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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.
February 2020 Debut of the Month | There’s a lovely ‘what if’ challenge in this quirky and inspiring picture book. Little Nara is an expert hat maker, creating beautiful hats for the animals in her forest studio. One day she receives a letter from a new customer – can she make a hat for Mr Mountain no less? She rises to the challenge, trying out various different materials before finding exactly the right way to make a hat for a mountain. The story unfolds beautifully, and it makes a great tale of friendship, creativity and ingenuity. There’s lots to discuss while reading and this could prompt interesting STEM conversations or projects too. This is Soojin Kwak’s debut and she is definitely an illustrator to watch.
Ron the Rhino reinvents himself in this delightful story, bringing joy to those around him too as he proves that being yourself, making lots of friends and having fun are the only life rules that matter. As the story opens, Ron is struggling with the rhino lifestyle and its rules, which are all about being alone, being grumpy and charging at anything that comes near you. Looking like a rhino understandably means making friends is very hard, but then Ron has a flash of inspiration and finds a way to show his true colours. Reborn as the fabulously flamboyant Rhinocorn, he’s happy for the first time ever. A funny and satisfying story that neatly delivers a message about tolerance, understanding and the importance of being happy in your own skin.Children who love Ron will of course love Elmer too, and vice versa.
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.
February 2020 Book of the Month | Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | This little story sparkles with magic and fun. It starts on Hallowe’en when friends Jessie and Ali find something very unexpected in their treat bucket – a little kitten. What’s even more surprising, the kitten is magic and can talk. They take the perfectly named Magicat home and all sorts of adventures follow – sheds are turned into treehouses, pancakes are cooked (almost) and the bully next door is put in his place. It’s all made even more exciting because Magicat isn’t quite as expert at the magic thing as he’d have you believe and some of the spells go delightfully wrong. Purrfect for newly confident readers as well as for those who are reluctant or dyslexic. Let’s hope there are more adventures to come for Magicat and his friends. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 8+
There are some excellent series for young readers at the moment: Amelia Fang, the Royal Rabbits of London, Isadora Moon, and now Mermaid School. Marnie Blue is worried about her first day at Mermaid School, for all the usual reasons: will she make friends? will the teachers be very strict? When she arrives, it seems her teachers expect her to take after her aunt Christabel, now a famous singer and DJ, who was a right terror! And for some reason, fellow first year Orla seems to have it in for Marnie too. It’s all a lot more interesting than the average primary school, and Orla’s story in particular involves Marnie in a very exciting adventure. Very nicely told, and the underwater world is enticing; young readers won’t be able to put this down.
The summer holidays are dragging on and Harry Potter can't wait for the start of the school year. It is his fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and there are spells to be learnt and (unluckily) Potions and Divination lessons to be attended. But Harry needs to be on his guard at all times - his worst enemy is preparing a terrible fate for him. With characteristic wit, fast-paced humour and marvellous emotional depth, J.K. Rowling has proved herself yet again to be a master storyteller.
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.
I read this book twice. The first time I read this on my own and found it a delightful read. It was entertaining and filled with a fun adventure. The Halloween Parade is about a girl called Trixie Grimble who is sent to a boarding school even though she doesn’t want to go. The boarding school is not your average boarding school, this one is full of Vampires, Ghosts and Werewolves and the only normal thing about the school is Trixie. I really liked how the books shows that we can all be different but can go through the same feelings when we are bullied or left out. The second time I read this book it was with my 5-year-old nephew. He's a big fan of helping me reading children’s books, but he normally struggles to sit through the bigger ones like this one. But not this one. He actually reminded me that we need to read a few more chapters. Together we finished this whole book in a few days. When I asked him what he liked about the book he said: “It was really funny, we have to read it again next week”. This was a big hit with both me and my nephew. A very enjoyable read, suitable for all ages young and old. Manisha Natha, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
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.
This was an interesting book which reminded me a bit of the Harry Potter series. The storyline is very original, although I did find it rather lengthy and a bit complex at times: it might be difficult for some children to keep up with all the characters and the action. However, despite its complexity, it is very well-written. I like that the main character, Cricket, is different, and that her difference helps her in her quest. I think children will relate to the friendship between Cricket and her friend Penny who are likeable characters. Penny understands that Cricket is different from the other children but celebrates this difference with Cricket. Each chapter is illustrated and I love these, they are so detailed and original. I'm sure this book will appeal to its target audience and I think it will easily widen out into a series of adventures for Cricket and Penny. Pauline Braisher, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
When twelve-year-old Alex receives an old tin robot in the post, the note from his grandfather simply reads: 'This one is special'. But as strange events start occurring around him, it doesn't take Alex long to suspect that the small toy is more than special; it might also be deadly. Just as things are getting out of hand, Alex's grandfather arrives, whisking him away from his otherwise humdrum life and into a world of strange, macabre magic. From Paris to Prague, they flee across snowy Europe in a quest to unravel the riddle of the little robot, and outwit relentless assassins of the human and mechanical kind. How does Alex's grandfather know them? And can Alex safely harness the robot's power, or will it fall into the wrong, wicked hands?
