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I mean, normally grandmas are lovely and sweet
-and kind and smell of pretty flowers, don't they?
Well, not in this book, I mean, this grandma is 100% the opposite.
I mean, she shouts, she bullies,
she eats slugs and she's got one of those puckered-up mouths
-that, you know, never smiles.
-Eugh! Who'd want a grandma like that?
Well, this lad, George, yeah? He's got no choice. Poor George.
That horrible crinkly old bag is so horrible to him.
-Ah! Until George comes up with a secret plan.
And that's what this book is all about.
Every day, George's grandma has to take a very special medicine,
so George decides to make her a brand-new medicine,
so he runs around the farm where he lives,
finding all sorts of weird ingredients.
Yeah, rotten old banana skins, shoe polish, shampoo,
extra-hot chilli sauce, oh!
And he makes a brand-new mixture that he hopes will give his grandma
a big whopper of a surprise.
DICK SNIFFS Can you smell something funny?
I always thought in books that children were supposed to be good
and old ladies were really kind, but when I first read this book,
I couldn't believe what George was doing.
And who can blame him?
I mean, Quentin Blake's illustrations really show you
how disgusting that grandma really is.
Nasty piece of work, but what it makes you think, though, and wonder
is, "What's going to happen to her when she tries the medicine?"
You can really tell that the writer, Roald Dahl, is on George's side.
This is one my favourite parts of the book, when George doesn't
want his grandma to know that he's boiling her up a big surprise!
"George!" came the awful voice from the next room.
-"It's time for my medicine!"
-"Not yet, Grandma," George called back.
"There's still 20 minutes before 11 o'clock!"
"What mischief are you up to in there now?" Granny screeched.
-"I hear noises!"
-George thought it best not to answer this one.
He found a long wooden spoon in a kitchen drawer
and began stirring hard.
The stuff in the pot got hotter and hotter.
Soon the marvellous mixture began to froth and foam.
A rich blue smoke, the colour of peacocks,
rose from the surface of the liquid.
And a fiery, fearsome smell filled the kitchen.
It made George choke and splutter.
It was a smell unlike any he had smelled before.
It was a brutal, bewitching smell, spicy and staggering,
fierce and frenzied, full of wizardry and magic.
Whenever he got a whiff of it up his nose,
firecrackers went off in his skull
and electric prickles ran along the back of his legs.
It was wonderful to stand there, stirring this amazing mixture
and to watch it smoking blue and bubbling and frothing
and foaming as though it were alive.
Soon, George started to get really excited about his wonderful mixture.
At one point, he could have sworn
he saw bright sparks flashing in the swirling foam.
Suddenly, George found himself dancing around the steaming pot,
chanting strange words that came into his head out of nowhere.
BOTH: "Fiery broth and witch's brew Foamy froth and riches blue
"Fume and spume and spoondrift spray
"Frizzle, swizzle, shout hooray
"Watch it sloshing Swashing, sploshing
"Hear it hissing, squishing, spissing
"Grandma better start to pray!"
I wonder what's going to happen to her.
This book still makes me laugh and until I read Roald Dahl,
I didn't think it was possible for a book to make you laugh
-so much that you fall off your chair or pee your pants laughing.
Yeah, I know. There are loads of funny books out there
and you can see which stories make you laugh the most.
You know, George is a real hero in this book
because he has a really hard time with the whole thing,
but then he really fights back.
And you're probably wondering why Grandma ends up with her head
stuck through the roof.
And what about the chicken the size of a house?
And of course, if you want to know more, you'll have to read the book.
Hang on, where is the book?
-I know the book's amazing!
I know the book's mind-blowing, but now it's covered in goop.
Bit more salt.
One of my favourite books is The Wind In The Willows.
Now this funny, exciting story begins with a character called Mole
and he decides to give up on a day of boring spring-cleaning and...
..and come here to the river bank.
Now, Mole, who's usually a bit shy and quiet, soon becomes best friends
with Ratty and they have a whole lot of adventures on the river.
And Ratty's neighbour Toad, he loves boats as well.
Well, until he decides he likes cars even more.
But Toad is a great friend, though, although he's an even greater poser.
I read this story a very long time ago.
It's one that I've never forgotten.
I live in the city so reading Wind In The Willows,
it gives me my escapism to the countryside.
I like how the writer, Kenneth Grahame,
uses language that makes you feel how magical, beautiful, scary
the places like rivers and woods can really be.
Who would have thought I would care what happened to a rat?
Who would have thought that a toad can drive?
Not everybody is a friend of Ratty and Mole's in the story, though.
