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In a nutshell: laugh-out loud adventures with the boy who can’t lie Poor Beaky Malone’s life was thrown into chaos when an encounter with the mysterious Madame Shirley robbed him of his ability to tell a lie, making school and home life a minefield. In this latest adventure he has some particular challenges to meet: first, in pre-unable-to-lie days, he’d entered his dog into TV’s Most Talented Pets, claiming Destructo could ride a bike; plus he’s got the starring role in the school play – Romeo and Juliet with Aliens – playing opposite his crush Evie. In Barry Hutchison’s capable hands everything that can go wrong does, and a whole lot of other things too. It makes for first-rate, top-speed situation comedy, the laughs coming not just because of the silly set-up but because we actually care for and sympathise with Beaky too. An honest-to-goodness treat for readers! Readers who laugh at Beaky will also enjoy Frank Cottrell Boyce’s The Astounding Broccoli Boy, My Brother is a Superhero by David Solomons or The Person Controller by David Baddiel. ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: thoughtful story of a little girl and her family, touched with magic The day her mum goes off to hospital to have her new baby brother is the day Ginny finds a very unusual egg in the hen house. It’s not a hen’s egg, it’s a dragon’s egg, and soon Ginny is step-mum to a baby dragon. The dragon might not be like the hens, or like Ginny either, but she loves it and wants to do her best to look after it. When her mum finds it difficult to bond with the new baby, who has Down’s syndrome, Ginny understands, and the little dragon can help. It’s a story full of warmth and insight, and readers will love the idea of adopting a dragon and understand how protective Ginny feels towards her little brother too. ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: super-readable story | robot rumpus at high school | Uh-oh, things are not running smoothly in the Hayes-Rodriguez household, which is highly unusual, because Mum, a robot scientist, has invented a host of machines to ensure it does. Something has upset the robots, and suddenly it’s chaos. With Mum busy on something else, it’s up to Sammy and his little sister Maddie to work out what’s gone wrong. It’s James Patterson’s mission to get and keep kids turning pages, and he’s a master of the art. Sammy’s wise-cracking narration hooks readers from the first, the action is pretty well non-stop, and the cartoon illustrations come thick and fast too; yet there’s still space for feelings and emotions too. Other authors creating addictive and irresistible page-turners for young readers include Steve Cole, Liz Pichon and Jim Smith. ~ Andrea Reece
The Notion Potion is the hilarious third book in the Moone Boy series, based on the Sky TV series from dream team Chris O'Dowd and Nick Vincent Murphy In a nutshell: surreal and hilarious knockabout comedy Martin Moone and his IF (imaginary friend) Sean Murphy are back in another fine example of surreal yet totally satisfying storytelling. Martin is preparing for E.O.P.S. (End Of Primary School) and is suddenly conscious that he hasn’t achieved anything to put him on the school’s Winners’ Wall. Could the Invention Convention science competition change that? Sean is at his side as ever and ready to help, though he’s somewhat distracted by his new pet, a birthday present from Martin, Wilbert the Wonkey (half donkey, half werewolf and supposedly an IF’s Best Friend). Readers genuinely won’t know what’s going to happen next, and the copious footnotes provide as many laughs as the bizarre cast of characters and the ludicrous situations that Martin and Sean find themselves in. Inspired nuttiness! Andrea Reece
November 2018 Book of the Month | Wonder was a sensation when it was first published in 2012, and the story of Auggie and his fight to be accepted as a normal boy has now hit the big screen in a movie starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Jacob Tremblay, Daveed Diggs, and Mandy Patinkin. This is a special film tie-in edition. Frank, powerful, warm and often heart-breaking, Wonder is a book you'll read in one sitting, pass on to others, and remember long after the final page. This is a wonderful debut from a storyteller with a great future if this book is anything to go by and her characters are intensely likeable.
