Uniting Two Galaxies | Marc Hagan-Guirey talks STAR WARS™ KIRIGAMI

We first featured paper artist Marc Hagan-Guirey back in September, when his new book, STAR WARS KIRIGAMI, hit shelves. He explained how he first encountered the world of kirigami and what led him to start creating scenes, buildings and vehicles from movies.

Now, with only one week until the latest instalment in the Star Wars saga hits cinema, he has told us a little more about the book and its part in the journey to The Last Jedi.

Photograph by Seamus Ryan
Photograph by Seamus Ryan

So how do you turn the ships into paper? What is the design process?

Needless to say I watch a lot of Star Wars. There’s a ton of resource material to work from which is great to make the kirigami design as accurate as possible. Sometimes there’s a bit of artistic license involved in order to make a ship fold properly. It’s about figuring out the basic shape of the ship first and then building upon that with details. I often use the LEGO versions of ships as resource because they’re essentially simpler versions of the real thing.

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Which is your favourite ship in the book and why?

A prequel ship. The Jedi Star fighter from Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith stands out for me. The prequel ships are slightly more stylised than those in the original trilogy. With lots of extra details and folds, they translate really well to paper.

Is there anything else interesting about the creation of the book that you can share with us?

Apart from a new ship from The Last Jedi, I wanted to offer something a little different with my book. I’m really interested in the production design process, from concept to final product. Each project comes with a written accompaniment detailing this. There are lots of interesting facts about the designers who worked on the films and pictures of the original concept drawings. It’s a celebration of the people behind the camera.

Tell us about the Star Wars exhibition you did.

It was called Cut Scene. It had 12 kirigami scenes from the original trilogy. my exhibitions are more like a collection of tiny movie installations. Each kirigami was housed in shadow box with a strong backlit colour reflective of the tone of the movie scene. I love how lighting plays a huge effect in cinema in creating that theatre. With the kirigami you get to experience a dual personality. You can appreciate the paper for the ‘craft aspect’ when viewed in a fully lit room (with ‘the big lights’ on) and then become immersed in the effect when they are lit with colour. It’s a bit like riding a ghost train in the dark and then again with the lights on. The experiences are very different – with the lights on you get to say ‘ah! That’s how they did it’.

The pieces were arranged chronologically and floated on the walls at eye level. I loved how every morning when I’d go in to the gallery to prepare it for opening, I’d have to clean nose smudges off the perspex from when people had be peering in. They’re probably the most complex work I’ve done to date. For example, my favourite, the Carbonite Freezing scene from The Empire Strikes Back took me around 2 years to master. Tweak after tweak, I was still working on it a few days before the show opened. I’m so glad I did that show. I was nervous because the Horrorgami exhibition had garnered so much press that anything other than that would have felt like a bit of a letdown. Cut Scene ended up dwarfing it in those terms. I was also not feeling great before that. I’d lost my mum to cancer, came to the end of a 7 year relationship and moved out of our home that I’d spent 2 years renovating, so much of the effect of those experiences had compounded. I literally decided one day – what makes me happy? What will help me get back to being me? As silly as it sounds the answer was kirigami and Star Wars.

What other books have you published?

This is my third book now. My first book ‘Horrorgami’ was a follow up to my first exhibition. Just a few months ago my second book ‘Frank Lloyd Wright Paper Models’ was published. It’s a collection of his 14 most celebrated buildings. I’ve just returned from California and visited (loitered) outside quite a few of them.

Whats next for you?

I’m keen to have another solo exhibition. I’ve had 3 year gaps between them so I’m ready… that’s how long it takes to build up the energy. They’re all consuming! If enough people like this book then hopefully I can do another!

Who or what are you inspired by?

I guess there’s no one particular source. Film, TV, interior designs. I have a tendency to be drawn more towards the relatively more ‘unsung’ heroes of film & TV such as set designers and concept artists. Outside of media I find inspiration in all sorts just from being observant. I guess if I can look at something, anything be it an object or photo and I can see it has a backstory – then my mind goes into overdrive romancing what it’s history is. I’ve got lots of pals who make stuff – crafters and artists. Anyone who makes something from nothing inspires me to keep creating.

