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October 2019 Debut of the Month | Are you brave enough to enter the Riddling Woods and solve the mystery of the missing children of Suds? With echoes of Neil Gaiman's Coraline and Roald Dahl's The Witches, Samuel J Halpin's debut novel is a masterclass in the creepy and the peculiar, that will have you reaching for your torch as you wrap the covers around you......
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.
A beautifully written book that you read in your mind as to a child as you settle them into bed. It sets them up to have sweet dreams in a long sleep. The illustrations match the journey that the children take to go to bed. It is an ideal and most parents would be delighted if that happened every night. You can definitely hear yourself read it out loud as a bedtime story! Cathy Small, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
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.
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.
The eagerly-anticipated sequel to Tom Fletcher's bestselling magical adventure, The Christmasaurus. 'She is the best-kept Christmas secret of all,' whispered Santa Claus. 'Which is surprising, because she is so powerful that Christmas itself would not exist without her. She is older than time itself, yet still as young as tomorrow. She is known only as the Winter Witch.' A year has passed since a boy named William Trundle had an incredible adventure with the most extraordinary dinosaur: the Christmasaurus. Now, William is about to be swept back to the North Pole and meet the icy, mysterious and magical Winter Witch, whose power to control time allows Santa to travel all around the world on Christmas Eve. And when William learns that the fate of Christmas hangs in the balance, he and the Christmasaurus must risk everything to save it . . . Full of magic, music, and a friendship like no other, The Christmasaurus and the Winter Witch is the most enchanting Christmas read for the whole family.
The eleventh instalment of the extensive Tales of Ramion series of fantasy adventures. | Gary is a motor mechanic who’s in love with his next-door neighbour, Sharon. “If only he would clean his fingernails and wash his hair”, Sharon laments. Appearances clearly matter in this story world so when Gary is kissed by a Frog Princess while napping on his lunch break and is himself transformed into a frog, he’s certain Sharon won’t like him at all in his new froggy form. But, easily enchanted by the “husky” voiced Frog Princess, Gary forgets all about Sharon when the Princess suggests going to his place for a drink. Unfortunately for Gary, she’s unimpressed by his humble cottage and hops off, leaving Gary in quite a predicament. He must find the Frog Princess and get her to kiss him again to reverse his amphibian alteration. To this end he enlists the support of three boys and Snuggle, a “Dream Lord sent to protect the boys from the witch Griselda.” Gary, Snuggle and the boys (plus Snuggle’s curious carrot-crunching companion) embark on a quest to find the Kingdom of Frogs, battling high-stakes obstacles in the form of Griselda the witch and a knife-wielding High Priest along the way. The question is, will Gloria the “hen-pecked eagle”, come to the rescue of the male questers, and will Sharon finally accept Gary if he’s cleaned-up his act? (Assuming he remembers who she is!) Bizarre, bold and somewhat befuddled, this blends otherworldliness with ordinary world experiences.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
October 2019 Book of the Month | P.G. Bell’s debut The Train to Impossible Places established him as a writer of hugely exciting, inventive and satisfying adventure, and its sequel, The Great Brain Robbery, is just as good, if not even better. Once again 11-year-old Suzy is aboard the Impossible Postal Express tearing through the fantastical realms that make up the Union of Impossible Places, and this time it’s a do or die mission to save Trollville from a thoroughly nasty villain. Suzy is much more at home now with fuzzics, the strange mix of science and magic that lies at the heart of troll technology, though there are still some fabulous surprises in store for her and readers. Adventure doesn’t come more exciting or entertaining, and this is one train young readers really mustn’t miss.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
November 2019 Book of the Month | Not since The Snowman have readers been taken on such a magical, snowy journey of love and adventure. Phoebe lives in a gloomy orphanage run by the cruel Griselda Bone. The two clash frequently, and often over Phoebe’s creative response to her school work: Griselda does not approve of words like ‘whispery’ and ‘flumping’. Locked up in the snow overnight, Phoebe and her little dog Herb are surprised by a huge and magical snow dragon, who takes them on an extraordinary ride through the skies. Filled with snowflakes, starlight and revelling in the power of the imagination this is a gorgeous story for Christmas nights and Fiona Woodcock’s illustrations are very special indeed.
