Book reviews - fiction 5 to 11 (page 1)

For the Record by Ellie Irving

Luke is a clever, shy boy who is worried about the prospect of starting senior school a year early. He knows everything there is to know about world records and it determined to hold some records himself. World's Oldest person perhaps? Well, there's a little way to go as he's only 10. Luke's chance to shine comes when his village, the tiny village of Bren on the island of Jersey, is threatened with destruction. The only way to save it is to put it on the map - with a series of record-breaking attempts. A delightful and very British story - Luke is a likeable character who is realistically portrayed (as are all the characters); there is plenty of humour and eccentricity... and of course there are some villains. Plenty of fun - enjoy the list of record breaking attempts at the end.

Bella Donna: Witchling by Ruth Symes

Bella Donna is a witchling – a young witch who must keep her powers a secret, and only use magic when she’s at home in the enchanted Coven Road. But it’s hard to stick to the rules when magic is such fun. There are so many things Bella can’t quite resist, like flying on her broomstick and trying out some very special spells . This is the third book in the Bella Donna series by Ruth Symes, who was nominated for the Carnegie Medal. A great combination of magic, adventure and being true to yourself, featuring wonderful illustrations by Marion Lindsay. Marion won the Egmont Best New Talent award in 2010.

Not Bad for a Bad Lad by Michael Morpurgo and Michael Foreman (illus)

Bring together the talents of these two exceptional people and you are guaranteed a wonderful book. Grandpa tells his grandson about his early life - he was a 'bad lad' and there was no hiding that fact. He was sent to Borstal and found himself working in the stables, and this turns his life around. Mr Alfie puts his trust in the lad and gives him a cery special responsibility which is the making of him. A heart-warming story about making good and how important it is to see the promise in people and not pre-judge. The illustrations are stunning and perfectly capture the emotions of the story. Although a paperback, this is beautifully produced and the thick creamy pages are a delight - a fitting complement to this excellent story. The book is complemented by some interesting historical background, which puts it all into context

 Robbie and Voxy: Monster Swap by Jonny Zucker

'Meet Robbie. Robbie likes inventing new types of crisps. His hair is far too long. Meet Voxy. Voxy is ten feet tall. His favourite food is cabbage and soil burgers.' What child could resist a story introduced like that? We are all familiar with exchange visits but these are exchanges with a huge difference. In the interests of culture, humans and monsters do their own exchanges - with the inevitable hilarious consequences. Two wonderful stories which will have children captivated - try reading them aloud to a class! Tony Ross' zany illustrations are the perfect foil for the humour of the story.

 Olivia Flies High by Lynn Gardner

This is just the sort of book I loved as a child and I must confess to enjoying this type of book still. This is the sequel to Olivia's First Term and lives up to the promise of its predecessor. Olivia has a wonderful opportunity - to perform her tightrope act in New York. But this causes a huge rift between her and fellow performers and friends Tom and Georgia. Why is this and will their friendship ever recover? The story takes the reader deep into the world of the stage and the enthralling story with the twists and turns of friendship (and emnity, and jealousy) keeps the reader gripped to the end of the story.

Zero to Hero by Rob Childs

Simon doesn't really want to play football - he'd rather be watching kingfishers - but he finds he has a natural talent for goal-keeping. THere seems little chance of him getting a place in the school team, but with a big match coming up he pairs up with a new boy - one who has come from the opposing school. Much more than just a story about football, this also addresses issues of bullying and self-esteem. It is a clever way to get boys reading a story which carries important messages, whilst enjoying a story about sport.

 Stitch Head by Guy Bass

Professor Erasmus conducts his weird experiments in the dungeons of Castle Grotteskew. His first creation was Stitch Head, who has been long forgotten as he has been usurped by more and more freakish creations. Finally, Stitch Head seems to have a chance to get away, but he has a seemingly impossible task to complete first. Will he achieve it? Boys will be captivated by the style of writing and the wacky layout of the book with parchment effects and lots of gothic-type illustrations.