If you could meet any actor from the Star Wars films who would you most like to meet and why? 

It would have been Carrie Fisher. Her passing has a huge effect on me. It was very strange – psycho-analysing myself – her death had obviously re-surfaced the loss of my mum a few years ago. Another feisty woman who was gone too soon. On top of mourning the loss of a person you admire as a fan-base, we also are hurting due to the loss of the character too – knowing that they’ll never be able to fully complete her character’s arc. I always felt out of every character, Leia lost the most and gave the most. Luke was obsessed with his own journey whilst Leia looked at the bigger picture and sadly either her family was taken from her or they abandoned her (in the new films). She deserves a happy conclusion.

Are you excited to see the new film; The Last Jedi which is released cinemas this December?

I think tormented by the wait is the more accurate feeling!


STAR WARS KIRIGAMI is out now. Find out more here and watch Marc Hagan-Guirey in action here!

BOOKSHOP OF THE MONTH | THE MAINSTREET TRADING COMPANY

Our December Bookshop of the Month 2017 is The Mainstreet Trading Company who have been celebrating ten years since they transformed a former auction house into a destination venue in the picturesque Scottish Border village of St Boswell’s (brown tourist sign included!).

Bookshop interior overhead 2016

We highly recommend that you visit and spend a few blissful hours here – there is something to tempt everyone. Mainstreet boasts a gorgeous home store and a wonderfully inviting deli, but at its heart is the beautiful bookshop and café. After admiring their magnificent window displays (check out their archive here), you will walk in and be greeted by the unmistakeable aroma of books and coffee, there’s nothing quite like it. You will see crisp white shelves, carefully curated tables and stunning displays that will entice you into browsing, and there is always a bookseller on hand should you need recommendations or help finding a title. Be sure to check out their specialist Children’s and Cookery areas.

Mainstreet is a bookshop that would be hard to leave empty handed, and why would you when you can choose your book (or several!), settle in to the café with a cuppa, crack the spine and begin. Go on, you know you want to…

We caught up with owner Rosamund de la Hay to ask her a few questions:

1. Congratulations on being chosen as our December Bookshop of the Month! We’ve talked a bit about you and the shop but how would you describe The Mainstreet Trading Company in three words?
Welcoming, enthusiastic, knowledgeable.

2. Where is your favourite spot in the store? 
The Book Burrows (or the new books till with our beautiful new wooden counter!)

3. Where do you like to read?
In the sun room at home or on a beach on the west coast of Scotland (ideally not in the rain)

4. If you weren’t a bookseller what would you be?
I’d almost certainly revert to being a publisher as in my past life.

5. Excluding The Mainstreet Trading Company – what is your favourite bookshop?
Tricky one, there are so many lovely ones!  Either The Golden Hare in Edinburgh or Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath.


The Mainstreet Trading Company can be found at:
Mainstreet
St Boswells
Scottish Borders
TD6 0AT

Follow them on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook!

BOOKSHOP OF THE MONTH | THE KEW BOOKSHOP

The Kew Bookshop

This month’s Bookshop of the Month is the gorgeous The Kew Bookshop. The shop’s outward façade stands out beautifully on the leafy and photogenic Station Approach behind Kew Gardens Station, just a 5-minute walk from the Royal Botanic Gardens. It’s not a big shop but inside it is bright and inviting, drawing you in to the nooks and crannies to get a better look. The booksellers are friendly and knowledgeable, and the books are carefully chosen with the customer in mind. Like all good independent bookshop’s, The Kew Bookshop is a hub within the community with an excellent relationship with local schools, championing children’s books and reading, whilst also hosting author events and book launches. Next time you’re in the area make sure you take some time out to browse and discover your next great read!

