January 2022 Books Monthly Review of books and stories magazine - on the web since 1998...
  books monthly 2022
Four superb new GGBP titles to start the new year with a bang!


Phyllis Matthewman: Justice for Jacqueline


Justice for Jacqueline  is Daneswood No 5

Five friends, Pat, Josie, Rusty, Natasha and Aurora, are together again at Daneswood looking forward to all the interests of the summer term: tennis, cricket, swimming, the school play and, above all, riding at the new riding school nearby.

Josie is now a law- abiding member of the Upper Fifth but Jacqueline, a new Fourth Former, is bent on imitating the older girl’s one-time escapades. The deep antagonism between them, and their rivalry for Robin, the favourite mount at the riding school, threaten to lose the shield for St Bridget’s House.

The story of this exciting term culminating in mingled triumph and disaster for the friends, makes this one of the best of the Daneswood series.

Georgia Corrick has written the introduction to Justice.

Justice for Jacqueline was published on 23 November 2021.

Phyllis Matthewman turns in a brilliant yarn with a plot similar to a few other school story authors, but the dialogue is crisp and funny, and the escapades are, in many cases, original. Anyone who loves this genre will find it a very satisfying read.

Elinor M Brent-Dyer: Althea Joins the Chalet School


CS No 57

GGBP first published Althea in 2006.

A chain of family events, both sad and happy, force Althea Glenyon to go to boarding-school and she, luckily, chooses the Chalet School. She encounters jealousy on the part of one of her classmates, but there are many compensations for her in the friendship of Len and her family and the girls of Upper IVB. Exciting adventures afloat and ashore break into school routine, involving Althea in some embarrassing situations. At the end of her first half term at the Chalet School, however, Althea has proved herself and looks like settling in to be a real Chaletian.

Lisa Townsend has written a wonderful short story, ‘A Future and a Hope’ for Althea.

Althea was published on 23 November 2021.

As with Justice For Jacqueline above, EBD is following a formula here to a certain extent, but I can imagine people like me (I didn't discover the Chalet School series until I was an adult) waiting on tenterhooks for the very latest title in this long running and very popular series! A superb package, as always, from Girls Gone By Publishers.

Amy Fletcher: A Guernsey Girl at the Chalet School

CS No 19+

A Guernsey Girl at the Chalet School is set between Sisters at the Chalet School by Amy Fletcher and Peace Comes to the Chalet School by Katherine Bruce.

In Guernsey Girl Amy has tried to build on the character of Jacqueline Le Pelley whom she introduced in Sisters. She is a character created by EBD and is mentioned in Exile as living in Guernsey but having been in the Sanatorium with a broken ankle. It is her people who take a house in Dr Russell’s name to receive his family when they have to leave Austria. EBD does not have her appear in person until The Chalet School Goes to It, where she is thirteen, and in the Fourth form with Biddy O’Ryan, in what would have been 1940. Writing Refuge Amy was unable to develop the character of Jacqueline as she would have liked, so she has now focussed on her, in 1945, nearly five years later when she is a prefect in her last year of school.

Jacqueline is seen to take a full part in Prefect duties, as well as showing responsibility and sensitivity towards the members of her Junior dormitory. Against the background of the War, she handles well the strain of no news of her father and second brother in Guernsey, as well as her eldest brother posted as ‘Missing’.

Jacqueline is involved in trying to make the best of the situation when the girls are lost in the fog, and also in damage-limitation in the aftermath of the flood which damaged so much of the goods destined for the Sale (as mentioned in Peace).

A Guernsey Girl was published on 24 November 2021.

Amy is one of those authors who knows everything there is to know about the Chalet School series and is therefore able to write confidently about it and the pupils. This is brilliant school story stuff, and fits in perfectly with the EBD titles. Amazing background knowledge!

Elizabeth Goudge: Sister of the Angels

Sister of the Angels was first published by GGBP in November 2014, and we are delighted to be republishing it now.

This is a very special Christmas story, also about Henrietta, and Hugh Anthony and also set in Torminster  at the turn of the 20th Century. There are all the Cathedral characters whom we met in Henrietta’s House. But above all Henrietta’s father reappears, bringing that air of mystery about him, and then there is the artist Fra Angelico in the Cathedral … The snow, the preparations for Christmas, the carol service, and then ‘the Christmas bells began to ring’.

