26th Jun '15

Subject TOP 5 FRIDAY: Harry Potter supporting cast


A Harry Potter play! Philosopher’s Stone’s 18th birthday! Today is a good (read: the best) day for HP fans everywhere. I’ve been planning this week’s top 5 (previously top 5 Parisian stories) for a while, but with all the Potter news I feel this one is much more apt. Also: spoilers abound if you haven’t finished the series, but I’m not sure there’s anyone left in the world that statement applies to.

1. Kingsley Shacklebolt

My absolute favourite. A pillar of integrity and morals, Kingsley is of course the first choice for Minister once Voldy’s regime of doom and gloom goes under. He’s such an integral member of the Order that it seems strange he was only introduced in book 5. I love Kingsley so much that I named one of my chickens after him.

2. Kreacher

I think Kreacher jumping ship is one of my real favourite moments of book 7, so I was a bit gutted it wasn’t in the film. His story of travelling to the cave genuinely makes me well up – plus the moment when he leads the house-elves into battle against Voldemort is just great. Plus, he’s an intensely loyal character, risking everything to stay loyal to Regulus. A good egg after all.

3. Sir Cadogan

It’s a travesty that Sir Cadogan doesn’t feature more. A gallant and noble knight who takes his job of guarding the Gryffindor common room very seriously (some would say jobsworth), Sir Cadogan was the only one brave enough for the job after the Fat Lady was attacked. He also didn’t shy away during the Battle of Hogwarts – it takes a special kind of person to run after Death Eaters yelling ‘scoundrels’ and ‘rogues’, even if you do live in a painting.

4. Lee Jordan

Lee is just awesome.  The boy was always destined for big things: firstly taking on the role of the (slightly biased) school Quidditch commentator, he then went to set up an UNDERGROUND RADIO STATION for Order members. And remember the time he brought a giant tarantula on the Hogwarts Express? Seriously. So cool.

5. Cho Chang

I feel like Cho gets a bit of a bad rep. She’s actually really pretty awesome: when her boyfriend is killed she gets to work in learning to fight Voldemort, she stands by Marietta even after Marietta RUINS EVERYTHING, she comes to fight at the school at the drop of a hat and risks her life in the battle. The unsung hero of the series (but not quite as cool as Ginny. Come on, she’s a professional Quidditch player). 

Special mention: Phineas Nigellus. I am gutted Phineas wasn’t in the films, because he is such an integral character to the books. The school’s least popular headmaster, yet full of (sometimes not-so-helpful) advice, Phineas is basically the reason the Silver Doe chapter happened. Brb, just need to read the entire series again. 

Follow Chicken House on Twitter: @chickenhsebooks

5th Jun '15

Subject TOP 5 FRIDAY: Twins


There can’t be many kids who don’t, at some point, wish they had a twin – better still, an identical one. A ready-made best friend to share everything with, starting with a womb. Publishing Manager Esther Waller picks five of the best sets of twins in children’s books (BOGOF).

1. PAT AND ISABEL from the St Clare’s series by Enid Blyton

These girls are spoilt ('I didn't even bother to look at the lacrosse sticks Mummy bought for us, did you?'), rebellious and determined not to conform to their new boarding school’s ways – classic Blyton. We also get the holy grail of literary twin devices when they swap identities.

2. TOPSY AND TIM from Topsy and Tim series by Jean and Gareth Adamson

Considering the original books are around forty years old you’ve got to love the natural gender equality between Topsy and Tim: they dress the same, have the same sense of adventure, get in the same kinds of mischief. Think Topsy, the pint-sized poster girl for feminism.

3. ELIZABETH AND JESSICA from Sweet Valley Twins/High series by Francine Pascal

Elizabeth is impossibly pretty, blonde and super-bright. Jessica is impossibly pretty, blonde and super-fun (with a tiny dimple in her left cheek). Bring on rivalry over boys, boys, boys, and being prom queen. In the later, darker series it even gets murderous ...