We caught up with owner, Adam Hewson, who also owns The Sheen Bookshop, to ask him a few questions:

1. Congratulations on being chosen as our November Bookshop of the Month! We’ve talked a bit about you and the shop but how would you describe The Kew Bookshop in three words?
Welcoming, customer-focused, knowledgeable

2. Where is your favourite spot in the store?
In front of the history section- in a tiny shop like ours, it is the perfect vantage point to see the customers for chats and recommendations and there are fab books behind you!

3. Where do you like to read?  
Ah, the famous question answered so wonderfully by Italo Calvino in ‘If on a Winter’s Night, A Traveller’. Any opportunity really, but with a gin in the garden is quite un-improvable.

4. If you weren’t a bookseller what would you be? 
Had I done the training, perhaps archaeology (although I’m certain I would be wishing I was a bookseller.)

5. Excluding The Kew Bookshop – What is your favourite bookshop?
Obviously, The Sheen Bookshop, as that is my other shop, but were I to choose another, I would opt for John Sandoe Books in Chelsea, an emporium of books indeed!

The Kew Bookshop can be found at:
1-2 Station Approach
Richmond
TW9 3QB

Follow them on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook!

200 WOMEN | Alicia Garza

9781452166582_3D (1)Interviews with 200 women from a variety of backgrounds provide a snapshot of female life around the globe. Interviewees include: • Jane Goodall, conservation and animal welfare activist • Margaret Atwood, author and winner of The Booker Prize • Roxane Gay, author and feminist • Renée Montagne, former host of NPR’s Morning Edition • Alicia Garza, activist and co-founder of Black Lives Matter • Alfre Woodard, award-winning actor and activist • Marian Wright Edelman, head of the Children’s Defense Fund • Lydia Ko, professional golfer and Olympian • Dolores Huerta, labor activist, community organizer, and co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association • Alice Waters, chef, author, and food rights advocate • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author and Macarthur Foundation fellow.

Each woman shares her unique reply to the same five questions: What really matters to you?, What brings you happiness?, What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?, What would you change if you could?, and Which single word do you most identify with?

With responses ranging from uplifting to heartbreaking, these women offer gifts of empowerment and strength – inviting us to bring positive change at a time when so many are fighting for basic freedom and equality. Each interview is accompanied by a photographic portrait, resulting in a volume that is compelling in word and image—and global in its scope and resonance. This landmark book is published to coincide with an interactive website, building on this remarkable, ever-evolving project. A percentage of the originating publisher’s revenue from book sales will be distributed to organisations nominated by the women featured in the book.

The following is an extract from 200 Women Who Will Change the Way You See the World, edited by Ruth Hobday, Geoff Blackwell, Sharon Gelman and Marianne Lassandro, photographs by Kieran Scott.


© 2017 Kieran E. Scott kieranscottphotography.com
© 2017 Kieran E. Scott kieranscottphotography.com
Alicia Garza

Alicia Garza was born in Carmel in California, USA. She is an activist and organiser based in Oakland, California. In 2013, Garza co-founded Black Lives Matter (BLM), an ideological and political organising network campaigning against anti-black racism and violence. In 2016, she and her two BLM co-founders were recognised in Fortune’s World’s 50 Greatest Leaders. Garza is the director of special projects for the National Domestic Workers Alliance. She is also an editorial writer, whose work has been featured in publications including The Guardian, The Nation, The Feminist Wire, Rolling Stone and Huffington Post.

Q. What really matters to you?

I want to be able to tell my kids that I fought for them and that I fought for us. In a time when it’s easy to be tuned out, it feels really important to me to be somebody who stands up for the ability of my kids – of all kids – to have a future.

The other thing that really motivates me is wanting to make sure we achieve our goals. As I was coming up as an organiser, we were told we were fighting for something we might never see in our lifetime. I’m just not satisfied with that; I think change can happen much faster, but it requires organisation, and an understanding of power and how we can shift it from its current incarnation. We need to transform power, so that we’re not fighting the same battles over and over again. This is what I wake up thinking about every single day. And every night when I go to sleep, I’m thinking about how we can get closer to it tomorrow.

