Praise for ‘THE GIRL WITH HER HEAD IN THE CLOUDS’ (Barrington Stoke)
“This re-imagining of Dolly Shepherd’s fabulous, daring career is so inspirational, educational, historical and thrilling.”
Emma Suffield, Little Blog of Library Treasures
“Karen McCombie has a knack of making her historical characters relatable to today’s young readers. She has achieved it again in this re-imagining of a remarkable young woman who became a pioneering aeronaut in the early 20th century.”
Anne Thompson, Library Lady blog
“‘The Girl With Her Head In The Clouds’ contains such a lovely message for young readers about living our dreams and defying the expectations of those around us.”
The Historian Next Door blog
“Packed with breath-taking, sky-high adventures and a largely forgotten female star, this inspiring retelling of daring Dolly’s exhilarating exploits is sure to enchant your own young thrill-seekers!”
Praise for ‘LITTLE BIRD FLIES’ & ‘LITTLE BIRD LANDS’ (Nosy Crow)
“‘Little Bird Flies’ and ‘Little Bird Lands’ are one of the most beautiful duologies to ever grace the sphere of children’s books.”
Aimee Bratt, bookseller, The Children’s Bookshop
‘Sunday Times’ Children’s Book of the Week
“‘Little Bird Flies‘ is an involving, evocative tale, narrated by Bridie with a hint of period language. It is a study of rich and poor, offering clearly drawn characters.”
Nicolette Jones, Children’s Book Editor, ‘Sunday Times’
‘The Times’ Children’s Book of the Week
“There’s heart in this Scottish adventure. Set during the Highland Clearances of the 19th Century, ‘Little Bird Flies’ has a vivid setting, emotional punch and characters to really care about.”
Alex O’Connell, Arts Editor, ‘The Times’
‘The Telegraph’ Best Children’s Books of 2019 So Far
“‘Little Bird Flies’: McCombie is a supremely digestible writer, who unravels a dense plot in 20 brisk chapters, with some lyrical descriptions of the landscape, plenty of domestic nitty-gritty, and a smattering of Highland history thrown in. And in this book, McCombie displays her gift, which is to create a narrator who sounds thoroughly convincing.”
“‘Little Bird Flies‘ is the book Karen McCombie was meant to write…”
“I had so many strong feelings when I read this story. Rage, despair and frustration ran through my brain as I watched Bridie’s world being destroyed before my eyes. Although the year is 1861, the themes that run throughout this story are as relevant now as they were then. We still live in a world where communities are persecuted for no other reason that they are a powerless and can’t rally against those who choose to devastate their lives. Wonderfully atmospheric, Karen conjures up the story magnificently stimulating all of our senses with her rich, vivid descriptions.”
“Oh, I loved, loved, loved ‘Little Bird Flies. The whole book creates a living tapestry of time and place; it draws you in as much as the plot and the characters do. This has all the makings of a wonderful historical series. It’s engaging and interesting and exciting, with a memorable central character. And, you can tell, it’s written with love. ”
Jill Murphy @ The Bookbag
“Instantly compelling, with a bold and brave heroine, ‘Little Bird Flies’ is a gripping and beautifully told historical drama. A wonderful narrative and utterly absorbing plot weave together a rich tapestry of life with a wonderful young heroine at its heart.”
The BookActivist blog
“Karen McCombie seems to be able to turn her hand to any genre, and while I adored her contemporary series and then her more magical releases, I think ‘Little Bird Flies’ has confirmed that my favourites of her work are the historical novels. This book was incredibly compelling.”
“Sat by the hearth drinking in ‘Little Bird Flies’, this fantastic historical tale, breathing the highland air, spirit and courage of brave heart Bridie. Themes of forced migration and poverty echoing forward…”
Sita Brahmachari, Children’s Author
“Finished ‘Little Bird Flies’ and I must say that it was captivating. The storytelling is superb and it reminded me of why I love social history so much – I really understood and empathised with the characters: their hopes, dreams, realities and actions.”
Nia Talbot, Assistant Headteacher
“In ‘Little Bird Flies’ it’s refreshing to have a lead character who is so obviously not fazed by her disability. And while this is undoubtedly a character-driven story, it’s also worth mentioning the perfectly realised setting. We’re easily immersed in the world surrounding Little Bird – whether that’s life as a crofter on the remote Scottish island or the bustle of Glasgow – and we’re guided through life in mid-nineteenth century Scotland without a moment’s confusion.”
