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Binny for Short [Hardcover]

Hilary Mckay
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: £9.99
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Book Description

7 Feb 2013

Binny's life has been difficult since her father died and her dreadful old Aunt Violet disposed of her beloved dog, Max. Her world changed then, to a city flat with not enough space for her Mum, her big sister Clem and her small brother James. Definitely no room for a pet.

Then one day Aunt Violet dies, leaving a small cottage in Cornwall to Binny and her family. Binny finds herself in a new world once more, full of sunshine and freedom and Gareth, the enemy-next-door and the ideal companion for dangerous dares. But Max is still lost in the past, and it seems impossible that she'll ever find him again...

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Children's Books (7 Feb 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1444900544
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444900545
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 14.4 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 388,794 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


This book is optimistic, clever, beautifully written and very, very amusing. It really is a book you shouldn't miss. * * * * * (Bookbag)

Hilary McKay is a wonderful storyteller, with an especial gift for writing about family life, bringing the thoughts and feelings of children vividly to life. Beautifully-written and enormously engaging, this gentle story about friendship and family in a seaside town will charm readers, right up until its warm-hearted and very satisfying ending. (Booktrust)

Few writers capture the voice and intimacy of family life as well as McKay and fans of her Casson Family series will adore this sensitive exploration of friendship, grief and the often hilarious rough and tumble of families adjusting to change. More Binny please. (Daily Mail)

McKay constructs convincing, page-turning portrait of a loving family that copes with adversity. Nourishing and tremendously entertaining. Warm, wise and witty... Binny for Short shows a mistress of her medium at work. (Guardian)

I've long been a fan of this author for her sure touch and comic genius when it comes to writing about the ups and downs of family life. Funny, warm-hearted and perfectly pitched. (Lion & Unicorn Books)

A tale of adventure, friendship and family... wonderful characters and storytelling. (tBk Magazine)

If you're trying to wean your daughter off Jacqueline Wilson, try Hilary McKay. Her books are so good you want to climb inside the covers and live there. (The Daily Telegraph)

I nearly fell out of bed pulling the book back off my dad when it was time for lights out because I wanted to continue reading...The story is exciting, compelling, sad and funny, with a surprising and heart-warming ending. (Phoebe, age 9)

Mixes family life and friendship, with plenty of warmth and humour. (Sunday Express)

A fantastically good book. (Lythan St Annes Express)

Few writers, if indeed any, write as warmly and accurately about family life as Hilary McKay, or with such humour. Her books feel both utterly timeless, and utterly contemporary. * * * * * (Books For Keeps)

A thorough joy... it has made me look again at her other titles in my hunger to immerse myself in her beautiful, clever writing again. (Susie and the Pencils)

This is a brilliantly written story that is gripping in a gently humorous way. (Ed On The Web)

A new novel from Casson series' author Hilary McKay is always a treat and this one is no exception. Wonderful characters and storytelling. (tBk Magazine)

Uplifting and hilarious. (School Librarian)

This is a joyously good children's book... few modern authors write family life as well as Hilary McKay. (Sunday Times)

Warm and shrewd, blissfully funny, and deeply endearing in equal measure. Possibly my favourite creator of fictional families: no one is better at putting words into the mouths of her child characters. (Independent on Sunday)

Warm, humorous and really entertaining... McKay excels at portraying family life. (Carousel)

Funny, touching, full of characters who will live with you forever. (Books for Keeps)

Book Description

A funny and endearing new story of friendship from Whitbread-winning author Hilary McKay.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Her best book yet 1 Feb 2013
I love McKay's characters and their families. I love the way she tells stories. And I think this is her very strongest book yet.

Binny is stubborn, blinkered, fiery, and WONDERFUL. Her younger brother James made me laugh out loud again and again. Her oldest sister Clem was fabulous without ever being unrealistically perfect. Their seaside town was so vivid, I could imagine I was there - and I wished I really was.

I read the book faster and faster, both anticipating and dreading the end...which turned out to be just exactly right.

Now I'm going to re-read it again and again.

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5.0 out of 5 stars lovely 16 Feb 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
And it all came right in the end. Even for Aunt Violet who wasn't as bad as we thought after all
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprised and delighted, reminded me of Penderwicks 14 Oct 2013
By Jennifer Donovan - Published on
This book starts strong with wonderful writing and such fun details as a beloved bookstore,a story-telling father, and a nemesis.

When Binny's dad dies, the family struggles financially which means moving schools and apartments each year, and giving up some things that they've been used to, including Binny's beloved dog Max. Granny was going to take him, but Aunt Violet thought it was too much for her. When Granny dies and Aunt Violet comes to the funeral, Binny tells her off, resulting in wholly unexpected consequences. Aunt Violet leaves her seaside cottage to the family, and "especially" to Binny. Her family is all for settling in, but Binny holds out for a bit. Once she's convinced, she is glad to be there, with an enemy Gareth next door, a cute boy at the docks working on one of the boats, and lots of adventures to be had.

This book is sure to please fans of the Penderwicks. The similarities hit me when I was about 2/3 of the way through. The family is lovely and smart, the English seaside setting is fun, and Binny and Gareth challenge each other to be the best -- or worst -- they can be.