Women inspire me to keep going. My foremost in influence was my mother; she initially raised me on her own, having never expected to be a parent at twenty-six. She taught me everything I know about what it means to be a strong woman who is in her power. I’m also very much in influenced by black women throughout history. I’m inspired by Harriet Tubman, not only for all the work she did to free individual slaves – which, of course, was amazing – but for everything she did to eradicate the institution of slavery, the alliances she built to do so and the heartbreaks she endured in pursuit of her vision. And it’s not only women in the United States who inspire me. In Honduras in 2016, Berta Cáceres was murdered while pursuing her vision of ecological justice and a better life for the people in Honduras being preyed upon by corporations and the United States government.

Black Lives Matter has been a big part of my activism. When it came onto the scene, there was a lot of pushback; people responded by saying, ‘All lives matter.’ I think the intensity of these reactions against Black Lives Matter is a testament to how effective our systems are in isolating these kinds of issues – they make them seem as though they impact individuals, as opposed to entire communities. The all-lives-matter thing is simultaneously fascinating and infuriating to me, because it’s so obvious. Obviously all lives matter; it’s like saying the sky is blue or that water is wet. But, when people say, ‘Actually, all lives matter,’ it feels like a passive-aggressive way of saying, ‘White lives matter.’

People seemed shocked that police brutality was an issue, but I thought, ‘Um, where have you been?’ The police are supposed to serve all communities, but instead, they aren’t accountable to black communities in the same way they are to white communities. The United States is rooted in profound segregation, disenfranchisement and oppression in pursuit of profits. And it feels like the country is being powered by amnesia.

Q. What brings you happiness?

My community – absolutely. This includes both of my families, blood and chosen – because my family is also my friends, the people I’ve been through things with. These are the people who stand with me, support me and love me. They are the people who feed me, and we just let each other be, because we understand each other.

Q. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

I’d call it capitalism. There is nothing on earth that makes people as miserable, that kills people as avidly and that robs people of their dignity so completely as an economic system that prioritises profits over human needs. Capitalism prioritises profits over people and over the planet we depend on. There are millions and millions of people living on the streets without homes because of capitalism. And there are millions and millions of people suffering from depression and other emotional and mental afflictions because of it – because the things we are taught should drive us and make us happy are unattainable for the majority of people on this planet. Capitalism shapes every understanding you have of who you are and of what your value is. If you have no monetary value – if you can’t sell something that you produce in this economy – then you are deemed unusable, unworthy and extraneous. There is no other force in the world that is so powerful and that causes so much misery for so many people.

Q. What would you change if you could?

I would start with all of the people who are suffering right now. I would give whatever is needed to every mama who is living in a car with her kids and is trying to figure out how she’s going to make it another day – if not for herself then for the people who depend on her. I would give to all the people who are dying in the deserts right now, trying to cross artificial borders pursuing what they think will be a better life here in the United States – if I had a wand I’d make it so that that journey was easier and that there wasn’t punishment on both sides. In fact, I would ensure that no one ever had to leave their homes in pursuit of survival – they would have everything that they needed right there at home.

The other area I would work on is within our own movements. I spend a lot of time thinking about how we could be clear about what we’re up against and how we each fight it differently; I think about how we can advance our goals without tearing each other up along the way. So, if I could wave a wand, I would also change some of the suffering of organisers and activists in our movements who are tired and burned out, who feel disposable and don’t feel seen.

Q. Which single word do you most identify with?

Courage. It takes real tenacity to be courageous.


