No catches, no fine print just unconditional book loving for your children with their favourites saved to their own digital bookshelf.
New members get entered into our monthly draw to win £100 to spend in your local bookshop plus lots lots more...Find out more
If you're looking for suitable books for your 11, 12 or 13 year old, our extensive list of expert recommendations is sure to put you in the right direction.
October 2019 Debut of the Month | Sinister secrets and ghoulish goings-on are afoot in the sleepy town of Suds, and this devilishly dark debut reveals Suds’s murky mysteries with notable wit and invention. Suds is a peculiar place beset by unsettling stories of children turning grey and vanishing. When Poppy and Erasmus determine to discover the truth of their town for themselves, their quest takes them to the distinctly disturbing Riddling Woods, where dark, twisting paths mirror the twists and turns of the plot. The writing is rich and lively, with details memorably conjured within a creepily-contained story universe. With something of the elemental scary absurdity of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, this novel similarly serves as an allegory about finding strength to face fears, and fans of unusual adventures (e.g. Beetle Boy, A Place Called Perfect) will most definitely identify with Poppy as she courageously tackles her most terrifying worries.
If, like actor Reece Shearsmith and author David Nicholls, you were growing up in the late 70s or early 80s, you may well remember this book. All About Ghosts was a huge favourite with young readers then, a thrilling examination of the world of the supernatural, full of terrifying stories of ghosts and ghost hunting. Due to genuine popular demand, publisher Usborne has brought it back, exactly as it appeared in 1977. Will it thrill and engage today’s kids as it did their parents? You betcha! There’s page after illustrated page of spooky myths, legends and true stories as well as theories and debate on the possible existence of ghosts. As spine-tingling today as it ever was, and just as certain to set the imagination racing.
Emily Knight is back in all her brilliant, brave glory! She’s a fabulously inspirational heroine of colour, a girl who’s not afraid to take on even the most perilous of missions. Even though she’d “lost count of the nightmares she’d had since her encounter with Neci, the deadliest warrior to exist”, Emily steps-up to the mark when Neci returns, set on war and destruction, with Emily a main target. An action-packed race against time soon kicks-off, with lively, engaging dialogue peppering the pacey plot, and some heart-warming moments of love and friendship running alongside the drama.
Emily is far from your average thirteen-year-old girl. She’s lost her mum. Her dad (the world’s greatest ever Warrior) is off searching for her missing brother, and she possesses the powers of a Warrior herself. Namely, Emily can fly, create fireballs in her bare hands and teleport. But since she hasn’t yet mastered controlling these powers, she’s sent to Osaki Training School (think Hogwarts with fireballs in place of potions and broomsticks) to hone them. Cue all manner of school scrapes before Emily becomes the target of a seriously evil villain. As the saying goes, never judge a book by a cover, and that’s certainly true in this case. Its cutesy Middle Grade-esque artwork belies the high-stakes grittiness contained within. Driven by the universal themes of not fitting in, facing fears, feeling like you’re failing to live up to familial expectations, and the power of friendship, this is a quick-to-read page-turner for fantasy fans. See also the second book in this series, Emily Knight I am....Awakened.
October 2019 Book of the Month | Amy Wilson’s new novel is just the thing to curl up with as the nights draw in. Stella Brigg lives with her nan and friend Peg in a little house on the edge of the forest and if that sounds normal enough, Nan is actually a ghost, and Peg is an imp. All three are in hiding from the Shadow King whose creeping magic is slowly destroying the forest and the creatures, magical ones included, who live within it. Lonely and isolated, there’s one thing Stella wants more than anything, and that is to go to school. She finally does, only to discover that there’s almost as much magic in the corridors of Broadmere Academy as there is at home. With new-found friends, and a new determination and confidence, she’s finally ready to take on the Shadow King. Friendship and fun are as important to the story as magic and spell-making, and it’s a cleverly crafted and thoroughly entertaining adventure. A story to recommend to fans of Sophie Anderson’s fantasy adventures.