Dirty Bertie Snow by Alan Macdonald

Dirty Bertie is quite revolting! He has some quite disgusting habits, which I won't go into here, and as well as that he gets into all sorts of scrapes. The three stories in this book see him  in a sledge race, trying to change the course of history and breaking a (disgusting, of course!) world record. Each story is divided into short chapters and is generously illustrated, making it ideal for early solo reading. 

The Magic Secrets Box: The Silver City Ballet by Sue Mongredian

This is the first in a new series that is bound to appeal to little girls. They will love the press button music box tune which is an unusual novelty outside books for younger children. Megan feels compelled to buy the music box and when she winds it up, she hears the voice of the Fairy Queen. The Fairy Queen needs Megan's help and Megan is only too happy to oblige! In this story, she goes to a dancing academy where a giant has turned up for lessons.  After her exciting adventure, Megan can't wait for the next.......

 The Magic Secrets Box: The Great Mermaid Rescue by Sue Mongredian

This is Megan's second exciting adventure in the Land of the Eight Kingdoms. This time, she becomes a mermaid and travels to the Emerald Seas to help Celeste, who has told so many lies that nobody believes her when she says she has spotted a terrifying sea monster. Girls will love to follow Megan's adventures, as a seemingly ordinary little girl finds herself in all sorts of magical situations.Perfect girly reads.

 Evie's Secret Hideaway by Lisa Norton

If you are very quiet, you might just meet the friends of Bluebell Woods. A whimsical world full of friendly creatures which will appeal to girls especially. Evie the squirrel loves adventures and when her grandfather gives her a map of a long-forgotten hazel grove, she can't wait to go and search for it with her friends. Evie stumbles across a hollow tree that could make the perfect hidden den - but can the secret be kept? This is the third in the Bluebell Woods series - see my reviews of the first two here.

 The Kitten Nobody Wanted by Holly Webb

Who could resist the cute kitten on the cover of this book? Holly Webb has written lots of very popular books and many series of animal stories. Mia's beloved cat Sandy has died, and like so many of us, she can't imagine replacing her beloved pet. But her friend's cat has kittens and she just has to go and see them. Everyone knows the perfect pet is there for her, but will Mia agree? A gentle, heartwarming read.

The Leopard Boy by Julia Johnson

A gripping story about conservation and a boy's fight to save an endangered animal. Khalid looks after his uncle's goats and one day he finds one of the kids is missing. His uncle tries to trap the animal he thinks is responsible. Then his uncle plans to allow mining on the mountain. The story draws the reader's attention to the dilemmas facing people trying to improve their lives. It will appeal to those concerned about the destruction of habitats and the future of endangered species. A thought-provoking book with an important message.

Winnie Shapes Up by Laura Owen 

Poor Winnie! Whatever she tries to do seems to go wrong. Four entertaining short stories have our heroine trying to be quiet in a sponsored silence, helping aliens get home safely with a sat nav that goes a bit wrong (sound familiar?!), tossing pancakes and trying to ,lose weight. The illustrations by Korky Paul are an integral part of the book and add another level of hilarity. Great fun and the short stories are ideal for readers just gaining confidence. A lovely move forward from the picture books and children will love to continue reading about this fun witch.

Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter

It is great to see this children's classic reissued for today's young readers, and especially in an attractive hardback at the price of a paperback - so much more satisfying to read. I hope children today will recognise the use of the name 'Pollyanna' for someone who has an optimistic outlook on life - and if they didn't, that they will now. Pollyanna goes to live with her strict Aunt Polly, and plays the 'Glad Game' - where she always looks on the bright side of life. Pollyanna brightens the life of the whole community and they come to her rescue when she suffers an accident. Pollyanna may sound too good to be true, but perhaps she has something to teach us all.

Emma's Stormy Summer by Miranda Newboult

An ideal summer read for 8 12 year old girls. People around Emma are changing - one of her friends seems to have become a bully and her father is ignoring her. What is going on? Is it Emma's fault? As the story progresses, we learn the reason for these apparent personality changes and Emma learns that there are some things she just can't change - an important lesson to learn as part of growing up. The characters are realistic and the reader is drawn into the family life of the youngsters, making this book an enjoyable read. 

