The Hard Man of the Swings

"In a terrifying dream, little Mick's mother sells his sister to a rag and bone man; in his waking life the baby, dead and gone, is never mentioned. 'The Hard Man of the Swings' is full of such observations of the bombed-out life in working-class England just after the war, and marks Jeanne Willis as being a lot more than just the funny-ha-ha author of Dr Xargle.


For Mick, adult behaviour in this demob world is composed of secrecy and sudden, unexplained violence. Eventually left in the abusive 'care' of his natural father, something inside Mick finally snaps in a horrifying and perfect ending." - The Times: October 2000

Teen Fiction

Naked Without a Hat

Will had just left home. He wasn't on the best speaking terms with his mum, but then, who is? She wouldn't let him grow up. He was capable of looking after himself, wasn't he? As long as he had his lucky beanie hat nothing could go wrong - especially when he meets the beautiful and spirited Zara. She makes Will feel amazing and vice-versa. This was just too good to be true... until Will's huge childhood secret threatens to come between their future and their dreams.

"A book about the perceptions of relationships, and ultimately ourselves. Willis is witty and earthy in equal and fine measure". - Bookseller.

"Dear Ms. Willis,

Minutes ago, I finished reading my favorite book for the 8th time– Naked Without a Hat. I just wanted to reach out and thank you for creating this story, and this world that I have fallen in love with over and over. The book fell into my lap by chance when I was 17– it was circulating in a Christmas gift exchange and I went home and tore through it more quickly than any book I'd read before and a few weeks later, I read it again. I brought it to the beach, on long car rides, on trips with friends for the times when I couldn't fall asleep at night. I could open to any page and pick up wherever, jump right into Will and Zara's world like I'd been there all along. One of those books. I will be 22 on Thursday, and I still value this book in a way that I felt I needed to let you know about. I will continue to carry this book with me and undoubtedly read it a few dozen more times. I've grown up with it, and with them, and I want to thank you for that. I know I'm not the only one who would say that your words have impacted my childhood and young adulthood in the most positive way. 

 

Sincerely,

Erika Glass"

Shamanka

"'What is Magic? What is Illusion? What is Real?' These are the three questions that Sam Khaan must find the answers to on her quest to locate her missing parents and unravel the mystery of why she was abandoned with her cruel aunt. A pet orang-utan, a ringmaster's hat and a mysterious notebook supposedly written by her witch-doctor grandfather are the only weapons Sam has in her possession when she sets off on a journey which will take her around the world and deep into her past.

This book was an absolutely enthralling read; the story draws a reader in with a combination of reader participation and embroiling narrative. The narrative is innovative; the narrator addresses the reader as an integral part of the story, and the format of the book in part echoes the notebook Sam is supposed to be carrying.

I would recommend it wholeheartedly to young and old readers alike."

"Shamanka is my favourite book of all time and the copy that I own has a puzzle on the inside of the cover. I am stuck on one of the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, it looks like a knife and means e,i or j however I am not sure which letter to use...Do you know if there is an answer to this puzzle? Or is it just an illusion?" - Max (student)

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