Book reviews - fiction 5 to 11 (page 9)

Wilf the Mighty Worrier is King of the Jungle by Georgia Pritchett

Wilf is not just an ordinary worrier - he is a Mighty Worrier. And now Alan, his evil next door neighbour, is taking his quest for world domination on holiday to Africa! Can Wilf save the day again? Join Wilf on an animal-tastic jungle adventure, and revel in the exuberant illustrations by the talented Jamie Littler. It's good for children who are reading independently, but it's also great to read aloud as there are lots of opportunities for silly voices. It's very funny and will have young readers in fits of giggles. The author really draws the reader in and they will soon become totally immersed in Wilf's crazy adventures.

Elspeth Hart and the Magnificent Rescue by Sarah Forbes

Elspeth has escaped the clutches of the dastardly Miss Crabb and her sidekick Gladys Goulash and now she's determined to find her parents. After the dim-witted Gladys let slip that they'd been sent to Australia, Elspeth sets off on their trail, with the help of her best friend Rory and his snooty butler, Mr Tunnock - the characters are superb. But Elspeth needs her wits about her as she ventures through the rainforest - there's something whiffy in the air. Could it be that Elspeth hasn't seen the last of her enemies? Elspeth is a super heroine - she has cast off the shackles of her life at the School for Show-offs and blossoms in this, the last of the delightful trilogy (do read them in order, though).

Badly Drawn Beth 2: The Show Must Go On! by Knife & Packer

Beth is one of those characters you can't fail to like, despite the series of calamities that seem to pursue her and now she is back for another hilarious adventure. Beth finds herself in the most unlikely situations and you can't fail to laugh - at the story and at the wonderful illustrations which so superbly echo what is happening. This time, Beth has to contend with the school talent show, Dad's karaoke superstardom, Mum teaching at her school and a potentially evil childminder. Life has never been so complicated!

The Genius Factor: How to Capture an Invisible Cat (Genius Factor 1) by Paul Tobin

Nate is smart - very smart and he has chosen Delphine to be his new friend. Every Friday the 13th, Nate does three extraordinary things to keep life interesting. This time, he taught a caterpillar to read, mailed a love letter, and super-sized his cat Proton before turning him invisible. And that last one is a real problem - Nate and Delphine must reverse the experiment before the cat crushes everything and everybody in town. On top of that, the Red Death Tea Society, known for its criminal activity, killer tactics, and tea-brewing skills, is plotting against Nate and Delphine. The dynamic duo must use their creativity, courage and friendship to save the day. It's great fun, a madcap romp against time that children will love.

Lassie Come-Home (Alma Children's Classics) by Eric Knight

This much-loved story must surely be one of the best, if not THE best, dog story ever written. Never sentimental, is is nonetheless heartfelt and deeply touching. Good as the spin-off films and TV adaptations are, nothing ever matches us to reading the book for yourself. And Alma Books have brought us a new edition so today's children can enjoy the classic story. Lassie is the prize collie of miner Sam Carraclough and his son Joe. But when the family falls on hard times, Sam is forced to sell his dog to the Duke of Rudling, who takes her hundreds of miles away to his estate in Scotland. Undeterred by the distance and driven by instinctive love, Lassie escapes from her new owners and embarks on an epic journey to be reunited with her young master Joe. Additional material at the back of the book will be very popular with teachers.

The Story of a Seagull and the Cat Who Taught Her to Fly by Luis Sepulveda

Moving and emotional, this is the story of a very unusual relationship. Victim of an oil spill, a dying seagull manages to lay one last egg - and leaves it in the care of Zorba, a big black cat, who promises to look after it. The cat promises the seagull to look after the egg, not to eat the chick once it's hatched and even to teach the baby gull to fly. Will Zorba and his feline friends honour the promise and give Lucky, the adopted little seagull, the strength to discover her true nature? The creatures are all amazingly portrayed; they seem almost human in their emotions, their speech and their compassion. The message is overwhelmingly positive; the writing is superbly descriptive and atmospheric and the story has a powerful environmental message - it's a story to ponder over and perfect for classroom discussion.

Strawberry Crush by Jean Ure

There are many newer writers of great books for tweens around at the moment, but Jean Ure, who has been writing excellent books for this age group for many years, is still one of the very best. When Maya falls off her bike and into the arms of Jake Harper, her cousin Mattie thinks the crush that follows will be as short-lived as the rest – especially as Maya is a Year 8 nobody and Jake is a Year 12 god. Mattie’s pretty sure that Jake's taken, anyway. But if Jake’s got a girlfriend then why does he keep offering Maya lifts around town? And why does Maya accuse Mattie of being jealous of her? Perhaps there’s more to this crush than meets the eye. Jean Ure writes with a good insight into the emotions of girls and she conveys their feelings and thoughts with gentle touches of humour that make for excellent reading.

The Honeymoon Sisters by Gwyneth Rees

Poppy is used to sharing her house - and her Mum - with a series of foster children and she's fine with that. Until her mum announces they'll be getting a new foster-child, Sadie Shaw, the new girl in Poppy's class at school. Sadie is hard as nails, cold as ice, tougher than a tiger. But Sadie and Poppy have a secret - their mums are sisters who haven't even spoken for years. Now Sadie's mum has disappeared, her dad is in prison and Poppy's mum is treating her like a long-lost daughter. How can Mum fall for Sadie's sweet-as-honey act - when Poppy knows all too well what she's really like? This is a well-written and sensitively handled story which incorporates many elements, including separated families; it has an upbuilding and positive message and is an excellent read.

Freddie Mole, Lion Tamer by Alexander McCall Smith

Roll up, roll up for a sensational circus story from the bestselling author of The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, Alexander McCall Smith, with fun, energetic illustrations by Kate Hindley throughout. Freddie is an ordinary boy, but a very special boy, liked by everyone. When his father mends the washing machine at the circus, suddenly Freddie Mole finds himself a job and he can't believe his luck as he is asked to understudy some of the acts. But is he brave enough to go into the lions' cage? A joyful, exciting tale of bravery and showbusiness glamour by a much loved author, the story is lively and engaging and young readers will love it.

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

The beautiful cover immediately attracted me to this book. It is the story of an extraordinary friendship; a friendship between a boy and a fox, and their epic journey to be reunited. It is superbly illustrated by multi-award winner, Jon Klassen. Pax was only a kit when his family was killed and he was rescued by Peter. Now the country is at war and Peter must move in with his grandfather - and leave Pax behind. But before Peter spends even one night under his grandfather’s roof he sneaks out into the night, determined to find his beloved friend. This is the story of Peter, Pax, and their journeys back to each other as war rampages throughout the country. It's superbly told, with the relationship depicted with empathy and skill. The dramatic ending and the story of the boy and the fox will remain with you long after the book is finished.

Dork Diaries: Drama Queen (Dork Diaries 9) by Rachel Renee Russell

These humorous books are the personal diary of 14-year-old Nikki Maxwell. Embellished with drawings, doodles and comic strips, they chronicle the daily dramas of her life in a lively way. And this is mega-drama - mean girl Mackenzie has stolen Nikki's diary; will she reveal what Nikki has written? This is Dork Diaries with a twist and makes a great read. Perfect for tween girls, these stories are superbly written and very enjoyable. A brilliant series which puts this writing style firmly in place for girls.

Winnie-the-Pooh (Winnie-the-Pooh - Classic Editions) by A. A. Milne

Oh, these are just SO beautiful - I am blown away by these lovely new editions of the much-loved classics. They remind me very much of my treasured childhood editions. Winnie-the-Pooh may be a bear of very little brain, but thanks to his friends Piglet, Eeyore and, of course, Christopher Robin, he’s never far from an adventure. In this story, among other adventures, Pooh gets into a tight place, nearly catches a Woozle and heads off on an ‘expotition’ to the North Pole with the other animals. E.H. Shepard’s illustrations are, of course, the perfect complement to the stories and this book and The House at Pooh Corner include reproductions of his colourings of the original line drawings. Heart-warming and funny, Milne’s masterpiece reflects the power of a child’s imagination like no other story before or since. To give a book the accolade of 'best children's book of all time', as was done in Channel 4's countdown of best children's books is a richly deserved testament to the enduring popularity of the book - certainly my favourite childhood book.

The House at Pooh Corner (Winnie-the-Pooh - Classic Editions) by A. A. Milne

These new editions from Egmont Books are superbly produced - they have coloured dust jackets with E H Shepard's 'decorations'; the colour is repeated on the spine and with foiling on the largely black cloth cover. Inside, you will find high quality bright white paper and a bookmark to help you keep your place. The endpapers of this and Winnie-the-Pooh feature Shepard's map of '100 Aker Wood'. Winnie-the-Pooh and all of his friends return to the Hundred Acre Wood for more classic adventures. They meet the irrepressible Tigger for the first time, learn to play Poohsticks and set a trap for a Heffalump. The stories are so familiar and yet every re-reading brings us something fresh and new - whatever age you are, you will always read the stories with a fresh perspective and love them all over again.

When We Were Very Young (Winnie-the-Pooh - Classic Editions) by A. A. Milne

When We Were Very Young is the first volume of rhymes written especially for children by A.A. Milne – as popular now as when they were first written. Featuring E. H. Shepard’s original illustrations, When We Were Very Young is a heart-warming and funny introduction to children’s poetry, offering the same sense of humour, imagination and whimsy that we’ve come to expect from his much-loved books about Winnie-the-Pooh, that Bear of Very Little Brain. Among many others, this book includes Buckingham Palace, Halfway Down and The King's Breakfast. Throughout the book, we share a child's wonder at the world around him as we see things through a child's eye view; A A Milne managed to get right inside the way a child feels in a way no other author has done.

Now We Are Six (Winnie-the-Pooh - Classic Editions) by A. A. Milne

October 14, 2016 is the 90th birthday of Winnie-the-Pooh and these sumptuous editions are the perfect way to mark that auspicious date. This work includes poems for children which feature Pooh helping Christopher Robin with his schoolwork (if helping is the word). It is an evocation of childhood, seen through the eyes of the six-year-old Robin. It includes King John's Christmas, Sneezles, Us Two and Waiting at the window. It's a wonderful celebration of childhood and that magical friendship between Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh, once again written with a unique perspective on the way children think. E H Shepard's line drawings are coloured by Mark Burgess for these books. This is a simply superb collection of books, one to be treasured and enjoyed by every generation. I do realise these two are not fiction, but wanted to keep the set together.

The Person Controller by David Baddiel

Fred and Ellie are twins; no, they're not identical - after all, they are boy and girl. They do think alike and look pretty alike too. They are good at the same things too, like video games, but they're not good at football, or dealing with the school bullies. But then they are given a very unusual video controller - it doesn't control games but it does control... no, I'm not telling - you'll have to read the book to find out. I will tell you that it seems like to answer to all their problems, but then that would be too good to be true, wouldn't it? It's mad, it's fantastic and it has great characters who make the whole madcap adventure seem strangely credible; it's just what children want.