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200 Women is out from 31 October, find out more here. You can view the official project website here, which includes the trailer and additional extra media content. Follow 200 Women on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

A GLORIOUS FREEDOM | INTERVIEW WITH CHERYL STRAYED

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The glory of growing older is the freedom to be more truly ourselves—with age we gain the liberty to pursue bold new endeavors and worry less about what other people think. In this richly illustrated volume, bestselling author and artist Lisa Congdon explores the power of women over the age of forty who are thriving and living life on their own terms. Profiles, interviews, and essays from women—including Vera Wang, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Julia Child, Cheryl Strayed, and many more—who’ve found creative fulfillment and accomplished great things in the second half of their lives are lavishly illustrated and hand-lettered in Congdon’s signature style. The perfect gift for women of all ages, A Glorious Freedom celebrates extraordinary lives and redefines what it means to gain wisdom and maturity.

The following is an extract from A Glorious Freedom by Lisa Congdon.


Cheryl’s famous memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail was published when she was 43 years old. It took her two and a half years to trace the steps, challenges, and revelations she faced during her three-month, 1,100-mile hike from the Mojave Desert to the Pacific Northwest onto paper—and about two minutes for the finished book to land on the New York Times bestseller list. In the months following, Cheryl experienced instant fame—from Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 to the film adaptation championed by Reese Witherspoon and Nick Hornby, Wild went, well, wild. It is an international bestseller and a recipient of the Barnes & Noble Discover Award and the Oregon Book Award. Cheryl is also the author of the New York Times bestsellers Tiny Beautiful Things and Brave Enough. Her first novel, Torch, was published in 2007. Her essays have been published in the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, Vogue, and Tin House, among others, and her work has been selected three times for inclusion in the The Best American Essays. She anonymously authored The Rumpus’s popular Dear Sugar advice column from 2010 to 2012, for which she now cohosts a podcast. She currently lives and writes in Portland, Oregon.

AGF_interview_cherylstrayed2


Lisa: You worked for many years at writing, and it wasn’t until just a few short years ago, in your early 40s, you published the book that made you a household name. I encounter a lot of young artists who imagine that if they just concoct some magical formula they can have “instant success.” How would you describe the role of purpose, work, and patience in your own journey?

Cheryl: I was a successful writer long before Wild was published. What happened with Wild wasn’t “success.” It was crazy lightning striking. I’m always taken aback when people imply that I achieved success in my 40s. In fact, I had a pretty steady upward career trajectory as a writer, and all of that came about because, as you say, I showed up each day to do the work. I began publishing in my 20s. By the time I was in my early 30s I had won many awards and grants, and was publishing in respected magazines, and I’d earned my MFA in creative writing. In my mid-30s I sold my first novel to a major publisher and it was broadly reviewed and sold well. Meanwhile, I was continuing to publish essays in prominent places and I was also teaching writing.

I was known in the literary community. Then Wild happened and with that came fame and a much broader international audience. It was astounding and glorious, but it didn’t, for me, mark the beginning of the sense that I’d arrived as a writer. I was already there and I’m still here—working my tail off. That’s the magic formula: work.

Lisa: One of the most life-changing lessons I’ve learned over the past ten years is the power of embracing all of my life experience, and this is something you write about as well. Why is this idea of owning and learning to love all of your experience (even the stuff that makes us cringe or that would normally make us feel shame), why is it so important?

Cheryl: I’ve long believed our mistakes and failures teach us as much as our victories and successes. When you acknowledge the full spectrum of your possibility—as both someone who can be great and as someone who is sometimes not so great—you can bring the full force of your humanity to everything you do.

Lisa: What for you is the best part of getting older?

Cheryl: Feeling more secure about who I am. Feeling stronger about being okay with disappointing people. Putting up less of a facade. Being gentler with myself and others, too.

Lisa: What do you think is the relationship between forgiveness and the ability to age joyfully?

Cheryl: I’ve written about forgiveness a lot and it all pretty much boils down to the fact that when you can’t forgive people who have harmed you (or forgive yourself for the harm you’ve done to others) you stay locked in that struggle. Forgiveness is, to me, really acceptance. Accepting that what’s true is true. It’s saying, this is the way it was and onward we go.

Lisa: What are the three greatest lessons you’ve learned in the last ten years?

