No catches, no fine print just unconditional book loving for your children with their favourites saved to their own digital bookshelf.
New members get entered into our monthly draw to win £100 to spend in your local bookshop plus lots lots more...Find out more
Find our latest selection of crime and mystery books, from serious whodunnits to failed comic detectives.
January 2021 Debut of the Month | Lesley Parr’s story of evacuees is rich in atmosphere and a sense of place, and uses its wartime setting to explore themes of community, understanding and self-forgiveness. Along with other children at their school, Jimmy and his little brother Ronnie have been sent hundreds of miles away from London to the safety of a small mining town in South Wales, and it couldn’t be further from what they know. Jimmy is determined they won’t stay long, and that the place won’t change him, even as it’s transforming his classmates: Florence Campbell for example, who is free to become someone else, far away from her abusive family. The village has its secrets though, and the discovery of a set of bones in a tree leads Jimmy to solve a decades old mystery and, in the process, to help those living with loss and guilt. The place and its people are carefully and skilfully evoked, with the adults, particularly Jimmy and Ronnie’s new ‘family’ of Aunty Gwen and Uncle Alun the miner, likely to be as fascinating to readers as the younger protagonists. The mystery will certainly keep readers gripped but it’s the characters and the place that will stay with them. Evacuees are a rich source for children’s adventure stories, examples include Michelle Magorian’s classic Goodnight Mister Tom, and Jacqueline Wilson’s more recent Wave Me Goodbye.
Fans of the blockbuster crime thrillers like One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus would like no better Christmas treat than this, another novel full of fascinating characters and a plot full of family secrets, jaw-dropping twists and a touch of romance. Narrated in the first person by the three eponymous cousins and occasionally by their parents at the same age, we can see the secrets they are keeping as well as watching the Story story gradually unravel. The original quartet of Story siblings were brought up in the lap of luxury on a glamorous tiny resort island off the East Coast but, not long after the death of their father, they were disinherited by a terse note from their mother “ You know what you did”. Since then, no contact with her, nor each other, so even the Cousins know nothing of each other’s very different lives. Until a mysterious invitation from their grandmother invites them to spend the summer working at the resort and they bond in their determination to find out what caused the rift. What follows is a thoroughly satisfying and skilful unveiling of what has made the Story family the stuff of local legend and what makes the Cousins tick and the unexpected twists surprise the characters as convincingly as the readers. Altogether this is sure to be a book that does not dwell neglected upon shelves but will be in constant demand.
Selected for The Book Box by LoveReading4Kids | A whole lot of heart fizzes through this humorous Middle Grade mystery by Adam Baron, the Carnegie-nominated author of Boy Underwater. With masses of mystery, and mix-ups aplenty, it’s a twisty rib-tickling tale of teddy bear detection, with plenty of plot for capable Middle Grade readers to get their teeth into, plus dialogue that’s ideal to have fun with aloud. The lively design adds an extra element too, with lots of capitalised words, well-considered layouts and oodles of exclamations. When Brighton girl Jessica finds a tatty teddy in a river, she has little idea of what craziness it will lead to, and she’s also worried about her dad, who’s lost all his energy and stopped working. Meanwhile, Charlton Athletic obsessed Cymbeline is shocked to discover his house has been burgled. Why on earth were the thieves only interested in his toys? What’s more, Cym’s having to adjust to Mum’s boyfriend and daughters moving in, while his out-of-work actor dad lets him down when he fails to deliver a promised trip to Barcelona’s Camp Nou. Tonnes of twists later, the two families find themselves connected by the teddy bear (Mr Fluffy or Mr Goldy, depending on which family you talk to), a Brighton-Charlton football match and Henry VIII. Readers of nine upwards will giggle at the recognisable muddles of everyday family life (not to mention a spot of sibling strife), while the winding mystery will keep older readers gripped and turning the pages.
