Book list

Now available on Kindle

Justice of the Dagger
Fair Game
Talking in Whispers
Ticket to Prague
The Freedom Tree

Sign of the Swallow
In an England ablaze with civil war, several acts of private treachery appear to have a common factor. The shadow of an unknown enemy is cast over the lives of three people – Tom Cromwell, a talented woodcarver, his friend Derwent and Earl Rivers, brother-in-law of King Edward 1V. Seeward, the cruel red-bearded soldier of fortune, has something to do with it. But who is his master and what is the bond between them? The only clue to the mystery is a silver medallion, thought to be one of a set of three, bearing the sign of a swallow. Peril and misfortune surround it. In pursuit of the clue it holds the three friends journey across Europe to Italy. They meet the famous printer, William Caxton, and later Lorenzo Medici, Sandro Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci. But all the time they are enjoying themselves they are threatened with a grave, unseen danger.

Published by Nelson [Out of Print but possibly in a state of dog-eared readiness in local and school libraries]. 

The Bull Leapers
While the sun blazed down from a cloudless sky, Piros danced with his team of bull leapers into the arena. This was the sport the courtiers at the Palace of Knossos loved to watch – and they were not content unless the leaping ended in death.Prince Tauros, the hunchback, especially revelled in this aspect of the games. His father, King Minos, had been in seclusion for several years, mourning the death of his second-born son. In his absence his queen was scheming to seize power for Tauros. Then fourteen young men and girls arrive from Athens, destined to become bull leapers. One of these is blue-eyed Theseus, son of the King of Athens. Queen Pasiphae has been warned against ‘the blue-eyed warrior from the sea’ and schemes to have Theseus assassinated, but Theseus escapes. In his plan to free the other bull leapers he becomes involved with Ariadne, Minos’ beautiful daughter, who helps him. Queen Pasiphae’s plot is foiled, not by Theseus, but by the Earth Goddess herself…In this realistic interpretation of the old legend of Theseus, Ariadne and the Minotaur, James Watson brilliantly brings to life the fascinating Cretan civilisation.

Published by Victor Gollancz (UK), Coward-McCann (USA). [OOP].

‘In the same class for young readers as Mary Renault for adults…The old legend takes on new and vivid life as a tremendous historical adventure accurately and beautifully described.’
Smith’s Trade News.

Legion of the White Tiger
The year is 38BC, Cerdic and his explorer uncle, Mago the Carthaginian, are on a long and arduous journey of discovery from the Mediterranean to the land of the people who live ‘behind the North Wind’. These are the Chinese, who manufacture the miraculous and beautiful material now known as silk. They are joined on their trek by a couple who they rescue from the sea – a young Roman, Festus, and his tongueless slave. They too are on a quest: to find Festus’ father, who did not return after the bloody battle of Carrhae some sixteen years before.It is no easy journey as the small party laboriously crosses the hundreds of miles of desert and mountain. There are constant dangers: they are attacked by hostile tribes, and they are finally captured by the dreaded leader of the Hsiung-nu (the Huns), the Fire King Jzh-Jzh, and his warrior daughter, Xandria.This is an exceptionally exciting story, and yet it is more than a tale of high adventure. It is also a comparison of cultures: the ordered, inflexible nobility of the Romans is contrasted with the brutal bloodlust of the Huns. It presents a fascinating picture of a little-known period of history.

Published by Gollancz, Beaver Books (Hamlyn Paperback). [OOP].

‘An epic story, full of blood and terror, danger and heroism. Mr. Watson creates his own mythology…this is the kind of treatment that makes history live’.
Times Educational Supplement.

The Freedom Tree
The year is 1936. The rise of fascism has plunged Spain into a bloody civil war. Ever since his father died fighting for the republicans in Spain, Will has felt strongly drawn to their cause; but when he tries to join up as a volunteer in the International Brigade he is told he is too young.So Will travels to London where he meets a group of young men fanatically committed to the Republican cause. Together they embark on a perilous journey through France in an armoured truck crammed full of smuggled guns and ammunition. They narrowly escape the clutches of the French authorities and finally reach the Spanish border.Will is horrified by the conditions he finds. The Republicans are hopelessly ill-equipped and disorganised and most of them have never been trained to fight. He is equally struck by their idealism and determination.Thrown in at the deep end, Will soon finds his own courage and endurance are tested to the utmost.

