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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.
Reading Planet - Under a Parrot Sky - Level 6: Fiction (Jupiter) | Under a Parrot Sky is included in the Rising Stars Reading Planet reading scheme at the Blue A level. Keen wildlife photographer, Lily, is disappointed when instead of heading to South Africa for a holiday, her parents take her on a work trip to Norway. Unhappy that she’ll be unable to photograph the abundant and colourful animals of South Africa, Lily reluctantly attempts to join in with the life of her Norwegian hosts. This does not go well, and Lily finds herself isolated in an unfamiliar and unwelcoming new world. Eventually, she discovers that the wilderness of Norway is home to a host of magnificent creatures and so she sets-off to explore its wonders on her own. Disaster strikes when Lily falls into a deep snow drift, far from her hosts’ home and without anyone knowing her whereabouts. Under a Parrot Sky is a story about difference and learning to get along with people from unfamiliar backgrounds. It takes the reader on a journey to the Arctic Circle, introducing them to the natural wonders of this wilderness environment, including the Northern Lights. In keeping with the rest of the books in this series, Under a Parrot Sky includes a set of comprehension questions for readers to complete after reading. There is also an author’s note outlining the inspiration for the story and prompts to encourage readers to further research the Northern Lights and other aspects of the story. A most enjoyable addition to the Reading Planet reading scheme.
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 . . .
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.
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.
October 2019 Debut of the Month | Longlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2020 | Told in narrator Newt’s distinctive phonetic English, this dark debut dazzles with originality and delivers a potent case for combatting inequality. Bearmouth is home to a grim mining business, where men and children labour under inhumane conditions to make their Master wealthy. They work under the earth, under the omniscient Mayker who - so workers are told - “sen us down into the dark Earf/To atone for the sins o our forefarvers an muvvers”. Naïve Newt hasn’t seen daylight in years, but takes pride in being taught to read and write by fatherly Thomas, blithely accepting this lot until the arrival of new boy Devlin. Devlin’s talk of “revolushun” makes Newt feel that things are “unravellin slowly slowly lyke a bootlayce comin all undun.” Life in Bearmouth is beyond bleak, but the sparks of Devlin’s revolutionary spirit catch light and drive Thomas to ask the Master for “more coinage” for the workers, to question why they must pay for essential clothes, to demand to know when the promised safety lamps are coming. Then when tragedy strikes, Newt too realises that things “ent bloody well ryte” and takes on Devlin’s insurgent tendencies, with explosive effects. Emotionally engaging, this searingly original novel about standing up to abuses of power and fighting for freedom is radiant with story-telling excellence.
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.
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: 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.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | At once fierce and otherworldly, this impeccably produced full-colour reinvention of Moby Dick sees multi-award-winning Patrick Ness display a talent for writing that transcends age barriers. It reimagines Moby Dick from the viewpoint of a pod of whales led by Bathsheba who, “like all whales, [I] hated men, and with good reason: their bloody killings, their sloppy, wasteful harvesting proving that they killed as much for sport as for need”. And so fulfilling her grandmother’s prophecy, Bathsheba and her pod live for the hunt. Led by Captain Alexandra they find themselves in pursuit of the notorious Toby Wick, whom no one has seen, but who’s reputed to be “a devil.” As fierce battles are fought and blood is shed, questions are raised about the dangers of power and rumour to create a strange and elemental allegory that’s exquisitely enhanced by Rovina Cai’s arresting full-page illustrations.
Michael Morpurgo and Helen Stephens' classic Christmas story, now in a brand-new larger gift format - the perfect Christmas gift! High in the mountains of Switzerland, lives a terrible dragon. In the village below, the people do everything they can to keep the dragon away. But one day, a little girl called Mimi finds a baby dragon. The little creature is lost and frightened but how did he get there and what if his mother comes looking for him? Mimi must be extremely brave if she is going to help the little dragon find his way home . . . A wonderful story about friendship, courage and adventure, perfect for sharing with the whole family.
EVEREST IS WAITING ... STORMS, AVALANCHES, YETIS AND ALL! A million pounds and popcorn for life. This is the incredible prize on offer if a team can meet the challenge: to make popcorn on the very summit of Mount Everest. The squirrels have their doubts. They could end up as a snack for a snow leopard. What about frostbitten paws? Will the friends even be able to breathe in the thin mountain air? But when little Alfie is kidnapped and held hostage by one of the Everest teams, the squirrels begin the deadly climb. Can they rescue Alfie? What if the yetis attack? And what about evil Rosalba and the thuggish honey badgers? It's the popcorn-eating squirrels' greatest adventure yet! Popcorn-Eating Squirrels Go Nuts on Everest - the sequel to Popcorn-Eating Squirrels of the World Unite! by bestselling children's author Matt Dickinson - is a mountain survival epic unlike any other.