Death of a Chimney Sweep by Cora Harrison

This is the fourth story in the London Murder Mysteries, which feature Alfie Sykes and his gang. Only that day, Alfie had seen Joe the chimney sweep's boy, scared and terrified - then he finds his dead body. But, as we all know from The Water Babies, chimney sweep's boys are unvalued and nobody wants to know, so it's up to Alfie and his gang to get justice. They brave the perils of the chimney sweeps' world in this vivid portrayal of life in Victorian London. The book is peopled with believable characters, full of adventure and is a fast-paced read. 

Booom! by Alan McDonald

A long, long time ago - in fact, back in the Stone Age - there lived the Urks. Find out more about this hairy tribe by enjoying the stories of Iggy the Urk - this is the fourth in the hilarious series. Old Grumbly the volcano has begun to rumble and the Urks fear the end of the world is nigh. There's just one way to pacify the volcano - and Iggy and Chief Hammerhead must climb the volcano and offer a sacrifice. But wait - if that wasn;t enough, there's more danger coming from the other direction.... A snappy read, with humorous illustrations and a chunky shape to make it even more appealing.

The Great Big Big George Book of Stories by Eric Pringle

Wow! This book really is big! Three wonderful stories in one collection - Big George, Big George and the Seventh Knight and Big George and the Winter King. A fascinating combination of an alien - George is a giant from another planet - and medieval history give huge scope for really unusual stories. George is a lovely character - innocent and well-meaning but like so many people who don't quite fit the standard, he is treated with suspicion. These are gentle and amusing stories and the medieval setting is fascinating. Don't let children be put off by the size of the book - the stories are really easy to read and there are plenty of pictures.

Buttons the Naughty Pony by Pippa Funnell

This is, amazingly, the 14th book in the Tilly's Pony Tales series. Pippa Funnell brings to the books all her knowledge of the horsey world and this makes the books very realistic and guaranteed  to appeal to horse-mad young girls who appreaciate the authenticity - and the fact they can see the author competing in real life. Buttons, a very naughty pony, is being sent to Silver Shoe Farm because his owner just doesn't know what to do with him. Can Tilly help? Children will pick up lots of expert advice at the same time as enjoying the story.

 You, Me and Thing: The Curse of the Jelly Babies by Karen McCombie

What a fun title - enough to make anyone want to pick the book up! Just what is living at the bottom of Ruby and Jackson's gardens? Well, it's a Thing of course - a Thing whose home in the woods has been destroyed - a Thing who wants vengeance. Thing is a lovable character and it's good to know this is the first in a series of books, as I am sure he will become become very popular. The story is very funny and the illustrations are quite delightful. It's a fun read which will encourage children's imaginations. Publication date 8.09.11.

Tilly Tiptoes and the Grand Surprise by Caroline Plaisted

Little girls are always asking for ballet stories - they have an enduring appeal. This is the first in a new series,  written from the slightly different viewpoint of backstage in the theatre.Whilst the company is rehearsing for Giselle, things start to go missing - could it be someone or something nasty? Or just something hairy.... I like the fact that the story is very realistic and was not surprised to learn that Caroline Plaisted has a background in theatre. This reality will appeal to today's readers, who like to see stories set in a real world. Easy to read and plenty of authenticity - bound to be popular.

Dragon Racer: The Legacy of Fire by Margaret Bateson-Hill

This is the sequel to  Dragon Racer and Jo is now the owner of the Brixton Dragon Caves, following the death of Vincent. I suggest you read the books in sequence to get the very best out of them and to see the way in which the characters develop and mature. The book illustrates the importance of working as a team, as Jo finds they must work together to defeat Maruis King, who continues to work his evil despite being imprisoned. Fantasy, but not too fantastic, this story is still part of the real world and dragons are an enduring favourite, perhaps not seen as often as they could be. A gripping story which will engage both girls and boys.