The Dog with No Name by Neil Griffiths

Wonderful - a master of picture book storytelling turns his attention to chapter books. Finally, Ella and Harry have 'persuaded' their parents to let gem have a dog - but they didn't realise quite what they had let themselves in for! To start with, they can't even get him into the car and once they get him home, destruction ensues. Then there's training, 'poo' duties and grooming... it's all more than they bargained for - will the dog with no name have to go back? And then he digs up a dinosaur bone ... and gets a name! It's a hilarious story about a wayward dog who wags his way into his family's affections, well narrated with very likeable characters and lovely line drawings by Janette Louden. A great read.

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty

Serafina and her father live a secret life in the basement of Biltmore, a grand house surrounded by a dark and eerie forest. Her father is the estate’s maintenance man, and they have secretly lived in the basement for as long as Serafina can remember. She knows she must never be seen, but when children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows who the culprit is; s has seen a terrifying man in a black cloak wandering at night. She must risk everything and work with with Braeden Vanderbilt, the nephew of the Biltmore’s owners, to stop the man before all the children vanish. Serafina’s hunt leads her into the very forest that she has been taught to fear. There she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic; she must seek answers to the mystery of her own past to save the children of the present. Serafina is plucky and resourceful - her upbringing has been hard and her father's behaviour a puzzle, but she rises above that. There's mystery, thrills, fantasy, friendship; all beautifully interwoven to bring us a stunning novel.

Claude Going for Gold! by Alex T Smith

When Mr and Mrs Shinyshoes leave the house, Claude and his friend Sir Bobblysock set off on an adventure. Today, they discover a Very Exciting Sports Competition at their local sports centre and, even better, they are invited to take part. But Claude's doggy paddle isn't fast enough, he can't quite manage the shot put and he's not as good at gymnastics as he thought he might be. Then some robbers steal the Gold Cup and Claude chases them - can he run fast enough to catch them? Superbly illustrated, these books are perfect for children moving on from picture books. This is a fun story and, as ever, the friends' adventures are hilarious. It's all great fun.

The Snare (Star Wars: Adventures in Wild Space) by Cavan Scott

This new series features a new cast of characters and the stars are Milo and Lina Graf. They set off on a dangerous journey across the unknown Wild Space to rescue their parents who have been abducted by agents of the evil Empire. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away... the story starts in the World Book Day special The Escape: A World Book Day title (Star Wars: Adventures in Wild Space). The story is packed with adventure and it's a great way to introduce children to the series - the first chapter of The Snare is included. In The Snare, the first full-length adventure, Milo and Lina look for allies on an ancient frontier world – but the cruel Imperial officer Captain Korda has prepared a trap... This fast-moving, exciting and perilous story will really grip the reader and it's brilliant to see new characters introduced to stimulate that interest.

The Nest (Star Wars: Adventures in Wild Space) by Tom Huddleston

Unusually this, the second book in the series, has a different author but never fear, the continuity and style has been maintained. Still on the track of their parents, in this second full-length adventure, Milo and Lina trace their latest clue to a remote jungle world – where a terrifying beast lies in wait. Again, it's exciting and fast-moving. Star Wars is the number 1 brand across all categories and the best selling boys' toy licence of all time, so the series is guaranteed an enthusiastic audience - a great way to get boys reading.

Dreaming the Bear by Mimi Thebo

This lyrical story tells of the relationship that grows between a lonely girl and a wounded bear. "Dad made me come to this snowy wilderness. My natural habitat is the shopping mall and the multi-screen cinema. I miss my friends and I'm not good at skiing or chopping wood ... or living without wi-fi. Mum, Dad, and Jem are all thriving here but I'm getting weaker and sicker with each day that passes. Then I find the bear. She's huge and scary, but she makes me feel ... alive ..." Darcy hates being in the icy wilderness, but it changes when she meets the bear and life begins to have a purpose. It's beautifully written and Darcy is a lovely character. A thoughtful and gentle book.

The Secret Island (Secret Stories) by Enid Blyton

Peggy, Mike and Nora long to escape from their cruel aunt and uncle, so when their friend Jack takes them to a secret, deserted island, they run away to live there. But not all is as it seems on the island and the children soon find their incredible adventures are only just beginning ... This is the first in the Secret series, perhaps not as well known as the Famous Five and Secret Seven books, but with all the same best-selling ingredients. With an idyllic island setting, camping and picnics, it's vintage Blyton. It's still good fun, undemanding, and a good introduction to Enid Blyton.

Witch Watch (Witch Wars) by Sibéal Pounder

Tiga Whicabim loves her new life in the witchy, glitzy, black and white world of Sinkville - but now colour is creeping back in. As Tiga and her friends Peggy and Fluffanora soon discover, all the Big Exit witches are back, intent on destruction. The evil Miss Heks (Tiga's erstwhile guardian) is up to some strange tricks... Tiga, Fluffanora and Peggy race to save Sinkville and end up finding an unlikely ally in Felicity Bat, whose irritatingly excellent witchcraft is exactly what they need. Madcap fun with wonderful characters, depicted to perfection in Laura Ellen Anderson's super drawings. Perfect for girls who enjoy hilarity with a touch of magic, friendship and mayhem.

Team T. Rex (Frankie's Magic Football) by Frank Lampard

Another adventure for Frankie and his teammates, courtesy of the magical football that has them playing against some incredible teams. While on holiday at a summer camp, Frankie, Charlie, Louise and Max the dog are transported to a prehistoric land of dinosaurs. Can they reunite a baby pterodactyl with its mum, and avoid being eaten by a hungry T-Rex? Who would have thought football skills would come to the rescue? The stories are perfect for children just starting to read independently - and they can be encouraged by collecting the game cards in the book.

Creature Teacher: Science Shocker (Creature Teacher 3) by Sam Watkins

Class 5b have entered into the Science Fair and they are almost sure to win... well, perhaps not! Mischief and chaos are never far away when their teacher, Mr Hyde, turns into Creature and now he has started to eat the exhibits! And he's not alone - there's not just one Creature, but two, as Creature seems to have made a friend. This is a brilliant series, bound to appeal to young readers with a blend of humour and madness, all illustrated to great effect by David O'Connell. It's well written, with short chapters and plenty going on to keep children's attention.

The Cryptic Casebook of Coco Carlomagno (and Alberta) Bk 5: Quivering Quavers by Ursula Dubosarsky

Coco is the Chief of Police in Buenos Aires - but he's not as sensible as his job would suggest. On the other hand, Alberta his cousin is much more sensible. Together they make a great pair... but can they avert a national disaster? La Bella Cucharita, the world-famous opera singer, is due to make her return to the stage after an unfortunate nerve-wracking incident - but a strange message has her rattled. Who on earth would send La Bella Cucharita mysterious notes on the eve of such an eagerly awaited performance? Our duo are on the case... but the reader needs to help by solving the puzzles in the book. It's a super way to really engage children with the book, and they will thoroughly enjoy the story. Look out for the rest of the series, because it's one children will get hooked on.

The Cleo Stories: A Friend and a Pet by Libby Gleeson

This book is an ideal stepping stone from picture books to chapter books. There are two stories. In Cleo Wants a Friend, Cleo is bored. Her best friend is away, her parents are busy, and there's nothing to do but count raindrops - or tidy her room. Just when she thinks she'll never cheer up, Cleo has an idea... It's a delightful story about a little girl with a big imagination. In the next story, Cleo Wants a Pet Cleo longs for a pet but her mum and dad say no. Perhaps the answer is hidden somewhere unexpected. These are charming stories with a lovely heroine; they are delightfully illustrated with pictures that almost demand to be talked about - cleverly done.

The Big Book of Mr Badger by Leigh Hobbs

Mr Badger is in charge of special events at the Boubles Grand Hotel, a splendid old hotel in London. This bumper book contains four stories - Mr Badger and the Big Surprise; Mr Badger and the Missing Ape; Mr Badger and the Difficult Duchess and Mr Badger and the Magic Mirror. Mr Badger is very efficient and well-organised; always ready to deal with the unexpected - and he needs to be, to keep things running smoothly at his posh hotel. This is the first time I have come across the hilarious adventures of Mr Badger and I will certainly be recommending them - they are perfect for reading aloud and Mr Badger is such a lovely character, so well depicted. Leigh Hobbs is the new Australian Children's Laureate.

The Parent Problem (The Mortifying Life of Skye Green) by Anna Wilson

This is THE book for every tween who has ever been mortified by her mother! Skye's mother is just SO embarrassing - always keen to keep up to date, she posts pictures of Skye online and wears decidedly weird clothing. And her latest hobbies is ballroom dancing; Skye fears her mum will be waltzing down the street in spandex and sequins. If that's not enough - her brother is following suit. The worst thing though, is being 'babysat' by a boy only a year older than her. When her friendship crumbles too, what is poor Skye to do? It's a hilarious story that will resonate with most girls, in one way or another - though few will suffer quite as much as poor Skye! A fun, up-to-the-minute read.

The Egyptian Enchantment A Lottie Lipton Adventure by Dan Metcalf

The British Museum is home to Lottie Lipton: nine-year-old investigator extraordinaire! Lottie loves helping her Great Uncle Bert with his new exhibits at the British Museum. But when she reads a magic spell that brings to life twenty mischievous Egyptian shabtis, the museum ends up in a complete mess! Can Lottie, Great Uncle Bert and Reg the caretaker track down the chaotic shabtis before they destroy the whole museum? Great characters, a bit of magic and a lot of chaos combine to make an excellent read that draws the reader in and encourages them to try to solve the mystery for themselves.

The Scroll of Alexandria A Lottie Lipton Adventure by Dan Metcalf

Lottie loves the Great Library and all the beautiful books that fill it. But the money hungry Head Curator of the British Museum, Sir Trevelyan Taylor wants to sell all of the ancient books to the highest bidder. The missing scroll of Alexandria is the only thing that can prove that the books must stay in the museum. Can Lottie, Great Uncle Bert and Reg the caretaker follow the clues and track down the missing scroll before it's too late? Perfect for developing and newly confident readers, Lottie Lipton Adventures are packed with action, adventure and puzzles for the reader to solve; they have a feisty and likeable lead character whose inquisitive nature leads her into exciting adventures..

Adventure on the Way Home (Secret Seven Colour Short Stories) by Enid Blyton

How things come full circle! From being reviled and banned from public libraries, now beginner readers are being encouraged to read Enid Blyton - and quite rightly too. In this first chapter book, a big fight has broken out, and the Seven need to stop it before someone gets hurt. But is the fight all it appears to be? Tony Ross' illustrations bring the story right up to date whilst still keeping the feel of the original story. Look out for the rest of the stories.

