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Australian Mandy de Jager on Joni-Pip

The Midwest Book Review

Marta Munoz on the Joni-Pip picture book

(Designer of the Tate Gallery Cards)

All hail the King!
David Broughton, American Chronicle

... Carrie King that is. Carrie King is an author that happens to live in England, so she's the King of England. All right, enough fun for the moment. Ms. King has written a brilliant book, The Life in the Wood with Joni Pip, that can stand beside the likes of Catcher in the Rye, The Old Man and the Sea, or On Walden Pond and not shrink in importance, yet it can be next to Winnie the Pooh, Alice in Wonderland, Huckleberry Finn, Treasure Island, or Harry Potter, and seem right at home. Joni Pip is a must for any library and for those who know and love quality writing.

Joni Pip's adventures begin when her family moves to Sherwood Forrest to escape the World War Two bombing of Bath, England. Yes, Virginia, there really is a Sherwood Forrest; Joni Pip even meets Robin Hood there. I'll leave how this happens as another reason for you to get and read the book. Suffice to say, Ms. King cleverly makes the unbelievable easily believable and sensible.

Augmented with drawings, and asides to the reader, Joni Pip is what some of the younger set are calling spiffy. That's actually an old word meaning sharp in appearance or dress, the modern slang term means something on the order of beyond excellent. The Life in the Wood with Joni Pip is indeed beyond excellent. Ms. King can and does craft her writing in a spellbinding way. You won't want to put the book down, so be sure you have a good block of time to hide away from the real world to step into the wild, wonderful world of Joni Pip.

Most reviewers tell you the basic story in brief, I'm not going to do that here, there's just no way to do this beautifully crafted piece of work justice in a few sentences. Want to know the secret of the stars in the sky? Want to understand the orbit of life, and other secrets of the universe? You'll just have to get The Life in the Wood with Joni Pip and read it for yourself, then swear to keep them secret.


Thanks ever so much!

Best book in ages. How do I sign up? Joni-Pip deserves 100% out of 100 from your fan
Rosie xxxx Ireland


The Right Ambience
Ken Johnson (50+)

I was with my daughter in Wellingborough library and thought I would check the Children’s Section and there it was - Joni - Pip. Have started to read it. Lovely story of family life during the second World War. I think you have caught the atmosphere of those days very well (you weren't there, were you)!! Anyway it has the right ambience for the period. Got to where Ethelred-Ted suddenly comes to life.


Jose McKinnon, artist (88)

I have just finished “The Life in the wood with Joni Pip” and I want to congratulate you on a really enchanting story. It is sheer magic! Although I am only 88 years old, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and the idea of JITTING (Jumping in Time). I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. I liked the idea of Macca Singing a duet from the Pearl Fishers with Franco. I admire your incredible imagination and ability to ‘keep things moving’ on every page. I am thankful that my nephew Martin came to Waterstone’s in Nottingham, for without him I would not be looking forward to reading the next two circles, and I know Martin has a treat in store reading the first!


A Twist of Fun, Love, Friendship and Hope!
Eliza (12)

I love this amazing story and I think that anyone who reads it will also love it as much. I can’t wait for the next book! I loved this book because it was so different from any other book and never goes the way you think it’s going to go right to the end. All the characters are funny and are lovely. It was hard to put the book down!

My favourite bits were… (various spoilers! :)

I hope that this will make you want to read this marvellous story and join Joni-pip in her adventures in the past and present. Whatever age you are I think that you will enjoy it as much as I have!!


Caught our Imaginations
David Clarke (35)

I'm not a big reader due to time pressures of work and a family, but picked this book up from my daughters bed side to see exactly what an Ethelred Ted was all about and then got hooked. It is so delightful a read for the little ones but also captivating for older tech heads like me with an imagination that probably hasn't caught up with my years...

Yes it is long, but that just prolonged the enjoyment. To be honest, I'm getting a little fed up of having to ask my youngest to use the wall of time in order to get her to clean her teeth!!! ;-) Ha but that underlines it was a lovely read that really caught all our imaginations.