Sophie and the Shadow Woods: The Spider Gnomes by Linda Chapman & Lee Weatherly

Sophie must guard the magic gateway deep in the Shadow Woods and ensure it is never opened. Can she use her Guardian powers to stop the Spider Gnomes opening the gate and letting all sorts of nasty creatures through? The narrative moves quickly and the short focussed chapters make it good for both independent reading and as a bedtime story. Children loved to get hooked on a series and girls of 7+ will enjoy reading about feisty Sophie who is very much a 21st century character.

Neversuch House: Mask of the Evergones by Elliott Skell

Journey back to the mysterious world of Neversuch House in this tale packed with adventure.  The heroine is Omnia Halibut - what a name! She is determined to keep her much-loved home and its treasure from the control of the Evergones. There is a huge amount going on and Omnia has to battle her way through the chaos.A strong cast of characters, including Omnia's supporters Evergrow and Basilica,  gain the reader's interest through the story. This is a good sequel which gets the reader engrossed from the first page - but best read as a sequel to get full benefit.

Mish Mash Hash by Francesca Simon

This early reader from the author of Horrid Henry is a really attractively produced book. It will have immediate appeal to children learning to read, with its simple colourful pictures, uncluttered layout and repetitive text. The animals are making a cake - but it doesn't turn out quite as expected. When children have enjoyed the story, there are lots of points for dicsussion at the end. There are lots more in the series about Potter's Barn, so look out for them too - Chicks Just Want to Have Fun (Early Reader) and  Barnyard Hullabaloo (Early Reader): Early Readers are just two of the titles.

Traitor's Kiss by Pauline Francis 

This is a gripping story, written in the first person, which really gets the reader right inside the life of the future Queen Elizabeth I as she fights to keep herself safe through the treachery that is rife in Tudor England. Nowhere seems safe for the young Elizabeth, as she seeks to find out the truth about her mother, Anne Boleyn. At all turns, it seems there is danger and she fights desperately to keep her integrity and preserve her reputation unscathed. The story is really well written and the reader is drawn into young Elizabeth's struggles in this compelling story. The hsitorical background is authentic and it is interesting to see this earlier period in the Queen's life covered.

 Heart Magazine: Boys, Blues and Shoes by Cindy Jefferies

A series just right for 'tweens'. Ellie is working at Heart magazine in the school holidays. When she learns that the members of her favourite boy band are coming into the office to promote their new CD she is absolutely thrilled and longing to meet them. But on the day of their visit Ellie is sent out to collect some designer shoes for a photo shoot.... will she get back and get to meet the boys? A light hearted and fun read that girls will love.

 Dino FC: Transfer Trouble by Keith Brumpton

What could be better to capture young boys' attentiuon than a story about a football team set in Jurassic times with dino characters? Why has Danny, the Dino FC Chairman, sold their best player? Can the team still succeed without him? Packed with cartoon-style illustrations - more pictures than words, this book is just the thing to get boys (and football-mad girls) keen on reading. Lots of action, plenty of dialogue and snippets of humour - great fun.

 Hot Wheels Battle Force 5 - The Ultimate Guide

Hot Wheels Battle Force 5  is an American/Canadian 3D CGI animated television series about an elite team of drivers with super-cool vehicles. Toys and books have been produced to go with the series and this book introducees the reader to the heroes, the villains and their vehicles. Produced in full colour and full of photos on glossy paper, this will be very popular with all fans of the series. They can have fun testing their knowledge with the quiz at the end.

Stunt Bunny: Rabbit Racer by Tamsyn Murray

This is the third in a slightly off-beat series and promises to be as much of a fun read as the first two - previous fans will be pleased to see another story about Harriet Houdini. In this adventure, the star of the TV series Superpets takes on a new pet - Taz the Tornado, a cat who loves racing and the show's host decides that all the animals need to learn a new trick.  Amusing text and hilarious illustrations make this a book which will really engage the reader, and it would also be fun read aloud. Children will love the characters of the animals and the book is a great introduction to chapter books for readers of five and above - girls and boys.