Weasels, stoats, and foxes - eugh! -
well, they live in the wild woods
and Ratty has warned Mole to stay well away...
..but Mole ignores Ratty
and one evening, walking through the woods,
trying to find Mr Badger,
all of a sudden he gets a horrible feeling...
..he's not alone.
It was over his shoulder
and indistinctly that he first thought he saw a face,
a little evil wedge-shaped face looking out at him from a hole.
When he turned round and confronted it, the thing had vanished.
He quickened his pace, telling himself cheerfully
not to begin imagining things or there'd be simply no end to it.
He passed another hole, then another and then, yes!
Certainly a little narrow face with hard eyes had flashed up
for an instant from a hole and then it was gone.
He hesitated...braced himself up for an effort and strode on.
Then, suddenly, and as if it had been so all the time, every hole,
and there were hundreds of them,
seemed to possess its face, coming and going rapidly,
all fixing on him glances of malice and hatred,
all hard-eyed and evil and sharp.
If he could only get away from the holes in the banks,
he thought, there'd be no more faces. He swung off the path
and plunged into the untrodden places of the wood.
Then, the whistling began,
very faint and shrill it was,
and far behind him when first he heard it.
But somehow it made him hurry forward,
then, still very faint and shrill,
it sounded far ahead of him and made him hesitate and want to go back.
And as he halted in his indecision, it broke out on either side
and seemed to be caught up and passed on throughout
the whole length of the woods to its furthest limit.
They were up and alert and ready evidently, whoever they were...
..and he...he was alone
and unarmed and far from any help.
And the night was closing in.
BIRD CALLS CONTINUE
If you read the book, you'll see things get a lot worse for Mole.
You'll also see... RAIN PATTERS
Ah! You'll see how he does find Badger after all.
Now, Badger's old and wise
and he's also not a fan of unexpected guests
so you'll have to meet him in the book.
Everyone who reads a story
will have their own favourite character but MINE...mine's Mr Toad.
He's a troublemaker and he's really enthusiastic about life
AND he can't stop talking.
I think reading is really important because holding a book in my hand now
it feels like I've got a really powerful tool, cos inside these pages
I'm learning about different emotions that I didn't realise existed.
So, you know, you don't have to go on a plane and you don't have to walk
hundreds of miles to go somewhere new - books can take you there.
So if you want to go somewhere special,
to a place that you've never even dreamed of, think of somewhere,
and I bet you there's a book been written about it.
So even if I'm stuck inside my house
or I've got loads and loads of work to do,
when all I want to do is go to the river bank or the wild wood -
I just open my book.
I really hope Toad knows where he's going.
DRAMATIC ORGAN MUSIC PLAYS
I've always loved this book. It's called The Worst Witch
and it's all about a girl called Mildred Hubble
who's a pupil at Miss Cackle's Academy For Witches.
So, it's no maths and history classes for Mildred.
Instead, she learns broomstick-riding...
As soon as I read The Worst Witch, I wanted to swap schools
and go to Miss Cackle's Academy instead.
I guess it's never too late to learn.
Mildred isn't exactly Miss Cackle's star pupil.
She keeps smashing her broomstick into things
and getting her spells mixed up.
And she's even afraid of the dark.
Not exactly ideal for a witch, is it?
Wow! Look at the face of Miss Hardbroom.
She's the strict and scary headmistress of the school.
She's always looking for reasons
to make Mildred stay behind after class or give her extra lines.
Even Miss Cackle, who's far nicer, doesn't think Mildred stands a chance
in getting her Witch's Higher Certificate.
Everything that happens to Mildred feels like the kind of stuff
that happened to me at school -
making mistakes in class, trying to do well,
but getting blamed when things go wrong.
I knew exactly how Mildred felt, even though I wasn't a witch.
Jill Murphy, the writer, makes you want to run out
and join the school.
Even though it's a gloomy building, high on a mountain,
it seems like such a fun place to be.
Who wouldn't want to know how to fly or making a laughing potion?
Mildred's also got the worst cat.
It keeps falling off her broomstick,
something Ethel, the know-it-all girl at school,
starts teasing her about one morning.
ZOOM! I always like reading this part.
"I think Miss Cackle gave you that cat on purpose," Ethel sneered.
"You're both as bad as each other."
"Oh, be quiet!" said Mildred, trying to keep her temper.
"Anyway, it's not a bad cat, it'll learn in time."
"Huh! Like you did," Ethel went on.
"Wasn't it only last week that you crashed into the dustbins?"
"Look, Ethel," Mildred said,
"You'd better be quiet because if you don't, I shall..."