Island of Shadows | Set in post-war Britain, this gripping novel is steeped in atmosphere and adventure - think Enid Blyton for older readers with lashings of creepiness in place of cream buns and ginger beer. Noah and his adoptive mother Millicent, a bestselling children’s author, are finding life hard after losing their beloved Captain in battle. Struggling to write a new novel, Millicent insists they head to the remote Scottish island of Inchtinn to find inspiration. Inchtinn means “Island of the Sick”, on account of it being home to a ramshackle 400-year-old leper hospital and not much else, apart from rumours of ghosts and unpleasant deaths, and a colony of aggressively protective guillemots. When Noah encounters an otherworldly cave-dwelling girl, a sinister real-life mystery unfolds as Millicent struggles with her fictional Adventurers story. To Noah’s huge exasperation and anger, she won’t heed his insistence that they’re in danger. Indeed, tensions between mother and son run high throughout, and are powerfully addressed in the thrilling final sequences when Noah must face his greatest fears. The novel’s rugged natural-world backdrop and classic ghost story motifs set it apart from many books for younger teens. Miranda Harris’s haunting line drawings make it unusual too - it’s a rare joy for novels aimed at this age to be illustrated. With its spirit of adventure and theme of facing deep-rooted fears in a grown-up way, this will satisfy readers on the cusp of their teenage years who don’t yet want to leave behind the mystery and magic of Middle Grade novels.
Prepare to be spellbound by Jim Kay's dazzling full-colour illustrations in this stunning new collector's edition of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. An extraordinary creative achievement by two extraordinary talents, Greenaway Medal winner Kay's inspired reimagining of J.K. Rowling's classic series has captured a devoted following worldwide. Breathtaking scenes and unforgettable characters - including Cedric Diggory, Fleur Delacour and Viktor Krum - await inside as Harry, now in his fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, faces death-defying tasks, dragons and Dark wizards ... This beautiful, deluxe edition features an opulent page size and intricate gold foiled line art by Jim Kay on a gem green cloth cover and slipcase; gilt edges on premium grade paper; head and tail bands and two ribbon markers. Each copy is accompanied by a rare pencil study by Jim Kay of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, printed on art paper and wrapped, creating a stunning souvenir for fans to keep and enjoy. This is the ultimate must-have edition for any Potter fan, collector or bibliophile.
Set in a flooded future world, Tom Huddleston’s book is a thrilling adventure, in which two young people are caught up in a world of pirates, gangsters, power struggles and corruption. Kara and Joe live in a floating slum on the edge of what is left of London after rising seas have drowned our civilisation. They’ve always been told that the Mariners, gangs who live entirely at sea, are terrorists. But then Joe’s life is saved by a Mariner, who entrusts him with a secret map. It’s a story that poses questions about our future, individual responsibility and the morals of political activism. Timely, thought-provoking, and action-packed.
Carnegie winner Ruta Sepetys seems to specialise in illuminating forgotten or unknown aspects of history. The Spanish Civil War may be widely known but Spain lived under Franco until 1975. Rather like post-Apartheid South Africa there was a reconciliation movement that did not pursue retribution for the human rights abuses and crimes of the dictatorship. But this outstanding, impeccably researched novel seeks to shine a light on those crimes. In a fascinating afterword she tells us that studies estimate over 300,000 babies were stolen from their Republican parents. This is indeed a story to shock and horrify but its power comes from the characters and the very human stories she tells. We get different perspectives from different viewpoints and voices, but very cleverly our main guide is an outsider looking in just as the reader does. Daniel is an American boy visiting Spain as his father negotiates a lucrative deal. America’s complicit dealings with the Franco regime are also under the spotlight here. Daniel aspires to be a photojournalist and he naively wants to find the real Spain. He finds fear and suspicion, makes friends and falls in love but tragedy strikes, and he must leave. The full sinister picture is only revealed many years later. This is a book which absolutely demonstrates the power of a story to reveal truth and to develop real understanding and empathy. Perfectly pitched, evocative and utterly enthralling.
