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November 2018 Book of the Month | Max Einstein is a genius; aged 12 she’s already enrolled herself at university, where she’s careful to score perfect Cs in every test (she doesn’t want to stand out). She’s also an orphan who lives in a squat. Two very different groups of people have plans for Max though – the CMI (Change Makers Institute) and the equally mysterious but far more sinister Corp. Whisked away to study with other super-brainy kids, she’s challenged to bring about real change for good. The spirit of Einstein runs through this – it’s endorsed by the Einstein Archives – and in particular his belief that the imagination is more important than knowledge. Max uses her imagination and compassion together to dream up ways to improve the world. If anyone’s going to save the planet it will have to be the next generation, and this book could be the inspiration they need. As with lots of Patterson’s children’s books, this is smart, funny and fast moving, with real heart beneath the slick packaging.
Little mouse Winston stars in a perfect Christmas adventure. Even for a mouse, he’s small but Winston’s got a big heart and when he finds a lost letter for Father Christmas he’s determined to see it delivered. His expedition is full of challenges, but along the way he’s helped by some equally warm-hearted and generous animals, including a beautiful white cat and a rat who ‘works’ at the famous Fortesque’s department store. Winston’s good deed is rewarded and the little mouse finds a warm bed and a new family for Christmas. The book is divided into 24 ½ chapters – one a day for 1st – 24th December plus a treat for Christmas morning! Interspersed are festive craft activities too and there can’t be a better book to set readers up for Christmas. Alex T Smith’s illustrations are gorgeous – big, busy and dramatic scenes but always with our little hero centre stage.
Clever, funny and on occasion just plain daft, this is the perfect stocking filler for kids and Terry Pratchett fans alike. Open the pages and find eleven short stories which have been fabulously illustrated by Mark Beech. The text marches up hill and down dale, in between, over and under the illustrations, shouting, bursting, capering across the page so the story and illustrations become a glorious Christmas pudding mix of a read, give it a stir and get ready to duck as the tales take flight. The stories made me chuckle, in fact as soon as I had read the first offering, ‘Father Christmas’s Fake Beard’, I promptly insisted my husband read it too (it’s always the sign of a good book when I do that!). Yes this is a kids book, and yes I fully expect that adults will get just as much enjoyment from the stories as the children. A Terry Pratchett book was always on my Christmas list, I treat each and every one of them with love… set a new fan in motion, or delight a well established one - this is a proper little gem.
Kellen and his murderous squirrel cat, Reichis, are on their own. They've heard rumour of a mythical monastery, known as the Ebony Abbey. It's a place that outsiders can never find - but Kellen is getting desperate. He's been told that the monks inside the Ebony Abbey know more about the Shadowblack than anyone else - and that they even know how to cure it. Then Kellen and Reichis are separated and for the first time, Kellen must face the world alone - and venture deeper into shadow magic than he ever knew he could.
For laugh-out-loud adventures young readers can’t go wrong with the Pirate Blunderbeard books; each episode offers a barrelful of zany action, delivered at top speed. Young Blunderbeard is excited to learn that award-winning actor and director Jolly Roger is coming to Crossbones Island to film his new movie, and that he’s auditioning for actors too. Could this be the opportunity Blunderbeard and his chicken Boris have been waiting for? Of course, things start to go awry quicker than you can say “May the rotten-sea-cabbage-eating Stinker Shark never pass wind in your direction” with Boris causing chaos and Blunderbeard banished to The Rather Big Rock Where We Put Naughty People We Are Really Fed Up With. It all ends happily though with Boris and Blunderbeard in the spotlight. Great fun, and Ben Cort’s lively illustrations make this as satisfying to look at as it is to read.
A small bear goes on a big adventure when he is left behind on a train one day in the charming tale of The Most-Loved Bear. This story, which spans the lifetime of little Mary Rose, is one of Sam McBratney's personal favourites. Based on a real-life teddy bear which has been owned by Sam’s wife Maralyn since the 1940s, the story of The Most Loved Bear is sure to steal your heart this winter.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month November 2018 | Stunning, large scale illustrations capture some of the most thrilling places to visit in the world. Broad in its vision and range, this incredible Atlas includes both natural and man made places. The juxtaposition of the two is an excellent way of celebrating both. Readers can be amazed by Pantanal, the astonishing tropical Brazilian wetland with its vibrant and original wildlife. And they can be equally impressed by the Great Wall of China or Machu Picchu, two man made structures that have survived over hundreds of years. Examples of Wonders of the World are taken from all around the world making this an exceptional journey of exploration and adventure in a visual format that makes it fun to visit and re-visit looking for cleverly illustrated details on every spread.