"I shall have to turn you into a frog.
"I don't want to have to do that."
Ethel gave a shriek of laughter.
"Ah-ha-ha-ha! That's really funny!" she crowed.
"You don't even know the beginners' spells, let alone ones like that."
Mildred blushed and looked very miserable.
"Go on, then!" cried Ethel. "Go on, then!
"If you're so clever, turn me into a frog.
It just so happens that Mildred did have an idea of that spell.
She'd been reading about it in the library.
By now, everyone had crowded round waiting to se what would happen.
Ethel was still jeering. It was unbearable.
Mildred muttered the spell under her breath and Ethel vanished.
In her place stood a small, pink and grey...
Cries and shouts rent the air, "Oh, no!"
"That's torn it" "You've done it now, Mildred!" Mildred was horrified.
"Oh, Ethel," she said. "I'm sorry, but you did ask for it."
The pig looked furious. "Oink-oink! You beast, Mildred Hubble! Oink!"
it grunted. "Change me back!"
At that moment, Miss Hardbroom suddenly appeared
in the middle of the yard.
"Where is Ethel Hallow?" she asked.
"Miss Bat would like to see her about extra chanting lessons."
Her sharp gaze fell on the small pig
which was grunting softly at her feet.
"What is that animal doing in the yard?" she asked coldly.
Everyone looked at Mildred.
Now Mildred's got two big problems on her hands.
She doesn't know how to change the spell back
and she's made an enemy of Ethel.
Not a good idea.
I love The Worst Witch
because I think Mildred who's the main character in the book
is absolutely amazing.
When I was at school, there was a girl in my class called Martha
that looked so much like Mildred
that that's what made me want to be her best mate.
Reading's magic. It's a bit like a spell to me.
You get into a book and suddenly you're somebody else,
like a witch or a wizard or an astronaut or a jungle explorer.
SHE CASTS A SPELL
Pfft! My disappearing spell isn't working on this pig at all.
Anyway, who wants to hear about how Mildred discovers
an evil plot from rival witches that want to take over the school?
Oh! I guess you'll have to find out for yourselves.
I think I might have done this spell the wrong way round.
Oh, hey! This is one of the funniest books I've ever read.
It's called The Giggler Treatment.
It's all about the Gigglers -
they're these little people who look after children
and they're hardly ever seen,
but if a grown-up ever does something mean to a kid, you know,
like send them to bed without dinner or something like that,
the Gigglers will punish that grown-up. You want to know how?
Yep...with dog poo.
See, when an adult steps in a big, squelchy one, it's no accident, no!
They're getting the Giggler treatment and in this story,
Mr Mack is about to become the Gigglers' next victim.
What are you doing?
What are you doing? Leave me alone. Go on.
Of course, it's Rover here who provides the poo...
..but it's the Gigglers who put it in the perfect position to cause
a big stink for someone like Mr Mack -
a nice dad, on his way home from work.
Come on, the biggest poo in the world was sat right there
in the middle of the path.
How could he miss it?
But Mr Mack got distracted.
Just after he turned the corner,
he saw a seagull sitting on the branch of a tree.
"You know what, mister?" said the seagull. "I hate fish!"
I didn't know seagulls could perch in trees, said Mister Mack.
He kept walking, but he looked back to have another look at the seagull
and this was a pity because he didn't see the dog poo
right in front of him on the footpath.
Poor Mister Mack. His shoe was headed straight for that poo.
Seagulls, you can't trust 'em.
This book has got such a nutty sense of humour.
I mean, have you ever heard of a chapter called Chapter Fridge?
The first time I read The Giggler Treatment
I'd never heard of the Gigglers.
But then, saying that, I'd never heard of
cream crackers that could talk or dogs who could send e-mails.
But all of that is in this book.
Meanwhile, back at the poo, Mister Mack is only seconds away.
I forgot to tell you.
The Gigglers are nearby.
Looking out, peeking, very excited.
They waited for the wallop.
Mister Mack hitting the poo.
They waited for the squelch. SQUELCH
Mister Mack stepping down on the poo.
They waited for the gasp. HE GASPS
Mister Mack seeing the poo for the first time.
They waited for the groan. HE GROANS
Mister Mack seeing that most of the poo was now on his shoe.
His shoe was now very, very close to the you-know-what.
"How close?" said the smallest Giggler.
"Fourteen and three-quarter inches," said the biggest Giggler.
"That's very close," said the middle-sized one.
And she shoved her fist into her mouth to trap the giggles.
HE BREATHES LOUDLY And they waited.