The children are once again front and centre of this author’s second book. But like multi-award winning The Boy at The Back of the Class, the foundations of the story are very dark indeed. In this case domestic violence and the murder of Aniyah and Noah’s beloved mother. But this is not a grim YA novel. it is a book from the perspective of ten-year-old Aniyah and written for children of the same age so you can be reassured that there is nothing gratuitous or explicit. Aniyah and Noah are in foster care with the remarkable Mrs Iwuchukwu, alongside the grumpy, manipulative teenage Sophie and Travis and Ben who are the same age as her. Aniya has always been fascinated by astrology and she believes that when special people die, they become shining stars in the heavens. When a new star is spotted and behaves in an unexpected way, she believes that this is her Mum and she makes it her mission to ensure that the public competition to name this amazing new star will recognise that truth. Even though Ben and Travis know what really happened to her Mum they are wonderful steadfast friends and they vow to help the mission and not let the awful Sophie ruin the plans. So the madcap adventure begins and every reader will be rooting for the children through one disaster and crisis after another. The children are beautifully depicted, and their relationship and their dialogue is natural and funny. The reader gets gradual hints from flashbacks of what really happened as realisation dawns on Aniya and the reader becomes all too aware of the emotional cost of living in a home soured by domestic violence. But this happens within a safe context. Aniya and Noah have found a haven and a future. Once again this author has given us a warm, funny and poignant read, with a thought provoking serious side, which is perfectly judged and accessible for its audience.
It is twenty years since the events of La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One unfolded and saw the baby Lyra Belacqua begin her life-changing journey. It is almost ten years since readers left Lyra and the love of her young life, Will Parry, on a park bench in Oxford's Botanic Gardens at the end of the ground-breaking, bestselling His Dark Materials sequence. Now, in The Secret Commonwealth, we meet Lyra Silvertongue. And she is no longer a child . . . The second volume of Philip Pullman's The Book of Dust sees Lyra, now twenty years old, and her daemon Pantalaimon, forced to navigate their relationship in a way they could never have imagined, and drawn into the complex and dangerous factions of a world that they had no idea existed. Pulled along on his own journey too is Malcolm; once a boy with a boat and a mission to save a baby from the flood, now a man with a strong sense of duty and a desire to do what is right. Theirs is a world at once familiar and extraordinary, and they must travel far beyond the edges of Oxford, across Europe and into Asia, in search for what is lost - a city haunted by daemons, a secret at the heart of a desert, and the mystery of the elusive Dust. The Secret Commonwealth is truly a book for our times; a powerful adventure and a thought-provoking look at what it is to understand yourself, to grow up and make sense of the world around you. This is storytelling at its very best from one of our greatest writers.
Wayward Son is the stunning YA novel by the bestselling author of Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell. With all of her signature wit and heart, and gorgeous chapter head illustrations, this is Rainbow at her absolute best. The story is supposed to be over. Simon Snow did everything he was supposed to do. He beat the villain. He won the war. He even fell in love. Now comes the good part, right? Now comes the happily ever after . . . So why can't Simon Snow get off the couch? What he needs, according to his best friend, is a change of scenery. He just needs to see himself in a new light . . . That's how Simon and Penny and Baz end up in a vintage convertible, tearing across the American West. They find trouble, of course. (Dragons, vampires, skunk-headed things with shotguns.) And they get lost. They get so lost, they start to wonder whether they ever knew where they were headed in the first place . . . With Wayward Son, the sequel to Carry On, Rainbow Rowell has written a book for everyone who ever wondered what happened to the Chosen One after he saved the day. And a book for everyone who was ever more curious about the second kiss than the first. Come on, Simon Snow. Your hero's journey might be over - but your life has just begun.
This thirteenth instalment of the extensive Tales of Ramion series of fantasy adventures drags readers deep underwater to the realm of a “cold imperious” mermaid Queen who, among other things, takes sadistic pleasure in the humiliation of mermen. This mystifying adventure begins with witch Griselda declaring to her pet skull Boris that they’re going to holiday in a castle that belongs to her Pembrokeshire-dwelling cousin. But first - for a reason that’s left unexplained – Griselda announces that “before we go I must make a spell to change the holiday plans of some boys we know.” And so it comes to pass that the boys are “sucked down and down to the Kingdom of the Deep, beneath the Seas of Ramion” as a result of Griselda wielding her magic staff. In these watery depths, a higgledy-piggledy quest plays out amidst a muddled mélange of mermen, a mermaid who longs to dance “in the arms of a tall dark stranger” and gang of wine-drinking dwarves.