James Watson’s fourth novel for young people, is a telling and poignant reminder of a struggle for freedom, the lessons of which are still relevant today.

Published by Gollancz, Puffin (1978), Mora (Hungary), Lion Fontana Paperback (1986), Tellerup (Denmark), Alibaba Books (Germany), Puffin (1999). Available from Collins Cascades.

‘Exciting and furious action are the touchstones of the whole book…wholly convincing…and accurate.’ Times Literary Supplement.
A superb book…alternately stark and lyrical.’ Birmingham Post.

Talking in Whispers
This is a story about oppression and the bravery of individuals who stand up against it. The setting is Chile, some time between the present and the future, where the military government – the Junta – is in ruthless pursuit of all who oppose it. Sixteen year old Andres Larreta becomes a wanted man, a prime target of the Security: to be seen with others is to put them in peril; to be captured is to risk a journey to the dreaded House of Laughter.Yet despite his predicament, Andres finds friends – Isa and her twin brother Beto – whose stubbornness and courage match his own and who chance their lives to help him. As Isa says, ‘After a while you come to hate talking in whispers…’

A skilful blend of fact and fiction, this tense political thriller makes compulsive reading; it is also a telling comment on the denial of human rights. (Gollancz 1st edition). Here was terrible danger. The photographer had been snapped by the officer’s eye. He turned to Andres: ‘Take this – I beg you. The film in the camera…’ For an eternal second Andres stood and watched as the journalist was dragged away. He trembled as if touched by an electrified fence.Till now, he had wandered helplessly, insignificant. His brain, his heart, his passionate resolve – they were nothing in the face of the Junta’s untouchable strength. But now, a brief encounter has changed everything. All at once, he has a direction. The film in the camera is worth more than bullets. He must join those brave people who are speaking out, no longer talking in whispers. (Lions Tracks).

Published by Gollancz, Tellerup (Denmark), Knopf-Pantheon (USA), Servire Katwijk (Netherlands), Fontana Lion (Paperback), Raben & Sjorgen (Sweden), Fawcett Junior paperback (USA), Spectrum (Germany), Lion Teen Tracker, Editorial Noguer (Spain), Gomer (Wales), HarperCollins Cascades, Puffin paperback. Available from Collins Cascades.

‘Hard to put down…it is frightening, exciting, gritty and grim.’ The Guardian.
‘Anyone who reads this book will be a different person when he comes to the end…superb.’ Books for Your Children.
‘Taut and chilling prose and characters as utterly convincing as they are sympathetic.’ British Book News.
‘The is a truly enthralling book which gives you a feeling of how life would have been for the people of Chile.’ Tom Gilmour. Chiswick Community School, London.

Where Nobody Sees
There are no bears in Furmiston Forest, only badgers, or so Luke assumes until he and Petra discover the fenced-off areas in its midst. However, the barbed wire, mantraps and armed guards tell Petra a different story; she suspects the picnic is over and that something sinister is taking place.Petra has already caused a few ripples in Luke’s quiet backwater; he is increasingly drawn to the free-spirited, flame-haired girl who is a member of a band of travelling players. But then she rocks the boat by probing officialdom in an effort to unravel the secret of the forest camp, and Luke finds himself sucked with her into a whirlpool. Behind the closed doors of the Establishment lies a nightmare world of silence, deception and even violent intimidation, where truth is suppressed at all costs…

Where Nobody Sees is a tense, uncompromising thriller which deals with controversial issues, drawing attention to the menacing undercurrents within our society. It is also the story of a love between two young people, gently and tenderly told.

Published by Gollancz, Tellerup (Denmark), Spectrum (Germany), Fontana/Collins,CollinsEducational Cascades.

‘A brilliantly exciting book…nudges you into asking questions about the real world around you.’ Stephanie Nettall, The Guardian.

