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Book Band: Purple Ideal for ages 6+ | Short, but action-packed, Chitra Soundar’s story has all the ingredients to make a tasty, satisfying story. There’s a magic lamp, seven wishes and a genie, and it all culminates with a delicious birthday cake. Manju and her cat Cumin are puzzling about what to give Manju’s mum for her birthday when they discover a magic lamp. A genie grants them seven wishes – surely they can conjure up the perfect present now, but it proves harder than they think and takes all seven wishes to get a gift that’s just right. In the new Bloomsbury Young Readers series this is a fun, accessible story perfect for children just getting ready to read on their own. A Tips for Grown Ups section and suggestions of fun further activities are helpful, an added bonus.
Not since Adrian Mole opened his diary have the thoughts and innermost feelings of an adolescent boy been examined so precisely or with such heart. Stan is twelve, shy and a worrier, so the thought of a holiday in Italy with his friend Felix and Felix’s family freaks him out. He’s going though: we meet him at the airport drawing up a ‘duck-it’ list of things he hopes he’ll never have to do. Little does he know that he’ll tick off six out of ten of them on his holiday, and enjoy it too. The first-person narrative lets us in on all Stan’s thoughts, but he’s a good observer of others so we learn loads about the others in the holiday party too, kids and grown-ups. There are laugh-out-loud scenes and moments of pure agony, and through it all Stan is learning loads about himself and life in general. Honest, revealing, compassionate and so entertaining, this is a must read for all the Stans out there – adults, give yourselves a treat and read it too.
Mischief and magic make an excellent combination in this lively new series. Nixie is not a typical fairy – she’s generally grubby, finds it hard to do what she’s told, and somehow seems to attract trouble. Many young readers will recognise a kindred spirit! In book one, the fairies are getting ready for the annual Blossom Ball and Nixie is inadvertently causing mayhem as usual. Magic flies, tempers fray, and Nixie drops from the sky to crash land on goody-goody Adorabella not once but twice. Nicely told and with illustrations that match the bouncy text young readers will relish this helping of fairy fun. ~ Andrea Reece
March 2014 Debut of the Month The Da Vinci Code meets Alex Rider in a wildly imaginative and non-stop present day adventure series. Thirteen-year-old Ronan Truelove has just discovered he's a member of The Blood Guard - an ancient order sworn to protect the Pure. Suddenly his mother's insistence on martial arts lessons makes sense. Ronan must use all his skills - including ones he never knew he had - to save his parents, the girl of his dreams and the world, in that order. Perfect for fans of Rick Riordan, Robert Muchamore, Anthony Horowitz and Michael Grant.
Book band: Gold Quizzed for Accelerated Reader Ideal for ages: 5+ | This new series from Bloomsbury Education is geared at turning children into independent readers. Not only will the books give youngsters a boost into solo reading, they’ll also make it easier and more enjoyable for the adults helping children as they come with useful tips and notes. The books are short and divided into chapters thereby breaking the story into manageable chunks. The adventures are lively and fast-moving though told via short sentences and carefully chosen vocabulary: some words are highlighted in the Tips for Grown Ups section on the inside cover, so that children can learn them and their meanings. Full colour illustrations amplify the action and make the books really attractive to look at too. Written by favourite authors, these are well worth collecting and are just the thing for children ready for reading.