The fourteenth instalment of the Tales of Ramion fantasy series leaps right into the baffling action of a new adventure: “Now that he was free from the rules of the Land of Lost Hair, Cloud 9 was bored.” Fortunately (for him, at least) while wandering “through Ramion looking for creatures to soak,” Cloud 9 is struck by a tedium-quelling idea. He will suck in the ocean and soak a castle. However, in so doing, Cloud 9 unwittingly releases the Blizzard Wizard (“evil touch, heart of ice”) who’s incarcerated in said castle. With Blizzard Wizard free, the realm turns to ice and it takes a strange assortment of characters to try to put things right, among them the Lion of Icing. And then there’s the sudden involvement of the Venomous Vampires, Globerous Ghosts, Mystic Mummies, Racing Racoons, Hero Hedgehogs, and so on. While the author’s alliteration game is pretty high here with such zany character names, the zigzagging story lacks cohesion.
The nineteenth book in the Tales of Ramion series, penned by a QC. | Sir Tancred Grunch might be dead and “preserved in a special fluid” but, “as with other members of the Grunch family to be dead was not to be completely dead: there was always a chance of coming back to life.” In Sir Tancred’s case, he wants an heir and to that end he claims his soon-to-be-born granddaughter, Griselda, who quickly grows into a petulant child with potential for evil. Regrettably women fare unfavourably in this world. “Girlie” is used as an insult, there’s mention of men being “blinded by a woman’s beauty”, and the tired trope of women with outer beauty belying inner evil looms large too, with child-witch Griselda described as looking like an angel but given to being drawn “towards the path of evil”. And this is all in the context of a story world in which “there was not a single good woman amongst them”, with “them” being all females in the Grunch family line. Still, there are touches of droll humour, a tangled plot stuffed with strange magic, a little light swearing (“Bloody crystal ball!”) and a cast of curious characters.
Born under a blood moon, twin sister travellers, Kizzy - a brave, voluptuous bear dancer - and Lil - slight in frame and blessed with a beautiful voice – are captured after their camp is ransacked on the eve of their divining, the coming-of-age rite that would have seen them learn their fates. With many kinsfolk slain, the twins are enslaved by Boyar Valcar and set to work in the castle kitchens, where rumours about the notorious Dragon loom large over all the female slaves. Separated when Kizzy is snatched away, Lil escapes to search for her sister with Mira, a fellow slave. As they race against time to save Kizzy, encountering the terrifying strigoi (undead) along the way, powerful desires are awakened, which adds extra conflict as the story winds to its transfixing climax. Driven by the sisters’ passion and revenge, loyalty and love, and powerful on the persecution of travellers, this is a dazzling female-focused reimagining of vampire legends, with the writing infused with a lyrical earthiness throughout.
