BLOG TOUR: The Ghouls of Howlfair

Hello hello hello friends!

How are you all? I know, I know I’ve already posted today… but today is one of those special days here at A Little But A Lot: a TWO POST DAY! 

I was invited to be part of the blog tour for The Ghouls of Howlfair by Nick Tomlinson and I absolutely jumped at the chance! This book is absolutely perfect for our upcoming SPOOKY time of year… and I tell you now, my kids are ABSOLUTELY devouring it! We can’t get enough of it – so much so there’s a waiting list for the book!

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Nick has been lovely enough to provide some content all about . I’m a massive fan of hearing about the inspiration behind stories, so this piece was SPOT ON for me! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! 

The Story Behind Howlfair

To me, Howlfair isn’t so much a place as a kind of mental scrapbook where I’ve put every silly ghost story I’ve made up since I was four.  In The Ghouls of Howlfair, it’s a very quaint, eerie tourist town nestling in the spooky Ethelhael Valley, cut off from the rest of England.  It has sinister trees and plants you won’t find anywhere else – darksbane, tangle-trees, Judas Root – and it also has more scary legends that anywhere in the world.  Every street and building, it seems, commemorates some ghastly folk tale about the Dark Days of Howlfair’s history, back when monsters (supposedly) terrorised the town.

My main character – stubborn, serious historian Molly Thompson – has lived here all her life, and she’s obsessed with finding out the truth behind the legends.  Unlike almost everyone else in town, Molly thinks that the legends might be true.  As she discovers, they’re not only true, but they’re starting to come true once more!

According to Howlfair folklore, some greedy miners came to the valley centuries ago in search of precious jewels.  They dug too deep, and supposedly exposed a secret gateway to hell.  A mysterious mist seeped from the mine and transformed locals into vampires and werewolves and zombies.  In the Dark Days that followed, the people of Howlfair formed monster-fighting Orders and Guilds to drive back waves of supernatural attacks, giving rise to vast numbers of scary camp-fire tales.

Nowadays, though, the people of Howlfair think that there must be a sensible explanation for the old stories.  The mysterious mist, they claim, was probably just a noxious gas that caused wildlife to mutate.  The creepy landmarks have become silly tourist attractions (like the infamous Loonchance Manor, home of Howlfair’s Ghoul Tour) and monster-themed gift shops.  But some people – including Molly Thompson – think that something supernatural really did show up in Howlfair centuries ago, and (more to the point) it never really left.  And because nobody in town knows the scary old stories nearly as well as Molly, she’s the only person who can figure out a way to save the town when the monsters from the legends start turning up again.

Howlfair isn’t based on any particular place – over the decades I’ve dreamt up lots of tales about hauntings and werewolves and ghouls, and the different spooky settings for them slowly formed in my imagination.  However, I’ve always been a bit obsessed with haunted places, and a few years ago my wife and I went on a tour of Britain’s most haunted hotels.  These were hotels I’d read about as a boy in a book called Haunted Britain, and I’d always dreamed of staying in them.  It turned out that I wasn’t as brave as I thought.  I spent pretty much the whole time hiding under duvets shouting WHAT WAS THAT? every time a floorboard creaked.  I’ve tried to capture some of this terror in the book; Molly and her friends aren’t exactly typical brave adventure heroes, and they have lots of WHAT WAS THAT? moments, but they know they must confront their fears if they’re to save Howlfair.  I hope readers enjoy sharing in Molly’s frights as she creeps ever closer to the ghastly secret lurking beneath Loonchance Manor!

A massive thanks to Nick for writing this brilliant piece for us to read. I can’t wait to share all of this with my class… I think they’ll find it incredible! Another massive thank you to publishers for sending me a review copy! I can’t wait to share what we think about this brilliant book in the coming weeks. 

Check out the rest of the blog tour to see what else others are saying about this brilliant, Halloween’y book!

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If you’re interested in The Ghouls of Howlfair, it is out NOW. I can’t recommend it enough! 

Are you a fan of a spooky story?
What’s your favourite thing to learn about an author?
Can you tell me your scariest story?

Talk to me in the comments… although don’t scare me too much! 

S x 

BLOG TOUR: Dr Maggie’s Grand Tour of the Solar System

WELCOME TO WORLD SPACE WEEK.
Settle in for a review of a book filled with stars, surprises and SUNthing wonderful!

Sorry for the cheesy opening! Today I’m here with a review of an absolutely beautiful non-fiction book I was sent! I’m honoured to be part of the blog tour to share this book because it is going down a STORM at school and I know it’s going to be VERY popular with teachers and children alike! 

Dr Maggie’s Grand Tour of the Solar System

“This mind-blowing book invites readers to join BBC presenter and renowned space scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock (MBE) on an epic journey through the Solar System – visiting planets, moons, asteroids and satellites, and travelling to places where no human has been before.

Along the way, kids can discover how we could live on Mars, learn about the hunt for a mysterious super-Earth, have a snowball fight on Mercury, climb the tallest mountain in the Solar System and much, much more. From spotting solar flares on the Sun to exploring objects at the edge of the icy Oort Cloud, this fun, action-packed title leaves no question unanswered and no meteorite unturned.”

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This book is an absolute victory in the way in which it teaches children about our wonderfully complicated solar system. It’s told as a tour of the solar system with Dr Maggie telling us everything she knows as she goes on. In recent years, there’s been an insurgence of beautiful non-fiction books and this one absolutely has a place to live in that category. There’s so much information jam packed into this book that there is always something new and interesting to be learning about the solar system. As you can see from the contents page (above), the tour takes us all around space visiting our own planet, to planets far away and gives children an insight into so much in between. 

With information packed on gorgeously laid out spread, it can be sometimes easy to be overwhelmed, but this book does it so well that the children have been loving it! It is certainly inspiration for when we do our own information books about space! This book fits perfectly into my life as the Y5 teacher as we study Space in Science! 

This book breaks down some really complicated science into bitesize chunks that children can process and use. There’s beautiful graphics and illustrations aplenty to enhance what is a BLOODY EXCELLENT science book. For teachers (like me) who feel like they don’t really know their stuff about Space, this would be a great read to maybe enhance knowledge. I certainly learned a few things about Space as I read! I loved that this book also has the potential to create some wonderful questions and talking points in a classroom!

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As a school, we are having a push on vocabulary (as I think most schools are) and I was delighted to look in the back and see an accessible and scientific glossary in the back. There is nothing better for inquisitive minds than a glossary they can read and access! I love how simplistic, yet scientific, this glossary is! 

If you’re looking for a brilliant book all about space, this is definitely one I would look out for. It’s out now and I promise you, it is brilliant!

Dr Maggie Blog Tour

A massive thank you to the publishers, Michael O’Mara books, for sending me a review copy and for inviting me on the blog tour… I can already tell this is going to be a book that my children and I love for many years to come! 

Would you like to visit space?
Have you got an interesting space fact you can tell me?
What’s something you’ve always wondered about space?

Talk to me in the comments or on twitter! I’d love to know! 

S x