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A week in the life of Eric Doomsday contains more chaos than most 7 year old boys could possibly achieve..but what fun! After a disastrous magic show which descended into a food fight Eric really needs to improve his reputation at school or he'll never be invited to another party again. Cue the school Talent Show and Eric sees the perfect opportunity to win back some credibility. Unfortunately for Eric the judges turn out to be aliens, here on a voyage to inspect and destroy UUURRTH. And unfortunately for the aliens Eric has a few tricks up his sleeve. This is a great early reader, with short chapters, lively artwork and the jokes keep on coming. Bonkers and brilliantly entertaining.
Interest Age 5-8 | Norman the Norman from Normandy is rapidly becoming my favourite Philip Ardagh character (and there’s a great line up to choose from). Small and accident prone but with a remarkable knack for being in the right place at exactly the right time, Norman is always at the centre of the action and his adventures are very funny indeed. In this story he’s invited to accompany William of Normandy on his ‘conquest thingy’, as the Duke’s wife calls it. Tempted to the Duke’s castle by the thought of its tea-room, Norman’s not actually that keen on the invasion idea and ends up going home to his mum instead. The words and the full-colour pictures will both have readers laughing, and there are some great long-running jokes about the Bayeux Tapestry. Perfect reading for anyone who appreciates the silliness of existence.
July 2018 Book of the Month | Lydia Monks’ new series is perfect for little children particularly those just starting nursery or reception. Frog is the star of this story which recounts his adventures on the school trip. He’s a very bouncy character and is so excited at the prospect of the day out that he can’t keep still at all. Wise Miss Hoot tells everyone to hold hands to avoid getting lost, but Frog can’t resist heading off on his own… All ends well though and the final page shows Frog and his daddy hopping home together very happily. There’s no mistaking the range of emotions felt by Frog, they are so clearly depicted in the illustrations, and his little friends are just as engaging and characterful. An excellent first book, lovely to look at, with a real story and lots to discuss throughout.
Mirror Magic is perfect for children who like their stories full of magic and excitement. Orphans Ava and her big brother Matthew move to the town of Wyse, the last place in Britain with a working connection to the magical fairy Underworld. Access between the two worlds is through mirrors but according to the autocratic Lord Skinner the magic is fading away and fewer and fewer mirrors are working. Ava suspects Lord Skinner is not be trusted and her suspicions are confirmed when she meets a fairy boy, Howell. What follows is a story of conspiracy, intrigue and adventure, some genuinely creepy adversaries balanced by magical hats, a somewhat caustic talking book and entertaining transformations. Clever and lots of fun it comes with a reminder too that it is better to be shaped by our kindness than our fears. Readers who enjoy this book should also read Howl’s Moving Castle and the Chrestomanci series by the incomparable Diana Wynne Jones.
Any young person faced with family break-up will understand the frustration that Ned, hero of Emma Fischel’s new book feels. They’ll sympathise too with the hurt he experiences when his best and pretty well only friend chooses to spend time with others. But no-one – at least as far as we know – has ever developed Ned’s magical ability to ‘wallboggle’. Driven into a fury by the walls that divide his home into two houses (one for Mum, one for Dad), Ned literally barges through them, passing through the bricks and mortar as though they’re not there. Initially his new ability is just another way to vent his anger, but eventually he turns it into something positive. It’s an original story, funny and exciting too, and Ned is a complex, interesting character. The moral choices presented by his ‘wallboggling’ are subtly explored and leave readers with much to think about.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month June 2018 | Master story-teller Philip Pullman is as brilliantly creative in this gripping, multi-narrative graphic novel story as ever. In an adventure which both pays homage to the best-traditions of the past and dashes into the future so enabling it to give an interesting commentary on our own time, Pullman’s lively cast of characters travel through time and place. At the centre of the adventure is a mysterious ghost ship, the Mary Alice, crewed by men from all times including ancient Rome, the seventeenth century and the present. But someone in the present is desperate to get their hands on the boat and will stop at nothing to do so. When contemporary teenager Serena falls from the family yacht she is rescued by crew member John Blake. How can he evade the present day evil and return her safely to her family? Pullman’s brevity and storytelling power are superbly realised in Fred Fordham’s atmospheric and equally taut illustrations. With the sea at the heart of them all, they conjure up the different times and places of the several narratives and define the characters in them. The result is a delight of a book for readers of all ages. Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for June 2018: Mariella, Queen of the Skies by Eoin Colfer Opposites by Roald Dahl 1, 2, 3 by Roald Dahl The Day War Came by Nicola Davies The Hippo at the End of the Hall by Helen Cooper The Adventures of John Blake: Mystery of the Ghost Ship by Philip Pullman Philip Pullman says: “I wanted to do this because I love the comic form. You can do things in comics with great economy, swiftness, force and effect, and I just wanted to use those potentialities.”