The book is illustrated with enchanting line drawings by C Walter Hodges.

We have three new introductions for this reprint:

John Gough has written two views of Sister of the Angels, one for first time readers and one for experienced readers and Mia Jha has written a quite different introduction, which is very moving.

Sister of the Angels was published on 23 November 2021.

This is the kind of story that Bunty and Mandy comics published - such perfect titles for girls (and boys) - looking at how circumstances could so easily upset the balance of daily life and turn things on their head. Sister of the Angels is absolutely the perfect Christmas read...

Lorna Hill: Vicki in Venice

Published 6th October 2021

Lone Pine No 2

GGBP first published Vicki in Venice in 2002, and are delighted to be reprinting it now.

This is the story of a ballet festival in Venice and of all the adventures that befell Vicki Scott when she made friends with a strange girl named Maria on the Venice Lido beach. Maria said she was a dancer with the Royal Slavonian Ballet, but was she? It took several adventures, and a midnight swim in the canal, for Vicki to discover who Maria really was.

Judi Marsh has written the introduction to Vicki in Venice.

Vicki in Venice was published on 6th October 2021.

There surely could not have been many young girls who wouldn't be thrilled to read about a young ballerina and her adventures on the continent during the latter half of the twentieth century... and with the buoyant success of Strictly Come Dancing, I'm pretty sure there will be many young girls intensely interested in this title. I am still a little uneasy about the illustrations, although I can understand GGBP wanting to use them, as they were done by Lorna herself, and this was also the case when the book was first published in 1962. It just seems to me that this was published at a time when illustrations for children's book covers were in their prime, and Lorna's illustrations are a little amateurish. Having said all that, this is another first class story, the kind that appeared in every girls' annual during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, and as always, the GGBP package is superlative. It is a privilege to be able to review these books in Books Monthly.

Malcolm Saville: Strangers at Snowfell

Published September 16th 2021

Jillies No 3

Mandy, Prue and Tim set off for Scotland by train, joined by their old friends Mark and Guy Standing.
A mysterious stranger in a Camel Coat attracts their attention, then they are joined in their compartment by a mysterious, but likeable, John Smith.

The mystery takes hold when the train is snow-bound over Shap Fell in Westmorland and John Smith goes missing. Bravely, the Jillies and Standings set out from the train into the snow…

Nigel Roberts has written the introduction  – of his great love for the book, and in particular, that train!

Strangers at Snowfell was published on 16 September 2021.

At a time when the "cold war" was starting to make headlines in Britain, Malcolm Saville was writing thrillers for older children to read, and making a pretty good fist of it! It seems to me that he could turn his hand to writing for several age groups, and I am sure I used to listen to serialisations of his stories on the Children's Hour programme on BBC radio. The Jillies series is new to me, and I believe this may be the first Ann and Clarissa at GGBP have published, but it's up there with the Lone Piners, and there are thrills and spills galore as the Jillies and the Standings behave like almost grown-up Famous Five members to become involved in another adventure, with rather more serious consequences than occurred regularly in Enid Blyton's premier series. A superb package, with a brilliant publishing history.

Malcolm Saville: Seven White Gates

Published 16th August 2021

Lone Pine No 2

First published by GGBP in 2006, Seven White Gates has been out of print for many years, and we are re-publishing it due to much demand!

This is one of the strongest of the Lone Pine Books. Peter is at the centre of the story, as she is sent to stay with a strange uncle under the haunted mountain crested by The Devil’s Chair. She meets a new friend, Jenny who recounts the terrible legends that stalk the hill, and they are joined by David and the twins, with Tom to solve the mystery of her uncle’s unhappiness and lay the ghosts of the Stiperstones.

Originally published in 1944, it was serialised by the BBC on Children’s Hour and was an instant hit with listeners, as indeed was the published book with readers.

Martin Crookall, who has blogged about Seven White Gates, has written our new introduction.

Seven White Gates was published on 16 September 2021.