Selected for The Book Box by LoveReading4Kids | From award-winning Jon Mayhew comes this book-themed blast of bedlam, replete with puns aplenty and breakneck pace. Despite his name, reluctant hero (and reluctant reader) Kian Reader is not a fan of reading. In fact, “I hate reading. It’s boring,” he declares. “Book are really rubbish…Only losers read books”. Annoyingly for Kian, his mum’s new boyfriend Anthony is campaigning to keep the local library open, jiggling a placard while dressed in a Gruffalo costume in the presence of the mayor and Kian’s super-strict new English teacher. Talking of whom, when Kian is forced to visit the library to do his English homework, he becomes embroiled in a perilous plot after inadvertently ingesting the world’s sole sample of Reader Serum, a powerful potion that gives him super reading powers. What’s more, he’s now wanted by F.A.R.T. (the Fellowship Against Reading Texts), an organisation that’s already hypnotised famous local children’s author Martin Marvello. Alongside Kian’s crazy encounters with dastardly Doctor Badd, I loved the details of family life, and the friendship between Kian and his mates Asif and Prissy. Being such a riotous read, The Spybrarian is a sure-fire way to convince self-professed “Books are boring!” claimants that reading is anything but boring. And, once they’ve enjoyed the outlandish adventures, young readers should head here to download an awesome activity pack.
It's tough fitting in when you're born to stick out! From the moment Stick Boy and his family move to Little Town, there is way more to worry about than being the new kid. There's a mysterious plot involving Baron Ben's new Mega Mall, pop star Jonny Vidwire and the highly suspicious HomeBots that are infiltrating every home in town. Can Stick Boy and his friends uncover the evil plan behind it all before it's too late? An incredibly exciting and extremely funny new world for middle grade readers and fans of DIARY OF A WIMPY KID, TOM GATES and TIMMY FAILURE.
Selected for The Book Box by LoveReading4Kids | This pacey page-turner teems with tension, twists and terror from the moment Irish girl Niamh arrives in London for a drama course and finds herself in a storm of vicious attacks on fellow students. Accelerating the fear factor, the victims look like Niamh, and bear marks reminiscent of those made by Spring Heeled Jack, a Victorian folklore figure who was said to slash his victims with metal claws. Amidst this terror, Niamh takes up her placement in a Victorian museum, where she plays the role of a factory owner’s daughter who died a gruesome and untimely death. No wonder, then, that Niamh is glad to befriend Jess, a self-proclaimed “history nerd” who’s thrilled to visit the museum’s parlour that was once used by “the infamous Madame Josephine...Fortune teller, hypnotist, and mistress of the occult.” Then there’s creepy Will who works there, and gorgeous Tommy who sets Niamh’s heart a-pounding. Entertaining and menacing in equal measure, and loaded with cliff-hangers and red herrings, this accomplished debut brings old school Point Horror novels to mind.
Mina Mistry, primary school pupil and would-be private investigator, is back and ready to tackle another criminal case, assisted as ever by her best friend (and toy), Mr Panda. The new mystery concerns pets, specifically missing pets. First, her friend Holly’s hamster Harriet disappears, then Danny’s toad, then all the animals from the local petshop. What, or even who, could be behind the thefts and why? You can rely on Mina to solve the puzzle! The mystery is convincing and Mina’s accounts both of her detecting and ordinary school life always very lively. It’s an entertaining and readable adventure with just the right mix of real life and Scooby Doo style meddling! If pint-sized detectives are your thing, look out too for Stephan Pastis’ brilliant Timmy Failure books and Serena Patel’s new Anisha Accidental Detective series.
Dog lost in space? Grown an extra head and don't know why? Pocket money stolen by a green blob? You need the Space Detectives! Connor and Ethan are spending their summer holidays aboard the world's first orbiting city, Starville (basically Beverley Hills in space!). The amazing space station is bursting with celebrities and the mega-rich. But Connor and Ethan are too busy selling ice cream to see the sights. However, neither of our heroes can resist a mystery and when they discover the space station is hurtling on a collision course with the moon (eep!) they know they need to step in. This is a case for the Space Detectives! Can Connor and Ethan find the culprit and save Starville from its impending doom?
A breakout new detective series, from the author of the spine-tingling Scarlet and Ivy series, beautifully illustrated by Hannah Peck. Violet Veil wants nothing more than to prove her worth and become her father's apprentice at Veil & Sons Undertakers. And one rain-soaked night she gets her chance when she meets a boy, Oliver, who is wandering around the graveyard. Only, the last time Violet saw Oliver, he was indoors and very much dead, waiting to be buried. Violet has just found her first case, and it doesn't get bigger than this: can she, with the help of her dog, Bones, help Oliver solve his own 'murder'?