And I can't wait either.
I said Mister Mack was a nice dad, didn't I?
So why have the Gigglers plonked a big squelchy wet one
on the path for him?
And how does Rover become a billionaire dog?
You'll have to get reading.
HE LAUGHS Urgh!
Personally I think this is a book everyone should read.
Not other adults, of course. Don't want them knowing about the Gigglers.
One of the things I really love about this book
is that it's true, you know?
A lot of the time adults can be unfair towards children.
When I read this to my daughter she thought exactly the same thing.
You know, we both laughed as hard as each other.
And when you really enjoy a book like that, it makes you want to read
more and more books and The Giggler Treatment is one of the best
and it's because it's based on truth.
Cream crackers can talk.
Well, no, they can't talk, but the idea
that there's Gigglers looking out for us, that's a beautiful thing.
I think I can hear giggles.
It's a good thing I'm always nice to kids.
Apart from that little one I was a bit nasty to...
I LOVE this book.
It's called The Firework Maker's Daughter
and it's all about a girl called Lila.
Now Lila has always dreamed of being a firework maker.
A FIREWORK CRACKS
Just like her father.
You know, fireworks can be dangerous
and you have to be very careful around them.
But luckily for Lila, she's got an expert teacher, her dad,
and he shows her how to make some eye-popping fireworks,
like Leaping Monkeys and Golden Sneezes.
Honestly, before I started reading this story,
I'd never thought about who actually makes a firework.
That those explosions in the sky are actually the dreams and ideas
of people like Lila, bursting into life.
The stories that I like the best are those of personal challenges
and I reckon the writer of this book, Philip Pullman, would agree,
because Lila goes on a very dangerous adventure.
Lila may have done her apprenticeship but in order to become
a proper firework maker she has to travel to the Grotto of Razvani,
the Fire-Fiend, to bring back some Royal Sulphur.
Razvani lives in the smouldering centre of Mount Merapi
and the journey to get there is a long and gruelling one for Lila.
Finally she comes face-to-face with the Fire-Fiend, Razvani.
This is one of my favourite parts of the story.
Lila is in the Grotto watching the flames rise around her.
And then into the heart of the light and the fire and the noise
leapt Razvani himself, the great Fire-Fiend,
whose body was a mass of flame and whose face a mask of scorching light.
Thousands of fire imps scattered as he landed,
and even the blazing flames bowed down to him.
And so did Lila.
In a voice like the roar of a forest fire, Razvani spoke.
SHE SHOUTS "By what right
"have you come to my grotto?!"
She swallowed hard. It was difficult to breathe,
because she seemed to be taking fire into her lungs as well as the air.
"I want to be a...firework maker," she managed to say.
He laughed a great laugh.
SHE YELLS "You? Never!"
Now, any firework maker visiting Razvani
needs to bring three special gifts,
and also needs the protection from the goddess of the Emerald Lake.
Poor Lila! She doesn't know any of this.
She left in such a hurry.
Razvani shows her the ghosts
of previous firework makers who failed before her.
The ghosts were so pale and transparent
that Lila could hardly see them.
But she heard them wailing.
"Beware! Look at me!
"I came without the three gifts.
"Alas! Take warning from me!
"I hadn't worked at the craft and I wasn't ready.
"Maiden, turn back.
"I was arrogant and headstrong.
"I didn't seek the water from the goddess,
"and I perished in the flames."
Wailing and weeping, the ghosts passed across the lake of fire
and vanished into a crack in the opposite wall.
"That's what happens to those who don't come prepared," said Razvani
"But now, you must submit yourself as they did.
"Walk into my flames, Lila!
"You have come for the royal sulphur?
"Receive it from my hands!"
Poor Lila! She must be terrified!
In this book, I have to admit,
I absolutely love Lila.
She is such a strong person.
She's determined to become a firework maker.
And even when everything is going against her, she doesn't give up.
And that's what I found inspiring about this story.
That, actually, if you put your mind to it, you never give up,
you're determined and brave,
you CAN achieve anything.
I almost forgot to tell you.
On her quest, Lila does get some help
from the worst and funniest pirates you'll ever get to read about.
Oh, and her best friend, Chulak,
and his talking white elephant, Hamlet.
But I'm not going to tell you how Lila's encounter with Razvani ends,
or how she tries to save somebody's life
with the most spectacular firework display.
With this adventure, like any other story you want to read,
grab yourself a book, open it up,
and let your imagination fizz.
That's what this brilliant book is called.
Here's Stephanie, and the story kicks off
when her favourite uncle Gordon -
great guy, horror writer, mad about magic -
That's bad in SO many ways.
