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August 2020 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month August 2020 | When best friends Betty and Maud have a sleepover in a teeny weeny pop up tent in the garden, Duck and Penguin have to go too. But while the girls are expecting to have loads of fun, Duck and Penguin are not! They don’t like each other, they don’t like sleepovers, they don’t like the onesies the girls dress them in and they especially don’t like sleeping in a teeny weeny tent. When the girls hurry back to the house, Duck and Penguin are left alone to face the scary dark and the creatures in it. How will they manage? Luckily, all ends happily and Duck and Penguin are even converted to camping – almost! Lovely illustrations of this atmospheric night time adventure which blends reality and make believe in a most engaging way.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month August 2020 | Penny, the notorious dog-napper, has a host of dogs already but there is one very special dog she is determined to get her hands on. Quick, clever, a master of disguise and very good at problem solving, he is the dog she wants. And he is covered in spots so should be easy to find. Penny’s assistant Pat sets out to find the dog. Can the dog-nappers catch their prize or will they be outwitted by the super-smart dog? Emma Lazell’s energetic and vivid illustrations inject this simple story with great energy.
This is book three in the Mermaid School series which is already a firm favourite with lots of young readers. In this episode, mermaid Marnie Blue and her friends have a new PE teacher, Mr Marlin, aka snarlin’ Marlin, motto ‘if you don’t come first, you lose!’. He reinstates the old Golden Glory sports day competition, and though to Marlin winning is everything, Marnie is more concerned with making sure her friends are happy, and with tracking down the whereabouts of the long-lost Golden Glory Crown. The set up allows for lots of fun and games, friendly and not-so-friendly rivalry, and a gentle emphasis on the importance of fair play. The story also moves along the sub-plot, involving Marnie’s glamorous auntie Christabel and her romance with a handsome human! Spending time with Marnie and her friends is fishy fun, and their undersea world will be very tempting to young landlubbers. Pretty illustrations by Sheena Dempsey add to the charm. One to recommend to fans of The Worst Witch and readers who like Marnie should get to know Lyla, star of Rebecca Patterson’s new Moon Girl series too. There are some great reviews from our Kids Reader Review Panel for the first in this series - Mermaid School - read them here!
The Diddle that Dummed is like your favourite pantomime distilled into 32 pages. Fiddler Flinty Bo Diddle is writing a tune for his fiddle – diddle diddle diddle diddle … all is going well until – dum! Which diddle went dum? The culprit steps forward, shrugging: ‘I’m not like the other diddles. Sometimes I like to go dum.’ Flinty is beside himself, he wants all his diddles to diddle. They try again, and again – they try with the defiant diddle at the beginning and at the end, but every time the diddle goes dum. They swap things round, and try a dum dum dum sequence for Flinty’s drum – you can probably guess what happens. By this point, everyone will be laughing out loud at the sheer silliness of it all, at the diddle’s cheekiness, at Flinty’s furious indignation – and then it gets sillier and more comic still. What seems a simple idea is full of surprises and cleverness and every one of us knows a diddle that dums. Sheer picture book brilliance.
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.
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.
Cookie, Keziah and Jake are best mates and life is good. Cookie's birthday party is coming up and she has had the most fantastic idea for a Save the Planet party where everything is recycled, and no plastic is used. Before long, Cookie is buzzing with plans. But then disaster strikes - Suzie Ashby totally swipes Cookie's idea and sends out invitations for her own Save the Planet birthday party. Worse still, Suzie seems to think Cookie is her new best friend! Grrrr! Suzie is officially the most annoying girl in the world!
‘Please remove the Mouse from the House’: the instructions could not be clearer, but mouse-catcher Mr Bosh and his assistant Mr Bumble make such a mess of it! Children will squeak with glee as My Bumble tries and fails to catch the mouse, each time more spectacularly than last. We know things won’t go well when he can’t avoid the mouse-traps he’s laid – the same traps the clever mouse has nimbly side-stepped – but everything really goes to pieces when Mr Bosh sends him out to bring back a cat … The scenes are increasingly outlandish and comical, perfectly represented in Russell Ayto’s bright, scratchy illustrations, and it all culminates in the biggest disaster you can contemplate. Stylish, irreverent, unruly fun for all!
