Book reviews - fiction 5 to 11 (page 2)

Christmas According to Humphrey by Betty G Birney

Humphrey views himself as just another one of the class at Longfellow School and he shares in all the classroom fun - and no time is more fun than the run up to Christmas! The music teacher, Miss Lark, spent a lot of time in Room 26, preparing the class for the Christmas performance. But the children were having problems, so Humphrey sets out to solve them on his own. He's a really appealing character - especially so, of course, to those lucky enough to own their own hamster - and I am sure lots of children would love their own real-life Humphrey! But if they can't have one, his adventures are the next best thing!

Run! The Elephant Weighs a Ton! (Zoo Story) by Adam Frost

Another super series to encourage children to be aware of the wonderful animals around us, and to help them appreciate how fortunate we are to be able to enjoy seeing some of them in our zoos. Tom and Sophie join their mum at Whipsnade Zoo where she is helping an elephant deliver its calf. The calf, Dirshani, struggles to survive as he has trouble feeding but eventually the calf grows stronger.  During the next year the young elephant is encouraged to take its place in the herd. Tom and Sophie dream that one day Dirshani will take part in the elephant demonstration. But there are a few hurdles for them all to cross before that dream is realised in this thrilling animal adventure.

Horrid Henry's A - Z of Everything by Francesca Simon

A bumper book for all fans of the horrid but nonetheless lovable Henry, alll embellished (of course) with Tony Ross' wonderful illustrations - all in glorious colour to add an extra dimension. Everything that you can think of in the books is here - Henry's family, his friends, his favourite places and all the bits and pieces that go to make up his hilarious adventures. Children's memories of the books will come back to them and I think it highly likely they will be encouraged to go back and re-read the books. Lots to read about and lots to laugh about, this will be much in demand to complement the books. It's great fun.

Swallows and Amazons (Vintage Classics) by Arthur Ransome

Swallows and Amazons has to be my favourite childhood book! This classic tale of the adventures of the Walker and Blackett families in the Lake District has all the elements of a perfect children's book and its appeal is timeless, as we enjoy an idyllic world where children were safe to play out their adventures on water and land.
It is one in the Vintage Children’s Classics, an imprint of The Random House Group. This is an attractively produced and affordable series of books intended to inspire and nurture a life-long love of reading in children and adults alike.The launch list features twenty titles. A special feature of every book is the exclusive ‘Backstory’ material, including quizzes,  family activities and fascinating facts about the books and their authors. This is an excellent way to extend the pleasure of books and makes the series perfect for classroom use, as the ideas are excellent for teachers and librarians.

The Wind in the Willows (Vintage Classics) by Kenneth Grahame 

Kenneth Grahame's idyllic story of the riverbank friends needs no introduction - it remains perennially fresh and charming. The 'backstory' really aids appreciation of the book - find out about the characters, the natural world around them and try a quiz. This is an excellent new series which would be wonderful to start a library for children - I am thinking perhaps grandparents could buy the books on special occasions to add to the library. Titles, both classic and contemporary) already published include - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Vintage Childrens Classics),  The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (Vintage Childrens Classics)The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (Vintage Childrens Classics) and  The Silver Sword (Vintage Childrens Classics). The series is accompanied by the launch of a dedicated interactive website – with fun quizzes, downloads and extra material.

Osbert the Avenger (Tales from Schwartzgarten) by Christopher William Hill

The first book of four in the highly original Tales from Schwartzgarten series. Meet Osbert Brinkhoff, a most unlikely avenger, who has won a scholarship to The Institute- a sinister school with a very selective intake. The teachers terrorise the children and Osbert, with the help of Isabella Myop, is set on revenge. A gruesome but funny story which will appeal to those who like a somewhat darker side to their reading. Publication date 4 October 2012 - children who sign up for the Review Crew are given pre-publication copies with a feedback form.

Elko: Lord of the Sea (Beast Quest) by Adam Blade

Beast Quest is a hugely popular series - books 61 to 66 have just been released and the story-telling remains as good as ever. A new evil enemy and dangerous realm await Tom on his new Beast Quest. Elko Lord of the Sea has risen from the waves to wreak havoc. Can Tom overcome this deadly peril? Another exciting adventure to enjoy, plus four more cards to collect. THere is a fun interactive website at

Ellie May Would Like to be Taken Seriously for a Change by Marianne Levy

A tongue-in-cheek look at the superficiality of the celebrity culture. Ellie May is a young film star with a big personality. She does all the things film stars do - including supporting a good cause. And her good cause is nature - she's helping her new friend Lettice save a nature reserve. That can't be hard, can it? Is Ellie May's life really the dream life that it should be? This is a funny story, and will have the appreciative reader laughing out loud, but there is a serious undercurrent about the importance of friendship. Ellie May is part of Jelly Pie, Egmont's exclusive list of young humour books.

 My Happy Life by Rose Lagercrantz and Eva Eriksson


Dani's positive personality shines through in this story, despite all the hardship she faces in her young life. She has always longed to start school and her enjoyment is complete when she meets Ella Frida - Dani and Ella Frida do everything together. But Dani's happy world falls apart.... This is a delightful and reassuring story about families, friendship and overcoming adversity. Simply told, with a high ratio of picture to text, it's an approachable and accessible introduction to more meaty chapter books, that will leave the reader with a real sense of accomplishment and a good book enjoyed - as well as feeling uplifted and positive.


Love, Lucie by Marita Conlon-McKenna

This is a touching and moving story, told through the medium of lettesr written by Lucie to her mother after her mother's death. The family is devastated by the loss of their mother and the book has an emotional start as Lucie writes about the funeral. The family struggles to cope - they have to deal not only with the emotional suffering but also the many practical things Mum did and which they often took for granted. Lucie is 11 and there are so many ways in which she needs a mother to turn to for help - writing the letters is a way of asking for help. An emotional and heartbreaking story of loss. It is recommended for readers of 8+ but I think adults should be on hand to reassure young readers. The writing is so powerful that young readers are really drawn into the life of Lucie and her family; there is a reassuring feel of optimism and looking forward at the end.

Evie the Swan Sister Spell Sisters) by Amber Castle

The series owes much to the legends of King Arthur. This is the 6th story about Gwen who is on a quest to protect the enchanted island of Avalon from the evil sorceress Morgana Le Fay. This time, Gwen and her cousin Flora attempt to rescue Evie, the sister who holds the magical control of birds. Perfect for readers of 7+ who like their magic spiked with mystery - they will enjoy following the sisters through the stories and seeing familiar characters reappear. Each book contains a sticker sheet - collect all the books then make your own scene at .

Leave it to Eva by Judi Curtin

Her friends are really important to Eva and she will go to any lengths to help them - more than they really want her to sometimes!  When she returns to Seacove for the summer, she finds her friend Kate is in trouble, with her granny in hospital and with no else to look after her. Eva tries to help Kate who is hiding at home, but that's a big task to take on. And then there's Ruby and the chance to visit London. With so much going on, can Eva cope and help her friends? I particularly like the snappy and realistic dialogue and this is a great series about friendship which girls will love.

Feathers in the Wind (International Rescue) by Sally Grindley

This is the third adventure for the Brook children, who travel the world with their parents, helping animals in danger of extinction. Written with the support of ZSL London Zoo, the books are a great way of gaining factual information about animals whilst enjoying an adventure stoty. The family are at the annual kite festival in Ahmedabad when they find an unexpected danger posed by seeminlgy innocent kites. The strings of the kites are glazed with slivers of glass so that they can cut down other kites. These pose huge danger to birds, who become entangled in them. Can the family help the birds? The authentic background gives an interesting insight into India's life and culture.

Ocean of Peril (Usborne Action Dogs) by Steve barlow and Steve Skidmore

Steve Barlow and Steve Skidmore are the authors of many popular series for children and Action Dogs in their latest. As you would expect, there are plenty of crazy adventures as the crime-busting group, the Action Dogs, set out to foil Katmanchew who has sabotaged an ocean liner -with the help of new recruit Benji. The comic strip format and hilarious pun-filled text will have instant appeal and children will be encouraged to buy the set of books to collect the free game cards. Enjoy more action at

Spike in Space by Malaika Rose Stanley

"Want a story that's full of ALIENS and MONSTERS, and horrible, out-of-this-world smelly POO?" What child could resist? In a hilarious sequel to Spike and Ali Enson, Spike is off to live with his adoptive family on another planet. Spike faces lots of challenges - a new school, a nasty bully and attack by a deadly monster. The combination of everyday things with which all kids are familiar - mum in a tracksuit and smelly nappies, for starters - and the excitement of life in space make this a fascinating and enjoyable series, which also carries a strong message about the importance of families and the reassurance they give.

The Music of Zombies (Tales from the Five Kingdoms) by Vivian French

Although this is the fifth in the series, it is the first I have reviewed so I have missed out on thye excitement of following the series - I think I would have enjoyed the book even more had I read them in sequence, so that's a recommendation for the reader! Prince Albion wants a grand celebration for Cockenzie Rood Day but when he's kidnapped by Fiddleduster Squint, his plans go awry. When Squint is refused entry across the magical border he and his creepy shadow go in search of giants with the intention of tricking them into causing all sorts of mayhem. It's a race against time Can Gracie Gillypot, Prince Marcus and Gubble the troll (don't you love the names?) disaster? And will there be a romantic ending? Comedy and fantasy blend together brilliantly to make an engaging read.

Stop! There's a Snake in Your Suitcase (Zoo Story) by Adam Frost

Tom and Sophie Nightingale live on a barge near London Zoo and their mum is a vet. They learn about the trade in illegal animals when a bag of snakes is dumped at the zoo. Packed with fast-moving action, this is an exciting story with a serious theme. Children will learn a lot about animals and caring from them whilst enjoying a good story. This is one in a range of books produced by Bloomsbury and A&C Black in conjunction with ZSL London Zoo and these are an excellent way to raise children's awareness of the wonderful work done by the zoo.

Alfie Jones and a Test of Character by David Fuller 

Another excellent tale for football loving boys. Nine year old Alfie plays for the Kingsway Colts. It's time for the football tournament - but one of the competing teams has been formed by the previous coach and captain from the Kingsway Colts. In comes Madam Zola with a strange piece of advice -  'never judge a book by its cover'. What does this mean? Alfie must find out as he believes his dream of one day becoming a professional footballer depends on it. The characters are interestingly portrayed and provide (in the case of the 'goodies!) good role models. David is a football coach, so there is plenty of inside knowledge to enjoy through the book and to inspire aspiring young footballers. Find out more at

My Hamster is a Genius (Stinky and Jinks) by Dave Lowe

Buying your child a pet seems a very unusual punishment! Meet nine year old Benjamin Jinks and his grumpy hamster, Jasper Stinkybottom. Benjamin is a very normal boy who hates maths. Stinky is a genius hamster, who likes carrots. Together they are an unstoppable team! But can they overcome the evil scheming of Ben's maths teacher, Beardy McCreedy? Mark Chambers' simple quirky illustrations suit the story perfectly. This is a very promising start to what will hopefully be a prolific series - there's lots of potential here. Short chapters, well placed text and plenty of entertaining drawings make this ideal for beginner readers just starting to enjoy chapter books.

Alien in My Belly Button by Jimmy Mars

This is the first in a series which will definitely appeal to children, although parents may be a little more doubtful! But appealing to children is what it's all about!  Pete Perkins is an ordinary boy who loves getting into mischief. But when he wakes up one night to find a tiny green alien called Binko crawling out of his belly button, it seems like a joke too far! Binko the alien is on a mission to find the Toe Cheese Chimple, and starts in the most disgusting place on the planet in the galaxy...Pete Perkins' house! Together, Pete and Binko will search every toe, nose, bum and armpit in this filthy and funny adventure. This book is full of stinks, stonks, whiffs and PPPAAAAARRRRPPPPS!

Nitty Winnie by Laura Owen and Korky Paul

The popular witch returns in a collection of short stories just right for beginner readers. In 'Winnie's Wet Weekend' Winnie and Wilbur escape to the seaside where Winnie discovers the perils of living in a sandcastle; in 'Jurassic Winnie' a quest for a cereal packet collector's card sends Winnie and Wilbur back to the time of the dinosaurs; in 'A Wedding for Winnie' the preparations for her sister Wendy's wedding take a crazy turn when Winnie is put in charge; and in 'Nitty Winnie' find out what happens when Winnie's head is invaded by some tiny uninvited guests! Four crazily funny stories featuring everyone's favourite witch, her big black cat, Wilbur, and a zany Fans of Winnie will enjoy meeting some new characters in these stories.

 Marco Moonwalker - A Rather Remarkable Grizzly Bear by Gerry Boland

Marco is a bear of many talents and in this story his musical genius is uncovered. He can play the banjo and the trombone and enjoys dancing to Michael Jackson's music. Patrick has a bright idea - he starts a band called The 3Ms (for Mum, Me and Marco). But things go wrong when Marco is spotted, despite his disguise, and returned to the zoo. But Mum has a really clever plan... A fun read for 6+.

Shrinking Violet by Lou Kuenzler

Normal size one minute, fish finger size the next! A hilarious heroine and a heart-warming action-packed story.  Lovely family relationships depicted between Violet and her 14 year old teenage sister and Violet and her granny.! Today is the most exciting day in Violet's life - she seems to have waited forever to  ride Plunger, the scariest roller coaster around, and finally she is tall enough. But perhaps you can guess what happens...Violet never wants to shrink again. But when Granny is accused of stealing, it seems that only tiny Violet can catch the real thief. The first book in a very funny new series - it's great to see a feisty and hilarious new heroine.

Too Many Blooms (Flower Girls) by Catherine R Daly

An unusual and eye-catching cover sets the tone for the book. The Bloom girls - Delphinium ("Del"), Rose, Aster and Poppy live in a family full of drama. Del likes to escape to her grandparents' flower shop for peace and quiet. But when Gran and Gramps leave the flower shop for Del's scatterbrained parents to look after, peace is over! Can the family make a success of their first big order - a wedding where everything must be perfect. A close-knit family, who work and have fun together and a delightful heroine. I look forward to more!

Birthday Fun (Willow Valley) by Tracey Corderoy

The publisher's blurb tells us that "Willow Valley is a very special place", and it certainly is. An idyllic world, inhabited by lots of friendly animals, including Horatio the hedgehog, Starla the badger and Riley the mouse. Tracey Corderoy's Willow Valley series is ideal for children just setting out to read on their own. Short chapters that can stand alone as well as be enjoyed as part of the whole book are just the right length for beginner readers, to give confidence and encouragement.

Spooky Sleepover (Willow Valley) by Tracey Corderoy

Willow Valley is nestled in a hidden valley where trees of all shapes and sizes grow on the rolling green hills and pretty flowers dance in the meadows. Only the animals who live there know their way in and out, but they hardly ever want to lave because they're having too much fun! Riley the mouse, Starla the badger and Horatio the hedgehog are the best of friends. One night, they decide to camp out in Riley's garden but they hadn't realised there would be so many scary noises - a familiar scenario to many parents who allow their children to camp out in the garden!

Hide and Seek (Willow Valley) by Tracey Corderoy

Sometimes, the friends do leave Willow Valley and sometimes they all go off to market to sell their home made goods. As ever, they all have a lovely time playing together. When Riley's sister Mimi Rose goes missing, the friends know that, annoying though she might be, they have to find her before it gets dark. Where can she be? Delightful illustrations are full of detail which brigs the stories alive and give adult and child plenty to talk about.

The Big Bike Race (Willow Valley) by Tracey Corderoy

Another story in this charming series. It's a lovely one for girls to collect, with its slightly smaller than usual format and the delicately illustrated covers, reminiscent of Alison Uttley. Riley the mouse has been entered in the bike race by the school bully - but he can't ride a bike! His friends come to the rescue and between theem they are quite derermined that Riley will succeed. A delightful story about friendship and having faith in yourself.

Four Children and It by Jacqueline Wilson

This is Jacqueline Wilson's tribute to a much loved children's story (E Nesbit's Five Children and It. When the four children find a Psammead in a sandpit in Oxshott, Rosalind makes a wish - the wish is to meet the children from the original story, Robert, Anthea, Cyril, Jane and baby Lamb. Their wish comes true - and what was a boring holiday becomes the best holiday ever. The new bestseller from Jacqueline Wilson is a funny, moving and heartwarming story of four children who discover a way to make wishes come true. This is a great read both for Jacqueline Wilson's army of fans and also for all those of us who love the original. I really hope it encourages children to read the classic story!