In 'The Traveller's Stone', S.J.Howland has created a wondrous fantasy world, inhabited by the creatures of myth and fairy tale. Any fan of J.K.Rowling, C.S.Lewis or Philip Pullman will immediately feel at home in this fantastical place called Haven. Haven is a world parallel to ours, where giants, fairies, hobgoblins, fauns and brownies co-exist, more or less amicably, alongside humans. Amongst the humans, it is only the Travellers who are gifted with the ability to pass between the two worlds. The book recounts the story of Xander King, a 14-year-old Londoner, who is transported to Haven by a Traveller's stone in the British Museum. But why has he ended up there? Is he really supposed to save this ailing, alien world from both external and internal attack, when he has no knowledge of it's history or culture, where he doesn't feel he can belong? This is a classic rite of passage story, well written and beautifully describing the feelings and emotions Xander goes through as he faces no end of trials to gain his place in this multifaceted society before returning home, a much stronger and more confident person. I really enjoyed reading this novel and was so pleased to discover that this will not be the end of Xander's adventures. 'The Traveller's Stone' is only the first of a planned series of five books and I personally can't wait for the next one in 2020. Drena Irish, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | Grace is intrigued by the idea of spending the summer in the ancient house that is an important part of her family history. As she learns to heal herself following a life-changing accident and a family breakdown, Grace finds she is also able to help new friends. Like the original Flambards books, this offers at several levels from great story to psychological insights.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | The lighthouse keeper’s daughter, Lampie, becomes a maid at the very strange house of Admiral Black. It is rumoured that there is a monster in the attic but, as Lampie soon comes to realise, not everything strange and different is monstrous. This has the qualities of the great fairy tales but with a bite which resonates with the contemporary world.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | Danny is sure that the new boy in his class won’t want to become his friend: nobody else does. When they discover they both love the same computer game, Danny becomes more and more confused by Eric’s strange family life and the gaps in his knowledge. The truth takes him to some strange, dark places. Unique, relevant and wonderful.
October 2019 Debut of the Month | Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | Maggie’s village is safe but she knows a war is raging beyond its boundaries. Then she meets a girl from outside and begins to wonder whether the politicians are telling the truth. Set in a completely believable near future, this gripping story has much to say and does it with a delicate touch which offers readers opportunities to think rather than imposing ideas.
Interest Age 8+ Reading age 8 | Bestselling author Chris Priestley brings you Seven Ghosts, a chill-inducing collection of spooky tales. Written with Priestley’s panache and expertise of ghost stories for younger audiences and featuringhaunting illustrations by the author himself, this latest title is sure to thrill readers with a tight-grip of intrigue and horror – perfect for Halloween reading!
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | Joseph Coehlo’s observations of nature are sure to make every reader find something unexpected. A keen eye and a compassionate mind take you through a year of intricately-crafted celebrations of the wild and beautiful. Kelly Louise Judd’s rich illustrations cuddle the poems to enhance their beauty. A book for all seasons and many return visits.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2019 | Emma Carroll brings her own Somerset countryside vividly to life in this enthralling tale and you can even detect the West Country tones of her spirited young heroine, Fortune Spicer, as you read. Fair Maidens Lane, where she lives, is a successful hamlet running well, despite an absence of men. But as the story opens a matriarch is arrested. An atmosphere of suspicion is spreading across the land from King James’ obsession with witches and unscrupulous men are using this as a weapon for financial gain. Sent away by her mother, disguised as a boy for her own protection, Fortune ends up as a servant at Barrow Hall only to find a master even more against witches than the king, but also happy to exploit the opportunity to raise funds for a terrible new trade in human beings. When the natural disaster overtakes them all, Fortune survives, but must fight torture and a trial for witchcraft to prove she is not to blame for the flood. The claustrophobic atmosphere of male oppression, corruption and real menace is wonderfully well done, and Fortune is a redoubtable heroine learning to have faith in herself and to seek her own destiny. As with all her novels this author wears her research lightly but provides a genuine learning experience and a genuine feeling for the period and for the characters she brings so memorably to life. .......................... Emma Carroll brings her own Somerset countryside vividly to life in this enthralling tale and you can even detect the West Country tones of her spirited young heroine, Fortune Spicer, as you read. Fair Maidens Lane, where she lives, is a successful hamlet running well, despite an absence of men. But as the story opens a matriarch is arrested. An atmosphere of suspicion is spreading across the land from King James’ obsession with witches and unscrupulous men are using this as a weapon for financial gain. Sent away by her mother, disguised as a boy for her own protection, Fortune ends up as a servant at Barrow Hall only to find a master even more against witches than the king, but also happy to exploit the opportunity to raise funds for a terrible new trade in human beings. When the natural disaster overtakes them all, Fortune survives, but must fight torture and a trial for witchcraft to prove she is not to blame for the flood. The claustrophobic atmosphere of male oppression, corruption and real menace is wonderfully well done, and Fortune is a redoubtable heroine learning to have faith in herself and to seek her own destiny. As with all her novels this author wears her research lightly but provides a genuine learning experience and a genuine feeling for the period and for the characters she brings so memorably to life. Joy Court
October 2019 Book of the Month | A new book by Chris Riddell is something to celebrate, especially one that gives his unique imagination free rein, as this does. There’s all sorts of trouble in the Kingdom of Thrynne: in the town of Troutwine, King Rat and his followers use threats of violence to extort money from its citizens; in the city of Nightingale, the Clockmaker’s sinister army of tin men enforces his tyrannical rule; and even in the village of Bream, deep in the Great Wood, the magical trees and the giants they shelter are in danger. In the very best tradition of fantasy adventures, three children and three bespoke enchanted objects are all that stand between magic and its destruction. The story positively crackles with invention and each chapter seems to introduce a wonderful new character before the storylines converge for a thrilling climax (fortunately one that leaves the door open for sequels). Fairytale adventure has never seemed so polished or ingenious. Young readers are spoiled for choice now when it comes to magical adventure, and readers of Guardians of Magic must also look out for Cressida Cowell’s Wizards of Once series.
