Monday, 26 June 2017

First review of THE NORRIS GIRLS and it's a great one, too.

 



The Norris Girls by Nigel Hinton

























I remember searching for new Nigel Hinton books when I was in my teens, relishing Collision CourseThe Finders and Buddy. So, when I was approached by an independent publisher to review a book they were calling ‘Little Women’ for the twenty-first century, I was a little surprised to discover the author was the very same. It’s a far cry from the broken father/son relationship of Buddy, or the guilt-ridden teenage angst of Collision Course. And yet, is it?
In fact, the book owes more to Hinton’s previous novels and his exploration of family relationships than it does Little Women, (although there is a Beth in both, and a tomboy, not called Jo, but Georgy). Hinton explores sibling relationships, guilt, and personal passions, which come together to form a rounded family portrait, in this delightfully vivacious novel for children.
The father in the Norris girls is working abroad, in dangerous territory. But life at home goes on. Beth is in her early teens, keen to shine in the school musical, whilst keeping her options open with potential boyfriends, Georgy is focussed on her running and trying out for the Inter-Counties competition, and Katie, the youngest, wants a pet.
The chapters move between the siblings, giving each their own perspective on the others at home, but also insight into their own preoccupations. What Hinton does here, by voicing so many points of view, is to show a typical family structure at work – each person enveloped within their own interests and individual lives, and yet also part of a whole – sharing relationships and worries and common goals. The reader gets a clear view of the girls’ individual passions and hobbies and friendships, yet also sees how that bounces off the conflicts and dilemmas within the family. The tension mounts as each faces a struggle on their own, which is all the time very much tied to the general conflict when their father gets taken hostage.
There is a lovely balance of supportive and friendly adults, as well as those who offer support in a harsher manner, with the petty jealousies, bickering, and upsets between peers. There are also strong friendships, as well as burgeoning boyfriend/girlfriend scenarios – but all on such a tame level that it’s quite suitable for a young audience. In fact, an older audience might be less taken with the chapters told from Katie’s point of view, endearing though they are.
There are ups and downs for the girls, successes and failures. Hinton captures well Georgy’s running abilities, and gives a real poignancy to Katie’s loveable ways. I wanted to feel Beth in a little more depth – she is at that perfect age where she’s struggling to identify herself as a girlfriend and as a teen within the family – she argues most with their mother, but I would have liked to see this more. Hinton also uses the first chapter to explore her texting with her friend, but this dies down shortly afterwards and it could have been embellished further – teens look to friends so much in the scenarios in which Beth finds herself.
But these small criticisms aside, this is a read to relish. As easy and breezy to read as a Jacqueline Wilson, yet filled with pathos and understanding. For me, it was less Little Women, and more like the Gemma stories by Noel Streatfield. The characters are fresh and sharp and have so much more to give – I would warrant this could be stretched to a series easily.
Hinton’s style and characterisations shine through, and he’s embraced the modernity of the girls’ lives, with video chats, phones at the ready, and media galore. He’s collided into the world of girls beautifully, with a soft ending that exemplifies exactly why his publishers have compared it to Little Women, or The Railway Children in fact. You can’t beat a happy ending for precipitating the tears. You can purchase it here.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

THE NORRIS GIRLS BLOG PIECE

Check out my guest blog piece about THE NORRIS GIRLS on the wonderful Cathy Cassidy's blog, Dreamcatcher.

cathycassidydreamcatcher.blogspot.com/

Thursday, 1 June 2017

I'm delighted that my new book, THE NORRIS GIRLS, is published today. It's a real departure for me - a book for girls about girls (although I hope guys will like it, too!). It was inspired by reading LITTLE WOMEN. I thought, I'd like to write a 21st century version, with sisters and a dad off in a dangerous place. Two great writers for girls, Jacqueline Wilson and Cathy Cassidy have given me terrific quotes for the cover of the book.

Goodreads are offering ten signed copies for free. Meanwhile there's a great Norris Girls playlist on Spotify - https://twitter.com/NHinton_Author/status/869237604755148800


A very cool cover, I think.




Thursday, 21 July 2016

34 Years Old

BUDDY has been in print now since 1982. To celebrate all those years Penguin have now made it part of their PENGUIN ORIGINALS  - a list of books that they consider are classic Young Adult titles. I'm really honoured that the book is among such exalted titles as The Red Pony and The Outsiders. I think the new cover looks splendid - classic and cool:


Wednesday, 29 June 2016

BEAVER TOWERS PLAY AT DULWICH COLLEGE

There was a wonderful production of the musical play of my book BEAVER TOWERS put on by the Junior School at Dulwich College in South East London. There were three performances and all the pupils in Year Six were involved. They acted wonderfully and sang their hearts out. It was visually stunning and very imaginatively staged. Here are some photos of the production:



Some of the huge cast can be seen here - there were 64 of them involved altogether.



This shows the imaginative and very funny staging of the old car, Doris being pushed by The Mechanics.


The evil Oyin meets her end at the hands of the Growlers.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

DAREDEVIL






My latest book has just been published. It tells the story of two brothers and their rivalry which has tragic consequences


Tuesday, 16 December 2014

REVIEW



Fantastic review just in for my book 'On The Edge' in School Librarian magazine: 
'Terrifying and overwhelmingly sad, this powerful book deserves to be widely read'.