Partly because Stephanie discovers
that her uncle's enemies are now after her.
Luckily, she's got some help from her uncle's friend, Skulduggery Pleasant.
He's an amazing detective and master magician.
He's a fighter against evil and...
DEATH BELLS TOLL
Yup, a skeleton. This guy is SERIOUSLY dead.
But also seriously fun.
This book is scary, fantastical, and funny.
when I first picked it up, I couldn't stop reading it. It was like
my hands were glued to the page.
Not with actual glue. I wouldn't have been able to turn the pages
and find out what happened next.
And I WANTED to know what happened next.
I love this book. It's got so many crazy characters in it.
I think my favourite must be Ghastly Bespoke, the tailor.
He makes all Skulduggery's suits, and he's pretty handy at magic.
Plus, I kind of like the way his name sounds.
HE ADOPTS SPOOKY VOICE Ghastly Bespoke!
If there's any girls watching,
I think they'll associate with Stephanie.
Stephanie's so tough and adventurous and brave.
She's not scared of being friends with a dead detective.
And when Skulduggery knows
that he's leading her into danger and tries to shake her off,
she doesn't listen.
In this part of the story, Stephanie wants to pick Skulduggery's brain...
well, his skull, about his different magical powers.
So he shows her his influence over water, gets her hair soaking wet,
then moves on to the other elements of earth, wind, and fire.
Skulduggery snapped his gloved fingers and sparks flew,
and he curled his hand and the sparks grew to flame.
And he held that ball of flame in his palm as they walked.
The flame intensified and Stephanie could feel her hair drying.
"Wow!" she said.
"Wow, indeed," Skulduggery responded, and thrust his hand out,
sending a ball of fire shooting through the air.
It burned out and arced in the night sky,
and faded to nothing.
"What about earth?" Stephanie asked. But Skulduggery shook his head.
"You don't want to see that, and hopefully, you'll never have to.
"The earth power is purely defensive
"and is purely for use as a last resort."
"So what's the most powerful? Is it fire?"
"That's the flashiest. That gets all the wows.
"But you'd be surprised what a little air can do,
"if you displace it properly.
"Displaced air doesn't just disappear.
"It needs somewhere to be displaced TO."
"Can I see?" They reached the edge
of the car park and passed the low wall that encircled it.
Skulduggery flexed his fingers and suddenly splayed his hands,
snapping his palm towards the wall.
The air rippled and the bricks exploded outwards.
Stephanie stared at the brand-new hole in the wall.
"That," she said, "is SO cool!"
That really WAS so cool.
With Skulduggery's assistance, Stephanie has to battle
to stop her precious key from falling into some very evil hands.
That's so much more exciting than maths homework!
And so much harder! If you read the story, you'll find out about
some of the friends and troublemakers she meets along the way.
Like the beautiful and dangerous China Sorrows.
Tanith Low, warrior and troll splatterer.
Vampire security guards.
Mr Bliss, with pale blue eyes and super strength.
The sinister army of paper-thin Hollow Men.
Did I say vampire security guards?
The power-hungry evil sorcerer, Nefarian Serpine.
Maybe worst of all, Stephanie's...
Personally, for me, books have been
a brilliant way to get away from the world.
You can transport yourself to a different universe.
One day, you could be in space,
the other day, you could be in a crazy high school from the future.
I read a load of different kinds of books.
My favourite are actually horror books,
not that I'm some kind of crazy horror fiend.
I just think it's cool to be excited and tense and scared,
but then still in the comfort of your own.
And I think, even more so than films and music,
books can really generate some amazing images in your head.
It's great when a book can show you a secret side to the world
you've never seen before.
When it's finished, you start to think,
"Maybe that's what the world is actually like."
Books can change the way you think.
Maybe I should start looking out for vampire security guards.
HE MAKES WHOOSHING NOISES
FLAME WHOOSHES PAST
I did it! I did it!
Woo-hoo! Yes! Yes! Whoa!
Well, obviously I knew was him!
Just reading one of my favourite stories, The Magic Faraway Tree.
It's a bit about three children, Joe, Beth, and Frannie,
who take their cousin, Rick, to an enchanted wood near their home
to show him the most amazing tree you'll ever read about.
The Faraway Tree is so tall,
you can't see where it ends.
But if you clamber all the way to the top,
you'll arrive at strange and magic lands.
A different one each time you visit.
The children are experts at the climb.
On the way up, they know to avoid Dame Washalot,
who's always doing her dirty washing.
And emptying the water down the tree.