The Best Friend Wish (Lucky Stars 1) by Phoebe Bright

The first in a new collectable series for young girls - this comes with a charm bracelet, and the next five in the series have a charm for the bracelet, so girls will be eager to have the first. It is a magical world, where dreams really do come true. Cassie flies off to the secret world of the stars, and finds she is destined to be a Lucky Star – someone who can grant real wishes, but only when she has collected six charms - just like the reader!  Cassie must learn how to use the magical charms wisely and find someone who needs her help. Could Alex, the boy staying at her parents' B & B, have a secret wish?

Raven Hearts by Kitty Slade

Hey, Kitty Slade here, just checking in again. I was getting pretty used to seeing, you know, dead people - but they can still take a girl by surprise. This one - this one was weird. When Kitty goes to stay on an eerie, windswept moor, she soon hears about a terrifying ghost hound rumoured to prey on humans. A man has disappeared without a trace - and he's not the first. Helped by a strange spirit called Lupa, Kitty must solve the mystery - and fast... Find out more on Fiona Dunbar's website.

Archie's Unbelievably Freaky Week by Andrew Norriss

Archie is a walking disaster albeit a hilarious one! In the short space of a week, he  is accused of murder, gets trapped in the staff cloakroom without any clothes, and manages to turn himself into a dog. Not to mention the poisonous spider and the Health and Safety Inspector who gets a toilet stuck on his head . . .Thank goodness Archie's best friend Cyd is always there to sort out the mess. It's non-stop, laugh-aloud fun. Who can possibly find reading boring when there are books like this?

Tango Tangle (Strictly Come Dancing) by Chloe Melody

Strictly Come Dancing is such a huge hit in the UK that a series of books based on the show can hardly fail to be popular! The books are geared towards girls of 6 to 9, who will love to feel involved in the world of the TV show, with its thrilling dancing and wonderful costumes. Bella loves to dance! So when an invitation arrives to audition for Strictly Dance Academy Bella can't wait to try out. But there are so many other talented girls with the same dream. Can Bella dazzle the judges and beat the competition to take her place under the glitterball spotlight? A must-read for anyone who has ever wished they could be a part of the glamorous world of Strictly Come Dancing.

Sammy Feral's Diary of Weird by Eleanor Hawken

What a wonderful life Sammy Feral has! His family run a zoo and so he spends his spare time hanging out with orangutans, crocodiles and snakes. But just imagine what happens when the family - with the exception of Sammy - is infected with a werewolf virus! Now his mum, dad and sisters are howling at the moon and craving raw meat  There are allies -  Donny and Red - and an enemy in the shape of an evil professor determined to take over Feral Zoo. With no known cure for the virus, Sammy faces real problems!. A well-paced story which keeps the attention and moves at just the right pace to involve the reader. This is a hilarious story, just right for boys age 7 - 10.

Kidnapped (Sam Silver Undercover Pirate) by Jan Burchett and Sara Vogler

I am really enjoying the Sam Silver series. It has all the hallmarks of a good old-style adventure story, with fast-paced action that really involves young readers. The time-shifting gives the stories a real appeal for today's readers, and pirates are always popular. A fearsome encounter with enemy ships leads to a huge sea battle. When the smoke clears, Sam realises Charlie has vanished. Could his crewmate have been kidnapped? It's Sam Silver to the rescue!

The Dotty Dalmation (Pooch Parlour) by Anna Wilson

The Pooch Parlour - a beauty salon for dogs. But it's no ordinary salon  - it's a place where mysteries are solved. The new assistant is a hit with all the dogs - but Pippa Peppercorn is suspicious. Are her suspicions justified? And to add to the problems, the town of Crumbly-Under-Edge is suffering from a spate of burglaries, and there's a mysterious spotty dog causing trouble too. Will it all be too much for Pippa and Dash the dachshund to resolve? The book starts off well, as the amusing cast of characters is introduced, setting the scene really well.


The Odds by Adam Perrott

Beware the Odds! Mrs Odd, Mr Odd and the twins, Edgar and Elsie are a family of Professional Pranksters.Have you ever put down a drink, gone to do something else, and come back to find the drink is nowhere to be seen? They delight in making mischief, and playing tricks on each other, or on the unsuspecting residents of the town of Trott. But they meet their match in the Plopwells - a seemingly unflappable couple whose dastardly plans make the Odds look like a bunch of goody-goodies. Can the Odds work together to defeat the fiendish pair?

ParaNorman by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel

Norman isn't afraid of ghosts. They're his friends - in fact, they are the only friends he has.When a terrible witch's curse unleashes a horde of zombies on his home-town, Norman needs to keep his head. And stop the zombies chewing on his brains. Not an easy job when you've just been grounded.It's a race against time: can Norman beat the zombies and save the day? A hilarious adventure, brought to life as a major motion picture!

A Rainbow Shopping Day by Vivian French

When popular children's authors write books especially for the early reading marke, you know children are guaranteed a good read - and hopefully, that they will go on to enjoy many more books by the same author. When Jason is ill, Mum tells him a story to make him feel better. It's all about a shopping expedition - an expedition that involves all the colours of the rainbow. And then there's another story, about Hunter the dog. Plenty of colour pictures and not too much text make these just right for beginner readers. 

 Bella Donna: Cat Magic by Ruth Symes

Bella's favourite cat, Pegatha, has gone missing. When all the witches from Coven Road fly off on their broomsticks in search, but still can't find her, Bella Donna realises that someone must have put a spell on her beloved cat. Can she find out who and why, and find her pet? This is a lovely series where magic and adventure combine with a theme of being who you are and being proud of it. Written in the first person, girls will warm to the character of Bella Donna who is both feisty and caring.

The Black Phone (A Ford and Keane Mystery) by James Lovegrove

Unlikely pairing Seb and Frankie run an amateur detective agency. When Tara Adamski, the gorgeous rich new girl at school becomes the victim of vicious cyber-bullying, she comes to them for help. Can Seb and Frankie find out who's responsible? An exciting mystery, with all the clues there for the reader - this is a great way to get the reader really involved in the book, as it provides a great incentive to think things through to come up with the answer before it is revealed - and the answers are all at the end. It's a contemporary theme - one sadly familiar to many.

School Scare (Monstrous Maud) by A B Saddlewick

Horrid Henry for girls? It's just as much fun and I am sure this great series will have lots of fans. Rotwood School is making itself even more unpopular than usual in the neighbourhood. as the pupils' monstrous games and spooky spells fill the area with noise and smoke. Maud and her friends are full of good intentions but just make matters worse. Can they save the school from closure or are there enemies within? A hilarious story which is perfect to attract the attention of developing readers and encourage their love of reading.

Freaky Sleepover (Monstrous Maud) by A B Saddlewick

Milly is the perfect twin, while sister Maud is just... monstrous! The two contrasting characters make for a great read and I am sure many girls will identify with one or the other. The combination of school story, friendship, monsters and magic will have great appeal. Maud's twin sister is having friends over for a sleepover and Maud's mum insists Maud invites friends too. But what will happen when she finds out just who Maud's friends are?  Visit Maud's website for plenty more spooky fun!

The Black Cat Detectives (Cinnamon Grove) by Wendy Meddour

Mystery, humour and fun come together to make a great read in The Black Cat Adventure, which cleverly interweaves settings in Britain and Algeria. Just what is happening in Cinnamon Grove? Ramzi and his friend Shaima Stalk think they have the perfect solution Auntie Urooj's loneliness - a suitor from Truly Deeply Muslims online marriage agency. But he is not what he seems and the Black Cat Detectives need to use their skills to uncover his background. Entertaining dialogue and plenty of touches of humour make this a good read.

Snorkelling with the Saw Shark (Dinosaur Cove) by Rex Stone

Dinosaur Cove is a great adventure series for boys, with all the excitement of the prehistoric era. Packed with black and white drawings, this is an excellent series to get boys hooked on reading. This time, Jamie and Tom are back in the Permian era, snorkelling and looking at the wonderful sea life, along with friend Wanna in a boat. But disaster strikes! Can they save their friend from the sharks? THis is an extensive series, so there are lots of books to read.

The Haunted House Kittens (Animal S.O.S.) by Kelly McKain

Leah and Amy may be total opposites, but when it comes to helping animals in danger they make the perfect team! The adventure starts when the girls find a litter of kittens in a spooky manor house. The house has been empty for years, so who has been feeding the kittens? An exciting series of events unfold as the girls finds themselves in danger. 

The Mystery of the Cliff Top Dog (Animal S.O.S.) by Kelly McCain

An exciting new series for those who love animals and adventure! Leah and Amy make the perfect animal rescue team. When Amy moves to "White Horse Bay" she can't wait to start her riding lessons at the local stables. There she meets fiery Leah, and soon the girls are caught up in their first adventure. Amy has spotted an injured dog stranded on a cliff and the owners are nowhere to be seen. With a terrible storm coming the girls need a plan, and fast - It's Animal S.O.S. to the rescue!

Sink or Swim (BFFs) by Holly Robbins

BFF - Best Friends Forever and Ellie and Jas are just that. But now it is time to move on to a new school and will their friendship remain as strong? This is the time when both need their BFF, but cthe two girls have quite different approaches to the challenges of a new school, so what will happen to their friendship? Ellie is a real worrier and girls moving on the secondary school will share many of her concerns, so they will really enjoy this book.

Stage Fright (BFFs) by Holly Robbins

The second in this new series about friendship, and the new term is well under way. Jas has her sights set on a starring role in the Christmas play, but she's in a for a shock. She needs her BFFs to stop her from being a drama queen before she spoils things for everyone? Can they help? A fun story about friendship with realistic settings and experiences which many girls will find familiar. I really like this series, which shows the importance of friendship, especially in new situations. I look forward to more!

Pirate! (Dirty Bertie) by Alan MacDonald

The most disgusting boy in town is back with another helping of fun! THree more fun stories for young readers to enjoy as they join Bertie as a swashbuckling pirate, cooks up a storm in the poshest restaurant in town, and teams up with Dad at the School Sports Day in an attempt to beat Royston Rich. Hilarious laugh-aloud stories.

Granny Grabber's Whizz Bang World by Charlotte Haptie

Poor Delilah - she just wants to be an ordinary child, but her parents have other ideas. They are determined that she wins the Worldwide Junior Extreme General Knowledge Competition and she must cram all the time to achieve this. But because her parents are Very Busy People, they get a 'childcare robot' to look after their daughter. All is well as Granny Grabbers lets Delilah do whatever she wants and the pair have great fun together, until Happy Home Robotics find out what is going on............ Enjoy the unusual characters in this hilarious story.

Battle of the Beasts: Ferno vs Epos (Beast Quest) by Adam Blade

There's danger afoot in the land of Avantia and a brand new Beast Quest is about to begin. Max, son of Evil Wizard Malvel, has stolen the magical Golden Gauntlet. Using its power he plans to force the Good Beasts, Ferno and Epos, to fight each other to the death! But here comes Sam - an ordinary boy who must become a hero! His Quest is to tame a Beast and ride into battle to stop Max's evil plan. Can he survive the Battle of the Beasts?

The Twisted Tunnels (Victorian Tales) by Terry Deary

Deep beneath the streets of Victorian London, great things are taking place, as the wonder that is to become the London Underground starts to grow. Jenny and her grandfather are toshers - they survive by finding things in the sewer and selling them. It's a gruesome way of life, but they get by - until their livelihood and even their home is destroyed by the building of the London Underground. Terry Deary's engaging style is a great way to bring history to life for children, and this is a fascinating insight into a little-known world.

Poppy and the Prince (Princess Katie's Kittens) by Julie Sykes

Princesses and kittens - two things that really appeal to little girls, brought together in an irresistible new series. Princess Katie lives in the beautiful Starlight Palace, and her wish to have her own kitten comes true when she finds six in the forest. When Prince Edward comes to visit, he doesn't like kittens so suspicions are aroused when he and Poppy the kitten disappear at the same time. Perfect for 5-7 year old girls, who will love to collect the series. Girls will adore Princess Katie's Kittens website, which is full of information about the books, games to play and tips on caring for kittens.

Death in the Devil's Den (London Murder Mysteries) by Cora Harrison

I have enjoyed this series right from the first book - dosappointingly, this is the last in the series. The (under) world of Victorian London is vividly brought to life as we share the adventures of Alfie and his gang. Their task this time is especially dangerous - they are spying on a Russian secret agent and the exciting tale finds them floating above London in a hot air balloon at one point. But when the spy is found murdered, suspicion points at Alfie and he is in the greatest danger yet. A real page-turner, full of excitement and adventure - and an authentic historical background too,

 Enchanted Palace (Secret Kingdom) by Rosie Banks

This is the first in a series of books that young girls will delight to collect. Three good friends, Ellie, Summer and Jasmine, are taken to a magical world by the discovery of a very special magic box. Can the friends help Trixi the pixie save King Merry's 1000th birthday party from Queen Malice's spiky thunderbolt...? Friendship, magic and adventure combine to make this an ideal story for newly confident readers to enjoy - the stories have been written in conjunction with literacy consultants to ensure they help develop reading skills. Find out lots more about the series at and look out for lots more to follow.

Secret Agents v Giant Slugs in the Jungle (Mega Mash-Up) by Nikalas Catlow and Tim Wesson

This really is a cross-over series - part fiction, part activity book. As such, the books are a great way to encourage children to develop their imaginations in both drawing and writing. They're ideal for boys especially. Some less than intrepid workers leave some toxic goo in the jungle and when the tiny slugs fall in they become great big slugs. What happens when the secret agents are sent to sort it out? This ingenious book gives the reader the chance to put their own ideas into the story, with lots of opportunities to draw and write. Can your child match the humour of the original?

Olivia's Enchanted Summer by Lyn Gardner

Olivia and her friends are thrilled to have been chosen to take part in the world-famous Fringe Festival in Edinburgh. They can't wait to get there, to stay in the beautiful city and soak up the Festival atmosphere, while the Swan Circus performs every day to wild applause and rapturous reviews. But will this happen? Of course, there are dramas along the way and the reader will be quickly drawn into the ups and downs of the story. This is a lovely series for all stage-struck girls, with characters they can believe in and, I am sure, many will aspire to emulate.

The Grave Robber's Apprentice by Allan Stratton

Angela and Hans have a past they are running from and they end up on the reoad together,  trying to escape from a terrible evil that could exterminate them both. The story is full of fantastic characters - an evil archduke, a young countess, a highwayman, a necromancer, a Wolf King, strange beasts, a hermit who lives on a mountain side...  In a rapidly unfolding story, the duo find themselves trying to outwit the archduke's Necromancer - will they succeed? Will Angela save her parents? Will Hans escape his past and find out who he truly is? The exciting cast of characetsr makes for a modern day take on traditional tales.

Zal and Zara and the Great Race of Azamed by Kit Downes

The Great Annual Carpet Race is the talk of the town (or rather, the city) of Azamed. Zal and Zara, who have been paired together by their families, are on a mission to create the fastest flying carpet - but they have to contend with the spite of their rivals, who sabotage their carpet. It's an imaginative story, with likeable starring characters (and we see the baddies' perspective too), which is fast-moving and cleverly intertwines magic with the everyday world. Little quirks of humour add to the enjoyment of the story and make it a good one for adult and child to share.

The Rescue Princesses: The Wishing Pearl by Paula Harrison 

The Rescue Princesses -  a series for newly confident girl readers about a group of girls who will rescue any animal in danger. The Princesses are staying on the tropical island of Ampali for the summer. It's idyllic, until Clarabel finds the wounded dolphin and it becomes a race against time to save its life. Will the Princesses' magical skills enable them to get it to safety before the tropical storm hits the island? The glittery cover and plenty of line drawings, combined with magic and animals. make this a book to appeal to young readers

Vulgar the Viking and the Great Gulp Games by Odin Redbeard

Another outing for the disaster-prone Vulgar the Viking, who is shaping up to be one of the most hilarious characters in children's books today. It's not quite the Olympics, but every year, Vulgar's village of Blubber competes against nearby Gulp in the Viking Games - and they always lose.  Vulgar starts training, with predictably funny results - but more hilarity is to come when discover he and his friends are entered into the goat hurdling! The drawings add to the hilarity too. So, you want to know who is the author of this entertaining series? Sorry, but nobody's telling!

