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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
In a nutshell: enormously funny story about boy compelled to tell the truth Ever since his encounter with an old lady who might just have been a witch, Beaky Malone has been unable to speak anything but the truth – a difficult situation for anyone, but a disaster for a born fibber like Beaky. In this episode he’s chosen to represent the school in a competition that involves camping overnight; with school bully Wayne also on the team, a boy who has good reason to hate him, Beaky is understandably nervous. As ever the action is fast and very, very funny, but it’s surprising how many truths Barry Hutchison can smuggle into the story, about people, relationships, and how lies might just make the world go round. ~ Andrea Reece There are more laughs, along with canny insight into ordinary life in My Brother is a Superhero by David Solomons, or The Person Controller and The Parent Agency by David Baddiel.
Here are three more very funny stories of primary school life perfectly pitched for young readers. Wigglesbottom Primary year twos find excitement in all sorts of things – things that adults wouldn’t regard as out of the ordinary at all. When a dog appears in the playground, they decide it has superpowers and are soon finding all sorts of proof; there’s definitely something wrong with the school mashed potatoes though, they’re right about that. As for Susie Keys’s special egg and spoon race egg, keeping a distance is probably wise … Pamela Butchart catches all the joy and possibilities open in a young child’s imagination and her readers will completely understand her characters. Short chapters, lively illustrations and lots of humour make them even more irresistible reading. ~ Andrea Reece The Editor at Nosy Crow says: “These stories are a hoot from start to finish, and Becka Moor’s illustrations bring out the brilliance brilliantly. A joy for anyone who’s ever sat on an itchy story-time carpet. And who hasn’t?”
In a Nutshell: Humour | Adventure | Superpowers Laugh your socks off with this brilliantly funny fantasy adventure from a debut author whose passions are writing and running. Alex Sparrow has always wanted to have a super-power and to be a super-agent; then in year 6 something really extraordinary happens to him. Together with a rather clever goldfish called Bob and Alex's new best friend Jess who just happens to have a super-power too they must make use of their unique strengths to find who is behind a villainous plot and save the day. Full of farts, jokes and superhero references this is a perfect read for fun-loving kids with ambitions to go far. Readers will also enjoy Matt Brown’s Compton Valance series, or Jo Franklin’s Help! I’m a Genius.
May 2017 Book of the Month | In a Nutshell: Taking a stand for the people you love A touching tale of a teen girl’s endearing love for her grandmother, and the awe-inspiring, life-enhancing trip they take together. Zoe Bird is a wonderful whirlwind of a character. Her voice fizzes with energy - and anger. Alongside having to deal with a whole lot of nastiness at the hands of her bullying cousin Madi (AKA Saint Suckhole), she’s trying to cope with the fact that her beloved grandmother has Alzheimer’s. Granny is Zoe's closest friend, an ally who knows that Zoe has “the biggest heart in the world”. But Granny forgets things, and it’s getting worse. She sometimes goes to the store in her dressing gown, she’s failing to take care of herself, and she keeps mentioning her son Teddy, an uncle Zoe has never met. So Zoe’s parents decide that it’s time for her to move into an old people’s home, but not for long… A family revelation leads Zoe to break Granny out of the home and they take a trip that leads to unexpected discoveries, and unforeseen joy. Zoe’s relationship with Granny is nothing short of beautiful. I cried, I laughed, then cried some more at her bravery and absolute, unflinching emotional and physical support of her grandmother. By turns heartbreaking and hilarious, and always life-affirming, this will be adored by readers who enjoyed Jacqueline Wilson at a younger age. ~ Joanne Owen
In a Nutshell: School life, suspense, and stepping from the shadows of grief and guilt An emotionally-charged, edge-of-your-seat thriller in which a young woman experiences a rollercoaster ride of guilt, grief and complex friendships. Twin sisters Harper and Jenna had always wanted to go to boarding school like the St Clare’s twins, and Harper gets to do just that when her dad wins big on a work lottery syndicate. But, far from fulfilling a lifelong dream, Harper wants to go to Duncraggan Academy to escape the guilt she feels for her sister’s anorexia-related death. While secretly grappling with this, she makes great friends, and then new girl Kirsty is invited into their peer group. She and Harper bond when Kirsty confides that she’s also lost a sister, but things get way out of control when Kirsty becomes Harper-obsessed and claustrophobically clingy. Tension builds to a jaw-dropping crescendo as truths are revealed, loyalties are tested, and a whole lot of understanding is needed. Gripping and gratifyingly multi-layered, fans of thrillers with emotional depth will find much to love here. ~ Joanne Owen
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