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The books in this section have been given a primary age range of 9+. At 9 most children are independently reading and fact or fiction make equally good choices as part of a growing reading repertoire. Whether it’s taking off on a high fantasy where new worlds open up endless possibilities, or giving serious consideration to important ecological issues, reading at this stage grows opinions and ideas. The books in this section are suitable for 9-10+ The books in this section might also be given a secondary age range. Some are suitable for 7+ year olds reading above their age. Where indicated, less confident 11+ readers will enjoy the stories. Non-Fiction in this section is often fascinating and educational to a wider age range.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2021 | September 2021 Book of the Month | Award-winning author Philip Reeve is gifted at creating alternative worlds which feel both comfortingly familiar and thrillingly new and original. The watery landscape of the Autumn Isles does just that providing the backdrop for a gutsy and gusty story of powerful old magic, new-fangled science and the perennial battle for the critical balance of power between land and the sea. It is the setting for a roller coaster of a story with the survival of orphaned Utterly Dark, one of the most charming and feisty young heroines, at its heart. Washed up on the shore of the Autumn Isles, Utterly is rescued and adopted by Andrew Dark, the Watcher of Wildsea, whose job it is to keep the islands safe from the many dangers forces that threaten the land, in particular, the terrifying Gorm, a fearful sea dwelling creature who threatens the life of the Islanders. When her guardian drowns in curious circumstances, Utterly must maintain the watch until a new Watcher arrives. But the new Watcher is sceptical of the old magic until his rash actions reveal the full power of the Gorm with almost fatal results. Can Utterly set the watery world of her home to rights?
Fascinating, easy-to-understand text by zoologist, researcher and writer, Dr Nick Crumpton is complemented by amazingly detailed dinosaur artwork on every spread from talented illustrator, Gavin Scott. It features jaw-dropping research that will debunk many myths about all kinds of prehistoric creatures - If you want to be able to do more than tell a Tyrannosaurus from a Triceratops, then this is the book for you! The LoveReading LitFest invited Nick Crumpton to the festival to talk about his informative, inventive and brilliantly entertaining dinosaur book! You can view the event by subscribing to the LitFest programme for as little as £6 per month - or you can pay per view. For just £2, go, and watch this superb event chaired by our young Reading Ambassadors Charlie (7) and Fin (9). Check out a preview of the event here.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2021 | September 2021 Book of the Month | Mysteries pile up on top of one another in Cookie’s latest hilarious adventure. There are numerous secrets to uncover, several codes to crack, a number of unusual occurrences and a very important Nani who arrives from Bangladesh for a visit. Underlying all the gripping mystery and the comedy there is a simple message about the importance of both arts and science in school. Konnie Huq’s fast-paced story is brilliantly brought to life in her witty line illustrations which have a raft of jokes all of their own. With lots of additional information about codes as well as instructions on some of the things Cookie loves to make, this is a book to return to again and again. Konnie Huq is our Guest Editor, September 2021 - find out more about the Cookie series and her top children's book recommendations!
It’s a space adventure, Jim, but not as we know it! Climb aboard the Star Cat, half-spaceship, half-cat, as it travels the infinite void of space. There you’ll meet its well-meaning if frequently malfunctioning crew: Captain Spaceington, Science Officer PLIXX, Pilot and Robot One. They patrol the galaxy fuelled by ice-cream and ever-ready (almost anyway) to save the universe, especially from arch enemy, the four-cornered fiend Dark Rectangle. This chunky collection brings together six of these brilliant stories, first published in the Phoenix Comic, and each one is guaranteed to have you on the edge of your seat one minute, rolling on the floor laughing the next. Space adventures don’t come more comic than this, and comic strip adventures don’t come better than Star Cat.
Marnie Blue is shocked when lots of plastic rubbish starts to appear in Mermaid Lagoon. It's causing all sorts of problems and even harming the underwater animals. Marnie and her friends decide enough is enough and they must have a big green clean-up. But just where is all the plastic coming from? With the help of the local Brinies group, a new dolphin pal and a human friend, the mermaids come up with a plan to rid the lagoon of plastic junk for good.
September 2021 Graphic Novel of the Month | A smart, satisfying re-formatting and expansion of Mega Robo Rumble, Mega Robo Bros Double Threat will have comic fans on the edge of their seats while nodding with knowing grins on their faces. Award-winning Neill Cameron has an undeniable abundance of talent for creating rambunctious, reader-centred super hero adventures that grip, engage and entertain reluctant readers as much as committed fans of standard form novels and committed comic book lovers. Take two brothers, Alex and Freddy - superhero robot brothers, no less, who work as secret agents for a government operation that seeks to protect the world from attacks at the hands of alien robots. As Alex experiences something of an identity crisis (“Everyone always just sort of assumed I was a boy, but am I? Can Robots have babies? And if so, how?”), London is besieged by a new threat in the form of a massive drill-bot. Alongside reeling with high-stakes adventure, Double Threat is also fabulously inclusive, with messages of empathy, fabulous female characters, and incisive, witty deconstructions of gender stereotypes. If that’s not enough, it also boasts a whole lot of hilarious one-liners (“I can see your butt”) and relatable homelife scenarios - even superhero Mega Robo Bros have trouble finding their shoes from time to time.