Codename Quicksilver: In the Zone by Allan Jones

This is a new series which is perfect for fans of Alex Rider and 24. When Zak Archer accidentally witnesses a murder he tangles with some very dangerous people who want him dead. Zak must run - and here's where the title comes from - when he's 'in the zone' he can run faster, jump further and fly higher than should be humanly possible. The tension builds quickly as he endeavours to keep one step ahead of his enemies, and to find the truth behind his friend's death. When I see the quality of writing for boys today, there seems to be no reason for boys not to enjoy reading!

Codename Quicksilver: The Tyrant King by Allan Jones

In the second story of this new series our hero Zak is sent on his first mission. The King of Montevisto and his family have been threatened and the secret services believe the attack will take place on the family's forthcoming visit to the UK. It's vital that the trip goes smoothly and Zak is in charge of protecting the king's son. He soon finds he needs all his training and talents to outwit the enemy and save lives. The comic strip style of the covers of these books is perfect for the target market.

Pizza Cake and Other Funny Short Stories by Morris Gleitzman

Short stories are a great way to persuade children to read, and when they are written by a master of the comic story, then you're on to a winner! There's lots of variety, with something for everyone amd they are ideal as a bedtime story or end of the day class read. How about trading with your teachers.... starring in your own story..... saving lives with a paperclip.... or eating a pizza which makes you fearless? Great humour, fast-moving with witty observations and clever use of language. These imaginative stories will develop and extend the reader's imagination.  

I'm Dougal Trump... and It's Not My Fault by D Trump

Nobody believes Dougal Trump, so he thought he would write everything down - with a little bit of help. Just who is living in the garden shed? Nobody believes Dougal, but he thinks he is at risk, so starts to write his will. This leads to pleas to be remembered from all who know him and means they try to keep on the right side of him. But as limbs and windows alike are broken by rogue footballs and unhinged canines, Dougal finds himself in all sorts of trouble. . . Take a look at the great website -

Tilly's Midnight Fox by Julia Green

A girl moves into an old house and finds a mysterious hidden garden. - of course this story must be inspired by the classics of this genre and will inevitably invite comparison.  One night Tilly hears the eerie cry of a fox and sees it watching her from the lawn. Tilly follows it and finds a secret garden. When she returns the next night, she finds a girl called Helen awaiting her - but is she real? Alongside very real family problems, we see the girls' friendship grow alongside their obsession with the fox. A well-crafted story which will beguile girls with its magic and mystery.
An ideal summer read for pre-teen girls.Making peace with the past and friends for a lifetime. Elly is sent by her father to stay with her Aunt Dina on Sunday Island for the whole summer. With no friends, Elly is bored. So when she receives a mysterious invitation for a midnight meeting, she sneaks out of the house, only to stumble into a bemused girl called Sierra, who is just as lost as Elly. A helpful little dog leads them into an overgrown maze . . . where a grinning girl called Tash meets them. 'I thought a midnight feast would be a great start to our summer on Mystery Island!' The three girls have a lot of fun together, swimming, eating ice creams and exploring the island. By chance, the girls discover that their pasts are linked. But an old mystery involving buried treasure threatens their friendship. Will the girls be able to solve the mystery and remain friends?

Leopard Adventure by Anthony McGowan (inspired by the Willard Price Adventures)

Many years ago, when I was working with 9-13 year old boys, they were full of enthusiasm for the Willard Price 'Adventure' series, so it's great to see them relaunched to appeal to today's boys. The new titles star the children (Fraser and Amazon) of the original adventurers (Hal and Roger Hunt) in a contemporary setting. Fraser and Amazon are conservationists, working to save the world's endangered species. In this exciting adventure, they set out to save the Amur leopard before their forest habitat is wiped out by fire.

Wanted! by Kate Thompson

I love to encourage children to read books set in the historical period they are studying at school, and this book would make a brilliant start to the study of the Romans.  Marcus, a young baker from Rome, finds himself in danger when he is suddenly left in charge of Incitatus, the Emperor's precious horse. How can he keep him safe? Marcus is a well written and very engaging character, who develops through the book. It's an excellent read for boys particularly who will enjoy the excitement. The historical background is excellent.

Space Lizards Ate My Sister by Mark Griffiths

The second hilarious book in the Space Lizards series lives up to the promise of the first. If Asteroid Peach reaches Earth, Earth will be destroyed. Is space lizard Admiral Skink, currently imprisoned in Cottelton police station in the body of Pickles the iguana, the only one who can save the planet? He is freed but uses his freedom to escape, not to save the earth. So it's up to Lance to save the day - and his little sister. I like the rather unusual font and the style of the illustrations. Publication date 2 August 2012.

Iggy and Me and the New Baby

Girls who are just becoming confident independent readers will love this series. The chapters aren't too long, and each one is almost a mini-story. There are plenty of amusing pictures by Joe Berger to complement the text. The stories are told from the viewpoint of Iggy's big sister Flo. Iggy really, really wants her mum to have another baby - but even thinking about another one makes mum tired. But then Iggy’s Auntie Kate comes to visit all the way from America with some very special news...This is the third outing for Jenny Valentine’s endearing siblings. Each chapter is a complete and satisfying story in its own right, perfect for newly-confident readers to enjoy alone, or for reading aloud at bedtime.

Danny Baker's Silly Olympics by Steve Hartley

Five hilarious stories in one volume, so hours of entertainment. Danny Baker wants to be the best in the world at something – anything - and he doesn’t care how stinky, sticky, itchy, slimy, noisy, or grubby he gets on his way to becoming a Record Breaker! Children will love these books - adults may not be quite so keen! Find out more about the books and their author here -

The Cupcake Diaries: Emma on Thin Icing by Coco Simon 

Four girls run a business making cupcakes and the stories are told from the perspective of each, making for an interesting variety of approaches and keeping interest alive. The girls are asked to be bridesmaids, but Emma faces a problem in affording the dress. She decides to take on a few more jobs and chores around the house to help cover the cost - but can she cope with it all/ Believable characters and credible and easy-to-read dialogue make this a good read for girls of 8+. 

Cave of Secrets by Morgan Llewellyn

Thirteen year old Tom has problems at home - his father has suffered financial losses and his mother is always unhappy. He turns to a secret second family - the smugglers who trade in and around Roaring Water Bay where he grew up. He strikes up a friendship with Donal, a boy with a completely different background. You can relate to the characters in this story and empathise with their struggles. The story offers a fascinating and imaginitive insight into 17th century Ireland with the excitement and romanticism of smugglers, caves and treasure.

Monster Matsuri by Cristy Burne

More trouble in store for Miku and her friends in the third of the exciting Takeshita demons series. There's a violent quilt in Alex's bedroom and a mystery visitor has been in the What is happening in the Takeshitas' house? A violent quilt? Someone else drinking tea? Then Kazu is stolen again. Miku, Cait, Alex and the little Filth Licker must solve the trail of clues leading them to an invisible house full of demons. Is Nurarihyon, the Master of the Demons the evil one they have come to fight?  With only a bag of fish-heads to protect them, the children and the Filth Licker meet their final challenge in the frozen palace of the Yuki-Onna.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming

A wonderful chance to introduce today's children to the amazing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - the beloved magical car. Caractus Potts restores an old car so it is like no other - but rather more different that he had expected!! The special magical powers mean that the family are off on some unexpected adventures. A wonderfully imaginative story. The illustrations by Joe Berger are a brilliant addition to the original and really reflect the feel of the story.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again by Frank Cottrell Boyce

The car is the star in this newly-written sequel to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, but the original characters do not appear. The new stars are the Tooting (get it?) family. When Dad loses his job, the company car goes too, so they renovate a camper van using parts from a car which belonged to a certain Count Zborowski. They find it has a mind of its own as it takes the family off in search of its bodywork.... An exviting sequel and a great follow-up to the original - perfect for today's audience.

Ghosting Home by Julia Jones

Once the mysterious red-and-white schooner is on the move, Donny Walker and his family are in danger. Even a hasty crossing of the North Sea may not be enough to save them. Meanwhile in Fujian Province, China, a fourteen-year-old boy must leave the Village of Living Widows and travel to England, the Country of the Ghosts. Will he survive the storm winds of summer? Can Gold Dragon help him? The wonderful descriptive language of this seafaring tale really draws the reader in and makes him feel part of the story. The characters are lively and credible and this is a real page-turner of a book.

Grace the Sea Sister (Spell Sisters) by Amber Castle

The eight spirit sisters have been imprisoned by Morgana La Fay and Gwen is on a quest to free them one by one in order to save the Island of Avalon. In their fifth adventure Gwen and Flora face stormy seas and dangerous cliff-climbs to save Grace the Sea Sister from Morgana's spell. I like the way one story links to the next and the fact that young readers will look forward to the release of the next in the series.

You, Me and Thing 3: The Legend of the Loch Ness Lilo by Karen McCombie 

Ruby and Jackson get the surprise of their lives when they discover a Thing living at the bottom of their gardens. But Thing is cute, and funny, even if sometimes when he's upset he gets a bit ARRGHH! And that's when the trouble starts. Like the time he goes to a pool party, and Ruby and Jackson find themselves face to face with an enormous inflatable monster! A very amusing story, complemented by the wonderfully cartoon drawings.

The Great Dog Disaster by Katie Davies

Suzanne's Great-Great-Aunt Deidra has left her dog to Suzanne's Mum in her will. Suzanne is over-the-moon about having a dog again, after her old dog Barney was 'sent away to a farm' by her Dad. But when Beatrice the Newfoundland arrives, she is a BIG disappointment. She's smelly and old and miserable and doesn't like walks, or catching sticks, or any of the things that dogs are meant to like. So Anna and Suzanne devise a plan to turn Beatrice into a proper dog - but if they don't pull it off soon, Suzanne's Dad will send Beatrice away too...

Me, the Queen and Christopher by Giles Andreae and Tony Ross

Two great talents come together in this delightful book. Seven year old Freya has been invited to take tea with the Queen - but things are not quite what she expected. She and the Queen enjoy beans on toast, do some dancing and make cupcakes for a very special person - and then there is a quite delightful and unexpected ending. Gentle fun with lovely coloured lively illustrations.

Elizabeth the Jubilee Fairy by Daisy Meadows

In this Jubilee year, this book in a very popular series is guaranteed popularity. Elizabeth the Jubilee Fairy is in charge of making every jubilee perfect! But when Jack Frost steals Elizabeth's Diamond Sceptre, both fairy and human celebrations are headed for catastrophe. Can Kirsty and Rachel help Elizabeth find the sceptre so kings and queens everywhere can celebrate in style? This is a perfect series for girls of 6+ just starting to read on their ownand they will love to collect the whole series.

Letters from an Alien Schoolboy by Ros Asquith

This is a series which repays attentive reading, with its clever comments on some of the absurdities of life - adults will enjoy the subtleties when they share the book with their child.  After defeating the wicked Wiffly Biffly, Flowkwee (aka the Alien Schoolboy) faces a new challenge in his third adventure. King of Threggs, Keith, has some very nasty baddies lined up to attack the earth. Can Flowkee save the earth again? A hilarious story, which may well encourage reluctant readers. Children will love the Alien Schoolboy website.


Skeleton Island (Sam Silver - Undercover Pirate) by Jan Burchett

Sam Silver lives near the sea and enjoys beach-combing for pirate treasures. When he finds an ancient message in a bottle he thinks it will make a great new relic for his collection, but the bottle holds a very special secret... Inside is a gold doubloon which whisks Sam back in time to 1705. Suddenly he's on board a pirate ship - the Sea Wolf - surrounded by her fearsome captain and crew and sailing the Caribbean Sea. If Sam can't think of a very good reason why they should keep him alive, he'll be forced to walk the plank! This is an excellent series for young readers, packed with action and fast-moving to keep youngsters enthralled.

The Ghost Ship (Sam Silver - Undercover Pirate) by Jan Burchett

When Sam Silver and the crew of the Sea Wolf board a galleon looking for Spanish gold, they find it's already been stolen - by a ghost ship! Can our pirate heroes outwit a ghostly crew or is the treasure gone for ever? We are always being asked for information - fact or fiction - about pirates, so I know that this series will be hugely popular. With its fast-paced narrative and plenty of swashbuckling action, young readers will quickly be drawn into the stories and will look forward to more.

The Mystery of the Smugglers' Wreck (Adventure Island) by Helen Moss

The friends are involved in another exciting adventure when researchers arrive in Castle Key to explore the wreck of an old smugglers' ship that sank in Pirate Cove. Scott and Emily dive down to the wreck,  and Scott spots a long lost artefact said to hold the key to a hoard of smuggled treasure.But when the researchers return, it has mysteriously vanished! Is someone else trying to diswcover the treasure? A traditional, even old-fashioned (in a good way) series of books which will appeal to all lovers of Enid Blyton stories.
There's a super website to go with the books at You can read previews of new books, explore Adventure Island, go on a treasure hunt and much more.

The Mystery of the Invisible Spy (Adventure Island) by Helen Moss

Who is the new inhabitant of Castle Key? Could he be an enemy spy? Why else would he have bullet proof glass in his windows and be watched by MI5? Another exciting adventure for Scott, Jack, Emily and (of course) Drift, the dog. These are action-packed stories, full of suspense and excitement, and a really good read for 8 to 11 year olds who want a book that will grip them and take them away from our everyday world, but still have a realistic setting.

The Mystery of Wickworth Manor by Elen Caldecott

Paige - outgoing and confident and Curtis - quiet and uncertain - are only paired up on the school trip to Wickworth Manor because their surnames come close together. But they share an exciting adventure whenCurtis finds a portrait hidden in his bedroom and Paige finds an old letter that mentions the portrait. Intrigued, the pair set out to solve the mystery. It's a great read in a traditional way and it also gives some background on the slave trade. The author manages to convey the thoughts and emotions of the pair very realistically and the book will appeal to its market because of the realism of the settings and the way children can relate to the protagonists. Published 5 July 2012.

Dork Diaries: Skating Sensation by Rachel Renee Russell

This is the fourth installment of the hugely popular Dork Diaries, which is loved by tween readers. Nikki is determined that the animal shelter where her friend Brandon volunteers won't be closed down - especially when she finds out something about Brandon that makes it even more important to make enough money to keep it open. The solution? Entering an ice skating competition - but Mackenzie has to interfere, so Nikki needs all her ingenuity to stop her spoiling things. These are delighful and entertaining stories aboit contemporary young people. Published 7 June 2012. Like the books? Then you'll enjoy the website -

My Treasure Hunt Trouble (Humphrey's Tiny tales) by Betty G Birney

Humphrey's Tiny Tales are easy reading versions of the longer stories. I like the way children will be drawn into the series, with its cheeky and lovable hero, and as their reading skills improve, move up to the more challenging books. If you think the storyline is familiar, it's because this is an extended version of the 2011 World Book Day title. Humphrey is very excited - he's off to Garth's birthday party and Og the Frog is going too. Unexpectedly (or perhaps not, knowing Humphrey's penchant for adventure), there's a mystery to solve and treasure to be won.

Sita, Snake-Queen of Speed by Franceska G Ewart

Two quite different people, yet best friends. Yosser, a Muslim girl pictured with a hijab, and Kylie, with streaked hair are in Year 6. When Kylie returns from Thrill City she is full of amazing stories about the best ride there - Sita, Snake-Queen of Speed. Yosser is determined to go on the ride, but she knows her Dad won't pay for a day trip, so how is she to raise the money. An unexpected opportunity arises and she grabs the opportunity.

Homecoming by Michael Morpurgo

As always with this master storyteller, the reader is quickly drawn into the story - a gentle, heart-warming story of the author growing up in a quintessential English village in Suffolk. The young hero is befriended by Mrs Pettigrew, an eccentric lady who lives in a railway carriage and who is at one with nature. When plans are made to turn the marshes into a nuclear power station, young Michael is drawn into the fight. It is a story which relates strongly to environmental issues of today and is written with all Michael Morpurgo's usual sensitivity and insight. A book to treasure, with Peter Bailey's wonderfullly evocative illustrations perfectly complementing the story.