It’s Superhero Day at school and Milly is ready in her costume – she’s used all the tinfoil, a tea towel and her brother Joe’s pants and really looks the part. She knows that she doesn’t have any superpowers though, or has she? As the day goes on, we see Milly being a hero in all sorts of ways: she’s super kind for example when she helps William, super clever when she works out a way to help Archie, and a super friend when she works with Iqbal on his show and tell. Gwen Millward’s illustrations are very appealing and the story is full of incident and great fun to read. At the same time, it will give young readers real insight into what actually makes us super, and how powerful it is to help and work with our friends.
From the creator of I Swapped My Brother On The Internet comes this fizzily energetic feast of fun that sees aspiring inventor Keith get more than he bargained for after entering a Junior Mega Brain Quiz and winding up competing against his genius sister. Keith is one of life’s dreamers, and something of an underdog readers will really root for. He has his sights set on going to an Inventors’ Fair in Paris, but his mum and dad just don’t have the cash. Never one to let a problem stand in his way, Keith observes how his super-smart sister Minerva (appropriately named after the Roman goddess of wisdom) has won money for some of her many achievements. And so, while “there was no Roman god Keith”, our ever-hopeful hero hits on the idea of inventing a machine to steal Min’s brain so he can win a Junior Mega Brain Quiz and use the prize money to pay for Paris. From attempting to drink coffee while wearing a child-genius outfit (black leggings, black polo neck and giant sunglasses), to becoming an instant TV hit with a hashtag and band of devoted followers, Keith’s story is a hilarious, heart-warming delight from start to finish, and a great read for readers who loved David Solomons’s My Brother is a Superhero series.
Who can resist a tale of freedom, adventure, the unexpected and new friends, especially when its hero is a pea! This new adventure for the star of bestseller The Runaway Pea starts in the washing up bowl but before long the runaway pea has been swept down the drain – does he mind the mess and slime? No! He’s having a wonderful time. Before long he’s helping out a spider struggling in the water and as the two career out of the drain and into a stream the spider repeatedly offers wise advice – the trusting, ever-optimistic pea sees everyone as a friend, and every situation as an opportunity. His joie de vivre is irresistible, and everyone will be cheering him on. There’s a final twist in the tale too, a glorious conclusion that sets up more adventures. This is one VIPea you really need to get to know!
August 2020 Book of the Month | Hot on the heels of Happy Girl Lucky comes this second book in Holly Smale’s The Valentines series – a wildly entertaining tale in which aspiring actress Faith seems to have it all, before realising she needs to shirk off the shackles of impossible standards and speak from her own script. Stunning and wealthy, with a mega-famous musician boyfriend – what more could a girl want? And coming from a line of talented actresses, Faith’s future as a major movie star is laid out before her like a red carpet. In her grandmother’s words, “You are a Valentine, darling…The entire world has been handed to you on a plate. All you have to do is not screw it up.” But, despite Faith’s privilege, not screwing up is an impossible task when - also in her grandmother’s words, “there is no intermission, Faith. For us, the curtains are always up.” Constantly in the public eye, everything Faith says or does is scrutinised, often wilfully misinterpreted and, when the truth isn’t juicy enough, the press invents their own. Desperate to keep everyone happy, Faith always says what’s she’s supposed to, but that backfires too: “The Daily Mail has once more referred to you as aloof and an Ice Queen. Darling, if you were a man, that would be a way of saying enigmatic. As a woman, it just means nightmare. You must try to come across as warmer. But not so warm that you look desperate, obviously.” Quite simply, Faith can’t win. What’s more, her auditions aren’t going well either, and it’s not long before everything starts to unravel. Faith’s journey really is an additive rollercoaster – she’s someone to root for, and all the characters are fabulously formed. Readers will truly love “I’ll-do-and-say-and-eat-what-I-want, when-I-want” Scarlett who offers Faith a life-changing sisterly hand. With the novel’s exposure of double standards - and impossible standards - seamlessly thread through the pacey plot, this is feminist fiction at its most thoughtful, thrilling and funny. Find out more as Holly Smale talks to us about her fabulous new trilogy!
