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A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month February 2020 | February 2020 Book of the Month | A spellbinding and warm-hearted sequel to A Pinch of Magic with the three Widdershins sisters Betty, Charlie and Fliss, now free from the curse that has held them prisoners on a remote island, back for a new thrilling adventure. This time the sisters have to deal with a mysterious stranger who comes with her own will-o’-the-wisp and a secret island which isn’t even on any map. And they have to find Charlie when she goes missing. As ever, the sisters are clever and brave and adept at managing the magic that surrounds them.
A BRILLIANT new DOG MAN book for World Book Day 2020 packed with three humorous stories. Dav Pilkey's wildly popular DOG MAN series appeals to readers of all ages and explores universally positive themes, including: empathy kindness persistence and the importance of being true to one's self
Sophie is the odd one out at school and even in her family. Not only is she super-smart with a photographic memory, but she can read minds too. So when she discovers she’s not actually human, strange as that is, things suddenly start to make sense. With a new friend, Fitz, also not human, she travels to another world to discover more about who she really is. Meanwhile, in the human world, strange fires are causing terrible problems – can Sophie help? And even in her new home, she’s in danger, thanks to the mysterious secrets buried in her memories. A riveting story that will really appeal to fans of magic, adventure and mystery.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month February 2020 | | A fabulous story with a great comic twist at the end! Everyday Tom goes up the hill behind his fishing village home to look out for pirate ships. As soon as he sees one he shouts out a huge warning and everyone rushes to hide! But Tom isn’t very sure what a pirate ship looks like. After several false alarms which lead to everyone diving into uncomfortable hiding places all the villagers stop taking any notice of Tom’s warnings. So what happens when the pirates really do arrive? Great illustrations match this story perfectly.
What might it be like to live surrounded by clocks? Lots of clocks, so that when they all strike you need to cover your ears whilst all their bongs and trills happen. Set in Edwardian Cambridge this is the story of Helena, her Parrot, Orbit, and her father who is employed to keep all the clocks in the house going, the clocks must not stop, or else Helena and her father will lose everything they own. As Helena settles into this new home, she realises that the owner, Mr Westcott, is obsessed by the clocks, there are strange happenings in the house, and glimpses of a strange history to the place. Will Helena and her father get to the bottom of the problems here, or will they lose all their possessions because a clock is allowed to stop? On the surface this is a delightfully odd and slightly sinister story with much to be uncovered as the story develops. It is also an exploration of grief and the strange thoughts that can obsess people after a close bereavement. But the overwhelming message is that friendship, love, empathy and memory are vital to everyone, no matter how strange they may seem. The friendship and caring exhibited between child characters in the story wins out over what seem like insurmountable odds – for a very satisfactory conclusion.
Although the original tale of the wild wolf and proud girl is known to have a sad ending this has been retold for this version giving a hopeful outcome. Wild Wolf is the guardian spirit to his people, wise in knowing that people can be very proud and cruel in their actions. When Proud Girl refuses many suitors one, Bravest Warrior, seeks revenge by making her fall in love with a creature built from ice and scraps.As Proud Girl follows Ice Man, she is separated from all she knows, until Ice Man melts in the sun. Proud Girl might also perish, except for the care of the spirit wolf who helps keep her warm until Bravest Warrior finds her and keeps her alive, ultimately winning her hand, though they had both gone through many changes.A simple but very tough story of revenge, pride and forgiveness told in bold pictures with bright, vibrant colours. Each double spread has few words and big illustrations with bold blocks of colour filling the page. The wolf has an almost hypnotic stare, you could imagine him as a truly great guardian spirit in a harsh natural world. A moral fable for our times.