Peter, who isn't a bit like George in the Famous Five, takes centre stage in this wonderful adventure which would have been aimed at young teenagers. I thought the Stiperstones had featured ina  previous Lone Piners story, but I may have just seen a reference to them on one of Malcolm's superb maps that often accompany the series - who doesn't love a map in a children's adventure story? The front cover illustration shows a kind of makeshift cable car with two of the characters hanging on for dear life - just the sort of thing to tempt a young teenager to part with his pocket money for! As always, GGPB have pulled out all the stops to present us with as complete a package as is humanly possible - always well worth reading, and what I would call a "cracking yarn". If there's anything guaranteed to fire up my yearning for nostalgia, it's a GGBP paperback!

Andrew  Ralston: Diecast Toy Cars of the 1950s and 1960s (Veloce Publishing)

Published 29th June 2017

Back in print after a long absence! (Previous ISBN: 978-1-84584-180-5) Collecting diecast toy cars has become an increasingly popular hobby over the last 25 years. Many of the classic diecast cars of the 1950s and 1960s are now valuable collectors' items, and surviving examples in mint and boxed condition regularly fetch significant sums at specialist auctions. This book provides a comprehensive survey of the companies that made these toys in the 1950s and 1960s, not only in Britain but in other European countries, the USA, Japan and beyond. Major names such as Dinky Toys, Corgi Toys, Spot-On and Matchbox (Great Britain), Solido (France), Marklin and Gama (Germany ), Tekno (Denmark) and Tootsietoy (USA) are examined, but a unique feature of the book is the wealth of information provided on many smaller and more obscure brands. These include Crescent, Budgie, Chad Valley and Lone Star (UK), CIJ and JRD (France), Dalia (Spain), Buby (Argentina), Gamda (Israel) and many others about which information is hard to come by. A special chapter is devoted to early Japanese diecast models by Cherryca Phenix, Model Pet and Diapet, which are among the rarest and most sought-after of all diecasts. Fascinating insights into company histories are provided, together with 300 photographs of rare examples of the toys themselves, in mint condition with their original boxes. A further unique feature is the inclusion of a large selection of colourful and evocative illustrations from catalogues and period trade advertisements. For the newcomer to the collecting hobby, this book will provide an ideal guide to the history of the manufacturers active in this field, while experienced collectors will make many new discoveries. At the end of the book, readers will find a handy glossary listing the names of many of the companies that manufactured diecast toy cars in the 1950s and 1960s.

A few years ago, a new partwork: Dinky Toys was launched with a Triumph TR2 in touring car livery, complete with replica box, and as this had been my favourite toy car of all time back in the 1950s, I bought the first issue and the car sits proudly on the shelf in my display cabinet along with my dozens of other diecast models of cars, buses and coaches, many of which I inherited from my late brother-in-law. This fabulous book by Andrew Ralston has an illustration of the TR2 in its sports livery, with racing car number and properly helmeted racing driver. There is a gallery of British diecast model cars, and then Andrew treats us to galleries of French, Spanish, Italian, American and Japanese models of a similar era. The first thing I have to say is that I have had and reviewed other books about diecast model cars in the past, and this "new" one (first published 2009) is far and away the very best. Andrew has chosen illustrations of unusual and rare British models, together with some eye-catching and brilliant advertisements from publications of the 1950s and 1960s - always welcome to people who revel in nostalgia. Secondly, and the thing that interested me most, was the fact (to my eyes at least), that the British models were far superior in construction and detail than any of the other countries, most of which seemed quite primitive in comparison; the exception was the section on Japanese models, and these, to me, seemed to be of a similar quality to the British cars. The book is beautifully illustrated and annotated, and the guide prices indicated by Andrew are indicative of a market which is quite remarkable and well attended by collectors and enthusiasts alike. I remember playing for many long hours on rainy days in the 1950s with my Dinky, Corgi and Matchbox cars. I even remember the toy shop in the Oxbode, Gloucester, where I bought my Triumph TR2, which remains my all-time favourite "sports" car, both in real life and as a model. This book is a triumph of nostalgia, a welcome reminder of earlier, more gentle and less troubled times. Absolutely superb!