I Am Not A Loser by Barry Loser Spellchecked by Jim Smith

Have you got a boy aged 7+ who is a reluctant reader? Get him a copy of this book and he may just change his mind about reading! Barry Loser is so extra cool that he has never minded being called 'Loser' but when Darren Darrenofski came along' things changed. Boys will enjoy reading about Barry's teacher, Mr Hodgepodge, the girls in his class, his family, his best friend, Bunky and the antics they get up to - not always kind! Lots of cartoon-style line drawings add to the book's appeal for young readers. See more at

 Bill Badger and the 'Wandering Wind' by B. B.

Denys-Watkins Pitchford - B. B. - had a real love of the countryside and knowledge of animal life, and this shows through wonderfully in his evocative stories. Bill Badger is the captain of the canal barge Wandering Wind, and his sidekick is Izzybizzy the hedgehog. Together, they have wonderful adventures on the canal. Can they protect their precious cargo against Big Ginger and his fierce cats? Illustrated with his own drawings, it is lovely to see a reissue of this old favourite and I am sure today's young readers will love this story with its peaceful setting.

 The Indoor Pirates/The Indoor Pirates on Treasure Island by Jeremy Strong

Twice the fun with two stories in one in this flip book from Puffin Books. How can it be? Pirates who hate the sea? Even though they can't go to sea, the pirates are always on the search for adventure - with hilarious results! There's a bit of a problem when the electricity bill arrives, and they come up with a bright scheme! When Captain Blackpatch learns to drive, he takes the pirates on a camping holiday. Once there he becomes convinced that treasure is buried on a small island - again, the consequences are absolutely hilarious. Wonderful stories to read aloud.

Running Stars (Camp Gold) by Christine Ohuruogu

There are lots of books being published at the moment with themes of Olympics and sport. Hopefully, these books will encourage both an interest in the Olympics and a lasting interest in sport. Maxine loves sport and it's a great opportunity for her when she is selected to go to Camp Gold , an international sports camp. Things seem to be going well, but then the problems start - will her enemies sabotage her chances of competing in the Nationals and being watched by Olympic stars? An interesting and readable look at the opportunities sport offers. Both books published 7 June 2012.

Going for Gold (Camp Gold) by Christine Ohuruogu

After the excitement of Camp Gold, Maxine can't wait to start at Camp Gold International! But the problems seem to follow her. Hertraining starts to go wrong and when the posh building begins to be vandalised, Maxine and her friendfs seem to be the culprits. Can she solve the mystery and focus on training and winning? The author of the Camp Gold books is currently 400m Olympic champion, and the books show a wonderful insight into the world of sport and into the lives of those talented people who want to become part of sport at the highest level.

Florence's River Adventure (Bluebell Woods) by Liss Norton

Another chance to meet the delightful woodland friends who live in Bluebell Woods. Florence and her friends are walking beside the Babbling Brook when they discover an old boat tangled up in the reeds which looks as though it's been there a long time. Florence suggests that they restore it so they can sail it. Soon the friends are heading downstream on a river adventure of a lifetime, discovering hidden parts of Bluebell Woods and making new friends. But will they solve the mystery of the boat's original owners? These are charming stories, which little girls love.

Hollywood Showdown (Ninja Meerkats) by Gareth P Jones

The Clan of the Scorpion, four mighty meerkats, are sworn to protect the world from their longtime nemesis, the Ringmaster... This time, our heroes find themselves in Hollywood, where the Bruce's favourite Hollywood action star, Vin De Pain, is starring alongside the famous canine actor Soo Me. But why is the Ringmaster's favourite dog in the cast? This is a good series to encourage young, andf maybe reluctant, readers to enjoy reading and they will eagerly anticipate the next in the series. 

Genie in Training by Ciaran Murtagh

The first book in an entertaining new magic series for girls aged 7 - 10. Jamie's gran gives him a battered old teapot and he wonders just what is going on. But when he cleans it, out pops Balthazar Najar, a banished genie! Balthazar grants Jamie three wishes and the last one gives Jamie a bit of a problem when he accidentally wishes he was a genie . . . Jamie is whisked off to genie school where angry headmasters, deadly magic carpets and exploding lamps are the least of his worries! Great fun, and the amusing illustrations complete the story.

Paddington Races Ahead by Michael Bond

Paddington  is back in a hilarious new story and he is just as entertaining as ever, as he stumbles from one strange situation to another. “My legs are a bit short for the pole vault!” repeated Paddington hotly. “But they’ve always been that way.” In this wonderful new book, he  has a spot of bother with some shaving cream, has a bit of confusion over oysters, causes a London bus to be evacuated, and is mistaken for a famous Peruvian hurdler by a film crew. A wonderful book to share and read aloud. 

The Wrong Pong: Troll's Treasure by Steven Butler

Disgusting? Maybe - but children will love the third book in this series.  Neville, star of the Wrong Pong, continues his adventures in the Underneath when he is faced with a band of troll pirates! As if that isn't rotsome enough, the evil troll Jaundice is back...oh dungle droppings! Definitely a good book to encourage reluctant readers, who will revel in the hilarious illustrations as well as enjoying the story.

The Wimpy Kid Move Diary by Jeff Kinney

Many people are intrigued by the way a best selling book is turned ino a movie; many young people are great fans of the Wimpy Kid series. Put these two together, and you have a book which is bound to be a huge success! The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary goes behind the scenes to tell the story of Greg Heffley from the funniest cartoon character ever, to a real live person on the big screen. A full-colour diary complete with photographs, script pages, storyboard sketches, costume designs, and more hilarious Wimpy Kid drawings by Jeff Kinney. The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary is the perfect companion to the phenomenally bestselling series. I found it really interesting and enlightening and the production of the book, with its inclusion of plenty of colour photos, is excellent.

Phoebe Nash: Detective by Justin D'Ath

Phoebe's African boyfriend and his family are coming to Australia as part of a state visit, bringing a display of their country's treasures to Phoebe's local museum. But Sospeter's father, the president of his country, is accused of shooting a protected white rhino and the protesters are out in force. Then a precious jewel is stolen from the museum display. Can Phoebe find out what's going on before the state visit becomes a diplomatic incident? Exciting stuff, but the story is credibly written and the reader is drawn into the adventures. The characters are setting are well portrayed and there is enough substance in the story to appeal to quite a wide readership.

Phoebe Nash: Girl Warrior by Justin D'Ath

What starts off as an African holiday for Australian girl Phoebe turns into an exciting adventure when she witnesses a kidnapping and the victim asks her to call his son, Sospeter. Phoebe doesn't mean to get involved - but Sospeter's father is a politician who is crucial for peace in the troubled area. Soon Phoebe is clinging to Sospeter's motorbike on a wild ride through the African bush, facing down armed villains and wild animals in search of the missing man... The story is fast-paced and exciting and the portrayal of the African countryside and culture is informative and interesting. The characters are well-drawn and Phoebe is strong enough and interesting enough to star as the heroine of a series.

The Secret Hen House Theatre by Helen Peters

A real page-turner! Hannah and her three siblings, whose mother has recently died, don't get a lot of attention from their father, who has to work hard to keep their rather run-down farm going. One day, Hannah finds a  ramshackle old hen house in a forgotten corner of the farm and decides to turn it into a secret theatre. This book is a wonderful evocation of the best bits of childhood - freedom, ambition, nostalgia and the optimism to tackle the seemingly impossible. It's realistic yet aspirational as the plans Hannah and her friends make to try to save the farm come to fruition. The author grew up on a farm, and her love of the countryside shines through in this book.

Summertime and Somersaults (Gym Stars) by Jane Lawes

Just in time for the 2012 Olympics, this is a super new series. Girls love to follow the adventures of a favourite character through a series of books, as they enjoy seeing the character develop and achieve her ambitions. This series is about young gymnast Tara, who spends every possible moment practising her gymnastics. Finally, her mother allows her to join a gym club and Tara is in her element with all the wonderful resources available. She excels and quickly becomes part of the squad. Girls will readily identify with Tara and her friends and enjoy reading about her success. Hopefully, too, this book will inspire aspiring young gymnasts to persevere and others to take up the sport. Tara follows her dreams and so can other youngsters.

 London Stories by Jim Eldridge

Written by a born and bred Londoner, this is an intriguing collection of short stories, which depicts London through the ages through the eyes of children. It starts with the story of Bran, and the Roman invaders in AD 61 and comes right up to date with Olympic Dreams in 2012 through 12 varied and enjoyable stories. It's a great way to mark the singificance of our capital city in a year when it will be a centre of attention, and the stories are ideal for reading aloud at school as well as for supporting history studies.

Monstrous Maud: Big Fright by A B Saddlewick

This is the first book in a very promising new series  - think Horrid Henry with a girl heroine! Maud doesn't fit in at Primrose Towers so she moves to Rotwood Middle School.  But there's something very strange about the pupils - there's a skeleton, a zombie, and a headless boy for starters.  Well, with a school motto of  'Because We Scare', what can you expect? Can Maud fit in here? A hilarious tale which will be relished by young readers and have them laughing aloud. More fun at

Monstrous Maud: Spooky Sports Day by A B Saddlewick

The second book in this hilarious series sees more chaos at Rotwood Academy, where a spell has created a jungle of man-eating plants across the entire sports pitch. And guess whose sports pitch they have to share? A mix up means that Primrose Towers and Rotwood Academy compete on Sports Day. Can the Rotwood monsters beat the delicately nurtured girls of Primrose Towers? Can Maud hide the truth about her mysterious new monster school?  Great fun and a brilliant way to get children really keen on reading.

Shadows Under the Sea (International Rescue) by Sally Grindley

This series, which is written with the support of London Zoo, combines exciting adventures with information about conservation. Jo and Aesha travel with their parents to the Phillipines, where they are engaged in a project to protect those fascinating and beautiful creatures, seahorses. Joe befriends local boy Dario, and as they explore the island, Joe unravels the identity of the criminals who’ve been dynamite fishing and damaging the fragile coral reefs nearby. The information on sea life and conservation is accurate and interesting and the series is an excellent way to encourage young readers to take an interest in conservation.

Bliss (A Bliss Bakery Story) by Kathryn Littlewood

This is the first in a trilogy and it's a great start! The Bliss family cook book is full of magical recipes, and is for their eyes only. The magical properties of the recipes have been used for years to keep things running smoothly in Calamity Falls. But this peace comes to an abrupt end when Rose and her siblings are left in charge of the bakery. Havoc ensues in this fun-filled magical story. Ideal for readers of 9+, this is a refreshing and quirky read which I think will have great appeal.

Mystery Horse by Jane Smiley

Stories about horses have a perennial appeal for girls, and this offers an interesting twist as it is also a ghost story. That means that this story will appeal to a much wider market. Abby Lovitt works at her family's ranch and when True Blue,  a beautiful dapple grey horse, needs a new home, Abby is delighted. But there is something strange about True Blue - he seems to be looking for something and Abby hears whispering when she is with him. This is a compelling read, werll-written, with engaging characters. 

The Peppers and the International Magic Guys by Sian Pattenden

Life with the Pepper Twins is never dull - and things get even more lively when Uncle Potty looks after them. Uncle Potty is a magician; Monty is a wannabe magician - and Esme is the one who has to clear up when things go wrong! When there are problems at The International Magic Guys, Club, the twins are determined to help - but only adults are allowed in. The tension builds - can they fool Nigella Spoon? Excellent for all aspiring magicians - there are tricks to try and tips to help. The illustrations are fun and the layout is that of a pack of cards. A fun start to a promising new and unusual series.

A Mystery for Megan  (Buttercup Magic) by Abi Burlingham

Megan is thrilled with her new bedroom at Buttercup House - it's just what she wanted. But things are not what they seem, and Megan and her friend Freya find that the house hides all sorts of wonderful secrets. Some very special animals live in the house and the young reader will enjoy meeting them through the stars of this story - only little girks can see the magical animals - but Granny knows something... An ideal read for young girls - magic, animals, friendship all interwoven.

Bowl Like the Devil by Bob Cattell

Full of suspense, this action-packed story will be a great hit with all cricket fans - not only boys, as it features an aspiring girl cricketer too. It combines an insight into the game of cricket with an exciting and fast-moving story which has the reader eagerly turning the pages to find out what happens. Tyrone is mad about cricket but is not quite good enough for the school team - until one day the mysterious Nick appears and Tyrone's cricketing skills magically improve. But is there something sinister behind this?

The Comic Cafe by Roger Stevens

Five children laft alone, with a seaside cafe to run - this offers great scope for an entertaining story. Wilf nt eonly boy out of five siblings, is the narrator and he tells hosw the children decide to run the cafe as a surprise for their parents. But it's not all plain sailing - what happened to the previous owner of the cafe? There are some strange things happening.... A perfect, and slightly nostalgic, summer holiday read, this is an imaginative story with some humorous characters. This is a complex story, with plenty for children to think about - I would recommend it for readers of 9+. There's plenty of scope for a series here.

Super Soccer Boy and the Raging Robots by Judy Brown

I like this series - it's an excellent way to interest boys in reading. Harry aka Super Soccer Boy is at Wembley to watch his favourite players at the tournament. But what is happening? His favourite player is sent off, and the other players are behaving very oddly. The gentle humour and generous use of illustrations combine to make this a series which appeals to even reluctant readers and the storyline is intriguing enough to draw them in.

Digging in the Dark by Hilda Offen 

This is the second book in the series starring Josh - the first was 'The Galloping Ghost'. Plenty of giggles as Josh's nerdy cousin Malcolm pays a visit. Malcolm is mad about archaeology and will dig up anything, anywhere! Has he really uncovered the remains of a Roman villa? Poor Malcolm has to suffer the indignity of his mother's soppy poems being broadcast on national TV - and then he disappears. The story has a twist at the end - is it real or is it not? With humorous line drawings, this story will amuse readers of 7+.

The Great Piratical Rumbustification by Margaret Mahy

A wonderful team have come together to create this story full of rumbustious rollicking fun. Around the city, the pirates are longing for an excuse to party. So when a retired pirate comes to babysit for the Terrapin family, they are in for quite a surprise. A wonderful story to read aloud and judging by the number of requests we receive for material on pirates, one that will be extremely popular!

The Mystery of the Dinosaur Discovery (Adventure Island 7) by Helen Moss

This is the first book I have reviewed in this series, and comparisons with Enid Blyton are almost inevitable. These are, however, up to the minute adventures full of contemporary references and gronded in today's world. I can see them appealing to both boys and girls who long for adventure. Scott, Jack and Emily stumble upon some bones in the quarry above Castle Key.  Are they the remains of a murder victim? Are they dinosaur bones? Or are they the remains of a real dragon? The friends are determined to uncover the truth. The characters are very credible and the dialogue flows smoothly as the children interact. Lovely traditional style stories, well-written and pacy enough to appeal to today's readers.

The Mystery of the Drowning Man (Adventure Island 8) by Helen Moss

Another story in this excellent series for adventure loving children who enjoy good old-fashioned story-telling. When Scott, Jack and Emily rescue a drowning man from the waves they are keen to hear his story, but their new friend can't remember his own name, let alone how he came to be stranded at sea! Who is the mystery man? Why did he come to Castle Key? And was his drowning an accident - or attempted murder? The friends are on the case - with enthusiastic assistance from Drift the dog - determined to find the truth and solve the mystery of the drowning man. I loved Enid Blyton and can vividly recall reading her books whilst on holiday - this series makes equally good holiday reading.

Guinea Pigs Online by Jennifer Gray and Amanda Swift

Fuzzy and Coco are guinea pigs with very srtong personalities. They live with their kindly owners, Ben and Henrietta Bliss.  Fuzzy is a keen chef who gets very excited when a local restaurant advertises for guinea pigs - but all is not what it seems. When he disappears in pursuit of his dream, it is up to Coco to rescue him - and not just Fuzzy, as it turns out.  A really amusing story, with irresistible characters, that will delight readers age 5+, in a chunky format that is just right for small hands.. First in a series.

Princess Katie's Kittens: Pixie at the Palace by Julie Sykes 

Not just any kittens, but ROYAL kittens. Princess Katie loves animals and she rescues, with her best friend Becky, six little kittens who have been abandoned in the woods - and these are their stories. But when they are brought back, adventurous little Pixie goes missing. Will they find him before darkness falls? Little girls will fall for this new series with its pictures of appealing big-eyed kittens on the covers, and they will love reading about Katie, a delightful character, who does many of the same things as they do.

