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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.
The Moomintrolls are all tucked up in bed, sleeping their long winter sleep when the Hemulen falls into their attic and tells them they need to get ready for Christmas. With no experience of Christmas, the Moomintrolls are a bit rattled, but manage to prepare everything in time – tree, presents, a feast. They share it with the little creatures of Moominvalley, who appreciate it all very much indeed. Funny, cosy and reassuring, this charming little story will put everyone in the mood for Christmas and the new paperback edition is just the thing for winter bedtimes.
Cherub No.9: An airliner explodes over the Atlantic leaving 345 people dead. Crash investigators suspect terrorism, but they’re getting nowhere. Time for the Cherub agents to get under the skin of the perpetrators. It’s not essential to read these thrillers in order as they are stand alone novels in their own right, however once you’ve read one you’ll want to read them all anyway.
Winner of the Branford Boase Award 2013, the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2013 & the Costa Children's Book Awards 2012 | An amazing adventure follows when a boy takes what he thinks will be a short ride in a boat with a boy. But the ride is not a short one… Soon, the boat is in the middle of an empty sea and the bear is struggling with a map and searching the horizon with a telescope. Luckily the boy has brought some food with him as together, the boy and the bear deal with impenetrable mist, a terrifying sea monster and even the remains of a disgusting sandwich in this humorous and gentle journey of survival and self-discovery.
In a Nutshell: Intrigue and artisanal invention in an Alice in Wonderland world An endlessly inventive adventure through the twisting tunnels of a subterranean city that’s sent reeling by the arrival of a girl like no other. Caverna is like no place ever imagined. It has passages so twisty they make a person go mad. Wines that make you forget. Perfumes that provoke trust. And there are dark cheese tunnels in which expert artisans create incredible delicacies, none more committed to the craft than Master Grandible: “the cheeses were Grandible’s only friends and family, their scents and textures taking the place of conversation.” Then the unexpected arrival of a girl shifts Grandible’s life onto a different path, and sends Caverna into a spiral of fear and danger, for Neverfell is not like other girls. She’s certainly not like others in Caverna, whose faces bear no expression until the Facesmiths teach them how to express anything. Neverfell is issued with a mask to hide her face, for it reveals emotions with terrifying transparency, and that way madness and murder lies…And so an utterly compelling tale of political intrigue, revolution and truths unfolds, with as many unexpected, complex twists as the tunnels of Caverna itself. Hardinge is a truly distinctive writer, from the mind-bogglingly unique concepts and worlds she conjures, to her pithily elegant language, and this is a jewel that defies convention, and sparkles at every turn. ~ Joanne Owen
In a nutshell: two lonely children, an enchanted house and a magical world The real world and the magical are cleverly mixed in this exciting story. Angel and Bavar are both orphans, both lonely. She is fascinated by him, the towering boy with a knack for making himself invisible in class. Following him home, she is amazed to see that he lives in a huge mansion, but what she finds inside is even more extraordinary: Bavar’s home and family are magic and the spirits of his ancestors still inhabit their portraits, shouting their opinions from the walls. What’s more, Bavar is responsible for keeping monsters out of this world, monsters who might have had something to do with Angel’s parents’ deaths. As much a story of an unusual and touching friendship as it is a tale of monsters and magic this is thoroughly original and full of charm. ~ Andrea Reece
Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching books are a must read (by children and adults), and the second novel in the series is an absolute delight. When Tiffany steps out of her body to check her outfit (as there’s no mirror to hand), something deeply dark and deadly notices and decides to take her place. Tiffany is fascinating, clever, brave and as well as first thoughts, she has second and most importantly third thoughts as she pits her wits against the hiver. The Wee Free Men run wild through the story, stamping on propriety and giving spelling a good kicking. As I chuckled, I also wondered, and stretched my own thoughts out into the world. Terry Pratchett’s ability to write for any age, to make you roar with laughter and then in the next breath, consider and wonder, ensures he sits at the top of the author tree for me. A Hat Full of Sky cements Tiffany Aching’s place in The Discworld, what a wonderful series within a series this is. ~ Liz Robinson The Tiffany Aching Discworld books are in order: The Wee Free Men A Hat Full of Sky Wintersmith I Shall Wear Midnight The Shepherd’s Crown
A beautifully written, heart-rending story of the very special importance of a horse in the lives of two children during Second World War. Dodo and Wolfie are evacuated to Devon when their father, a war hero from the First World War with a Victoria Cross to show for his bravery, is charged with desertion during World War Two. In the country, Wolfie adopts an orphaned new born foal who becomes the centre of his life representing everything good he believes about his father. How the two children deal with the charges against their father and how he proves his innocence provides a dramatic and emotional story set against a background of both kindness and cruelty from among the villagers with whom they live.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2019 | | Award winning Elizabeth Laird brilliantly brings to life thirteen year old Safiya’s new world as a refugee after her family flee from their comfortable home in Damascus because of the war in Syria. Safiya, her brother and father arrive in Jordan with nothing and must turn to relatives for help. Safiya has to adjust to living in a tent without running water. Suddenly, she is cleaning and washing and finding clever ways of making do on very little rather than going to school. But resourceful Safiya never gives up hope of going back to a better way for life or of finding her missing twin sister. A House without Walls is a vivid picture of a family facing an extreme experience with courage and imagination.
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’.
A special collector's edition of Patrick Ness's original prize-winning illustrated novel and the remarkable story behind the book and film. Patrick Ness displays brilliant new skills of sensitivity in this hauntingly touching story of how a boy deals with the looming threat of his mother’s death from cancer. Haunted by a monster in his dreams, denied much information by his family and treated as a weirdo by his class mates and a ‘special case’ by his teachers, Conor struggles to get to grips with the devastating emotions which threaten to overwhelm him. How he finds the courage and strength to face the end when it happens is both utterly shattering and deeply satisfying. Costa Award winner Patrick Ness spins a tale from the final idea of much-loved Carnegie Medal winner Siobhan Dowd, whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself. Winner of the 2012 Carnegie Medal Rachel Levy chair of the 2012 CILIP Carnegie judging panel said: "A Monster Calls" is an exquisite piece of writing. It is a beautifully economical, structurally brilliant and lyrically descriptive account of a challenging episode in one child's life." Click here to view the paperback movie tie-in edition of A Monster Calls.