David Rowe: Rootes Cars - A Pictorial History (Veloce Publishing)

Published 1st February 2019

The Rootes Group, although only achieving a 10-12 per cent market share, were the sixth largest British car manufacturer: more importantly, during the 1950s, more than half the cars they produced were exported. With every model produced from 1950 onwards featured in full colour and with detailed information - including colour schemes, optional equipment, technical specifications, plus other manufacturers' cars built using Rootes components - this is the ultimate book for all Hillman, Humber, Singer and Sunbeam enthusiasts. Cars produced by Chrysler/Talbot and Peugeot after their acquisition of the Rootes Group are also included. This book includes hundreds of original photographs, taken by the author at many car shows over a number of years, and provides a unique pictorial history of Rootes-manufactured cars..

Although I and my two sons have been committed Ford enthusiasts for as long as I can remember, my Dad was less committed to Fords than to cars in general. Our first car, which he bought in 1960, was a 1936 four-door (unusual) Morris 8 Tourer, the engine of which he dismantled and rebuilt on the kitchen table over several months, during the evenings after coming home from a long day's work. Four years later, when I met my future wife Wendy, he had bought and was driving a Mk8 Hillman Minx, which he occasionally let me drive to take Wendy out and about on our first dates in Stevenage New Town. The joy of David Rowe's book on Rootes cars is the incredible number of brilliant photographs he has assembled depicting the various marks of the main Hillman cars of the three decades covered: Hillman, Humber, Singer, Sunbeam and Talbot. I can't say that I saw one of every one of these models during my long lifetime, but whilst retaining my overriding interest in Ford cars, I can gaze longingly and with interest at these Rootes family models and again, as with the diecast model cars book which I've just reviewed above, think back to gentler and less troubled (or so it seemed at the time) times. This is a journey into nostalgia via the road and the joys of motoring during the 50s, 60s and 70s. Many of the models shown in David's excellent book are available to see in motor museums and at vintage and veteran car shows such as the ones we get here in North Norfolk in more normal times than these. It is always a pleasure to look at and examine such vehicles, and an even greater pleasure to have access to a book such as this one which contains all of the technical details one could ever wish to have. Brilliant!

Mabel Esther Allen: The Adventurous Summer

Published August 2021

GGBP first published Problem in 2005.

Sorrel and Nicholas Richmond have always lived in London until they go to stay with their aunt and uncle in Wyndstane-by-the-Water in the Cotswolds, where they meet Caroline who lives at the Court. Caroline longs for school but has a strict governess, employed by her grandfather. She is always in trouble but cheers herself up by forming an Adventure Club which Sorrel and Nick join, as do Tony, Bill and Shandy. The club’s wanderings take them to a ruined manor house on Gloud Ridge, to the Mound on Windlip Hill and as far as Stratford-on-Avon.

Mia Jha is writing the introduction to this, and we are also including a short story, ‘Silver Rose’, which was published in the 1950s and is a fragment of an unpublished sequel to The Adventurous Summer.

The Adventurous Summer will be published in July.

A second GGBP involving a horse-drawn Gipsy caravan, and once again it has the feel of a Famous Five adventure, which is not a bad thing! Travelling through countryside in which I was brought up in the late 1940s/early 1950s, Sorrel and Nicholas are accompanied by their Aunt and Uncle on a journey they will never forget. This, again, is a complete package from GGBP, and provides superb entertainment for the summer holidays. From the golden age of children's literature...

Yours Retro Magazine - the latest issue - out now!

The latest issue of Yours Retro Magazine is out now - if you can't buy a copy in a newsagent, you can always sign up for an online subscription at £3.30 per month. You can read about the latest issue on the Nostalgia page here... It's the stuff dreams are made of! The latest issue has superb articles about Judy Garland, Van der Valk, It's a Wonderful Life, Micky Mouse and much, much more. It's the best nostalgia magazine in the world, and issue 44 is on sale now!

The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its 24th year on the web, is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by Paul Norman. You can contact me here. If you wish to submit something for publication in the magazine, let me remind you there is no payment as I don't make any money from this publication. If you want to send me something to review, contact me via email at paulenorman1@gmail.com and I'll let you know where to send it.


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  The Front Page

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  Fiction books

  Fantasy & Science Fiction

  Nonfiction Books

  Living with Skipper

  Growing up in the 1950s

  The Silent Three

  The Four Marys

  Acker Bilk Sleeve Notes

  Pen and Sword Books

  Sundays with Tarzan

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