Dork Diaries: Drama Queen (Dork Diaries 9) by Rachel Renee Russell

These humorous books are the personal diary of 14-year-old Nikki Maxwell. Embellished with drawings, doodles and comic strips, they chronicle the daily dramas of her life in a lively way. And this is mega-drama - mean girl Mackenzie has stolen Nikki's diary; will she reveal what Nikki has written? This is Dork Diaries with a twist and makes a great read. Perfect for tween girls, these stories are superbly written and very enjoyable. A brilliant series which puts this writing style firmly in place for girls.

Awful Auntie by David Walliams

He just gets better and better... David Walliams' books are phenomenally successful, not because he's famous but because his books are, quite simply, brilliant. Stella Saxby, whose parents died in a car crash, is the sole heir to Saxby Hall. But she is trapped at the mercy of awful Aunt Alberta and her giant owl, who will stop at nothing to get it from her. Luckily Stella has a secret – and slightly spooky – weapon up her sleeve. The characters are wonderful, the storyline engaging and the whole is a wonderful romp of a book, guaranteed to have the reader laughing. Tony Ross' illustrations are the icing on the cake - they capture the feel of the book to utter perfection and both feed off each other to produce a superlative work of comic fiction that children will adore.

We Are Giants by Amber Lee Dodd

This touching and emphathetic book has an unusual family at its heart - the mother has dwarfism. Sydney thinks her mum is the best mum in the world - even though she only reached 124cm and then stopped growing. Sydney has her mum and her big sister Jade, and she feels safe and secure within her family - until everything changes. When the family has to move, Sydney and Jade must make new friends, deal with the bullies at their new school and generally figure out the business of growing up. But Sydney is happy as she is - and she doesn't want to get bigger than her mum. It's a touching and sensitive book, told with great insight and understanding; it is always realistic, does not gloss over the problems but gives a positive and encouraging spin.

Nancy Parker's Diary of Detection by Julia Lee

It's 1920 and young servant girl Nancy Parker has just taken up her first position as a housemaid for the very modern Mrs Bryce. It's far from being Nancy's dream job as she would like to be a detective. But when Mrs Bryce starts to entertain her new neighbours with lavish parties, it becomes clear that something strange and interesting might be afoot. Local burglaries, a cook with a deep, dark secret - and Mrs Bryce's own glamorous but murky past. Nancy gets the opportunity to do some investigating of her own and we can enjoy reading about it through a lively mix of diary entries and third person narrative. Sometimes, the different formats can seem a little contrived, but here they merge really well. It's a good read, with an authentic background and the chance to work things out for yourself.

Superhero Street (Storey Street) by Phil Earle

Phil Earle's Storey Street books each feature a different resident of Storey Street - and every story is full of laugh-aloud fun. Mouse is desperate to be a superhero and he wants to find that special something that will make him stand out from the crowd. It's hard to get any attention at home as he has five brothers (triplets AND twins). But when Mum foils a bank robbery while on duty as a lollipop lady, she and Mouse are lauded as superheroes... but fame comes at a price and Mouse soon finds he is in danger. Will he be brave enough to do anything about it? A hilarious story that will have children giggling throughout.

Liberty and the Dream Ride (Pony Club Secrets, Book 11) by Stacy Gregg

Issie and Comet have travelled to Lexington, USA to take on the best riders in the world at the famed four-star horse trials. It’s Issie first experience of competing against adult professional riders and she begins to worry that she’s out of her depth. But then the competition gets even more exciting when Tara Kelly calls with the offer of a chance ride on another horse. With everything at stake does Issie have what it takes to win? These stories have all the elements of the best traditional pony stories, with likeable characters, competition and always a new element of challenge. The strong storylines quickly draw the reader in

Nightstorm and the Grand Slam (Pony Club Secrets, Book 12) by Stacy Gregg

Sadly, this is the last in the series about Issie and her friends - but quite rightly, Stacy Gregg has chosen to stop while the stories are still top quality with new and different storylines every time. Can Issie and Storm become the youngest team ever to win the triple Grand Slam? Following Issie's exciting adventures at the Lexington Kentucky four-star trials, could this be possible? Her foal, Nightstorm, has grown up to be an incredible sporthorse – powerful, fast and eager to win, so it’s time to put their riding skills to the ultimate test and see if they can complete the hat-trick and win at Badminton and Burghley too! A fitting conclusion to a super series - and all the books have got lovely matching covers which makes them perfect to collect and treasure.

The Secret Railway by Wendy Meddour

The Kingdom of Izzambard is in big trouble. Griselda, the Master Clockmaker, has stopped time and released her mechanical birds to spread chaos and misery. They spy on anyone who might believe in the old ways of magic and laughter and the whole kingdom lives in fear. Brother and sister, Leo and Ella Leggit are clever enough and brave enough to stop Griselda and her birds - they just don't know it yet. But when a magical train puffs into their lives, driven by the mysterious Bartholomew Buckle, all that changes... Will Leo and Ella be able to bring magic back to Izzambard once again and get home in time for fish fingers?

The Double Axe (Blood & Fire 1) by Philip Womack

This is the first in the exciting Blood and Fire series;  the books are imaginative retellings of the Greek myths. Dark forces are at work in the House of the Double Axe. Stephan, 13 year old son of King Minos of Crete, has stumbled across a terrifying conspiracy. Is the Minotaur, a half man half bull who eats human flesh, real? Or is something even more dangerous threatening to engulf both the palace and the world? Stephan must race to save his family from a terrible fate and find out what really lurks inside the labyrinth. The story skilfully interweaves the myth we all know with Stephan's character, thereby providing an accessible and enjoyable retelling which uses the background of the original and includes the well-known protagonists. It is quite dark and scary in places and age-wise, I would say the book will suit 9+ readers up to early teens. More information here.

The Great Chocoplot by Chris Callaghan

Jelly and her family live in Chompton-on-de-Lyte, where everyone loves a Chocablocka bar (or two...) So when Jelly hears that 'In six more days there will be no more chocolate in the world... ever', she can't believe it. Determined to investigate, Jelly and her gran follow a trail of clues to a posh chocolate shop and its owner, the pompous Garibaldi Chocolati. Gari's suspiciously smug, despite his failing business and yucky chocolate. Is it really the chocopocalypse, or is there a chocoplot afoot? Chicken House tell us that this book is 'funny - imaginative - adventure' and it certain,ly is all three, enticingly presented in an amusing and highly enjoyable story.

Beast Quest: Early Reader Mortaxe the Skeleton Warrior by Adam Blade

Children will really enjoy learning to read with this exciting story with its colourful contemporary illustrations. Mortaxe the fearsome Skeleton Warrior has risen from the grave. He is controlling Avantia's six Good Beasts with dark magic, forcing them to fight Tom in a gladiatorial battle. Tom and his companions are about to face the most terrifying Quest of their lives... Beast Quest Early Readers, adapted from the original bestselling Beast Quest Specials, are perfect for children learning to read and for families to enjoy reading together. The text is vetted by a literacy expert and there are bright new full-colour illustrations throughout. Once children have mastered reading at this level, they can go on to enjoy more exciting adventures in Beast Quest chapter books.

Polly and the Puffin by Jenny Colgan

When Polly discovers an injured puffin, she and her mummy look after him in their cottage by the sea. But sadly, once Neil has recovered, it's time to let him back into the wild. Polly is sad - but then she finds a black feather... and another... and she is led on a trail to make a very special discovery. Perfect for bedtime stories and young readers just tackling books on their own, this is a quite delightful story which also contains recipes, activities and jokes for added interest. Thomas Docherty's illustrations are found in abundance through the book, adding to the pleasure of reading. Adult readers of Jenny's books might well feel a sense of familiarity! Neil was a much-loved character in her Little Beach Street Bakery books, so it's lovely to see him starring in his own book.

The Mermaid's Sister by Hollie Webb

The magical city of Venice is the perfect backdrop for this story. Olivia is the duchess of Venice; she is the one who saved the city from the flood, so is adored by her citizens. But all is not harmonious in the city - Mia, Olivia's cousin, hates Olivia because her brother and mother were banished by the princess years before. Mia keeps herself apart but when Ara, a mergirl who may just hold the key to Venice's victory against the deadly Talish invaders, appears, Mia can keep apart no longer. A mysterious and magical story, with an atmospheric setting steeped in history.

Rabbit and Bear: 1: Rabbit's Bad Habit by Julian Gough

Life is always better with a friend to share with, and that's what a rabbit and a bear discover in this superbly illustrated book. When Bear wakes up early from hibernation, she decides to make a snowman; Rabbit wants to make an even better snowman. But when there's an avalanche looming and a hungry wolf on the prowl, there's definitely strength in numbers. This lovely laugh-aloud story would be perfect for children just moving on from picture books to chapter books - except that it doesn't have chapters. Personally, I think that's a mistake, as children can be encouraged to read 'just to the end of the chapter' - or adults can be begged to do the same! Nonetheless, this is a superb book and the real joy to me is in the conversations (sometimes quite philosophical) between Rabbit and Bear.

The D'Evil Diaries: 2: Hell's Belles by Tatum Flynn

Jinx's best friend is Tommy, a human girl who ended up in hell after accidentally feeding her nasty stepfather to a circus lion.Tommy is the only human child in the underworld, but having Lucifer's son Jinx as her best friend should be a good thing, shouldn't it? But Jinx is an unlikely demon, who is not nearly wicked enough for his own good. When Jinx's stepmother comes on the scene, offering Tommy a way to fit it, is this a good thing or not? Highly imaginative, clever and witty and quite out of the ordinary, this is the second book in a very promising series.

Rugby Flyer: Haunting history, thrilling tries (Rugby Spirit) by Gerard Siggins

A perfect read for young sports fans - and a good way to encourage them into reading. Eoin's been chosen for the Junior development squad so over the summer he gets to go to Dublin for a rugby summer school. He and his friends have a wonderful opportunity to go to Twickenham to play and watch rugby. Eoin has a special talisman, given to him by his rugby-playing grandfather; this leads him to meet a ghost: Prince Obolensky, a Russian who played rugby for England, scored a world famous try against New Zealand in Twickenham and later joined the RAF and died in the Second World War. History and sport merge together to bring us an exciting and unusual story.

Poppy's Place The Home-Made Cat Cafe by Katrina Charman

This is the first book in a new animal series that will be eagerly lapped up by all young fans of animal stories. The Palmer family have turned their home into a cat sanctuary, after 11-year-old Isla brings home Poppy. Poppy is a lovely cat, who Isla's mum has been caring for at the vest where she works as a nurse. And that's just the beginning... they have opened their door to a host of abandoned cats all looking for their forever home. And Isla has come up with a crazy idea to solve the problem - a cat cafe! Illustrated with lovely pencil drawings, this is a warm and light-hearted book which is great fun to read; a good start to the series.

