Welcome to Day 14 of the 6th Annual March MG Madness, featuring Jennifer Bell and her book, The Crooked Sixpence (The Uncommoners #1)!
The Crooked Sixpence
(The Uncommoners #1)
by Jennifer Bell
January 31, 2017
Crown Books For Young Readers
Source: ARC from pub for review
Welcome to a world where nothing is quite as it seems…
When their grandmother Sylvie is rushed to the hospital, Ivy Sparrow and her annoying big brother Seb cannot imagine what adventure lies in store. Soon their house is ransacked by unknown intruders, and a very strange policeman turns up on the scene, determined to apprehend them . . . with a toilet brush.
Ivy and Seb make their escape only to find themselves in a completely uncommon world, a secret underground city called Lundinor where ordinary objects have amazing powers. There are belts that enable the wearer to fly, yo-yos that turn into weapons, buttons with healing properties, and other enchanted objects capable of very unusual feats.
But the forces of evil are closing in fast, and when Ivy and Seb learn that their family is connected to one of the greatest uncommon treasures of all time, they must race to unearth the treasure and get to the bottom of a family secret . . . before it’s too late.
After an accident involving their beloved Grandma, eleven year old Ivy Sparrow and her fourteen year old brother Seb find themselves on an unforgettable adventure in a world like no other. Underneath London there is another world, an uncommon world, called Lundinor, where uncommon objects possess extraordinary powers and the people who trade these objects are called uncommoners. When Ivy and Seb find themselves in Ludinor they discover that their family is a part of a decades long mystery and only they, and their new-maybe-friend, Valian, can solve the mystery and stop a terrible group known as the Dirge.
Jennifer Bell’s The Crooked Sixpence (The Uncommoners #1) is a fast-paced, enchanting new middle-grade, bubbling with adventure, imagination, and non-stop excitement! From beginning to end, this book charmed and entertained me completely.
What a fun and creative world and story Jennifer Bell as created in The Crooked Sixpence! Young readers will be captivated by Bell’s sparkling and witty storytelling and absolutely fascinated by the world of uncommon objects and even uncommoner people. The complex, innovative world of Ludinor, reminiscent of the world within Harry Potter, is vividly and wonderfully brought to life. I just loved exploring this fantastical and amusing world with Ivy and Seb. From talking bells, to drinks with a hundred flavors, ghosts, wicked yo-yos, and more, this world is overflowing with the unexpected and the downright cool. And I really enjoyed all of the engaging and interesting characters in The Crooked Sixpence, from brave Ivy, to inquisitive Seb, mischievous Valian, adorable Scratch, and some fun baddies.
Readers will easily be swept away by Ivy and Seb’s adventures in Ludinor, eagerly and enthusiastically turning The Crooked Sixpence’s pages, and will definitely want to return for more!
by Jennifer Bell, author of The Crooked Sixpence
Shops are familiar places to us all and yet when they appear in stories they are so often full of mystique and intrigue. Everything from hats and sweets, to wands and wishes are sold on their shelves, and once a character walks through the doors anything might happen. There may be something inside that helps the protagonist decipher a clue, or changes their mind, or reveals something new. Shopkeepers are an essential part of their charm. Normally experts in their field; they can either help our heroes solve their mysteries, or add to them.
My book The Crooked Sixpence, is set in a huge underground market where people trade in ‘uncommon objects’ – everyday items that can do remarkable things. From Ethel Dread’s House of Bells to Violet Eyelet’s Button Apothecary, the shops and stalls in the story play an important part in the adventure. In no particular order, here are my top ten shops in children’s books. I recommend you pay them all a visit.
- Sinclair’s from the Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine
Glamourous department store Sinclair’s is already the most famous shop in London before it opens. With immaculately dressed staff, glittering interiors and a mysterious American owner, it is like nothing London has ever seen before – which makes it an incredibly fun setting for a mystery.
- Raj’s Newsagents from Billionaire Boy by David Walliams
Raj’s Newsagents sits on a run-down parade of shops alongside a launderette and inside, you can find everything from out-of-date Easter eggs, post-it notes and decades-old newspapers, to pensioners lurking behind quavers. The stock is haphazardly laid out and everything is advertised with crazy offers, like ‘buy 5 get half of 1 free’. Raj is loved in the community as a jolly, sarcastic and strangely-wise figure.
- Madame Pamplemousse’s shop from Madame Pamplemousse and Her Incredible Edibles by Rupert Kingfisher.