Cheryl: 1. Saying no is one form of saying yes. 2. Our ideas about famous people are projections of who we are, not a reflection of who they are. 3. Everyone struggles. Everyone hurts. Everyone wants to be told it’s all going to be okay.

Lisa: What advice do you have for women who fear getting older?

Cheryl: The fear of getting older is about the false notion that one’s power was rooted in the things that youth offers us—namely, beauty. My advice would be to see that for the lie that it always was. Our power is never about how pretty we are. Our power is about how we live our lives. Start living it.


A Glorious Freedom by Lisa Congdon publishes on 03 October 2017. Find out more here. 

See the stunning book trailer here

Bookstore of the Month | Much Ado Books

Bookstore of the Month

Let us introduce you to our Bookstore of the Month; Much Ado Books.

“We are Cate Olson and Nash Robbins – Americans who decided to sell books in a Medieval village tucked in the South Downs . . .”

Much Ado Books Much Ado Books

  1. Describe Much Ado Books in Three Words

Unexpected discoveries abound

Much Ado best spot

  1. Where is your favourite spot in your store?

Upstairs, in the comfy armchair of our Arts & Letters Room, surrounded by books.

Much Ado Books Much Ado Books

  1. Give us a brief history of Much Ado Books.

Twenty years selling vintage books in America and dreaming of living in Britain, which led to 13 years selling both new and old books in rural East Sussex

Much Ado Chickens Much Ado Books

  1. Has Much Ado got a store pet?

We have three bantam hens, named Little One, Bully Girl and Frizzle. They occupy their time eating plants, making trouble and showing off for customers.

  1. Do you have a favourite author? If yes, who is it?

Robertson Davies – his books are sparkling, funny and engaging as well as thought-provoking; he should have won the Nobel Prize for Literature!

  1. What is your favourite opening line from a book?

“I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.” Dodie Smith – I Capture the Castle.

  1. What was the last book you read?

Cate: Annie Barrows, The Truth According to Us

Nash: Joanna Kavenna – A Field Guide to Reality

Together (we read aloud every night): Elizabeth Leitch – The Saturday Club (an out-of-print classic given by a friend who loves childrens’ books)

  1. What is your favourite A&CB books?

Downstairs favourite: Andrea Beaty – Iggy Peck Architect

Upstairs favourite: Carlos Fuentes The Diary of Frida Kahlo

  1. What is your favourite book?

Discussions (arguments?) are on-going!

  1. Share a #Shelfie with us! 

Much Ado Books  Much Ado Books Much Ado Books

 

You will find this award-winning independent bookshop in Alfriston, East Sussex.

Much Ado Books
8 West Street
Alfriston
East Sussex
BN26 5UX
UK

t: 01323 871222

e: shop@muchadobooks.com

Follow them on Twitter and Instagram. And don’t forget to sign-up to their newsletter.

Have yourself a very Merry Bookmas, part Two!

Merry Bookmas

Next-up to board the A&CB Polar Express is Yvette van Boven, chef behind the delicious Home Made series.

Stop by tomorrow (and everyday till Christmas!) for more Christmas songs, including picks from Jon Scieszka, Mac Barnett, Anita Grace Howard and Jeffery Brown!

MERRY BOOKMAS EVERYONE!

Psst – you can listen to the A&CB Bookmas playlist on our Spotify! See if you can guess who picked which song!

#FiveYearsOfBooks | Top Five Books for 8-12 Year Olds

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Celebrating five years of reading with our Top 5 Middle Grade books! Share your favourite with #FiveYearsOfBooks.
The Strange Case of Origami Yoga
Tom Angleberger Amulet Books

This gem of a book is one of the best introductions to a series we have ever read. In The Strange Case of Origami Yoda we meet Dwight and his uncannily intelligent finger puppet, Origami Yoda. We can’t recommend Tom Angleberger’s unique and funny series highly enough.