Madge Eekal Reviews
“Sometimes, you sit down with a book, not knowing quite what to expect and it grabs you and enthrals you from the very beginning… ‘Little Bird Flies’ is one of those books. It’s worth shouting about, and that is what I will most certainly be doing in the classroom once term begins!”
“The setting of ‘Little Bird Flies‘ is both brilliant and captivating; an idyllic Scottish Island where the inhabitants are living a life in total oblivion beyond their own shores. Full of fantastic characters and an amazing story.”
Mr Ripley’s Enchanted Books
“‘Little Bird Lands’ is a lovely, heartwarming adventure. Reminiscent of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ and ‘Anne of Green Gables’. Includes the most accurate description of the atmosphere before a tornado that I’ve ever read.”
Bridget Hamlet, librarian
“‘Little Bird Lands’ is the beautifully written sequel to ‘Little Bird Flies’. New dangers await Bridie and her family in this warm, fascinating and vivid historical tale which has a wonderful sense of family and place.”
Michelle Harrison (Author)
‘Little Bird Flies’ and ‘Little Bird Lands’ are two phenomenal books from a genius storyteller.”
Catherine Johnson (Author)
“‘Little Bird Lands’ is quality historical fiction, tackling themes of persecution and emigration.”
Fiona Noble, The Bookseller
“Convincing characters and a captivating plot combine with strong themes of discrimination, friendship and forgiveness to create a fascinating historical novel in ‘Little Bird Lands’.”
“I enjoyed ‘Little Bird Lands’ as much as its predecessor. With spirited, determined Bridie and her family at the very heart of the story-telling, you can’t help but root for them as they head into seemingly impossible circumstances with grit and compassion. McCombie, as always, has researched the conditions and attitudes of the era impeccably. Touching upon civil war and slavery, to the often terrible treatment of the Native Americans who were displaced from their homelands to make way for pioneers and home-steaders. There’s plenty to give pause for thought and prompt discussion, but all handled sensitively. Although things might seem bleak at times, Little Bird’s story is ultimately uplifting.”
Jo Cummins, Library Girl and Book Boy (blog)
‘Little Bird Lands’ is the perfect MG book, full of adventure vivid historical detail and brave deeds. I loved it!”
Jenny McLachlan (Author)
“The real Greatest Of All Time for me is @KarenMcCombie – those books, ‘Ally’s World‘ in particular, contributed as much if not more to my development that my parenting/school education and look how legitimately awesome I turned out! Thanks for everything, Karen ILY”
@sogirlnextdoor via Twitter
“The Pearl in the Attic is a very moving and ultimately addictive story, full of fun and adventure… Emotional and heart-breaking, though very heart-warming at the end. It’s a book that will be sticking around in my mind for quite a while…”
Faye, A Daydreamer’s Thoughts @ WordPress
“Stuffed full of madcap nonsense, St Grizzle’s School for Girls, Ghosts and Runaway Grannies is an irresistible combination of humour and heart. With incredibly well thought out details and fabulous characters, this book feels like having a big warm hug whilst being tickled by a feather duster.”
bookloverjo @ WordPress
“St Grizzle’s School for Girls, Goats and Random Boys is lots of fun; a quirky, contemporary take on the boarding school story.”
Fiona Noble, Bookseller magazine
“The Whispers of Wilderwood Hall is a beautiful, magical tale that drifts from the present day to 1912. Ellis finds herself pulled into the past as her anxieties in the present threaten to overwhelm her. I adored every moment of this enchanting adventure!”
“I’ve written before about my (and my daughter’s) love of Karen McCombie. She is a prolific and highly skilled writer of books for tween and teen readers, and The Whispers of Wilderwood Hall is fabulous; I thought the last couple of chapters of this one were particularly perfect!”
“There was a twist in The Whispers of Wilderwood Hall that I was NOT expecting. Very clever, McCombie!”
“The Whispers of Wilderwood Hall is a compelling read. I enjoyed being transported to both versions of the Hall; the modern day family dynamics were realistic and readers will relate to the domestic situations and complex emotions. The insights into the past and historical connections added another absorbing layer to the story. Furthermore, the exploration of teenage anxiety and panic attacks gives the book added depth, and the topic is sensitively handled.”
