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Find the latest books for fans of fantasy stories and magical tales! We have extracts to download for most of our books plus expert reviews.
January 2021 Book of the Month | Kids are always being told that if they ‘dream their dreams’ one day those dreams will come true. ‘Living the dream’ is a very different experience for 11-going-on-12-year-old Malky in Ross Welford’s absorbing, vastly entertaining novel. Blackmailed into a bungled burglary, Malky becomes owner of a set of Dreaminators, mysterious machines that make dream worlds real and give the dreamer powers to control them. At first, Malky and his co-dreamer, little brother Seb, enjoy their night-time adventures, especially those in a Stone Age world closely based on Seb’s favourite storybook where they make friends, go hunting, and Seb has high hopes of riding a mammoth. If it seems too good to be true, of course it is, and as Malky’s ability to control what’s happening in his dreams weakens, everything – awake or asleep – starts to go wrong. When Seb is taken prisoner in a dream and falls into a life-threatening coma in real life, Malky has to face up to his responsibilities, not to mention the fears and anger his dreams have disguised, in one last terrifying dream. At least he has new friends there to help. The story is cleverly told and plotted, moving back and forward in time, from dream to reality, with Doctor Who ease. It’s full of humour too, e.g. a wonderful scene in the school canteen in which Malky does all the things he’s always dreamed of doing, not realising he’s actually awake. Core too are the really big things in life – friendship, love, family, learning about yourself and understanding others. It’s a book that delights in the fact that the inside of our head is bigger far than the outside. Readers who enjoy Welford’s excellent books will also race through Christopher Edge’s out-of-this world adventures.
January 2021 Book of the Month | Written and illustrated by Jion Sheibani, Sohal Finds a Friend is a sweet side-splitting story that will provide much comfort to little worriers as they enjoy an adventure in the company of an endearing boy and his furry friends. It’s a brilliant way to help children understand their anxieties and express themselves - think Pixar’s Inside Out in book form. Sohal is one of life’s worriers and dreads bedtime, when “the darkness would grow and grow, until it filled every part of his body”. His dad’s suggestion of calm breathing doesn’t help, and his mum’s suggestion of counting sheep is useless too, for in Sohal’s mind they’re transformed into mutant alien sheep fleeing a giant robot wolf! But everything changes when he draws the monsters that plague him and…THEY COME TO LIFE! With Hurt, Fail, Anger, Big, and Alone for company, Sohal’s attention is diverted to worrying about them - what will everyone at school think? – but it’s not long before The Worries help him understand and control his own worries, while providing a whole lot of fun. Funny, with thoughtful themes that foster off-the-page dialogue, this is a warm-hearted winner for 5+ year-olds. You can find more books on this theme in our Anxiety & Wellbeing collection.
Fans of S A Patrick’s fantasy novel A Darkness of Dragons will snatch up this sequel with real excitement – after all, in Patch Brightwater, Wren Cobble and Barver Knopferkerkle, he’s created the kind of characters readers really miss when the book ends. Reunited for more adventures, the three are faced with challenges and dangers galore as they try to thwart the wicked Hamelyn Piper. First on their to-do list however, is to rescue Patch’s friend Erner Whitlock from some very deep dungeons… The world the friends inhabit is full of surprises, for them as much as for readers, and their adventures crackle with magic and suspense. If you enjoy going on quests, untangling prophecies and, of course, spending time with characters who are brave, loyal and very good company, then these are the books for you.
January 2021 Book of the Month | The latest instalment of P G Bell’s Train to Impossible Places delivers its dose of excitement and adventure impeccably (as you’d expect in a book starring some of the most efficient and dedicated postal operatives you could ever hope to meet). In previous episodes, as crew member of the Impossible Postal Express, Suzy has befriended ghosts, battled a giant robot and saved an entire city from destruction. Now, in spite of the best efforts of her parents, who know what’s been going on and are, understandably, more than a little worried, she’s back on board with another challenging delivery to make: a book needs to be returned to its library. This being the Impossible Places, that’s a lot less simple and a lot more magical than it sounds, and the task will see Suzy sucked into a void storm, trapped at the bottom of the ocean - and almost eaten by a giant frog. PG Bell’s books overflow with invention and thrills and I defy anyone not to want to climb onboard with Suzy and her extraordinary friends. By the end of the story, our own world has been made just a bit more magical, and readers will feel that too as they close the book. Fans of trains and magical adventures will also enjoy Lev Grossman’s The Silver Arrow. Read more about The Train to Impossible Places series!