Like the Penderwick girls, Binny has lost a parent, and it's definitely affected her life, but I like the way that the whole thing is processed on her level. It's part of who she is, but this book is not about that. And like the Penderwicks' sidekick Jeffrey, Gareth has trouble at home as well, and hanging with Binny and her family helps him forget.

This is a sweet story about friendship, family, growing up, and stretching boundaries. The characters were lovable and lovely. Six-year-old James was the most memorable. It's not exactly stated why, but he's not "quite right." He insists on wearing a lime green and pink wetsuit he found in the trash (and if anyone thinks he's a girl, he's willing to show them proof that he's definitely not). He greets his mom and sisters with "Hello. Don't kiss me," every day. He made me smile, and Binny and her older sister Clem's patience and love for him made me proud.

In spite of the cover, I think this is a book that could appeal to boys and girls, perhaps as a read-aloud.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A 2013 favourite 8 Oct 2013
By Dee18 - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
It's all about before and after for Belinda (Binny);

Before Max, and after Max.
Before Dad Died and After Dad Died.
Before Aunty Violet Died and After Aunty Violet Died.

Because there are lots of Befores and Afters in Binny's life . . .

Before Dad Died, he gifted Binny the perfect puppy, Max, just like a dog she saw in a book once. She loved Max terribly, and he was the best dog. But then dad died, and the family had to move; Binny, her mum, older sister Clemency `Clem' and little brother, James. They moved two times after dad died, and Max didn't fit into any of their new places - so he went to live with Granny. But then Aunty Violet gave him away, said he was too much trouble for Granny and Binny hated Violet ever since.

But it was After Aunty Violet Died that they inherited her house by the seaside and finally started a proper new life since dad died.

At first, Binny was reluctant to settle into this old house where Aunty Violet's ghost still lived. But Clem and James settled in right away - Clem when she found her friend Kate, who works at a local cafe, and James when he pulls an old pink wetsuit out of the bin and discovers his love for chickens.

But Binny doesn't really start settling in until Gareth arrives. He lives in a holiday house next door, and from the first time their eyes lock it's war for Binny and Gareth.

`Binny for Short' is the middle grade book by Hilary McKay. I read the UK version (unillustrated, though the US edition includes drawings by Micah Player).

I absolutely, thoroughly and unabashedly adored this book, and was absolutely delighted to learn that this is just the first book McKay intends for young Binny.

We first meet Binny at age 8, when she is gifted Max the puppy and her father dies. This marks the beginning of the first big shift in Binny's life, and while she has fond memories of her father and imagines she was very sad after he died (though she can't remember being as sombre as Clem or throwing tantrums like James did) she more sharply remembers how sad and angry she was when Max was taken away from her. Because even after dad died, Binny had Max and he was the best dog. But then they had to move to a small house Max couldn't fit in, so they gave him to gran to look after. But then Binny learns that her Aunt Violet decided gran couldn't look after Max, so she took it upon herself to rehome him with a new family.

When Binny learns to this she is distraught, and so begins many years of missing and trying to look for Max, and her hatred of Aunt Violet (which she lets her know about!).

Then Aunty Violet dies and leaves her old Cornwall house for Binny (specifically) and her family to move into. Binny wants to refuse any `gifts' from Aunt Violet (especially one she imagines to be haunted by Violet's vengeful ghost) but the rest of her family look forward to a bit of stability since dad died, and happily move into the house.

And it's here, when Binny is eleven-years-old, that the story really kicks off. She develops her first crush on a local boat-owner who takes tourists out to view the seals. She finds a new enemy in next-door neighbour boy, Gareth. Clemency settles back into her music, and mum gets a job at the local old people's home, and she brings James along to charm the little old ladies and admire their chickens.

Interspersed with Binny and her family's settling into Cornwall are scenes of Binny and Gareth, somewhere in the very near future, stuck out in high-tide in the middle of a Cornwall beach. A moment that may move them from enemies to proper friends, if they survive . . .

The book is really a beautiful, third-person rambling narrative about one family's up's and down's in the year their lives start to settle but grief and change occasionally creep in to unsettle things. And for Binny, the constant memories of Max are her trigger to larger sadness.

There's a lot of beauty and laughter in this novel too, like little brother James who tries to break his high-peeing record on the back fence and requires a behavioural list to abide by.

I absolutely loved this family and Binny - she's a charming character trying to fit into her own skin. She's attempting to come to grips with a loss that feels like it could be rectified, her burgeoning love for an unkind teenage boy and this fiery need she has to antagonise her next-door-neighbour. She's quite a character, and I can't wait to read more of her adventures. `Binny for Short' is actually one of my favourite novels to come out of 2013.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of McKay' s best books yet! 2 Aug 2013
By GraphicNovelGirl - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have loved all of Hilary McKay' s books. Her characters are wonderfully endearing, funny, flawed people who muddle through as best they can. Binny is as brave as Rose and as eccentric as the Exiles. She possesses all the traits I have come to love in a McKay heroine. The story is by turns silly and sad, full of determination and hope and with a touch of something that might just be magic. A fantastic read.
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