February 2020 Debut of the Month | Set in a world that’s become “a walking graveyard”, this edge-of-your-seat thriller teems with cinematic chills and the tender love between two teenage boys. Indeed, author Darren Charlton has hit the nail on the head in describing his debut as The Walking Dead meets Brokeback Mountain. “Clock it. Kill it. Rid the world of it” - this is how encounters with the zombie Restless Ones must be handled, a mantra soon-to-be-sixteen-year-old Peter struggles to follow. Too trusting, and infinitely better with a darning needle than an axe or gun, he’s something of a liability to the community, especially as another winter sets in, for “winter was the one season every Lake Lander feared. Not because Montana was about to get colder than an eagle’s gaze. But because the Dead could make it across the lake’s frozen waters.” When the community comes under serious threat during their annual First Fall party, Peter winds up as zombie bait with his at-one-with-the-wilds boyfriend Connor responsible for wrangling the Restless Ones like a post-apocalyptic cowboy. On the mainland, the young lovers uncover an earth-shattering secret and it’s not long before Connor’s situation is seriously comprised, leading to Peter stepping-up and standing tall. Gripping and graphically gory, this dynamic debut is dystopian horror with a difference, for it pulsates not only with terror and visceral violence, but also with love, affection and emotional atmosphere.
Steam-powered she may be, but the Highland Falcon is a fast-moving triumph of human ingenuity, as is this thrilling adventure story set on board. It stars young Harrison Beck, passenger on the train with his uncle as she makes her final journey. Harrison initially thinks trains are boring, but by the time the train steams into Paddington at the end of their three day trip, not only has he become a total train buff, he’s also hobnobbed with royalty, made friends with the crew, including the engine driver’s daughter, Lenny, indulged in some daredevil antics e.g. climbing along the top of the train while it’s in motion, and solved a high-profile crime. It all makes for terrific reading, authors M.G. ‘Beetle Boy’ Leonard and Sam Sedgman have created a classic train-set mystery, with all the elements that make that such a well-loved genre, while keeping it thoroughly fresh and modern for today’s young readers.
From its enticing opening (“If there’s one thing I am absolutely and utterly sure about,” said Maya Murphy ducking under her desk on the classroom floor, “it’s that Mr Winter is a monster”), through its 300 pages of character-driven action, The Light Hunters is a stellar start to a new Middle Grade series. At school, twelve-year-old Lux and best friend Maya are drilled in the art of what to do in the event of a monster attack. At home, Lux lives with his sick granddad, a clock repairer, and Miss Hart, Grandpa’s carer. Oh, and he’s also the most accomplished Light Hunter of all time and manages to save Maya when she’s gravely injured in a monstrous attack. But this brave act of friendship brings trouble, for it draws a mysterious stranger to town, someone who’s set on misappropriating Lux’s powers. With Miss Hart’s guidance (for she harbours a secret…), Lux steps-up his training in the ways of Light Hunting as word comes of the impending attack of a monster to whom he’s painfully connected.Skillfully blending relatable real-life emotions with a vividly conjured fantastical world, and an overarching race against time, this comes recommended for nine+ year-olds who enjoy epic action delivered in a descriptive style, such as fans of Peter Bunzl’s Cogheart series and Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines.
