TOP 5 FRIDAY: First Lines

Posted by Jazz on Friday August 28th, 2015

This week's top 5 is written by Cara Waudby-Tolley, who spent last week with us completing work experience! 

Beginning a good book is like taking a bite from something delicious, you just know that you’ll have to control yourself from gobbling it all down quickly and savour the greatness. For me, the first line of a book encapsulates the essence of what is yet to come, a thrilling and exciting journey. Here are five of my faves. (more…)


Posted by Laura on Friday March 6th, 2015

Cats are the kings of the literary jungle. As Mark Twain put it, ‘If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow; but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much.’ Also, as the epitome of cuteness and playfulness, two things we love at Chicken House, cats in children’s fiction seemed the perfect topic for this week’s top 5. Publishing Manager Laura picks the best of the bunch …

5. Mog from Meg & Mog

As one of the first literary cats of my childhood, Mog deserves a mention. Mog is certainly not your average cat: he’s easy-going (he puts up with a lot of Meg’s antics), he’s stripy (so alternative for a witch’s cat) and super adventurous (how many other cats do you know that have gone to space AND met a yeti?).

4. Fiddlesticks from Calling on Dragons

Not only did this book convince me that cats can really talk to their owners – you just have to listen to them … oh, and take a magic potion … – but it also firmed up my opinion that cats are the best animals of all. Disdainful yet adorable, proud but playful, Morwen’s cats cover the whole spectrum of cat characteristics. Although it’s almost impossible to choose between Jasmine, Murgatroyd, Fiddlesticks, Miss Eliza Tudor, Scorn, Trouble, Jasper Darlington Higgins IV, Chaos and Aunt Ophelia, Fiddlesticks wins it by a whisker.

3. Kirjava from His Dark Materials trilogy

Ok, so not technically a cat, but if it looks like a large multi-coloured feline, it’s a cat in my book. As Will’s dæmon, she is literally a part of Will’s soul – and Will’s one of my favourite literary heroes ever. And named by a witch? You can’t get cooler than that.

2. Crookshanks from the Harry Potter series

A cat firmly in the much-maligned category. Gorgeous, despite being a little funny-looking (how can a huge, fluffy ginger cat not be gorgeous?!). Super-intelligent, he’s clued up about Pettigrew from the start. So loyal to Sirius that he literally sits over his heart to prevent his murder. Plus the added bonus of his tendencies to play adorably with Butterbeer corks or chase gnomes. Enough said.

1. Buttercup from The Hunger Games trilogy

Buttercup’s got a bad rep, but he’s effectively the feline version of Katniss: unfriendly, stand-offish, an amazing hunter, the ultimate survivor and protector of Prim. So if you love Katniss, you’ve gotta love Buttercup …

Any more favourite felines to add to the list? Let us know by tweeting us at @chickenhsebooks!

TOP 5 FRIDAY: Magical Libraries

Posted by Kesia on Friday February 20th, 2015

We're BIG fans of libraries here in the Coop - so much so, that our Junior Editor Kesia has picked out her fictional favourites!


Ah, the vast, towering shelves! The gothic gloom! The bad-tempered librarian with a terrifying glare! All classic features of the magical library. But most enticing of all is the spine-tingling temptation of the Restricted Section ... ooooo ...


It's at once an ordinary library, and utterly extraordinary - it's the humdrum accessibility of Matilda's local that makes it magical. It's a library you or I or any bookworm could visit: we, too, could stuff our brains full of knowledge and learn telekinesis. (Well, maybe not that last bit ...)


Because this library is the size of a planet - A PLANET - and contains copies of every book ever written. EVER.


As well as being Vampire Slayer HQ, its uniquely attractive features include charming-bumbling librarian Giles and a fabulous collection of hefty tomes on the paranormal. And you can still use it to revise for your finals. Awesome and useful.


What bookworm princess hasn't dreamed of these soaring, romantic, impossible-in-real-life gold-gilded bookshelves?! This is a library with the style of a ballroom - a roaring fire, a spinning globe, a glassy tiled floor fit for recreational sock-sliding (in between all the reading, of course). Bliss.

Do you agree? Let us know what you think by tweeting us at @chickenhsebooks!