In this funny, uncannily wise portrait of the dynamics of a sixth-grade class and of the greatness that sometimes comes in unlikely packages, Dwight, a loser, talks to his classmates via an origami finger puppet of Yoda. If that weren’t strange enough, the puppet is uncannily wise and prescient. Origami Yoda predicts the date of a pop quiz, guesses who stole the classroom Shakespeare bust, and saves a classmate from popularity-crushing embarrassment with some well-timed advice. Dwight’s classmate Tommy wonders how Yoda can be so smart when Dwight himself is so clueless. With contributions from his puzzled classmates, he assembles the case file that forms this novel.

NERDS
Book One: National Espionage, Rescue and Defense Society
Michael Buckley, illustrated by Ethen Beavers
Amulet Books

Espionage, superheros, evil villains and a group of misfits…Michael Buckley’s middle grade series N.E.R.D.S, a veteran of our Children’s list, is a favourite in the A&CB office and beyond.

In the first book in the projected five-book series, five unpopular students run a spy network from inside their elementary school. Each of the kids is a complete social misfit with his or her own unique nerdy burden to bear. With the help of cutting-edge science, the kids’ afflictions are enhanced and become incredible abilities. Working as a team, they are the latest members of the National Espionage, Rescue and Defense Society, or N.E.R.D.S., which battles an array of James Bond-style villains each with an evil plan more diabolical than the last. Dr. Jigsaw, the villain in Book One, wants to use a giant tractor beam to pull all the continents back together. What’s a few million lives versus a completed puzzle?

The Popularity Papers Book One
Research for the Social Improvement and General Betterment of Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang
Amy Ignatow
Amulet Books

The unique style of The Popularity Papers has made it a hit with young readers everywhere. Julie and Lydia deserve have a special place in our hearts and on our Top 5 Middle Grade Reads list.

This scrapbook-style novel charts the friendship of Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang as they embark on a quest to study the behaviours and tastes of the ‘popular’ girls so they can join their ranks in Secondary school. They scheme together to invent their first crushes, go to great lengths to obtain a mobile phone, and save each other from major embarrassment. When Lydia starts to become friends with the “popular” girls she’s forced to choose between them and Julie. The Popularity Papers figures in the centre of an epic Secondary school power struggle. Their story is genuinely funny and good-hearted with a wealth of funny details. As they write their own story, their friendship evolves in touching and relatable ways.

The Sisters Grimm Book One
Book One: The Fairy Tale Detectives
Michael Buckley, illustrated by Peter Ferguson
Amulet Books

Our Top 5 Middle Grade Reads wouldn’t be complete without Michael Buckley’s Sisters Grimm series. This unique take on classic fairy tales has us returning to Sabrina & Daphne’s story again and again.

Orphaned sisters Sabrina and Daphne are sent to live with their mysterious grandmother, Relda Grimm, who lives in a town in rural New York State that experiences an extraordinary number of unexplained and unusual crimes. As it turns out, the two girls are the descendants of the Brothers Grimm, whose famous book of fairy tales is actually a history book. Snow White, the Three Little Pigs and countless other fairy-tale folk are all neighbours of Granny Grimm in a secret community of Everafters. It’s the Grimm family’s legacy to keep the Everafters in line and Sabrina and Daphne are the family’s newest detectives. In this first book in the series, the girls are pitted against a giant who has been rampaging through town. But who set the giant loose in the first place? Was it Mayor Charming, formerly Prince Charming, who has plans to get his kingdom back? The Three Not-So-Little Pigs? Or a giant-killer named Jack, currently working at a Big & Tall store?

Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor
Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Brian Biggs
Amulet Books

Last but my no means least, out final pick in our Top 5 Middle Grade reads is the one and only FRANK EINSTEIN!