Make your Move and other stories
The lieutenant stared not into Boris’s eyes but above them, where the hair receded from his forehead. ‘We have all day and all night,’ she said, her voice cold, dry, meticulous. ‘And in prison we have for ever.’Will Zelda betray her father when the authorities raid their flat? Can Jan Rickards break down the barriers of race and sex to succeed in her chosen sport? What are the sinister implications behind Gary’s new job – for which the only requirement is the ability not to think?

Make Your Move is a powerful and compelling collection of nine stories by the award-winning author of Talking in Whispers and Where Nobody Sees. From present-day Britain to the Soviet Union and South America, James Watson examines the ugly faces of intolerance, violence and tyranny. Yet ultimately the message that emerges from these compassionate and often humorous stories is one of hope, and of confidence in the dignity of the human spirit.

Published by Gollancz, Collins Teen Tracks, Heinemann English 4 (First story, ‘The Eyes Have It’).

‘James Watson…is above all a master of narrative.’ Junior Bookshelf.
‘Most impressive: a collection of fast moving stories which explore intolerance, violence and courage in a variety of settings…Vivid writing. Whether writing about young women or men, Watson confronts his reader and keenly engages all the senses and the mind. Highly recommended.’ School Library Service.

No Surrender
Malenga Nakale, idealistic and outspoken, has returned as a voluntary worker to Angola, her homeland. But Malenga’s father is a prominent politician and, to his enemies, his young daughter is a prize worth fighting for. Kidnapped by a barbaric band of guerrillas, Malenga is swept into the anarchic borderlands where human rights are unrecognised and violence is law.She and Hamish, a South African deserter, are captives together, and the two develop an unlikely friendship despite the ever-present threat of a brutal death. Escape seems impossible but Malenga has courage and strength enough to sustain them both – qualities born of her recently-awakened fear and outrage. And as her eyes are opened to the plight of her countrymen, she knows that for herself, there can be no surrender…

No Surrender is a tense political thriller set against the back-drop of war-torn Angola – battle-ground of the superpowers and convenient pawn in an international struggle for control of Southern Africa. It is also the compelling story of two young people struggling to keep faith with themselves in a ruthless world.Published by Gollancz, Ali-Baba (Germany), HarperCollins paperback, Modryk (Denmark), CollinsEducational Cascades.

‘A powerful evocation…of an almost forgotten, appalling conflict.’ Douglas Hill, The Guardian.
‘I’ve just finished reading No Surrender and felt I had to write at once to congratulate you on a truly stunning book. I found it so moving and I was most impressed with the way you manage to present issues so that kids who know nothing about Angola will understand and identify.’ Rosemary Stones.

Ticket to Prague
When tough young Amy Douglas finds herself working in a psychiatric hospital, she strikes up an unlikely friendship with an elderly patient, whose secret past leads them together to the streets of Prague – and a fiery confrontation. For Josef is no ordinary inmate: a Czech exile, he is an acclaimed national poet and also a suspected traitor, whose return arouses fear of betrayal and denunciation of former communist collaborators. Prague is a divided city where neo-Nazi thugs are gaining strength and a climate of suspicion survives as a legacy of communist rule.Bewildered by Josef’s increasingly wild behaviour, Amy is torn between her faith in the old man and her feelings for Jiri, an idealistic Czech student who doubts the poet’s motives. As the great day of Josef’s official reception approaches, and Amy scarcely knows what to believe and whom to trust, violence erupts…

This timely and thought-provoking novel by award-winning author James Watson is both a heart-warming story of friendship and loyalty, and an eloquent plea for the reconciliation of an embittered people. (Gollancz, 1st edition).…This story is really well-written – the plot keeps hold of your attention all the way through, from Amy being in trouble with the police and at school, through her job in the psychiatric hospital and her trip to Prague with her friend Josef, to her feelings for Jiri.It is very realistic and exciting, especially when strangers in Prague try to get some answers from Josef. Is he a traitor? What is the case he has had for years? What happened to his son? Meanwhile, will Amy and Jiri get together?

Published by Gollancz, Ali-Baba (Germany), Modryk (Denmark), CollinsEducational Cascades edition, Puffin.'This makes it a book which you quickly become pulled into and find hard to put down! There is something in this which could appeal to anyone – love, drama, mystery and quite a bit of humour.'(Valentina Buzeta, pupil at Fulham Cross School, London; CollinsEducational Cascades edition).