January 2021 Book of the Month | Set in a magical world, this glorious tale of adventure and daring stars the most unlikely heroine because, as the narrator explains, sometimes it takes a story to show that the truly extraordinary people – the ones who defeat monsters and save kingdoms – are often the ones that nobody notices at first. If that statement doesn’t make you want to snatch up the book and read it from beginning to end, then you have no heart! Smudge is indeed overlooked – she’s clumsy and in her own words ‘a bit useless’ but somehow, she emerges as the only hope for Crackledown when the evil harpy Morg tries to steal its magic. Fortunately, Smudge is also courageous, inventive and determined – and she has an equally remarkable helper in the shape of tea-drinking, trilby-wearing talking monkey, Bartholomew. Their adventures as they sail beyond the treacherous Northswirl and journey into the heart of the Everdark forest are filled with everything that makes for the best adventures, including magic, drama, narrow escapes, shared laughter and lots of heart. Originally published for World Book Day, Everdark has been reissued in a dyslexia friendly format, which is wonderful news for children like Smudge who struggle with reading and spelling, but everyone should read it. Everdark is a standalone story but part of Abi Elphinstone’s The Unmapped Chronicles series, which are also highly recommended.
January 2021 Debut of the Month | Alston is a debut author who looked in vain for a hero or heroine who looked like him in fantasy novels – and this delivers and so much more too. Amari is a child who attends a posh school on a scholarship – but really finds it hard to fit in and avoid the bullies. Her mother is a hard-working health worker, and her brother Quinton is missing – his disappearance seems be the root of Amari’s difficulties. As the holidays approach Amari receives an invitation via a mysterious messenger to be considered for something (at this stage unexplained) – by attending an interview. From here on the story becomes a hugely imaginative, funny and compelling adventure. Magic and mystery flow thick and fast from this point on – as Amari takes her chances to prove herself and to start finding out what happened to her brother. The story takes you through the development of some close and lasting friendships, against some awful magical bullies and monsters, to an exciting and nail-biting adventurous conclusion, though it leaves a possible opening for more books about Amari in future. A wonderful fun adventure addition to every child's bookshelf and any school library looking for more representation across all it’s genres.
A boy with a special talent, a girl transformed into a rat by magic, and a fire-breathing young dracogriff (half dragon, half griffin) – three friends, three unlikely heroes! In S A Patrick’s sparkling fantasy adventure they face sorcerers, bandits, imprisonment and mercenary armies, plus betrayal by the people they should be able to trust the most, and they face them all with courage, loyalty to each other and humour. Their arch enemy is the legendary Pied Piper no less, supposedly imprisoned for what he did in Hamelyn, but actually free and planning more wickedness against humans and dragons alike. It’s a story full of adventure and excitement, as well as characters readers will root for from the first – and best of all, there’s a sequel! Readers who enjoy Patch, Wren and Barver’s adventures will also enjoy Abi Elphinstone’s Rumblestar series and Michelle Harrison’s Widdershins Adventures.
P.G. Bell’s debut The Train to Impossible Places established him as a writer of hugely exciting, inventive and satisfying adventure, and its sequel, The Great Brain Robbery, is just as good, if not even better. Once again 11-year-old Suzy is aboard the Impossible Postal Express tearing through the fantastical realms that make up the Union of Impossible Places, and this time it’s a do or die mission to save Trollville from a thoroughly nasty villain. Suzy is much more at home now with fuzzics, the strange mix of science and magic that lies at the heart of troll technology, though there are still some fabulous surprises in store for her and readers. Adventure doesn’t come more exciting or entertaining, and this is one train young readers really mustn’t miss. Read more about The Train to Impossible Places series!
So, so readable, Of Ants and Dinosaurs with the lightest and brightest of touches, made my brain itch with its creativity and klaxon alarm. Perfect for readers from young adult on, this sets itself as a “satirical fable, a political allegory and ecological warning”. In a time long long ago ants and dinosaurs joined forces to build a magnificent civilisation, when doom threatens will the dinosaurs listen to the ants? Cixin Liu is China’s number one science-fiction writer and his The Three-Body Problem was the first translated novel to win a Hugo award. I just love the cover, and the ants marching across the chapter pages had me smiling. As soon as I started to read my attention was well and truly caught. The prologue sets the scene with wonder and I read and believed without a moments doubt. While portraying the ant and dinosaur alliance, there is very much a warning to the human race here. Deceptively simple and brilliantly clever, I simply adored it.