September 2021 Debut of the Month | Vibrant world-building, hilarious horror happenings, and splendidly quirky characters - Alex Foulkes’ debut, Rules for Vampires (the first in a series), has plenty for adventure-loving 9+ year-olds to sink their teeth into, a devour-in-one-bloodthirsty-sitting story that’s made even more engaging by Sara Ogilvie’s cleverly comic illustrations. “Slow as creeping nuns, stealthy as a stalking cat, the girl slunk closer to the door.” Thus we’re introduced to Leo on the eve of her one hundred and eleventh birthnight, as she must embark on her first solo mission as a vampire - The Hunt of the Waxing Moon, no less. Trouble is, following Vampiric Laws and negotiating that ghoulish line between the Living and the Undead sure ain’t no stroll in the cemetery, and all this while feeling the pressure to live up to the high and spiky expectations of the Great and Terrible Sieglinde. The writing is slick as blood, with smart turns of phrase that Lemony Snicket aficionados will adore, and cracking whip-smart dialogue that drives the story at bat-out-of-hell pace. Oh, and it’s divinely packed with a cast of top quality, quirky characters readers will want to get under the skin of (though not literally, of course…)
September 2021 Debut of the Month | In this murky world Lester and Rita become detectives for hire. Their first case involves two vampires, a stolen jade mask and a baron mysteriously drowned in vat of lemonade. Rita and Lester will need to learn fast if they want to survive in a world where appearances are endlessly deceptive.
So beautiful, so powerfully moving, the ever-inventive Laura Dockrill has done it again with The Dream House - an incredibly honest, child-centred story about a boy’s struggle with terrible grief (and guilt) after losing his dad. Beautifully presented with Gwen Millward’s soft, evocative, powerful illustrations - including Rex’s sketchbook drawings that provide poignant insights to his pain - this has all the marks of a future classic. Rex doesn’t talk much now his dad’s gone, and he’s gone to stay with his godfather Sparky, his dad’s best friend since childhood - “Mum said it would be good for me here; Sparky would take care of me so I could get some peace and ‘feel better’. To give her space while she dealt with what needed to be dealt with. But it was also because she couldn’t deal with me.” Rex is worried because drawing “doesn’t make me feel good like it used to”. Nothing is the same, and he’s terrified of returning to the Dream House, a magical place created just for him. A magical place that’s filled with his dad. But little by little, with Sparky’s sensitive support (what a guy; his tenderness is sublime), and after talking to the boy next door, Rex is able to return to the Dream House, able to begin his long journey back to the world, to a life without Dad, but a world in which Dad is remembered and cherished, in the soothing knowledge that he doesn’t have to carry the heavy burden of grief alone.
September 2021 Debut of the Month | There are lots of orphans in children’s books, but few have as sad or dangerous a story to tell as Bastien Bonlivre. After his writer parents die tragically in a hotel fire, Bastien must live in the Orphanage for Gentils Garçons in Paris. Under the rule of the tyrannical Xavier Odieux, the orphanage is a miserable place, though Bastien’s secret night-time storytelling sessions always give the boys a boost. Life is particularly bad for Bastien thanks to Xavier’s apparent obsession with the notebook his parents left him; and could this somehow be linked to the strange disappearances of other successful authors? The adventure that develops is as exciting as those invented by Bastien’s parents’ favourite, Alexandre Dumas, culminating in a terrifying chase through the Paris catacombs. Set during the 1920s, scattered with French phrases and verbal flourishes, with its fast-paced plot and unforced emphasis on the power of stories to shape lives, this is a very bon livre indeed.