Hamish and the Neverpeople by Danny Wallace

Enticing right from the start, with aliens and spaceships on the outer edges of the pages. The exciting presentation continues inside, with lots of lively illustrations, plus maps, diagrams, fonts galore - all sorts to entice the reader. And they won't be disappointed! The people of earth are in really BIG trouble and it's all got to do with a shadowy figure, an enormous tower, some sinister monsters, huge clanking and thundering metal oddballs, and people who are just like you… but not like you at all. Luckily Hamish and the PDF are around to help save the day! Aren't they?? Lively, imaginative and, above all, hilarious.

The Palace Library: Volume 1 (The Palace Library Series) by Steven Loveridge

This magical adventure series begins when three children find themselves in an extraordinary library. Armed with magical books, and accompanied by an enchanting deerhound, Grace, Eleanor and Harry leave the everyday world through a door that takes them to a world in the past. They find themselves in a kingdom in crisis - The Great Sword of State has been stolen and destroyed. An ancient prophecy says only children can replace the Sword so they set off on a journey that takes them beyond the world's end. The key to success lies in the books they carry with them. It's fantasy for children at its very best, and readers will find themselves transported into a wonderful new world along with the central characters of the book.

Guardians of The Scroll: Volume 2 (The Palace Library Series) by Steven Loveridge

This wonderful series continues with the children once again thrown back in time by The Palace Library. Their mission? To protect a dangerous and magical manuscript. Only the power of The Scroll can control the savage creatures of The Nether World. Harry, Eleanor and Grace must battle monsters and face fire to wrestle The Scroll from the cruel grasp of Caesar and Cleopatra. At the moment of victory, a new evil emerges to steal it away. Captured, with the Library of Alexandria burning all around them, how can they escape? The story is compelling; the characters are well drawn and highly believable; and the plot is exciting and fast-moving with a magical element that is cleverly intertwined and not overdone. A superb read.

Myth Raiders: Medusa's Curse by A. J. Hunter

This is the first in anew series which brings myths to life for children - this would be perfect for 6-9 year olds and will tie in well with studies of ancient history, giving children a different view and an exciting insight to support learning. Sam and Trey are exploring the basement, when they decide to put together two pieces of The Heart of Light... with dramatic consequences. They are the Chosen Ones to defend the world against the attack of the Dark. But first, they need to rescue an enchanted fragment of The Warrior's Shield, protected by a deadly mythical creature. How will they survive a venomous encounter with Medusa...? The story grips right from the start and it's an exciting and fast-paced action read. There are questions at the end of the book to give an added level of interest.

The Many Worlds of Albie Bright by Christopher Edge

Albie's mum has just died, and as the son of scientists, Albie is inquisitive and wants answers, so he wonders where she's gone. When his Dad puts the idea of a parallel universe into Albie's head and he reads up on Schrodinger's experiment about sending a cat into a parallel universe. So Albie finds a box, his mum's computer and a rotting banana, and sends himself through time and space to find her... It's a fascinating read, which at the same time manages to be a thoroughly enjoyable story and an exploration of science. By the time you've finished this unusual and gripping book, you will almost definitely have a greater understanding of quantum physics than before - I know I did! It's sensitive and touching, with characters who are really well drawn. Touches of humour lighten the story - I love the new definition of an NQT as 'Not Quite a Teacher'! A brilliant book.

Eliza Rose by Lucy Worsley

Lucy Worsley's passion for history is familiar to many of us from her many engaging TV series. Now she has brought that passion to bear on a historical novel for young readers. Set in the dangerous and treacherous world of the court of King Henry VIII, it is the story of Eliza, who is thrilled to have become a Maid of Honour at the royal court. Her family are relying on Eliza to make her way in the world through a good marriage and to save their beautiful but crumbling home, Stoneton. But Eliza is a wilful character, who determines to do things her own way. What will happens when she encounters Katherine Howard - are they rivals or are they friends? The world of The Tudor court and the colourful characters within it are superbly brought to life. This is history as seen through the eyes of the people living it and the book is perfect to encourage children to enjoy their study of the Tudors. Publication date 7/4/16.

Young Houdini: The Magician's Fire by Simon Nicholson

The young Houdini is a poor street urchin, dabbling in magic tricks to earn some money. But when famous magician Herbie Lemster disappears in mysterious circumstances, Harry and his friends set out to investigate. It's an interesting, though highly fictionalised, glimpse into the life of the great Houdini, with plenty of magic tricks to engage the reader. Right from the start, when Harry is lying in the path of a fast-approaching train, the reader is grabbed by the story, and the pacy action continues throughout. Harry will need his magic to save his life.

Mabel Jones and the Forbidden City by Will Mabbitt

Mabel Jones is a feisty character, deterred by nothing. So when all-enveloping vines coil out from her wardrobe and steal her baby sister, Mabel is instantly on the trail. All that's stopping her Between Mabel is a dangerous jungle, filled with deadly monsters and poisoned jelly babies - yes, really. Can she defeat the Witch Queen and rescue her sister, or is this the last we'll see of Mabel Jones? It's far-fetched and incredible, told with a very distinctive voice. The book relies heavily on presentation for its impact - the fonts jump out of the book at the reader and make it a brilliant read-aloud. The chapters are short, the use of language and words is superb and there are lots of illustrations too. A laugh-aloud fantasy which stretches the imagination to its very limit.

The Diary of Dennis the Menace: The Great Escape by Steven Butler

The format of this book will give it immediate appeal for readers. It's just how you'd imagine Dennis would write his diary, full of doodles and drawings. Just imagine - Dennis the Menace has been sent to an elite boarding school after some shenanigans on the part of his teachers at Bash Street School who obviously really want to get rid of him. Help! Dennis is surrounded by bookish boffins, can't hang out with the Bash Street Kids and is nearly starving as the school dining room only serves super-healthy food. What he needs is a plan. With a little help from his menacing buddies on the outside, some fart pellets and Gran on a Charley Davison bike, it's time for Dennis to make his great escape. A hilarious story, superbly illustrated.

The Children of Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren

The children who live on the three farms are very noisy - so noisy that everyone calls them the Children of Noisy Village. Join the adventures of seven year old Lisa and her friends as they enjoy all the freedom to play that any child could desire. A walk home from school turns into a pirate party looking for treasure; a trip to the local shoemaker becomes a mission to save one lonely dog from his grumpy owner; and a fishing trip ends with a night under the stars. A lovely evocation of beautiful countryside and a world where children were free to explore and enjoy adventures.

Pocket Pirates: 2: The Great Drain Escape by Chris Mould

This is a wonderfully imaginative series about a tiny but very adventurous pirate crew. They live in an old junk shop, inside a dusty ship in a bottle - and in the tradition of children's literature, they come out to play when nobody is watching. But there's a problem - Doyle, the junk-shop dog, has his basket underneath the Pocket Pirates' shelf, and they can't get to the kitchen. They have nearly run out of food and things are getting desperate... maybe they will have to venture OUTSIDE. It's a brilliant read, superbly illustrated, with great characters and full of hilarity - children will love it.

Flame and the Rebel Riders (Pony Club Secrets, Book 9) by Stacy Gregg

These books follow the true tradition of horse and pony stories and are bound to be a hit with young riding enthusiasts. For Issie and her friends, horses are a big part of their lives, with showjumping contests to win, rivals to defeat, mysteries to solve and ponies in danger to save. Issie is working for the summer at Ginty McLintoch’s prestigious showjumping stables where she meets a talented chestnut pony called Flame. Issie must try to keep her head in the glamorous commercial world of showjumping and will face decisions that could change her life forever. The book is full of atmosphere and captures both the glamour and the hard work of the world of showjumping to perfection.

Barry Loser Hates Half Term by Jim Smith

You must understand, of course, that Jim Smith has absolutely nothing to do with these books... these hilarious books are the work of Barry Loser alone. It's half term and Barry's dad has already had enough of him! So Barry's off to pirate camp - but pirate camp's for babies, so just imagine Barry's disgust! But things have changed and pirate camp has been taken over by the villainous Morag. and now its future’s in doubt. There’s only one thing to do: Barry and his new friends Sally Bottom and Renard Dupont have to uncover the hidden treasure of Mogden Island . . . The superb mix of laugh-aloud dialogue-strong text and wonderfully hilarious illustrations gives the Barry Loser books huge appeal for children - evidenced by the fact that over 450k copies have been sold. A madcap romp, full of laughs.

Moon Princess by Barbara Laban

Sienna is off to Shanghai, but with only her busy dad for company, she feels lonely; her mum has disappeared and immediately the reader is drawn into the book, wanting to know why. But Sienna isn't all alone - she has Rufus, an invisible dog, to keep her company. When the mean housekeeper starts acting suspiciously, Sienna decides to investigate. She follows a trail of clues that leads her to a mysterious moon-lit temple. Could her mother's disappearance be linked to a priceless statue of the moon princess - and will Sienna find out? Well written and all children who have their own invisible friend will really respond well to the book; and they can find out more about their own invisible friend at the end of the book - a perfect way to encourage imaginative thinking. Will you like this book? Chicken House sum it up in three words on the back cover - enchanting, magical, mystery. It's a great way to introduce a book; I love this idea.

Fizzlebert Stump: The Boy Who Did P.E. in his Pants (Fizzlebert Stump 5) by A.F. Harrold

With a title like that, a book is virtually guaranteed an audience! Going to school isn't very exciting, is it? Well for Fizzlebert Stump it's a whole new adventure! The next book in this hilarious series that is perfect for fans of Mr Gum. Fizzlebert Stump lives in a circus. He is usually found training to be a strongman or being taught history by a magician or playing football with a sea lion, but not today. After being lost in the woods and mistaken for a very rude girl, here he is, at the back of the class confusing the teacher. Will anyone believe Fizz is telling the truth? Can he find his way back to the circus? Or will he be forced to sit up straight and pay attention forever?

Alice Jones: The Impossible Clue by Sarah Rubin

Puzzling - gripping - mystery is how Chicken House sum up this book, and those who enjoy a good mystery will thoroughly enjoy Alice's exploits. Maths-whizz Alice has already solved a mystery or two. Persuaded by sidekick Sammy (all the best detectives must have their sidekick!), she is investigating a scientist's disappearance. Dr Learner has apparently invented an invisibility suit - but is this at the heart of his disappearance? With the unexpected help of one-time nemesis Kevin, our determined investigator solves the puzzle - only to face another. Should she reveal the truth, or protect her most devoted friend? If you do as the book cover suggests and read p19, you will be hooked! It's clever and it's puzzling - a perfect mystery.