Madeleine is out looking for pâté when she stumbles across Madame Pamplemousse’s shop, selling strange and peculiar delicacies. The place is small and rather shabby-looking but smells amazing, filled with the scents of middle-eastern spices, French cheese and lavender. Amongst its inventory is sea-serpent pâté, blue rose petal jam and prehistoric fungus in Jurassic vinegar; and Madame Pamplemousse herself is like a cross between Heston Blumenthal and Mary Poppins – a well-spoken, enigmatic chef with a twinkle in her eye.
- The Strand Bookshop from Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
The Strand is a second home to Dash – an angry, bookish teenage scrooge, who describes the store as a ‘bastion of titillating erudition…with literary wreckage strewn over eighteen miles of shelves’. Lily, a bouncy, optimistic Christmas-loving girl, hides a notebook full of dares on the Strand shelves, hoping it will snare her Mr Right. Dash, of course, picks it up and so begins a fresh and uplifting romantic comedy imbued with all the dusty romance and twists and turns you’d find in a labyrinthine old bookshop.
- Ollivanders from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
Diagon Alley and its sinister neighbour Knockturn Alley are home to Eeylops Owl Emporium, Flourish & Blotts’ Bookshop and Borgin & Burkes antique shop, among others. Shops are used frequently throughout the plots in the series, but it is in Ollivander’s wand shop in the first book, where Harry gets his first wand – a pivotal moment both in terms of the events of the story, but also in Harry’s emotional journey. The proprietor, Mr Ollivander epitomises J. K. Rowling’s genius characterisation; he is secretive and eccentric, everything a good magical shopkeeper should be.
- Brew’s from Witch Wars by Sibéal Pounder
Witch Wars is set in Sinkville, a beautiful black and grey world where resplendently dressed witches go about their daily business drinking bubbly drinks and buying fabulous shoes. Amongst the underwater spas, film studios and secret cafes of Sinkville, Brew’s is a designer-clothes shop run by Mrs Brew – the premier fashion designer in Ritzy City.
- The Sweet Shop Caravan from Amazing Esme and the Sweet Shop Circus by Tamara Macfarlane
Esme makes a mistake and sends her beloved Circus Miranda into deep trouble. Her punishment is to run the pop-corn cart (the lowest of the low), but with the help of her cousins and pet donkey, she transforms the cart into an amazing sweetshop caravan, melting down glacier fruits to make stained glass windows and re-painting the sign to read: ‘Circus Sweets and Circus Treats.’ The shop becomes a symbol of Esme’s can-do attitude, and with it she is able to transform the fate of Circus Miranda.
- The Nowhere Emporium from The Nowhere Emporium by Ross MacKenzie
Escaping from the bullies at his Glasgow children's home, Daniel Holmes hides inside a strange shop filled with a menagerie of objects – from wooden toys and gleaming crystals to a stuffed polar bear. He meets Mr Silver the enigmatic shopkeeper, who eventually recruits Daniel as his apprentice and teaches him the secrets of the wonders hidden within the shop walls.
- The Tailor’s shop from The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter
Behind the leaded windows of a little shop in Gloucester works a poor tailor who is tasked with making a coat of cherry coloured silk for the Mayor’s wedding. When Simpkin, the tailor’s bad-tempered cat hides the tailor’s much needed cherry-coloured twist, all is lost until a band of Beatrix Potter’s distinctly well-dressed mice get together to save the day. The delightful thing about this shop is that we can see how the author imagines it in her illustrations as well as her words – cramped and tidy, with wooden floors and a low ceiling.
- Monsieur Labisse’s Bookshop from The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
Set in the 1930s, Hugo lives in a busy train station in Paris. Among the shops there is an atmospheric bookshop run by the unassuming Monsieur Labisse. The shop is key to unlocking what is, at first, Hugo’s greatest mystery to solve – repairing a broken automaton left to him by his father. In pictures we see the bookshop interior: books piled on chairs and heaped on tables, a sleeping cat in the corner and a bust of Shakespeare on the sill. It is drawn with such affection that it comes as no surprise to learn that Selznick, like me, was once a bookseller himself.
Londoner Jennifer Bell began working in children’s books as a specialist bookseller at Foyles, Charing Cross Road, one of the world’s most famous bookstores. After having the privilege of listening to children talk about their favorite books for many years, she started writing a book of her own on her lunch breaks. Website * Twitter * Facebook
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