Perfectly-pitched for its intended age group, Joanna Nadin’s No Man’s Land is a mightily thought-provoking, utterly gripping, and empathy-inspiring story of a ten-year-old boy’s bravery in the face of the terrifying changes that come in the wake of an impending war in far-right Albion, a dystopian imagining of post-Brexit Britain. It started “when the Albioneers won the election. Maybe before, even - before I was born. When England decided it didn’t like Europe any more.” That’s how endearing Al surmises the situation as things worsen in Albion - his non-British, non-white friends are being compelled to leave this intolerant, racist land, and war is on the horizon. As a result, Al and his little brother Sam are sent to safety by their dad, to Kernow in the country, where a community of mainly women eke out survival. While Sam believes this is all part of a game, Al is angry at being sent away, and desperate to be reunited with his dad by his imminent birthday. But time sweeps by, and war is certain. There are valuable lessons to be learned from Al’s realisation that the women of Kernow are, in fact, the true heroines of the piece - “there were different ways to resist… I saw them then. The women in the kitchen, whispering, drinking, planning. Not bad things. But not nothing either. Providing a life for anyone who needed it.” In Al’s words, “not all heroes wear capes. And not all heroes carry guns.” Powerfully prescient stuff, with wonderfully-drawn characters.
Turn on your torches and join Aveline Jones! Aveline is thrilled when she discovers that the holiday cottage her mum has rented for the summer is beside a stone circle. Thousands of years old, the local villagers refer to the ancient structure as the Witch Stones, and Aveline cannot wait to learn more about them. Then Aveline meets Hazel. Impossibly cool, mysterious yet friendly, Aveline soon falls under Hazel's spell. In fact, Hazel is quite unlike anyone Aveline has ever met before, but she can't work out why. Will Aveline discover the truth about Hazel, before it's too late? Join the world of Aveline Jones, where mysteries are solved, spirits are laid to rest, and everybody gets to bed on time.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2021 | September 2021 Book of the Month | Billy is desperate to make things change at home. Her father disappeared before he was born: he and mum had been ok when they had been alone together but now his mother’s new partner has spoilt everything. Billy is frightened for himself and he is frighted for his mum. To make a point he runs away for a few days hiding in a semi-ruined pill-box in a local graveyard. Cleverly telling the story in two narratives, from Billy’s perspective and his mum’s and interweaving other characters and their experience from whom they can learn, Pam Smy explores a range of complex emotions thrown up by a difficult situation.
At once a page-turning adventure set in the Californian wilderness, and an inspiring call to action for young environmentalists, Jewell Parker Rhodes’ Paradise on Fire teems with real-life issues (grief, racism, climate change and social inequalities) and emotional wisdom. Following the death of her parents in a fire, the novel’s endearing heroine, Addy, is being raised in the Bronx by her beloved Nigerian grandmother. From the outset, Addy’s grief is tangibly evoked - “Being an orphan is like being a crusted-over scab. Leave me alone. Don’t touch.” Similarly, though we never meet her directly, Addy’s grandmother feels ever-present, like a firm and loving hug that inspires confidence. “To know yourself, you need to journey, Adaugo. Remember what’s forgotten” - such advice echoes through the novel, spurring Addy to handle the most perilous of circumstances. This summer, Addy’s grandma has enrolled her on a wilderness program, which she joins with five other kids of colour for a few weeks of camping, climbing and hiking in the Californian wilderness. Usually insular, Addy flourishes at camp - her sharp mind, spatial awareness and keen cartographer’s eye come into their own here. Then, when fire strikes the forest, it falls to Addy to not only face her greatest fear, but to save her fellow campers from certain death. Gripping to the end, and underpinned by potent messages about climate change and the joys of connecting with nature, Paradise on Fire explores literal and metaphoric survival with heartfelt gusto and a mythological vibe courtesy of Addy’s name (which means “of the air. Far-seeing. Watchful”) and connection to eagles.
Kids are always being told that if they ‘dream their dreams’ one day those dreams will come true. ‘Living the dream’ is a very different experience for 11-going-on-12-year-old Malky in Ross Welford’s absorbing, vastly entertaining novel. Blackmailed into a bungled burglary, Malky becomes owner of a set of Dreaminators, mysterious machines that make dream worlds real and give the dreamer powers to control them. At first, Malky and his co-dreamer, little brother Seb, enjoy their night-time adventures, especially those in a Stone Age world closely based on Seb’s favourite storybook where they make friends, go hunting, and Seb has high hopes of riding a mammoth. If it seems too good to be true, of course it is, and as Malky’s ability to control what’s happening in his dreams weakens, everything – awake or asleep – starts to go wrong. When Seb is taken prisoner in a dream and falls into a life-threatening coma in real life, Malky has to face up to his responsibilities, not to mention the fears and anger his dreams have disguised, in one last terrifying dream. At least he has new friends there to help. The story is cleverly told and plotted, moving back and forward in time, from dream to reality, with Doctor Who ease. It’s full of humour too, e.g. a wonderful scene in the school canteen in which Malky does all the things he’s always dreamed of doing, not realising he’s actually awake. Core too are the really big things in life – friendship, love, family, learning about yourself and understanding others. It’s a book that delights in the fact that the inside of our head is bigger far than the outside. Readers who enjoy Welford’s excellent books will also race through Christopher Edge’s out-of-this world adventures.