Get Kids Into Books
“Everything about ‘The OMG! Blog’ is massively appealing, from the truly stunning cover to the variety of diverse characters. It is fun and really on-trend and I’m sure it will be very popular in my school library.”
Book Lover Jo
“Despite ‘The OMG! Blog’ being a relatively quick read the characters are well-rounded, the story feels believable and there is humour and warmth in abundance. I particularly liked the way in which the author managed to include a range of diverse families without it feeling contrived.”
Anne Thompson, thebookbag.co.uk
“By the time I had finished Chapter 2 of Catching Falling Stars I was hooked! I really warmed to evacuee Glory who hides her fear and worry under a veneer of capability. Her relationship with her little brother is touching as she takes on the maternal role in the absence of their parents.
As a school librarian I receive lots of requests for stories set in World War 2 and this is definitely one that I will be recommending in future. I think that readers who don’t normally choose historical books will enjoy this too as there is so much in the book that is relevant to today’s children.”
Anne Thomson, thebookbag.co.uk
“I’m going to rate Catching Falling Stars as a solid 5/5. It sucked me right into it. You know that feeling when you are totally taken away into another world? That was me!”
“Catching Falling Stars is an absolutely wonderful read; I couldn’t put it down. I adored the relationship between Glory and her younger brother, Rich, who were the only children left in their neighbourhood when London was evacuated in World War 2. The way the storytelling indirectly teaches the reader the importance of not judging people is very clever, and the ending is beautiful. My husband and daughter loved it, too. Truly suited to anyone from 8 to 108!”
Crafty Tanya, amazon.co.uk
“Glory is evacuated during WW2 to a small and apparently hostile village miles away from her London home. Matters are further complicated by her having to look after younger brother Rich, who has special needs.
Catching Falling Stars finishes in a rush of reconciliation that might well have some readers dashing away the odd tear.”
Nicholas Tucker, The Independent on Sunday
“Catching Falling Stars is a scrumptious historical novel from the wonderful Karen McCombie, focusing on Glory and her little brother in WW2 as they are evacuated to live with grumpy Miss Saunders in the countryside. Glory makes new friends and falls in love, and minutes slid past as I read. I loved it so much I was barely aware I was turning the pages. I hope to see more historical books from Karen McCombie in the future.”
“It seems to me that you can’t beat a good ghost story – and The Girl Who Wasn’t There IS a good ghost story. It’s also a family story and a school story all wrapped up in one.
This is a cleverly plotted narrative which holds the reader’s interest, not least because the family – Dad, Maisie and her sister Clem – are realistically drawn and likeable. It’s Maisie’s voice that tells the story and she’s an engaging and believable character. We see her at home and at school – and here’s a writer who can depict school life authentically. Karen McCombie also understands human emotion. She directly tackles unhappiness and loneliness. Yet the novel has an upbeat and life-affirming tone. This is a very enjoyable page-turner.”
Sue Creed, The Bookseller ‘We Love This Book’
“The Girl Who Wasn’t There is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Couldn’t put it down. I just read, read, read. The author chose a very interesting plot which I liked very much because I am a sucker for ghost stories. Every time the ghost mysteriously appeared in this book, I wanted to read on to see what happens next!”
Felixreads, The Guardian Children’s Books online
“Read The Girl Who Wasn’t There as home guided reading with my daughter. We both really loved it! A lovely gentle, very modern day ghost story; sad, but had us laughing out loud throughout. Really enjoyable and totally recommend.”
“This is the first of Karen McCombie’s books that I’ve read and I was prompted to read this one as I know from experience as a school librarian that they are popular with young readers. Having read The Girl Who Wasn’t There I can now understand why. The combination of engaging lead character, family life, mystery, school and a ghost in a well told story make this a winning combination that ticks all the boxes when I am looking for a book to recommend to readers of about 9 plus.
Karen McCombie deals with the sadder aspects of this story in a sympathetic and yet positive manner so that as you turn the final page you feel glad that you have read this story.
I’m now wishing that I had listened to my pupils a bit sooner!”
Anne Thomson, thebookbag.co.uk
“Angels Next Door is a wonderful, funny, heart-warming and comforting tale – the first in a trilogy – by much-loved Karen McCombie.
The story is told in a dreamy, warm style, with a heroine readers will be able to relate to. The book contains helpful tips on being a good friend, and while it’s a relatively easy read, it’s by no means a simple tale. You cannot have too many of these kind of books in your library!”
