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A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2021 | September 2021 Book of the Month | Mysteries pile up on top of one another in Cookie’s latest hilarious adventure. There are numerous secrets to uncover, several codes to crack, a number of unusual occurrences and a very important Nani who arrives from Bangladesh for a visit. Underlying all the gripping mystery and the comedy there is a simple message about the importance of both arts and science in school. Konnie Huq’s fast-paced story is brilliantly brought to life in her witty line illustrations which have a raft of jokes all of their own. With lots of additional information about codes as well as instructions on some of the things Cookie loves to make, this is a book to return to again and again. Konnie Huq is our Guest Editor, September 2021 - find out more about the Cookie series and her top children's book recommendations!
September 2021 Book of the Month | Two lorries, two cheerful crews, set out from the depot in the morning for a busy day, ‘Empty lorry, load lorry, straight back on the road, lorry’. There’s so much to do and so many other vehicles and drivers they encounter. With its irresistible tongue-exercising rhyming text, most lines only two words long, and bright, busy illustrations, this is a celebration of traffic jam-packed with fun. It will be essential reading for any young transportophile, but just as entertaining for the rest of the family too.
It’s a space adventure, Jim, but not as we know it! Climb aboard the Star Cat, half-spaceship, half-cat, as it travels the infinite void of space. There you’ll meet its well-meaning if frequently malfunctioning crew: Captain Spaceington, Science Officer PLIXX, Pilot and Robot One. They patrol the galaxy fuelled by ice-cream and ever-ready (almost anyway) to save the universe, especially from arch enemy, the four-cornered fiend Dark Rectangle. This chunky collection brings together six of these brilliant stories, first published in the Phoenix Comic, and each one is guaranteed to have you on the edge of your seat one minute, rolling on the floor laughing the next. Space adventures don’t come more comic than this, and comic strip adventures don’t come better than Star Cat.
Marnie Blue is shocked when lots of plastic rubbish starts to appear in Mermaid Lagoon. It's causing all sorts of problems and even harming the underwater animals. Marnie and her friends decide enough is enough and they must have a big green clean-up. But just where is all the plastic coming from? With the help of the local Brinies group, a new dolphin pal and a human friend, the mermaids come up with a plan to rid the lagoon of plastic junk for good.
September 2021 Book of the Month | The opening poem in Joshua Seigal’s sparkling new collection invites readers to ‘fill the world with words’, and he does a very good job of doing just that in poems that represent his audience’s world perfectly. Here are poems about classrooms, playtime, grandparents, chocolate biscuits – all just right to read aloud and deliciously easy to remember. There are poems that deliver jokes, poems that play with sense and their shape, poems that sneak in deeper meanings too as they describe familiar emotions. One thing is for certain, everyone will find a favourite in this collection, a poem they’ll want to read to someone else. It ends with a selection of Seigal’s tips for children on writing poetry and I think lots of readers will be inspired to add their own poems to the world as a result.