You might know Bunny vs Monkey from the totally brilliant Phoenix Comic. This new book brings together a collection of their comic adventures in one chunky but portable, full colour (obviously) paperback – how great is that! If you are new to the duo, Bunny lives in a peaceful forest with his nice (but dim) friends, Weenie the Squirrel and Pig. Other than the occasional run in with a bear, all is calm until the arrival of Monkey, hell-bent on world domination. (In Monkey’s defence, he was launched into space by scientists with that aim, but the mission failed and he fell back to earth just over the hill from their laboratory). He’s helped in his scheming by a skunk with its own underground laboratory and the two cause no end of trouble for Bunny. With titles like Wrestlepocalypse, Fish Off and The Whuppabaloo, these mini adventures are hugely inventive, wonderfully daft and always very, very funny. Bunny vs Monkey would tempt the most reluctant reader - you can find more books we think are suitable for Relucant Readers here.
The colourful illustrations are so vibrant. It helps bring the characters to life for little children. They will see the funny side of the Imps. This book helps children to learn to be polite and have manners all the time, even when being tempted by outsiders who are just plain rude, like the Imps. But Granny had her magic wand to help get the Imps outside where they belong. It is a wonderful story for young ones and the colourful characters make it believable for them. Diana Mason, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Best-selling Australian author/ illustrator Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton have created a fantastical treehouse which will tickle the imagination of all readers. It’s a house with everything – and if there is something it lacks, it can easily be created! The guys are full of crazy and inventive ideas some of which have very unexpected and disastrous results. When Andy and Terry aren’t having fun in their tree house doing terrible things like turning their neighbour’s cat into a canary they are meant to be writing a book! The jokes about the book being created within a book are good.
One of our Books of the Year 2015 The World’s Best Treehouse just got BETTER! Crazy, inventive, imaginative and mischievous Aussie writing duo, Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton tickled many a kid with their hilarious creation of The 13-Storey Tree House, where anything is possible. Terry and Andy have so much fun in their ideal treehouse, they never get any work done. Well now they're doomed, because they’ve just added 13 more storeys. Get your climbing shoes on and come on up to The 26-Storey Treehouse! Perfect for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Brilliant World of Tom Gates and Barry Loser. Packed with hilarious cartoons and zany text, this book will leave readers in stitches and begging for more.
Rabbit and Bear: Book 4 | Rabbit is worried: trees in their forest are disappearing and, worse still, the stream has moved – even unflappable Bear declares herself ‘close to being slightly worried’ at that. The cause is the arrival of Castor Canadensis, a beaver, who is delighted with engineering as a means of building ‘New, Bigger and Better things’ in the name of ‘Progress’. It suits some of the animals, but definitely not all. Fortunately, Bear finds a way to get the animals working together, so that Castor’s hard work benefits them all, himself included. As ever, there’s as much insight as humour, and it’s a superb read aloud story. Gough and Field make creating books this good look simple, because they’re both masters at what they do. Treat yourself, and buy all four books.
Generosity, unexpected kindness and warm welcomes are at the heart of this story, making it perfect Christmas reading. It’s closing time on Christmas Eve in a big department store and all the shoppers and staff have gone home leaving only Clawdia the cat – and a family of lively mice. They lead her a merry dance around the shop, stopping occasionally to point out scenes that make her rethink her ‘bah, humbug’ attitude to Christmas. A surprise ending sees Clawdia and the mice enjoying a proper Christmas day. The message is lovely and the hectic chases around Christmas displays are lots of fun. As good as any John Lewis ad!
July 2012 Book of the Month. Best-selling Louise Rennison is as howlingly funny as ever as she sticks with a drama theme in this hilarious follow-up to Withering Tights. Tallulah Casey is back for a second summer at Dother Hall, the holiday theatre school in Yorkshire. The acting is fun but it’s the snogging, boy-fest, madcap adventures that really lure Tallulah back – and reel the readers in too.