September 2021 Debut of the Month | Alston is a debut author who looked in vain for a hero or heroine who looked like him in fantasy novels – and this delivers and so much more too. Amari is a child who attends a posh school on a scholarship – but really finds it hard to fit in and avoid the bullies. Her mother is a hard-working health worker, and her brother Quinton is missing – his disappearance seems be the root of Amari’s difficulties. As the holidays approach Amari receives an invitation via a mysterious messenger to be considered for something (at this stage unexplained) – by attending an interview. From here on the story becomes a hugely imaginative, funny and compelling adventure. Magic and mystery flow thick and fast from this point on – as Amari takes her chances to prove herself and to start finding out what happened to her brother. The story takes you through the development of some close and lasting friendships, against some awful magical bullies and monsters, to an exciting and nail-biting adventurous conclusion, though it leaves a possible opening for more books about Amari in future. A wonderful fun adventure addition to every child's bookshelf and any school library looking for more representation across all it’s genres.
Michelle Paver has done it again in the eighth book in her epic, emotional Chronicles of Ancient Darkness Stone Age series that began with Wolf Brother. Skin Taker reels with a rollercoaster sense of adventure, shadowy atmosphere and an infectious spirit of survival as Torak, Renn and Wolf must find new ways to exist during the midwinter Dark Time, when new dangers are awoken and devastation looms. Torak remains the brave, brash protagonist readers have long known and admired, yet his character has been deftly developed too, and he’s here presented with fierce challenges - and responses - that befit his experiences. Though its setting is aeons ago, and though Torak’s world is suffused in otherworldly spirit magic, Paver has a remarkable skill for making her stories richly relatable. The emotional dilemmas and relationships have resonance; the detail and atmosphere of the natural world are truly tangible, and what an exhilarating immersion in the wild this offers adventure-seeking readers. Read a Q&A with Michelle Paver about Viper's Daughter, as she returned to the Wolf Brother series after over a decade.
September 2021 Book of the Month | On the eve of Ghastly Night, a hypnotic stage magician, Caliastra, checks in to Eerie-on-Sea’s Grand Nautilus Hotel. She’s arrived with her entourage to put on a show – and she claims to be related to Herbert Lemon. Caliastra’s act is so shadowy and strange that Herbie’s friend Violet wonders if dark forces are at work, but Herbie won’t hear a word said against his new relation.
September 2012 Book of the Month | A gripping, entertaining and empowering WWII adventure about the women of the Air Transport Auxiliary, perfect for fans of Emma Carroll, Michael Morpurgo and Hilary McKay. The story of WWII starring the brilliant pilots you've never heard of... the women of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) who battled against the odds to get the air force's planes to the front lines.
A prize-winning picture book author and illustrator, Nadia Shireen is just as skilful at writing junior fiction, as this inventive, hilarious story shows. Fox siblings Nancy (the tough one) and Ted (the sensitive one) are forced to flee the big city for the countryside after Ted accidentally bites off pussycat boss Princess Buttons’ tail. Grimwood, where they find themselves, is a kind of paradise it seems, full of friendly if eccentric animal residents who love nothing better than a good game of treebonk. Ted feels right at home, Nancy needs convincing, but when Princess Buttons arrives, bent on revenge and armed with a Brain Zapper 3000, and their new friends step up to help, she changes her mind. It’s gloriously silly but still totally credible and a proper page turner, while Nancy and Ted are real characters. Watch out for the wonderful asides from woodlouse Eric Dynamite, and Princess Buttons’ comeuppance is an absolute treat!
Written by Tracey Turner and Andrew Donkin in consultation with British Museum experts, A History of the World in 25 Cities is a wonderful concept that’s been dazzlingly executed through exquisite design as Libby Vander Ploeg’s luminously detailed illustrations draw the eye and spark the mind. Presented as a large format hardback, and resplendent with a striking neon cover, this mighty feat takes young readers on a magnificent journey around the world’s most fascinating cities, offering an exhilarating window into history and humankind. “Cities are full of possibilities. They are where big ideas are born, because they welcome people from far and wide.” So explains the lively, thought-provoking introduction before readers are welcomed to embark on a thrilling voyage of discovery through 25 cities, among them Jericho in 8500 BCE, ancient Athens and Rome, rain-forested Benin in the 1500s, seventeenth-century Delhi, eighteenth-century Paris, 1930s New York, and modern-day Tokyo. Each city is presented with fabulous maps and a feast of fascinating facts, with the book rounding off with a look ahead to cities of tomorrow. What a glorious gift-that-keeps-giving this will make for 7+-year-olds who are keen to learn more about the world.