They meet lots of the people
like Silky the fairy, and the Saucepan Man,
who've all made their homes inside the trunk.
DOOR CREAKS OPEN
The tree is stuffed full of funny characters, like Mr Watzisname.
That's his actual name, because even HE can't remember what he's called!
Then there's Moonface, who has a big, round face like the moon,
with a huge smile on it.
And his best friend is the Saucepan Man,
who's covered in pots and kettles.
Can you imagine the noise he makes whenever he moves around?
I've always been really adventurous, so I loved reading
about the incredible things that happened in this book.
It's a bit like dreaming,
because there's loads of magical things that go on
that you'd never be able to do or see in real life.
There was a big tree near where I lived
and I used to climb it, look up,
and imagine the sort of adventures I might like to have.
On Rick's first visit,
the Land of Topsy-Turvy is at the end of the Faraway Tree.
As they climb higher and higher, Rick can't wait to see it.
A huge white cloud floated above them.
But just nearby was a hole right through the cloud.
"That's where we go, up that hole,"
said Joe, "See that branch that goes up the hole?
They all went up the last and topmost branch of the Faraway Tree.
They went up and up,
through the purple hole in the cloud.
At the very end of the branch was a little ladder.
Joe climbed the ladder and suddenly,
his head poked out into the Land of Topsy-Turvy.
Then, one by one, all of the others followed,
and soon, all seven of them stood in the curious land.
And what do you think they saw when they got there?
Well, the great thing is you don't have to guess,
because the writer, Enid Blyton,
takes you to the different worlds at the top of the tree, too.
So, you'll see what it's like to be topsy-turvy
with policemen walking around on their hands.
Or how about spending a day in the Land of Toys?
Or even better, the Land of Goodies,
where chocolate muffins grow on trees.
Of course, the magical lands
don't stay at the top of the tree for long,
so you've got to know how to get home.
In one story, when the children have rescued the Saucepan Man
from a fortress in the Land of Toys, they almost don't make it.
"Quick! Run! Run!" cried Joe,
and they all ran, fast.
Soldiers poured out of the fort after them.
Teddy bears and dolls joined in the chase,
and animals pattered behind on four feet.
"To the hole in the cloud!" shouted Joe,
"Run, Beth! Run, Frannie!
"Oh, I hope we get there in time!"
How the children and the others ran!
They knew well that if they were caught,
they would be put into the toy fort,
and then the Land of Toys would move away from the Faraway Tree
and goodness knows how long they might have to stay there.
So they ran at top speed.
Frannie fell behind a little, and Joe took her hand to help her along.
Panting and puffing, they raced down the streets of the Land of Toys,
trying to remember where the hole was
that led down through the cloud to the Faraway Tree.
Joe remembered the way.
He led them all to the hole, and there was the ladder.
You know, there are so many books out there
that can make your head explode with new ideas
and take you to places you've never imagined before.
I'll bet you can find a book
that will really get your head spinning,
and make your brain go topsy-turvy!
You know, I could read about the adventures
in The Faraway Tree all day.
Oh, are you all right?
And if I can stay dry, I will.
Now this is my kind of book!
It's called The Demon Headmaster,
and once you've read it, you'll never forget it. And why?
Well, because it's just about the weirdest school you can imagine.
And if you don't believe me, ask Dinah.
She's the star of the story.
And she discovers on the first day of her new school
just how strange it really is.
Take the children. They're super tidy,
they have perfectly combed hair and smooth ties.
They don't laugh or play games or shout.
In fact, they don't do anything.
They just work. All the time.
And they march around the school in lines like,
well, like robots.
Only a few pupils seem normal.
Of course, there's Dinah, but also, her new foster brothers,
Lloyd and Harvey.
Maybe that's why the headmaster hates them. Good point.
Oh, yeah, the headmaster. Where do you start with him? He's horrible!
He's the strangest of the lot.
He's tall, thin, his hair is white, his skin is white,
but his glasses...
they're black. Like these.
And it seems that everyone, I mean EVERYONE...
..is terrified of him.
Everybody remembers their first day at school.
You're nervous, you don't know anybody, and there's a funny smell.
But when you compare the experience to Dinah's, we had it pretty easy.
This is a brilliant mystery story. I love them.
And just when you think you know what's going to happen,
the author goes, "Ha-ha! Fooled you!"
But the great thing about this book is that you get to be a detective
alongside Dinah, Lloyd, and Harvey, and you actually try and work out
what the Demon Headmaster's terrible plan is.
Scary, that, wasn't it?!
