helpful. It’s funny, charming and not too twee.
More moving is Chris Naylor-Ballesteros’s The Suitcase (Nosy Crow, £11.99, 4+), one of the most empathetic children’s books on giving kindness to strangers ever published. A weary, furry stranger arrives with one suitcase, which it tells the other animals contains a chair, a table, a wooden cabin and a teacup. Be warned, this will make you burst into tears.
How to Light Your Dragon
As a metaphor for curing depression, How to Light Your Dragon by Didiér Levy and Frédéric Benaglia (Thames & Hudson, £12.95, 5+) is funny and inspired. A child tries to relight his pet dragon’s fire by bouncing, tickling, cheating at cards and more, but nothing stirs the despondent multicoloured monster. Could a kiss be the answer?
An outstanding picture book, Sophie Blackall’s Hello Lighthouse (Orchard, £6.99), is partly about loneliness. A lighthouse on the edge of the world is kept going by a man whose vertical, dutiful life, exquisitely conveyed, is brightened through the seasons by the arrival of a wife, then a baby. Give this to four-year-olds plus; it is perfection.
The Secret Starling
Judith Eagle’s heroine in The Secret Starling (Faber £6.99) is lonely without knowing it. Brought up in isolation in a crumbling manor house, Clara finds herself abandoned by her creepy uncle.
Then Peter arrives with his rescue cat, and the children are swept into an irresistible adventure for eight-year-olds plus that draws on The Secret Garden and The Wolves of Willoughby Chase.
The heroine of Kirsty Applebaum’s debut The Middler (Nosy Crow, £6.99) has an unusual problem: she’s living in a dystopian world in which middle children are overlooked and unheard. Yet when Maggie meets another girl from beyond the town’s boundary, she finds that wanderers are not as she had been led to believe. Strikingly original and featuring a spirited heroine, it’s a great story for ages 9+.h
The Girl with the Shark's Teeth
Pair it with Cerrie Burnell’s engagingly fantastic marine adventure The Girl with the Shark’s Teeth (Oxford University Press, £6.99, 9+) for a pull of the Wild Deep.
Challenging authority is what Nicola Skinner’s delightful debut Bloom(HarperCollins, £12.99) is about, as two girls reap what they need from a trapped witch and her seeds. Humorous, original and just the thing for ages 7+ in need of a fresh start.
The Midnight Hour
A whole magical people is trapped in the secret world of The Midnight Hour by Benjamin Read and Laura Trinder (Chicken House, £6.99, 8+) and Emily must find her mysterious parents there. Pursued by monsters, our sparky heroine and her hedgehog must save the night. I haven’t enjoyed this kind of caper so much since Harry Potter.
A Pinch of Magic
There’s another sort of trapped witch in A Pinch of Magic, Michelle Harrison’s spellbinding story for ages 11+ (Simon & Schuster, £6.99). The three Widdershins sisters can never leave their marshy island. Each inherits a deadly curse and a magical object at 13: how can they win a fresh start and become normal girls?
My favourite heroine this season is in Tanya Landman’s One Shot(Barrington Stoke, £7.99, 11+). Based on the famous American sharpshooter Annie Oakley, it tells how young Annie learns to use her beloved Pa’s rifle, and then to survive in a man’s world. Tough and almost unbearably honest about the brutalities of poverty and powerlessness, its deceptively simple prose and narrative drive are stunning.
Boys are still being ill-served by children’s publishing.
All hail, then, Pádraig Kenny’s Pog (Chicken House, £6.99, 7+) about a small (male) furry creature living in an old house where a brother and sister move after their mum dies.
The most appealing small magical creature since the Nis in Katherine Langrish’s Troll Fell books, Pog is up against evil forces and needs help.
A Wolf Called Wander
(Andersen, £6.99, 8+) concerns Swift, a young wolf who must survive without his pack. Like the classics written by Jack London and Michelle Paver, this is both a detailed evocation of an animal’s life and a notable exploration of courage, loneliness and family. Rosanne Parry’s prose and the lavish pictures by Mónica Armino are based on a true story.
Midnight at Moonstone
Lara Flecker’s Midnight at Moonstone (Oxford University Press, £6.99, 9+) has Kit defy her overbearing academic family to live with her grandfather in the decaying Moonstone museum, where at midnight feuding historical costumes come magically to life. How Kit saves them – and herself – makes for a charming E Nesbit-esque romp.
Now or Never
The heroism of non-white soldiers in both world wars is often overlooked, but Bali Rai’s excellent Now or Never (Scholastic, £6.99, 9+) helps redress this. His idealistic hero, Private Fazal Khan, endures bullying and bombing all the way to Dunkirk; when he finds “decency and honour, even in hell” it is through friendship not the British empire.
The best hero of all comes, however, in Anthony McGowan’s Lark(Barrington Stoke, £7.99, 11+).
The final part in his quartet about two brothers, Nicky and Kenny, it is a slim novel that stands alone as an exceptional piece of writing from the author and a dyslexia-friendly publisher that is consistently impressive. Poor, and with parents more absent than present, Nicky must look after his mentally handicapped big brother Kenny. But when they take their dog up on the moors for a picnic in winter, they have no idea how dangerous it could be.
As taut as Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, Lark rings with truth, humour, humanity and pathos.
My hope is that it wins prizes.
Thanks to AMANDA CRAIG - New Statesman