Grace Brown (13)

Having read The Life in the Wood with Joni-Pip so many times, I think I would be hard pushed to get to know the story and its vibrant, cheerful characters any better than I have already done. I have spent more time in Windy Woods and curled up in Grandfather’s Cottage than I’ve spent in any other of my (numerous) dream-worlds and have got to know the characters better than I know most people. I love them all for different reasons, each and every one, whether it be the adorable Poppy Pigeon or the Mysterious Men in Long Black Coats.
But most of all, I have known and loved Ethelred-Ted, the mischievous Red and Yellow Bear, for everything he stands for. He is pompous but lovable, precocious yet kind, and his love of food and those around him are enough to brighten the darkest day and the greyest spirit. (I believe that was once said of Philip Pullman’s imagination, but I’m nicking it.)
Eth is a caring companion, a knowledgeable teacher, a swashbuckling pirate. He is a protector, a clown, a maker of Great Plans. And above all that, he is a Friend. A Friend whose puns and philosophies are so unique they can be read again and again and never tired of. We know a little of the background of this lovable character; he is a German-made teddy-bear purchased by Philip Garador during part of his Post Graduate Course.
He is also none other than a Steiff. Some may say that children today are ‘growing out’ of teddy bears, but I do not believe this to be the case. A bear is a companion, something to hold and love, to give ‘Huggerlies’ and, most importantly, to talk to. Because who knows? One day, if your heart is right, you may hear him answer you….


A Wonderful Story
Caroline Dixon, October 2008

As I am a nursery nurse I thought it would be nice to read the picture book to my pre-schoolers (the Owl and the Pussycat room). I think it may be slightly too old for them just now but they enjoyed it none-the-less.
The children loved the illustrations and we had fun trying to find parts of the story in them such as the white horse on page six, which was tricky but made the children feel included.

They also liked spotting the characters. My room really enjoy poems and are starting to recognise rhyme and alliteration in books and so the names Carrie King chose for places like 'Berry Bush' stood out for them and were easy to remember when talking about the book at the end.

Charlie and Owen particularly loved the 'song of the river' and asked me to read it over and over while theybobbed along!

The group tried to think of words which rhyme with 'river' and they came up with 'shiver' and 'slither'. By the second reading the children were finishing the lines which end in 'river' for me!
The animal characters are lovely and the group particularly loved 'Ethelred-Ted' (although they struggled with this name so named him 'Red-Ted').

They guessed correctly that there was a hedgehog under the leaves and found it really funny that leaves had stuck to Hetty's prickles!

Some of the morals the characters carry with them were noticed also. The children take very good care of our garden and vegetable patch and many recycle at home so they understood why Nuttingham Squirrel was so upset by litter in his woods.

I just wanted to share our experience of Carrie King’s wonderful story with you.
Caroline Dixon and 'The Owl and the Pussycat room'


Joni-Pip’s wood and beyond
Jane Haines, Learning Resource Manager, Sir Frank Markham Community School

Hi Carrie, I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed “The life in the wood with Joni-Pip”. A chance encounter with a student enjoying a read at lunchtime in school introduced me to Joni-Pip. What a great story it is. I love the way the strands are weaved through the book and different characters recall their stories. There are reminders that there is a war on, but still time for treats. Historical details mix successfully with scientific formulae that will appeal to all ages. Your words have taken me into Joni-Pip’s wood and beyond. Thank you. Good Luck and I look forward to your next book.

When's the next one coming?
May 2008, R.J.Ellory (best-selling author of A Quiet Belief in Angels)

We have finished Joni-Pip!  My 11-year old son turned the last page, and quietly smiled, and then he looked at me and said, "There's three, aren't there?  When's the next one coming?", and - in all honesty - I don't think you could ask for a better response than that!  You give us a small temptation with Chapter One of Book Number Two...and then it is over!

It has been a fabulous journey, because that's what the book is, after all, and it has been like reading a book and watching a movie simultaneously, as there are the printed images, and then the images created by your writing.