Just imagine the Demon Headmaster's staring at you
with these big, dark holes where his eyes should be.
When he invited Dinah to his office to take a test,
this is exactly how he watched her.
This is my favourite part of the story
where Dinah meets the headmaster for the first time.
The headmaster didn't seem in any hurry to get rid of her.
He crumpled the test paper in his hand
and dropped it into the rubbish bin.
Then slowly, he reached up a hand to take off his glasses.
Dinah found herself shivering.
Ridiculously, she expected him to have pink eyes,
because the rest of his face was so colourless.
Perhaps, no eyes at all.
But his eyes were not pink.
They were large and luminous and a peculiar sea-green colour.
She had never seen eyes like them before.
And she found herself staring into them.
Staring, and staring.
"Funny you should be so tired,"
he said, softly,
"so early in the morning."
She opened her mouth to say that she was not tired,
but to her surprise, she yawned instead.
"So tired," crooned the headmaster,
his huge, extraordinary eyes fixed on her face.
"You can hardly move your arms and legs.
"You're so tired. So tired.
"You feel your head begin to nod,
"and slowly, slowly,
"your eyes are starting to close.
"So tired and sleepy."
"He's mad!" Dinah thought, fuzzily.
"The whole school's raving mad!"
But, she felt her eyes start to close in spite of all she could do.
She was drifting... Drifting.
All she could see was two pools. Deep green, like the sea.
And she seemed to sink into them
as she drifted off...
Whoa! That was weird!
OK, so, what about the other pupils?
Well, Dinah gets no help from them at all.
Everything she asks questions about the school, all they say is,
"The headmaster is a marvellous man,
"and this is the best school I've ever been to."
Again, and again, and again,
and again, and again.
And soon, even Dinah finds herself saying it.
Is she being controlled by the Demon Headmaster, too?
One thing I really like to do is read the same book as a friend.
You can find out which parts they found exciting or frightening.
Did they laugh at the same bits as you?
And the great thing is you can read the same book
but have a completely different experience.
And unlike the Demon Headmaster's robot pupils,
you can think for yourselves.
If you like a mystery like me,
whether you like a story that makes you laugh, or gives you the shivers.
Out of the thousands of great books out there,
you get to choose which one you're going to read next.
Dinah, Lloyd, and Harvey are going to have to work together
if they're going to fight against the headmaster.
That's if he doesn't get to them first. It won't be easy, bec...
FOOTSTEPS ON FLOORBOARDS
(Because the Demon Headmaster
(always seems to know everything you're thinking.
(I think I better finish this at home!)
This book, The Butterfly Lion, is such a wonderful story.
It's about a boy called Bertie.
He lives with his parents on a remote farm
in the wild countryside of South Africa.
Sitting high up in a tree, or looking out of his window,
Bertie watches the beautiful elephants,
giraffes and zebras come down to the water hole.
But it's the lions Bertie likes best of all.
And when, one morning, he sees a baby lion cub trying to escape
from some hungry hyenas, Bertie rushes out to rescue it.
He threw open the gate and charged down the hill towards the water hole,
yelling and screaming and waving his arms like a wild thing.
Startled at this sudden intrusion, the hyenas turned tail and ran -
but not far.
Once within range, Bertie hurled a broadside of pebbles at them
and they ran off again.
But, again, not far.
Then he was at the water hole and between the lion cub
and the hyenas, shouting at them to go away.
They stood and watched, uncertain for a while,
then they began to circle again.
That was when the shot rang out. GUNSHOT
The hyenas bolted into the long grass and were gone.
When Bertie turned around, he saw his mother in her nightgown,
rifle in hand, running towards him down the hill.
He had never seen her run before.
Between them, they gathered up the mud-matted cub and brought him home.
After five baths, he was finally clean.
And completely white.
Have you ever seen a white lion before?
Well, you've probably never seen a lion live in a house before,
but that's what he ends up doing.
He even sleeps at the end of Bertie's bed.
Sometimes, I read quickly. Other times, I read slowly.
But this was a book I read in one whole go,
because you get so involved with the story,
you have to know what happens next.
We've all suddenly made a new friend - I expect you have -
and Michael Morpurgo, the writer of this brilliant story,
knows how that friendship can change the way you feel
about, well, everything.
Bertie and the lion become the best of friends. Listen.
Wherever Bertie went, the lion cub went, too.
Even to the bathroom, where he would watch Bertie have his bath
and lick his legs dry afterwards.
They were never apart.
It was Bertie who saw to the feeding - milk, four times a day,
from one of his father's beer bottles - until later on,
when the lion cub lapped from a soup bowl.