Inspired by the mythology of Western Africa, the first part of the Legacy of Orïsha trilogy garnered awards, critical praise and legions of fans. They will not be disappointed by the sequel but will be left yearning for the series conclusion with the dramatic cliff hanger ending. The fabulous world building continues with deepening complexity in both the political and religious layers of Orïsha. Zélie succeeded in restoring magic to the land at the end of book one, but now we see her dealing with the tragic and unexpected consequences. Magic has spread and the monarchy and military now have magical powers, too. Civil war follows and death and destruction run rampant. We see contrasting theories of governance and justice vie for the upper hand as Zélie, rebel princess Amari and her brother, the new king, Inan, all try to do the right thing for the country and their people while grappling with their feelings and their new capabilities. Misunderstanding and prejudice impacts them almost as much as deception and treachery. The lines between who is on the side of right or wrong are deliberately and fascinatingly blurred by Ademi forcing the reader to really think about the nature of power. Themes of guilt, grief, retribution, responsibility and self-sacrifice really resonate in this absorbing fantasy saga.
Return to the extraordinary world of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children . . . A fragile peace. An apocryphal warning. Chaos waiting in the heart of the storm. With his dying words, H - Jacob's final connection to his grandfather Abe's secret life - entrusts Jacob with a mission: Deliver newly contacted peculiar Noor Pradesh to an operative known only as V. Noor is being hunted. She is the subject of an ancient prophecy, one that foretells a looming apocalypse. Save Noor, save the future of all peculiardom. With only a few bewildering clues to follow, time is running out. With enemies behind him and the unknown ahead, Jacob Portman's story continues as he takes a brave leap forward into The Conference of the Birds, the newest installment of the beloved, #1 bestselling Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children series.
As cat-owners everywhere know, all cats are equipped with super-powers and Gwynneth Rees’s series stars a band of feline heroes who use their powers to fight villains (a kind of moggie MI6). In this episode, new recruits Tagg and Sugarfoot have to infiltrate the infamous Hit Cats to stop a prison break. Can they do it, and could they really end up fish-sliced if they get caught? Rees keeps things fun, but suitably tense too and it’s another satisfying adventure in a very enjoyable series. Illustrations by Becka Moor add to the fun. If you like the Super Cats series, look out for Dermot O’Leary’s Toto the Ninja Cat books too.
January 2020 Debut of the Month | This beautifully written debut has all the elements of a classic adventure and is guaranteed to capture readers and not let them go until the last page is turned. A lost princess, a stolen kingdom, a wicked uncle and his evil henchman, a supernatural ruby and a tiger that talks- who could resist? Our heroine Fly engages from the start- escaping from the cruel master sweep she finds her escape chimney empties her into a tiger’s cage. The tiger does not eat her but decides she has royal blood and speaks to her. Whilst not believing him Fly expertly arranges their escape vowing to return to rescue the other caged animals awaiting their sale by the mysterious bejewelled fat man. Fly has a certain skill which her gang of street urchins has put to good use in the past. She has the power to prevent people seeing what she does not want them to see - when she and the tiger board a horse drawn omnibus the passengers only see a scruffy urchin and a rather large dog. But this is only the start of the adventure and we gradually learn more about Fly’s origins and about the wickedness of the men who have imprisoned the rightful king and are selling the animals and enslaving the people of the beautiful island kingdom to which she and the tiger belong. With the villains in hot pursuit a storm and shipwreck seem to ensure a tragic end to their quest. But with the wonderful twists and turns the reader has become accustomed to, all’s well that ends well. This is a magnificent story of courage, love and loyalty which leaves the reader satisfied and enriched.
From No. 1 bestselling children's author, David Walliams comes his biggest and most epic adventure yet! Illustrated by the artistic genius Tony Ross. This is the story of a ten-year-old orphan and a 10,000-year-old mammoth... Read all about it! Read all about it! ICE MONSTER FOUND IN ARCTIC! When Elsie, an orphan on the streets of Victorian London, hears about the mysterious Ice Monster - a woolly mammoth found at the North Pole - she's determined to discover more... A chance encounter brings Elsie face to face with the creature, and sparks the adventure of a lifetime - from London to the heart of the Arctic! Heroes come in all different shapes and sizes in David Walliams' biggest and most epic adventure yet!
