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In a nutshell: comic mishaps and triumphs of a schoolboy detective A sign in his local library catches the eye of schoolboy detective Damian Drooth: it offers a weekend at Disneyland Paris for the winners of a ‘mega quiz’. Damian rounds up his gang and sets them to work, first of all to raise the £10 entrance fee, and then to swot up in readiness. He’s understandably furious when the quiz turns out to be a scam, but quickly cheers up at the prospect of tracking down the conman. With echoes of Horrid Henry and Just William, Damian is a terrific character, determined, confident, and totally unfazed by adult disapproval. This series will have children and adults alike chuckling and is perfect for newly independent readers. ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: page-turning, explosive treasure-hunting adventures Indiana Jones meets Alex Rider in this excellent series. The Atlases are just like any other family, bickering away, with parents generally on one side against Jake and his teenage sister Pandora. There’s one big difference though: Mr and Mrs Atlas are super-tech treasure hunters, tomb robbers with a conscience if you like, and after years keeping this a secret, they’ve reluctantly recruited their children to join the family firm. This episode pits the Atlases against the mysterious People of the Snake again, and the ruthless Snake Lady, and takes them to South America for adventures in ancient Aztec ruins. It’s a treat for anyone who likes their reading fast-paced and their gadgets hi-tech, and there’s humour too – Jake’s voice is spot on – while Lloyd Jones slips in lots of accurate and fascinating historical detail. ~ Andrea Reece
April 2018 Debut of the Month | Shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2018 | In a nutshell: breath-taking magical adventure on the banks of London’s underground rivers Hyacinth Hayward, newly arrived in the UK from the US, is already struggling with culture shock when her mum is kidnapped by the strangest postmen ever and she herself is plunged (literally) into extraordinary adventure. Amongst the mass of magical quest adventures, The City of Secret Rivers stands out and not just because of its cast of fascinating characters (unscrupulous sewer dwelling cockney criminals and a possibly malevolent but extremely polite giant pig included), or its singular setting (the banks of London’s underground rivers); the sheer invention and wit of author Jacob Sager Weinstein makes this a special read and every page crackles with originality and energy. Outlandish fun! ~ Andrea Reece Readers looking for more page-turning adventures that cleverly combine real historical places with rip-roaring adventure will enjoy the Defender of the Realm series by Nick Ostler and Mark Huckerby. The Branford Boase Judges said : ‘clever, so funny, so well controlled’; ‘hugely inventive’; ‘I thought “I know where this is going to end” – and I didn’t’; ‘a joyful caper that carries you along’.
In a nutshell: upstairs downstairs intrigue with a touch of magic Pattern is not your average housemaid: she’s already foiled one devilish plot, fighting off a dragon in the process, and now she’s a fully trained member of the Silver Service Agency, servants who work undercover to investigate crimes, especially those with supernatural complications. Indeed, her poker-fencing skills are as advanced as her bonnet-trimming. Sent to investigate the disappearance of a young lord, she finds herself on a Cornish island with the mysterious Lady Hawk. Surely rumours of pirates and mermaids are just talk? This cleverly mixes magic and adventure with the sort of satisfaction that only comes from a quiet, resourceful heroine doing daring things (there’s definitely something of Jane Eyre about Pattern). It’s very well-written, the domestic and magical worlds are equally well-described and both full of intriguing detail. ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: first class crime writing for children This is the latest book in Robin Stevens’ best-selling boarding school crime series, number six, and I do hope it’s not the last: very few books deliver such a delicious spoonful of character, crime, setting and pace. This adventure takes place in Hazel’s home, Hong Kong, and the dreadful crimes that take place are horribly close to her own family. The mystery will keep readers eagerly turning the pages, while 1930s Hong Kong is more than just a fascinating backdrop. The relationship between Daisy and Hazel still holds surprises, while there are new characters too to almost steal the limelight. It would be a crime to miss a book this good. ~ Andrea Reece ****Are you a budding super-sleuth? Well then, you're in luck, young detective. The Honourable Daisy Wells, President of the Wells & Wong Detective Society, has written a fantastic (if we must say so) guide to detecting, which will help you get ready to solve your first case... Find out more here!