So there is the question Carrie: When is the next one coming?
-The Birmingham branch of the Joni-Pip Appreciation Society


Move over Harry Potter!
Greg Brown, May 2008

A work colleague recommended this to me. At first I thought 'this is nice' but as I read on, the story became intriguing, much, much more than nice! I loved being a kid again. There is an innocence about this book that is definitely unique but the story is one that really, really pulls you in. I just needed answers! Great, great bit about the mobile phone. Pure genius how they managed to charge the battery in 1942. There's a lot of scientific stuff boys will love (as well as the girls of course). Archimedes Spindlethrop is amazing. The illustrations are so different I love how Carrie King uses kids as well as expert illustrators. Can't wait for BOOK TWO. What an epic ending! So is C.K. the new J.K. then? I definitely think so!


Something delightfully different!
October 2007, Danielle M. Lloyd

What a delight to read something so refreshingly different! There is nothing dark or sinister in this novel, just a beautifully woven story full of adventure and humour. Although touched with sadness, the story is one of hope....truly inspiring, positive and mind-stretching!

I loved getting to know the imaginative, 'lifeful' characters; being a part of their growing friendship, sharing their excitement and wonder. (Especially delightful is the lovely Poppy with her many-faceted personality, hidden talents and depth of feelings!) To leave their world by closing the book at any time was difficult and I was very sad to say goodbye to them all when I reached the end!

'Joni-Pip' helped me to remember the amazement and magic of Life, through a child's many secrets to unlock, discoveries and explorations to make! I hope that everyone, no matter what age, will enjoy reading this amazing book and being a part of the adventure as much as I did!


Wow! I love this book
Grace Brown, September 2007

Wow I love this book! – it takes you places you’ve never gone, or even thought of going, before. It explores time travel in a new, spectacular way – a different world, where the whole purpose of travelling (or jumping) in time is to change the past, instead of pussy-footing around trying not to change anything!

It’s impossible to put a theme to this book; it explores so many areas of real life, but wrapped up in a silver lining of fantasy. I’ve also read one of the very first versions, and this final copy is so, so different! So many twists and turns which will keep you guessing right up until the final, stupendous climax.

There are so many wonderful, vivid characters from all different times and backgrounds in this book, including a wise Scottish hedgehog and a very special pigeon whose comments will delight all. Although these characters are animals in appearance, they are human at heart and it is easy to imagine them as people if you dislike the idea of talking animals and toys. The name of the trilogy is so apt too – ‘Circles’ is the perfect name for a book which revolves around orbits and pools and….well, circles!

All in all, this book is not to be missed by anyone, any age who seeks adventure, mystery and laughter. Dive right in to the Pool of Colours and enjoy!


A review by a 12-year old

"You could have blown me down with a chicken!” Seamus O’Hara comments. I must admit, I quite agree – that’s exactly what I thought when I finished reading this 540 page novel. I’m twelve years old and I thought I might list some of my favourite parts…now where do I begin? The OOMU (Observatory of Memories Unknown) is definitely up there in my top ten. All those little, tiny even, windows that embroider the walls – wow! Hmm.

I love the fact that the book itself opens in April 1942 – days gone by – and throughout the book introduces characters from before then, our time and beyond! As for my favourite character – well talk about impossible choices! I have compiled the family tree of Joni-Philipa Garador and have found that the characters are countless but nevertheless truly real. Among my top ten characters would have to be Archimedes Spindlethrop, Ethelred-Ted, Poppy-Plump-Pij and Seamus. This rollercoaster of a children’s novel portrays war life, fantasy, and of course an element of sadness – Edmund Plate and Reddy for example – (a BP, (Bad Past) which will no doubt be changed into a BF (Better Future) in the sequel, The Life by the Sea). Hmm…..

The plot can seem a bit complicated – all these POOLS but, as I would say, if Poppy can understand – well, get the idea of – this adventure, then surely we can!  I have read and re-read many parts of the story, the most frequently read being ‘The Frail Force’ scene by far. This scene is so funny! The Life in the Wood with Joni-Pip is both scientifically and historically correct, well, mostly! What with orbits, atomic theories, exact dates and events.

All in all, I sincerely hope that you all will consider reading this amazing novel.  I hope you're not an algebra expert, because as far as I am aware, the formula is not a genuine one!

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