Monday, 8 June 2015

The Best of Robert Westall

Robert Atkinson Westall was born on 7 October 1929 in North Shields, Northumberland, England. He spent his working life teaching art in secondary schools, writing only in his spare time. However, on retiring at the age of 55, he devoted himself to his writing, dying at the age of 63 in 1993.

His first published book The Machine Gunners (1975) won him the Carnegie Medal, and he went on to win many more awards, including the Smarties Book Prize for Blitzcat and the Guardian Award for The Kingdom by the Sea.


The boxed set I'm sharing here features seven of his books;

The Machine Gunners
The Watch House
Fathom Five
The cats of Seroster
A Time of Fire
Stormsearch
Blitzcat

Plot summaries are as printed on the books.



Chas McGill has the second-best collection of war souvenirs in Garmouth, and he desperately wants it to be the best. When he finds a crashed German bomber in the woods with its shiny black machine gun still intact, he grabs his chance. While the police search frantically for the missing gun, Chas and h
is friends build a secret fortress...





Alone and unhappy in Garmouth, Anne knows the shadows are following her. Spirits of long-dead sailors who won't rest. And from behind its empty windows, the Watch House is watching...



Chas McGill has set out to prove that there really is a German spy in wartime Garmouth, sending information to enemy U-Boats. But what started as a bet with his best friend Cem soon goes far beyond a game. Chas's obsessive search for the elusive spy leads him to the most terrible decision of his life...






It takes just a few seconds for the German bomber to drop its deadly explosives and disappear into the clouds. But those seconds change Sonny's life for ever.  His father leaves home, rage and grief at what has happened driving him to seek revenge on the enemy. Left behind with only his grandparents to look after him, Sonny finds himself pursuing his own dramatic and intensely personal confrontation with the Germans...




The Cats of Seroster; Among the marshes and swamps of medieveal Europe, Cam carried the message that had cost the blacksmith his life. And with it, the blood-stained knife that would never leave his side. When Cam finally reached the Seroster's town, the old Duke was dead - and the great, golden cats were waiting...    Blitzcat: She led the way to safety, out of the blazing hell of blitzed Coventry. People touched her for luck; feared her as an omen of disaster. Wherever she went, she changed lives...   



Stormsearch; When Tim finds an old model ship washed up on the beach after a magnificent summer storm, he knows he's stumbled upon something special. The tiny vessel has a hidden cargo - a mysterious secret from the past that Tim must try to solve. The boat's lonely journey has lasted over a hundred years - and only Tim can finish its perilous story...

The Best of Westall Seven books in slipcase, now sold thank you for your interest.

In other news - this little chap visited our garden last week


We were absolutely delighted. We've lived here for seven years, and although we see squirrels while out walking this is the first one that has paid us a visit. He was quite happy to have his photo taken but didn't stay for long.  Having seen no wild life in the garden we've now had a visit from a rabbit, a squirrel a couple of snakes and last year we made room for a wasp nest. It was fascinating to watch the nest grow, and the wasps were no trouble at all.  The snakes, on the other hand, were a bit troublesome; they had a habit of hissing at us whenever we tried to dig the garden. I rather hope they don’t come back this year. 

Wasp nest 2014

The nest was made from a substance similar to paper that the insects produce by chewing wood into a pulp and sticking it together with saliva.  They were busy with the nest through the summer but by the autumn, they were all gone and the nest slowly fell apart.  

43 comments:

  1. Robert Westall is one of my very favorite authors and Blitzcat is proably my favorite book of his. Lord fort has such a wonderful story to tell, but she is never anthropomorphized and always remains just a cat.

    Love your squirrel. I see one outside my window sometimes, in the tree. They have been eating the bark and someone told me it was because they weren't able to find food. The wasp next is fascinating, but scary.

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    1. Oh Alex I didn’t think about it being hungry that must be why it ventured into the garden. Poor squirrel, I suppose they eat nuts – I must look it up and see if there is anything I can do to help.
      I’m a fan of Robert Westall too; mostly because of your reviews.

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  2. Well...Can't comment on the books...
    Willie...You must take up reading....Yes! Yes!
    One day! But! But! Something did catch my eye..
    Squirrel...Quick cookery lesson...
    Add enough stock/water to almost cover the squirrel..
    Cook gently/simmer for hour and half, until tender. Put
    squirrel in a serving dish. Boil the juices to reduce a little.
    Season..Salt/pepper...Pour over squirrel...Enjoy! :).
    Oh! Don't forget to skin/clean squirrel first!!!

    Better still...As it's Barby time...Clean/skin squirrel, take a
    wooden/metal stick, insert,,(love that word)..up the squirrels
    rear end..(bottom)..up through it's body to the head...Garnish
    with barby sauce...cook on the barby...2~3 mins each side....
    Enjoy! It'll help keep the little vermin numbers down to!

    HeHe! I'm always available to pop round and demonstrate my
    cooking prowess, especially in the game/road~kill department!

