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February 2017 Book of the Month | In a nutshell: meet the comic new dork on the block | From the creator of the hugely popular Dork Diaries series comes a hapless new hero and new set of comic adventures. Max Crumbly promises readers ‘wacky humour, thrilling action, nail-biting suspense and cool raps’ and delivers pretty well on all of them. He describes his days at school, including a series of unfortunate run-ins with the school bully in short, sharp bursts, accompanied by frequent illustrations, and his view of life is definitely shaped by his love of comics. His exploits are more fantastic than those of Dork diarist Nikki, but are still firmly rooted in experiences that will be familiar to kids everywhere and his misadventures will certainly keep pages turning. Readers who like their fiction funny, fast-moving, and cartoon rich will also enjoy the Tom Gates series by Liz Pichon and Jeff Kenney’s phenomenally popular Wimpy Kid books. ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: fun, illustrated stories, that neatly sidestep the elephant of truth | Readers of all ages are going to love Sam Lyttle, star of Joe Berger’s new series. Well-intentioned, Sam can’t help but get into scrapes and generally finds it just, well, simpler to tell a lie to keep everyone happy than admit the truth. It’s a strategy that often makes things worse, but results in some highly entertaining adventures. Berger tells his stories in a mix of text and cartoon illustrations, both of which are direct, immediately engaging and really very funny indeed; Sam’s illustrated description of skirting the elephant of truth on his skateboard is particularly wonderful. There are five different but interlinked stories in the book, making it a particularly accessible read. James Patterson’s series Middle School series also successfully mix cartoons into entertaining, zany but realistic stories of adolescent life. Barry Hutchison’s Beaky Malone books have fun with ideas of the importance of truth and lies. ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: surreal, kid-pleasing comic adventures set in an ever-growing treehouse | Andy and Terry’s treehouse keeps growing, to the delight of its army of devoted readers. It’s now 78 storeys high (new additions include an ALL-BALL sports stadium where you can play every ball sport in the world at the same time), and it’s about to be the subject of a movie. In fact the making of the movie is the subject of the story, and as you might expect things don’t run smoothly - Andy is upset when his role is given not to him but to Mel Gibbon, a gibbon! Oscars should go to both Andy and Terry for creating another tour de force of wacky invention and non-stop action, a mix of verbal and visual jokes that will once again have their readers rolling in the aisles. For more irresistible, funny, highly illustrated reads for the under tens, try the Tom Gates series by Liz Pichon; Jim Smith’s Barry Loser books; the Timmy Failure series by Stephan Pastis; and Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series. ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: giant killer vegetables and a robotic Jabberwocky versus Hilo and his little band | After the cliffhanger ending of The Boy Who Crashed to Earth, readers will be eager for the next book in this cartoon series. Hilo’s arch enemy Razorwark is coming, and he’s opening portals all over earth to allow his advance guard through. Only Hilo, with the help of D.J. and Gina can stop him. In fact there are more recruits to their little band in this new adventure: a magical warrior cat of the mighty Furback clan, called Polly; and – even more surprising – D.J.’s spunky little sister Lisa. Amongst the creatures they have to overcome are the terrifying rapscallions, thoroughly evil, virtually unstoppable vegetation! Clever, funny, action-packed but with moments of real tenderness too, this will expand Hilo’s growing band of fans, and the ending will have them desperate for book 3. For more action-packed, funny space adventures try Steve Cole’s Magic Ink books, and for more brilliant cartoon action in colour there’s Star Cat and Evil Emperor Penguin from the Phoenix Comic Presents series. ~ Andrea Reece
January 2017 Book of the Month | In a nutshell: irresistible adventure story told in words and pictures | Prepare yourselves: children across the country will soon be using a shouted “Aaahh!” as a greeting, followed by hysterical laughter. This is how space boy android Hilo greets his best friend D.J. and the two are quickly set to become the new favourites of children’s fiction. Judd Winick’s fast moving cartoon adventure begins when Hilo falls to earth, dressed only in silver underpants. He’s found by D.J., an ordinary kid in a family of over-achievers, who quickly discovers that there are more creatures coming after Hilo, and they’re not nearly as friendly. D.J.’s old friend Gina, newly returned to their quiet town, joins the gang too and the stage is set for some great battles. While there’s lots of action, there’s also space for humour, friendships and the message that super-heroes take all forms. As Hilo would say, “Outstanding!” For more action-packed, funny space adventures try Steve Cole’s Magic Ink books, and for more brilliant cartoon action in colour there’s Star Cat and Evil Emperor Penguin from the Phoenix Comic Presents series. ~ Andrea Reece
