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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.
A hilarious sound book edition of the bestselling Oi Frog! A sound book of the bestselling Oi Frog! with brilliant rhyming read-aloud text, jam-packed with animals and silliness, from the award-winning Kes Gray and Jim Field. Oi! Who sits where? Find out in this fun and noisy book! The laughter never ends with Oi Frog and friends . . . Perfect for children and parents alike with an irresistible sound bite - 'Oi!' shouted by David Mitchell.
April 2018 Debut of the Month | In a nutshell: in his own words, quirky, super-readable saga of a ten-year-old ‘detective’ Ten-year-old Rory is pretty satisfied with his life. He lives happily with his mum and brother, and has friends, best being Wilkins Welkin, his next-door neighbour’s sausage dog. But there are two big problems in his life: no-one ever tells him anything, and his dad disappeared when Rory was three. To find out why, he decides to become a detective – despite the derision of his big brother. In a timely bit of luck, new neighbour Cassidy Callaghan – aka ‘The Cat’ – offers to help. The two, of course, get into all sorts of trouble, and to the surprise of everyone, unearth some real villains in the process. Words and illustrations are both very funny and surprisingly touching. This will sit happily next to the Wimpy Kids, Dork Diaries and Barry Losers, but for its idiosyncratic and convincing voice and real sense of family dynamics, is probably closest to Lauren Child’s Clarice Bean books. A great new series for young readers. ~ Andrea Reece
Spending time with the eponymous Jacky (Ha-Ha because she’s both funny and a stammerer) is always great fun and, as ever, there’s lots to hold the attention and keep the pages turning in this new book. It’s summer 1991 (cue amusing explanations for kids about the way we used to live), and Jacky’s holidays are action-packed. She’s got a summer job at the fair, is appearing as Puck in a production of Midsummer Night’s Dream, experiencing her first crush, and trying and failing to match-make for her friends. Even when things veer towards the tragic, you can rely on Jacky to keep readers laughing, and to ensure there’s a happy ending, just like Puck in fact. ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: super-kid-friendly super-hero comic adventures with real heart Murph Cooper, aka Kid Normal, and his band of Super Zeroes are back in a new adventure that will delight their fans. Fresh from their successful defeat of the hideous wasp-man they’re ready for more excitement, and they get it. The new term has barely started when the Heroes’ Alliance call for Murph. Magpie, the roguest Rogue Hero of them all, has demanded Murph come to his top security prison cell. Why? And what’s the meaning of the mysterious poem he hands over? The Heroes’ Alliance think Magpie is just wasting everyone’s time, but the Super Zeroes decide to investigate – and it’s just as well… Packed with jokes that will have everyone cracking up, children and adults, this also delivers a proper adventure story while reminding readers that heroes come in all shapes and sizes. Super! Kid normals will also enjoy the My Brother is a Superhero series and Shane Hegarty’s Darkmouth books. ~ Andrea Reece
March 2018 Book of the Month | In a nutshell: gothic fun and games with gorgeous cast of characters There’s a wonderfully eccentric Addams-family-esque cast of characters in Laura Ellen Anderson’s gorgeous new series, the special friendship between them giving these little stories real oomph. In this episode little vampire Amelia heads out of Nocturnia into the very different world of the Kingdom of Light. She’s accompanied by friends Florence the Yeti, Grimaldi and Squashy, her pet pumpkin, as well as Tangine – the plan is to find his missing mother, Fairyweather, who disappeared when Tangine was just a baby. An unfortunate altercation with a grumpy wishing well means that the grown up in the party is quickly transformed into a bee, so the little group are on their own. The stories are told with real style and humour; the illustrations, also by Laura Ellen Anderson, are equally delightful and this is a great new series. ~ Andrea Reece A series to recommend to fans of the Witch Wars or Isadora Moon books.
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