"It was a dark blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea." That has to be one of the more "perfect" opening lines of any book (The Towers of Trebizond, hah!).
It's the start of Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve, a story of mechanised cities fighting each other for the scarce resources of Earth, and coming up against the immovable heresy of the Anti-Traction League, while airships duel overhead and the ancient evil technology is revived.
It's exactly the kind of book I'd have loved aged 11 to 13, with action all the way, cliff-hangers, mysterious characters, and all the rest of it. None of the girls have picked up on it, even though I've left it lying on the stairs, but I have hopes. It's got sequels, too...
Salman Rushdie's Haroun and the Sea of Stories, on the other hand, is going down a storm with Kitty. It's a perfect children's book - a sort of fairy story about story-telling. Haroun goes through all sorts of troubles on Earth's other moon, that is the source of the world's stories.
Can he restore the abilities of his father Rashid, the greatest story teller in the world? Can he save all the stories of the world from poisoning by the cultmaster, Kattam-Shud whose aim is to write finito at the end of them?
It's beautifully written - and really exciting, says Kitty. There's lots of characters that simply demand to be read out loud in funny voices, and morals that aren't laid on too thick or spelt out.