First Term at Trebizon by Anne Digby

Join Rebecca Mason right from her first day at Trebizon, the famous boarding school. Joining in the second year, after everyone else has already made friends, settling in offers problems. When Rebecca writes something for the school magazine, she stirs up contention and the girls are divided for and against her. But she soon finds she has friends after all, the best friends any new girl could hope for - and that's at the heart of what all good traditional school stories are all about. Comparisons with Enid Blyton are inevitable, especially as Trebizon is also set in Cornwall. Personally, I like the Trebizon books better and they are more up-to-date in their approach and will therefore appeal to today's girls. The first book was published in 1978 and the fourteenth in 1994, but they don't seem dated. It's brilliant that Egmont will be publishing the whole series, as the later books are hard to get. The novels follow Rebecca Mason from when she joins the school in the second form through to the end of her fifth year; this, of course, allows most books to cover a single term of school high jinks.

Second Term at Trebizon by Anne Digby

Friends falling out is a recurrent theme of school stories but of course, it usually works out... Rebecca's best friends Tish and Sue are acting strangely - why is Tish trying to stop Sue from becoming the captain of the hockey team? And why is she suddenly so keen for Sue to concentrate on the music scholarship? Of course, there's a very good reason... The characters are perfect for the genre - there are the close friends, the overbrearing seniors, the fair but no-nonsense headmistress, teachers to admire... they are all here, just as they should be. Rebecca's first year at Trebizon comes to an exciting end in Summer Term at Trebizon. Can Rebecca get her maths up to scratch quickly enough so she is not separated from Tish and Sue and the rest of her friends next year? There's the excitement of a sponsored surfing competition to distract her, and even more when the money raised goes missing, and it's up to Tish, Sue and Rebecca to solve the mystery. School stories at their very best, with everything you expect wrapped up in a warm and familiar package. Can't wait to carry on reading...

Fridays with the Wizards (Castle Glower 4) by Jessica Day George

Continuing closely from the previous book in the series, Princess Celie and her companions have made it safely back and her enchanted home is back where it belongs. Things don't stay quiet for long, though - the ancient and dangerous wizard has Arkwright escaped from the dungeon and gone missing within the Castle. There's no rest until he is found. Only Celie knows where he is most likely to be hiding ... With danger lurking behind every tapestry and under every trapdoor, Celie must find the wizard and save her family. It's a magical story, a little bit quirky and very charming.

Worlds Explode (Darkmouth, Book 2) by Shane Hegarty

A brilliant series continues... Hugo the Great has disappeared and the safety of the town is up to his son, 12 year old Finn. But Finn is not exactly the most capable would-be hero... On a list of things Finn never thought he'd wish for, a gateway bursting open in Darkmouth was right up there. But that's about his only hope for finding his missing father - and he's still got homework to do! Finn and his best friend Emmie must face bizarre Legends, a ravenous world and a face from the past as they go where no Legend Hunter has gone before and returned in one piece. Witty and ingenious, superbly written and full of action and suspense, this is children's fiction at its very best, gripping from start to finish - and plenty of potential for more superb stories.

The Secret Garden (Leatherbound Children's Classics) by Frances Hodgson Burnett

On the grounds of Misselthwaite in Yorkshire, nine-year-old Mary Lennox finds a mysterious walled-in garden that has been locked securely for years. Helped by Dickon Sowerby, a young local boy who can charm animals, Mary cultivates the garden, and thereby both improves her health and raises her spirits. Ultimately, the secret garden proves beneficial not only to Mary, but to her sickly cousin Colin, with its power to heal the heart. First published in 1911, Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden is an enduring classic. This is a sumptuous illustrated edition, with wonderfully evocative full-colour plates by Charles Robinson and a leather binding, a satin-ribbon bookmark, distinctive gilded edging, decorated pages and decorative endpapers - a real joy to read. Decorative, durable and collectible, it's a book that will be cherished by readers of all ages.

The Land of Magic Medicines: A Faraway Tree Adventure (Blyton Colour Reads) by Enid Blyton

Enid Blyton's Faraway Tree series may not be as well known as her Famous Five and Secret Seven books, but they are perfect for new readers. Now they have been brought right up to date with the addition of lively full colour illustrations that will appeal to today's children. The Land of Magic Medicines has come to the top of the Faraway Tree, and it’s full of curious bottles and sparkling potions. It’s the perfect place to find something to make Mother feel better… "The Magic Faraway Tree has been entertaining readers for more than 75 years. Now these colour short stories offer a great way for a whole host of new younger readers to discover the adventures of Silky, Moon-Face, the Saucepan Man and all of their friends in the Enchanted Wood."

The Land of Birthdays: A Faraway Tree Adventure (Blyton Colour Reads) by Enid Blyton

When Joe, Beth and Frannie moved to a new home, they found they had an Enchanted Wood close by. They discovered the Faraway Tree, and so began many magical adventures. With their friends Moonface, Saucepan Man and Silky the fairy they discover new lands and exciting fantasy adventures. In this story, it’s Beth’s birthday, so everyone is delighted when the Land of Birthdays arrives at the top of the Faraway Tree. It’s time for the most magical party they’ve ever had! The stories have a timeless appeal and with the lovely new illustrations, they are perfect for children starting to read on their own.

The D'Evil Diaries: 2: Hell's Belles by Tatum Flynn

Jinx's best friend is Tommy, a human girl who ended up in hell after accidentally feeding her nasty stepfather to a circus lion.Tommy is the only human child in the underworld, but having Lucifer's son Jinx as her best friend should be a good thing, shouldn't it? But Jinx is an unlikely demon, who is not nearly wicked enough for his own good. When Jinx's stepmother comes on the scene, offering Tommy a way to fit it, is this a good thing or not? Highly imaginative, clever and witty and quite out of the ordinary, this is the second book in a very promising series.

Lupo and the Thief at the Tower of London by Aby King

I love this series! It has a clever background of the royal family which is in no way disrespectful but shows the Duke and Duchess and their family life - and that family is completed by the royal spaniel, Lupo. He is a very clever dog and can always sniff out a mystery. There's been a break-in at the Tower of London and EVERYTHING has been stolen... even the crown jewels. The adults say it's a human matter, but Lupo has an especially bad feeling about this particular crime. He and Kitty take matters into their own hands. Meanwhile, something is stirring in the Thames - a creature who has been hiding in the sewers for hundreds of years. A creature with revenge on its mind ... The plot is exciting, there are plenty of authentic historical details and locations and Lupo and his animal friends bring a touch of highly credible fantasy to the stories.

Electrigirl by Jo Cotterill

Part book, part comic, this exciting book introduces a new superhero. Holly Sparkes is just an ordinary girl ... until she's hit by a bolt of lightning. Now Holly is EXTRAordinary - she can generate a massive amount of electricity in seconds, which could come in handy if she's ever going to solve the mystery of her best friend's disappearance. Because when you're dealing with the likes of Professor McAvity and her mysterious CyberSky corporation, you need all the help you can get! The book has black and white graphic novel style illustrations throughout, and these are a perfect match for the style of the story. The story flows between text and illustrations, which I find rather disconcerting but I think that today's readers will find the format engaging.

Louie Lets Loose! (Unicorn in New York 1) by Rachel Hamilton

An interesting bend of text, cartoon-style illustrations and black and white photos gives this book real appeal. In the first of a new series, Louie the unicorn searches for stardom in New York City. 'Dear Ma and Pa. The New York School for Performing Arts is the perfect place for a unicorn like me. So far it has been totally AWESOME! Madame Twirler says that 'pigs will fly' before I get the lead part in a show. Man, I would LOVE to see that! After all, New York has a unicorn in town, so why not flying pigs? Love you more than cake, Louie xx'

The Mozart Question by Michael Morpurgo

Lesley has been sent to Venice to interview world-renowned violinist Paulo Levi on his fiftieth birthday. She is told that she can ask him anything at all - except the Mozart question, but Paulo decides that the time has come for the truth to be told. He tells the story of his parents in a Jewish concentration camp, forced to play Mozart violin concerti for the enemy; how they watched fellow Jews being led off to their deaths and knew that they were playing for their lives. As the story unfolds, the journalist begins to understand the full horror of war - and how one group of musicians survived using the only weapon they had. Like so many of his books, the author packs a huge amount of emotion into a relatively short story; tender and touching yet woven through with the reality and horror of those times. Michael Foreman's pencil drawings subtly convey the emotions and hit home for the reader. A compelling and haunting tale.

Little Grey Rabbit: Wise Owl's Story by Alison Uttley

These lovely hardback books are perfect to collect and deserve a place on any child's bookshelf alongside the books of Beatrix Potter - they have just the same timeless charm and delicacy of touch to the illustrations. During a terrible storm, Wise Owl tree home is battered and bashed beyond repair. His precious things are left scattered around the wood, damp and muddy from the downpour. Little Grey Rabbit and her friends decide to help Wise Owl find a new home. After a long day of searching, Little Grey Rabbit discovers another tree hollow. With a spruce and a tidy she's sure that Wise Owl will be right at home there, but will Wise Owl agree? A lovely story about friendship and gratitude.

Robots Go Wild!: (House of Robots 2) by James Patterson

James Patterson is a brilliant author who really has his finger on the pulse of exactly how to excite children about books, and this second book in his latest series is bound to be a hit. Sammy Hayes-Rodriguez has a bedridden sister, Maddie, and his 'bro-bot' E, invented by Sammy's mother, is Maddie's school proxy. Not only that, but E has become Sammy's protector. Disaster strikes when E malfunctions just in time to be upstaged by the super-cool new robot on the block – and loses his ability to help Maddie. Now it's up to Sammy to figure out what's wrong with E and save his family! The superb cartoon-style drawings are a great complement to the text, bringing readers a winning combination.

The Venom of the Scorpion (Monster Odyssey 4) by Jon Mayhew

Monster Odyssey continues with another dangerous adventure for our hero Dakkar. A clan of evil brothers is intent on ruling the world and Dakkar must defeat them - at the same time as battling terrifying monsters. Inspired by the wonderful storyteller Jules Verne's and his Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, this series is perfect for all young adventure fans. After being framed for murder, Dakkar must escape from prison and follow the only clue he has - a scorpion-handled dagger - in order to clear his name. Knowing this must be work of an evil Oginski brother, Dakkar soon finds himself in Algiers facing the deadliest crawling monster ever! But even if Dakkar can defeat this beast, he will face the ultimate betrayal - his enemy has been closer than he thought, all along. Will there be anyone left who Dakkar can trust? A tight-knit story which has the adventure gripping the reader through the pacy story.