There was impala meat whenever he wanted it and as he grew
- and he grew fast - he wanted more and more of it.
For the first time in his life, Bertie was totally happy.
But it doesn't last.
Soon, Bertie is sent away to a school in England
and the lion cub is sold to a circus in France.
As an actress, I read scripts all of the time,
but I never get tired of reading, because I feel it's as if,
each page you turn, you're discovering something new.
Just grab any story and, once you've finished it,
think about all the new things and all the new people
that you've learned about just because you picked up that book.
Some books make you laugh, don't they?
And other books make you hold your breath
because you can't believe what's about to happen.
Other books make you feel sad
because the writer has made you care for the characters so much.
Well, I have to tell you that this book has all of that.
I'm never going to forget reading this book and if you read it,
I'm sure you won't either.
Before he leaves South Africa, Bertie promises that one day,
no matter what it takes, he will find his lion again.
Do you think he does?
Well, many years later, a schoolboy discovers the answer
when he sees another lion on the side of a hill in England.
So what's the connection between Bertie
and this magical butterfly lion?
I'll let you read the story and find out for yourself.
I love running and I love reading.
But in this book, Robo-Runners,
a robot called Crank isn't running for fun, he's running for his life.
No wonder he looks frightened.
At the start of this story, Crank's about to be recycled.
Some robots - like his friend, Al - don't think this is such a bad thing.
After all, the broken robots go into the recycling plant
and come out shiny and new.
But Crank doesn't want to be melted down. Crank wants to be free.
But the horrible Tin Man's got other ideas.
He captures all the old robots...
..and takes them to a huge recycling plant -
Crushem & Smeltem Incorporated.
Crank does everything he can do to avoid getting caught
and at this point in the story,
finally the Tin Man roars away on his engine-powered robo-mule.
Crank stayed hidden in the alleyway
until the sounds of the engine had disappeared into the distance.
The Tin Man had gone. Crank had spent his whole life
working like a slave for other people,
always doing as he was told, but now, for the first time ever,
Crank was free to do what he wanted to do.
But what would he do? Where would he go?
Crank decided to head for the centre of Metrocity,
he felt sure no-one would notice one more robot wandering around
and he'd be able to decide where to go from there.
Crank left the alleyway, turned into the street...
..and came face to face with the Tin Man.
"And where do you think you're going?" growled the Tin Man,
grabbing hold of Crank's neck. He lifted Crank into the air
with one gloved hand and shook him like a rag doll.
"No junk gets away from me!" said the Tin Man,
and threw Crank into the transport trailer,
where he landed with a crunch.
We don't know what the future's going to look like, do we?
The nice thing about stories is they can give us some ideas.
This book is set in the future, where robots are everywhere.
The sad thing is, though, people don't seem to really care
what happens to them when they get rusty or a little bit shabby.
The great thing about this book is it's exciting, fast and funny.
One of my favourite characters is a little maintenance robot
called Sparks. He looks like a crab
and he keeps getting sat on by all the other characters.
Al and Crank also make a brilliant double act.
Al's always trying to be really polite and helpful,
so that one time, Crank gets his foot stuck
and Al pulls him so hard, his whole leg comes off.
Crank and his friends soon discover the recycling factory.
Run by the Tin Man and his army of fierce regulators,
it's a robot's worst nightmare.
Have you ever been picked up by a giant claw
and held over a boiling, stinking bath?
Cos that's what happens to Crank.
Bubbles erupted fiercely below him
and clouds of foul-smelling gas rose into the air.
Crank was sure the bath was full of acid
and he was about to be dissolved.
"Aargh!" he screamed,
as the steel claw lowered him into the bath, "I'm melting!"
And that's just the start of it.
There's all sorts of contraptions, with spikes on them, and blades,
and a giant crushing machine.
Yeah, just like that.
Reading this book really made me think about
what our world might be like in the future.
And wouldn't it be really cool if there were loads of robots?
Especially like these ones - they've got really cool personalities.
I loved reading as a kid. I really liked taking the time
to get to know different characters and their worlds,
and if you put the time in, you'll find it as well.
Find the books you like - whether it's an action book,
something about the future or something about the past.
I think books are great.
If Crank and his friends can escape the Tin Man,
they dream of running away to Robotika,
a city where robots can be free.
You'll have to read the first book in the series -
Robo-Runners: The Tin Man - to find out what happens next.
But don't stop there. There's all sorts of books
with loads of different futures that you can read.
Like I said, reading's like doing sport,
and avoiding giant robot crushers -
You always get better with practice.
Time to run.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd