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May 2018 Book of the Month | Zach King’s family have magical powers, and for a glorious short couple of weeks he did too. Now though, he’s back to being a normal kid, with no way to create the mind-blowing spectacles that won him thousands of Youtube views. There’s another blow when a cool new kid asks Zach’s friend and crush Rachel to the school dance. Can Zach borrow his family’s magic to prove that he’s still the guy for her? The action is fast and funny, especially when the borrowed magic proves harder for Zach to control than expected. Pages of text are interspersed with colour pictures and cartoon strip style illustration, and this is another classic school caper given a quirky, appealing contemporary twist.
In a nutshell: anarchic fun and adventure in Bitterly Bay Spangles McNasty is one of those children’s book characters readers just love to hate. He’s irredeemably horrible – indeed, he prides himself on his nastiness – and his sidekick Sausage-face Pete is no nicer. In this new escapade, the two are plotting to steal the star exhibit from the Bitterly Bay museum’s new pirate exhibition, a diamond encrusted pirate hat. As fans of the series will know, Spangles is highly likely to be hoist by the petard of his own greed and ineptitude, while young Freddie Taylor is wise to his tricks too and there to frustrate them. It’s all good, disgusting fun, inventive, surprising and full of the wordplay and zany humour that delights readers. ~ Andrea Reece Perfect for fans of Mr Gum readers who enjoy the adventures of Spangles McNasty will also like William Sutcliffe’s Circus of Thieves books.
This first timelessly terrifying tale in a new series from the creator of The Spook’s Apprentice confirms the author’s status as a veritable master of crafting elementally powerful worlds from fascinating pockets of English folklore. Crafty is a Fey. As such he can hear the whisperings of his dead brothers, and he’s immune to the powers of the Shole, a horrifying mist that’s enveloping the Lancashire region. It was the Shole that claimed his non-Fey mother, while his brothers died working for the Chief Mancer, which is what Crafty does now too. After a miserable period shut-up in a cellar with only the occasional companionship of a deceased Bog Queen warrior to brighten his days, he’s passed the test to work as a gate grub, the lowliest of those employed by the Castle Corpus, and a highly dangerous role to boot. Alongside the creeping unfolding of an un-put-down-able story, I adored Crafty’s boundless candor and curiosity, and his friendship with fellow gate grubs Donna and Lucky suffuses his bleak situation with welcome warmth. But, ultimately, with his court courier father missing in action, Crafty is pretty much alone in an increasingly perilous situation… This exquisitely compelling tale tingles with as much raw, pure storytelling prowess and intrigue as it does with the slither and menace of multiple monstrous beasts, and I cannot wait for the second instalment.
All her life Cass has dreamt of joining the circus to become an acrobat and travel the islands on the Circus Boat. Once a year the boat visits her home, the Great City of Minaris, and offers auditions to hopeful trapeze artists and acrobats, before sailing off again for another year. This year Cass is determined it’s her time and so she prepares for the most important performance of her life. Unfortunately the opportunity is missed and so she hatches a new plan and soon finds herself on a ship bound to the mysterious Island of Women. Unknowingly Cass is sailing towards an adventure that will lead her through dangerous waters where pirates hold a reign of terror and you don’t know who you can trust. This is a wonderful story full of acrobatics, sword fights and even a little magic, as Cass must escape the clutches of thieves and pirates. Empowered by the friends she holds dear, a good dose of courage and the passion to follow her dreams, Cass embarks on a gripping adventure that will lead her to the group of women who are the mysterious, Company of Eight. Thoroughly gripping and enjoyable and hopefully the start of many a tale starring the adventurous, brave and lovable Cass. ~ Shelley Fallows - You can also find Shelley here.