A STUDENT FOUND DEAD ON THE BEACH. A WEB OF UNANSWERED QUESTIONS. SOMEONE POISED TO STRIKE AGAIN. Illumen Hall is a boarding school of tradition and achievement. But tragedy strikes when the body of a student is discovered on the beach - and on her back is an elaborate tattoo of a magpie. For new student Audrey, it is just another strange and unsettling thing about her new surroundings, along with the secrets the school seems to hide and its weird obsession with magpies. For her roommate Ivy, the death of her friend Lola is just one thing she desperately wants to get past - and having a new student asking questions and cluttering up her personal space is not helping a bit. But the two girls are forced into an unlikely alliance when a mysterious podcast airs, with one sinister headline: I KNOW WHO KILLED LOLA. AND ONE OF YOU IS NEXT. Told from two alternating view-points, this is the first book in a modern gothic thriller series that will have you gripped like no other book this year. Welcome to the Magpie Society, your new YA obsession . . .
November 2020 Debut of the Month | Nimbly navigating a fine thread between real-world tragedy and elemental inner demons, Richard Lambert’s The Wolf Road is a stunning coming-of-age thriller about a boy’s battle with bereavement, and the wolf that holds the key to his healing. It’s un-put-down-able and emotionally haunting in perfectly balanced measures. Fifteen-year-old Lucas’s life unravels when he discovers his parents were killed in a car crash caused by a dog. In an instant “the world didn’t make sense”, and now he must live with his nan, an “odd woman in purple DMs” (and socially-conscious solicitor) he’s only met twice in his life. Despite his angry protests, Lucas has no choice but to move to Nan’s cottage in the Lake District, certain the offending dog was, in fact, a wolf. It’s not long before wolves infiltrate all aspects of his life - at school he reads The Call of the Wild (a book “about a dog that really wants to be a wolf”). Local TV news reports on a local farmer who believes his livestock is being killed by a wild wolf. And then lupine menace encroaches on Lucas’s reality when he hears and glimpses what must be the wolf. As he wonders whether it’s coming for him, to “finish off the family after Mum and Dad,” he confronts his wildest pains in the wilds of the mountains. While the theme of loss - and Lambert’s inventive handling of it - will chime with readers who loved Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls, this also has great appeal for fans of emotion-driven adventures, such as Piers Torday’s nature-rich novels. Other plot strands skilfully untangle the complex relationship between Lucas and his Nan. The faltering understandings reached between grandmother and grandson are a joy to witness, as is the bond Lucas forms with Debs, a Sylvia Plath-reading goth-punk.
In a story of magic and ancient beings, Amy Wilson allows us all to dream of what it would be like to have special, elemental powers. Owl has always wanted to know who her father is, but her mother has answered her questions only with folk stories. As she turns 12, the urge to find him is even deeper, as bizarre events disturb Owl’s ordinary teenage life. The truth is strange if wonderful: her father is none other than Jack Frost and Owl, half fay, shares some of his powers and trickster ways. As her father pays the fairy price for his misdemeanours, Owl is in danger too. Mystery, fantasy and gentle romance, this story will cast its magic over young readers and is the perfect winter read. Readers who enjoy stories of magic touching the human world will enjoy Abi Elphinstone’s Dream Snatcher books, Philip Womack’s Darkening Path trilogy, and Deep Water by Lu Hersey.
**Don't miss the second series of His Dark Materials on BBC One this November.** A brand new short story set in the world of His Dark Materials and The Book of Dust by master storyteller, Philip Pullman. Serpentine is a perfect gift for every Pullman fan, new and old. 'Lyra Silvertongue, you're very welcome . . . Yes, I know your new name. Serafina Pekkala told me everything about your exploits' Lyra and her daemon Pantalaimon have left the events of His Dark Materials far behind. In this snapshot of their forever-changed lives they return to the North to visit an old friend, where we will learn that things are not exactly as they seem . . . Illustrated throughout by Tom Duxbury, the perfect re-entry for fans of His Dark Materials and a wonderful companion to The Book of Dust.
