SO LATE SO SOON: fun, genre-celebrating SF for young readers (of all ages!)

[Harry Tynan posts on our forums as Moose Malloy. Earlier this week, he messaged me about his fun, self-published kid's book, written as a series of bedtime stories for his kid (a tradition I'm very fond of -- it's the origin story of The Borribles!). The book is so much fun that I invited him to write a short introduction and choose a excerpt for your edification. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did! -Cory]

The great Umberto Eco once wrote, in a marvellous essay about Casablanca, that "Two clichés make us laugh. A hundred clichés move us. For we sense dimly that the clichés are talking among themselves, and celebrating a reunion." Read the rest

China Mieville on The Borribles has reprinted China Mieville's inspired introduction to The Borribles, the classic, 1980s urban fantasy young adult trilogy by Michael de Larrabeiti, recently relaunched in the UK. As Mieville points out, The Borribles are fundamentally a fractured love-poem to London, and its love-hate relationship to children: Read the rest

The Borribles [Book Excerpt]

Yesterday, we published reminiscences from Aimée and Rose de Larabeitti, the daughters of author Michael de Larabeitti. The stories their father told them stories would go on to publish as the anarchic, anti-authoritarian, and completely wonderful Borribles Trilogy of young adult books. Republished this month by Tor UK (here's Cory's review!) we're delighted to present the first chapter of The Borribles for your enjoyment. — Eds.

The swirling rain-clouds rushed on revealing the bright moon, and the two Borribles dodged behind the bushes and kept as quiet as they could. There was danger in the air and they could feel it. It would pay to be cautious.

‘Strewth,’ said Knocker, the chief lookout of the Battersea tribe, ‘what a bloody cheek, coming down here without so much as a by-your-leave.’

New ebook edition from Amazon (UK)Current US edition

Lightfinger, Knocker’s companion, agreed. ‘Diabolical liberty I call it . . . nasty bit of work, covered in fur like nylon hearthrugs . . . snouts like traffic cones . . . like rats, aren’t they?’

‘There’s a big one, just getting into the motor, he’s shouting at the others, he’s the boss all right. Tough-looking, do you see?’

‘Yeah,’ answered Lightfinger, ‘they do what they’re told, don’t they? Look at them move.’

Presently the two Borribles saw the large car drive away in the moonlight, passing along the shining tarmac which led between the trees to the limits of Battersea Park. The car stopped for an instant at the gates and then turned left into Albert Bridge Road and disappeared on its way southwards into the quiet streets of the outer London suburbs. Read the rest

Back with the Borribles

Aimée and Rose de Larabeitti remember the stories their father, Michael, told them—stories he would go on to publish as the anarchic, anti-authoritarian, and completely wonderful Borrible Trilogy of young adult books.

The Borribles are back!

I've been posting here about The Borribles for more than a decade (proof!). Michael de Larrabeiti's young adult fantasy trilogy from the 1980s remains among my most favourite examples of both YA literature and literature about London. The books detail the lives of the Borribles, a race of elfin, pointy-eared changelings, whose number swells every time a naughty child simply walks away from home and begins a new life as an immortal, pointy-eared trickster. The Borribles live by a strict code: they never work, only thieve; they do not handle or covet money; they squat in derelict buildings, and they must earn their names by completing a daring adventure, such as taking up arms against the hateful Rumbles, a race of covetous, materialistic overgrown rodents who inhabit an underground world called Rumbledom.

Today, Tor UK is relaunching The Borribles for a new generation as three ebooks with lots of extra art and other supplementary material. They're also still publishing the UK omnibus edition a (the great Tor Teen US paperbacks are sadly out of print, though easy enough to get used). Only the ebook comes with China Mieville's wonderful introduction. Read the rest

Choir Boats: free YA fantasy novel download is Gulliver's Travels meets Golden Compass and Pride & Prejudice

ChiZine publishing and author Daniel A. Rabuzzi are giving away free PDFs of Rabuzzi's YA fantasy novel The Choir Boats : "Described as 'vibrant' and rich with 'verve and wit,' it's a seagoing fantasy yarn that is like 'Gulliver's Travels crossed with The Golden Compass and a dollop of Pride and Prejudice.'"

