Tag Archives: Andersen Press

Jack you’re not an ordinary boy…’Sorrowline’ an exciting adventure

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Sorrowline by Niel Bushnell. (The Timesmith chronicles), Published by Andersen Press, 2013.  331 pages. Available in NZ bookstores RRP $20.95.

“You have a rare gift Jack: you’re a yard boy, a voyager through graveyards. You can travel through the Sorrowlines. They’re tunnels, tunnels through time. Every grave, it’s connected to the date of the person’s death by a Sorrowline. Yard Boys like you, Jack – they can open up a Sorrowline and travel along it, right into the past.”


Twelve-year-old Jack Morrow is used to life being complicated. His mother died five years ago, and his father is now headed for prison. But then Jack discovers he’s a Yard Boy – someone with the ability to travel through Sorrowlines, the channels that connect every gravestone with the date of the person’s death – and he is quickly pulled into an adventure beyond anything he could have possibly imagined. Finding himself in 1940s war-torn London, with his then – teenage grandfather, Davey, Jack soon realises that his arrival in the past has not gone unnoticed. The evil forces of a secret world are determined to find him – and to find out all he knows. As Jack struggles to survive, he comes ever closer to unlocking the dark secret at the heart of his family, and to – just maybe – changing his own destiny…

Book trailer:

What did I think of this book?

There are quite a few original elements that make this different from other time travel books, but plenty of things that will make readers feel they are in comfortable and familiar territory. The time travel method of traveling back to a period of time tied to a person’s date of death is new – it makes for some excitement in the story because if the characters need to travel to a particular date then they need to find a gravestone first (or get chased around a graveyard while they look for one!)  The other thing that is noticeably different about this story is that the period in which a lot of the book is set is in the 1940s during the Blitz in London. This seems very vividly drawn and well described and adds another frisson of fear into the story – before the villain catches up with our hero Jack, he could be blown to bits by a bomb or trapped in debris or a burning building. It is here that Jack meets his own Grandfather as a young man and Jack learns more about his family.

The contrast between Jack’s seemingly ordinary life in 2013 London couldn’t be more different than what he experiences in the past. It is here that we find the fantastical elements of an alternate world story with many interesting characters with unusual roles both good and bad along the way.

I think this will be a hit with many of my students – the blend of fantasy world, time travel and modern day adventure will appeal to the kids who enjoy Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and Kane Chronicle’s type adventures.

A theory of Time Travel – if you are interested in the science behind the “time travel paradox” you might find this YouTube video of an interview with Dr Ronald Mallett (a theoretical physicist) interesting. I found this brief article from brainpickings.org here: “Einstein, Goedel, and the science of time travel (or Meeting your future grandchildren in a rotating universe) by Maria Popova, brainpickings.org 19 July 2012″.


Nothing incredible ever happened…until ‘The snow merchant’ came

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The Snow Merchant by Sam Gayton, Illustrated by Tomislav Tomic, Published by Andersen Press, 2011.

A very original and imaginative tale that will have reluctant readers on the edge of their seats! This story has a wee touch of JK Rowling with alchemy and potion brewing worthy of Hermione Grainger, but also a smidgeon of Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials type fantasy (Lettie has a touch of Lyra about her, and her friend Noah, has a twig growing from his shoulder which changes appearance based on his mood and situation and the twig could be described as a botanical daemon!) These similarities aside, I thought this was storytelling of the best kind – an original, thought-provoking story no-one had ever told me before, and told in a delightful, engaging and exciting way.

The story:

Lettie Peppercorn hasn’t left her house-on-stilts near the wind-swept coast of Albion for over ten years. Her missing mother left a very specific warning on the day she left – stepping outside onto Albion could kill Lettie.

But when a mysterious, frozen man, with icicles in his beard claiming to be an alchemist, arrives at the door with a miraculous invention inside a mahogany suitcase, Lettie’s life is changed forever. Lettie has no choice but to risk the perils lurking in the world and on the ground outside if she wants to see her mother again.

Lettie and her sailor friend Noah are both brave, feisty and resourceful, but have their work cut out trying to get the better of a cast of comical but dangerous enemies. In this story Alchemy equates with magic, and although the strange alchemist is motivated by the lure of gold and revenge, the other alchemical experiments are to do with creation, life and love. The text is broken up with beautiful, expressive pen and ink illustrations by Tomislav Tomic.

About the author and illustrator:

Sam Gayton is a young author and this is his first book. He shares a little about his inspiration and writing process here:

To see some of the gorgeous illustrations by Tomislav Tomic click here:

What do I think about this book?

This was one I couldn’t put down and think there will be a lot of children years 5/6 (plus some advanced readers in year 4…) who will love this. It is a standalone novel but a very satisfying one. I look forward to reading more from this author.