Princess Katie's Kittens: Bella at the Ball by Julie Sykes

Bella gets herself into big trouble when she gets into the castle kitchen - and on the day of the birthday ball, of all days. And then she goes missing. Where can she be? The books all contain advice on looking after kittens so are great for girls who have a cat of their own.  The kittens have their very own website - which is full of games and fun, as well as lots of helpful advice on caring for pets. 

Winnie Goes For Gold by Laura Owen

Four hilarious short stories about everyone's favourite witch, Winnie. Here we meet her throwing a party, saving the planet, looking after the baby and trying to bring the Olympics into the school sports day - with a touch of magic.  Winnie's dynamic and well-meaning character draws the reader into the stories, which are great fun to read aloud. Madcap fun for readers of 5+, perfectly offset by the vibrant line drawings by Korky Paul which form such a key part of the stories.

Free Spirit: Tilly's Pony Tales 18 by Pippa Funnell

Join Tilly as her adventures take her away from the familiar setting of Silver Shoe Farm to new horizons. In this story, Tilly is off to Kentucky of the stables has asked her to groom for him at the Kentucky Horse Trials, as the owner. There, she meets a very special horse called Free Spirit, and discovers more about her Native American heritage. This is the ideal series for every girl who has ever longed for a pony of her own - and for those lucky enough to own their own pony.

Running for Gold by Owen Slot

Danny Powell was born to run; Danny's ambition os to become the fastest runner on earth. But he knows his dream seems impossible, so he keeps it to himself - and when it does become known, he is mocked. Can he do it? With the Olympics on his doorstep, now is his chance to prove himself. It's a topical story, and as such, will generate plenty of interest. Add to this the fact that the author is chief Sports Reporter for The Times, and will be reporting on the Olympics, and a great read is guaranteed. Drawing on his knowledge of sport, Owen Slot has skilfully interwoven fact and fiction to create a book which will have great appeal for young readers.

An Awfully Beastly Business: Battle of the Zombies by The Beastly Boys

This is the fifth exiting adventure for the RSPCB, and their most dangerous mission to date, Ulf the werewolf visits a haunted castle to investigate some very spooky goings-on - and walks straight into a trap. Can Ulf unravel the ghostly mystery, or will he end up as zombie food? The future of the RSPCB depends on him... An imaginative and fast-paced story, ideal for boys and girls of 7+. The characters are well-drawn and credible and the message is one which is important to us all. Four shiny collector cards are included - a good way to encourage interest in the books! Find out more at

Lost in Time by Paula McElearney

Take a journey through Victorian Worcester with Daisy and Holly who accidentally go back in time and get stuck when they visit their uncle's archaeological excavation. Rich in perod detail, the book is full of evocative images of the harshness of life in Victorian England for the under-privileged. The girls find themselves in an orphanage, where they meet one of their ancestors, and they try to find out about the liquor smuggling that is rife. What will they find and can they break the code and return to the present? The book will obviously appeal very strongly to those familiar to the area, who will thoroughly enjoy the historical accuracy. It is also excellent background reading for KS2 history. It's an excellent read, aimed at 9-12 year olds, and I really enjoyed it.

The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists Official Film Tie-In Edition by Gideon Defoe

This is a very, very, very funny story and will appeal to the child in adults as well as to children. Life on the High Seas is getting a bit dull for the Pirate Captain and his crew, so they decide it is time for more adventure. They find a young scientist, by the name of Charles Darwin, who is in need of their help. They set out for London to see if they can foil the plot of the wicked Bishop. Pirates have great appeal for children and the tie-in of this book with the film will generate great interest. A star-studded cast star in the film, made by Aardman Animations, released March 2012.

My Uncle Foulpest: Dinosaur Disaster by Timothy Knapman

In the hilarious second outing for Wally and Foulpest. Foulpest - who means well, but doesn't always succeed -  thinks he can cure Wally of chickenpox so Wally can go to his friend's party. We all know about side-effects, but this is more weird than most - Wally has grown a dinosaur's tail! So, as a last resort, it's off to the doctor. And there's more fun - the second story is about the school trip to a haunted house, and Uncle Foulpest just has to interfere! Ideal for readers of 5+.

Dr Proctor's Fart Powder: The End of the World. Maybe by Jo Nesbo

THis is a humorous and witty series - the titles give that away really! The latest 'in' TV programme is The NoroVision Choral Throwdown!  Doctor Proctor and his friends Nilly and Lisa have, however, far better things to do - until they see the effect the show is having on everyone.Can they stop an alien invasion in its tracks, or is this actually the end of the world? Another exciting, not to say explosive, adventure from the trio. Geat fun for readers of 7+.

The Big Fat Smelly Ogre by Gillian Johnson

 What did you have for breakfast? Frank the ogre ate two nasty children for breakfast and they have given him tummy ache. Sylvie, Dylan, Carolyn and Tom - the naughtiest children in the school find themselves in the Monster Hospital as the 'doctors fresponsible for curing Frank - despite the stupendous stink. But is it just tummy ache? A funnystory filled with equally funny illustrations.

Zak Zoo and the Seaside SOS by Justine Smith

Zak and his animal family are off for a day at the seaside. But the locals don't seem pleased to see them... This is one in a series about Zak and his amazing zoo family. Ideal for early readers, the books are illustrated in full colour, with plenty of pictures to give clues to the stories.

Treasure Island Trouble (Magic Toyshop) by Jessie Little

Magical patchwork toys are the stars of this series for 5 - 7 year olds  In Treasure Island Trouble Willow can't wait for the boat trip to Smuggler's Cove. But naughty Croc has secretly come too! Will they find treasure on the island, or will Croc cause mischief again? Abundant pictures will engage children's interest. From the team who created the bestselling Rainbow Magic, Beast Quest and Animal Ark, this series can't fail to be a success.

Vulgar the Viking and the Rock Cake Raiders by Odin Redbeard

Not quite your normal intrepid Viking warrior as, living in a peaceful village where farming and knitting are the most exciting things, makes it hard for Vulgar to emulate the exploits of his ancestors. He decides to carry out his very own Viking raid -  to travel across the fishpond to plunder the bake-house. Vulgar, Knut, unwanted third crew member Freya, plus Grunt the dog reach their objective but they have a bit of trouble on the way home........... A hilarious story that children will love - and eagerly await more in the series.

Dirty Bertie: Pong David Roberts written by Alan Macdonald

Dirty Bertie has some pretty revolting habits - but that won't deter young readers from enjoying his stories. But parents need to pay heed to the message on the back of the book 'Bertie's revolting habits could rub off on you!' - so watch your child! Join Bertie as he attempts to bath a rather smelly Whiffer, give Miss Boot the fright of her life on a school trip, and enjoys having a sneaky hand in the design for the new school uniform . . .!

The Escape from Ice Mountain (Ninja Meercats) by Gareth P Jones

The Clan of the Scorpion are four mighty meerkats, Jet, Chuck, Donnie and Bruce, who are armed to the teeth with ninja-know-how. They are  escorting their mentor, Grandmaster One Eye,  when they are ambushed by a horde of enormous spiders - the Trained Tarantulas of Santiago! But this is a ploy to divert attention from their real purpose..... Many of the series on which young readers get 'hooked' are primarily for girls, so it's great to see a series which appeals to boys.

The Lost Puppy by Holly Webb

A dear little dachshund puppy adorns the cover of this book, giving a feel of the type of story. Ruby gets a wonderful surprise - a puppy of her very own.! Ruby chooses the cheekiest, most adventurous puppy, Toby, and the two have fun playing together. But Toby's is a bit too adventurous, and runs off one day. Will Ruby find her pup? Delightful line drawings by Sophy Williams will be enjoyed by readers.

Rascal the Star (My Naughty Little Puppy) by Holly Webb

Another popular series from the pen (metaphorically speaking!) of Holly Webb - she writes charming stories about animals, which are an easy and enjoyable read for children who are beginning to read chapter books on their own. When Ellie names her puppy Rascal, she doesn't realize how right she is...The playful little puppy is soon getting into all sorts of trouble! Ellie's friend Lucy has been picked to appear in a TV commercial - but it's for dog food, and Lucy is scared of dogs. Can she be helped - and what part will rascal play?

The Enchanted Forest Mystery (The Magic Secrets Box) by Sue Mongredian

When the magical music box plays, Megan knows it's time for another adventure! Can this one help her to get one step further in breaking the enchantment the evil Sorcero has over the Fairy Queen? Megan and a sweet fairy elf, Hayley, whom she meets, find that an ogre is imprisoning lots of animals. Why? This is a series which will keep girls looking out for more, as they follow Megan's exploits.

The Magnificent Moon Hare by Sue Monroe

A promising start to a refreshing new series. P. J.  Petulant is a very determined young lady, who knows just what she wants - and knows how to get it: 'I want fun and games and jokes and tricks and lots of fantastic stuff'! says P.J. Petulant - a wish shared by many! She wants a dragon, but  gets more than she expected when the Moon Hare takes her off on a thrilling adventure. Can she and Sandra (the boy dragon), rescue her father, King Winston? A comic fantasy for ages 7+, but witty enough to amuse adults too, making it a good read-aloud story to share. The illustrations are delightful - a few more wouldn't come amiss!

 Horrid Henry's All Time Favourite Joke Book by Francesca Simon

Predictably funny, this will give children plenty to keep their parents amused! The best of the best - these are Horrid Henry's best jokes of all time. Here's an idea of what is in store - 'What's the best birthday present for a skeleton? A mobile bone.' 'How do monsters cook their food? They terror-fry it.' As ever, Tony Ross' drawings are the perfect complement.

Bella Donna: Witchling by Ruth Symes

This is the third story about Bella Donna. She is a young witch who may only use magic when she’s at home in the enchanted Coven Road. But magic is such fun and it's so hard for poor Bella to stick to the rules! There are so many things Bella can’t quite resist - after all, if you could fly on a broomstick, wouldn't you want to do so whenever possible?  On the one hand, Bella is just an ordinary girl, having fun with her friends, but there's a whole other side to her life too. The book is fun, but it does make you think about the important things in life too. The illustrations have a magical feel too! 

S.W.I.T.C.H. 10: Gecko Gladiator by Ali Sparkes

Josh and Danny can get out of all kinds of difficulties by uturning themselves into all sorts of different creatures using the  secret spray given to them by scientiswt Petty Potts. Have you ever tried to imagine what it would be like living as another creature? Well, Josh and Danny find out! They find themselves stuck in a dreadful place - a pink toyshop full of girls! Can turning into geckos help them escape? An exciting adventure story for readers of 7+.

Dinosaur Cove: Saving the Scaly Beast by Rex Stone

Any series which reaches its 21st book must be deemed a huge success! Rex Stone obviously knows and loves his dinosaurs and this shows through in the series, which as well as being great stories, also contain lots of information about dinosaurs. A gentle pareiasaurus is under threat from an anteosaurus who has decided the gentle creature will make the perfect dinner. Can Tom and Wanna save the creature in time - or could they be the next meal............. 

Under the Weather: Stories About Climate Change ed by Tony Bradman

I struggled to know where to put this book, as it is so much more that just fiction. However, not to belittle the vital messages contained in the stories, I hope children (and adults) will enjoy the excellent story telling from the wide range of contributors, including both new and established authors as well as take to heart the message. These are important issues and these stories are an excellent way of highlighting them and making them real - something that affects us all, not just far away lands and people. The stories have a global perspective and there are positive messages about how we can all help. Short stories are an excellent way to engage readers and reading one of these in the classroom would be an excellent way to introduce or round off studies on climate change.

Frogspell by C J Busby

The first - and very promising - book in a quartet set in  Arthurian England. King Arthur, Camelot, Merlin are ever-popular topics for fiction and offer exciting opportunities. The story is well thought-out, with plenty of touches of humour, and ideal for the younger reader.  Max Pendragon wants to be a wizard, not a squire and finally he casts a spell that works - and this leads to greater things. An entertaining and unusual group of characters help Max on his way. Some familiar and well-known characters are brought to life here in a fresh and enjoyable way.  

The Hundred-Mile-An-Hour-Dog Goes for Gold by Jeremy Strong

Any story from Jeremy Strong is bound to be hilarious - he knows just what children find funny. The Animal Games are coming to town! There'll be show jumping for horses - of course, but for rabbits??? Of course, Trevor has to enter Streaker - skateboarding maybe? Or the discus? Trouble is, Streaker is not exactly renowned for obedience so the ensuing training is bound to raise many a laugh. Can Streaker win gold? Another wonderful which will have children glued to the book.

Dinosaur Olympics (Downtown Dinosaurs) by Jeanne Willis

Children love dinosaurs so they will be thrilled with this hilarious new series. The first book comes out just as Olympic fever is growing, so a great reason for children to read the book. The Stegosaurus family are having a party for Uncle Loop’s 150th birthday but there are some terrifying gate-crashers. War seems inevitable but Boris, the Mayor, proposes Olympic Games to bring peace and stop the fighting. This is a great story to read aloud and there is plenty here to keep the adults entertained too! Arthur Robins' illustrations are the perfect complement to the story.

Terror on the Train (Victorian Tales) by Terry Deary

Interest is high in Charles Dickens in the year of his 200th birthday, so this book which relates the true story of the Staplehurst railway disaster, in which Dickens was involved, is very topical. A simple mistake - a train hurtling at full speed towards a missing section of line - led to disaster. An easy read, with short chapters and plenty of dialogue, this conveys a good atmosphere of the period, of what was still a somewhat suspect means of travel in some people's eyes, and Dickens' bravery - a side of the author not everyone knows about.


Fabulous Flyer (Victorian Tales) by Terry Deary 

A blend of fact and credible ficticious characters makes this story about a balloon flight a good read. Henri Giffard has made a steam powered balloon so he can fly anywhere - it's an amazing story about something we take for granted. It gives children an excellent picture of just how exciting this was. Terry Deary's stories set in authentic historical backgrounds are a great way for children to get a feel for a period at the same time as enjoying a good story. They are also a great resource to support KS2 history -  when working as a school librarian I found I always got a good response from encouraging children to read books set in the period of their studies. Victorian tales follows the successful Knights, Romans, Greek, Tudor, Egyptian, Viking and Pirate Tales. It's a successful formula and very popular.


 The Money, Stan, Big Lauren and Me by Joanna Nadin

Things are exciting for Billy - a new baby is due and the family are moving to a bigger house. But then his mum loses her job and cutbacks will have to be made. Billy comes up with a plan - but the plan doesn't work until he finds a bag full of £20 notes........... This is the second in a series which is a realistic yet amusing portrayal of modern family life. The characters are very believable and readers will readily identify with their ups and downs, and the way they hadnle situations. A series which will appeal to both boys and girls.

 My Great Big Birthday Bash (Humphrey's Tiny Tales) by Betty G Birney

Classroom hamster Humphrey is back with some new adventures for younger readers in another of his Tiny Tales - shorter stories especially for new readers, which include plenty of amusing illustrations. He is a lovable character with a refreshing take on the happenings around him. They don't tell Humphrey, but the children in 'his' class are planning a surprise party for their teacher and Humphrey joins in with the fun. Humphrey has a fun website for all his fans at

The Court Painter's Apprentice by Richard Knight

 'Paint what you see, Johann; not what you think you see.' An intriguing piece of advice given by a master portrait painter that had me stopping to think. At a very young age, Johannes' extraordinary talent is noticed and he is taken away from a familiar world into a world where his childhood is lost - maybe before he has the maturity to cope with that. Johannes finds there is huge power to be had - by changing the faces of those he paints he can change their very lives. But he is tempted to see how his own life could be changed, and that way lies danger. The story moves quickly and draws the reader in to find out what happens - a book to read in a single sitting! An atmospheric and compelling narrative with an entirely unexpected ending. Readers of 9+, well into teen years, will enjoy this unusual story.

Titanic: Death on the Water by Tom and Tony Bradman

Fact and fiction combine in this retelling retelling of the events that led to the tragedy of the Titanic. The authenticity comes from the fact that the story is based on documents held in the National Archives. Billy, a dockyard worker, decides he will be much safer working on board the Titanic - everyone knows the ship is unsinkable. Billy witnesses a series of mistakes, short-cuts and bad decisions which have the inevitable outcome. The Titanic always captures the imagination and this clever blending of fact and fiction, and the telling of the story through the eyes of a young boy brings it alive for younger readers. A gripping tale with a new perspective which would be lovely to read aloud as suspense builds in the listener's mind.