Testing friends’ and family members’ knowledge of birds, animals and insects is great fun with this clever riddle book, created by the team at National Geographic Kids. Pages of ‘What am I?’ questions are followed by pages with the answers, each illustrated with attractive colour photos of the relevant animals. The questions are intriguing, designed to get you thinking logically alongside those that are calling up remembered facts. Once thing’s for certain, you’ll learn lots of interesting information about lots of very different animals. Oh, and if you’re thinking about C*******s presents, this is definitely worth putting on a list!
Find Strength, Stay Hopeful and Get to Grips With Grief | The death of a parent, sibling or friend is one of the most traumatic experiences for a child and it can be hard to know how to talk to them about it. In this honest, comforting and strength-building guide, children will be able to look toward the future with hope.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to fly? Or to live high in the tree tops? Or perhaps you've wondered what birds do when no one is looking? Birds have some of the most extraordinary - and peculiar - behaviours on the planet. Ravens love PLAYING games. In winter, they sledge down snow-covered rooftops on their bellies, getting faster and faster. Partridges are SNEAKY and know just how to trick hungry foxes. And honeyguides are HELPFUL. They help humans to find the sweetest treat in the forest - honey. These are just some of the incredible stories you'll read in this book. With fascinating factual detail and playful storytelling from ornithologist Tim Birkhead and vibrant, personality-filled illustrations from Cat Rayner, this book captures what it's really like to be a bird.
Book Band: Dark Red (Ideal for ages 10+) | Having read The Tempest as a pupil and taught it to KS2 pupils, I wish we had had this as an introduction. It is beautifully retold, with just the right amount of traditional language to make the young reader feel they are truly tackling Shakespeare. From the very beginning, the writing is atmospheric and descriptive. Ariel immediately gets the reader drawn in, filling them in on the plot so far and making them part of the evolving story. The characters are richly described, and the complex plots carefully explained. There are so many elements to this story, the love story between Miranda and Ferdinand and the murderous plots of their parents. It is also a story of revenge, trickery, and magic. By including the reader in the story, by such questions as ‘do you know what is? Do you remember, and have you ever wondered’ the writer manages to pull the reader in as a conspirator. This is cleverly and successfully done. Ariel’s mischievous character makes the story fun and lively. The tricks played on Trinculo and Stephano and the way the invisibility cloak is used are all themes that appeal to children. Despite it being a fun and exciting piece of writing the author also manages to write about the feelings of the characters in addition to writing so descriptively. There is so much to discuss and to develop into further reading and writing tasks. There is a lot more here than just a good story.
Part of Wordsworth’s Exclusive Collection (a series of 15 classics for all ages), this gorgeous gift edition bind-up of Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea boasts embossed gold foiling and an attractive bespoke cover illustration. Anne is truly an adorable, endearing, inspiring character, and her life at Green Gables after being taken in by the Cuthberts is evoked with lively detail, atmosphere and emotion. While prone to creating chaos, impossibly romantic, and headstrong (often self-destructively so), Anne has the hugest of hearts and reading this book - the first two novels in the series - is guaranteed to have readers hooked on her exploits as she moves from girlhood to womanhood. If you’ve yet to read these enchanting, amusing, heart-stealing classics, now’s your chance to enjoy a stunning edition at an attractive price.
The Sherlock Holmes classic is adapted into a version for young readers here and in a way that catches all the intrigue, drama and atmosphere of the original. Short though it is, all the details and clues are there – the legend of the terrifying hound, the mystery of the stolen boots, the strange lights flashing across the moor at night. Doctor Watson’s narrative is as vigorous as it is in Conan Doyle’s novels, his no-nonsense attitude heightening the thrill of the various spooky goings-on, and Holmes is the same enigmatic figure too. Black and white illustrations punctuate the story nicely and this is both an excellent introduction to these timeless stories and enthralling reading in its own right. Publisher Sweet Cherry have adapted lots more of the Sherlock Holmes stories for young readers which is great, as having read this they will undoubtedly be hungry for more.
Genna has always been good at history but the strange connection she has with times gone by turns into something terrifying when she becomes the victim of a series of assaults, each linked to violent moments from the past. Who is Damien, the young man determined to kill her, and who is Phoenix, the boy equally prepared to save her life? As the attacks continue Genna discovers that she is a First Ascendant, born at the dawn of mankind, with hundreds of lives already lived, and that this makes her the target of the evil Incarnates who won’t rest ‘til she is dead forever. As she and Phoenix fight to survive, and thereby save the human race, the action comes satisfyingly thick and fast, often staged in thrillingly described historical scenes. Few authors know more about pace, combat and all-out excitement than Bradford (Bodyguard, Young Samurai) and this will delight his legions of fans, and even more besides.