Rise of the Slippery Sea Monster (Adventures of the Steampunk Pirates) by Gareth P. Jones

Wanted: Dead or Alive! (Or smashed into little bits and delivered in boxes.) The Steampunk Pirates get a taste of their own medicine when their ship is raided by a sea monster that's greedy for gold. But when the rusty robots race to get their treasure back, they sail straight into a trap...This hilarious series from Gareth P. Jones, author of Ninja Meerkats, is sure to delight young readers with its madcap humour and larger-than-life robot pirate crew. The hilarity of the text is well-matched by the equally hilarious illustrations, which really help to tell the story. It's a great series and one which young readers will lap up as they are swept along by the fun and excitement.

Cupcake Wars! (Angela Nicely) by Alan MacDonald

Another great series from the creators of Dirty Bertie, once again Alan Macdonald's sparkling text is ably illustrated by David Roberts. Angela Nicely is already well known to Bertie's fans after he struggled to escape her clutches in Kiss! You might think that, with a name like Angela Nicely, our heroine is as sweet as anything - but you'd be wrong; very wrong! The book includes three very funny stories which are super to read aloud or for young readers to tackle on their own Whether she's having a bake-off against Tiffany Charmers, riding high at a pony party or snooping on her mysterious neighbours, Angela Nicely can be sure of bringing laughter to her readers.

Gathering Voices (Guardians of the Wild) by Kris Humphrey

This is the third book in the exciting and suspense-filled Guardians of the Wild series. When a raven drops a white feather at , it is a symbol of your destiny. Whisperers are guardians of the wild, and they must follow their destiny when they are selected by having a white feather dropped on the doorstep on the day of their birth. Mika and her Arctic fox companion, Star, must travel from their distant mountain home to join Dawn and the other Whisperers at the palace. The journey is full of danger but Mika has discovered a gift that might just change the fortunes of all Meridina... It's gripping and original; while the book can be read as a stand-alone, I think readers would enjoy it more if they read the books in sequence. There are some excellent characters and the element of mystery about the world gives an extra level of enjoyment.

The Granimal by Christian Alexander

A group of unusual animal friends live deep in the forest, at Pug's Hole. Right from the first page, I was drawn into the world of these creatures through their wonderful conversations. Their small world is thrown into disarray by the arrival of a large pink egg; what will it become? The characters are quite remarkable and each is quite distinctive; they have strong opinions and are sometimes rather misguided but they mean well. Much of the charm of the book lies in the wonderful colour and black and white illustrations, with their touch of whimsy, perfectly in harmony with the book. This is the first book in a promised series of 10, so there is plenty to look forward to. I can't wait!

Sammy the Shy Kitten (Holly Webb Animal Stories) by Holly Webb

Holly Webb is well known for her cute animal stories - young readers love them. They are easy, undemanding reads, perfect for children reading on their own as they really help them to develop confidence in their reading. Emma loves going to Summerhill Stables for her riding lessons. One day she arrives to find that everyone is really worried. Tiggy, the stable cat, has disappeared. Emma hurts her ankle during her lesson and goes to sit down in the barn until she feels better. There she hears a strange squeaking noise and discovers that Tiggy has had three kittens! But the riding school can't look after so many cats - what will happen to them all? Short chapters and plenty of line drawings make for a good read, for reading alone, shared reading or reading aloud.

Thunderbot's Day of Doom by Alan MacDonald

Mighty High is the school for superheroes and the stories will be thoroughly enjoyed by children of 7+ - they are funny and silly and appeal to children's sense of humour. Our heroes, Stan, Minnie, Miles and, of course, Pudding the Wonder Dog, face their toughest challenge yet - a weatherman gone bad! Thunderbot is determined to hold the country to ransom by controlling the weather - he even threatens to put the Queen in danger! With gadgets a-plenty, our young superheroes must battle through ice, snow, tornadoes and lightning strikes - but can they save the day? This is the fourth in the series and children will love to follow the superhero stars through their adventures.

Spooks and Scooters (Marsh Road Mysteries 3) by Elen Caldecott

Piotr, Minnie, Andrew, Flora and Sylvie are friends, united by their passion for solving mysteries; and readers can help them! Flora and Sylvie are going on the holiday of a lifetime with their dad. But then Dad cancels at the last minute because someone has stolen precious blueprints of his latest invention: an amazing new scooter. It's time for the friends to come to the rescue! This is an excellent series - there are well-developed storylines and engaging characters. The mysteries are well plotted and all the good bits that you expect in a mystery are here - and the reader is kept guessing.

Chicken Mission: Chaos in Cluckbridge by Jennifer Gray

It's evening at the zoo and time for all the animals to be safely in their enclosures. But danger is looming over Cluckbridge Town because a cobra has escaped from the local zoo and is after the local birdlife. And if that isn't bad enough, the dastardly Most Wanted Club are back and causing trouble, too. Can Agent Cluckbucket and the Elite Chicken Squad vapourise the cobra's venom and keep the birds of Cluckbridge safe? A laugh-aloud story about the most unlikely of heroes< - a bunch of chickens! Plenty of excitement, plenty of jokes, plenty of fun - all in all, a book children will love.

Rules for a Knight by Ethan Hawke

This work of fiction is based on a letter found in the early 1970s; whether it is genuine is a matter for debate, but what cannot be disputed is the authenticity of the thoughts behind the story. It provides a guide for living a good and noble life – a reminder that without a little agony none of us would bother to learn a thing; that we must work together as brothers or perish together as fools; that a friend loves you because you are true to yourself, not because you agree with him. And, most importantly, it shows that there is no obstacle that enough love cannot move; all as true now as during the age of chivalry. When Sir Thomas Lemuel Hawke was a boy, his grandfather taught him how to be a knight. On the eve of a battle from which he feared he would not return, Sir Thomas wrote a letter to his children so that he could pass on all his hard-won lessons, deepest aspirations and most instructive failures. Superbly written, this unique volume of practical life lessons told in story form gives us all food for thought. It's a beautifully produced hardback that will become a family favourite.

3 of a Kind (Knightley and Son) by Rohan Gavin

Darkus Knightley is an extraordinary solver of crimes; far from being an ordinary 13 year old (much as he would like to be), he has phenomenal powers of deduction. generally found sporting tweed, our hero is perfect for Sherlock fans. When his father's loyal housekeeper, Bogna, goes missing, Darkus must return to the family fold and follow the clues to America and the bright lights of Las Vegas. With his father, Alan, and his stepsister, Tilly, Darkus must once again face the deadly criminal organisation, the Combination. Every way they turn, there's danger, and Knightley and Son will need an ace or two up their sleeves in order to win this game. Will the odds be in our detective duo's favour? With its quirky characters and plotlines that challenge and satisfy, this is another episode in a great series.

The Jolley Rogers and the Monster's Gold (Jolley Rogers 3) by Jonny Duddle

This is a fantastic series and the perfect transition from picture books to chapter books. Jim Lad and his Dad have found a treasure map inside an old bottle, what else can pirates do but set sail to find the mysterious island. But, as readers of the previous books in this series will know, nothing is straightforward and they find themselves in the belly of the dastardly Pirate Cruncher! Can Matilda, Grandpa and the rest of the Jolley-Rogers rescue them before it is too late? Or will they end up trapped there forever? Expect adventure, laughs and perhaps an almighty sneeze.... Super illustrations add enormously to the fun of this hilarious book. It's fast-moving with an excellent storyline and wonderful characters.

The Last Kids on Earth by Max Brallier

Forty-two days ago I was an ordinary kid, living an uneventful life. But now it’s TOTAL MONSTER ZOMBIE CHAOS and I’m battling beasts on a daily basis. Crazy, right? But I know exactly how to make it through the zombie apocalypse. Jack Sullivan’s ULTIMATE FEATS OF APOCALYPTIC SUCCESS:
  • Locate Quint Baker, best friend and inventor
  • Find and rescue June Del Toro, the coolest girl I know
  • Defeat Blarg, the biggest, baddest monster in town
  • Become a zombie-fighting, monster-bashing tornado of cool!
Wish me luck – cos I’m gonna need a bunch of it.

Old School (Diary of a Wimpy Kid book 10) by Jeff Kinney

Still going strong, the Wimpy Kid continues to delight readers. The reason for his success? The fact that the clever writing enables children all around the world to readily identify with Greg Heffley and to enjoy the humour of both text and pictures. Was life better in the old days? As Greg's town voluntarily goes electronics-free, that's the question Greg is asking. It seems he isn't cut out for an old-fashioned world, so will he cope? The format is what really gives the book its appeal - it's written just as Greg writes it down in hos notebook, giving it an authentic voice, and the illustrations form a huge part of the story - they are hilarious.

Mr. Baboomski and the Wonder Goat by Richard Joyce

Tom's life takes a turn for the worse when his Dad ups sticks and moves them to Trefuggle Bay. But things get interesting when he meets two unusual new friends. Parked in an old caravan at the end of a cliff, live two legends of the Escorvian circus. The amazing Berto Baboomski and his performing goat Zoltan. Berto may be a crazy-looking nutcake with a bonkers moustache, but he's full of circus wisdom - which he passes onto Tom, along with a few tricks. Soon Tom's new found circus skills are put to the test as he, Berto, and Zoltan put on a show-stopping performance in order to save the town from some truly fishy goings on.

An Eagle in the Snow by Michael Morpurgo

1940. It's wartime and Barney and his mother are on the train, travelling away from their ruined home in the devastated city of Coventry. The train is under attack from German fighters. In the darkness, sheltering in a railway tunnel, the stranger in the carriage with Barney and his mother tells them a story to pass the time. It's the story of a young soldier in the trenches of World War I who did what he thought was right but which turned out to be a mistake; it's told in an adult voice to a young child which heightens the dramatic quality and makes it equally readable by child and adult. Did the soldier really spare Hitler's life in the trenches? Powerful story-telling, gives a vivid picture of wartime life, both at home and in the front line. Based on a true story, as are so many of the author's greatest stories, this is a moving and thought-provoking story; the end of the book puts it all into context, as the author tells us the true story of Henry Tandey. The book is superbly illustrated with pencil drawings by Michael Foreman.

Book trailer:
Morpurgo’s website:

Little Stars (Hetty Feather) by Jacqueline Wilson

Hetty Feather has become one of Jacqueline Wilson's best loved characters. This feisty heroine steps right out of the pages of the stories and shows that not all Victorian girls were milk-and-water misses. Hetty has escaped from Tanglefield’s Travelling Circus with her dearest friend Diamond, determined to find them positions as glamorous music hall artistes. The friends quickly become the Little Stars of Mrs Ruby’s show, alongside many colourful acts – including an old friend from Hetty’s past, Flirty Bertie. But life is never straightforward for Hetty and Cavalcade proves a dangerous place to be. Diamond yearns for a normal childhood and Hetty, ever a loyal friend, tries to make this possible - even though she dreams of a glittering future for herself and Diamond. The bright lights of the London theatre world beckon – will Hetty become a true star? As ever, the period detail is authentic and the theatrical setting realistic. Old favourites and some excellent new characters come together in Jacqueline Wilson's inimitable way, to make another superb read - one the reader will not want to end, as this is, sadly, the last book about Hetty.