At once amusing and affectionate, this early Middle Grade novel combines real-world alienation with actual aliens! Harriet feels terribly out of sorts when she moves in with Gran while her dad works away, but before she’s even had chance to say goodbye to him, she learns that her hearing aid enables her to understand alien languages, such as that spoken by the Sock Muncha she finds beneath her new bed. What’s more, Harriet discovers that Gran is part of a secret intergalactic organisation that’s working to protect Planet Earth from an invasion of Sock Munchas. Harriet runs into conflict when she’s taken on as Gran’s apprentice: how can she possibly banish her new alien friend, given that he was bullied by other Sock Muncha’s and isn’t at all like them? Alongside the action-packed alien adventure, there’s much sensitivity around making friends and making everyone feel welcome. For example, Harriet’s unquestioning acceptance of new friend Robin’s non-binary identity, which she describes as “kind of awesome.” What a sweetly empowering debut this is from a hearing aid-wearing comedian, actor and Ambassador for Action on Hearing Loss and the British Tinnitus Association.
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 . . .
The third book in Cressida Cowell’s new Wizards of Once series is full of magic – magical adventures and magical creatures, and it overflows with the magic of great storytelling. Our heroes, Wish the young Warrior girl and Xar the boy wizard, are continuing their dangerous quest to defeat the witches they accidentally freed in book one and which threaten both their worlds. They travel on a magic flying door, accompanied by their friends – sprites, a giant, snowcats, a werewolf and Bodkin, Wish’s young bodyguard – and come up against some awesome enemies. In hot pursuit are their parents, Xar’s father King Encanzo the enchanter and Wish’s mother, Warrior Queen Sychorax, both terrifying, both determined their children will do as they are told. Who will succeed? Can Wish and Xar change the course of history and write their own happy ending? We don’t know yet, but readers of all ages will be wishing with all their hearts that they can. Cressida Cowell’s invention and ambition for her characters is boundless, and this unputdownable story is as full of ideas and intelligence as it is of excitement.
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.
Roger Paxton is an ordinary kind of boy and a very reluctant hero – which is unfortunate as he’s tasked with saving the world from a massive goblin invasion. At least he’s got a good team on his side, including the marvellous and utterly fearless dwarf captain Mossbelly Macfearsome. This is a wonderfully raucous bit of fantasy adventure full of thrilling scenes, some irresistible characters, and very entertaining details (I love the fact that the goblins smell of burnt toast and fart into bottles to make their drinks fizzy). The story is set at Hallowe’en and this would make a terrific October read, but it would be fun to share at any time of the year. You could go on from this to Terry Pratchett, it’s that much fun.
September 2019 Book of the Month | Amara knows exactly what she wants for her 12th birthday: to visit her father’s family in New York. She understands it will be very different to Beavertown, Oregon, the small town she’s grown up in, but can’t wait to explore the big city and get to know her family properly. The trip is eye-opening in lots of ways as she learns more about her father and his childhood, about her family, and even her own history. Renée Watson shows us that families are complicated, that it’s never too late to change or make amends, and that we can all carry on learning even as we grow up. Quiet, though full of drama, and skilfully told, this is a touching and thought-provoking story with well-drawn, engaging characters; a book that will make a real impact on its reader.
Book Band: Turquoise Ideal for ages 6+ | There’s a warm-hearted, creative, independent little girl at the centre of this story and beginner readers will really enjoy following her adventure. Cavegirl Aggie wants to get a special present for her mum’s birthday and when she hears that a villager has found a piece of amber, she knows it will make the perfect gift. She carefully works out how to make something to trade for the amber, and everything goes to plan until a surprise encounter with a wild boar. There are two more twists in the plot before the happy ending, one of them told entirely through the pictures. Short chapters, a lively storyline plus lots of bright, attractive pictures make this an excellent book for children ready to read on their own. Part of Bloomsbury’s Young Readers series, specially designed with this audience in mind, it also features useful tips and discussion points for adults sharing the book with children.
Book Band: Purple Ideal for ages 6+ | Saviour Pirotta mixes bored young pirates with ballerinas desperate for a change of scene in a story that fizzes with fun and adventure, and any book that introduces the words glamorous, clambered, doomed and cutlass is well worth recommending. Short but action packed, this will have all readers smiling, whether they naturally fall into the pirate or ballerina camp, and it comes to a nicely exciting climax too. In the new Bloomsbury Young Readers series this is divided into manageable chapters, with large type and attractive full colour illustrations and is carefully designed to get children reading on their own. A useful Tips for Grown Ups will be a real help to adults sharing this with youngsters while a Fun Time section at the end suggests follow up activities.
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