Ordinary Kids with Extraordinary Stories | Young people looking for inspiration will find it in the true stories told in this book. In punchy, direct text and eye-catching illustrations it introduces 29 young people who have each done something extraordinary and overcome the challenges facing them. Some of them are famous already, their names known across the world: Malala Yousafzai, Greta Thunberg. Other names are less well known but their stories are just as inspirational: Ayesha Farooq, Pakistan’s first female fighter pilot; young Malawian inventor William Kamkwamba. Alongside their stories are tips for readers on how to get your voice heard or, accompanying stories of amazing physical feats, how to push yourself beyond what you think is possible. It’s a book to show just how much can be achieved with courage and determination.
An extraordinary creative achievement by two extraordinary talents, Jim Kay's inspired reimagining of J.K. Rowling's classic series has captured a devoted following worldwide. This stunning new fully illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire brings more breathtaking scenes and unforgettable characters to life - including Cedric Diggory, Fleur Delacour and Viktor Krum.
We all love strange stories and bizarre, unexplained events: do aliens exist? Are ghosts real? Is the Bermuda Triangle really a thing? Was there actually a curse on Tutankhamun’s tomb? This book examines these four questions, plus another six equally mesmerising, but challenges readers to use logic, intelligence and the facts to determine the truth. Author Kathryn Hulick presents thoroughly researched accounts, packed with information because, as she empahises, evidence is the most important thing. She ensures that the sources are reliable and then encourages readers while keeping an open mind to consider everything really carefully. It makes for a great read, especially when some of those mysteries – the Kraken – turn out to be strange but true. A book that glories in mystery, but also the power of science and human intelligence.
October 2019 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2019 | Follow in Greta Thunberg's footsteps and join the global mission to save our planet from climate change. With in-depth text and data, this necessary and timely book will answer readers' questions on what climate change means, what its consequences will be, and what must be done to protect our world.
This little volume is just the right size to fit into a pocket or backpack and it’s well worth young readers keeping it to hand at all times as it’s packed with advice on ways to be more green. Chapters include ‘Do You Live in a Green House?’, ‘Shopping for the Planet’ and ‘Stop Polluting the Planet’ and after describing the impact of the ways of life we all take for granted, they list things we can easily do to make a difference. These ‘over to you’ sections are practical, do-able and empowering. There’s a list of websites to visit at the end to find out more, as well as Planet Pledges to sign – one for the reader, one for the reader’s family. Accessible, informative and positive, this is a great book for anyone who cares about the future of our planet and highly recommended.