January 2020 Book of the Month | This is everything you could ask of a sequel to A Curse So Dark and Lonely, and then some. Readers are returned to the well-formed world of Emberfall and its neighbouring territory of Syhl Shallow, where political ambition and newly revealed secrets threaten Rhen’s crown, and where intriguing new characters take centre stage. Among these is Lia Mara, eldest daughter of Syhl Shallow’s Queen. Lia Mara has been overlooked as heir to the throne in favour of her beautiful younger sister and, in many ways, the driving message of this tale belongs to Lia, a wise, compassionate young woman who’s “used to being underestimated”, but stands her ground in the name of doing the right thing. While Prince Rhen has been freed from the curse of the malevolent enchantress Lilith, his kingdom is now subject to new threats. Rhen’s loyal right hand man, Commander Grey, has gone, assumed dead, and there are rumours that Rhen’s secret half-brother is about to lay claim to the Emberfall throne. In hiding rather than dead, Grey encounters Lia and accompanies her to Syhl Shallow. Handsome and powerful, he would make a fine husband for Lia’s younger sister, but his heart is elsewhere. The enthralling story of political struggle is thrillingly laced with conflicts of the heart - both romantic and familial - to create a satisfying feast of YA fantasy fiction, with a cliff-hanger climax that suggests a yet more explosive third installment is on its way.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month January 2020 | Award-winning illustrator and commentator Posy Simmonds is brilliantly entertaining in this touching story about the death of a pet. Sophie and Nick love their cat Fred very much. They and all the neighbours remember him fondly as one of the laziest cats in the world. Now he’s died and Nick and Sophie discover there is a whole other side to their beloved cat. Far from sleeping all the time, it turns out that he is one of the most famous cats in the world! That night, as all the cat’s in the neighbourhood come out to give Fred a rousing send off, Nick and Sophie learn the true story of their beloved pet. A review from Andrea Reece; This is a really special book, three cheers for Andersen Press for bringing out this new edition! Sophie and Nick are sad when their cat Fred dies and in a poignant scene, the family buries him in the garden. As far as they knew, Fred was a lazy old thing who spent most of his time asleep. Not so! Sophie and Nick find out who Fred really was that night, when they’re woken by the neighbourhood cats who have come to give ‘Famous Fred’ a proper send-off. The two children join in with the cats’ tribute – a wonderful ‘caterwauley-wailey-woe’ – and dance all night at the wake. It’s all described in Simmonds’ sparkling, beautifully observed comic-strip and is funny, touching and true. An anthem to the secret life of cats, this is also a meditation on loss and the importance of sharing memories.
Young Eric’s world is changing – his mum is about to marry his teacher, aka The Bodge, and alarmingly Auntie Rosie has sent a special present from South America. Eric has had some unusual experiences with his auntie’s gifts in the past and is very alarmed about this one, particularly when he discovers what the present - a fertility symbol – actually is! His efforts to find and dispose of it lead to typically comic and unforeseen circumstances, and everyone breathes a sigh of relief when his mum finally gets to walk down the aisle. These stories are perfect for newly confident readers who will completely get the fact that they know more than Eric about what’s going on, and will find so much to make them laugh too.
The series is currently in development for feature film by Disney’s Fox / Lucasfilm. | Inspired by the mythology of Western Africa, the first part of the Legacy of Orïsha trilogy garnered awards, critical praise and legions of fans. They will not be disappointed by the sequel but will be left yearning for the series conclusion with the dramatic cliff hanger ending. The fabulous world building continues with deepening complexity in both the political and religious layers of Orïsha. Zélie succeeded in restoring magic to the land at the end of book one, but now we see her dealing with the tragic and unexpected consequences. Magic has spread and the monarchy and military now have magical powers, too. Civil war follows and death and destruction run rampant. We see contrasting theories of governance and justice vie for the upper hand as Zélie, rebel princess Amari and her brother, the new king, Inan, all try to do the right thing for the country and their people while grappling with their feelings and their new capabilities. Misunderstanding and prejudice impacts them almost as much as deception and treachery. The lines between who is on the side of right or wrong are deliberately and fascinatingly blurred by Ademi forcing the reader to really think about the nature of power. Themes of guilt, grief, retribution, responsibility and self-sacrifice really resonate in this absorbing fantasy saga.
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.