Set in ancient Rome, during the terrifying rule of Caligula in fact, Annelise Gray’s book is a mix of history, adventure and horses – a winning combination! Dido’s father trains riders and horses for the famous, and frequently deadly Circus Maximus chariot races. She dreams of being a charioteer too but that’s not allowed, and she’s stuck watching the boys compete. When her father is murdered, Dido has to flee Rome, leaving behind her beautiful horse Porcellus. But Fate will bring the two of them together again, and sees Dido compete in the Circus after all. The story of Dido, Porcellus and their fellow riders and horses makes for thrilling reading. Gray transports the reader to Rome in a hoofbeat, places, people and the dangerous times vividly brought to life. Caligula plays a part in the book, and he’s not the only real person to do so – watch out for Cassius Chaerea too – but Dido is the star, as she makes her way in Rome’s macho world, determined to set her own path and avenge her father. A superb historical adventure story. If Dido’s story sets readers looking for more classical adventures, as it undoubtedly will, point them to Caroline Lawrence’s Roman Mysteries, Rosemary Sutcliff’s Eagle of the Ninth Chronicles and Philip Womack’s The Arrow of Apollo.
Rich in atmosphere and full of heart, Sky Hawk is an intense and touching story of how protecting a rare bird forges a deep and special friendship between two children. The osprey is Iona’s secret but she trusts Callum to keep it and together the two of them do all they can to keep the bird safe. From the glittering lochs of Scotland to the mangrove swamps of the Gambia, Sky Hawk is an enthralling tale about a promise between two friends, Callum and Iona, that will change lives forever, and the power of friendship, loyalty, and hope. A book to treasure.
The first novel from the lockdown #drawwithrob hero for schools and families everywhere, is an absolute triumph. The first in what is sure to become a best selling and popular series introduces us to the amazing Peanut Jones. Her artist father has gone missing, and her own love of drawing is being stifled in her new school and not valued by her mother. The discovery of a magic pencil, that literally brings drawings to life, enables her to draw a door and step through into another world, where she hopes she may be able to find her father. Peanut is aided and accompanied by her new science-loving friend, Rockwell, and her genius younger sibling, Little Bit. Together they face many dangers as they travel through the land of Chroma, not least the villainous Mr. White, who wants to extinguish all colour and creativity. Chroma is a superbly imagined world and each district and many of the vivid characters have a distinctly artistic flavour – The Ink District, Warholia, Vincent Fields etc. Little Tail the magic pencil is also known Pencil Number One, the very first pencil created by inventor Nicolas-Jaques Conte. There is actually a glossary at the end of the book to give readers a mini education in Art History and ensure they can appreciate all the references- very useful for parents and teachers! This is a book suffused with the joy of art, by an artist and for budding artists everywhere, but most of all it is a hugely enjoyable, witty and exciting story that will captivate readers of all ages. Highly recommended.
Eleven-year-old Emily doesn't think Badger Cottage will ever be home. But there is something out there that needs her; a bright pair of eyes in the darkness. In the middle of a fierce battle between conservationists, who want to to rewild the lynx in the woods, and the local farmers, Emily tries to shield a baby lynx she calls Lotta, afraid it will be killed by the person who killed its mother. But can Emily work out who the illegal hunter is in time, and who can she trust?
Book Band: Dark Blue (Ideal for ages 9+) | What a lovely and beautifully written book. This is the story of a little boy called Hari who lives with his parents and sister on Bamba Beach in Goa. He is an intelligent boy with a big heart and a mature understanding of the world. From the first few pages the images are full and lively, and you are drawn into life in the village. There is beautiful detail in the setting. The author describes not just fish in the sea and the evening’s insects, but all their names and habits. In amongst all this description are some important topical messages. The family are poor, not just because of economy, but because the tsunami has pushed the fish further out to sea, away from Hari’s father’s reach in his small wooden boat. Only those with motorboats now have a chance of making money. The story tells of Hari’s attempts to make money for his family and in doing so creates his own tidal waves of events. Alongside his money-making schemes is the animosity between the neighbouring families, amusingly referred to as the ‘them over there’ and the ‘next doors’. Hari through his kindness and helpfulness and with his awareness of the people around him, wins over the ‘next doors’ and the outcome is the climax of the story. There are many themes running throughout this book, the misunderstanding of dyslexia, poverty and its various effects and jealousy towards those more successful than others. It is a heart-warming story, with the power of goodness and kindness winning through. The cover page by David Dean is fun and eye-catching, but the more traditional block plate illustrations at the start of each chapter are more traditional and quite beautiful. The reading zone questions and activities are thought provoking and would provide a lot to talk and write about.