Danny Danger and the Space Twister by Adam Frost

Danny's marvellous cosmic remote, which enables him to control time, is snatched by the dreaded Space Twister. But things get better as soon as his wonderful Uncle Charlie shows up with one of his secret gadgets -  computer than can read people's minds. This is a wonderful series and is particularly appealing to that hard-to-please boy market, who will relate to Danny - and probably envy him! There are plenty of humorous twists to the story too. This is almost sure to get readers away from the electronic games -encourage them by sharing the first chapter or two and they will be gripped.

 Olivia and the Movie Stars by Lyn Gardner

As a child, I adored Noel Streatfeild's stories about ballet and the stage and I love this series which has just the same feel. Building developments mean that the Swan Academy is under threat of closure, and a series of accidents add to the problems - it seems that someone is determined to close the academy. Can Olivia find out what is going on in time? Olivia can seem totally focussed on her career, but her empathy comes to the fore when needed, making her a likeable character who supports her friends. A really enjoyable read with an interesting setting.  Lyn Gardner is a theatre critic and her knowledge of and love for the theatre shine through in these books.

Max and Molly's Guide to Trouble: How to Build an Abominable Snowman by Dominic Barker

A hilarious story about twins Max and Molly. To start off with, we se Max in a pink coat and Molly in  a blue one - and all because their aunt objects to gender stereotyping! The book just gets funnier as the twins show you how to get snowed in with only emergency beans for tea and how to snowplough the street so Mum can buy piiza instead. AND howto accidentally-also-at-the-same-time build a real-life Abominable Snowman! Great fun and a wonderful story to read aloud - perhaps when you are snowed in!

Bear Hug (Wild) by Lucy Courtenay

Twins again - I seem to be reviewing lots of books about twins at the moment - and why not, because that special bond twins have makes great material for stories.Twins Tori and Taya Wild disagree about almost everything, except for their love of animals! heir mother fosters all kinds of wild animals so their house is always full of them! And now their father has to find a cast of horses for a TV period drama and Taya is desperate to be the one in front of the camera for once. But she's in danger of being upstaged by Boris, the tiny Russian circus bear cub her mum is fostering, who could end up stealing the show ... A good story for all animal lovers and a refreshing change from the 'small animal' stories.

Lolly Luck by Ellie Daines

Lolly Luck - lucky by name and lucky by nature. Good things happen to her: she wins the lottery, gets the lead in a school play, wins competitions and raffles, finds money on the floor... but one day her whole world falls apart. On her birthday, her Dad tells her that he has lost his job and Lolly's luck drains further and further away as the family loses their home as well. Lolly is a well-rounded and credible character; the people who surround her are also very believable and the reader is drawn into her story and wants things to go well for her. The book tackles big issues in a way that is down-to-earth and realistic. A debut novel which shows great promise - a book for fans of Jacqueline Wilson.

The Poodle Problem (Pooch Parlour) by Anna Wilson

I see a series on its way here...... we meet 9 year old Pippa Peppercorn who helps out at a beauty salon for pets - a place where everyone drops in for a gossip. But its cosy existence is threatened when a rical solon is set up - with an owner who has a sinister plan involving oodles of poodles. Can Pippa and her friend, dachshund Dash prevent the plot succeeding? A pet loving heroine, lots of animals and an exciting and a hilarious fast-moving plot - what more can young readers want? The next book, of course - The Dotty Dalmation (published August 2012).

Agatha Parrot and the Mushroom Boy by Kjartan Poskitt

The second story in a series that is ideal for children just setting out to read chapter books for themselves. A really silly story that will appeal to children's sense of fun whilst giving them the satisfaction of reading a 'real' book rather than a picture book. Short chapters, plenty of pictures and fun use of fonts will all appeal. Agatha and her zany band of friends live in Odd Street and they have some very odd adventures in this book which is one comic episode hot on the heels of the next!

The Body in the Fog (London Murder Mysteries) by Cora Harrison

Number 5 in this gripping mystery series is just as good as the previous stories. Victorian London must have been a frightening place and the sewers and underground rivers offer fantastic scope for a scary story. The atmosphere of a fog-ridden London is chillingly conveyed. Alfie and Jack are right on the spot when there is a murder and an explosion in Trafalgar Square and the gang set off in search of the killer. These books are real page-turners, with pacy writing that leaves the reader wanting to read just one more chapter. Alfie and his gang are wel-portrayed and will appeal particularly to boys. I can just see youngsters who have enjoyed this series going on to enjoy the great classics of detective fiction - Sherlock Holmes comes to mind, of course.

Boobela and the Worm to the Rescue by Joe Friedman

Boobela is a lonely giant of a girl who befriends, of all unlikely beings, a worm. We see the friendship grow through the series and in this, the sixth of the series, we see the friends speeding to the rescue of Boobela's parents, who are trapped in the jungle. Boobela's skills have grown through the series and she is going to need all her wiles to free her parents. The story can be read on its own, but I feel the best thing is to read the series in order to see how the characters develop.The entire series ia a sweet collection of short stories with an old-fashioned feel. The delightful illustrations by Sam Childs are, unusually for a fiction book aimed at this age group, in colour and this makes the book so much more appealing. It's a good step up from picture books for keen readers.

A Hen in the Wardrobe by Wendy Meddour

Cinnamon Grove - just a normal suburban street - or is it? Then why is Ramzi's dad in his wardrobe looking for a hen? Because he's sleepwalking, he's homesick for his native Algeria, that's why. So Ramzi, Dad and Mum go back to Dad's Berber village in the desert region of North Africa. A fascinating mix of life in the UK and in an Algerian village, the story is full of fascinating information (complete with a glossary). A heartwarming story about family values, different cultures and working together to find a solution that works for all. The first in a series - I am looking forward to reading more.

Stripy the Zebra Pony (Tilly's Pony Tales 17) by Pippa Funnell

Number seventeen in the series to delight Pippa Funnell's band of enthusiasts. Tilly leaves the familiar surroundings of Silver Shoe Farm, when she wins a horse safari holiday to Africa. But even in Africa, horse loving Tilly finds her skills are needed. On safari, horse-mad Tilly helps rescue an abandoned zebra foal, called Stripy. As ever, there are plenty of illustrations and plenty of tips for enthusiasts.
Lovers of horses should visit to see how they too can help horses.

Sophia the Flame Sister (Spell Sisters) by Amber Castle

A new series to delight girls of ages 7 - 9. It's a great time to get girls hooked on books, as they move on from picture books and early reading books. The Spell Sisters series tells of Gwen and her quest, at the request of Nineve (the Lady of the Lake), to save the magical island of Avalon from the evil Morgana Le Fay. The eight Spell Sisters of Avalon must be returned to Avalon before its magic is lost forever. Gwen (Guinevere) is the one chosen to save Avalon, when she releases a beautiful oendant from a stone (you will have got the picture by now and guessed the inspiration behind the series). In this first adventure Gwen and Flora search for Sophia the Flame Sister who Morgana has imprisoned in an enchanted forest. Can the girls save her and help to restore the magic of fire to Avalon? The text seems to race along, grabbing attention and taking you along with the story.

Lily the Forest Sister (The Flame Sisters) by Amber Castle

 In this second adventure Gwen and Flora are faced with a swarm of hornets and enchanted vines as they try to rescue Lily the Forest Sister. Can they overcome Morgana's magic and return Lily to Avalon? Magic and adventure combine to make an exciting series. The dialogue is well-written and the characters come to life. Each book comes with a set of stickers - visit the website at to download scenes to decorate with these stickers - great incentive to collect the whole series!

Alien Attack (Star Fighters 1) by Max Chase 

"It is the year 5012 and the Milky Way galaxy is under attack. After the Universal War, a war that almost brought about the destruction of every known universe, the planets in the Milky Way banded together to create the Intergalactic Force – an elite fighting team sworn to protect and defend the galaxy. Only the brightest and most promising eleven-year-olds are accepted into the Intergalactic Force Academy and only the very best cadets reach the highest of their ranks and become . . . STAR FIGHTERS!"
In his first year at the IF Academy Peri has been selected for a rare unsupervised exercise in space, paired with Diesel, a half-Martian from the Academy. They see Earth attacked by Xion spaceships
and the solar system deep in battle. Can they find their way back?


The Enemy's Lair (Star Fighters 3) by Max Chase 

Peri and his crew are horrified. The Meigwors seem to be an even bigger galactic menace than the Xion, and now the Phoenix crew is in the impossible position of having to help the planet that attacked Earth and destroyed the Intergalactic Space Station, by returning their kidnapped prince. They just have to figure out how to do it – without endangering Selene, who stayed behind with the Meigwors and is still on their planet. 
A series that boys will love - fast-paced space adventures, short chapters, plenty of cartoon-style illustrations and enough books in the series that boys will come to know the characters well. And cards to collect as well - always a winner with boys! There's a website too, which boys will find great fun -

Deadly Mission (Star Fighters 2) by Max Chase 

To avenge the attack on earth, Peri and Diesel, have sided with the Meigworians in the new intergalactic conflict. They agree to rescue a Meigworian Prince, held captive by the Xions. But as they leave, the Meigwor insist that Otto, a gigantic Meigworian bounty hunter must accompany them, and Selene should stay behind to help fix the Phoenix. Our heroes capture the Prince and narrowly escape Xion, but the book ends with a twist – the prince says he is in fact the prince of Xion, not Meigwor, and they’ve just kidnapped him.

Bad Kitty Meets the Baby by Nick Bruel 

Kitty's family is growing! A puppy was bad enough but what is this dribbly, scratchy, smelly thing that has arrived on the scene? Once the new arrival has setteld in, it's time for the Pussycat Olympics. A perfect book for children making the transition from picture books to chapter books, there is sufficient text on each page to make a satisfying read (some pages have quite a bit of text, others hardly any) and plenty of hilarious comic-style illustrations to complement the text - in fact, they almost tell the story in many places. A funny story which will appeal to children's sense of humour.

Cartoon Kid Strikes Back by Jeremy Strong

What is the secret Casper and his friends have? They are all superheroes, that's the secret.Three hilarious Cartoon Kid adventures in one book - Go, Dad, Go!; The Talking Cake and Hamster Trouble. Casper is the Cartoon Kid because he is always drawing. Of course, as with all Jeremy Strong's books, it is very well written for children - easy to read and understand and great to read aloud or alone . The amusing illustrations by Steve May help understanding and add to the humour. Jeremy Strong loves writing stories and nobody reading his books can doubt that!

 Chidi's Adventures by Michaela Damasus Ritucci

An unusual book, with a very authentic background which vividly brings alive life in a traditional African village, and contrasts it with the fast-moving world.of a modern town. Chidi is caught between the two and the book focuses on his dilemma. His decision is to have huge consequences and the tension of the story develops strongly through this atmospheric and moving story. A modern day story with traditional values.

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens abridged by Toby Forward

I am always wary when faced with adaptations of classic novels but this gave me no cause for concern. It is well written and manages to convey all the atmosphere of the original in a way that will appeal to younger readers, who will hopefully be inspired to go on and read the original in years to come. The high quality of the illustrations by Iassen Ghuiselev form a key feature of this edition and they really do enable the reader to step into the period and bring it alive. The muted colours are the ideal complement to the story. A beautifully produced edition that will be a joy to own.

Claude in the City by Alex T Smith

When Mr and Mrs Shinyshoes set off for work, Claude the dog decides what adventure he wants to have that day. Wearing his red beret and accompanied by Sir Bobblysock, he sets off and the reader can shyare in his adventures. In the city, the friends foil a robbery in the museum. But next day, Sir Bobblysock isn't well, so it's off to the hospital. Charming and gentle stories, there are a refreshing change from some of the formulaic series around. These are great books for reluctant readers - the stories are amusing, there is plenty happening, passages are short and the pictures are attractive and informative.

Claude at the Circus by Alex T Smith

A walk in the park leads to a walk on a tightrope when Claude joins a circus, throws custard pies, and becomes the star of the show! Another witty and entertaining story, with humour that will appeal to both adults and children - lovely stories to read aloud and share. Quirky and amusing, I think these books are perfect as the next step from picture books - plenty of pictures and lots of clues to be found to assist understanding. The detail is the pictures is fascinating.

Claude on Holiday by Alex T Smith

Claude is no ordinary dog - he leads an extraordinary life once his owners have gone out for the day. But there are always a few mysteries when Mr and Mrs Shinyshoes arrive home, even though Cluade is safely tucked up in his basket. This time, he and Sir Bobblysock go on holiday for the very first time. The build sandcastles, eat ice cream and sunbathe. It is all very normal until... Claude meets pirates and discovers treasure! The characters are original and it's lovely for children to follow Claude's adventures through the stories. An enchanting series which deserves a wide following for its quirky, entertaining and unusual nature.

The World of Norm: May Contain Nuts by Jonathan Meres

Forced to move house, watch his little brothers get whatever they desire and being blamed for everything that goes wrong, all Norm wants is a better bike. Everyday events become hilarious when seen through Norm's eyes. Funny and heart-warming, this story is a brilliant read that makes you laugh out loud. The drawings throughout the book make it even more enjoyable, and really bring it to life. The punchy short chunks of text make the book accessible for even the most reluctant readers - who will be delighted they have made the effort to read the book.

Grashkor the Beast Guard (Beastquest) by Adam Blade

A bumper edition of the exciting adventure stories that are as gripping as a computer game! Great for boys, with their collectability boosted by the cards in the back of the book, and links to an excellent interactive website . Tom's best friend, Elenna, has been kidnapped by evil Malvel! Grashkor the Beast Guard is holding her prisoner in his dark prison - the Chamber of Pain! Can Tom rescue her from Grashkor's deadly clutches?

A Ravelled Flag (The Strong Winds Trilogy) by Julia Jones

The engrossing sequel to 'The Salt Stained Book is, if anything, even more exciting than its predecessor. At last, Danny has been rescued from the care system by the long awaited arrival of his aunt. He and his mother take up residence on her Chinese junk and tales of China are interwoven in the darkly thrilling adventures of Danny and his friends as they endeavour to find out what pirates really do - their loyalty for one another is a key feature of this book, which focuses strongly on Anna's adventures. An atmospheric tale set in derelict docklands and on the River Stour - the authir's love of the area shines through here. I am eagerly awaiting the concluding book of the trilogy -  

The World of Norm May Cause Irritation by Jonathan Meres

Norm thinks he is hard done by, but children who discover the joy of reading his books certainly aren't! The story has enough detail to enthrall the most enthusiastic reader but cleverly manages to appeal to the less enthusiastic reader too. The reader is drawn into Norm's life and they will readily identify with the things that happen to him. Plenty of cartoon-style drawings embellish the text and make reading easier. Great fun and I can see Norm becoming very popular. 

The Rabbit Rescue (Magic Toyshop) by Jessie Little 

Toys come to life in the Magic Toyshop, which is a perfect new series for 5 to 7 years olds - they will enjoy the short chapters and plenty of pictures to keep interest alive. Willow is very excited when her  Clemmie comes to stay in Summertown. She's got her own pretty bunny rabbit called Smooches. But naughty Croc is trying to steal Smooches's magical pocket heart. Can Willow and her Hoozle friends come to the rescue in time?

Ragbag Friends (Magic Toyshop) by Jessie Little

Willow and Jack are very excited about the Summertown recycling fair tomorrow. But Croc is causing trouble, making all sorts of strange toys out of bits and bobs, including poor lonely Frank. Can Willow and the Magic Toyshop council help Frank find a pocket heart and stop Croc's mischievous plans? Magic and toys that come to life - ideal material for young readers, who will be keen to see more in the series. 

Mysteries According to Humphrey by Betty G Birney

Humphrey is the lovable classroom hamster of Room 26, star of a hugely successful series. This time, he gets to use his detective skills when the teacher Mrs Brisbane didn't show up for school. The supply teacher, Mr E, is rather strange and Humphrey is concerned that the class isn't learning anything. Can he solve the mystery? Humphrey is a lovely character, his antics are hilarious and the stories are really appealing to their young audience.

Keira the Film Star Fairy (Rainbow Magic) by Daisy Meadows

A glittery silver cover which girls will love sets the scene for this book. A Hollywood blockbuster is filming in Kirsty's village, and the girls have parts as extras. The trouble starts when Jack Frost's goblins steal  the Film Star Fairy's three magical items - can the reader find them in the book? Meet all the friends at and have lots more fun. Ideal for girls of 5+. 