4. RUBY AND GARNET from Double Act by Jacqueline Wilson

They may be wildly different but Ruby and Garnet love each other in a way siblings without matching birth dates rarely do, sharing a secret language and being a self-sufficient unit after they lose their mum. But the intensity can’t last as they begin to pull in opposite directions ...

5. * SPOILER ALERT * THE REBECCA TWINS from the Tunnels series by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams

Poor Will Burrows. What’s worse than finding out that your sister Rebecca is actually a villainous imposter trying to take revenge on your family? Finding out she has an identical twin, also hell-bent on destroying you ... and the pair of them just – won’t – die. Will nicknames them the ‘Evil Cows’, but I might go for something a bit stronger!

What have we missed? Tweet us at @chickenhsebooks

4th Jun '15

Subject New books!


Can you believe it’s June already? It’s come round so quickly – but it means we’re finally able to share our incredible June books with the world: ALEXANDER’S ARMY by Chris d’Lacey and CIRCUS MIRANDUS by Cassie Beasley!

First up is ALEXANDER’S ARMY, the second novel in Chris d’Lacey’s UNICORNE Files series. Full of suspense and intrigue, ALEXANDER’S ARMY follows on from the gripping A Dark Inheritance, featuring a fantastic cast of characters and plenty of edge-of-your-seat action! This original paranormal series is supernatural at its best – The X-Files for a new generation.

 After the success of his first assignment from the UNICORNE agency, fourteen-year-old Michael Malone is given another unexplained mystery to solve. When UNICORNE detect strange goings-on in a comic book shop, Michael is sent to investigate – a task which is made all the more difficult by allies he can no longer trust, and an enemy he can’t actually see …

 Next is CIRCUS MIRANDUS, a timeless story brimming with magical possibilities. Debut author Cassie Beasley sensitively tackles some of life’s biggest challenges in this enchanting tale of adventure – exploring themes of grief, loss and hope, and celebrating the power of imagination and belief. Packaged in a stunning circus-inspired cover with striped edges, this is the perfect tale for fans of Neil Gaiman.

 Micah’s beloved grandfather is gravely sick, but all is not lost. Years ago, his grandfather visited a mysterious circus where he was promised a miracle by a man who could bend light. But who is this stranger, will he keep his promise, and does the magical Circus Mirandus really exist?

 Try our Circus Mirandus-themed name generator and win a copy of the book! You can be in with a chance of winning 1 of 5 copies of CIRCUS MIRANDUS by sharing your circus name with us – which you can find out by clicking here!

 Follow Chris d’Lacey on Twitter: @chrisdlacey

Follow Cassie Beasley on Twitter: @beasleywrites

Follow Chicken House on Twitter: @chickenhsebooks


29th May '15

Subject TOP 5 FRIDAY: Kid Detectives

ByRachel L

Detectives have to be more than just plain nosy – only the truly tough, steely and determined will get to the bottom of the crime. As Humphrey Bogart says in ‘The Big Sleep’ (when asked why he keeps on investigating):  ‘Too many people told me to stop.’ 

(Though my favourite bit of dialogue from the same film is actually:

Bacall: ‘You’re not very tall, are you?’

Bogart: ‘Well, I try to be.’)

1. NANCY DREW from the Nancy Drew series

Even though the titian hair was rumoured to be the result of a printing error, it all added to the appeal of the first super-star girl detective. Outspoken and feisty, Nancy has shown an uncanny ability to grow with the times (since 1930 no less).

2. REYNIE MULDOON from our own bestselling Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

An average-looking boy, there’s nothing remotely average about his powers of deduction and ability to read people.

3. HARRIET from Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

Wannabe writer and spy Harriet is fiercely ambitious, but she soon realises that there are some things you shouldn’t write in a notebook – or at least, not where it can be found.

4. EMIL from Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kästner

Top marks for retrieving his German marks (sorry …) and managing in a new city all by himself – or at least with 24 other boy detectives. A 1929 classic.