In a nutshell: comic triumphs and mishaps of a schoolboy detective Schoolboy super-sleuth Damian Drooth is back with a new case: someone is selling forged tickets outside his local football ground and Damian is determined to track down the culprit. He’s ably assisted by his trainees Winston, Tod and Harry and despite their protestations that they don’t need girls to help, Annabelle Harrington-Smythe plays a part too. After a bit of breaking and entering and accidental arson, all works out successfully for Damian. His narrative is action-packed and wonderfully comic and the stories are great fun for children ready to read on their own. With echoes of Horrid Henry and Just William, and illustrations by Tony Ross, these books will definitely be the number one boy detective series in many homes. ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: comic triumphs and mishaps of a schoolboy detective Self-proclaimed supersleuth Damian Drooth has a new case: someone’s sprayed graffiti on the toilet walls and the whole school will be punished if the culprit isn’t caught. It’s a particularly difficult case but using all his observational and detecting skills Damian solves it, though only after causing chaos in the DIY store and being accused himself. Damian is a terrific little character, smart, funny, blind to his own faults and a magnet for trouble. Full of illustrations by Tony Ross these stories are super-satisfying for newly independent readers. ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: Hilarious sleuthing with boy detective and his sidekick polar bear… | A new Timmy Failure book is always a cause for celebration and this is another glorious mix of humour, surrealism, incompetent detection – and chickens. Timmy is on holiday in Florida with his mum and her new husband. With Total the polar bear hiding out in Cuba he needs a new sidekick – step up Emilio Empanada, willing if nervous unpaid intern. Together they cause the kind of chaos and confusion that is Timmy’s natural state, while adopting a chicken along the way, and it’s wonderfully funny. The description of a surprise meeting with his father for Timmy tugs at the heartstrings as well as finding the funny bone. Stephan Pastis’s cartoon illustrations are a joy in themselves and this is clever, original, inspired fun. ~ Andrea Reece
Darkus and his friends continue their unforgettable adventure in this final instalment of the Beetle trilogy. Arch-villainess Lucretia Cutter has a secret Biome hidden in the Amazon rainforest: can Darkus and his friends, human and beetle alike, find it before it's too late? If they can't stop Lucretia, she will release her hoard of giant Frankenstein beetles, and the planet will never be the same again ...
January 2018 Book of the Month In a nutshell: thoroughly charming mini-mysteries in school and family setting It’s no mystery why the Dot McCluskey stories are so popular: Dot is a wonderfully lively central character and her friendly direct-to-reader narratives put them at the centre of her busy world. Dot and best friend Beans like nothing better than solving mysteries and there are two in her new adventure: the mystery of a missing card and the mystery of Dot’s birthday party – just what is her mum planning? Dot’s warm, loving home life is beautifully described and her school day is just as recognisable and as fun. With Clara Vulliamy’s own black and white illustrations complementing the text this is a joy, and perfect for newly independent readers. ~ Andrea Reece Fans of Dot’s adventures will also enjoy Wendy Quill’s escapades, as described by Wendy Meddour. Publisher, Ruth Alltimes says: “Dot is destined to be the new ‘book-best-friend’ of young girls everywhere; she is impishly funny, aspirational and so full of curiosity that girl readers will be drawn into her world of mini mysteries! Clara Vulliamy's signature stylish, witty artwork creates an irresistible young fiction package.”
Wittily told in words and pictures, this is a terrific, fast-paced adventure with a great cast of characters. John Watson, a new boy at Baker Street Academy, soon joins a bunch of good friends – lead by the super-forensic Sherlock Holmes – and is swept up in their latest adventure as they are determined to locate the whereabouts of a missing diamond. All is not plain sailing as the boys’ enemy James Moriaty and his friends are equally determined to stop them! ~ Julia Eccleshare