The Lollies 2018 - Winner of the Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 9-13 year olds | The brand new hilarious and fully-illustrated instalment of the bestselling Tom Gates series! Having two sets of grandparents is turning out to be very good for me. The Wrinklies are keen on giving presents AND they're planning a family outing which is going to be EPIC! Even Delia wants to come. (I can always ignore her.)
This action-packed blend of magical fantasy with classic kids’ adventuring is a swashbuckling read for 8+ year-olds, peppered with soft line-drawings and propelled by a strong sense of urgency. Siblings Finn (the narrator) and Aria, and their smuggler dad are undertaking a voyage aboard their home, a boat called Alcina. Their dad has to pick up a parcel, but this time they’re charting an unknown course. “This new route is dangerous”, Finn observes and, what’s more, they’re journeying to New London, a place that’s been “enclosed by the high stone city walls since the Last War”, a place “strangers are forbidden to enter”. And they are strangers… When they reach a port and Dad heads off to collect the parcel, Finn and Aria also go ashore (against Dad’s wishes) to explore the bustling bazaar where a mysterious vendor issues them with a grave warning. Then, soon after, Finn learns the shocking truth of his true identity as “a child born with the clan magic in their blood”, as a Sea-tamer, and so an elemental tale of ancient lore and magic unfolds as the family are pursued by a warlord with the weight of saving civilisation on their shoulders.
October 2018 Book of the Month | | Tales of the rabbit secret service that loyally serves her majesty from burrows beneath Buckingham Palace, this charming series is going from strength to strength. Someone has stolen the queen’s favourite jewel – a priceless diamond that also seems able to comfort those who possess it. The Royal Rabbits are determined to retrieve it, none more so than young Shylo, who was asleep on the job when the theft occurred. A rich, beautiful and vain tigress could be the culprit, but the diamond is Russian and a team of cunning Kremlin minks are out to steal it back, and you can bet those rotten Ratzis are involved too. Humour (including the occasional bit of social satire) and proper adventure are perfectly balanced and Shylo gets more interesting a character as the stories progress. Delightful, and Kate Hindley’s illustrations make it even more special.
Lively and cannily told, this rollicking adventure mixes sci-fi, fantasy and ancient mythology. Aidan and his mum have a secret, a very unusual one: she is part dragon, able to breathe fire and with sharp, scaly claws for fingers. They’ve managed to keep this hidden, but just after Aidan has started school after years of home-schooling, someone finds out and Mum is kidnapped. With the help of his new friend Charlotte, Aidan sets out to rescue her. It turns out Mum is in real danger, along with some other unusual prisoners… The mix of ordinary life and fantasy is very well handled, and the narrative – mostly handled by Aidan but with interjections from Charlotte, and a mysterious third voice – will keep everyone on tenterhooks.
Award-winner Katherine Rundell has already taken readers on thrilling journeys over rooftops, across the Russian steppes and of course deep into the forest. She understands absolutely children's longing for wild adventure and no-one is better suited to write new stories for Kipling's Jungle Book characters. This very handsome book, which features beautiful colour illustrations by Kristjana S Williams, tells five different stories, and with each perfectly-imagined episode adds to what we love about Kipling's unforgettable characters, including Bagheera, Baloo, Shere Khan and Kaa. It opens too with a story about one of the most interesting characters, Mowgli's fierce wolf-mother Raksha, who has long deserved more time in the spotlight. These are stories of bravery and cunning, full of excitement and danger, but most of all they are stories of loyalty and community, and by the time they reach the end, readers will be daydreaming themselves into the jungle family. Mowgli links all the stories, and has his own of course, and is exactly the same impetuous, selfish, boasting but warm-hearted, generous boy drawn so vividly by Kipling. In fact the book does exactly what sequels should but seldom manage - it tells us new stories that grow out of the originals, and enhance and enrich them.
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