You've probably heard of me, right? Little Badman. No? Oh. Well. . . Doesn't matter. You will do one day. I'm gonna be big. I'm Humza Khan, the greatest eleven-year-old rapper Eggington has ever known; soon everyone will know my name. Only problem is school has got really weird, man. All my teachers are disappearing and our aunties are taking over. It wasn't too bad at the start, they keep feeding us delicious snacks. Like, all the time. But now these aunties are trying to mess with my music, so me and my best friends Umer and Wendy are going to hunt for the truth. Cos something big and bad is going on and we won't let anything mess with my music... or you know, the world. A hilarious and fast-paced adventure from comedian Humza Arshad and screen writer Henry White, perfect for fans of David Solomons and David Baddiel. One of The Guardian's 100 best holiday books for 2019
February 2020 Debut of the Month | The Bigwoof Conspiracy is a monstrously amusing mash-up of Scooby Doo and The Twilight Zone - think Louis Sachar’s Fuzzy Mud with added farcical fun.Quirky UFO-obsessed Lucy is an inspirational, one-of-a-kind heroine who unapologetically follows her own path and won’t stop until the truth is exposed. And Lucy’s search for the truth behind the hairy beast she spies in the woods lies at the heart of this madcap adventure. On this same night Lucy meets Milo, a smartly-dressed boy from the city whose dad is the new owner of the Sticky Sweet factory her own dad works at.When a teacher disappears and she and Milo step-up their quest to secure photographic evidence of hairy Bigwoof, Lucy winds up in big trouble, while pondering even bigger questions. Why did Milo’s dad delete his photo of the hairy beast? Why are folk disappearing from Sticky Pines? And what’s the deal with the factory’s creepy clown henchmen? There’s definitely something fishy going on and Lucy won’t rest until she’s found the source of the stink! I loved Lucy’s tenacious commitment to truth (“I require that the world not run on lies”), her ingenious curse vocabulary (including “Crudberries!” and “Oh, for the love of Björk!”), and the book’s “do the right thing” theme. Bursting with comic capers, this comes especially recommended for reluctant readers who’ve lost their reading mojo.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | No matter how exciting, zany and surprising the action, you can always be sure that Frank Cottrell-Boyce will build his stories on real human emotions, and that’s as true of this brilliantly funny, original and touching novel as of any of its predecessors. Alfie ‘swerves’ both school and the Limb Lab, where he should be going to learn how to control his state-of-the-art new hand, by hanging out at the airport. But everything changes when, through various happy accidents, he finds an enormous robot called Eric in Lost Property. Eric holds the Allen key to the book’s mysteries, both a generations-old legend, and the secrets that Archie is keeping from the reader and himself. Beautifully told and full of characters readers will love, this book will have you laughing out loud one minute, in tears the next. Robot Eric, unfailingly polite, kind and helpful and trying to explain himself through misremembered jokes is an iron man for our time. Unmissable. Once readers have finished this, point them in the direction of Frank Cottrell-Boyce’s other books including The Astounding Broccoli Boy and books by Ross Welford. Peter Brown’s story The Wild Robot is another great automaton adventure.
Larabelle Fox is an orphan, a tosher who searches the sewers for any ‘treasure’ she can find, in the sewer system under Kings Haven. She is ranged against rival toshing gangs who want to rob her, as well as the powerful King’s Witch who wants to revive the Evernight in a bid to gain total power for herself. Unbeknownst to Lara she has found exactly what the King’s Witch and her awesomely scary djinn Shadow Jack are looking for – a box, long lost in the sewers. Can Lara discover what she can do with the box and its contents before the world succumbs to the evil of the Evernight? This is a wild magical delight of a story. The bad guys are wickedly bad and seemingly undefeatable, whilst Lara and her friend Joe Littlefoot seem small and powerless. But they have quick wits and goodness on their side, as well as the witches, though it will mainly be down to Lara that a defence is put up to the Evernight.This is the sort of book that will create a buzz of enjoyment, the fantasy world is well built, believable, cinematic and child friendly. The magic is fun, the friendship believable, the story is refreshing, and the feisty heroine is a delight to follow. I shall look forward to more books in this series.
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.