Apocalypse Miaow Miaow (Apocalypse Bow Wow 2) by James Proimos III

The end is nigh. Apocalypse has dawned. Everyone has gone ... except for our heroes: Brownie, Apollo and their ragtag group of strays. Having raided a supermarket and defeated some very mean mutts, our heroes find themselves out of food. So when they hear a rumour of a Twonkies factory, and all the Twonkies they could ever eat, they think they've won the Twonkie jackpot.. but they must get past the 'cat' guarding the factory first. This graphic novel will capture children's interest with its unusual approach and plentiful pictures, coupled with a minimal text.

The Adventures of Miss Petitfour by Anne Michaels

Miss Petitfour loves baking and making and dancing with her cats, but most of all she loves to fly. All she has to do is pick up a favourite tablecloth (preferably the one with the paisley print), catch the breeze and she's off on an adventure. And behind her, you will always see her many cats (Minky, Misty, Taffy, Purrsia, Pirate, Mustard, Moutarde, Hemdala, Earring, Grigorovich, Clasby, Captain Captain, Captain Catkin, Captain Clothespin, Your Shyness and Sizzles) dangling paw-to-tail behind her. This beautifully produced book contains five utterly captivating stories of gentle adventure, delicious edibles (with cheese for the cats), occasional peril and heart-zinging warmth. Charming and quirky, Miss Pettifor is a wonderful new character - I hope there are many more of these gentle and beautifully illustrated adventures to come.

The Pushcart War (New York Review Children's Collection) by Jean Merrill And Ronni Solbert

There's strength - and power - in numbers, and this delightfully fictionalised tale shows us how. It could so easily be true! Not long ago the streets of New York City were smelly, smoggy, sooty, and loud. There were trucks making deliveries and wooden pushcarts selling - well, almost anything really. The truck owners declared war on the pushcart peddlers, but they fought back. Today, thanks to the ingenuity of the pushcart peddlers, the streets belong to the people and to the pushcarts. Superbly peopled with a wonderful range of characters, it is surprisingly funny. Witty and clever, this is an unusual and intriguing read.

The 13 Clocks (New York Review Books Children's Collection) by James Thurber

In The 13 Clocks we have a wicked Duke who imagines he has killed time, and the Duke’s beautiful niece, for whom time seems to have run out. Both meet their match, courtesy of an enterprising and very handsome prince in disguise. It has all the classic fairytale elements - love thwarted but ultimately succeeding, an upstanding hero, a wicked villain and a mysterious stranger who helps the story on its way. Witty and delectable, this is story telling as it should be - a story to delight young and old.

Roman Brit: Ballistic Logistic by Shoo Rayner

This engaging story mixes fact and fiction and is written in a simple way for newly confident readers. It is a great way to interest children in history. The Legion want to build a road to transport their giant catapult. But the road will go right through Brit's barn, which is full of food for his flocks! Then the soldiers start firing at the sheep. Can Brit save his beloved animals - and their food for the winter? Plenty of line drawings add to the enjoyment and also provide information about the Romans.

The Person Controller by David Baddiel

Fred and Ellie are twins; no, they're not identical - after all, they are boy and girl. They do think alike and look pretty alike too. They are good at the same things too, like video games, but they're not good at football, or dealing with the school bullies. But then they are given a very unusual video controller - it doesn't control games but it does control... no, I'm not telling - you'll have to read the book to find out. I will tell you that it seems like to answer to all their problems, but then that would be too good to be true, wouldn't it? It's mad, it's fantastic and it has great characters who make the whole madcap adventure seem strangely credible; it's just what children want.

Secret of the Forbidden City: (Treasure Hunters 3) by James Patterson

Treasure hunting family the Kidds are off to China, on a journey that will lead them beyond the Great Wall and into the underbelly of Berlin. Twins Bick and Beck are desperately trying to secure the ancient Chinese artefact that will buy their mother's freedom from renegade pirates. But when the kidnappers force them to locate an even greater treasure – priceless paintings stolen by Nazis, the Kidds must rely on their own cunning and experience to outwit the criminals, all while their mum's life is in danger. Full of action, adventure and peril, this is a brilliantly told story, related in the first person by Bick. Short chapters, page turning scenarios and masses of hilarious cartoon-style illustrations make this a must-read.

Poppy Pym and the Pharaoh's Curse by Laura Wood

Poppy Pym's new environment, the traditional boarding school St Smithen's, is a far cry from the circus world in which she has grown up. At first, Poppy has trouble fitting in, but when an ancient Egyptian ruby comes to the school and dangerous accidents start occurring, it's up to Poppy to save her new home and solve the mystery - is it a Pharaoh's curse or something more mundane? Poppy is an engaging character and the book has plenty of comic elements as well as an intriguing mystery to keep the reader entertained. Circus, school, Ancient Egypt - all elements combine brilliantly.

Knightley and Son by Rohan Gavin

Darkus Knightley is the perfect character to be an investigator. Not your average thirteen-year-old: ferociously logical and highly intelligent - and with a penchant for dressing in tweed - almost like someone from another era... yes, a modern-day young Sherlock. His dad Alan Knightley was London's top private investigator but for four years, he has lain in a coma. When his Dad suddenly wakes up, it's all systems go for Knightley & Son. There's a mystery that gets weirder by the minute, a bestselling book that makes its readers commit terrible crimes, and a sinister organisation known as the Combination ... It's the perfect way to introduce young readers to crime novels; cleverly plotted, superbly characterised and compellingly written.

K-9 (Knightley and Son) by Rohan Gavin

Darkus' Dad had been back in his life for a while, but then went off-radar again, leaving Darkus with a traumatised ex-bomb-disposal dog as his only partner in crime-solving. Things get worse - pets are being savaged by a beast at a top London beauty spot; policemen have been attacked by a vicious dog, and even Darkus' house seems to be under surveillance - by dogs. Something sinister is at work on the canine population of London - could it be ... a werewolf? Somewhat darker than its predecessor but with elements of humour that ensure it is still an exceptionally good read for pre-teens. A resourceful hero, engaging secondary characters and some interesting family dynamics match up with a great plot to give us an excellent sequel.

Captain Morgan and the Pirate Treasure by T. Llew Jones

Sir Harry Morgan is determined to retrieve a hoard of buried treasure he once captured from the great Spanish galleons in the Caribbean - and young Ieuan has become involved, putting his life in peril. Richard Lloyd, Morgan's cousin, has other plans - and soon a dangerous struggle for power begins. Dramatic and fast moving, this is a superb example of a pirate adventure, capturing the treachery, trickery and murder at the heart of a pirate's life. T Llew Jones wrote swashbuckling adventure stories for young readers, many, like this one, based on real people; the book has been published to mark the 100th anniversary of his birth. Today's readers will find the story just as exciting as its original readers did.

Dennis the Menace and Gnasher: The Golden Catapult (The Beano)

This fabulous combination of storybook, comic strips and puzzles will be a sure-fire hit with all Dennis the Menace fans. His appeal has kept strong over generations of readers and it's great to see how well his creators have kept up-to-date without losing any of the essential attributes of the character. Who would have thought a school trip to the library would turn out to be such fun? When Dennis, Gnasher and the rest of the infamous Menace Squad find out about a rare and legendary artefact, they set off on an amazing adventure to track it down. Only the most menacey Menace will get to it first - and they need YOUR help!

Lucy's Magic Snow Globe by Anne Booth

Christmas is on the way, and Lucy has to share her room with an unwanted visitor. Now Lucy has found a tiny baby rabbit, injured and all alone, and with a house full of visitors, looking after him is going to be difficult. But with the help of her special snow globe, and a sprinkle of magic, Lucy might just reunite him with his own family in time for Christmas Day. Perfect for newly confident readers, with short chapters and lovely pencil drawings, this is a heart-warming read that will be enjoyed every time of year - but the glittery snowflakes on the cover make it extra-special for Christmas.

Nelly and the Quest for Captain Peabody by Roland Chambers

Nelly is a determined young lady who lets nothing stand in her way, so when she decides to go in search of her father, nothing will deter her. Not even a rotting boat - also called Nelly. She renovates the boat, even knitting the sails, and sets off, with only her turtle Columbus for company. What follows is a rip-roaring adventure on the high seas. Reminiscent of Arthur Ransome but less grounded in reality, this story definitely has a fantastical element. It's really well written and well plotted, with a wonderful heroine. If you have a child who loves a strong pictorial element in their reading, then they will really enjoy this book. It's generously illustrated throughout with fun illustrations by Ella Okstad, and they are full of humour to set the story off perfectly.

The Storm Leopards by Holly Webb

Isabelle is enjoying a family day out at the zoo when she catches a glimpse of a snow leopard, with its beautiful spotted silver-grey coat and long fluffy tail. Fascinated by these rare and endangered creatures, Isabelle tries to find out what she can do to help protect them. Little does she know she's about to be whisked into her very own magical snow leopard adventure, where a mother and her cubs are in danger... Told with knowledge and compassion by a writer of many popular animal stories, this is an excellent way to help children learn about endangered species and how we should care about them.

On a Snowy Night (Animal Anthologies)

This winter-themed collection of short stories features popular authors including Jeanne Willis, Holly Webb, Linda Chapman and Anna Wilson. The 10 stories are delightfully illustrated with line drawings by Alison Edgson. These short stories are perfect for bedtime reading - to read to your child, for shared reading, or for children to read alone to wind down at the end of the day. It's also a good way to introduce children to a range of authors - they will hopefully be encouraged to seek out books by their favourites.

Middle School: Just My Rotten Luck: (Middle School 7) by James Patterson

Number seven in a best-selling series which has proved hugely popular and which, I am sure, has converted many a reluctant reader to an interest in books and reading. Rafe's heading back to the place his misadventures began: the dreaded Hills Village Middle School, where he's now being enrolled as a special needs student and is in danger of having to repeat some schooling... He also finds himself joining the school's football team – alongside his main tormenter, Miller the Killer! But Rafe has grand plans for a better year: First, he decides to start a super-secret art project that's sure to rock the school. Then, if Rafe manages to make a play to save his team, he might have to deal with something completely new: popularity! Brilliantly narrated, the reader really feels they get to know Rafe as there share in the ups and downs of his never-boring life.

Tales from Schwartzgarten: 4: Marius and the Band of Blood by Christopher William Hill

Marius Myerdorf is the newest recruit to Schwartzgarten's most secret of societies. His is a tale of adventure and abduction, friendship and fearlessness, as The Band of Blood race against time to unmask two of the foulest fiends in the history of the Great City. If you love the unexpected, revel in gruesomeness and don't yearn for a happy ending every time, these darkly funny Tales from Schwartzgarten are for you.