Stunt Bunny - Medal Mayhem by Tamsyn Murray 

A lovely topical story - about the Animalympics - is the theme of the fourth tale about the entertaining Harriet Houdini, better known as Stunt Bunny. Who better to do the 'hop, skip and jump' than a rabbit? And with the help of a world famous athlete, how can Harriet fail? But she has to contend with The Great Maldini, who doesn't want her to succeed. A lively fun read for boys and girls of 5+, who will warm to this charming little character. Short chapters and plenty of amusing illustrations make it a super book for children exploring the joy of independent reading.

Alfie Jones and a Change of Fortune by David Fuller

Alfie Jones loves football but since the father of Alfie's arch-rival, Jasper, has taken over as coach, playing for the Colts has not proved to be much fun. Should he leave? Not if he takes the advice of a fortune teller who tells him he must stay to fulfil his dream of becoming a professional player. Can he manage to stay? David Fuller is an FA-qualified football coach and his love for the game shines through in the book and the reader will be enthralled by the insights. A great book to engage reluctant boy readers - the ones who would rather be kicking a football than reading! Don't worry - it is a book strongly football oriented, rather than fortune-telling, despite the appearance of the cover. Visit the website at and look out for the promised follow up books.

The Salt-Stained Book (The Strong Winds Trilogy) by Julia Jones

Danny's life is turned upside-down when his gran dies and he and his mother set off to Suffolk to meet his great-aunt. But why does he meet with such hostility and why do his so-called carers not seem to care about him at all - or even believe him? As he struggles to make sense of what is happening, he finds a gift for sailing which finally takes him to an understanding of his own identity. It's a gripping story and the reader will get drawn into Danny's life and hope all turns out well - but we need to wait for the rest of the trilogy to find out. Disappointingly for me, as a great Arthur Ransome enthusiast, I just couldn't get the vaunted connection - that doesn't in any way stop this being a good read but to me it is nothing like an Arthur Ransome adventure.

Spaceheadz Save the World by Jon Scieszka and Francesco Sedita 

Spaceheadz - a great series that encapsulates what children love about the modern world. Fast paced and full of hilarious illustrations and quirky facts. Spaceheadz's mission is to save the world. The campaign to recruit 3,400,001 kids to be Spaceheadz is going well. But things don't get any easier - the Spaceheadz don't exactly blend in so it's easy to identify them. Children can continue the fun online with lots of interactive fun at and

 The Dreaded Noodle Doodles by Karen McCombie

Want to know a secret? There is something very, very strange living in the trees behind Ruby and Jackson's house. You might spot two saucer-round eyes blinking out of a strangely square opening in the tree roots - then you've seen Thing! Thing is cute, lovable and funny, even if sometimes when he's upset he gets a bit upset! In this, the second in a hilarious new series by best-selling author Karen McCombie, Thing goes to school and gets Ruby and Jackson into a bit of trouble..... I love the way the stories are told from a child's viewpoint - children will love it too.The storyline is well set off by the black and white line drawings by Alex T. Smith.

Snake's Elbows by Deirdre Madden 

Snake's Elbows was Deirdre Madden's first book for children. On the surface, Woodford is an ordinary town, but there are sinister things under the surface. Reclusive millionaire pianist Barney Barrington moves to the town and strange things start to happen. The baddie is Jasper Jellit and he too is a millionaire, but his money is ill come by. This light-hearted book tells how kindness reaps its due reward through the stories of two contrasting characters. An easy and enjoyable read which shows how people have an effect on those around them.

Jasper and the Green Marvel by Deirdre Madden

The sequel to Snake's Elbows sees sneaky villain Jasper Jellit up to his dirty tricks again. Hidden somewhere in Haverford-Snuffley Hall is a fabulous emerald necklace - The Green Marvel. Jasper Jellit is determined to get his hands on it so takes a job there as a gardener. But it's not plain sailing, what with a haunted house, his pet rats and not to mention Mrs Knutmegg the cook. Plenty of humour to keep children amused in this well-crafted and engaging story.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Novel? Picture book? Graphic novel? Film script? All these seamlessly interwoven in a magical tale. Intriguing and unusual, the story is told as much through the stunning black and white drawings as it is through the written word. Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But suddenly Hugo's undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in danger. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo's dead father create this spellbinding mystery. The reader's own imagination plays a key part in the enjoyment of this book.


The Snow Merchant by Samuel Gayton 

A modern day fairy tale that is just perfect for sharing and which will appeal to a cross-section of ages. All the classic ingredients which go to make great story-telling - a strong storyline, heroes and villains, a touch of humour and a heartwarming theme - and the magic of snow. In fact, the book goes back to a world where there is no snow, just long harsh winters, Told through the eyes of Lettie, the young 'landlady' of The White Horse Inn, this is an entrancing tale woven around the creation of snow. An unusual and imaganitive tale, destined to become a firm favourite.

Katie and the Cupcake Cure (The Cupcake Diaries) by Coco Simon

Think two popular favourites combined - cupcakes and The Babysitters Club - and you have this promising new series, ideal from tweens, from Simon and Schuster. A group of girls, all feeling slightly lost in their new school, come up with an inspired idea - The Cupcake Club. A group of very different characters work together to develop some exciting recipes. An enjoyable story about friendship, realistic and girls will readily identify with the credible characters. The second in the series is The Cupcake Diaries: Mia in the Mix

 Monster Swap: Zainab and Mash by Jonny Zucker and Tony Ross

Monster Swap is an exchange scheme with a difference.Zainab's an enthusiastic skateboarder, obsessed with midnight feasts. Mash is six feet tall with red laser beam eyes. What on earth's going to happen when this unlikely pair get together? The results are as  hilarious as you would expect and Tony Ross' drawings are the perfect complement to the story. The series is perfect for engaging young readers, boys and girls, and they will be keen to look out for the next title in the series.

Hamsters Need Help by Lucy Daniels 

A bind-up of two of the titles (Hamster in a Hamper and Hamster in the Holly) from the hugely popular Animal Ark series, that will delight young fans. Mandy's parents own Animal Ark, a veterinary surgery, and she makes friends with lots of the animals who come in for care. A series like this is a great way to engae young readers, but I would always encourage parents and teachers to build on the interest developed and encourage children to widen out and read other books, as well as continuing to look out for new books in the series, and by the same author.

Natalie the Christmas Stocking Fairy by Daisy Meadows

Little girls will be thrilled to find a copy of this book in their Christmas stockings! One in the successful Rainbow Magic series, this is really appealing with its sparkly red cover. Maybe it will give parents some quiet time on Christmas Day! Naughty Jack Frost never gets anything in his Christmas stocking, so this year he's decided nobody else will either! He's stolen the three magical objects that Natalie the Christmas Stocking Fairy needs to make sure children all over the world get their presents. Can Kirsty and Rachel find the precious items in time to keep Christmas magical?

Pip and the Wood Witch Curse (A Spindlewood Tale) by Chris Mould 

The walled city of Hangman's Hollow is at war with the forest outside. Pip, who has escaped from life in the orphanage seems, despite appearances,  to be the one who will defeat the wood witches and rescue the children of Hangman's Hollow. This series is at least as much, if not more, about the wonderfully dark illustrations that liberally besprinkle the pages. They are wonderfully atmospheric and the visual clues they contain will be hugely important in encouraging the reader to persevere with the books - this means it is ideal for reluctant and struggling readers. A haunting tale that will leave the reader wanting more......... and there is more..........

 Pip and the Twilight Seekers (A Spindlewood Tale) by Chris Mould

Book two in the darkly mysterious series finds Pip is in hiding, trapped in the great walled city of Hangman's Hollow. Jarvis is roaming the streets, threatening the children of the city, with the aid of a deadly ally. Pip,Toad and Frankie, Pip must venture out of the city and tackle Jarvis in the forest. A pacy read, which will enthrall young readers who are just learning how wonderful independent reading is - and this series won't disappoint!

Pip and the Lost Children (A Spindlewood Tale) by Chris Mould 

In the third and final book in this scary series Pip and his friends Toad and Frankie find themselves in Hangman's Hollow in the dead of winter. Pip has made an amazing discovery but he knows there is too much dagner out there for him to go and try it out.  The characters have been well developed through this mini series and the reader will enjoy reading about them in this Gothic-inspired series as the friendsshow the value of working together in their endeavours to outwit the wicked forces and reclaim the city of the Hollow.

 Quentin Blake's Amazing Animal Stories written by John Yeoman

A wonderful collection of 14 very varied tales from a duo who never fail to delight. The way their work complements each other is nothing short of brilliant. There are animal tales from all around the world and the way the animals are brought to life is magical. Gain an insight into the world of fearsome alligators, clever coyotes, a jittery leopard, a shell-less tortoise and many more. A super book for home or school - just right for that 'end of the day' storytime.

 Royal Flame the Police Horse (Tilly's Pony Tales) by Pippa Funnell

The sixteenth book in this popular series for all pony mad readers. A horse with an unusual background arrives at Silver Shoe Farm - Royal Flame is a police horse and Tilly has heard all sorts of things about what they can do. When a party at the stables goes horribly wrong, Tilly gets a chance to see for herself just what Royal Flame can do when a party at the stables threatens disaster. As ever, the book includes plenty of inside knowledge about horses and riding.

Little Old Mrs Pepperpot and Other Stories by Alf Proysen 

This is a lovely reissue in the Classics to Treasure series. Mrs. Pepperpot is a little old lady who lives in a cottage in the country. Shehas a secret - sometimes she shrinks to the size of a pepperpot, and also gains the ability to understand and talk to all animals. That can be very useful, as she gets all the mice to come and clean her house! They are delightful whimsical stories, lovely to read aloud and these reisues would make a lovely collection to start for a chold.

Magic Beans: A Handful of Tales From the Storybag 

'Sow them. Plant them. Watch them grow.' This is a varied collection of tales from the pens of some of our master storytellers - Susan Gates, Michael Morpurgo, Berlie Doherty and Alan Garner, to name but a few. The contrasting storytelling approaches of these writers brings great variety to this selection of much-loved tales and guarantees something to interest and inspire all children, whatever their interests. The reader's eye is led through the book by the black and white illustrations which are at the foot of every page. A brilliant collection for reading aloud.

You Funny Little Noddy by Enid Blyton 

Perennially popular Noddy is back in a new series of paperback books, which manage to retain some of the feel of the originals, especially because they include the original drawiungs by Beek, which are such a feature of the books. Parents (and grandparents) will enjoy re-visiting the childhood favourite as they share the story, the tenth in the series. Noddy has had a bad day so decides to run away. He finds himself having adventures with a new friend in Clockwork Car Town, but will he ever find his way back to his beloved Toy Town?

Well Done Noddy! by Enid Blyton

Big-hearted Noddy sets out to help his friend Big-Ears after Big-Ears has an accident and his bike is destroyed. Noddy takes his friend home to care for gim and sets out to earn enough money to buy a new bicycle. Noddy's intentions are always good, but can he overcome the obstacles and suv=cceed in his objective> The illustrations are a delight, despite their old-fashioned feel, and really bring the stories alive for us. 

 The Incredible Adventures of Professor Branestawm by Norman Hunter

Absent-minded Professor Branestawn is one of the classic characters of children's literature and despite the fact the first two books were written in the 1930s, he still enthralls children today. The madcap professor is full of brilliant ideas, but somehow things don't quite work out as he intends. The illustrations by W Heath Robinson are the perfect foil to the stories. This title is one in the series 'Classics to Treasure' from The Bodley Head and they would make a great gift as the basis of a child's collection. Perfect to read out loud and share with your children.

 The Midnight Gate: a Belladonna Johnson Adventure by Helen Stringer

This is the second book in the Spellbinder series and we find the character of Belladonna developing the character needed to find her way through problems. Her parents, who are ghosts, have vanished and she is living with a weird foster family. Belladonna and her friend Steve have been given a strange map and they don't know whether the Queen of the Abyss is friend or foe. This is an original story with some interesting characters and the promise of more developments to come.

 Just William (TV Tie-in Edition) by Richman Crompton

Fantastic! William introduced to a whole new generation of readers. The story is set in 1922 - a very different world from today and William and his Outlaws fall foul of a varied selection of authoritarian characters. They mean well, but somehow things don't quite work out as intended.The setting may be different, but William's hilarious escapades will still appeal to today's girls and boys. The language is rewarding and the characters true-to-life. The inclusion of the original pen-and-ink drw=awings is wonderful - it brings the era to life and the book is a piece of social history in itself.

Secrets of Mercy Hall by Gareth Edwards

Part Two of The Thorn Gate trilogy takes us further into the adventures of George, Milly, Charlie and Singer. The orphanage is fast running out of money, so it's time to sell the diamonds from their last trip through the hedge. On their travels through the RainbowCave, the three orphans had acquired unusual skills, and every one of those skills will be required to counter the dangers they encounter in this exciting new adventure. A gripping and fast-moving story which captures the attention right from the start and has you supporting the characters through their wonderful endeavours. Read Escape From Mercy Hall first though! 

The Big Break Detectives Casebook by Alan Nolan

Perhaps the name of the school attended by the friends who star in this story might give you a clue as to their interests - The Lady Agatha Chesterton School! Danny, Kate and Little Tom are very busy during their lunch hours, solving mysteries, putting things right and exposing evil-doers - and all in time to return to lessons at the end of the break. Fun comic-style investigations with plenty of added information and snippets to enjoy. A novel and enjoyable book which will appeal to a cross-section of ages. More fun to be found at

Christophe's Story by Nicki Cornwell 

An 8 year old boy from Rwanda describes how he and his mother and his brother have to run for their lives after the “soldiers” have taken his father away. Why? Christophe’s father, Andre, does not agree with the policies of the ruling regime; and therefore his life (and the lives of members of his family) is in danger. He wants to share his story with pupils at his new school, but can he find the words to do so?This thought-provoking book can be enjoyed as a story, but it also gives the opportunity to look further into the events that took place in Rwanda. There is an excellent teacher's resource pack at


Armel's Revenge by Nicki Cornwell 

The sequel to Christophe's Story is about Armel and Christophe who are from Rwanda and the Congo and have escaped from their war-torn countries to live in England. But, meeting at  school, they soon realise that they come from different sides of the Hutu/Tutsi divide. Will they be able to leave their past behind? Another book which gives plenty of opportunity for discussion and an insight into recent history. the books also have a role to play in helping teachers and classmates understand the feelings of those exiled from their homes.

 Brave New Girl by Catherine Johnson

A contemporary story, set in London just prior to the start of the 2012 Olympics. Seren is a strong and determined character, who just knows that she can make things happen - and so she does, but not always in the way she expects. One person believes in her and wants her to be in  a film? Could this be the success she craves? A lovable heroine and a realistic background combine to make an engaging story. It highlights the importance of friendship and loyalty and brings to life a multi-cultural London which will resonate with many.

Noel Barleywater Runs Away by John Boyne 

Subtitled 'a fairytale' we immediately expect to be taken into the realsm of fantasy - and we are not disappointed. Noah runs away through the forest and finds himself in a fantastical toyshop - every child's dream come true! The toymaker takes Noah on an exciting and life-changing journey wherein he is told a plethora of weird and wonderful stories - can they be believed? A truly imaganitive story which leaves the reader with a lot to think about.

 A Vicarage Family by Noel Streatfeild

I was thrilled to have the chance to reread this childhood favourite of mine. It is the story of Noel Streatfeild's childhood and as you read it, you can understand how she could so vividly bring her stories to life. Written in the third person, with the heroine named Vicky, this is nonetheless autobiographical. Many aspects of her childhood are reflected in Noel's wonderful stories and this book gives a real insight into the popular author. It is immensly readable and an excellent portrayal of a way of life long vanished. The publisher Jane Nissen Books specialises in bringing back into print some of the best classic children's literature - see the full range at

Father Thames by Robin Price and Paul McGrory

Part text, part graphic novel, this is the gripping sequel to London Deep and continues the topical theme of global warming. Rival police forces - children and adults - work independently to keep the peace in the sinking City of London. Jemima has joined the Youth Police Department - but is she what she seems? The city is under threat and Nick must trust Jem and work with her to combat the threat. Unusual in style and fast-moving, the writing ensures the reader is totally absorbed in the book and the people and places spring to life. The format is perfect for encouraging reluctant readers and they will be well rewarded by this exciting story.