Intelligent, funny and engaging rhymes along with bright and bold illustrations bring these poems for younger children alive.Andréa Prior says of her writing ‘I love the musicality of rhyme and my ideas come from anywhere and everywhere; people I love, people I don’t, friends I talk to, stories they tell, countries I visit, things I see, things I do, phrases I hear, dreams I dream.’ A Parcel of Pigs is perfect for reading out loud, the poems are written for those parents and children who love reading together. All of them also have helpful points you can use to discuss the poem in more detail. Why not discover more today by reading an opening extract of her book?
April 2020 Book of the Month | Lyla might live in a hi-tech future world in which the moon is colonised and robots a big part of daily life, but the things that really matter are the same they’ve always been: friends, family and learning how to treat them properly. It’s very exciting when Lyla is chosen to look after one of three top-of-the-range cyborg children joining her school and at first Clara 2.2 seems the perfect friend, telling Lyla just what she wants to hear. But real friends do more than pay you compliments, and Clara 2.2’s disregard for anyone other than Lyla soon leads to a fall out with Lyla’s best friend Bianca and then – much worse – puts Lyla’s little brother in danger. There’s lots of fun and humour in the story, but some real tension too and it cleverly delivers a message about what friendship really means, and the importance of kindness.
The second in the hugely successful Meg Cabot series featuring Mia, a very normal 14 year old Manhatten school girl, who is suddenly pitched into being Princess Mia of the priniciplity of Genovia with everything at her finger tips - except perhaps the love of her life. Her diaries over a five year period have been enjoyed by millions of children worldwide and now with the culmination of the series, we felt it was time to bring them all together to ensure that a new generation doesn’t miss out on them. There are 10 titles culminating in the final Princess Diaries, Ten out of Ten, which features Princess Mia, aged 18 and all have been reissued with fresh, new covers to celebrate 15 years since first publication (A Royal Disaster was formerly titled Take Two).
Celebrate twenty-five years of this much loved classic with this special anniversary edition. Julia Donaldson writes...A Squash and a Squeeze started its life as a song on BBC Children’s Television.The song was subsequently used on “Playdays” and included on a BBC album, sung by Floella Benjamin and Derek Griffiths. Unknown to me, a future editor of children’s books heard this recording when her children were small and she couldn’t get it out of her head. Thirteen years later she succeeded in tracking me down via the BBC. When she phoned to ask my permission to publish an illustrated version of my words I immediately agreed – while attempting to sound as if this sort of thing happened to me every day. I loved Axel’s pictures straight away. Axel Scheffler writes...A Squash and a Squeeze was only my second picture book. I recently learnt that before me, two other illustrators were asked to do the pictures, but perhaps they were too busy because they turned it down. If this is true, I have to be grateful to them, because this book started my long-term collaboration with Julia.
When Melvin Pebbles moves to the town of Donut Island, he has no idea what’s in store: before he’s even unpacked his vast collection of toy bags (unopened, toys still inside to preserve the mystery), he’s been adopted into the Daily Donut Club by new friend, Rhubarb Plonsky, and by the end of the book, together with third Donut Club member Yoshi Fujikawa, will have foiled an alien invasion and bid to brainwash his new neighbours. As you’d expect from the creator of the inimitable Barry Loser series, this is a blissfully surreal mystery adventure, as weird as it is wonderful, and certain to have readers laughing out loud from beginning to end. Jim Smith’s illustrations are as playful as the plot, and make the whole package even more of a treat. Comic genius!
July 2015 Debut of the Month Arthur Bean seems pretty sure of himself, in no doubt that he’s a brilliant writer with a life of prizes, fame and adulation ahead of him. At least that’s the image he projects in his written correspondence with teachers and schoolmates. The letters he sends to his imagined penfriend RJ (actually his Reading Journal) tell a very different story and reveal a lot more about what Arthur, who has recently lost his mother, is really feeling. His life, including attempts to win a story-writing competition, run-ins with teachers who don’t quite appreciate his take on homework assignments, crush on fellow writer Kennedy and surprise friendship with sworn enemy Robbie Zack, is all described through notes and emails from and to Arthur. They tell an appealing, original story and make for highly entertaining reading, funny and poignant too. ~ Andrea Reece
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