Lovereading4 kids review. Louise Weir, April 2009 (biggest promotion ever given to single book by this website: 7+, 9+, 11+, Book of Month, Debut of Month): “Reminiscent of the writing of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear, this brilliant debut children’s novel is completely unputdownable as well as being almost uncategorisable. The author has succeeded in delivering on a book that incorporates a terrifically funny yet mysterious story, full of larger-than-life highly improbable characters that I couldn’t begin to do justice to by describing them here, other than to say they are wild and wacky and completely original. He’s also delivered a story that is full of tongue-in-cheek humour and skilful wordplay. It’s 174 pages of pure unadulterated pleasure and deserves to be huge. …this book will be loved by anyone from 7 to 107.” Dec. 09. Made one of their Books of the Yea and Debuts of Year. Was top of their chart in the week before Christmas. Prime personal choice of co-founder.
Chris Bond, Yorkshire Post (extracts from full-page review/article, 7 Nov. 08**): “His wonderfully crafted debut will enchant children and amuse adults in equal measure. Improbable characters leap from the page amid a sea of riddles and rhymes as the tale unfolds and, like so many great works of children’s literature, Gilliland wrote it for his own children. The whimsical story is beautifully illustrated by Gilliland’s own pencil drawings, which hark back to a time when children’s books weren’t part of some huge merchandising drive.”
Steve Craggs, Northern Echo (extracts from review, 21 Oct. 08***): “There’s a hint of Hobbit, a touch of Alice in Wonderland, an echo of Lear and even a nod in the direction of Terry Pratchett in this phantasmagorical fantasy quest which is an epic entertainment for both children and adults alike.
Nonsensical and whimsical – and beautifully illustrated – this story is as delightful on the eye as it is dazzling in the imagination. Go with the flow and you’re in a magical world in which impossible creatures leap from the pages, riddles have to be unravelled and a mighty battle looms ominously at the lair of the Great Raven.”
Andrew French, Oxford Mail (extracts from full-page review/article, 5Dec*): “Gilliland’s tale, of a bunch of soft toys that go on a fantastic journey to recover a precious brooch nabbed by a raven, is pitched just right for children of a certain age who are bound to ask: “Do they get the brooch back?” In the wrong hands, a story about a bunch of soft toys going on a great adventure could be sickly sweet, but Gilliland succeeds in making his story funny and mysterious. The grandfather from Billinghurst, West Sussex, has produced such a distinctive story, both in terms of presentation, and imaginative reach, that I feel convinced he has a hit on his hands.”
John Cohen, Editor, Reading Time (journal of Children’s Book Council of Australia, Feb. 09, extracts from review): “This is an extraordinary book from a former graphics editor of The Telegraph, UK. What Gilliland has done is to lift what might have been another toy story onto a literary gold plate. His ability to play on words as well as to keep the story moving is a rare skill. The result is that the story can be enjoyed as a simple adventure as well as for its tongue-in-cheek word repartee that is reminiscent of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear.”
Wednesday of Whimsy #1- Curd the Lion Posted on March 17, 2010 “The first to feature in ‘Wednesday of Whimsy’ and in competition for one of the longest titles in children’s literature is The Amazing Adventures of Curd the Lion (and us) in the Land at the Back of Beyond by Alan Gilliland (author and illustrator) …sound confused? Yes I was too. I think if I explained the story to you, it’s safe to assume you would still be confused but I will tell you this.
This is a fantastic book where you really can escape into another world with pets Curd the lion, Pilgrim crow, Sweeney the heenie and O’flattery the snake. I bet you can’t offer any better pet names. The tale follows twins Henry and Henrietta who live in a cottage near the land at the back of beyond…the sort of place you know nothing about yet stop and stare at everytime you go near it. This place is a place where dodongs and emperors live and promises to offer a wealth of dreams to the children who enter it through Gilliland’s illustrations.
I truly believe the illustrations really set this story apart from others. Because Gilliland is the author and illustrator he has the scope of understanding what needs to be shown through his drawings. His illustrations fill every page and make it a joy to turn the page. A most wonderful, inspiring book. The kids will dream for days about far away lands with talking insects and things with two heads.”
Professor John Gray, philosopher & author of ‘Straw Dogs’ and ‘Black Mass’. “Alan Gilliland’s Curd stories are the best thing that have happened to children’s literature since Alice went through the looking-glass. I was particularly taken by the Labyrinth chapter. The whole book seemed to me delightful – in the magical tradition of George Macdonald, but with an extra dimension of nonsense and wit of its own. Gilliland”
HiT Entertainment: “We really enjoyed the inventive, witty narrative and surreal humour in the book. We can see that Curd the Lion might work very well as a family feature film.”
Nobel laureate, Derek Walcott, of the illustrations: “excellent work…” National newspaper children’s critic (letter to the author): “I’ve enjoyed reading it enormously and certainly it has that quality vital in a children’s book, if it is to last, of appealing to different levels of understanding and, onion-like, revealing a little more with each reading. …that’s the beauty of a text such as yours, one which at the same time informs and extends the reading experience. I really like your drawings, with their shades of Heath Robinson, E H Shepard….” The Book Depository Website Review (Dec 08): “Alan Gilliland both wrote and illustrated The Amazing Adventures…. It is a wonderful fantasy quest, surprisingly set in Yorkshire, for both children and young adults. Happily, Gilliland’s writing is as strong as his illustrations are delightful. If you like Tolkien, Pullman, Pratchett or even CS Lewis then you’ll enjoy this magical, fantasy adventure.”
Literary consultancy: in depth report. (Opening paragraphs): “I have really enjoyed reading this story. It’s witty, lively, amusing and extremely original. Comparisons that come to mind are of the highest order, such as the ‘Alice’ books by Lewis Carroll, the ‘Oz’ books by Frank L Baum, and ‘The Phantom Tollbooth’ by Norton Juster – books in which a central character makes a journey through a topsy-turvy land where wit and wordplay assume transformative powers. The many puns, allusions and conundrums scattered through the story are ingenious … (you have the sort of mind that seizes on double meanings and juggles with words to dazzling effect). And the illustrations are simply excellent.”