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Third in a now established collection of stories which encourage young children to relate to and appreciate the natural world. Young readers will enjoy following the journey from tiny seed to fat, orange pumpkin, as the two protagonists grow a pumpkin in time for Halloween. Will the pumpkin ripen in time?
Deep within the mountain, a great creature stirred in its sleep. Its eyes rolled back in its head, and its wings jerked wide open... When 12-year-old Billy Chan finds out his parents are sending him to a summer camp in middle-of-nowhere China he doesn't know what to expect. There he meets fellow campers Dylan, Charlotte and Ling-Fei and together they stumble upon an age-old secret: four powerful warrior dragons, hidden deep within the mountain behind the camp. They have been trapped since an epic battle with the Dragon of Death and need the children's help to set them free before terrible evil is unleashed on the earth. Billy and his friends must set off on a dangerous adventure that will take them to the heart of the Dragon Realm. But can they save the dragon and human worlds from destruction? DRAGON MOUNTAIN is the first book in the DRAGON REALM series by Katie and Kevin Tsang, co-authors of SAM WU IS NOT AFRAID.
The next great Dog Man adventure from the worldwide bestselling author and artist Dav Pilkey. You'll howl with laughter! The Supa Buddies bamboozled the baddies, but all's not right in the world. Dog Man has a new problem to pound, and he's going to need his entire pack to help him. Will he go barking up the wrong tree? Dav Pilkey's wildly popular Dog Man series appeals to readers of all ages and explores universally positive themes, including: empathy kindness persistence and the importance of doing good.
I liked that Cyber Spooks has been developed with the aim of teaching young readers about cyber security and being safe online through an engaging illustrated story. On the day Carlo joins his Dad, Recon, at work a serious cyber attack on a bank means the whole Cyber Spooks team will have to come together to find the culprits and stop the criminals from stealing millions of pounds. As the plot unfolds, technical IT terms are introduced and explained to the reader, with extra emphasis on teaching the audience warning signs to look out for and tips for using the internet on a range of devices safely (gaming consoles being included in the narrative was a nice touch). Perhaps because I’m not the intended audience, I did notice a couple of discrepancies with the narrative. On page 7, The attack on Neptune bank is coming from “many countries” however by page 12, not only does the conclusion seem to be jumped to that the culprit is Chinese, it’s then quickly followed by a connection to the Chinese government (bear in mind that on page 26, Recon is still looking for the source of the attack). All this appears to happen without an explanation or evidence and so I can only surmise that the author has based it on the disputes like the ones covered in the news at the moment. I think that an opportunity has been missed to explain VPNs or IP addresses to find the source of the hack and the location of the culprit’s computer, and it seems to be missed in favour of a slightly obvious and quick plot reveal. Following this, and again without any explanation as to why the Cyber Spooks team feel the culprit is connected to the Chinese Embassy (page 20), Kali hacks her way into a government database to get the information she needs. I personally found this at odds with the Cyber Spooks' 'good guy, stay safe and legal' message. I’m not sure whether a younger reader would notice these issues and the overall narrative is interesting and fast paced, but there’s potentially space for improvement. I think the illustrations throughout are brilliant, I liked the style and the extra humour hidden within them. It was also great to see female characters such as Kali and Naiomi take the lead at times while imparting cyber safety knowledge. I think that Cyber Spooks this is a useful book for sharing an important message about staying safe online. I think there’s some slight improvements that could be made to the plot but on the whole this is a book I would allow my nephews to read.
Winner of the Branford Boase Award 2020 | March 2020 Debut of the Month |Winner of the Older Readers' category of the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2020 | Told in narrator Newt’s distinctive phonetic English, this dark debut dazzles with originality and delivers a potent case for combatting inequality. Bearmouth is home to a grim mining business, where men and children labour under inhumane conditions to make their Master wealthy. They work under the earth, under the omniscient Mayker who - so workers are told - “sen us down into the dark Earf/To atone for the sins o our forefarvers an muvvers”. Naïve Newt hasn’t seen daylight in years, but takes pride in being taught to read and write by fatherly Thomas, blithely accepting this lot until the arrival of new boy Devlin. Devlin’s talk of “revolushun” makes Newt feel that things are “unravellin slowly slowly lyke a bootlayce comin all undun.” Life in Bearmouth is beyond bleak, but the sparks of Devlin’s revolutionary spirit catch light and drive Thomas to ask the Master for “more coinage” for the workers, to question why they must pay for essential clothes, to demand to know when the promised safety lamps are coming. Then when tragedy strikes, Newt too realises that things “ent bloody well ryte” and takes on Devlin’s insurgent tendencies, with explosive effects. Emotionally engaging, this searingly original novel about standing up to abuses of power and fighting for freedom is radiant with story-telling excellence. The Branford Boase judges said : ‘Astounding!’; ‘I loved every single second’; ‘plot, story and voice are superb’; ‘I was totally invested in the characters’; ‘interesting, challenging and original’.
