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January 2021 Debut of the Month | Some readers will already be familiar with robot Freddy, who stars in Neill Cameron’s Mega Robo Bros cartoon strip, but everyone will find masses to enjoy in this new series. Freddy’s robot superpowers include the ability to fly, use lasers and super-strength but none of these talents are appreciated by the teachers at the primary school he attends and indeed, after he accidentally flies through the staffroom window, the head introduces a robotic code of conduct which forbids all of the above, with a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ penalty clause too. Freddy tries, he really does, but it’s not easy being the only robot in his class. Plus, his friend Fernando has lots of ideas for games that lead to trouble, and then when the two fall out, Freddy finds himself partnered with someone who instigates even more bad behaviour. The inevitable third strike comes at the school’s Project Outcome Evening but Freddy gets one amazing last chance to put his Awesome Robotic Abilities to the use for which they were intended. This action-packed story is wildly funny and school life brilliantly well observed (I love Freddy’s long-suffering human parents too). Through it all, Freddy is learning about himself and his friends, and readers will be too. With cartoon illustrations by Cameron on every page even the most reluctant reader will race through this. Superb! David Almond’s latest book Brand New Boy also uses a robot story to explore ideas of understanding, acceptance and human nature.
Selected for The Book Box by LoveReading4Kids | Leo is a curious child but he feels different from the other children in his class and he doesn't understand them. He doesn't like too much noise and the commotion of the classroom can sometimes upset him. When he meets Maya the Giant Pacific Octopus he builds a friendship that assures him he is not alone. The story will strike a chord with children who have Asperger's Syndrome, as well as educate other children about the condition in a way they can relate to.
Hope Jones is a smart 10-year-old who is determined to save the world. She’s already persuaded her family to change their shopping habits, now she wants them to turn vegetarian. And not just her family – Hope sets her sights on making her school cut out meat too. Winning her classmates round is one thing, the school dinner ladies quite another. The more Hope tries to change things, the more complicated she realises it is, but armed with facts and information, plus a huge amount of passion, Hope is able to persuade people to alter their habits and to make a real difference at home and school. The story is told via Hope’s blog and it makes for sharp, lively, often very funny reading. Readers will be gripped by Hope’s campaign and will finish the book just as well informed as Hope and fully aware of how the choices we make every day affect the world. The story will set readers thinking about how democracies work too and should spark all sorts of conversations.
January 2021 Book of the Month | It is their headmistress, Mrs Bottomley-Blunt, who describes 4B (repeatedly) as the ‘worst class in the world’, and you can see why she does: even when they are made playground monitors, 4B just can’t seem to avoid causing mayhem and the most logical-sounding decisions (stay in the toilets all break to avoid getting into trouble) result in calamity, or as Mrs Bottomley-Blunt would have it, ‘a hoo-ha’. It’s the delicious combination of wrong decisions, sincerely taken, and the scale of the hoo-has caused that make the stories such fabulously entertaining reading. There are two self-contained episodes in each book and the speedy narration, cleverly placed repeating phrases, short chapters and wonderfully lively illustrations by Rikin Parekh, make them perfect for newly independent readers. They are such a treat to read aloud though, it would be a shame not to make this bedtime reading so that all the family can enjoy the fun. Pamela Butchart (Wigglesbottom Primary) and Matt Brown (Mutant Zombies Cursed my School Trip) also write extremely funny school-set stories that revel in mischief caused inadvertently.
Selected for The Book Box by LoveReading4Kids | Perfectly-pitched for fans of funny fiction who are ready to move on from early chapter books, Bethany Walker has hit the spot with her debut, Chocolate Milk, X-Ray Specs and Me! This is the kind of book laughter-loving readers of seven upwards will become drawn into and pore over, exhilarated by the silliness of the fast-paced story and absorbed by the ultra-energetic medley of words, pictures and design. Jack Noel’s illustrations do a stupendous job of bringing the craziness to life, with a fine use of typefaces, doodles, postcards and newspaper clippings among the book’s visual features. And what of that craziness? Well, it’s all centred around ten-year-old Freddy who exchanges drama-laden letters with his mum and dad who he thinks are working at a Brussels sprouts farm. In fact, the truth is much crazier…Then there’s the super-strange happenings at school, plus Grandad’s X-ray specs and impending wedding. In Freddy’s words, “OH NO! I’ve just realized I’m going to have to watch Grandad and Mrs Allbright KISS at the registry office. That might be EVEN MORE yucky than sprouts!” What a brilliant blast of a book this is.
