TOMMY V CANCER
Many of you will already know the name Tommy Donbavand, since he’s the writer of OODLES of books for young readers, including the massively popular SCREAM STREET series – now an animated series on CBBC! Not to mention, of course, being an ex-GHB blogger himself! (You can read all his posts here.) Tommy was diagnosed with throat cancer in March this year and has just undergone six weeks of gruelling treatment, which has left him very poorly indeed. We are hoping his recovery will be smooth and that before you can say ‘DOCTOR WHO’ (another series that Tommy has contributed to!) he’ll be back roaring round primary schools and churning out brilliant stories.
If you’d like to find out more about Tommy, his website is here: www.tommydonbavand.com and Tommy has also been blogging on a different site about his journey through diagnosis and treatment. It makes for tough reading, so I’m not linking to it here, but you can find it on Tommy’s website.
Children’s writers are a brilliantly supportive bunch and we couldn’t all stand by and watch Tommy go through this without wanting to help, so we’ve teamed up to bring you a month-long blog tour, where we’re posting loads of reviews of Tommy’s books! At the bottom of this post, you can find the banner, so you’ll know which blogs to check out! Girls Heart Books is very honoured to be taking part in this tour, and our founder Jo Cotterill has reviewed one of Tommy’s Scream Street books which she VERY much enjoyed! If you’re on Twitter, follow the hashtag #tommyvcancer to find all the blog posts and also how to WIN huge parcels of Tommy’s books! Make sure you tell your librarians and teachers and parents too!
Good luck, Tommy, we’re wishing you all the best in your fight against cancer!
SCREAM STREET: WAIL OF THE BANSHEE – REVIEW BY JO COTTERILL
Scream Street is Tommy Donbavand’s biggest commercial success, selling in huge numbers and recently transferring to CBBC as an animated series with a starry voice cast. I’ve not read any of the series before, and apart from knowing the very basic premise – that werewolves, vampires etc live on the same street – I had no frame of reference for this fantasy world. And Wail of the Banshee is not Book 1 either, so reading it out of sequence was an excellent way to find out if the series works as standalones.
Our hero is Jamie, a ‘Walker’ who can leave his own body as a spirit and wander around (walking through walls) before returning to his vacant body and resuming ‘normal’ life. As the story begins, Jamie wakes in a house he doesn’t recognise (except that all his things are in it, and so are his parents and sister, asleep in other rooms). Outside, Jamie meets the kids who are to become his new friends: a vampire, a werewolf and a mummy. Not that those abilities define them: what’s cool is that these kids are basically just kids – the fact that they have ‘other’ aspects to them is only relevant in very specific situations (like when a bottle of spinal fluid is required, which the vampire happens to be carrying in his cloak). Due to Jamie’s unusual powers, his whole family has been moved to Scream Street for their own protection, and it’s not long before Jamie discovers exactly how he’s going to fit in to his new neighbourhood.
A banshee is wailing. Turns out she’s in terrible pain from toothache. The tooth needs to be extracted, but in order to anaesthetise a banshee, an extremely powerful medicine called Calm Balm is required. Jamie suggests that he and his friends could make this medicine (which is banned because goblins started using it to knock people out so they could burgle them), and so the quest begins to find the ingredients before the poor banshee develops blood poisoning.
There’s much to enjoy in the story, from the ‘mild peril’ (as films would put it) to the great characters. My favourite was Twinkle, the huge burly 6-foot fairy, with tattoos and tiny wings. The writing zips along and is funny and accessible. It’s definitely one that I shall pass on to my 7-year-old daughter. I think she’ll love it!