4th May 2015, Stripes Publishing, 192 pages, Paperback, Review copy
Content: nastiness, cruelty, hope, humour
Summary from Little Tiger Press
Elspeth Hart and the School for Show-offs is the first adventure featuring the fabulous Elspeth Hart, a modern heroine with doodles on her trainers and unstoppable determination.
Can you imagine never being allowed to play outside, dear reader? How about sleeping in a wardrobe every night? That’s what life is like for Elspeth Hart.
Ever since her parents were tragically washed away in a flood, poor Elspeth has been forced to live with her disgusting aunt, Miss Crabb, in the attic of the Pandora Pants School for Show-offs. Elspeth spends her days sweeping up mouse droppings, washing filthy pots and dodging Tatiana Firensky, the most horrible show-off of all.
But what Elspeth doesn’t know is that things are about to change…
I confess to liking the sound of the story more because I like the name Elspeth than for watching Elspeth initially suffer in such a horrendous school. I promise it is far worse than it sounds, and the things which Elspeth sees, hears and has to do made me want to scoop her up and carry her to safety. Elspeth is intelligent, and is able to take advantage of situations as they present themselves which culminate in a totally unexpected ending which leaves a lot of anticipation for book 2 in this new series.
Events were described in such a way I could almost taste the vile food which students had to eat, and I'm glad that generally scratch and sniff pages are kept out of books. Elspeth discovers friendship in unexpected allies, I got to witness some truly evil characters plot horrendous acts which so shouted out 'I want to take over the world and be a horrible dictator'. The illustrations made all the characters personalities seem more realistic, and made me gasp and sigh as I happily read this horrifyingly fun read.
Find out more on the dedicated website.
Guest Blog Post by Sarah Forbes
Nayu here! It's with great pleasure to present Sarah chatting more about this first in what is/will be an ace series. Thank you Sarah for such a fun read & letting us peek into your mind boarding school stories are the best!
I wish I knew exactly where I got the inspiration for Elspeth Hart and the School of Show-offs, but I’m not entirely sure how I came up with the idea. Years ago, I had a notion that I wanted to write about a little girl whose parents owned a sweet shop or sweet factory… but the book ended up being set almost completely in a strange old boarding school!
I reckon the boarding school setting came in some part from growing up on a diet of school stories: I loved boarding school books like Mallory Towers, St Clare’s and Trebizon, and even obscure old series like Dimsie Goes to School, which were first published in the 1920s, but for some reason were still available in my local library in the 1980s. Isn’t it funny that school stories have stayed so popular? I guess a boarding school is such a good starting point for a story: lots of kids, no parents, and despite the teachers, plenty of scope for getting into trouble or solving mysteries…
When I started writing about the School for Show-offs I knew I wanted the school to be decrepit and in the middle of nowhere, with a horrible villain at the centre of it – that turned out to be Miss Crabb, who is Chief Cook at the school and regularly bulks up recipes with slugs and cockroaches. And I liked the idea of the other students being really dramatic and over the top, in contrast to Elspeth Hart, who is quite quiet. So many main characters are bold and strong, and that’s brilliant, but I wanted to begin with a little girl who was quite polite, maybe a bit timid – but who gets stronger and tougher as the story goes on. Once I had all that in my head, I was away!
The second book is set on a luxury cruise liner making its way from Southampton to New York, so that was lots of fun to write. (Hmm, now I think about it, I probably should have gone on a luxury cruise… just for research purposes, of course!) The nice thing about writing larger-than-life villains like Miss Crabb and her sidekick Gladys Goulash is that you never know quite what they will do or where they will go next. Watch this space..!