Annike Dase, School Librarian magazine
“I adored Angels Next Door, which I bought it for my 10-year-old, who is a reluctant reader. I loved the storyline, the characters and the outcome. It’s a really well written book with just the right amount of words to say what needs to be said (good if your reader is reluctant). I love the perspective it uses to touch on relationships, self-belief and life at the beginning of high school or even life where friends (particularly girl friends) are involved.”
“Angels Next Door is peopled with instantly recognisable characters who will appear in the rest of the trilogy, giving a sense of belonging and continuity to young readers. Most importantly of all, it wades in chest-high and confronts the fears, preoccupations and problems common to us all – the loss of a friend, the horror of bullying and the loneliness when friends are no longer there. The accuracy and sensitivity with which these issues are explored reveals a writer who knows and likes her audience.”
Val Randall, Books For Keeps
“Dead roses start blooming, strange trails of silvery dust… will Riley discover the secret of the strange happenings next door? This is THE book you will never forget. It has humour, action and adventure all in one!”
Daisy Casemore, The Sun (children’s summe holiday reading round-up)
As part of my continuing education to increase my knowledge of books for the age group I actually teach (primary), my search has found me attempting to answer that elusive question “My kids loves Jacqueline Wilson – what else can they read?” Karen McCombie seemed a good place to start. She’s obviously very well regarded and established in her genre, writing largely for girls aged 9-12 years; yet I’m possibly the last teacher in England to have heard of her.
Angels Next Door is like a big sister in a book, and McCombie writes her girls with personality. And did I mention it’s funny? I was surprised to find myself laughing out loud on a few occasions.
If I was ten, I’d have definitely felt a GGGG warm glow at the end of it. It’s also an early chance to experience a flavour of YA reading with training wheels on.
With any of McCombie’s books, you know that you’ll get a heart-warming story, with believable characters, fabulous dialogue, and a plot with enough twists to keep you guessing as to exactly how everything will turn out alright in the end. I love everything I’ve read by her, but Life According To Alice B Lovely is the best.
Top 20 MG Books Of The Last 10 Years
Jim at YAyeahyeah.com
So far, every book Karen writes which I’ve read needs a tissue warning. Honey And Me is bittersweet. I wanted to scoop Kirsten up and tell her that everything will work out eventually, which it does. It just has to go very wrong before it can right itself. Feeling out of place isn’t a fun emotion to feel, and can really get you down, which Karen accurately conveys.
The Curse Of The Jellybabies – first in the You, Me and Thing series by best-selling author Karen McCombie – is a funny, rollicking, yet gentle story of friendship and acceptance. Ruby comes off as a genuine, reasonable character, with a love of nature and her quiet, happy family life. Jackson is truly annoying, but he shows another side of his personality in his concern for the newly discovered ‘Thing’.~
There is an environmental message, or perhaps a message about consequences, one that in no way undermines the pure enjoyment of the storyline, but rather it adds to it. An easy, entertaining read, this book will be sure to charm its readers and leave them wanting more.
Mary Esther Judy
This is aimed at a significantly younger age-range than most of the books I review, but I couldn’t miss it because it’s by the wonderful Karen McCombie, who doesn’t write anything except brilliant books. This is no exception, featuring a great central trio, McCombie’s usual engaging writing style, and absolutely beautiful black and white illustrations from Alex T Smith.
McCombie’s words and Smith’s pictures both capture the characters perfectly – Thing is absolutely adorable, while the main human characters of sensible Ruby and Jackson, a pleasant young boy who can just occasionally be a bit of a ‘donut’, interact really well together.
The books in the series are playful, with lots of the fun being Thing’s fairly wobbly grasp of English, picked up from overhearing people in the woods, and the fabulous illustrations really add to them. They’re relatively short, and would make fantastic bedtime reading for younger children, as well as being perfectly pitched for confident readers to enjoy them on their own. Highly recommended for the young and young at heart!
When Flo’s mum enters Big Dreams – the nationwide TV talent competition – it’s not all dreams-come-true. From rags to riches, fame to shame, Flo’s life has never been more exciting. But can Flo really trust her new friends and her new lifestyle? Is it worth giving up Marigold Street for a life with the rich kids?
In The Year of Big Dreams, once again, McCombie brings to the boil another fiery read. She makes the story so realistic and entertaining the whole way through. I loved it, and am looking forward to her next book.
The Guardian Children’s Books online