September 2017 Debut of the Month | In a Nutshell: Circus girl searches for roots amidst real-world cruelties A dazzlingly powerful kaleidoscope of magic realism, folklore and the brutalities of people-trafficking in which a fourteen-year-old circus girl seeks to uncover her identity. As a baby, Sante was washed up with a chest containing a bamboo flute and a leopard skin drum, and welcomed into Mama Rose’s travelling circus. Fourteen years later, still haunted by dreams of the sinking ship, and of those who furnished her with special objects to see her through life, Sante recognises two people from her dreams during a performance. “It's her all right. She plays just like Mamadou used to”, one of them remarks. But how do these people know her? Why does she dream of them? And who is Mamadou? Reluctant at first, Mama Rose reveals that Sante’s trunk also contained other treasures, including a note from her mother. With the strangers set on claiming Sante’s riches, she and snake charmer Cobra decide to discover the truth for themselves. Throughout, Sante’s story sings with the hauntingly potent voice of the human spirit as it combines timely, poignant truths about refugees with timeless storytelling. This really is a triumphant, thought-provoking treasure trove of a novel. ~ Joanne Owen
Shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2018 | In a Nutshell: Circus girl searches for roots amidst real-world cruelties A dazzlingly powerful kaleidoscope of magic realism, folklore and the brutalities of people-trafficking in which a fourteen-year-old circus girl seeks to uncover her identity. As a baby, Sante was washed up with a chest containing a bamboo flute and a leopard skin drum, and welcomed into Mama Rose’s travelling circus. Fourteen years later, still haunted by dreams of the sinking ship, and of those who furnished her with special objects to see her through life, Sante recognises two people from her dreams during a performance. “It's her all right. She plays just like Mamadou used to”, one of them remarks. But how do these people know her? Why does she dream of them? And who is Mamadou? Reluctant at first, Mama Rose reveals that Sante’s trunk also contained other treasures, including a note from her mother. With the strangers set on claiming Sante’s riches, she and snake charmer Cobra decide to discover the truth for themselves. Throughout, Sante’s story sings with the hauntingly potent voice of the human spirit as it combines timely, poignant truths about refugees with timeless storytelling. This really is a triumphant, thought-provoking treasure trove of a novel. ~ Joanne Owen The Branford Boase Judges said : ‘packed with memorable scenes and an extraordinarily vivid sense of place’; ‘language and story are equally interesting’; ‘things don’t come more original than this’.
Set in a frightening future version of London in which the lives of two teenage boys cruelly collide in a divided city, this gripping page-turner has pertinent contemporary resonance, and packs powerful moral and emotional punches. Read it to be thrilled, chilled, and to have your eyes well and truly opened. Teenagers Alan and Lex are on either side of a war policed by drones. Lex lives on The Strip, a bombed-out territory in which the poverty-stricken inhabitants are under constant drone surveillance. “In this city, death seems to perpetually hover nearby, like a needy bully”, Lex remarks, while his dad is part of The Corps resistance movement that’s fighting the bullies, rendering him a top target for the military. On the other side of the divide, fatherless Alan was written off at a young age – “Nobody ever thought I'd amount to anything" - but his talent for gaming has secured him his perfect job as a drone pilot, a role in which he has “absolute power without a single boot on the ground”. But, while he’s proud to protect his country from “terrorists who want to destroy us”, Alan is forced to confront a magnitude of moral dilemmas when he’s tasked with killing a high profile target, who turns out to be Lex’s dad… The dual-narrative device works to great effect as we see both boys wrestling with issues of ethics, family conflict and, in Lex’s case, the overwhelming experience of first love. Ambitious and assured, this keenly plotted thriller also probes deep into the human heart, and comes recommended for fans of Patrick Ness and Malorie Blackman. ~ Joanne Owen
UKLA Longlist Book Awards - 2019 | Set in a frightening future version of London in which the lives of two teenage boys cruelly collide in a divided city, this gripping page-turner has pertinent contemporary resonance, and packs powerful moral and emotional punches. Read it to be thrilled, chilled, and to have your eyes well and truly opened. Teenagers Alan and Lex are on either side of a war policed by drones. Lex lives on The Strip, a bombed-out territory in which the poverty-stricken inhabitants are under constant drone surveillance. “In this city, death seems to perpetually hover nearby, like a needy bully”, Lex remarks, while his dad is part of The Corps resistance movement that’s fighting the bullies, rendering him a top target for the military. On the other side of the divide, fatherless Alan was written off at a young age – “Nobody ever thought I'd amount to anything" - but his talent for gaming has secured him his perfect job as a drone pilot, a role in which he has “absolute power without a single boot on the ground”. But, while he’s proud to protect his country from “terrorists who want to destroy us”, Alan is forced to confront a magnitude of moral dilemmas when he’s tasked with killing a high profile target, who turns out to be Lex’s dad… The dual-narrative device works to great effect as we see both boys wrestling with issues of ethics, family conflict and, in Lex’s case, the overwhelming experience of first love. Ambitious and assured, this keenly plotted thriller also probes deep into the human heart, and comes recommended for fans of Patrick Ness and Malorie Blackman.
