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Like all classics of American middle grade fiction - as this may well be esteemed in future - this is radiant with humour, heart and a whole lot of indelibly authentic child-centred observations and emotions. With his dad away on army service, and faced with being plunged into the jungle of middle school, Carter already has plenty on his plate when his family inherits the services of an eccentric British butler. While Carter is quick to revolt against the butler’s rigorous regime of tea-drinking, homework and housekeeping (including folding underwear, can you believe it?!), the butler’s ways, wisdom and polite-but-firm guidance (AKA being “a pain in the glutes”) casts a healing spell over the family’s soul, exactly when they need it most. Then, as the butler shares his love of “the most lovely and sportsmanly game that mankind has yet conceived” (AKA cricket) with Carter’s schoolmates, Carter himself comes to share his troubles and release his anger and grief so he can keep the metaphoric “bails from coming down”. Suffused with the same warmth, compassion and originality of the author’s stunning debut, Orbiting Jupiter , this funny, moving middle grade novel is a true treasure with broad appeal and rich rewards.
April 2019 Book of the Month | The tables are turned in Jeff Kinney’s new comic adventure and the wimpy kid telling the story and steering the action is Rowley Jefferson, Greg Heffley’s best friend. As Greg’s long-suffering sidekick he deserves his turn in the spotlight, though as he apologetically points out, most of the book is still about Greg. The boys’ escapades, quarrels and daft schemes are just as funny as when we hear them via Greg. No-one does the straight to camera narrative style of the diary better than Kinney and no matter how straight Jeff tells it, our understanding of the action is often quite different to his. This is as authentic and funny as the original Wimpy Kid books and makes just as irresistible reading.
Following hot on the heels of Resurrection, this eleventh instalment of Skulduggery Pleasant’s incomparable exploits offers everything devoted fans have come to expect - all-out action, astonishing twists, riotously witty repartee – and more, for this latest epic ramps up the stakes on the emotional front. Intrepid, intelligent, endlessly entertaining Valkyrie Cain is no stranger to fighting to keep her friends and family from harm, but this gripping story sees her having to face her biggest battle yet when a cruel killer captures her little sister, Alice. Worse still, she has just twelve hours to track her down. The sense of urgency and anxiety is heart-poundingly evoked, and I thoroughly enjoyed discovering more about Omen.
April 2019 Debut of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2019 | An ebullient debut picture book with a great twist which young readers will love spotting as the story unfolds. When Grandma loses her glasses, Isobel sets about helping her to find them. Searching in the garden they find a very big cat… Grandma loves cats and she is always taking in strays. Without her glasses she can’t really see just how big a bundle of orange fur that this new cat is! Nor can she work out why so much cat food is getting eaten. Young readers will spot that she is reading a story about a tiger which is probably very familiar to them. And they will realise that this cat is actually very closely related to the two tigers who come looking for it! Bold cats in strong colours are at the heart of this great story. Find colouring in and puzzle pages in this Big Cat Activity Pack - download here!
For those of you who don't know, Fabio is indeed the world's greatest flamingo detective, a kind of pink, long-legged Hercule Poirot. He's assisted in his work by his friend Gilbert, a giraffe, who is very well-meaning but mostly at least one step behind Fabio when it comes to solving their cases. This story concerns the dramatic theft of a priceless jewel from a passenger on the Ostrich Express and, as detective stories go, it's very satisfying indeed, with a twist in the tail that readers won't see coming, while Fabio, Gilbert and their various animal co-stars are delightful characters. Illustrations on every page - in flamboyant, dayglo pinks and oranges, make this as interesting to look at as it is to read, and this is a perfect book for readers just enjoying reading on their own.
Meet Nancy, Otto, Winnie and all the other dinosaur juniors, as they traverse life's first ups and downs - all in Rob's trademark rhyme filled with warmth and humour. Perfect for Rob's youngest fans, with colourful, detailed artwork and a simple rhyming text just right for reading aloud.
There’s monster-sized fun for readers to be had at the Nothing To See Here Hotel – after all, it is the world’s number one holiday destination for magical creatures. In the company of the proprietors’ son, the irrepressible Frankie Banister (who is part troll by the way), we get best seats for the action which here concerns the return of Frankie’s great-great-great-grandfather Abraham, as a ghost. You’d think great-great-great-granny Regurgita would be happy to see her husband back, but nothing goes as you’d expect in these stories, and maybe everyone should be a bit suspicious of Abraham. Adventures don’t come more extraordinary or more enjoyable than these, and any readers with a taste for fast-moving, fabulously funny illustrated tales should book in asap.
It’s a superhero book, folks, but not as we know it. Murph, star of this funny and good-natured series by Greg James and Chris Smith, is different from most of the kids at his school in that he doesn’t have superpowers. However, there’s a lot to be said for teamwork, and as leader of the Super Zeroes, he’s discovered a way to be heroic without the powers. Have he and his compadres met their match though in the thoroughly unscrupulous supervillain Magpie? As ever it’s a fast-moving caper packed with jokes and humour, and thoroughly satisfying from beginning to end. Erica Salcedo deserves special mention too for her energetic and distinctive black and white illustrations. One to recommend to fans of David Solomons’ My Brother is a Super-Hero series and Danny Wallace’s Hamish books.
With its comic storyline and bright, bold, minimalist illustrations, The Steves is another bit of picture book genius from the hugely talented Morag Hood. It stars two young puffins, both lively and busy, both called Steve – which is where the trouble starts. The two compete – with increasing determination and bluster – to be top, ‘the Stevest Steve’. Watching their antics as they try to best one another is very funny and the illustrations brim with vitality right to the last page, with its unexpected twist. Children will laugh out loud at what the two Steves get up to, but they’ll recognise all the emotions they’re feeling too. Brilliant!
Christmas without presents or Easter without eggs? - unthinkable! Whilst Santa has his army of elves to help him, the poor eggs-hausted Easter Bunny has to do all the work himself. He makes the eggs, delivers the eggs and doesn't even get a thank you. So the fed up Easter Bunny plans revenge and causes havoc in Santa's factory and spoils all the presents with a mountain of chocolate....but fortunately Father Christmas is partial to a little chocolate...and so of course is the Easter Bunny!
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