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    1. Noooooooo Willie that is just so wrong – try a veggie burger – you never know you might like it. Actually, the recipe sounds rather good but there is just no way I could eat something so precious (and yes, I feel the same way about pigeons – I know they are supposed to be vermin but la de da de da)
      I think the world of you Willie but go wash your mouth out with soap and water right now.

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    2. Ah! Now! Pigeons....!!!
      Willie! Willie! No! Do what the lady says.....
      Soap and water........Yes! Yes! Carbolic? :).
      HeHe! Bless!

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    3. I have the Carbolic ready and waiting. Step away from the Pigeons!! :-)

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  3. I have never read Robert Westall, and need to look for his books. Blitzcat sounds like an especially good read.

    What a lovely squirrel pic! We see them often here, and my little dog, who walks on leash, always perks up as they skitter by.

    Enjoyed visiting your blog!
    Trish

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    1. Hi Trish, I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed Blitzcat and several other Robert Westall books. Give one a try, you might enjoy it.

      I’m very jealous to read about your little dog. After our last dog (Rosie) died, we vowed not to have another one, but we do miss the company.

      Lovely to ‘chat’ with you, I’m promising myself a browse of your blog once I sit down this evening. I’ve only read one post so far, so lots to look forward to. Barbara.

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  4. I have never read Robert Westall either. Sounds interesting. Thank you for visiting my blog and your lovely comments, you always make my day when I read them.

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    1. I’m always delighted when there is a new post on your blog reading it is just like receiving a letter from a friend. xx

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  5. Oh, no, not eating squirrel, I'm veggie too, been so since I was 20 and had a boyfriend who introduced me to it. I never did like meat as a child, so this was a way out. I did have the odd lapse when I met my present husband but it soon went out of the window as I just couldn't face eating meat.

    We are near Risley Moss, a SSSI and we often have squirrels running in our gardens, one used to climb the neighbour's bird table and our tree. My husband who is a farmer's boy, says they are vermin but I love them just the same.

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    1. Hello Anne Marie, I’m a farmer’s girl, but I still can’t think of squirrels as vermin. I had so many battles with my parents while growing up; they could not understand my problem with eating something that was alive a couple of hours previously. I haven’t eaten lamb or pork for more than twenty years – although that is not strictly true because I do still have the occasional bacon sandwich. I also enjoy roast beef but wish I didn’t. I berate myself all the time because I hate the though of animals being killed, and yet I still eat some meat.


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  6. Hello, Barbara,
    I haven't read those books, they sound great, I would like to read 'A time of fire'.
    That little squirrel is so cute. I am scared of snakes, you are really brave to have them in your garden.
    Have a beautiful day :)

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    1. Not brave at all Aunt Mary, I don't like them at all. I’m just hoping they don’t come back this year.

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  7. Wasps are incredible creatures! We had a hornets' nest outside our back door last summer, but we weren't as kind as you; we had to get an exterminator. Squirrels are pretty interesting creatures too! I'm surprised you didn't share some cute books about animals with this post!

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    1. Hi Brandy, we did worry about the wasps, but once we realised they were completely disinterested in us we left them alone. It was fascinating to watch the nest getting larger and larger and when the wasps left we looked inside – it was amazing!
      You are quite right I should have shared something cute, but the post was already written so the squirrel is an ‘added extra’. 

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  8. Lovely line up of books. I liked the pictures, awesome shots!

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  9. That sounds like a great collection of books for teens.
    My mother-in-law used to live on the edge of a valley where squirrels would regularly visit her garden. She used to feed them all sorts of scraps such as cake and crisps, which they would happily eat.
    I must admit that I'm not so keen on the idea of a wasp's nest. My first instinct is always to get rid as I find that, unlike bees, they seem to sting for no apparent reason. :)

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    1. Hello Heather, we feed all kinds of things to the birds so maybe that is why the squirrel paid us a visit. We’ve not seen him since, but hope he comes back.
      We were worried when we realised what was being built on the fence – at first we had no idea what it was! If we or any of the neighbours had children, we would have had to have it removed, but as we are all old codgers around here we decided to wait and see. As it turns out they were incredibly well-behaved and I can honestly say they didn’t worry us at all.

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  10. What a prolific writer! Getting his chance later in life, I am convinced that as we stay focused, we can achieve anything! AND, that little fuzz ball of fun..he looks like our American grey squirrels...I know you have red squirrels but it looks as if you too entertain the greys! Oh they are fun to watch. We have many of them and they do acrobatics that make us laugh.

    Dearest Barbara, I am on vacation up north in California in one of the most beautiful spots I've ever seen. I will share photos later!

    MUCH LOVE!

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    1. Hello Anita, how kind of you to visit me while on holiday. It sounds like a wonderful place and I’m looking forward to seeing your photos.
      We used to see red squirrels a lot, but they are very scarce now, the last one we saw was on a holiday in Scotland about ten years ago. We see greys while out walking, but it is unusual to have a visit from one. I suppose it must mean that food is scarce. It was such a joy to see him, but I hope he found his way back to the countryside without mishap.
      Have a lovely holiday. xx

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  11. Living less than three miles from North Shields and given that our library makes a big thing of promoting local authors (both living and dead, new and well established) I'm surprised I haven't come across this author but will be sure to check him out.