Sometimes you are a whisper away from magic without even realizing it. Nine is an orphan pickpocket determined to escape her life in the Nest of a Thousand Treasures. When she steals a house-shaped ornament from a mysterious woman's purse, she knocks on its tiny door and watches it grow into a huge, higgledy-piggeldy house. Inside she finds a host of magical and brilliantly funny characters, including Flabberghast - a young wizard who's particularly competitive at hopscotch - and a hideous troll housekeeper who's emotionally attached to his feather duster. They have been placed under an extraordinary spell, which they are desperate for Nine to break - and if she can, maybe they can offer her a new life in return...
Fly into a fiery and fantastical future with No. 1 bestselling author David Walliams, in an epic adventure of myth and legend, good and evil, and one small boy who must save the world… Illustrated by the artistic genius Tony Ross! It is 2120 and London is in ruins. The young Prince Alfred has never known a life outside Buckingham Palace – but when strange goings-on breach its walls and stalk the corridors in the dead of night, he is thrust into a world of mystery, adventure and monsters. And when his mother, the Queen, is dragged away to the Tower of London, Alfred must screw up his courage and battle to save her, himself… and the entire city. In a future of myths and legends, join the bestselling David Walliams and venture forth into his most enthralling tale yet!
The Boy Who Grew Dragons Book 5 | The Boy Who Sang with Dragons is the fifth and final book in this outstanding series and in it Tomas discovers the final pieces of information about the amazing dragons that grow in his grandad’s garden on their wonderful dragonfruit tree. But Tomas can’t help feeling upset when he realises that his friend Aura’s links with the dragons go back further than his. Could she really be the Queen of the Dragons? Fortunately, Grandad is on hand for a chat and as the two chew things over (literally – Grandad’s pockets are always full of toffees), Tomas realises there’s nothing to worry about. All these stories are full of magic, adventure and comedy and this is a triumphant finish to a series that gives young readers dragon-sized helpings of pleasure and fun.
Return to the spellbinding world of Ross Mackenzie’s Evernight in this darkly brilliant sequel. The Evernight has been defeated and the sun has returned, thanks to Larabelle Fox and her friends Joe and Double Eight. But a new threat is emerging from the mists of the Veil, the dangerous forest that surrounds the Silver Kingdom’s southern lands. Lara and Joe journey to Lake End to discover what’s really happening, all the while trying to stay one step ahead of the secret police . . .
Trust no witch . . . Iraya Adair has spent her life in a cell. Heir of an overthrown and magically-gifted dynasty, she was exiled from her home on the island nation of Aiyca when she was just a child. But every day brings her closer to freedom - and vengeance. Jazmyne Cariot grew up dressed in gold, with stolen magic at her fingertips. Daughter of the self-crowned doyenne, her existence is a threat to her mother's rule. But unlike her sister, Jazmyne has no intention of dying to strengthen her mother's power. Sworn enemies, the two witches enter a deadly alliance to take down the woman who threatens both their worlds. But revenge is a bloody pursuit, and nothing is certain - except the lengths Iraya and Jazmyne will go to win this game. Two witches. One motive. And a very untrustworthy alliance.
The tiny Tindims are like the Borrowers-on-Sea, who turn our everyday rubbish into treasure. Mother-and-daughter duo, prizewinning Sally Gardner and Lydia Corry, create a fun new world of characters and adventures in their empowering new series for 5-8 year olds inspiring conservation and inventive ways to recycle. In their third adventure Ethel B Dina, who looks after the fish hospital and loves to sing, needs ten green, glass bottles to complete her musical Bottleramma. But she is surrounded by too many plastic bottles which do not make music. Join the Tindims in their glass bottle hunt and meet the Tindims explorer, Tiddledum. Printed in dyslexia-friendly font with pictures on every page and perfect for the reluctant reader, the Tindims show keen young ecologists how to help protect our planet for the future.
Welcome to Little Snoddington, where nothing is normal and every day is magic . . . Nine-year-old Alfie Blackstack's parents have met a very unfortunate end. Now he's living in the SUPER CREEPY Switherbroom Hall with his mad-haired Aunt Gertie and warty Aunt Zita. The thing is, Alfie's aunts aren't just weird - they're WITCHES! When the circus arrives in town Alfie makes his first ever friend, the FEARLESS Calypso Fagan. But when Calypso's little sister Nova disappears, they must face the TERRIFYING Head Witch in a race to find Nova and stop the next Witch War.