January 2021 Book of the Month | Interest Age Teen Reading Age 8 What a book! Alex Wheatle’s writing buzzes with energy and captures twelve-and-a-half-year-old Welton’s experience of being in love in all its heart-pounding, stomach-flipping, confusing giddiness alongside a run of seriously bad luck. With Wheatle’s outstanding Jamaica-set historic novel Cane Warriors one of my favourite books of recent years, this confirms the author’s status as a writer of huge talent, with the ability to infuse all genres with a special kind of magic. Things begin to go downhill for Welton the moment he finally plucks up courage to ask out Carmella, “one of the most delicious-looking females in school.” But, somehow, he manages to retain an infectiously upbeat stance throughout, punctuating his problems with Star Wars related exclamations (“Oh, for the life of Yoda!”) as he navigates everything life throws at him - from Hulk-like moustachioed bully Brian and the strife between his divorced parents, to his intense fear of being “lamed and shamed” by Carmella. Welton’s wit and entrepreneurial spirit is especially hilarious and sees him selling damning insults to classmates for 50p a cuss. Fresh, funny and authentic, readers will truly root for Welton - while he’s one of a kind, his voice and experiences will resonant far and wide. What’s more, being published by Barrington Stoke, this zesty page-turner is highly readable and produced with reluctant and dyslexic readers in mind, with manageable chapter lengths, a specially selected font and cream paper.
Enter the hilarious world of Billie Upton Green . . . The start of an exciting new series full of Billie's laugh-out-loud observations and doodles! There is a new girl at Billie's school, and Billie takes it upon herself to show her around, teach her the Biscuit Laws, and remind her that yes, two women can get married (after all, Billie's mums' wedding is the event of the year). But then suspicion sets in. The new girl seems very close to Billie's best friend Layla. And doesn't she know a little too much about the latest big school heist - the theft of Mrs Robinson's purse...?
Hilarious, illustrated school-based antics where everything that happens leads to DRAMA and RUNNING AROUND and even some FAINTING! When a session of extreme dancing leaves Maisie in hospital with a broken leg, things take a turn for the weird! Strange noises in the ward at night, missing cuddly toys and a sandwich trolley that only ever has TUNA sandwiches. Could Maisie's leg be CURSED? If it is, and it DEFINITELY IS, then everything is DOOMED! Laugh-out-loud fun from Blue Peter Award winners Pamela Butchart and Thomas Flintham.
Rachel Rennee Russéll’s Dork Diaries are huge favourites with tweenage readers and no wonder, she’s completely in touch with how they think, and what they worry about too. Nikki is looking forward to the end of term and the summer holidays when suddenly she’s hit by CRUSH-IT IS – like a TON of bricks! The signs are all there: pounding heart, sweaty palms and so many butterflies fluttering in her stomach she feels queasy. Like most things in her life, the path of true love doesn’t run all that smoothly, mostly thanks to the arrival of handsome exchange student André and the machinations of long-time enemy Mackenzie. But with the help of her friends, Nikki gets things back on track and this typically funny and lively read will be another hit with her fans. ~ A review for Crush Catastrophe
A STUDENT FOUND DEAD ON THE BEACH. A WEB OF UNANSWERED QUESTIONS. SOMEONE POISED TO STRIKE AGAIN. Illumen Hall is a boarding school of tradition and achievement. But tragedy strikes when the body of a student is discovered on the beach - and on her back is an elaborate tattoo of a magpie. For new student Audrey, it is just another strange and unsettling thing about her new surroundings, along with the secrets the school seems to hide and its weird obsession with magpies. For her roommate Ivy, the death of her friend Lola is just one thing she desperately wants to get past - and having a new student asking questions and cluttering up her personal space is not helping a bit. But the two girls are forced into an unlikely alliance when a mysterious podcast airs, with one sinister headline: I KNOW WHO KILLED LOLA. AND ONE OF YOU IS NEXT. Told from two alternating view-points, this is the first book in a modern gothic thriller series that will have you gripped like no other book this year. Welcome to the Magpie Society, your new YA obsession . . .