A high-stakes quest. A magical kingdom. A boy in possession of a coveted power. This mythology-rich novel for 10+ year-olds has all the ingredients of an epic adventure. Ankido is a twelve-year-old British-Iraqi boy with a passion for words. So much so, his beloved grandmother calls him her “Word Boy”. One morning, his grandmother announces the terrible news that Ankido’s father, an eminent archaeologist, has gone missing on a field trip in Iraq. When she leaves to search for his dad, she entrusts him with a special book: “The cover was made of fine, gold-inlaid leather. The title read, The Land of Mesopo. Ankido wondered why it was so special but thought it best not to ask.” Left with his aunt and uncle, Ankido is destined to be sent to boarding school, but not before he’s forced to burn Grandmother’s special book when his aunt tries to take it from him. He knows the book is special - “When I started reading it, it felt so real. Almost as if it was calling me to step inside “ – and indeed it does turn out to be special. Rather than end up at boarding school, he finds himself in the Library of Nineveh after being pursued by “a creature of the dark” who “feeds on words. And she knows that you can make your own words.” Ankido’s quest to find his father, and to save the fantastical word-world of Mesopo as the Kingdom’s newfound Tale Smith is sharply evoked, and packed with heart-pounding peril, mysterious atmosphere and intriguing characters, among them scribes, princes and magicians. Joanne Owen, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
What a majestic conjuration of Middle Grade magic this is – think Alice in Wonderland in a dazzling theatrical setting. The year is 1870 and Celeste is a lowly orphan who runs errands in a Royal Opera House. She wakes one day haunted by a dream in which an enigmatic emerald suited-man spoke ominously of her involvement in a game called the Reckoning. Celeste recalls a shipwreck from the dream too and then, back in what appears to be real life, the opera house’s huge galleon-shaped crystal chandelier splinters into a thousand pieces and everyone thinks Celeste is someone else. The opening in which she cascades into the story world is as exhilaratingly bewildering as Alice’s entry to Wonderland: “Down she falls. Oh, how the world has tumbled.” Why does everyone think she’s a gifted dancer called Maria? Why can’t everyone see her? And so an intricate, suspenseful tale of identity plays out as Celeste struggles to untangle the truth, with dreadfully high stakes. Gardner’s cast of larger-than-life characters is vibrantly drawn, and special mention must be made of vindictive diva Madame Sabina and her awful daughter, and Celeste’s ally Viggo. But the true star of this production is - of course – Celeste, whose resolve is adeptly expressed through the thoughts of the mysterious man in the emerald suit: “Seldom has he met a child with strength enough to move on to the final part of the game.” This is a dream of a book for confident readers who relish fiction that ignites their imaginations and delight in flexing their cerebral muscles.
Interest Age 8-12 Reading Age 8 | Pa has just landed a new job, and it's put an unusual spring in his step. But a new job means a new house in a new part of town, and now the Peacheys are getting ready to move. Amidst the chaos, nobody seems to notice that Betty is struggling with this big change. Nobody, that is, except McTavish. Will the canny family dog be able to put a smile back on Betty's face? The fourth instalment of this critically acclaimed series brings a touching and witty take to one of life's most common anxieties.
This exhilarating sequel to Monsters in the Mirror follows 11-year-old Darwen’s second fantastical quest. In possession of a magical mirror that acts as a powerful portal to the breath-taking realm of Silbrica, Darwen previously defeated a host of monsters that came through the mirror. He must now journey to spectacular Costa Rica to battle a terrifying tentacled beast. The stakes are high, the action is perfectly paced, and the friendship between Darwen and his companions is authentic and engaging. Alongside these essential ingredients of Middle Grade adventure, the evocation of nature and landscape is wonderful – the “rainbow-coloured waterfall, which strobed first turquoise, then emerald green, then a yellow bright as liquid gold”; trees sprouting “slim, silvery leaves that rustled like foil in the breeze”. Moreover, not only is this a gripping adventure, but it’s visually pleasing too - invitingly-designed and further enlivened by Manuel Šumberac’s atmospheric illustrations.
Edith Pattou’s epic story is partly inspired by the old Norwegian fairy tale ‘East o’ the Sun and West o’ the Moon’, though readers will also recognise elements of the more familiar ‘Beauty and the Beast’. Though the story is told from the different perspectives of its main characters, at its heart is a young girl, Rose, the child born facing North and therefore full of dreams of travel and adventure, and who is saved from death by a great white bear. When later Rose betrays of the bear, it is her quest to make good the harm she has caused that drives the plot. Filled with magical scenes and unforgettable characters, this is a rich and rewarding read, filled too with fascinating research into map-making, Viking ships and Inuit life, all of which play an essential part in Rose’s journey to find the land of the Troll Queen and her true love. As spell-binding and mysterious as the best folk-tales always are.