Jack Dash and the Magic Feather by Sophie Plowden

Jack's life is boring when his family move to the suburban town of Curtly Ambrose... but everything changes when he finds a magic feather inside a book. Whatever Jack draws, comes to life - but the trouble is, Jack is not very good at drawing - and the consequences are hilarious! Even worse, Jack is constantly being pestered by the annoying girl next door. Humorous illustrations by Judy Brown are the crowning glory. Fast, furious and very, very funny, this is a real page-turner of a book which will have children (and any adult lucky enough to be reading it to them) in fits of laughter.

My Funny Family Gets Funnier by Chris Higgins

Nine-year-old Mattie is excited. Uncle Vez's brother and his wife have come to visit! With their Australian guests, life in the Butterfield household is even more chaotic than usual. Mattie just has one worry on her Worry List ... Has Grandma met her match in Aunty Sheila? An easy-to-read story with family life at its very centre, this is one in an excellent series.

Sid and the Rugby Match by Tanya James

Sid is back in a new story and this time he wants to help Geraint and the Cwmhendy Rugby team. The trouble is, he knows nothing about rugby, so his efforts to help don't quite work out - but who could be cross with such a lovable little dog? It's a lovely story, with plenty of humour - and Welsh readers will appreciate the use of some Welsh words and idioms. Petra Brown's lovely illustrations capture Sid and all the rest of the characters perfectly. With its short chapters and plentiful illustrations, the book is perfect for newly confident readers.

Moone Boy 2: The Fish Detective by Chris O'Dowd and Nick V Murphy

We first met Moone Boy in The Blunder Years and this sequel is equally hilarious. Knowing money is short this Christmas, Martin tries to get a job, so he can buy his own presents. Padraic's Auntie Bridget, who runs the local butcher's shop, takes him on. But why is she being undercut by Feeley's fish shop over the road? No one knows how the owner, Francie Feeley, does it - especially since he doesn't seem to employ anyone at his fish factory. No one goes in; no one goes out - it's a mystery. Martin sets out to investigate and finds out that Francie is illegally employing a gang of Brazilian fish-gutters. All is fine until Martin is exposed as a spy, and to choose which side he's on. Will Christmas be ruined for the whole of Boyle? Great fun and displaying a wicked sense of humour, it's a good step forward from Diary of a Wimpy Kid and books of that ilk. It's a book that will make reluctant readers into keen readers!

Gabriel-Ernest and Other Tales (Alma Classics) by Saki

Landowner Van Cheele encounters youth sunning himself near a pond, and wonders about a possible connection between this wild-looking boy and the recent disappearances of poultry, hares, lambs and even an infant child. Next day, he is amazed to discover that his aunt has decided to take the boy in, buying him a suit of clothes and naming him Gabriel-Ernest. Van Cheele remains suspicious, especially when it is revealed that there is something supernatural about their new ward... This is just one in a new collection of quirky and often rather dark tales by a master of the short story genre. It can be tricky to write a truly satisfying short story but Saki succeeds superbly and this is a gripping collection. The line drawings by Quentin Blake are the perfect complement, with their sense of atmosphere and movement.

Grandpa's Great Escape by David Walliams

Jack's Grandpa is just like any other grandpa, sometimes forgetful, but quite ordinary... but he can still take to the skies in a speeding Spitfire and save the day... or can he? Despite his parents' worry over his Grandad, Jack has a wonderful relationship with his Grandad and they can share their imaginary adventures. Imagination and empathy shine through this account of a young boy and his beloved Grandpa; their relationship is superbly evoked as the story takes us on an incredible journey. There are Spitfires over London and Great Escapes through the city in a fast-paced adrenaline-fuelled adventure. Hard decisions must be made about Grandpa's care, and these are sensitively and realistically handled The book is illustrated by the wonderful Tony Ross. When I first saw that David Walliams was writing books for children - The Boy in the Dress - I thought, maybe another celebrity making the most of his status to sell books. Far from it - David Walliams is a sensitive, funny and sympathetic writer for children, whose books don't rely on a famous name for success; they would be runaway hits regardless.

Puppy Love (Dork Diaries) by Rachel Renee Russell

Nikki's diary is up to the month of May, and springtime is sure to bring more fun - and problems - for Nikki and her friends Chloe, Zoey and Brandon. Nikki has offered to look after a litter of puppies as the animal shelter is too full to take them. But Nikki's mum won't have dogs in the house, so she must keep them a secret - and that's a bigger problem than Nikki ever envisaged. This is a great series for tweens - well written characters and entertaining scenarios, all presented in a diary format, make for a great read. Witty and amusing but grounded in enough reality to be very believable.

The Last of the Spirits by Chris Priestley

Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is enduringly popular and now a talented author has brought us a story on the theme of the classic and ideal for a younger audience. When Sam, cold and hungry on the streets of Victorian London, approaches a wealthy man for some money and is rejected, he suddenly has had enough and vows to kill the man. Seeking shelter in a graveyard with his companion Lizzie, the pair are horrified to see the earth move and ghostly figures appear, warning them about the past, present and future which await those with wicked thoughts. Beautifully and mesmerisingly interwoven into the classic, this atmospheric story really draws the reader into Sam's life and shows the choices he faces over his own destiny.

The World of Norm: 9: May Still Be Charged by Jonathan Meres

Will life ever be fair for Norm? Not in the near future, if this latest episode in the hilarious series if anything to go by! Norm knew it was going to be a bad day when he was grounded before he'd even got up... all because of a HUGE phone bill. He doesn't know how it happened but he has to somehow pay it off if he's to go biking with Mikey. Even if that does mean going into business with the world's most annoying next door neighbour... Norm is, to put it mildly, not the world's best communicator - everything his parents put to him, he seems to misunderstand (or maybe it's them...). I did find the use of line spacing somewhat odd, but this makes the book a very easy read so will be welcomed by fans.

Witch Switch (Witch Wars) by Sibéal Pounder

Young witch Tiga Whicabim is just getting used to the witchy world of Ritzy City. But Fran the Fabulous Fairy visits Linden House and finds Peggy has gone - leaving behind only a note to say she is 'AWAY WITH THE FAIRIES'. And then witches all across town start to disappear, so the girls must come to the rescue. Tiga and Fluffanora set out to investigate and discover an old, unsolved Sinkville mystery that might just be the key to it all. Fabulous line drawings, likeable personalities and short chapters make the book highly readable. Fresh and funny, these friends are far from the traditional idea of witches.

Harper and the Scarlet Umbrella by Cerrie Burnell

This beautifully written, lyrical tale features a cast of funny and loveable characters, created by a CBeebies' presenter Cerrie Burnell and beautifully illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson. Meet Harper, a young girl who lives in the City of Clouds with her Great Aunt Sassy and her beloved cat Midnight - and a magical umbrella. When Midnight goes missing - together with all the cats of the neighbourhood - Harper realises that only her magical scarlet umbrella can help her find him. Carrying her very special umbrella, she is carried up into the sky and off on a series of amazing adventures. Not only does she find Midnight - she also finds the Midnight Orchestra and its wild conductor... Magical writing, delicate illustrations, a beautiful silver cover - what's not to love?

Fleeced by Ellie Irving

I really can't do better than quote from the back cover of this hilarious book - it tells you all you need to know! "WARNING! THIS STORY CONTAINS: A sheep called Alan Shearer. Even though she's a she. The greatest illusion trick known to man! DASTARDLY crooks. A pesky big brother. A 1000-piece Lord of the Rings Jigsaw puzzle with all the pieces making up Gandalf’s face missing. Shear determination. A brave young hero. Yep, that’s me. Charlie Rudge, aged 10 and ¾… READ ON IF EWE DARE!" If you want a comic book that will have you giggling from start to finish, this is it - and the feel-good factor lasts.

The Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne

This is a powerful new novel from the author of the highly acclaimed The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, and it is equally atmospheric and disturbing. At the age of seven, newly orphaned Pierrot had to leave his life in Paris to live with his Aunt Beatrix, a servant in a house high in the German mountains. The house is the Berghof, the home of Adolf Hitler; the date is 1935. Pierrot soon finds himself a protégé of Hitler, thrown into an increasingly dangerous new world: - a world from which there seems to be no escape. He finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into a world of terror, horror, secrets and betrayal. It’s a mesmerising story of how people behave when they feel protected from harm and are coerced into believing wrong is right. An amazing and disturbing story of how an innocent boy changes, as we watch Pierrot become Pieter.

Daisy and the Trouble with Piggy Banks (Daisy Books) by Kes Gray

Such fun! Daisy is a wonderful character - full of life, lively and hilarious; a laugh-aloud person who warms the hearts of her readers. Trouble is never far away where Daisy is concerned and the hilarity continues in this, the tenth book. When her best friend Gabby turns up at Daisy's house with the most awesome, immense, water-squirting micro-scooter Daisy's ever seen, Daisy knows she's got to have one too! Trouble is, they cost a LOT of money. So Daisy and Gabby hatch a money-making plan... This chunky book features short chapters and a good sized font, perfect to give newly independent readers confidence and show them how much fun there is to be had from books.

The Doldrums (The Doldrums, Book 1) by Nicholas Gannon

This is a superbly told story about friendship, adventure and imagination, with three unlikely stars. Archer B. Helmsley longs for adventure – but his over-protective mother will hardly let him out of the house. Not to be deterred, with the aid of his best friends, Adélaïde L. Belmont and Oliver Grub, Archer hatches a plot. They’re off to rescue Archer’s grandparents who, it seems, got stuck on an iceberg, never to return. Well, that’s the plan, but plans have a surprising habit of not turning out quite as expected… With beautiful coloured artwork, unexpected and very welcome in a novel for middle grade readers, this is an exciting and exhilarating debut novel.

Issie and the Christmas Pony (Pony Club Secrets) by Stacy Gregg

This special Christmas story takes us back to the time when Issie first met Mystic. Issie had always wanted a pony of her own and, with a little bit of Christmas magic, she gets her wish. Girls who enjoy these tales of gymkhanas, mysteries and friendship, all centred around the girls’ love of ponies, will thoroughly enjoy this festive prequel – a perfect stocking filler.

The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine

I did enjoy this! The reader is cordially invited to attend the Grand Opening of Sinclair's department store – and is immediately swept into the world of the Edwardians. Entering a world of bonbons, hats, perfumes and mysteries around every corner you will wonder at the daring theft of the priceless Clockwork Sparrow. Dastardly villains are on the rampage – and set against them are the intrepid Miss Sophie Taylor and Miss Lilian Rose. Superbly written and with two wonderful heroines, this is the first in what promises to be an exceptional series. It’s the perfect example of a traditional crime/mystery series, perfectly written for 8-12 year olds.

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