One of our Books of the Year 2016 | Julia Eccleshare's Book of the Month September 2016 Philippa Pearce’s classic novel of the 1950s is newly minted for today’s readers while retaining its sense of wonder and its ability to make the unbelievable – including travelling through time - ‘real’. Edith’s graphic novel version captures how Tom moves from frustration and disappointment at being cooped up in a flat with his aunt and uncle to delight when his night time adventures take him into the magical garden that once belonged to the house. Invisible to all but Hatty, a lonely little girl, Tom enjoys the most wonderful adventures with her including skating through the night to Ely. The rich imagination of the original is portrayed in a new and also stimulating way. ~ Julia Eccleshare A message from Liz Cross, Head of Publishing, Oxford Children’s Books, about this unique graphic novel edition: Like so many people working in children’s books, I am passionate about stories. Stories give us so much delight, so many characters to get to know, so many places to explore – and so much sheer entertainment. Really great stories deserve to be shared with as many different people as possible, in many different ways – as we have seen with Harry Potter in film, Matilda in musical form, Tracy Beaker on TV, and so many others. The power of the story shines through in each case, brought to life in different ways by different forms. Tom’s Midnight Garden is one of the greatest children’s stories ever written – and because of this it’s already been shared in film, TV and stage show, and in many languages around the world. So it is incredibly exciting to have a brand new way of sharing this story – in this beautiful graphic novel, adapted and illustrated by French graphic novelist Edith. Whether or not you’ve read the novel already, in this graphic adaptation there is a timeless, powerful story waiting for you. It’s a visual treat and an object of beauty – and most of all, a story you will never forget. Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for September 2016 A Poem for Every Night of the Year compliled by Allie Esiri Gruffalo Crumble and Other Recipes by Julia Donaldson A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston Beck by Mal Peet and Meg Rosoff Tom's Midnight Garden Graphic Novel by Philippa Pearce and Edith Jinks and O'Hare Funfair Repair by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntryre
Shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Award 2017 - Best Books with Facts The authors of this very entertaining book claim that there’s no better way to learn about the world than through football. Hence it is divided into ‘lessons’ – biology, history, physics etc – each of which is packed with fascinating football related information. Business studies looks at footballers’ wages, why they’re paid so much, and where the money comes from; zoology considers famous club mascots; drama looks at goal celebrations ( the Oscar goes to the Icelandic team of Stjarnan and it’s well worth googling them to see why). There are lots of diagrams and cartoon illustrations throughout too and as a football/trivia/information book this is really hard to beat. ~ Andrea Reece
In the land of the Mi'kmaq, there lived an invisible warrior who longed to be seen. In the Punjab, there lived a poor hermit who renounced riches. In Brazil, there lived a lonely princess who yearned for a playmate. Uncover these tales of wonder from around the world. From Adam Murphy, creator of Corpse Talk, comes a collection of the most magical myths and legends you've never heard before...
In a Nutshell: Mind-boggling adventures – ants - craziness Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton are experts in the crazy, surreal humour that kids love and there seems to be no limit to their invention. For those that don’t know, the books star Andy and Terry themselves and their amazing fun-filled, multi-storey treehouse. In this episode after adding a lollipop shop, quicksand pit and balloon orchestra to the treehouse, they realise Terry forgot to apply for a building permit, and now an inspector is on his way. There’s only one solution: invent a time machine and go back in time for the permit. Unfortunately, they go back 650 million years instead of six and a half, and accidentally take the inspector too. Nutty cartoon strip style comic adventures and unbeatable fun. ~ Andrea Reece For more irresistible, funny, highly illustrated reads for the under tens, try the Tom Gates series by Liz Pichon; Jim Smith’s Barry Loser books; the Timmy Failure series by Stephan Pastis; and Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series.
Sibeal Pounder’s Witch Wars books are absolutely fabulous! A mix of junior witch adventures, magic and fashion, they are totally original and become more appealing with each new book (this is number three). After the Big Exit, all colour disappeared from Sinkville, where young witch Tiga Whicabim has been living happily since she escaped there down the drainpipe in book one. But strange things are happening, first a green – yes, green – apple appears, swiftly followed by Tiga’s nasty former guardian Miss Heks, in orange. What’s happening and could evil witch Celia Crayfish be next to arrive? With its crazy situations, cast of eccentric characters, sparkling writing, and fashion fixes, this fiction à la mode. Laura Ellen Anderson’s delectable illustrations make it even more gorgeous. For more stylish reading for this age group see Harriet Whitehorn’s Violet stories and the Royal Babysitter series by Clementine Beauvais, both illustrated by Becka Moor. ~ Andrea Reece
For absurd, anarchic, keep-them-reading comedy adventures, kids can’t do better than climb into Andy and Terry’s world. If you haven’t discovered this series, it stars Andy and Terry and their amazing custom-built treehouse, any child’s dream (adult-free) adventure-playground. Whatever they fancy, they build so the treehouse includes a watermelon smashing machine, a life size snakes and ladders game with real snakes and real ladders, even a Ninja Snail Training Academy. Andy and Terry are the real Andy and Terry, constantly harassed by their publisher Mr Big Nose to deliver their next book. In this adventure, he’s been kidnapped so the authors set off to rescue him. The story is wonderfully nutty and inventive, Denton’s cartoons adding to the craziness, and hugely entertaining. Adults – there’s a very good hungry caterpillar joke too on page 208. For more irresistible, funny, highly illustrated reads for the under tens, try the Tom Gates series by Liz Pichon; Jim Smith’s Barry Loser books; the Timmy Failure series by Stephan Pastis; and Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series. ~ Andrea Reece