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    1. Hi Tracy, it will be interesting to see if the library has any of his books. They are well worth a read if you have the time. Thanks for your visit, Barbara.

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  12. I'll have to look up Robert Westall, a new author to me. But your little squirrel certainly isn't new, we are overrun with them here. We've had to kindly escort them elsewhere after they ate our fruit and climbed all over our roof, but no worries, saw yet another one just this morning. There are black squirrels nearby, too.

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    1. Hello Marcia, I was so happy to read about you kindly escorting the squirrels away! I can understand what a problem it must be to have lots of them. We were delighted to see one lone little squirrel but not sure how we will feel if he returns with all his family. I had no idea there were black squirrels – I must look them up on Google right away. x

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  13. Hi Barbara i havé not read those books but they sound wonderful.
    Oh how delightful that a squirrel visited you. I wouldn't want snakes to visit us either. I have come across too many poisonous ones to be comfortable near them even if they were harmless.

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    1. Hi Shashi, I’ve not read all his books but the ones I have read were most enjoyable.
      Snakes are not my most favourite thing either – I wouldn’t want to harm them, but on the other hand, I really don’t want them in the garden! The first time I spotted one I shouted for Terry. He came rushing out to see what the problem was, but as soon as he saw the snake he rushed back inside. He did venture back out once he had recovered from the shock! My hero!!

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  14. I love the cover of The Watch House. I have never heard of this author, but his books sound good. So wonderful that he pursued his dreams. Thanks for sharing his work with us. :) That is a big nest! How fun that you had a little visitor. Great picture!

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    1. Hi Stephanie, I’m sure you would enjoy his writing, maybe pick one up at the library and see what you think before spending any money on them.
      The nest was only partly built at that stage it ended up twice as big!

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  15. Barbara, I am so glad you found me again and I hope you don't 'lose' me this time. :) I was thinking of you and wondered how you were doing, so it was lovely to see your comment on my blog today. I love all the covers on these books! I also love the covers on your sidebar...the illustrated ones. Beautiful! :)

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    1. Hello Linda, I will do my very best not to lose touch with you again. I always enjoy my visits to your blog, and have lots to catch up on.

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  16. I meant to add that I love your photos. The squirrel is adorable, and the wasp's next is huge!!!

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  17. Oh wow, I didn't know that's how nests are built. Fascinating! (Hope to put it in one of my stories in future.) As for the Robert Westall books, I'm most interested in The Watch House. I didn't know about this author and his books until you featured him. So much to learn from your wonderful blog, my dear Barbara!

    Oh, and yes, I hope you get more squirrel visitors than snakes every year. (I don't know how you aren't freaked out when you see snakes. I know I'd flip.)

    xoxo C

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    1. Hi Claudine, we didn’t know about the nests either until they started building in the garden. Of course once they did we wanted to find out all about it, we also photographed it as it grew. The wasps were very tolerant of us, and we were happy to accommodate them.

      We were less than delighted when the snakes turned up, no sign of them this year, so we very much hope they won’t be back. It’s funny how our garden is turning into a wildlife sanctuary!

      Thanks for your visit Claudine it is always lovely to hear from you. xx

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  18. I'm not at all familiar with the author or his stories. So many books, and not enough time, sigh....

    I'm glad you live WITH the wildlife rather than making war against it. Wasps and snakes, signs of a healthy yard.

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    1. Hi Bish, I love to see wildlife in the garden. And although I'm a bit nervous around snakes I would not want to see one hurt. The only things I really cannot abide are spiders - they frighten the life out of me. I was bad enough before visiting Australia but after seeing the ones they have there I can just about put up with the English varieties.

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  19. Again a new author for me Barbara ..The books sound good for slightly older children as the summary promises to show not only adventure but pent up feelings and emotional conflict too.Thank you to present wonderful books and authors in your post .
    You are having some nice guest and not so stingy tenants :D the hive is the first of its kind which I have seen .. a layered beauty .Though your guest ,the wasps certainly want to keep their lives under wraps :) :)

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    1. Hello Kokila, you are absolutely correct in your summing up of the Robert Westall stories they do appeal to older children (and me!)

      It’s the first time I’ve seen a wasp nest too. We didn’t know what it was at first so watching it was fascinating. The wasps were no trouble at all, so we were happy to accommodate them.

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  20. Fun books. I've never heard of that author before. As for your garden, squirrels and rabbits would be fine, but the snakes would have to move on. Wasps - don't like them at all.

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    1. Hello Donna, I’m not keen on snakes either, and I’m very happy to say they only stayed around for a couple of weeks. I didn’t mind the wasps. I would hate to get stung, but it was fascinating to watch them build.

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I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara xx

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