September 2021 Debut of the Month | Vibrant world-building, hilarious horror happenings, and splendidly quirky characters - Alex Foulkes’ debut, Rules for Vampires (the first in a series), has plenty for adventure-loving 9+ year-olds to sink their teeth into, a devour-in-one-bloodthirsty-sitting story that’s made even more engaging by Sara Ogilvie’s cleverly comic illustrations. “Slow as creeping nuns, stealthy as a stalking cat, the girl slunk closer to the door.” Thus we’re introduced to Leo on the eve of her one hundred and eleventh birthnight, as she must embark on her first solo mission as a vampire - The Hunt of the Waxing Moon, no less. Trouble is, following Vampiric Laws and negotiating that ghoulish line between the Living and the Undead sure ain’t no stroll in the cemetery, and all this while feeling the pressure to live up to the high and spiky expectations of the Great and Terrible Sieglinde. The writing is slick as blood, with smart turns of phrase that Lemony Snicket aficionados will adore, and cracking whip-smart dialogue that drives the story at bat-out-of-hell pace. Oh, and it’s divinely packed with a cast of top quality, quirky characters readers will want to get under the skin of (though not literally, of course…)
September 2021 Debut of the Month | Refreshing, funny and packed with essential feminist themes, not to mention an authentic, engaging protagonist in Eliza Quan (a no-nonsense teenager who doesn’t give two hoots about what people think of her), Michelle Quach’s Not Here To Be Liked is at once deliciously entertaining and empowering. With pithy observations like “Girls get judged for their past; guys get judged for their potential”, it’s also a thought-provoking reminder (if one were needed) that there’s some way to go before patriarchal structures are disassembled - thanks goodness, then, that Eliza is on hand to speed up the process. Oh, and the novel features a whole lot of cute kissing to boot. Eliza is set to be the new editor-in-chief of her high school newspaper. Firstly, she’s the most qualified candidate. Secondly, she’s the only candidate…until former baseball player Len joins the paper for want of something better to do and winds up winning the vote. Justifiably angry that he - male, handsome, popular and utterly inexperienced - was picked over her - Eliza’s venting inspires a feminist movement that exposes the gulf between those who want - and recognise the need for - gender equality, and those who think she’s just annoyed about being overlooked. Alongside exploring such pertinent themes in slick style, the novel also sees Eliza face the ultimate conflict when she finds herself falling for Len. Fast and furious, Not Here To Be Liked flies in the face of anyone dumb enough to think that books about feminism (and feminists themselves) can’t be smart and funny.
What a witty feast of sing-song verse and visuals this is. Chris Riddell’s vibrant characters whish and whoosh in rhythm with Neil Gaiman’s rambunctious rhymes to create a hearty banquet befitting a pirate crew. The swaggering story begins when a brother and sister are introduced to their babysitter, a certain scar-faced, grey-haired, peg-legged ship’s cook called Long John Mc Ron. Moments after their parents have left, Long John opens the door to an entire crew of hungry pirates, and so he does what any respectable ship’s cook would do – he cooks up “Pirate Stew! Pirate Stew! Eat it and you won’t be blue. You can be a pirate too!” With a rib-tickling twist that will send readers into fits of giggles, Pirate Stew is buccaneering blast of a book that demands to be read aloud, acted out and treasured like ill-gotten gains!
A prize-winning picture book author and illustrator, Nadia Shireen is just as skilful at writing junior fiction, as this inventive, hilarious story shows. Fox siblings Nancy (the tough one) and Ted (the sensitive one) are forced to flee the big city for the countryside after Ted accidentally bites off pussycat boss Princess Buttons’ tail. Grimwood, where they find themselves, is a kind of paradise it seems, full of friendly if eccentric animal residents who love nothing better than a good game of treebonk. Ted feels right at home, Nancy needs convincing, but when Princess Buttons arrives, bent on revenge and armed with a Brain Zapper 3000, and their new friends step up to help, she changes her mind. It’s gloriously silly but still totally credible and a proper page turner, while Nancy and Ted are real characters. Watch out for the wonderful asides from woodlouse Eric Dynamite, and Princess Buttons’ comeuppance is an absolute treat!
Paul’s life changes in totally unexpected ways when he discovers a little ghost living in the keyhole of his front door. The two quickly become friends and no wonder, Zippel the ghost is irresistible – funny, mischievous and thoroughly well-meaning, if totally baffled by modern life (he’s particularly fascinated by the flush on the toilet). Together they have some excellent adventures, Zippel getting up to all sorts of tricks in an old castle and taking ingenious revenge on a couple of bullies who’ve been tormenting Paul. Full colour illustrations by Axel Scheffler perfectly capture the droll humour of the stories and this is one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read this year. Buy a copy and don’t be surprised if you find readers checking out keyholes in the hope of finding their own Zippel.
Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | What a super introduction to Shakespeare and his play The Tempest. The story tells of a group of school children who are on a ferry to perform the play in a festival in Italy. If you know the Tempest, you can probably guess that their ferry capsizes, and the group are shipwrecked. The drama then unfolds! Half of the actors wash up on the beach, the other half and their teacher, Mr Fortune (or not so fortunate) are missing. The characters identities are set out in the first chapter, where the reader is introduced to the confident bossy leader, the shy, but intelligent boy, the thinker, and the clown. What is clever, is that if you know the play, the characters resemble those in Shakespeare’s play, but if you don’t, it in no way detracts from the enjoyment of the story. The story is lively and fast paced, but still manages to include some lovely description and colour, such as ‘the unspooling music like golden ribbon’ heard by the children. It is also quite humorous with some lively banter between the group. For those readers who like things explained, and everything rounded up, the final chapter brings all the plots and characters together in true Shakespearean fashion. All is revealed, the poor unfortunate Caliban, why there is a desert island just off the coast of Dover, and why the group were split up! The book is of a good length for all levels of reader and printed on dyslexic friendly paper. I look forward to Hurly-Burly (Macbeth in disguise!).
Rabbit and Bear: Book 5 | Rabbit and Bear are back with another helping of adventure, humour and wisdom. Rabbit thinks Wolf is the most dangerous animal in the valley and with Bear’s help, sends him away. But something even bigger arrives, and it’s a lot meaner. Within minutes of strolling into their valley, the enormous Icebear has proclaimed himself king and taken Bear’s house for himself, declaring the other animals ‘food that no-one has bothered to eat’. What can they do? Even Bear is stumped when her usual methods of using kindness and friendship don’t work. Fortunately, Wolf knows just how to organise the animals into an effective fighting force. Every page brings something funny and insightful and the wintery woods look gorgeous in Jim Field’s illustrations. With its irresistible cast of characters and unforced messages of community and caring, this series is well on its way to becoming a classic. Superb.
“Nut loved his sister and Leaf loved her brother, but everyone knew they were NOT like each other!” So the scene is set for Lu Fraser’s glorious rhyming ode to being yourself, a cheering, amusing tale that’s brilliantly brought to live by Mark McKinley’s simply stunning illustrations - they’re a veritable rainbow of energy and characterful detail. While adventurous Leaf loves to shoot her bow and swim icy lakes, Nut has no outdoor pursuits skills whatsoever. Rather, he prefers to bake, and harbours a secret passion for “slicing and dicing and mixing and whisking and really pink icing!” All of which means, come Viking Sports Day, Nut’s contribution is something of a disaster, until he hurls his cake in the Great Throwing Race and Chief Olaf recognises his culinary talents. Great fun, and there’s no arguing with its wise, warm-hearted message - “happiness comes when you just be yourself.”
From the inventive author-illustrator of the award-winning There’s a Bear on My Chair comes this smart sequel, and boy has Ross Collins delivered again. It’s a rollicking, rhyming, visually-pleasing treat in which it turns out that Bear isn’t terribly keen on getting a taste of his own medicine (to begin with, at least). The cause of Bear’s irritation is the presence of Mouse in his house (yes, the very same Mouse on whose chair Bear presumptuously sat in the first book). In Bear’s outraged words, “That rodent can’t live here, oh no! I’ll tell him that he has to go.” Of course, Mouse refuses to leave and proceeds to cause chaos in Bear’s house, before a mob of partying mice turn up. But then - the twist! – when Bear realises “Hey! These mice are nice!” With wonderful interplay between text, illustration and design, this is excellent for reading aloud - the kind of book that will have toddlers urging for it to be read again, and again (and again) while completing the rhymes before adults have chance to read them.
A brand-new adventure beyond your wildest dreams, from the bestselling authors of KID NORMAL. Unlike most 12 year-olds, Maya Clayton is desperate to go to bed early. Falling asleep is the only chance she has to save her dad - the brilliant but slightly odd Professor Dexter. The Professor invented a device that allows you to visit other people's dreams. But the devious Lilith Delamere has trapped him inside a nightmare and Maya and the mysterious Dream Bandits must find a way to rescue him before it's too late! Maya will face a dangerous journey and some difficult choices. But sometimes all you need is a dream . . . and a bit of courage. Featuring a hospital heist, some banana-loving llamas and a talking cat called Bin Bag, this is one mind-bending adventure you won't want to wake up from.