Winner of the 2018 Blue Peter Awards - Best Story | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month May 2018 | Best-selling Cressida Cowell launches her new series with a title that will delight all fans of the How to Train Your Dragon series. Set deep in an enchanting forest, this is a charming story full of Cowell’s trade mark humour and total command of mystery and magic and how it fits seamlessly into everyday life. From two opposing tribes – the Warriors and the Wizards – come two opposing characters, Xar, a young Wizard boy who has no command of magic and will fight anyone he can in order to get it, and Wish, a Warrior girl who is imbued with all kinds of magic that she should never have had access to. Xar and Wish should never meet and never become friends. But they do and together they brave the hidden dungeons in Warrior Fort to uncover a great mystery. Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for May 2018 Square by Mac Barnett A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge A Perfect Day by Lane Smith Gaspard the Fox by Zeb Soanes & James Mayhew Wonder Goal! by Michael Foreman The Sand Dog by Sarah Lean The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell Plantopedia by Adrienne Barman
Aru Shah is an average twelve-year old, not particularly attentive at school, but keenly aware of the importance of fitting in, which sometimes leads her to lie to impress her classmates. So when she’s caught out at home in her Spider-man pyjamas, not Paris as she’d claimed, she does the only thing she can to reclaim credibility and lights the cursed lamp her mother has told her always to avoid. That awakens a demon who in turn aims to wake up the Lord of Destruction, and bring about the end of the world. Only Aru and another kid Mini can stop it. It helps that they’re both reincarnations of the Pandava brothers and descended from the gods, and that they have a pigeon-shaped divine sidekick, Boo. Their adventures are as thrilling as any of Percy Jackson’s as they face a terrifying set of monsters all out to kill them. It makes great reading, and Aru keeps up a running commentary that is very funny indeed.
William Wenton is something of a bionic boy; half of his body is a hi-tech metal called luridium, and this gives him special mental powers. But something – or someone – is interfering with it, causing him all sort of problems and putting his life in danger. He’s recalled to the mysterious Institute for Post-Human Research, but quickly discovers he’s not save there either. It seems even his old friends aren’t to be trusted, and there are some very ruthless people out to get him. Technology, intrigue and double-double crossings make this a thrilling adventure for fans of Alex Rider, and it all comes to a terrific climax on the snowy mountains of the Himalayas.
A group of undocumented children with letters for names, are stuck living in a refugee camp, with stories to tell but no papers to prove them. As they try to forge a new family amongst themselves, they also long to keep memories of their old identities alive. Will they be heard and believed? And what will happen to them if they aren't? An astonishing piece of writing that will enchant and intrigue children; perfectly pitched at a 9+ readership.
It’s not easy being immortal in Rick Riordan’s Greek-myth inspired sagas, and Apollo has every right to feel fed up in this one. As punishment for misdemeanours, he’s been sent to Earth by Zeus to live as a mortal teenager. Not only has he various heroic quests to fulfil, none of them easy, he has all the indignities of adolescence to cope with too; no wonder the book opens with his exclamation, ‘Gods, I hate my life!’. Cruising into Indiana aboard their flying metal dragon, he and his divine friends Leo and Calypso immediately run into trouble in the form of non-human adversaries, and from then on the action is fast, furious and often very funny. Once again, Riordan mixes adventure and mythology, delivering it all via his sharp, sassy teen characters. It makes for irresistible reading, and Riordan really is ‘storyteller of the gods’. Readers who haven’t read the Percy Jackson books, which are referenced throughout this series, really should. More more larger than life adventure, Derek Landy’s Demon Road series is more gruesome, but just as addictive and entertaining.
Selected by a distinguished independent panel of experts including our editorial expert, Julia Eccleshare, for Diverse Voices - 50 of the best Children's Books celebrating cultural diversity in the UK. A beautiful new edition of the first volume in the Surya Trilogy by Whitbread award-winning author Jamila Gavin. India, August 1947: Fleeing from their burnt-out village as civil war rages in the Punjab, Marvinder and Jaspal are separated from their mother, Jhoti. Marvinder has already saved her brother's life once, but now they both face a daily fight for survival. Together they escape across India and nearly halfway around the world to England, to find a father they hardly know in a new, hostile culture...
May 2018 MEGA Book of the Month | In a nutshell: gods and monsters, heroism and humour | The Burning Maze is book three in Riordan’s The Trials of Apollo series, and the best yet. It opens with Apollo, trapped on Earth in the form of spotty teenager Lester Papadopoulos, struggling through an underground Labyrinth. He and his companions, pushy twelve-old demigod called Meg, and satyr Grover Underwood, are on the trail of one of the five great Oracles, racing to find it before it falls into the hands of an evil Roman emperor. They barely make it to the end of the first chapter before they’re attacked by monsters … No-one can beat Riordan for action scenes, and Apollo’s sardonic running commentary on his misery is very funny indeed. We’re used to him being arrogant, selfish and annoying, but could there be signs that he’s changing, and becoming – gulp – a bit more human, as well as mortal? One thing’s for certain, the ending will surprise everyone, and leave readers desperate for the next instalment. Riordan rules! ~ Andrea Reece
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