Queen Munch has cheeks as red as tomato ketchup, eyes the colour of chutney and a laugh as loud and deep as the moo of a cow on its way to be milked; Queen Nibble on the contrary, is as tall and slender and pale as a stick of celery. They’re about as different as you can be but become special friends in this joyful story after an afternoon of food-related games, and fun making jewellery out of rain. Children will love the playful nature of the story, and its larger/smaller-than-life central characters. Carol Ann Duffy’s text is full of wonderfully precise and evocative phrases and images, and Lydia Monks’s illustrations sparkle as brightly as the jewels that are like boiled sweets in Queen Munch’s crown! ~ Andrea Reece
One of our Books of the Year 2016 | January 2016 Debut of the Month Meet Ivy Pocket, junior lady’s maid, and one of the most delightful fictional creations readers are ever likely to encounter. Sacked by her employer after she has – with the best possible intentions - plunged her mistress’s head into a bowl of punch at a dinner party, Ivy is stranded in Paris. It seems a stroke of luck therefore when she’s commissioned to take a precious jewel to England, but there’s something not right about the Clock Diamond, and Ivy is soon plunged into danger of a strange, supernatural kind. The adventure that follows is intriguing and full of scary moments, but it’s Ivy who makes the book really special. Ivy takes plain-speaking to extremes; presents her ridiculous invented self-histories with a bravado that never fails to impress the reader, if not the listener; and has an inexhaustible repertoire of bizarre practical remedies! An original and entertaining story with a truly irresistible heroine. ~ Andrea Reece
The irresistible Ivy Pocket bounces back after the adventures recounted so brilliantly in Anyone But Ivy Pocket, as self-willed and gloriously self-deluded as ever! She believes she’s been adopted by a benevolent couple, the Snagsbys of Snagsbys Economic Funerals, but readers will realise a) she’s their maid and b) one of their economies seems to involve hastening customers into those cut-price coffins. Ivy is still in possession of the mysterious Clock Diamond and therefore able to travel between dimensions. She’s determined to rescue her friend from one of these and – as ever – oblivious to the many nefarious types out to prevent her. There are few adventures as original, exciting or funny as Ivy’s – please, no-one stop her! Readers will also enjoy Knights of the Borrowed Dark, which while darker has the same range of intriguing and original characters and clever writing. ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: intriguing, sometimes scary and totally original adventure with the one and only Ivy Pocket As her many fans will testify, anything is possible with Ivy Pocket, and this volume brings her extraordinary adventures to a suitably thrilling and breath-taking conclusion. Her best friend Rebecca is trapped in a parallel world and Ivy being Ivy, she’s determined to save her. She sets off, mysterious Clock Diamond in hand, but her enemies, including the scary Miss Always, are close behind. Inventive, tireless, vain, delightfully self-delusional, Ivy is brilliant company and from start to finish this trilogy is hugely entertaining. ~ Andrea Reece Ivy and her adventures will appeal to fans of Lemony Snicket and Neil Gaiman.
Written by father and son team Brett and David ‘Elmer’ McKee there’s the feel of a fable to this picturebook. The Nasties are scaring the King and his people with their terrible caterwauling. Brave young Sir Ned volunteers to sort them out and heads into the woods to find them. He’s quickly joined by a troll, a witch and a very suspicious looking wolf – none other than the Nasties themselves in fact. Things aren’t going well for our hero but he saves the day by teaching the trio to sing in tune, turning bad into good. The story is great fun for children and adults alike and David McKee’s characterful and humorous illustrations are just dazzling, the forest drenched with colour, scenes of dancing full of movement and joy. Superb. ~ Andrea Reece
April 2015 Debut of the Month Lucky Sam – he makes a wish on a shooting star and it comes true. What’s more, the wish was for one million wishes. Wish rich, Sam can sort out everything that’s wrong in his life, and the world, and surely have lots of fun too. This short, snappy novel is a real page-turner, Sam and his friend Evan are very likeable characters, and Sam’s wishes, mostly well-meaning, some just daft, others positively foolhardy, make for very entertaining reading. And, as the story unfolds, readers will see that getting everything you’ve ever wanted isn’t nearly as much fun as you’d think, while solving the world’s problems is surprisingly complicated. ~ Andrea Reece A Piece of Passion from Barry Cunningham, Publisher, Chicken House Make a wish! And another! And another! And another! What could go wrong? Well, maybe getting what you wish for doesn’t always turn out to be what you really want. Brandon Robshaw tries it all out in his funny and rather revealing story of the boy who has it all. Here I go, I wish for . . . Oh, no, I didn’t mean it! Urghh!