Review: ‘Punch’ by Barbara Henderson

Thank you! What a lovely, lovely review!


A book about fun, friendship, loyalty and redemption.

piranha stars blue 5

This is a completely delightful MG/YA book featuring 13-year-old Phineas, who is forced to escape a miserable existence as a butcher’s boy in late-Victorian Inverness, and go on the run. Phin meets many people, some lovely, some less so, and the reader is carried along in his adventures. This is a story that goes with such a gusto you really don’t want to put the book down – or want it to end.

Punch cover inc. quotesI loved everything about this book – the engaging characters, not only Phin himself but the travelling entertainers he falls in with; the delightful background of what it is like to run an old-fashioned Punch and Judy show; the setting of Victorian Scotland. The story has great pace, with the tension nicely maintained. The reader is rooting for Phin and his friend Mr Robertson, willing them to escape ‘justice’…

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Why A Book Launch Matters: A Guest Post by Barbara Henderson, Author of Punch

Publication Day!!! Thanks to Linda’s Book Bag for hosting. Why bother with book launches? My thoughts on that are here. You might even get to see what I’m wearing for mine!

Linda's Book Bag


I am absolutely delighted to welcome back Barbara Henderson, author of Punch to Linda’s Book Bag. Barbara is a wonderful person and a fantastic writer. You can find out what I thought of her novel Fir For Luckhere. Fir For Luck was one of my books of the year in 2016 and I was thrilled when Barbara shared her previous publication day experience with me here.

Punch is published today, 23rd October 2017, by Pokey Hat, the children’s book imprint of Cranachan and is available for purchase here.



Wrong place. Wrong time. A boy on the run.

Smoke belches out through the market entrance.

And me?

I turn and run.

Inverness 1889.

When 12-year-old Phin is accused of a terrible crime, his only option is to flee. In the unlikely company of an escaped…

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Guest post: The Royal Cameo in ‘PUNCH’ by author Barbara Henderson.

Stop 3 on the blog tour. Who can resist a Royal cameo? Not me! Thanks to Pippa Wilson for hosting!

@hellopipski's blog


Welcome to Barbara Henderson!

Last year I was completely staggered by the power of Barbara’s storytelling in her Middle Grade book Fir for Luck, which tells the story of 12 year old Janet in a village during the Highland Clearances. You can read more about that here, and I would really urge you to get your hands on a copy!

So I have been eagerly awaiting Barbara’s latest book, Punch, which is set in Victorian Scotland. The protagonist is twelve year old Phineas who finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Once again Barbara skilfully takes us back in time, this time to 1889 Inverness, and tells us Phineas’ story in a thoroughly  compelling style. It’s a real page-turner! Look out for a full review coming soon.

Barbara has joined us today to tell us about a rather familiar face who turns up…

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Author Live Events #guestpost from Barbara Henderson #Punch @scattyscribbler

A double whammy! After the review, now the guest post on Portobello Book Blog!

Portobello Book Blog

Punch by [Henderson, Barbara]

I have reviewed Punch by Barbara Henderson for the blogtour in another post today but she has also written a guest post about authors taking part in live events. It is so interesting that I felt it deserved its own separate post. As I am hoping to see her at Waterstones in Princes Street, Edinburgh on 4th November, I was particularly keen to hear about what kind of ideas she has for promoting Punch.

The Author as a performer…

Islay schools

That’s a tricky concept, isn’t it? Most authors I know love writing. They love losing themselves in the alternate universe of their imaginations, hidden away and solitary. But nowadays there is just a little hitch!

That sort of thing doesn’t sell books. It really, really doesn’t.

A writer I really respect once told me: ‘As a writer, your biggest enemy is obscurity.’

I reflected on this: Beat obscurity and you’ve won…

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Punch by Barbara Henderson #review @scattyscribbler @cranachanbooks

Stop one on the blog tour! Review one is in! Phew!

Portobello Book Blog

Punch by [Henderson, Barbara]

I’m delighted to be kicking off the blogtour for Barbara Henderson’s latest children’s novel, Punch, which will be published on 23rd October. Punch is aimed at 8-12 year olds but can, of course, be enjoyed by other age-groups too. I read her excellent debut novel Fir For Luck last year and you can read my review of that here.

First of all, what’s this book about?

Wrong place. Wrong time. A boy on the run.


Smoke belches out through the market entrance.

And me?

I turn and run.

Inverness 1889.

When 12-year-old Phin is accused of a terrible crime, his only option is to flee. In the unlikely company of an escaped prisoner and a group of travelling entertainers, he enters a new world of Punch and Judy shows and dancing bears.

But will Phin clear his name?


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On the Ride Again (6): Revving Up

My publication day for Punch is 10 days, 11 hours and 20 minutes away. It’s amazing how this concentrates the mind! The blog tour begins sooner, of course:

PUNCH Blog Tour social media image (1)

There seems to be  a lot to do all of a sudden. It crept up on me, the way major life events like the publication of a second book can do. September and October have been busy, even new day job aside.

First, I was lucky to be asked to appear at four schools as part of Nairn Book and Arts Festival. Pretty much straight after, less than two weeks ago, I was at Islay Book Festival, doing school and puppetry events. Just a few days later, our own NessBookFest was in full swing, and as committee chairperson, I wasn’t going to be taking a back seat. 35 events after that, I emerged, crawling, on the other side, mopping up, tidying up, and realising:

My publication day for Punch is 10 days, 11 hours and 20 minutes away!

Oh help! Guest blog posts need to be written, press contacts need to be made, events need to be planned. I made a list of all upcoming events:
26th Oct: School Launch, Crown School, Inverness
• 26th Oct: Launch at Waterstones Inverness (6pm)
• 3rd Nov: Scottish Mask and Puppet Centre Launch Event
• 4th Nov: Waterstones Edinburgh West End (2pm)
• 25th Nov: Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Mass
Book Launch, Winchester
• 29th Nov: Schools Event, Culloden Library for Book Week Scotland
• 30th Nov: ‘Nourishing Local Writers’ Showcase, Waterstones Inverness, Book Week Scotland
• 2nd Dec: Fir Trees in Folklore & Fiction: Barbara Henderson reads
from her children’s novels Fir for Luck and Punch (which both
feature trees) and explores the stories and legends around our
beloved Christmas trees. Simpson’s Garden Centre, Inverness. Book Week Scotland

At least there are a few, not too bad. Although I need to decide what I am actually going to do in them. Realising that all this is really quite soon, I ran down to the train station and booked my transport to the Central Belt, begged friends for accommodation and started purchasing odd things like Punch hats and inflatable whacking sticks, stripy clothes and red shoes. Yes, I am going the whole hog – I’ll pretty much be wearing a Punch and Judy fit-up!

Getting press coverage might be a hard one though – I have literally been all over the local papers with NessBookfest recently, and they might be reluctant to take on anything else with my mug on it. Sad but true.Courier front page

Of course, that doesn’t mean I am not going to try! However, my first follow up call to a public broadcaster who shall remain nameless went a bit like this:

Me: Hello, is that the producer for the super-iconic programme for all things cultural?

Her: Yes.

Me: You emailed me on such and such a date, expressing interest in Punch and asking if a copy could be sent to you? I trust you got it? Great. Now, are you still interested in doing something on the Victorian/puppetry angle in… all right… Really, 500 hundred new titles published every week?

Her: Too competitive/too much out there/won’t be able to, as much as we’d like to/snowed under (basically *NO*)

Me: (*profuse thanks, not sure why*)

No time to dwell on that! After all, it’s only 10 days…