My Dad, the Earth Warrior uses a fantastical story in order to explore, introduce and examine a range of topics including global warming and the effects of climate change. This chapter book is lighthearted and entertaining while also delivering an important message about the impact our actions are having on the Earth. A bump to the head leads Hero’s Dad to believe he is an Earth Warrior, with the sole mission of protecting Mother Earth. With advice from the doctors to wait the episode out; Hero, his grandma and his friends are thrust into the spotlight and head to head with a ruthless energy tycoon. The illustrations on the front cover remind me of Quentin Blake or Tony Ross in style. There are smaller images at the start of each chapter and lots of different fonts used to bring the story to life and add an extra level of interest for younger readers. The book covers a range of events, such as heatwaves, flash flooding, fracking, and protests in a way that informs while also encouraging the reader to ask questions. For example, I liked the additional detail of the heatwave being named Bertha, which echoed the naming of storms. This then sparked my curiosity and imagination as to why we name storms, and if we would reach a point in time where other weather patterns become so severe they would require naming in the same way. Terra Firma and Grandma are both quirky, eccentric characters, with Dad Eddie’s alter ego playing off a Tarzan stereotype of appearance (although in Union Jack flip flops). With equally eccentric supporting characters such as Mr Bugwell, readers will easily engage and differentiate between the characters. I also liked the inclusion of facts and resources at the back to help readers understand more about the topics covered in the book. I think that this is a lighthearted book with an important message for readers.
Interest Age Teen Reading Age 8 | From acclaimed author Eve Ainsworth comes this new novella that packs a powerful punch in its openhearted, honest account of a teen girl trying her hardest to cope with her mum’s alcoholism. Violet has always seen her mum as being “strong, funny and in control”, as a “pretty, glamorous and confident” person who firmly believes, “You have to give a good impression at all times.” In contrast, Violet is “the quiet one …I’m the worrier who can never be confident.” But since her mum’s boyfriend left, Mum’s “it’s just one glass” of wine is starting to have an affect on their family life, with Violet increasingly having to pick-up caring for her little brother when Mum’s too hung-over to get out of bed. As Violet finds more empty bottles around the house, and finds herself having to lie to cover her mum, matters come to a scary head and she knows she has to be brave and seek help. Truly brilliant at capturing Violet’s conflicted feelings – an excruciating pull between love and anger – this compelling, moving story will engross fans of true-to-life fiction, while casting sensitive light on a tough subject. And, since this is published by the ever-brilliant Barrington Stoke, this book is especially suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers, with its expert attention to vocabulary, layout, font and paper.
August 2020 Book of the Month | Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | Laura Dockrill packs a really big story into this compact little book and though she tackles some big issues too, she keeps them specific to her set of characters, so that even quite young readers will understand. Sequin’s mum is a dressmaker, sewing gowns and fabulous outfits for the stars. She never takes any credit though, preferring to stay in the background and in fact, she’s literally hiding herself away in the family’s flat at the top of a tower block. When Sequin does a school presentation about her mum, no-one believes her. It makes Sequin angry with her mum, but then a terrible danger threatens them and they both have to face their real fears. It’s a story that readers will absolutely love, with a twist that they’ll want to return to again and again. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 8+
It's here! Number one bestselling author Stephenie Meyer makes a triumphant return to the world of Twilight with this highly-anticipated companion; the iconic love story of Bella and Edward told from the vampire's point of view. When Edward Cullen and Bella Swan met in Twilight, an iconic love story was born. But until now, fans have heard only Bella's side of the story. At last, readers can experience Edward's version in the long-awaited companion novel, Midnight Sun. This unforgettable tale as told through Edward's eyes takes on a new and decidedly dark twist. Meeting Bella is both the most unnerving and intriguing event he has experienced in all his years as a vampire. As we learn more fascinating details about Edward's past and the complexity of his inner thoughts, we understand why this is the defining struggle of his life. How can he justify following his heart if it means leading Bella into danger? In Midnight Sun, Stephenie Meyer transports us back to a world that has captivated millions of readers and brings us an epic novel about the profound pleasures and devastating consequences of immortal love.
