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A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2021 | September 2021 Book of the Month | Mysteries pile up on top of one another in Cookie’s latest hilarious adventure. There are numerous secrets to uncover, several codes to crack, a number of unusual occurrences and a very important Nani who arrives from Bangladesh for a visit. Underlying all the gripping mystery and the comedy there is a simple message about the importance of both arts and science in school. Konnie Huq’s fast-paced story is brilliantly brought to life in her witty line illustrations which have a raft of jokes all of their own. With lots of additional information about codes as well as instructions on some of the things Cookie loves to make, this is a book to return to again and again. Konnie Huq is our Guest Editor, September 2021 - find out more about the Cookie series and her top children's book recommendations!
Marnie Blue is shocked when lots of plastic rubbish starts to appear in Mermaid Lagoon. It's causing all sorts of problems and even harming the underwater animals. Marnie and her friends decide enough is enough and they must have a big green clean-up. But just where is all the plastic coming from? With the help of the local Brinies group, a new dolphin pal and a human friend, the mermaids come up with a plan to rid the lagoon of plastic junk for good.
September 2021 Debut of the Month | Refreshing, funny and packed with essential feminist themes, not to mention an authentic, engaging protagonist in Eliza Quan (a no-nonsense teenager who doesn’t give two hoots about what people think of her), Michelle Quach’s Not Here To Be Liked is at once deliciously entertaining and empowering. With pithy observations like “Girls get judged for their past; guys get judged for their potential”, it’s also a thought-provoking reminder (if one were needed) that there’s some way to go before patriarchal structures are disassembled - thanks goodness, then, that Eliza is on hand to speed up the process. Oh, and the novel features a whole lot of cute kissing to boot. Eliza is set to be the new editor-in-chief of her high school newspaper. Firstly, she’s the most qualified candidate. Secondly, she’s the only candidate…until former baseball player Len joins the paper for want of something better to do and winds up winning the vote. Justifiably angry that he - male, handsome, popular and utterly inexperienced - was picked over her - Eliza’s venting inspires a feminist movement that exposes the gulf between those who want - and recognise the need for - gender equality, and those who think she’s just annoyed about being overlooked. Alongside exploring such pertinent themes in slick style, the novel also sees Eliza face the ultimate conflict when she finds herself falling for Len. Fast and furious, Not Here To Be Liked flies in the face of anyone dumb enough to think that books about feminism (and feminists themselves) can’t be smart and funny.
Paul’s life changes in totally unexpected ways when he discovers a little ghost living in the keyhole of his front door. The two quickly become friends and no wonder, Zippel the ghost is irresistible – funny, mischievous and thoroughly well-meaning, if totally baffled by modern life (he’s particularly fascinated by the flush on the toilet). Together they have some excellent adventures, Zippel getting up to all sorts of tricks in an old castle and taking ingenious revenge on a couple of bullies who’ve been tormenting Paul. Full colour illustrations by Axel Scheffler perfectly capture the droll humour of the stories and this is one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read this year. Buy a copy and don’t be surprised if you find readers checking out keyholes in the hope of finding their own Zippel.
This comic picture book cleverly demonstrates the dangers of being swayed by popular opinion. New boy Peter is quickly branded the baddest boy in school and it does indeed seem that he’s given to doing naughty things. So when the school’s pet rat goes missing from his cage, everyone assumes Peter is responsible. Only one person knows the truth, and that Peter’s bad behaviour is not what it seems either. The book explores the dynamics of any classroom while also showing us that strange or different doesn’t equal bad and that categorising people on assumptions is never a good idea. Peter is a very charming little character, with his cape, fangs and lacy collar, and the story is beautifully told by its mystery narrator. Original, memorable, and lots of fun.
Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | What a super introduction to Shakespeare and his play The Tempest. The story tells of a group of school children who are on a ferry to perform the play in a festival in Italy. If you know the Tempest, you can probably guess that their ferry capsizes, and the group are shipwrecked. The drama then unfolds! Half of the actors wash up on the beach, the other half and their teacher, Mr Fortune (or not so fortunate) are missing. The characters identities are set out in the first chapter, where the reader is introduced to the confident bossy leader, the shy, but intelligent boy, the thinker, and the clown. What is clever, is that if you know the play, the characters resemble those in Shakespeare’s play, but if you don’t, it in no way detracts from the enjoyment of the story. The story is lively and fast paced, but still manages to include some lovely description and colour, such as ‘the unspooling music like golden ribbon’ heard by the children. It is also quite humorous with some lively banter between the group. For those readers who like things explained, and everything rounded up, the final chapter brings all the plots and characters together in true Shakespearean fashion. All is revealed, the poor unfortunate Caliban, why there is a desert island just off the coast of Dover, and why the group were split up! The book is of a good length for all levels of reader and printed on dyslexic friendly paper. I look forward to Hurly-Burly (Macbeth in disguise!).
“Nut loved his sister and Leaf loved her brother, but everyone knew they were NOT like each other!” So the scene is set for Lu Fraser’s glorious rhyming ode to being yourself, a cheering, amusing tale that’s brilliantly brought to live by Mark McKinley’s simply stunning illustrations - they’re a veritable rainbow of energy and characterful detail. While adventurous Leaf loves to shoot her bow and swim icy lakes, Nut has no outdoor pursuits skills whatsoever. Rather, he prefers to bake, and harbours a secret passion for “slicing and dicing and mixing and whisking and really pink icing!” All of which means, come Viking Sports Day, Nut’s contribution is something of a disaster, until he hurls his cake in the Great Throwing Race and Chief Olaf recognises his culinary talents. Great fun, and there’s no arguing with its wise, warm-hearted message - “happiness comes when you just be yourself.”