February 2018 Debut of the Month In a nutshell: sci-fi and fantasy blend in high-action, thought-provoking adventure Musician and entertainer will.i.am has collaborated with science of the future specialist Brian David Johnson to create an epic adventure. WaR seamlessly combines fantasy favourites wizards with robots, long beloved in sci-fi but now accepted as a crucial part of all our futures. Flipping back and forth in time, it stars feisty teenager Sara, whose mother is creating the first fully intelligent robot. This puts Sara at the centre of a power struggle, spanning centuries, between wizards and robots. As the story unfolds however, Sara must reconcile the two factions to defeat a common enemy. In this she’s helped by a young wizard called Geller and a robot, Kaku. Intriguing, refreshing and packed full of ideas, the momentum of the story sweeps readers along to its dramatic conclusion (at the CERN institute!). Real science is scattered throughout, and sci-fi has never seemed so now. ~ Andrea Reece
A nail-biting mystery is dramatically unravelled through archaeology with a clever paranormal twist. Sent to England from their home in New York, Josh and Rachel find something dark and sinister behind the closed doors of Triskellion, the picturesque village which is their new home. Helped by another outsider, they unearth long hidden secrets which still have the power to shock. The Lovereading comment:This is the first extraordinary novel in a planned trilogy, combining edge-of-the-seat suspense, gripping mystery and archaeological adventure. It’s an inventive cross between The X-Files and The Da Vinci Code; pacy and suspenseful and sure to appeal to fans of Darren Shan, Anthony Horowitz and Garth Nix. Will Peterson is the pseudonym of acclaimed novelist Mark Billingham and TV writer and performer Peter Cocks.
Full of supernatural suspense, this is a thrilling sequel to Triskellion, which works also as a stand alone read. Twins Rachel and Adam have managed to escape from the dangers of Treskellion only to find themselves kidnapped. Adam seems destined to become the latest specimen in a sinister scientific organization’s latest gruesome experimentation. To survive, the twins must race across Europe to an unknown destination which will link them to others with similar unusual powers.
Having narrowly escaped the clutches of the Hope Project, Rachel and Adam begin a new life in Australia. Their tranquillity is shattered, however, by the reappearance of Gabriel - and the terrifying adventure that they had hoped was over begins again. Hunted by enemies old and new, their journey to discover the third, and final, Triskellion takes them home to New York, where they finally learn the chilling truth about their ancestry... Click here for the Triskellion trilogy website.
Here’s an really interesting premise: the world has been seeded with spheres - perfectly round gems in a variety of colours. Where they come from no-one is sure, but when paired they bestow different special abilities, from ambidexterity, to increased intelligence. No wonder they are in such demand, particularly the rarer colours which change hands for millions. Sully supports himself and his mother through dealing in spheres and with his new partner the gorgeous if intimidatingly tough Hunter, finds the rarest. The discovery puts not only them, but the entire human race in danger as the provenance of the spheres is finally revealed. Fast-moving, with a cast of interesting teen characters, and that clever idea, this is first-rate sci-fi with a cool heist set-up too. Alien invasion will be big in 2016, readers will enjoy the The 5th Wave too. ~ Andrea Reece
Shortlisted for The Branford Boase Award 2016. One of our Books of the Year 2015 - June 2015 Debut of the Month Mabel Jones is sleeping soundly when a sudden noise wakes her up. It’s Omynus Hussh, silent loris and pirate, there to press gang her into service to the captain of the Feroshus Maggot, mad wolf (he really is a wolf) Idryss Ebenezer Split. Mabel will have lots of adventures before she can return to the ‘hooman’ world! Part Pirates of the Caribbean, and with a touch of Monty Python thrown in, this is a wildly inventive, hugely enjoyable adventure that must qualify as the year’s best book to read aloud. Piracy, says the narrator, ‘It’s not all golden doubloons and swinging from chandeliers. It’s not all drunken shanties and dancing on a dead man’s chest. Not by a long plank.’ Irresistible! ~ Andrea Reece