“I never thought I could read about the Hadron Collider and smile so all credit to Jon Scieszka for writing an accessible story about science…and I can’t wait for the second instalment of Frank’s adventures.” We Love This Book

Frank Einstein loves to tinker, build and take things apart. He loves to observe, hypothesise, experiment and invent. Frank Einstein is a kid genius who loves figuring out how the world works by creating household contraptions that are part science, part imagination and definitely unusual. After an uneventful experiment with a garage-lab artificially intelligent RoboBug, a lightning storm and a flash of electricity, Frank’s inventions—the robots Klink and Klank—suddenly come to life. Not exactly the ideal lab partners, the wise-cracking Klink and the overly expressive Klank are a help nonetheless as Frank attempts to perfect his Dark Energy Drive . . . that is until Frank’s arch nemesis, T. Edison, steals Klink and Klank for his evil doomsday plan! With the help of his friends, Frank sets out to rescue the robots and stop T. Edison from carrying out his twisted plans! Using real science and drawing inspiration from the classic pulp stories of Tom Swift, Jon Scieszka has created a unique world of adventure and science fiction.

Abrams & Chronicle Books are Turning Five!

YOU are invited.

YOU are invited to our 5th Birthday!

Help us celebrate #FiveYearsOfBooks with five days of reading.

birthday-bunting

We are hosting a #FiveYearsOfBooks Read-a-thon from 13th – 17th July. To join in simply follow the instructions below & use the #FiveYearsOfBooks hastag.

Reading challenges to complete:

Read the 5th book on your bookshelf
Read a book with a title beginning with A, C or B
Read a book with a title containing ‘&’ or ‘and’
Read a book set in New York or San Francisco
Read a book with more than 500 pages

Join us on Twitter at 5pm for Daily Reading Sprints & our daily challenge:

Monday 13th July: An image of the 5th shelf on your bookshelves

Tuesday 14th July: An image of your top 5 favourite books of all time

Wednesday 15th July: An image of your TBR (To Be Read) choices for the week

Thursday 16th July: An image of 5 black or red books

Friday 17th July: 5 things that would feature in your perfect book

Every daily challenge you complete enters you into our 5th Anniversary Giveaway. Which includes an EXCLUSIVE print from one of our incredible illustrators, a copy of our One Line a Day Journal AND a copy of our Literary Listography Journal!

reading challenge

Bookstore of the Week – The British Library Bookshop

We are here once again to make your Wednesday afternoon just that little bit more exciting and we know this weeks bookstore will get all you book lovers drooling.

This week we are celebrating the ever impressive British Library Bookshop.

The British Library Entrance

Housed in the British Library this bookshop is a mecca for book-lovers of all shapes and sizes. You could be forgiven for missing this gem as it stands next to the magnificently grand St Pancras International Building, but then you probably didn’t know that 10 million bricks and 180,000 tonnes of concrete were needed to complete the building AND the library has a total floor area of over 112,000 sq metres spread over 14 floors – 9 above ground, 5 below!
Now you will never forget it. 

British Library Courtyard

With a range of books and bookish gifts the bookshop is a treasure trove, even if you are just shopping for a little pick-me-up for yourself! Perhaps one of their postcard collections will take your fancy or perhaps an Alice In Wonderland book broach. The shop features a wide range of books, audio and gifts, relating to the British Library and its unique archives. 

British Library Shop
Image courtesy of British Library Bookshop

 

And what a range that makes! The Library itself receives a copy of EVERY publication produced in the UK and Ireland, 3 million new items are added every year! They also have the world’s earliest dated printed book, the Diamond Sutra, is sometimes on display in our exhibition galleries alongside many other treasures.

British Library Bookshop
Image courtesy of British Library Shop.

 

You can’t help but be inspired by the sheer scale of publications that fill these walls!

The British Library

For more from the British Library Bookstore folks follow them on Twitter, Facebook, sign-up for their Newsletter and be sure you checkout their Blogs. With topics ranging from; 10 tips to help you start a successful business to Forgotten histories of the Passage: the whalers you are sure to find something to dive into!

Find them at:

96 Euston Road

London NW1 2DB

United Kingdom

020 7412 7735

P.S – It’s not too late to pick-up a Valentines Present for that someone special, take a look at what they offer & for more inspiration join in with #ArtBooksForValentines on Twitter!