5. ALICE JONES from Alice Jones and the Impossible Clue by Sarah Rubin

A mathematical whiz, and the go-to girl for solving only the most impossible clues, she’s our new detective du jour. Who needs a trench coat and trilby when you’ve got that many brain cells? Publishing early 2016! 

Who’s your favourite junior sleuth? Tweet us at @chickenhsebooks!  

22nd May '15

Subject TOP 5 FRIDAY: Small Characters


Being a very tall person, our Rights Director Elinor has always loved all things small – especially in children’s books …

1. ARRIETTY from The Borrowers by Mary Norton

There is something about Arrietty that makes you know that anything is possible – and that being small can actually make you very big.

2. TINKERBELL from Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

Even though she is very annoying and really knows how to manipulate the heartstrings, Tinkerbell is fun and feisty and always made me long for wings.

3. BERTOLT ROBERTS from Beetle Boy by M. G. Leonard

If ever there was a small person you would want in your life, it’s Bertolt Roberts from the forthcoming Chicken House bestseller. I fell in love with him instantly and adore his earnest steadfastness in the face of terrifying events, his joy in creating huge explosions and the way he never gives up on his friends.

4. TRUMPKIN from Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis

For his loyalty to Prince Caspian, his grumpiness about the four children being noble kings and queens, and his willingness to give his life to save Narnia.

5. The Leprechaun from Turf Cutter’s Donkey by Patricia Lynch

However old you are it doesn’t stop you looking for magic under every rainbow.  If you see me searching in the highways and byways it is because I still believe I’ll find a leprechaun – one of the most elusive of people – to beg him to mend the holes in my boots. And then of course they’ll become magic and I’ll be able to leap over mountains, stride across seas like Elaine and never need to wait for public transport ever again.

And of course, Barry Cunningham – the smallest person in children’s publishing who has the biggest personality and the most enormous gift of generosity.

Let us know your thoughts by Tweeting us at @chickenhsebooks and @elinorwellingto 

8th May '15

Subject TOP 5 FRIDAY: Tea Times


We’re big tea fans at the Coop, and we’ll never say no to a sliver (read: wedge) of Victoria Sponge. Plus, after the Curses, Castles and Deaths of our last three top fives, we reckon it’s high time for a bit of light relief. Well, light-ISH …

1. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

‘We’re all mad here!’ exclaims the Hatter. And indeed, this Tea Time Of All Tea Times – which lasts, literally, for ever – is characterised by unanswerable riddles and nonsensical poetry. And, naturally, tea. Turns out Time has punished the Hatter by evoking an everlasting six o’clock. Alice reckons it’s the stupidest party she’s ever been too, but I rather fancy an eternity of cake …

2. The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr

The tiger is a charming and cheerful guest, but JEEZ does he have an appetite. He slurps all the tea. He eats all the food. He drains ALL OF THE WATER FROM THE TAPS. Bloated, much? What a ledge.

3. The Glass Bird Girl by Esme Kerr

Teatime, and it’s those tricksy little dainty cakes, crumbling from your fingers like miniature sandcastles. As you try and stuff ’em in, your prim-and-proper headmistress shoots questions over her teacup, and your dark secret backstory gently unravels ... Awkward.

4. The Famous Five by Enid Blyton

Despite the lack of actual tea, the Famous Five know the importance of the mid-afternoon pick-me-up. Blyton life lesson: if you’re going on an adventure, essential tools include ginger beer and jam sandwiches – with LASHINGS of jam. Word.

5. Arsenic for Tea by Robin Stevens

Daisy is home for her birthday and her oh-so-glam mum is throwing a fabulous tea party in her honour – hurrah! Er, wait, what’s that in the title? Arsenic? Yeah, someone’s poisoned … happy birthday! And what with the INSANE storm howling outside, somebody’s going to have to sort it. Good thing Daisy’s in the Detective Society …

What have we missed? Tweet us at @chickenhsebooks


Subscribe to our RSS feed