Wayside School | The inimitable Louis Sachar has done it again in this new Wayside School caper. Sachar totally gets Primary age readers - sees the world through their eyes, speaks to them in a wry voice that rings with understanding and funny details. What’s more, the bitesize chunks of plot (essentially inter-connected vignettes that form a satisfying whole) keep readers hungry for more, while the off-the-wall (yet believable) comic characters are guaranteed to induce gaggles of giggles. As a new year begins, Mrs Jewls’s pupils have a big bunch of stuff on their plates. An Ultimate Test looms ahead of them, while a Cloud of Doom looms overhead, growing bigger and more powerful each day. Back in class, the pupils are tasked with collecting one million nail clippings to get a sense of just how massive one million is, while Mrs Jewls’s paperclip appreciation is taken to crazy heights (“she marvelled at the magnificent metal masterpiece”) when she’s revealed to keep a secret stash of them in a locked room. Then there’s Mrs Surlaw the librarian, who has a GIANT stuffed walrus and arranges books according to their length, and the author’s cameo appearance as Louis the yard teacher (fun fact - the author actually used to be Louis the yard teacher). Perfectly complemented by Aleksei Bitskoff’s wittily detailed illustrations, this is clever, comic joy. You might also love The Worst Class in the World from Joanna Nadin or the Middle School series from James Patterson.
Having super-powers is not necessarily all that – well, super – if you are 9 ¼ years old and coping with a new school and no friends, not to mention an annoying super-powered little sister. That’s Pizazz’s situation and, as she describes her life, we see just how frustrating it would be if you have to keep breaking off from things you’re enjoying to go and thwart an evil genius’s wicked plan. Her super-powers don’t help her make new friends, nor, when she’s made eco monitor at school and trying to save a local park from developers do they help there either – at least, not initially. Sophy Henn’s story is great fun, narrated at super-hero speed and in a wonderfully direct and distinctive voice by Pizazz, who is exactly the kind of super-hero we all want to be with right now: funny, honest, self-aware, and able to tell a really good story. I can’t wait for more from Pizazz and expect that she’ll soon have legions of fans. Sophy Henn’s artwork is snazzy and comic and absolutely on the ball, just like her new character. This is a series to recommend to fans of Clarice Bean or Sibéal Pounder’s Bad Mermaids.
August 2020 Book of the Month | From the author of exceptional YA novels like What Momma Left Me and Piecing Me Together comes this beautiful bighearted story for 7+ year-olds – a true treasure about everyday family life, being yourself and making the best of things, with an unforgettable African American heroine at its luminous heart. Keen cook Ryan and her family live in Portland, Oregon, and she’s not best pleased when they have to move to a smaller house as a result of her dad’s new job paying less than the one he lost a while back. But Ryan’s not the kind of girl to complain for long, or to let anything get her down. She’s one of life’s thinkers and doers, whose loving parents have infused her with a life-affirming sense of self-worth and pride in her heritage: “I remember what Mom always tells me, how she named me Ryan because she wanted me to feel powerful, to remember that I am a leader every time someone calls my name. Dad is always telling me our people come from royalty, that my ancestors lived in Africa and were kings and queens and inventors and hard workers. Mom tells me their strength is running through my veins.” Told through manageable interlinked vignettes, this soulfully illustrated gem - the first in a series - sits in the tradition of Judy Blume’s young fiction and Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series, but it’s also refreshingly unique. The pitch-perfect evocation of Ryan’s grace and warmth, and her positive perspective will entertain and inspire young readers, while helping them understand the world and handle change.