You could describe friends Lori and Max as oddballs - Lori, the would-be private detective and Max taciturn and reticent except with her dog, Fang – but as the stars of this exciting, funny and heart-warming story they are immensely appealing, the kind of characters you want to spend lots more time with. There are at least two separate storylines in this their second adventure (it’s not an issue if you haven’t read book one), one to do with the theft of Max’s mobile phone, the other involving a book belonging to Lori’s parents, who died when she was just a baby. Both are enthralling and full of surprises, and both reveal more about our two protagonists and make us understand them even better. This is intelligent, top-quality story-telling and writing and highly recommended.
The Stone Age Mystery is Dr. Amanda Hartley's third book in her 'The DNA Detectives' series. They are ground-breaking stories, in which children use DNA and forensic science to solve crimes, helped, of course, by the fact that their mother is a forensic scientist with her own laboratory in the back garden! The enterprising children in question are 10 year old Annabelle and her brother, Harry, who is seven. These are in fact the author's own children's names and she herself is a forensic scientist, like the mother in the books. The crime being investigated this time is the robbing of a Stone Age grave in a cavern revealed when the hall floor collapses at the children's school. It's an exciting and easy read, written in short chapters and the reader cannot help but be inspired as the children methodically gather and test evidence from the scene until they're able to identify the guilty party and involve the police. These books have been reviewed by the ASE (the Association for Science Education) and found to meet all the criteria necessary for them to be used to teach science and literacy in KS1 and KS2 and for cross-curricula studies at lower secondary level. If this makes them sound stuffy and boring, nothing could be further from the truth. They are written to help children understand and enjoy learning about science in a very approachable way. The weblinks given throughout, created with the Sanger Institute in Cambridge, can be used by teachers, parents and children alike to find more information about the topics covered and provide supporting downloadable activities and experiments. This series is an outstanding teaching aid but, more than that, it's fun! Drena Irish, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
October 2020 Debut of the Month | At once a moving adventure and a thrilling multi-layered mystery, Kereen Getten’s dazzling debut When Life Gives You Mangoes is set in the close-knit community of Sycamore Hill, Jamaica, where Clara spends her days playing ‘pick leaf’, having fun at the river and avoiding the wrath of moody Ms Gee. She used to love surfing, but now she’s scared of the sea and she can’t remember why. In fact, Clara can’t remember anything about last summer. She also can’t explain why her best friend Gaynah is being mean to her, and no one will tell her why Pastor Brown has turned the entire town against her Uncle Eldorath. Despite these unsettling mysteries, the superbly-evoked Sycamore Hill is a steady kind of place. In Clara’s words, “You live and you die here. No one leaves and no one new comes in. Sometimes that’s a good thing because you know everyone, and everyone knows you. Other times you get tired of seeing the same faces and want something new.” And then something new happens in the form of Rudy, a cool, confident girl from Britain who turns out to be Ms Gee’s granddaughter. At Rudy’s arrival, “the entire village is buzzing. This is the most excitement we have ever had,” and it’s not long before the girls strike up a beautiful bond. Soon enough, Clara is enjoying escapades her parents wouldn’t entirely approve of because “there is something magnetic about Rudy and her adventures.” As Clara’s memory begins to return in tempestuous flashbacks, hurricane season brings a devastating storm that coincides with everything changing - truths are laid bare, ghosts are laid to rest, and a new landscape is left in the wake of the upheavals. Poignant on friendship, family and community, in all their tricky, complicated, life-affirming forms, this Middle Grade wonder also makes pertinent reference to police prejudice in the UK. “Where I live...there are some bad kids, but there are a lot more good kids, but the police think we’re all the same,” Rudy remarks. Clara’s huge-hearted story had me hooked and charmed from start to finish.
For Aiden, Chloe, Ava and Josh, holidays at their grandparents' cottage mean wild beaches, no curfew, Bella the dog, and most of all - adventure! The lead actress in Frost Castle's winter play is sure she's cursed! A break-in, a car accident, and now her precious locket is missing. But the cousins suspect a ruthless thief. With a blizzard raging outside and a legendary ghost in the castle corridors, unmasking this villain will take all their bravery and skill... Fleur Hitchcock is famous for her excellent thrillers for beginners . This action-packed series takes 7+ readers on fantastic, realistic adventures.