‘A very enjoyable way of researching Eastern European history in a fascinating story laced with risqué language and rich vocabulary.’ Ann Fisher, Carousel.
‘Although it is often funny, Ticket to Prague is also a very serious novel, and it shirks none of the tragic implications which it puts forward. The city of Prague is portrayed lovingly but also with one eye on the absurdities of tourism. Above all this is a novel of character, and there are some full-length portraits, as well as some sharp caricatures like the unspeakable Alan who leads his TV team in Prague in pursuit of the wrong quarry.
‘Immensely readable, Ticket to Prague is deeply thought-provoking, dealing as it does with real personal and political problems and wisely leaving most of the answers to the individual reader.’ Junior Bookshelf.

Justice of the Dagger
A government is systematically destroying jungle villages without sparing a thought for human life or the environment. Their only motivation is greed. ‘Greenboots’ intends to combat this by informing the world of what is going on in East Timor, and the plight of its people, at the hands of Captain Selim.Muyu and Lyana, two natives, join forces with the infamous Greenboots in order to repel the progress of the ‘Yellow Giants’, the machinery used to fell the jungle trees. As a result they are forced to go on the run and always be a step ahead.

Justice of the Dagger is an exciting thriller with a strong political message, crying out against oppressive forces that have very little regard for human life and even less for the environment. Laura Moran, St. George’s College of Technology, Sleaford. Collins Cascades.…The machines are yellow like the morning sun. At first Muyu’s people thought them gods. They glowed, they glistened, they roared. No forest ears had ever heard such sounds. Not even the gunfire of the soldiers from the Distant Masters could match them…How can young Muyu and his beautiful friend Lyana stop the hated soldiers and the timber companies from destroying the forests? Their friend ‘Greenboots’, whose book about their people’s plight has focused the eyes of the world on East Timor, now has a price on his head and they are on the run together, in a desperate bid to outwit Captain Selim, the Butcher in Shades…

Published by Puffin, Collins Cascades, Modryk (Denmark), Bertelsmann (Germany)

'Justice of the Dagger is an exciting, gutsy political thriller whose message is hard-hitting and timely.'Puffin Teenage Fiction.
‘Watson’s pedigree as a writer of political novels for young adults is impeccable…This is a powerful and intelligent book which uses its chosen genre both to grip and incite its teenage audience.’ Books for Keeps [5-star rating].

The Ghosts of Izieu
Grey light came from between the bedroom curtains, like the light of an old black and white film. In it she could see boys and girls in coats. They were carrying packages, and some had bags over their shoulders…Who are these children? Where are they going? Are they real, or is Elise seeing ghosts from the past? And why did her father bring her to this little French village? What secrets does it hide? When Elise finds herself in another time, some of the answers become clear. She learns some of the terrible facts of war.

Specially written for Penguin Readers (Level 3).

Banned! Tom Paine, This Was Your Life
WARNING: Schools should consider the consequences before performing this play.Throw together a school inspection, an insecure Headmaster, the school’s sink class and one student’s explosive article on the true state of the school, and you have the recipe for James Watson’s daring new play. Set against the background of a class project on Tom Paine, the resultant turmoil is heightened by the arrival of a strangely dressed ‘Inspector’ – proving that centuries may pass but important issues of freedom and censorship are timeless.Banned! is a bold, poignant, and at times hilarious play bringing together contemporary quick-wits, schemers and idealists and the historical figure of Thomas Paine – ‘the Greatest Englishman ever’.

24 speaking parts; with resource material by Rachel O’Neill.Collins.

When Miss Nevin’s drama group is interrupted by the arrival of Mofaq, a young asylum-seeker with a traumatic past, their project to write a play about war acquires a new urgency.With the help of their internet wizard, Sparks, the students seek out virtual situations of conflict that quickly become all too real. Probing the borders between theatrical illusion and actuality, and asserting drama’s ability to challenge existing perceptions, this new play brings the horror of living under occupation into the classroom.

15 parts, with resource material by Michael Goron.

No comments:

Post a Comment