August 2020 Debut of the Month | Oooh, there’s so much for young fans of adventure stories to enjoy in Alex English’s new book! It stars eleven-year-old Echo, who has grown up in the court of the king of Lockfort. It’s a gloomy and frankly repressive place and the king is very strict with Echo, who was left at the castle gate as a baby. She’s always been told there’s nothing beyond the kingdom’s borders – literally nothing at all – but suddenly, a challenge to that drops out of the sky, and with it the chance for Echo to explore a new world of adventure and to look for her mother. The story is full of fantastic scenes and packed with wonderful characters and English has created the sort of world that envelops young readers from the very first chapter. A glorious summer read! This is one to recommend to fans of Abi Elphinstone, Vashti Hardy and Jamie Littler.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month August 2020 | August 2020 Debut/Book of the Month | Warm-hearted and mysterious The Unadoptables is a wonderfully entertaining adventure with a cast of fascinating characters set in a brilliantly evoked old-world Amsterdam and the surrounding countryside. Following the clues from the only possessions she was left with when she was abandoned as a baby and guided by her ‘Book of Theories’, the imaginative Milou leads her four friends – the least adoptable children in the very horrible Little Tulip Orphanage – to her family home where she is sure she will find her parents. Travelling through a freezing night the children arrive at their destination. But there is not the welcome they had expected. Where are Milou’s parents? And what is the mystery they need to solve? The creative ways in which the five children manage first to escape from the evil clutches of their matron and her evil accomplice Rotman and then to make a new life for themselves bamboozling neighbours and unravelling the mystery is vivid and captivating.
Are you ready to meet the worst parents ever? Sure, some parents are embarrassing – but they’re NOTHING on this lot. These ten tales of the world’s most spectacularly silly mums and deliriously daft dads will leave you rocking with laughter. Pinch your nose for Peter Pong, the man with the stinkiest feet in the world… jump out of the way of Harriet Hurry, the fastest mum on two wheels… watch out for Monty Monopolize, the dad who takes all his kids’ toys… and oh no, it’s Supermum! Brandishing a toilet brush, a mop and a very bad homemade outfit…
In this anthropomorphic coming-of age tale, Alicía must battle against convention to fulfill her dream of running with the bulls in Pamplona. This book has some brilliant themes in it that I think young readers will enjoy. I thought that Toro was well-written and I liked the diverse cast of characters. The plotline where a character must defy tradition in order to achieve their dreams is engaging and inspirational for young readers and I liked that this message is also teamed up with a strong, Spanish, female lead. Alicía isn’t the only character that has unconventional aspirations, and I think that Toro is a good book for all children as it spreads the message of following your ambition, trailblazing if necessary, while also promoting diversity and individuality within the cast of characters. This book is also a great way for young readers to learn more about Spanish culture, particularly the running of the bulls in San Fermin. This book reminded me a little bit of The Story of Ferdinand, as there is a common message of defying expectations and appearances. This is an entertaining book to share with young readers with an inspirational message of equality and female empowerment at its heart.
'This Book Wants to Make You Laugh' is an interactive book for very young children by Justine Avery, which tries to do exactly that...make you laugh or at least smile. The wonderfully whimsical illustrations by Daria Yudina go a long way in helping the book achieve it's aim. The story is a manageable length for shorter attention spans and each turn of the page provides a surprise, which should delight the reader and spark a love for books and reading in a fun way. The book itself and the animals in it are shown as having human characteristics and there are also picture puzzles to provide amusement and broaden experience. I think children will thoroughly enjoy the laughter. Drena Irish, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
June 2020 Book of the Month | Spending time with Beattie, Mimi and Zelda, aka the Bad Mermaids, is always fun, but there are extra delicious thrills in their latest adventure. Their friend, spy mermaid Meri Pebble, has been sent on a secret mission. She’s working undercover checking on the Sushi Sisters, after an anonymous tip that the celebrity pranksters are planning to destroy all humans. The little mermaids (plus Steve, their talking pet seahorse) go with her disguised as the GLAM squad, in charge of the Sushi Sisters’ wardrobe, hair and make up. The seabed is set for adventure, intrigue, and some very fashionable outfits! Sibéal Pounder’s stories are absolutely fabulous, told with real flair and wit, and it’s not hard to sea (sorry!) why they’re so popular with young readers.
June 2020 Book of the Month | Check your bookshelves, everyone. We bet they’re full of books about bears, yes? Well it’s time to make room for books about alpacas, starting with this one about alpaca Alfonso! Alfonso loves a good story and when he realises that all his favourite books star bears, but don’t feature any alpacas at all, he sets out to change things. He persuades his friend Colin – a bear – to help, but succeeds only after energetically demonstrating just how great alpacas are. This has to be one of the liveliest picture books of the year, and Alfonso’s passion, enthusiasm and determination gleam from every page. While it makes for wonderful reading, it’s also saying something very important: everyone should see themselves represented in books, and all our reading experiences will be the better if they do. We were lucky enough to ask Emma a few questions about her wonderful picture books..find out more!