In a nutshell: gripping, sometimes heart-breaking story of a dog and his boy Guardian award-winner Andy Mulligan brings his own sensibility to a much-loved model - boy and dog form special relationship - adding a particular humour, seriousness and depth. It’s love at first sight for Tom and Spider, but a series of accidents results in Spider running away from home. The animals he meets are almost universally cruel, their animal natures leading them to torment Spider and other animals too; a vixen offers to help him home but loses her life in the process. Things get bleaker still, until Spider finally fights his way back to Tom. A thrilling climax allows the two of them, both bullied, to emerge as heroes. Original, thought-provoking and with a dark humour, this is an ultimately uplifting read, and very memorable. Andrea Reece
Pounding hot on the clawed heels of its primeval predecessor, this second installment of the rip-roaring The Extinction Trials sequence sees Lincoln and Stormchaser face another deadly mission to save humankind from destruction at the hands of three killer species. Since they managed to survive the first grueling trial on Piloria, who better to return to test out a new virus that could allow humans to resettle there? The action is every bit as satisfyingly high-stakes as book one, with the introduction of new characters and further family revelations providing extra intrigue. Oh, and there are NEW DINOSAURS too! What a killer concept this series is, and executed with all the in-your-face action and crash, bang wallop “what if?” dilemmas fans of fast-paced, fiercely-written fiction could wish for.
Perfect for readers who enjoy magical adventures set in the wild world, Sylvia Linsteadt’s beautifully told story stars two children called upon to be brave and resolute, and has starring roles too for talking animals. Tin has grown up in the bleak environment of the City, taught to believe that everything beyond its walls is dead or dangerous; Comfrey is a country child, getting by on what her family can grow, and cautious of the mysterious Wild Folk. The children must work together to unite warring factions before it’s too late for everyone. Like the best fantasy adventures, the story feels as though it has grown out of legends passed down through generations, while at the same time conveying a topical message about the way nature and mankind’s future are inextricably linked. ** Note the extract available is a manuscript of the text only.
In a Nutshell: Magic | Murder | Mystical plague | This satisfying sequel to Spellslinger sizzles with sorcery, secrets and a slathering of swindle and comes highly-recommended for fans of funny fantasy. Though darker than its predecessor, this is still driven by cinematic scope, and by Kellen’s quirks and self-depreciating tone. “I made a terrible outlaw. I couldn’t hunt worth a damn, got lost just about everywhere I went, and it seemed like every person I met found some perfectly sensible reason to try to rob me or kill me.’ Kellen has made the (perhaps not unexpected) discovery that he’s a hopeless fugitive - this is classic crisis of confidence stuff. He’s an on-the-run outlaw, with allies who aren’t exactly delivering on the helping-him-through front. The plot twists and thickens when a mysterious blindfolded girl embroils him in a web of murder and magic, not to mention the ‘shadowblack’ plague. What a whirlwind of Wild West-ism and witty wonder this is. ~ Joanne Owen
Al’s Awesome Science is perfect for children who are becoming confident readers and want to progress to chapter books. A fun and hilarious page turning plot, accompanied by lots of black and white pictures to pore over and enjoy. Each title includes, fun and at times messy, step-by-step science experiments, integrated in comic book form to accompany the text.
May 2018 Book of the Month Not only is it lovely to look at, but Hoakes Island gives the brain a really good work-out too. Readers are challenged to find out what happened to Henry Hoakes, owner of Hoakes Island amusement park, who vanished in mysterious circumstances. This means studying the notebook and map he left behind. On each page of the book there are ingenious puzzles to solve, with more clues to be decoded on the map too – a special red lens neatly included with the book reveals hidden images in the pictures. Poor old Henry went missing in 1953 and there’s a charming retro feel to the illustrations, and some jolly ads on the map too. Stylish, puzzle fun. There's a trailer for Hoakes Island here...follow the clues and solves the puzzles!
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