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month November 2020 | Perfect for all readers who love the world of ballet, A Dancer’s Dream is an inspiring story of a Stana, a young student at the Imperial Ballet School in St Petersburg, who is chosen to dance the role of Clara on the very first night that the new ballet, The Nutcracker Suite, is performed. Stana’s luck in being picked for the part and how much it matters to her is cleverly interwoven to a touching family story about her very ill sister. Drawing on the true story of the origins of the now much-loved Nutcracker Suite and including a charming introduction to Tchaikovsky who composed the ballet’s music, A Dancer’s Dream is a delightful mix of fact and fiction.
Howl with laughter and squeal with delight at this monstrously exciting new picture book from number one bestselling author David Walliams, illustrated by the awesome Adam Stower! Howler is a SMALL werewolf with a BIG problem. He is just not SCARY! And that makes him the odd one out at Monster School... But when Howler finds some new friends, he discovers that being the ODD one out might just make him the COOLEST one of all... This hilarious new picture book is full of squeal appeal and has giggles on every page.
You could describe friends Lori and Max as oddballs - Lori, the would-be private detective and Max taciturn and reticent except with her dog, Fang – but as the stars of this exciting, funny and heart-warming story they are immensely appealing, the kind of characters you want to spend lots more time with. There are at least two separate storylines in this their second adventure (it’s not an issue if you haven’t read book one), one to do with the theft of Max’s mobile phone, the other involving a book belonging to Lori’s parents, who died when she was just a baby. Both are enthralling and full of surprises, and both reveal more about our two protagonists and make us understand them even better. This is intelligent, top-quality story-telling and writing and highly recommended.
What a great little book and a wonderful way of explaining democracy and the intricacies of the voting system: Perfectly timed for the American Presidential Elections. What was so clever was Valdez’s ability to explain whilst still maintaining an interesting and fun children’s story. There were also other messages running through the story, such as loyalty to one’s friends and peer rivalry within a classroom. I also liked learning about Mexican cookery with the odd baking tip thrown in for good measure! Managing to explain the freedom of information, fake news and what a boycott is to such young children is quite a feat. I think her quote, ‘never a perfect candidate in an election. How could there be? People aren’t perfect’ was particularly poignant. I think my favourite message however was ‘read, question, think’ – a message for life for all of us. A clever informative book with some great illustrations by David Roberts.
Meet Mina Mistry, primary school student and would-be private investigator. She’s smart, observant and has a great sidekick in the shape of her best friend, cuddly toy Mr Panda. All she needs is a case to solve and there’s one right under her nose: how come their school dinners are such a danger to their teeth, in direct contrast to what their headmaster says and school dinner lady wants? Hmmm. Against the backdrop of a wonderfully wacky charity fundraising event, and assisted by her Granny Meera, Mina uncovers some dodgy goings-on in the school office. Mina is a lively character and her assorted school friends and family members make an excellent supporting cast. This is very readable, lots of fun and a satisfying mystery too.
Shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Awards 2021, Best Story | This funny, gentle story is packed with snappy humour and hilarious characters. You can’t help but love Riley, a brilliant, witty, world-weary kid and long-suffering underdog. There’s a lovely message about being grateful for all the things that you have and for appreciating the people who support you, no matter what. Perfect for Diary of a Wimpy Kid fans or children about to start secondary school, though there’s a lot of fun to be had for grown ups here too.
The seventeenth laugh-out-loud, fully illustrated Tom Gates adventure! Tom's doing everything possible to stay out of trouble but somehow he's got THREE sad faces :( :( :( on the school achievement chart! And getting another sad face means Mr Fullerman won't let him go on the SCHOOL TRIP! Moany Marcus Meldrew is making things worse and now Tom's annoyed his grumpy sister Delia. Can his best friend Derek help? Will Rooster the dog stop eating his homework? ABOUT THE SERIES: Written in diary form Full of Tom's doodles and pictures & his amazing sense of humour The Brilliant World of Tom Gates, was the winner of the Roald Dahl Funny Prize! Perfect gifts for boys & girls who love to laugh themselves silly