‘Azalea Fern and the Last Ruin of the Extinct’ by Becci Murray is an entertaining middle-grade adventure. A fantasy story based after the demise of the Sapiens, Azalea and her friend Oak-Lea stumble across old technology and a secret that could change everything. Azalea, the main character in this new fantasy series, is a precocious and curious girl. I liked her confidence, even when it was luring herself and her best friend into trouble, and I think readers will find her very endearing. As this is a fantasy story, there’s lots of descriptions of the setting and the strange animals that are found in the grove. I found the setting and world-building very immersive and I think that younger readers will have a lot of fun outside of reading the story creating their own ideas of what these strange and new animals like Buttermoths look like. This story is full of mystery, as Azalea explores and uncovers a secret that could change everything. Merged within this family story are themes of friendship, family and community as well as posing some important questions about how humans treat the world around us and our attitudes to its other inhabitants. The ending is complete but leaves the reader with lots of questions that will hopefully be answered in later books. A great middle-grade book with short and easy to follow chapters, an entertaining storyline and some fantastic fully dimensional characters. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
‘Cry of the Norwolf’ by Ian Young is an interesting adventure series that I think will have wide appeal among middle grade readers. Arkyn, a ten year old boy has his world transformed when he stumbles across an injured norwolf pup. A predator that’s the stuff of fear and folklore, Arkyn’s path will change forever if he chooses to help the injured animal instead of killing it. A new fantasy series that is set in a more primitive world than our own, I found ‘Cry of the Norwolf’ really easy to follow and I thought that the story flowed well. The plotline moves quickly which I think will keep readers entertained and eager to know what comes next in the book and in later books in the series. The black and white illustrations at the start of each chapter are clean and detailed. As a personal preference I would have considered having more chapters to include more of these header illustrations instead of the asterisk dividers. However, the more flowing structure of the book does add to its fast pace and encourages the reader to keep going and see what happens next. ‘Cry of the Norwolf’ is a really entertaining read that I think would have broad appeal, especially to readers of Michelle Paver’s Wolf Brother series. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Young Herbert Lemon has an honest heart and that matters a lot in Thomas Taylor’s story of magic and mystery. Herbert lives in the Grand Nautilus Hotel in the seaside town of Eerie. The hotel is right on the sea front and the mist that rolls in could be hiding all sorts of things, even the scaly Malamander, subject of so many town legends. Helping his new friend Violet find clues to the whereabouts of her missing parents – Herbert is a lost and found expert – results in the two children coming closer to the Malamander than they could ever have expected. Eerie is a wonderfully edgy place, strange, gothic and inhabited by some singular people, and Herbert and Violet’s adventures are equally unique and totally enthralling.
'I saw him die right in front of my eyes.' 'That you did,' replies Damien. 'But you underestimated his power. Tanas is back and stronger than ever . . .' When Genna's parents are murdered, the police put the tragedy down to a burglary gone wrong. But Genna knows the truth: the Soul Hunters are back and her nightmare is far from over. With home no longer safe, she flees to America to find Phoenix, the only one who can help her - or so she thinks. While searching for her Soul Protector, Genna meets other First Ascendants like her, and Soul Warriors tasked with protecting the Light. But the Hunters are on her trail and it's only a matter of time before Genna comes face-to-face with their leader once more. For Tanas has miraculously incarnated into a new body, and is hungry for her soul. Genna must look to her past lives to survive. But how can she defeat Tanas when evil never dies?
A heart-warming and magical story of a very special relationship between a child and a polar bear which will inspire readers of all ages to realise that they, like April, can make a difference in the battle against climate change. When animal loving April arrives on Bear Island in the Arctic Circle where she will live for the next six months while her father runs the scientific operations she is told that, despite the island’s name, there are no bears on it. The melting ice caps mean that the polar bears can no longer arrive from the nearest mainland near Svalbard. But April soon finds out that there is one bear left. And April needs to do everything she can to keep him alive. Confident of her ability to communicate with the bear and to feed him, April nourishes the bear and even plans his return to safety. Beautifully illustrated by Levi Pinfold, The Last Bear invites readers to care about the science behind the fate of an endangered species and to believe in one girl’s magical solution to the problem. **The images and illustrations in this extract are subject to copyright © Levi Pinfold and may not be used without permission.
Ross Montgomery brings the magical world of British folklore to life in this contemporary fantasy novel. Bursting with Ross's trademark charm, humour and heart, and with echoes of David Bowie's Labyrinth, The Chime Seekers is perfect reading for fans of Emma Carroll, Piers Torday and David Solomons.