Having already read and thoroughly enjoyed 'Everybody Poops', I think that this text will once again have widespread appeal to children - (and adults) - especially those who are at an age when everything connected with bodily functions seems hilarious. The cover illustration showing the inside view of a house with various family members in the act of having a pee is an immediate draw and children will have fun spotting the dog who is also joining in. Having shown the reader a glimpse of our internal organs, the book goes on to reveal an eclectic mixture of people and animals having a pee in various settings. I was however a little surprised to see that males were depicted sitting down - surely for most men that is generally not the case - and wondered whether children would have any experience of seeing women wearing rollers in their hair nowadays. Despite that it is a great, fun book that I am sure would be reread frequently. It ends with the surprise that even the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy and Santa need to have a pee and I loved the fact that the author and illustrator are seen sitting on the loo too. Val Rowe, A LoveReading4Kids Amabassador
The Boy Who Got Accidentally Famous is an epically entertaining tale, brought to life with illustrations by the brilliant Steven Lenton, which asks the question - what if everyone suddenly knew your name...? From million-copy bestselling author David Baddiel comes a laugh-out-loud story for readers of 8 and up that takes you on a roller-coaster ride of fame and friendship.
Everything that is wonderful about Christmas (and some things that aren’t!) is thrillingly spun about in this deliciously magical and madcap adventure. Homeless Blanche has never had any real Christmas but when the mysterious Rinki gives her a magical bauble and some mince pies on Christmas Day everything changes. Rinki and Blanche are firm friends forever and together they are about to rewrite the Santa story. Santa Claus, elf magic, delicious Christmas food and drink, and a wonderful sleigh ride are all thrown into the mix as a very merry Christmas for all – except the sinister Mr Krampus – follows.
Who’s to blame when things go wrong? Dogs Norman and Ringo realise that they are the Blamehounds when they get told off for everything from farts to an unexpected splat of peach juice. But then they come up with a plan! Soon the Blamehounds along with other dogs are making a small fortune through a few backhanders just by taking the blame humans want to avoid. Ross Collins captures the joke perfectly in words and pictures. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers aged 7+
Hal’s cheesy nightmares have become impossible and he is determined to find out why. With his fat dog Rufus, Hal goes on the hunt to find out and finds himself having to deal with some very disagreeable cows indeed. Told by Ross Collins in words and pictures this is a hugely entertaining and original story. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers aged 7+.
A captivating new picture book with interactive transparent pages, from world-renowned artist Oliver Jeffers. With lots of friendly ghost surprises and incredible mixed media illustrations, this unique and funny book will entertain young readers over and over again!
The Mr Men and Little Miss are having a festive contest to find the best decorated Christmas house! Little Miss Splendid and Mr Tall are judging the competition and are at the lighting up of each house, but there are many surprising choices of decorations and some that haven't gone quite as planned! Who will be the winner this year?
Join the Mr Men and Little Miss for a day at the Winter Wonderland Christmas Market! Mr Tickle can't wait to visit the Winter Wonderland Christmas Fair. There will be plenty of treats, ice skating and sleigh rides. But most of all Mr Tickle can't wait to visit the crowds and tickle as many people as his arms can reach!
Ebenezer Tweezer is a youthful 511-year-old. He keeps a beast in the attic of his mansion, who he feeds all manner of things (including performing monkeys, his pet cat and the occasional cactus) and in return the beast vomits out presents for Ebenezer, as well as potions which keep him young and beautiful. But the beast grows ever greedier, and soon only a nice, juicy child will do. So when Ebenezer encounters orphan Bethany, it seems like (everlasting) life will go on as normal. But Bethany is not your average orphan . . .
Chosen as a recommended read by our Guest Editor, Konnie Huq, April 2021; This book is brilliantly funny and educational too. It taught me loads I didn’t know about the history of medicine and all its disgusting mistakes. It had me laughing out loud. Did you know collecting finger nails could make you extremely rich in the olden days, if you wanna know why, get the book!
Book Band: Dark Red (Ideal for ages 10+) | A contemporary story about life in foster care, perfect for fans of Jacqueline Wilson. Ruby Ali's eighteen-year-old sister Alisha has left the care centre where they live, and Ruby is being sent to live with a new foster family. If she can sabotage life at her new home, she'll get to go and live with her sister again, right? But mission break up doesn't go exactly according to plan... This funny, heart-warming story features black-and-white illustrations by Parwinder Singh.
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