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April 2018 Book of the Month The penultimate in the series, Beyond The Odyssey continues with poor Elliot’s life becoming more difficult by the day. The situation with his mum is desperate and poor Hermes is still in a coma, but there is a glimmer of hope as Elliot hears of a potion that is rumoured to cure all. Yet even the gods doubt its existence and even if it does exist it won’t be easy to find. And so they set out on yet another quest to find the third chaos stone AND the mythical potion in an attempt to cure his mum and Hermes, whilst saving the world from evil Deamon of Death, Thanatos. No pressure there then! This series just keeps getting better and better and Maz will have you crying tears of laughter and sadness whilst cheering on our hero as we watch him face his toughest challenge yet. Superb, and I can’t wait to find out what happens in the fourth and final instalment to this epic tale of courage, heartache and heroism. ~ Shelley Fallows - You can also find Shelley here. A Piece of Passion from Barry Cunningham, Publisher ‘What I like about the classical gods is that they are so true to life. Wild, naughty, emotional and unpredictable, they carry on a bit like us humans – but with superpowers! Of course, in this story our hero Elliot has some serious real life problems to deal with too, and so Maz Evans takes us on a funny yet thoughtful romp. Hold on to your pants because you are likely to lose everything else!’
Seamlessly mixing text and comic strip, this new adventure for Sam Lyttle is a great bit of storytelling. Sam has real trouble negotiating the swamp of truth, so when his mum challenges him to go three weeks without telling a single fib he hesitates, only accepting because if he doesn’t, he won’t be able to go to the special open-air screening of movie Cry Wolfe, starring his favourite fictional crime-fighter Wolfe Stone. Can Sam do it, or will he be undone by a secret past misdemeanour? A host of different plot strands come together in a very funny climax at the street festival. The depictions of Sam’s family are very true to life, but there are lots of silly and even surreal elements to enjoy too, and Berger works the comic-strip format with real skill. Highly recommended. James Patterson’s series Middle School series also successfully mix cartoons into entertaining, zany but realistic stories of adolescent life. Barry Hutchison’s Beaky Malone books have fun with ideas of the importance of truth and lies.
This riotously rewarding return to Skulduggery Pleasant’s incomparable realm will thrill, enthral and leave fans thirsty to find out more about the characters and elements newly introduced to this unexpected tenth instalment. When Skulduggery learns of a plot to revive an alarming evil, he turns to Valkyrie Cain for help. Though afflicted by post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the battle with her alter-ego, Valkyrie agrees to join him for twenty-four hours and together they seek the help of “someone who disappears in a crowd”. That someone turns out to be teenager Omen Darkly. There are amusing moments when Omen thinks they can’t possibly need him. “You’ve got the wrong brother… You want Auger Darkly - he’s the Chosen One,” he remarks, but Omen’s exactly the kind of inconspicuous kid they need to go undercover. Familiar characters resurface throughout the twisting time-pressured mission and new faces are introduced, including a US President who might just put readers in mind of certain Mr Trump. As ever, the action is edgily fast-paced, and fans will adore the top bantz between Val and Skulduggery.
In a nutshell: another charming, joke-filled adventure for everyone’s favourite hyena family The Bolds, for those who don’t know, are a family of hyenas living disguised as humans in a quiet street in Teddington. They wear clothes and hats to cover their hyena features, so the neighbours have no idea what they really are, though they notice they laugh a lot, as will readers of these hugely entertaining stories. In this adventure the Bolds run into trouble. A couple of foxes are disturbing the human residents of Fairfield Street putting themselves in danger of being captured. But when the Bolds try to help the foxes they get a very rude response. The story is full of incident, packed with humour (including masses of very good jokes) and the Bolds continue to demonstrate that kindness, tolerance, and a good sense of humour are the elements for a happy life. Required reading. ~ Andrea Reece
With its strikingly simple images, this picture book will give children lots to think and talk about and will also have them laughing out loud. Grandad’s acting out of character and he looks different too: his clothes don’t fit very well and he keeps turning up in the strangest of places (like the freezer). Of course children will see it’s not Grandad at all, but a penguin. A trip to the zoo, where Grandad looks very at home with the penguins, puts things right. It’s a book that makes you look really closely – how alike are Grandad and the penguins? There’s a wonderful twist in the tail too.
With its comic storyline and bright, bold, minimalist illustrations, The Steves is another bit of picture book genius from the hugely talented Morag Hood. It stars two young puffins, both lively and busy, both called Steve – which is where the trouble starts. The two compete – with increasing determination and bluster – to be top, ‘the Stevest Steve’. Watching their antics as they try to best one another is very funny and the illustrations brim with vitality right to the last page, with its unexpected twist. Children will laugh out loud at what the two Steves get up to, but they’ll recognise all the emotions they’re feeling too. Brilliant! ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: another inventive, clever and hugely appealing story There’s great excitement in the Smith-Pickle household when an old egg given to Eddie by Uncle Morton suddenly appears to be hatching. It’s clearly something very special and the cute little feathery creature that emerges has a strange effect on dragons: they seem to be both drawn to it, and terrified of it. With seven dragons in the garden, sporadically trying to attack the little fledgling in the house, no wonder Eddie’s Mum is cross. As ever the story is recounted through Eddie’s emails to Uncle Morton and it makes for fast, funny and highly entertaining reading. This is book nine in a consistently excellent series. ~ Andrea Reece
Harry Hill’s new children’s book is funny (no surprise), features great characters, particularly would-be comic Matt and his terrifyingly ambitious manager Kitty (age 11), but also offers a mini-masterclass in stand-up comedy. Matt’s dream is to make it on the comedy circuit and he’s prepared to work his way up from the school talent show, via the local WI, and TV talent show. Along the way, he is helped and/or hindered by best mate Rob, step-dad Ian and the style-vacuum that is his headmaster Mr Pavey. It’s great fun and some of the best scenes are interspersed with real advice on everything from working on your timing to dealing with hecklers. By the end readers will hope that Matt gets to follow his heroes onto the Apollo stage, but will also understand just why that’s such a uniquely exhilarating thing to do. Readers looking for something similar should look out for Christine Hamill’s Lollies shortlisted The Best Medicine, in which Harry Hill has a starring role.
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