Where is the year going? We are looking forward to welcoming you to some of our forthcoming events, in fact two of this month’s review titles are from authors who will be visiting us during May.

More authors will be coming to Malton for the Food Festivals and once again we are partnering with Be Amazing Arts to create some fabulous activities and pieces for the summer and winter periods. So, keep your eyes open and do come and join in.

Meantime, our team at Kemps are always here to offer you reading suggestions and our craft workshop programme and book clubs continue. We look forward to seeing you soon.

Yesterday Crumb and the Storm in a Teacup : Book 1

by Andy Sagar

Destined to be a firm favourite in many a household, Yesterday Crumb and the Storm in a Teacup, is the first book in a series from debut author, Andy Sagar. Originally from Yorkshire, and formerly a primary school teaching assistant, Sagar is now researching witchcraft at Cambridge University and his inspiration for this children’s novel comes from a visit to Betty’s tearooms in Harrogate. It is an enchanting fantasy fiction that features a lost but feisty young girl who discovers that she is just as magical as the creatures she reads about in her beloved Pocket Book of Faeries.

Yesterday Crumb is lonely: she features as an attraction in a travelling circus and is constantly reminded by Ringmaster Skelm that she will never be free. She is different: her fox-ears are the reason why so many people come to gawp at her in her cage, not caring whether she hears their hurtful comments. However, she is also very resilient and, when she is set free by the chattering white raven, Madrigal, she jumps at the chance to escape. But before Madrigal manages to deliver her to the kindly Miss Dumpling, a wise and wonderful tea witch, she encounters the sinister trickster, Mr. Weep, who promises to rid her of her fox ears omitting to warn her of the terrible consequences this deal will bring.

The story is bustling with wonderfully imaginative creatures such as Jack, the confectionary witch, Pepperpew, the dragon librarian, and a whole host of other faerie folk. Likewise, the teashop where Miss Dumpling brews her splendidly magical tea will captivate young readers as Sagar builds a thoroughly believable fairly-tale world. It is a world where, after reading this book, many will keenly wait to return with the next instalment in the series.

Publisher Hachette Children's Group

ISBN:9781510109483 Paperback £6.99

Cool Nature : Filled with Facts and Projects for Kids of All Ages

by Amy-Jane Beer & Damien Weighill

This book is exactly what it says on the cover! A seriously cool guide to the natural world that gives children of all ages factual information and lots of ideas for understanding the world of plants and animals.

The book is bursting with colour and information is delivered by way of an eye-catching cartoon style which is sure to appeal to many children. Facts are delivered in bite-sized, manageable sections while being quite engrossing, too. For example, did you realise that wombat poo is the shape of cubes? The information covers a wide variety of topics from evolution to geology to the ocean, all delivered in a friendly and humorous tone.

For those who like to get hands-on, there is also a good deal of practical advice for nature-loving kids to do in their back garden and beyond including how to make a cloud in a bottle and how to track animals through the woods. It is the kind of book that any child with an interest in nature will read, use and treasure for a very long time.

Amy-Jane – local author and Guardian columnist will be appearing at The Milton Rooms for us in conversation with Rob Cowen on May 19th – tickets available from The Milton Rooms

Publisher HarperCollins Publishers/Pavillion Books

ISBN:9781910232255 Hardback£9.99

A Net for Small Fishes by Lucy Jago

In 1613, the courtier and poet Sir Thomas Overbury died in imprisonment in the Tower of London. It was unremarkable at the time, but two years later his death was officially investigated due to the maelstrom of wild rumours that roiled around James I's court. The clandestine whispers that spoke of Overbury having been poisoned by his keeper, aided by Mistress Anne Turner, Frances Howard's confidante, daughter of the all-powerful Howard family resolved into a sensational public murder trial that implicated not only Anne and Frances, but also Frances' husband, the king's favourite – Robert Carr, Earl of Somerset. The salacious details aired at trial, including accusations of lust, sorcery, witchcraft, and murder kept all of London enthralled and it quickly became the greatest scandal of the age.

The focus of Lucy Jago’s gorgeously well-written debut novel A Net for Small Fishes is not the Overbury Scandal per se, but rather the events that preceded it, in particular the bonds of friendship that developed between Anne Turner and the younger, and desperately unhappy, aristocratic society beauty Frances Howard. A friendship that grew from their mutual desperation to seek personal happiness and fulfilment in a time in which women were expected to silently endure, causing them to take increasingly reckless risks – consulting necromancers, taking lovers – in the pursuit of it. A Net for Small Fishes took ten years to research and write, and the time and care taken by Jago results in a novel that is as historically accurate as it is richly imagined. Dismissed by their contemporaries (largely men) as solely vain and lustful, Frankie and Anne are the Jacobean answer to Thelma and Louise and their story should not be missed.

Lucy Jago, a Cambridge graduate, is an award-winning writer of fiction and non-fiction, before writing full-time, she produced and directed history, arts, and social documentaries for television.

Published by Bloomsbury

ISBN:9781526616654 Paperback £8.99

The Heeding by Rob Cowen

The COVID-19 pandemic delivered shocks around the world: individuals, communities and nations were thrown into an uncertain and largely inactive state of waiting, a complete suspension of ‘normal life’. In the year that may now feel unreal to many, Harrogate-based nature writer, Rob Cowen, turned to poetry ‘to try to bear witness to the lived experience of unfolding events’ and create a close-hand account of the traumatic pandemic year.

The poems collected in this book speak of both the beauty and the devastation that come in the everyday moments in the human and the natural world. Cowen’s language of heeding observes the ‘butter-brown blur of a hawk’, a frozen moment watching insects, the ‘glossy’ ivy that defies the cancellation of Christmas. His poems document the apparent randomness of the world and the emotions it takes for humans to make some sense out of it. Grief, fear, compassion, fortitude, love and lust are just some of the feelings represented throughout the poems and it is impossible to pick a favourite.

However, a poem that brings together the two aims of the collection (to heed and to remember) is the tender and evocative Family Trees. Here, the late summer scent of the clematis causes Cowen to remember himself getting lost in a wood as a child where his father had taken him, ‘Up into his arms and carried me back. /And I’d seen him so cross, so happy’, a memory which prompts him to ‘grieve for all/The family trees losing their leaves’ to this new, unknowable, virus.

The Heeding is illustrated with linocut prints by Nick Hayes (bestselling author of The Book of Trespass) which are beautiful and arresting in their own right. In fact, they add to the transformative power of this collection of poetry which does not warn us ‘to heed’ but is given to us as ‘The Heeding’. This collection of poetry is not a warning but a gift: it is a book to hold, to read and to pass on to others and, within it, is encased the experience of an inconceivable year.

Rob will be appearing at The Milton Rooms for us in conversation with Amy-Jane Beer on May 19th – tickets available from The Milton Rooms

Publisher Elliott & Thompson Limited

ISBN:9781783966332 Paperback £9.99