Brokewood Valley is a strange and mysterious place. There are old magics under the earth, and dark forces at play. So when Hattie and her brother, Jonathan, arrive to find their Granny missing, they suspect something sinister is going on. Hattie uncovers these unusual powers in the land and is determined to find out the truth. Where is Granny? How is this connected to her mum's death, seven years go? And who exactly is the girl in wooden armour?
Run wild with Wolf Brother in a Stone Age world we all want to be a part of with million-copy-selling author, Michelle Paver. Danger, magic and non stop adventure await Torak, Renn and Wolf in a devastating Dark Time that threatens everything they know. The Clans will be tested as never before, as they battle to find ways to survive and thrive in their beloved Forest. In the Dark Time of midwinter, disaster strikes the Forest. Chaos rules. Bears woken from their dens prowl the shadowy valleys. Desperate clans battle for survival. Only demons thrive. With their world in turmoil, Torak, Renn and Wolf are tested as never before. And as a new evil haunts the devastated land, Torak must risk his sanity, his life and even his souls to save everything he loves... Skin Taker carries you back to the Stone Age, drawing you deeper into the astonishing adventure which began with Wolf Brother and has captivated millions of readers.
Hom is the last of his kind. I don't know what kind of creature he is, and nobody knows he exists... apart from me. When a boy washes up on a desert island, he is sure he's on his own in the world. But there's someone else living there: Hom, a peace-loving creature who has lost his family, too. Alone on the island together, they learn from each other and become the best of friends. So when a rescue ship appears on the horizon, the boy has a big decision to make...
Clementine - though she is usually called Oiya (Oy, you) by her dreadful Aunt and Uncle – has dreams of a magic place she may have once known. Her only friend is the cat Gilbert (called Giblets by Aunt Vermillia and Uncle Rufus) as Clementine has a Cinderella-like existence working all day and then being locked away in the cellar at night. She glimpses the sky through looking up the chimney in her cellar, until one day she looks out of a window in the house and sees the magic place she has imagined… Then follows a great adventure through the Great Black City as Clementine miraculously escapes and tries to find her magic place. Clementine is a very determined little girl, many would have given up in her circumstances, but she knows she can fine her magic place. The book is a very tactile object, a lovely size for smaller hands as they get involved in this wonderful adventure. Black and white illustrations on virtually every page – Wormell is feted for his wood cuts and lino cuts – with a nod to the style of Gustav Doré, give this an authentic Dickensian feel. The generous illustrations paired with the fast-paced story make this a book children will enjoy reading for pleasure!
Fionn Boyle, Storm Keeper of Arranmore, is facing the fight of his life. The terrifying all- powerful sorceress Morrigan has been raised from the dead and has sealed off the island from all help. Fionn is the only thing that stands between her and a dark future. He's got to find a way to defeat her. But there are some terrible choices in store for Fionn as the dark sorcerer begins to take his nearest and dearest for her own. With only two candles left to burn, will Fionn master his powers in time to stop her?
When Mr Benn visits the little fancy dress shop, he enters a fantastical world of adventure as if by magic... In this story, a red suit of armour catches Mr Benn's eye, and when he tries it on he finds himself transported to a land full of castles, dungeons and dragons!
February 2021 Debut of the Month | A debut author is always a new experience to read – and this new fantasy-type novel aimed at middle grade readers does not disappoint. Maggie is a child, isolated from her family (Dad left, Mum recovering from a breakdown of some sort) whilst she is nominally looked after by her somewhat odd Aunt Esme. She befriends a rather battered old cat with torn ears and one eye – whom she is convinced hums tunes to her. But that is only the start of rather strange occurrences – Maggie sees her enemy from school apparently disappeared into a parallel reality by the new, odd, threatening careers mistress. What can she do – no one will believe her if she tells the truth… So, Maggie is left with only one course of action – she must rescue Ida from whatever has made her disappear. The characters are so well drawn and delightfully eccentric that one can become totally engaged in this well-developed story. Hoagy, the cat, proves to be a firm friend, and courageous – helping Maggie not only rescue her enemy Ida, but by doing so rediscover some of the happiness she has lost in her oddly disconnected life. An author worth watching – and a good read for fans of fantasy-based adventures.