It's the latest Brilliant Blockbuster from best-selling Baddiel! A non-stop thrill-ride adventure that will have readers young and old racing to the finishing line. The Taylor Turbochaser is a road-trip rollercoaster... with a twist. At its heart is the unforgettable Amy Taylor. Amy loves cars, and dreams of being a driver. But there's a major catch: her slow old wheelchair with its broken wheel. When Amy finally gets a new electric one, it's exciting... at first. But standard engines only have so much power. And that's where Rahul comes in - Amy's best friend and genius inventor. Soon Rahul turns a wheelchair into... a supercar! And so the Taylor Turbochaser is born. But when it all goes suddenly wrong Amy is going to have to hit the road - and drive...
Twenty Inspiring Stories of People Saving Our World | Timely and inspirational, this edifying exposition of twenty individuals who are actively working to save our world will surely chime with a generation of young readers who’ve grown up mindful of climate change and will be acutely aware of – if not also engaged in – contemporary climate activism movements. The familiar names of David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg are covered, with fascinating information about their backgrounds and the pivotal moments that set them on their earth-saving quests. Lesser-known but equally as inspirational figures are presented too, such as Isabel Soares of Portugal who pioneered a scheme to cut down food waste (“beautiful people eat ugly fruit”) and Amelia Telford, a young woman with Aboriginal roots whose clever actions as a teenager - and beyond - brought climate change and the voice of Indigenous Australians to the attention of the Australian Prime Minister. Throughout the tone is – importantly and commendably – engaging and easily readable yet refreshingly grown-up, in that its audience of young readers are never talked-down to about big issues. The book must also be commended for Jackie Lay’s illustrations and its smart design, with pithily inspirational quotes opening each person’s entry. Teeming with heart, hope and humanity, this non-fiction treasure is ideal for reading alone or using in the classroom.
You will get to the Tiber alive. You will start to Jive. I am Apollo I will remember The former God Apollo, cast out by his father, Zeus, is having a pretty rough time of it. Well, for one thing, he's called Lester. But being an awkward mortal teenager is the least of his worries. Though he and his friends (some of them) have emerged from the Burning Maze, rescued the Oracle and lived to fight another day, they can't escape the tragedy that has befallen them, or the terrible trials still to face. So, with heavy heart, Apollo (OK, Lester) and Meg have a triumvirate still to defeat, oracles to rescue, and prophecies to decipher, so that the world may be saved, and Lester may ascend into the heavens to become Apollo once again. But, right now, Caligula is sailing to San Francisco to deal with Camp Jupiter personally, and they have to get their first. Or risk its destruction . . .
Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | September 2019 Book of the Month | Short and, in Barrington Stoke style, accessible to all readers, Tin Boy is a powerful and inspiring story, and one that will get children thinking about the world and their place in it. The hero Tono lives in the Indonesian province of Bangka Belitung and, though he’s only a boy, goes to work to each day, swimming down to mine tin by hand from deep under sea. It’s dangerous work and caught in an accident, he’s lucky to survive. That luck, together with something he finds on the seabed, changes his life. It’s a gripping story, that both vividly describes Tono’s life and plays with the idea of superheroes in a way that will resonate with all readers. Readers who enjoy Tono’s story should also look out for Kick by Mitch Johnson.
The reading world now lies wide open.
Individual choices of genre become more significant as readers become more discriminating. Readers develop their critical faculties as they weave their way towards the kind of readers they are growing into.
You could also check out our latest highlights such as 'new voices', which showcases some of the brightest new talent from Walker Books, or our 'prizewinners' section where we can help you and your child discover authors currently in contention for and/or winners of the most prestigious awards.
Check out the latest activities in our KidsZone.