The Boy Who Got Accidentally Famous is an epically entertaining tale, brought to life with illustrations by the brilliant Steven Lenton, which asks the question - what if everyone suddenly knew your name...? From million-copy bestselling author David Baddiel comes a laugh-out-loud story for readers of 8 and up that takes you on a roller-coaster ride of fame and friendship.
Everything that is wonderful about Christmas (and some things that aren’t!) is thrillingly spun about in this deliciously magical and madcap adventure. Homeless Blanche has never had any real Christmas but when the mysterious Rinki gives her a magical bauble and some mince pies on Christmas Day everything changes. Rinki and Blanche are firm friends forever and together they are about to rewrite the Santa story. Santa Claus, elf magic, delicious Christmas food and drink, and a wonderful sleigh ride are all thrown into the mix as a very merry Christmas for all – except the sinister Mr Krampus – follows.
Twins Myles and Beckett, Artemis Fowl's younger brothers, return in their third and most outrageous adventure yet. For almost two years, Lord Teddy Bleedham-Drye has been plotting revenge against the Fowl Twins, who humiliated him in book one. Teddy plans to give them exactly what they deserve: permanent death. He threatens Myles with his weaponized jet and Beckett and Specialist Lazuli succeed in disarming the aircraft and causing an accident that kills Lord Teddy. But does it really? Clones, fairy magic and criminal masterminds come together in this ultimate and ridiculous showdown between the twins and their worst enemy.
Rather than being an atlas, this title works more like an almanac of fascinating information, containing geography, history, food, sport, wildlife, art and culture. A wonderful gift to encourage interest in visiting different places and experiencing different cultures – especially relevant for today's homebound readers.
October 2021 Book of the Month | When ship’s surgeon Gulliver sets off across the seas in search of adventure he has little idea what he will find. His two greatest discoveries are the countries of Lilliput and Brobdingnag. In Lilliput he finds a population of tiny people to whom he appears as a giant while in Brobdingnag the roles are reversed: Gulliver is tiny and Brobdingnags are giants. Swift uses Gulliver’s descriptions of his experiences in these contrasting countries to write a satirical commentary on his own society. His use of Gulliver’s altered relative size gives great scope for studying everyday events in a new way and makes a fine vantage point for telling the contrasting stories. Gulliver is an iconic figure in literature. Read aloud, this abridged edition with is impressionistic yet detailed illustrations by Robert Ingpen will make an excellent way to introduce the story about him to young readers.
October 2021 Book of the Month | Michael Morpugo’s Kensuke’s Kingdom is just one of the very many stories for adults and children alike that have been inspired by Daniel Defoe’s classic shipwreck story. Written over 300 years ago, the story of Robinson Crusoe, an impulsive young man who runs away to sea against the best efforts of his parents to stop him, is packed full of gripping action as Crusoe survives the worst the elements throw at him before he is shipwrecked on an apparently uninhabited island. The story of Crusoe’s life on an island is a lyrical study of a place as well as an inspiring story of one man’s resourcefulness. In this adapted edition award-winning illustrator Robert Inkpen’s illustrations bring Daniel Defoe’s classic story to life in timeless images.
A debut author is always a new experience to read – and this new fantasy-type novel aimed at middle grade readers does not disappoint. Maggie is a child, isolated from her family (Dad left, Mum recovering from a breakdown of some sort) whilst she is nominally looked after by her somewhat odd Aunt Esme. She befriends a rather battered old cat with torn ears and one eye – whom she is convinced hums tunes to her. But that is only the start of rather strange occurrences – Maggie sees her enemy from school apparently disappeared into a parallel reality by the new, odd, threatening careers mistress. What can she do – no one will believe her if she tells the truth… So, Maggie is left with only one course of action – she must rescue Ida from whatever has made her disappear. The characters are so well drawn and delightfully eccentric that one can become totally engaged in this well-developed story. Hoagy, the cat, proves to be a firm friend, and courageous – helping Maggie not only rescue her enemy Ida, but by doing so rediscover some of the happiness she has lost in her oddly disconnected life. An author worth watching – and a good read for fans of fantasy-based adventures.
Extinct is the spectacular full colour book series from leading evolutionary biologist and broadcaster Professor Ben Garrod. In his trademark lively and accessible style, Garrod makes top level science accessible to everyone as he explores the story of life on earth and the forces that have brought about the extinction and near-extinction of eight iconic species. The protégé of Dr Jane Goodall and David Attenborough’s co-presenter on Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur, Garrod kicks off the series with three books focusing on the landscape of a mass extinction and an animal that we have lost in each. Meticulously researched full colour illustrations by top palaeoartist Gabriel Ugueto further reveal everything we never knew about extinction.
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