Book of the Month: Critically Acclaimed Fantasy

(Thanks, Daniel!)

Borribles: wonderful YA fantasy novel in a new edition Free young adult novel, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in ... Read the rest

Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan: kick-ass young adult steampunk series starts with a bang, a hiss and a clank

Westerfeld's LEVIATHAN

Shel Silverstein's UNCLE SHELBY, not exactly a kids' book

After this year's World Science Fiction Convention, I was sitting around the bar with some writers and editors and we got to talking about subversive kids' literature. Everyone had their favorites, but then George RR Martin proceeded to describe a book so incredibly twisted, funny and wonderfully wicked that I could scarce believe he wasn't putting me on. But George is the man who introduced me to Froggy the Gremlin from Andy's Gang (immortalized in his classic, page-turning rock-and-roll horror novel The Armageddon Rag) and so I figured he probably knew what he was about.

The book was the 1961 Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book by Shel Silverstein. Yes, that Shel Silverstein, author of many books of justly beloved poetry for children. But Uncle Shelby isn't quite for kids (indeed, recent editions bear the subtitle "A Primer for Adults Only"). No, not really for kids at all.

Because Uncle Shelby is here to teach the kids the alphabet (mostly -- his alphabet goes abzdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyc) with a series of nasty, laugh-out-loud funny exercises and misinformative advice that nearly cost me a keyboard, as I happened to be drinking water while reading it. Some examples:

R is for Red: The fire is red, the fire engine is red, the fireman's hat is red... Too bad the fireman only goes to places WHERE THERE IS A FIRE.

T is for TV: See the nice TV. The TV is warm... The TV loves you. Do you know that there are little elves who live inside the TV? Read the rest

Borribles: wonderful YA fantasy novel in a new edition

I just spotted this new edition of Michael de Larrabeiti's stunning young adult novel The Borribles, packaged to attract a new generation of kids to this marvellous, unflinching story of unrepentant sly criminal immortal children romping through the invisible belowstairs world of London. This is, hands, down, my all-time favorite young adult series. How wonderful!

What is a Borrible? Borribles are runaways who dwell in the shadows of London. Apart from their pointed ears, they look just like ordinary children. They live by their wits and a few Borrible laws-the chief one being, Don't Get Caught! The Borribles are outcasts-but they wouldn't have it any other way....

One night, the Borribles of Battersea discover a Rumble-one of the giant, rat-shaped creatures who are their ancient enemy-in their territory. Fearing an invasion, an elite group of Borrible fighters set out on what will become known in legend as The Great Rumble Hunt. So begins the first of the three epic adventures in Michael de Larrabeiti's classic trilogy, where excitement, violence, low cunning, greed, generosity, treachery, and bravery exist side by side.

The Borribles (Book 1)

The Borribles Go For Broke (Book 2)

The Borribles Across the Dark Metropolis (Book 3)

Previously: Borribles: fine, dark English kids' trilogy - Boing Boing Read the rest

Young adult sections in bookstore -- a parallel universe of little-regarded awesomeness

My editor, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, rang me yesterday to talk about a weird little phenomenon: people who were going to stores looking for my newest, Little Brother, were walking away unfulfilled because they were looking in the science fiction section, not the young adult section. Many of us grew up in an era before the young adult section -- when the kids' section in the store was just picture books and some 400-volume sharecropped series like Sweet Valley High. No longer -- practically every bookstore now sports a large (and growing) YA section filled with some of the most amazing work being done in any literary genre today.