October 2017 Debut of the Month In a nutshell: boy discovers his magical powers at school This funny, action-packed story will satisfy readers with a taste for magic, school capers and the absurd. Everyone in Zach’s family can do magic, except him. When he reaches the age of 11, still magic free, his parents give up and send him to his local school. Amongst the usual ups and downs of school – making friends, running up against the bullies, developing a massive crush on a fellow classmate – Zach discovers his magic, via of all things a pair of old baseball caps. Playing around with his new skill makes him something of a YouTube star, but attracts the attention of mean girl Trisha too. Neatly told with some of the zaniest scenes brought to life through cartoon strip illustration, this will be a real hit with young readers. ~ Andrea Reece
August 2017 Debut of the Month Move over Georgia Nicolson. Say goodbye to Geek Girl. Meet Emma Nash. `According to Netflix, this is NOT how my teenage life is supposed to look.' Nursing a broken heart, Emma Nash spends her summer in her room, hiding from the world. Seeing Leon suddenly `in a relationship' on Facebook, however, spurs Emma into action. She vows to use the internet for good (instead of stalking Leon's social media), chronicling her adventures on her new Editing Emma blog. But life online doesn't always run smoothly. From finding her mum's Tinder profile, to getting catfished and accidentally telling the entire world why Leon Naylor is worth no girl's virginity... Surely nothing else could go wrong?!
Scarlett's blog has found success beyond her wildest dreams. A TV show is on the cards and the Secret Cooking Club has several new members. What's more, her mum is getting married, and Scarlett is baking the wedding cake. Everything is perfect ... or is it? Her estranged dad arrives in town unannounced, and Scarlett's friends say fame has gone to her head. As the wedding approaches, she has much more on her mind than the perfect bake ...
In a nutshell: Rafe Khatchadorian heads down under In this special episode of the hugely popular Middle School series, Rafe Khatchadorian, surely everyone’s favourite reformed troublemaker, has won a special art competition, first prize an all-expenses paid trip to Australia. Rafe isn’t sure he wants to go – he’s worried about snakes, sharks and all those other deadly indigenous creatures – but Australia isn’t ready for Rafe either: by the end of the book he and his mum, who accompanies him, are facing down an angry mob waving pitchforks. Finding out just what leads up to this is very funny indeed and readers will be pleased to hear that Rafe still returns home something of a hero. Kids everywhere will identify with Rafe, and especially those who just can’t help attracting trouble; he’s a very special hero, and Patterson’s narrative technique means the pages turn almost by themselves. ~ Andrea Reece
Surrender yourself to the new hypnotic spell of the Demon Headmaster, with new kids, a new school, and a new thrilling scheme for world domination. Fast paced and action packed adventure, written by the award-winning Gillian Cross. Resistance is not an option. Lovereading Review to follow.
One of the great characters of children’s books, the Demon Headmaster rules his school with his sea-green eyes through which he hypnotises the pupils. When Dinah arrives she sets up SPLAT, a group designed to protect the pupils from the head’s paranormal powers and to break his dictatorship. From the very first day at her new school, Dinah can see that something is horribly wrong. The children are strangely neat and well-behaved and they even work during break. What's going on? How can she find out the truth? And what is the secret of the Headmaster's control? A brilliant spooky series for readers aged eight upwards who relish stories with intriguing plots and sharply contrasting characters.
One of our Books of the Year 2018 | June 2017 Book of the Month | In a nutshell: more fast, funny, heavily illustrated adventures with everyone’s favourite junior comic Lots has happened since Jamie Grimm’s first appearance in I Funny. Then he was a would-be stand-up comic, now he’s an established star with his own TV sitcom. Some things haven’t changed however, he’s still got an implacable enemy in his cousin, Stevie Kosgrove, especially when Stevie sees how he’s represented in Jamie’s sitcom. Back at middle school, can Jamie avoid Stevie, sort out his uncle’s Frankie’s love life, save the school library, and still keep his audience laughing? No matter how wild and wacky the action, Jamie’s presence and distinctive voice hold it all together and this is another sure-fire page-turner. Laughs and plot twists can be taken for granted, but Patterson makes sure the story delivers on character too, and the chance to see the world through someone else’s eyes. ~ Andrea Reece
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