The Boy Who Got Accidentally Famous is an epically entertaining tale, brought to life with illustrations by the brilliant Steven Lenton, which asks the question - what if everyone suddenly knew your name...? From million-copy bestselling author David Baddiel comes a laugh-out-loud story for readers of 8 and up that takes you on a roller-coaster ride of fame and friendship.
The brand-new must-have super funny series from the creators of the bestselling Naughtiest Unicorn! Join the super cutes for a super fun time at a very special school! Days at the Adventure School are all about learning to look after the natural world - and in the fantastical world of super cute this means learning about some very special creatures from the giant hug whales to the cuddly mer-kitties. But there's ONE animal who doesn't want to look after anyone or anything else ... Clive the spoilt chihuahua! Pip Bird's laugh-out-loud, heart-warming stories celebrate the differences in us all.
A thrilling new short story collection in the number-one bestselling, award-winning Murder Most Unladylike series. Featuring six marvellous mini-mysteries, including four original, brand-new and never-seen-before stories: The Case of the Second Scream: set aboard the ship carrying Daisy and Hazel back from Hong Kong The Case of the Uninvited Guest: Uncle Felix and Aunt Lucy's wedding is the target for an unlikely threat The Hound of Weston School: the Junior Pinkertons investigate a mysterious arrival The Case of the Deadly Flat: introducing Hazel's little sister May, who's determined to be the greatest spy ever The Case of the Missing Treasure: the detectives crack fiendish codes to catch a daring thief who is targeting London's famous museums The Case of the Drowned Pearl: murder follows the Detective Society wherever they go, even on holiday... The perfect book for all Detective Society fans and avid readers of the Murder Most Unladylike series.
Misbehaving parents, frustrated artistic ambitions, a unicorn-obsessed boy who dotes on her – just some of the problems detailed in this memoir of 12-year-old Peri (thankfully only her best friend knows her real name). As she writes sitting in the wardrobe, she’s convinced that her best friend Cammy hates her, and that their band The Spoons, which also features Cammy’s cat Margaret, is finished. It also seems that the boy she ‘likes’ likes, is a rotter. Her description of the events leading up to this unusually low point also include the curse of a malevolent pigeon. The story is gloriously funny and no matter how outlandish the action, always believable, and the characters, from Peri’s classmates to her teachers and parents, very well observed. While there’s nothing really to fear from pigeon curses, readers will pick up a sense of the importance of tolerance, kindness and compassion.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month August 2021 | Ten foolish teachers set out to walk through the dark forest because they missed the bus home…Surely they know who lives in dark forests? All too soon the Monsters start picking off one teacher after another until only the nursery teacher is left. And, being a nursery teacher, she knows all about how to deal with badly-behaved little monsters! Soon she is taming the Monsters from the forest in a brand new monster school with simple lessons in ‘please’ and ‘thanks’ and ‘don’t bite your friends’. It’s a good joke that neatly ends this carefully constructed story that very properly leaves so much of its telling to the pictures. Sarah Warburton’s cuddly monsters dispatch the careless teachers gleefully while remaining delightfully un-frightening!
August 2021 Book of the Month | Life in a small Tennessee town is not easy. Cash lost his mother to an opioid addiction and his Papaw is dying slowly from emphysema. Dodging drug dealers and watching out for his smart but troubled best friend, Delaney, is second nature to Cash. But when Delaney manages to secure both of them full scholarships to an elite school in Connecticut, Cash will have to grapple with his need to protect and love Delaney, and his fears about abandoning his old life.
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.
July 2021 Graphic Novel of the Month | Shortlisted for the Excelsior Award White 9+ KS2 | Seaerra Miller’s Mason Mooney Paranormal Investigator sets out its witty, spooky stall in the amusing introduction: “what you are about to read is a tale so twisted, it’ll knock you out of your socks and on to your bum. It’s got a bloody heart, a haunted house, D-list celebs and it all takes place in the terrifying town of Grimbrook.” And what follows is exactly that - a rollercoaster romp of supernatural adventure and struggles to overcome sceptics, witches, ghosts and grumps as Mason Mooney, Paranormal Investigator, attempts to uncover the secrets of Grimbrook’s most haunted house. With a glorious colour palette that put me in mind of Scooby Doo and Hanna Barbera classics, this is at once smart and wacky, spooky and silly - an immersive joy for 7+ year-olds seeking laughs and scares of the quirkier variety.
You've never seen the Wimpy Kid World like this before - an entirely new, awesome, friendly, truly fantastic fantasy quest from #1 international bestselling author Jeff Kinney! From the imagination of Wimpy Kid's Rowley Jefferson comes an adventure of epic proportions! Join Roland and his best friend, Garg the Barbarian, as they leave the safety of their village and embark on a quest to save Roland's mum from the White Warlock. Will our heroes survive? Find out in Rowley Jefferson's Awesome Friendly Adventure! And don't miss Rowley Jefferson's first book, the instant #1 bestseller, Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson's Journal.
Generously illustrated by Timothy with greyscale images this book is the first novel from poet Camden – a performance poet known as Polar Bear, and prize winner of the CLiPPA poetry award. Beautifully written we are taken into Jay’s world – a ten-year-old who is uncool and mostly ignored. But when his dad just ups and leaves no-one will answer Jay’s questions. So, he makes up his own answers – and shares them with his classmates! This suddenly makes him one of the coolest kids in class! But little does he realise just how complicated it is to keep track of his stories, and who he might hurt, badly, along the way. For a book about the dangers of lying – with a moral heart at its centre – it is a very amusing, funny book which will keep readers enthralled to see if Jay and his friendships survive – or what he can do to save the day? A powerful look at the dangers of untruths – and no matter what, the reader roots for Jay as he is such a lovely character, well drawn and full of the chaotic emotions of pre-teens thrown into their often complex school relationships.
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