Indeed, a quick browse through Boing Boing's archives turned up this (incomplete) set of links to my YA section, the young adult books I've loved and blogged here -- most of them are not available on the science fiction shelves of your local store, only in the YA section:

Scott Westerfeld: Pretties/Uglies; Derek Kirk Kim and Jesse Hamm: Good As Lilly; Daniel Pinkwater, Scott Westerfeld, Peeps, Jonathan Strahan (ed), The Starry Rift; John Varley: Rolling Thunder, John Varley: Red Thunder; John Varley: Red Thunder; Scott Westerfeld: Uglies, Michael de Larrabeiti: The Borribles; Justine Larbalastier: Magic's Child; Justine Larbalastier: Magic or Madness; Ragnar: Got Your Nose!; Philip Pullman: Northern Lights trilogy; Scott Westerfeld: So Yesterday; Scott Westerfeld: Midnighters trilogy; Kathe Koja: Going Under; Ellen Klages: Portable Childhoods; Patrick Nielsen Hayden and Jane Yolen (eds): The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy for Teens; Changeling, a fairy tale of contemporary New York (Delia Sherman);

Living in a space that no one watches too closely is one of the secret ways that people get to do excellent stuff. Read the rest

Borribles: fine, dark English kids' trilogy

Michael de Larrabeiti's classic children's trilogy, "The Borribles," is back in print in an omnibus edition incorporating all three volumes of the story. "Borribles" is not only one of the finest children's adventure stories ever penned, it's also an epic love poem to London, in the same way that China Mieville's King Rat is -- dark and glorying in the decadent, intestinal twistings and turnings of London's sooty, crowded, vibrant streets. I've just started re-reading the trilogy, and I'm astonished anew at how good this is.

Link Read the rest

Philip Pullman's brilliant kids' trilogy

I've just finished reading Philip Pullman's Northern Lights, the first volume in a British kids' fantasy trilogy. I'm over the moon with delight. This is a brilliant novel: gripping, funny, dark, heartwarming and vivid. I haven't been so glad of a BritLit book since The Borribles Trilogy -- up until now my absolute favorite kids' fantasy books, not least because of their unflinching grimness and refusal to be even slightly twee. Northern Lights rivals Borribles, outstrips the Hobbit, and leaves Harry Potter in the dust.

The book revolves around the quest of a little girl to uncover the nature of the universes parallel to her own -- beginning in an alternate, steampunky Oxford University and ranging through London, the fens, and Lappland. The fantastic creatures and the magic that fuels them is utterly captivating and brilliantly executed. The book reveals its oddities and back-story in tiny sips, interspersed masterfully through the fast-paced action. I've just contacted my corner bookstore to see if they have volumes two and three in stock: I plan on devouring them.

I'm intrigued to see that there's an audio edition with Pullman reading: sounds wonderful.



(Thanks, Cait!) Read the rest

This holiday: Gift of Reading

This holiday season, Bay Areans can contribute to the Gift of Reading book-drive and help turn kids onto great, life-changing literature. I'm going to do a run to my local when I get home and round up as much of the following as I can for donation -- books I read and wish I'd read when I was a kid:

Lewis Carrol: Alice in Wonderland Daniel Pinkwater: 5 Novels Robert A. Heinlein: Have Space-Suit, Will Travel Kathe Koja: Straydog Orson Scott Card: Ender's Game Joan Aiken, Wolves of Willoughby Chase Roald Dahl: Fantastic Mr. Fox Susan Palwick: Flying in Place Katherine Paterson, Bridge to Terabithia JRR Tolkien: The Hobbit Madeline L'Engle: A Swiftly Tilting Planet John Wyndham: The Chrysalids Sue Townsend: The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4 Carl Hiassen: Hoot Norman Juster: The Phantom Tollbooth Steven Gould: Jumper JD Fitzgerald: The Great Brain Michael De Larabetti: The Borribles Trilogy

God, I just keep thinking of more... Twain, Kipling, Little Fuzzy, Frederic Brown, Lemony Snicket, Bunnicula... What will you donate to kids in your area?



(via Dan Gillmor) Read the rest

The Wombles of Wimbleton Common

The Wombles of Wimbleton Common were a terrific British kids' show (though I later read and fell in love with Michael DeLarabetti's Borribles books, and realized how terribly saccharine the Wombles really were). Here's a link to the Wombles' songs, which are funny and British as all get out. Link Discuss (Thanks, Suzanne!) Read the rest