 Beowuff and the Horrid Hen by Professor Burns-Longship

... and if you believe that is the author's real name, you'll believe anything! Beowuff is a disgrace to his illustrious ancestors - he is all bark and no bite! Banished from his home, can he redeem himself by saving the King's Great Feasting Kennel from............ a chicken? A really entertaining read with lots of humour. The first in a new series for readers of 7+ - although young readers would appreciate some illustrations, so I would recommend this for slightly older readers. It would be great fun to read aloud and share with a class.

 Rusty the Trustworthy Pony by Pippa Funnell

The fifteenth in the popular Tilly's Pony Tales, this will be welcomed by the many fans of the series. Rusty the Trustworthy is a touching story as we find out how calm and gentle Rusty makes a real difference to the life of the young autistic boy Edward. We all know how important animals can be to people with all sorts of special needs and this is a thoughtful and perceptive story that will help us all understand how important animals can be in this arena. Written with all the indise knowledge and understanding we have come to expect from Pippa's stories. 

Ivy and Bean: What's the Big Idea? by Annie Barrows

Ivy and Bean are two very different characters who are the perfect example of the saying 'opposites attract', and their two very different characters make this an excellent series. In this story, they turn inventors as they decide what to do for the science fair, at which everything is to be related to global warming. A perfect depiction of the world of families, friends and school and two realistic characters with whom children will readily identify. They mean well, even though things sometimes go wrong. Whatever happens is always portrayed with great humour and girls of around 6 - 8 will love these books.
You'll find out lots more about this delightful duo at


Ivy and Bean: No News is Good News by Annie Barrows 

Ivy and Bean need money - only $10 but how can they make it? They decide to write a newspaper and find out some very interesting things in the process..........The format of these books is delightful - slightly smaller than normal and in hardback, the chapters are of a good length for beginning readers and there are lots of illustrations to break up and expand on the text. They are reasonably easy reads and the stories flow in such a way that children will really be motivated to keep on reading, even perhaps when they need to ask for a little help. An ideal series to collect.

 The Tales of Olga da Polga by Michael Bond

Charming stories, full of gentle humour, from the creator of the much-loved Paddington Bear.  Olga da Polga is a very adventurous guinea pig, who has lots of animal friends where she lives, in the Sawdust family's garden. She tells lots of tall stories and gets into all sorts of mischief. The pencil drawings by Catherine Rayner capture the essence of the stories perfectly.It is an attractively presented smallish format hardback which will make an ideal gift, and I hope that a whole new generation of readers will enjoy the first in the series about the delightful guinea pig. A good gift for guinea pig owners too!

Ralph is Not a Spy by Corinne V Davies

It seems that the members of the Chess Academy will stop at nothing to find out the secrets of Ralph's success at chess. The Chess Academy are a jealous bunch and are after the secrets that underlie Ralph's game. Will they stop at nothing to get what they want as they send in their top agent to try to defeat Ralph? Brimming with disguises, gadgets, morse code, hairspray and er...cheese sandwiches? Written throughout in clever rhyming verse, this is a fun story full of quirky humour. The illustrations by El Ashfield are an integral part of the story. The Spy Zone at the end of full of fascinating activities - a great addition to the book.

The Shadow Cage and Other Tales of the Supernatural by Philippa Pearce the shadow cage

A spine-chilling collection of tales which wil haunt you long after you put the book down, first published in 1977 and now reissued by Jane Nissen Books. The title story is an account of a mysterious bottle found on a hill. When Ned takes it home, it releases a chain of events which make him wish he had never found it. All the stories start in this way, with seemingly innocent objects or events and each takes a strangely intriguing twist as the story unfolds. Best not read at bedtime, as the vivid evocations may give you nightmares!Philippa Pearce is, of course, the author of Tom's Midnight Garden.

 Mr Gum in The Hound of the Lamonic Bibber Bumper Book by Andy Stanton

First released for World Book Day 2009, this is a great big edition, with over 100 stickers and lots of new material. Mr Gum is a hugely successful series which is loved by children and it has received many prizes. The books are set in the fictitious town of Lamonic Bibber. Just what is padding through the town in the  fog? Join the horrified townspeople as they face the destruction the following morning. Some detective work is called for here if Jake the Dog's name is to be cleared. A weird and wacky story that children will love. If you enjoy Mr Gum, visit his website at where you will find lots of fun for all enthusiasts.

Frightfully Friendly Ghosties: School of Meanies by Daren King 

This is the second outing for these very friendly ghosts. Ghost school was dreadful, but when Humphrey Bump is expelled from ghost school, the alternative is even worse - it's still-alive school! But despite ther support of his ghostly friends, Humphrey still has to contend with a worse enemy - the bullying headmaster. The ghosts are lovely characters who really appeal to the reader. The stories are quirky and imaginative and are a great way to encourage children to extend their own imaginations. The black and white drawings are fun too.

 The Smurfin' Guide to the Smurfs by Elizabeth Dennis Barton

Everything you need to know about these perenially popular characters, who 'are blue, three apples tall and live in mushroom cottages. Find out where the Smurfs live and who they are. There are plenty of jokes, words of wisdom and even a recipe. Packed with cartoon-style illustrations, this is a really fun read for all Smurfs fans. Simon and Schuster have issued a Classic Range of Smurfs book. as well as this title, there is a mini board book library of five books -  Smurfs Little Library and Hide & Seek: Where is Brainy? (Smurfs) - more titles to follow.

Danny Danger and the Cosmic Remote by Adam Frost

This is a really exciting theme for a book - a remote control seems an everyday object but this one can control time. It opens up huge possibilities and the author has made the most of the potential of this. Danny is given the remote, but inevitably, someone else is after it............ The Night Scientist will stop at nothing to get hold of the remote. This is a really fun read as Danny winds back time with hilarious consequences - a laugh aloud story. This is a great read for boys - the story really grips the reader and draws you through the book. Nosy Crow really do pick some exceptional titles for their list and this is no exception. I look forward to more in the series.

Space Lizards Stole My Brain! by Mark Griffiths 

A hilarious story which follows 11 year old Lance Spratley who has his brain swapped with Admiral Skink, an alien lizard warlord. The only way to save Admiral Skink is to transpose his mind to a temporary home - and that's where poor Lance comes in! Meanwhile, Lance finds himself surrounded by lizards determined to destroy Earth. An intriguing concept and the story lives up to the promise - wacky fun that will appeal to younger readers. The story is written in such a way that it grabs the attention and has the reader wanting more - so it's good to know it is the first in a series.

 Edwin Spencer: Shadow Magic by J D Irwin

The second story starring Edwin and Perpetua and the sequel to Edwin Spencer: Mission Impossible. Summoned back to Hysteria, the pals find that Prince Auvlin is behaving strangely. What is going on? Who are the strange riders in the forest and what are they up to? The suspense builds up and draws the reader in to the heart of the twists and turns of the tale.This book seems to have it all - humour, action, adventure and all with a fantasy background which is strangely real. Take a look at the author's website

Frightfully Friendly Ghosties by Daren King

This is a delightfully quirky story about some really rather nice ghosts. Pamela Fraidy has been shut in the attic of the Still-Alives , who are not nice at all, with a very scary spider. How are her friends going to get her out? It's a team effort and all their talents are needed as they work together. This is a perfect read for children who are starting to read on their own, with short chapters, plenty of pictures and not too much text to the page. It's full of humour with plenty of unexpected twists and enough repetition to help reading. Well portrayed characters make the story enjoyable and satisfying. 

The Dragon Princess: And Other Tales of Magic, Spells and True Luuurve  by E D Baker 

I hope children are not deterred by the size of this book - it is, in fact, three stories in one; The Dragon Princess, No Place for Magic and The Salamander Spell. When Millie gets cross (and that's a bit too often for comfort) she turns into a fire-breathing green dragon. Hilarious, magical adventures about Millie, who started turning into a dragon at a VERY VERY early age - you'll have to read these humorous stories to find out why.

 Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Classic Collection) by Lewis Carroll

This abridged version from QED Publishing is a good introduction to the classic book - but I am keen to ensure that, valuable as these adaptations are, children do always move on to enjoy the original books in all their glory. I very much like the adundance of illustrations in this book - one on each two page spread. They really help to tell the story and bring it alive. The text is easy to read and the language accessible. It is an attractive edition - cloth bound with a ribbon bookmark.

 Penny Dreadful is a Complete CATastrophe by Joanna Nadin

Penny Dreadful is a Magnet for Disaster has just been shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize 2011, so the publication of the second book is very timely. Poor Penny is just one of those well-meaning people who seems to attract trouble - and when she has one of her 'brilliant ideas' everyone gasps with horror. Three hilarious laugh-aloud stories in one volume - Penny looks after the classroon rat; has some amazing ideas for 'Show-and-Tell; and takes the cat hospital visiting. Great fun and Comparison with Horrid Henry is inevitable, but these books are totally fresh and original. They are also timeless in their appeal so are set to woo children for years to come.

 The Sleeping Army by Francesca Simon

This is a new departure fro Francesca Simon, best known for the Horrid Henry books. It was inspired by the Lewis Chess pieces in the British Museum, and why it might be that they look so gloomy. Freya, a British Museum guard’s daughter decides to wake them up to find out why they are so gloomy. Once awake, they are all summoned to Asgard, land of the Viking gods, and told they must go on a perilous journey to restore the gods to youth. But Freya faces a dilemma - if she refuses to go or if she fails, she will be turned into an ivory chess piece. This story engrosses the reader in tales of Norse mythology
in a unique and humourous way. I hope that Francesca's legions of fans will be drawn into a whole new genre of reading through this outstanding tale.

 Earwig and the Witch by Diana Wynne Jones

An intriguing title for this final story from a perennially popular author. Earwig is an orphan but she is very happy at St Morwald's Home, where she has everyone doing her bidding. So she is sorry when Bella Yaga and the Mandrake come to the Home and choose to take her home with them. Bella Yaga is a witch and Earwig is determined not to have any part of her wickedness. Darkness combines with humour in this magical story from a sadly missed author. It is a relatively short novel from Diana Wynne Jones, which may disappoint some, but it does make a lovely introduction to her work for yournger readers.

Super Soccer Boy and the Laser Ray Robbery by Judy Brown

Super Soccer Boy is a fun series for young readers, especially boys, and getting them hooked on a series like this is a great way to encourage reading. When children get engrossed in the series, they are really keen for the next one to come out. The Laser Ray Robbery is the sixth in the series and Harry Gribble faces an interesting challenge in the museum when a price less funeral mask is stolen. How did the thief get it out?  The solution is unexpected and Harry's soccer skills are put to the test in catching the culprit. Football and a super hero - a perfect combination for boys in an action-packed story.

The Windvale Sprites by Mackenzie Crook

Do fairies really exist? This is Mackenzie Crook's first novel and it begins on a day when a certain Mr Fish promised there would not be a hurricane - but which was followed by a night which will not be easily forgotten by those of us who lived through it. Among the consequences with which we are familiar (but which are very hunorously depicted) was a more unusual one. Who is the little winged creature? Asa is determined to find out, in a quest that takes him back 200 years. This is s quirky, humorous and gentle tale which entrances the reader right from the start.

 The Wombles Gift Book Edition by Elizabeth Beresford

The Wombles need no introduction. They are known to and loved by millions since their first appearance in book form in 1968, and especially since the hugely popular TV series of the 1970s. These pointy-nosed, furry creatures live in burrows on Wimbledon Common and help the environment by collecting and recycling rubbish in useful and ingenious ways - very topical! This is a beautiful edition - one to give as a gift and which will be cherished by all ages. A top quality hardback with shiny pages and lots of colour illustrations by Nick Price (they capture the characters perfectly) and  the special extra of an audio CD of a selection of stories read by Bernard Cribbins - the perfect voice for these characters. A wonderful book.

Pirates v Ancient Egyptians in a Haunted Museum (Mega Mash-Up) by Nikolas Catlow and Tim Wesson

I can't praise this series highly enough! They are a brilliant way to get children - especailly boys - right into the heart of a book and to develop their creativity and writing skills. The topics are always cleverly chosen to appeal and the strange juxtaposition makes them even more appealing. In this case, it is up to the reader to stop the pirates and the Ancient Egyptians stealing a priceless treasure from the  museum - or will the ghosts get there first? Full of laughs and plenty of opportunities to doodle and put your own take on the story while you read. Perfect for 6 - 9 year olds - my young tester loves them!

 Dork Diaries: How to Dork Your Diary by Rachel Renee Russell

This series reminds me very much of the very popular Wimpy Kid books. They are a funny look at a young girl's life - first love, school, friendships and life in general. This book really gets readers involved in Nikki's life. Not only is there a new story but there are tips for diary writing and plenty of space for the reader to express her own thoughts. The book is presented in a format which will appeal to girls - cartoon style illustrations, short snippets of 'hand written' text and lots of humour. The author has a good understanding of her target audience and knows how to please them.More fun to be had at

Stories of the Wild West Gang by Joy Cowley

No, not stories about the Wild West, but stories about a family who are allowed to be all the things most children are not - noisy, crazy and very, very messy. Children should not be daunted by the size of this book - there are 10 stories here, ideal for newly confident readers or for sharing at home or in the classroom. They are old-fashioned stories, full of outdoor adventures and plenty of fun with this eccentric family. A refreshing change to see stories set in the real world. 

My Creepy-Crawly Camping Adventure (Humphrey's Tiny Tales) by Betty G Birney

Humphrey, the classroom hamster, is a lovable character and this series for younger readers is perfect for reading alone and building confidence. He has lots of adventures when he goes home with the children. In this story, Humphrey has a BIG creepy adventure when he goes camping. Great fun, easy to read and good for children to follow the adventures through the series. Enjoy more fun at

An Awfully Beastly Business: The Jungle Vampire by The Beastly Boys

An adventure story which combines an important message about conservation with lots of excitement. The members of the RSPCB (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Beasts) are off to the jungle with new member Ulf, in search of a legendary vampire. Can they find it before wicked Baron Marackai? Fourth in a series which is generating a loyal following - encouraged by the collector cards in each book. The three authors work together excellently to produce well-written stories which really grip the reader.  Find out more at

Star Spooks: The Ghosts of Creakie Hall by Karen Wallace

This  book will delight young readers, with its cast of quirky and wondrously named characters - there's Chubby Cellophane, Slick Shivers and Thingy-Wotsit for starters! Hollywood comes to Creakie Hall, but what is real and what is fake? It's up to resident ghosts Miasma and Marmaduke to sort it all out in this hilarious tale. Plenty of excitement to keep the young reader's attention and a great story to read aloud.

 The Pirate Lord by Terry Deary

Tim is a cabin boy on board Drake's ship. He is in for a very exciting journey on borad a small ship facing towering seas and fighting Spanish galleons. Terry Deary is a hugely popular writer of fiction and (largely) non fiction books for young people. His historical knowledge and approachable form of writing make this series of fiction books fun to read. Short chapters, plenty of pictures and a humorous text make Pirate Tales a good series for children just starting out reading on their own.

 The Pirate Queen by Terry Deary

Ireland, 1593 - Grace O'Malley is queen of the pirates - but what will happen when she is captured and sent to face the Queen of England? A fun read which also gives some historical background to the Tudor period. Also in the series - The Pirate Captain (Pirate Tales) and The Pirate Prisoner (Pirate Tales)

 Jinny at Finmory: Horse in a Million by Patricia Leitch

Horse thieves are around and valuable horses are being stolen. Who is responsible and will these precious horses be returned to their rightful owners? A tense story, with strong characters, the reader is drawn into the excitement. Patricia Leitch's horse stories have been popular with young horse enthusiasts for many years, so it's good to see them brought to a new market by Catnip Publishing, after being out of print for many years - six titles have been reissued. The stories are as fresh as ever and Patricia's love of horses shines through.

Killer Star by C T Furlong

This is the third book on the exciting Arctic6 series - perfect for boys who say they don't enjoy reading! Scientists are trying to discover a new form of energy to satisfy the world's ever-growing need for power. But what are the risks and who decides what is safe? Will the friends still be friends at the end of this exciting story? A pacy, fast-moving story with a well-crafted and intriguing beginning - one that makes the reader anxious to know just what is going on. 

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