 Going Under: Worse Things Happen at Sea by Alan Snow

A dirty washing scandal leaves the Ratbridge Nautical Laundry in terrible debt. But when a mysterious doctor arrives with a wonder cure for the townsfolk's ills it seems that the rats and pirates of theLaundry might just have found the way to make the money it so desperately needsby setting sail to see if they can find the ingredients for the mystical 'Black Jollop'. A book that leaves you wanting more, and to find out if they resolve their dilemma. Liberally peppered with fun illustrations, which help to alleviate the somewhat small print for the age group.


 The Donut Diaries of Dermot Mulligan

Love 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' but prefer stories with the familiar setting of the uk? Then this is the book for you!  As well as being overweight, he has to contend with a pushy mother, a father who hides in the toilet and sisters who torment him. If that was not enough, he is about to start at a posh school and his mother is threatening to send him to Fat Camp. All this results in him keeping a hilarious diary which will have the reader chuckling as events unfold - and empathasising with Dermot as he shares anguishes common to many near-teenage boys. The book covers September and October, so is looks as though there is scope for plenty more hilarity!

Watchman William Ghost Detective by Diana Shaw 

This book gives young readers a brilliant chance to get really involved with the story. Packed with clues for the reader to disentangle and with plenty of suspects the book is fast-moving and action-packed.  Thomas is a ghost, from the time of Queen Elizabeth I, and he and William (his modern-day sidekick - well, all the great detectives have a sidekick, don't they?) need the reader to help them investigate the strange events around Hardleigh Manor. Being a ghost does have its benefits when detecting (as long as Thomas remembers to vanish when necessary!) and makes for a very funny story, which will be loved by children of 5+. The first in a new series - I look forward to more.

George and the Big Bang by Lucy and Stephen Hawking

A huge science experiment is about to take place – and George and Annie are right there to see it. Eric, Annie’s scientist dad, is heading to the Large Hadron Collider to explore the earliest moments of the Universe – the Big Bang. Armed with his trusty super-computer, Cosmos, nothing can possibly go wrong …until George and Annie discover a plot to destroy the experiment! An engrossing and thrilling story, written with all the insight you would expect from these authors. Complemented by full colour photos of our galaxy and many pages of scientific facts, this is a really good read.


 Tribe: Monkey Bars and Rubber Ducks by T M Alexander

This is the fourth book in the popular Tribe series. First it is Copper Pie who is missing school, then the rest of Tribe join him. What is going on? The second story,Under Canvas sees our heroes having fun on the school camping trip. The combination of two stories in one book means that there is a really good solid read for young readers, giving them a real sense of achievement without being too daunting. The stories are fast-moving and action packed - plenty going on to capture the interest and hold it through the story.

I Don't Believe it Archie by Andrew Norriss

This is a hilarious story - you won' believe it either, when you see what befalls Archie. All he did was go out to post a letter - and a piano rolls down the hill - then a car rolls out of control - and gets buried in a heap of gravel... all this in the first few pages, so you can get an idea of the mayhem in store. And that's just Monday, and the reader is in for a full week of hilarious adventures, all illustrated with a light touch and great humour. Archie makes a new friend, Cyd, and things are even more fun when she is around. A great read for 6+.

Little Else: Ghost Hunter by Julie Hunt and Beth Norling

This is Little Else's third adventure. Set in Australia, the background is a refreshing change and gives the story an interesting atmosphere. The heroine, Little Else is the leader of a gang of bushrangers and the stories are cleverly written with a touch of humour. This time, she and her gang are searching for the Lost Herd, who disappear when they cross the river. Else is a likeable character and children will enjoy engaging with her through the series. It is a well produced boo, with heavy white paper and lots of illustrations. Enjoy Little Else: On the Run and Little Else: Trick Rider too.

 The Smurfs Movie Novelization by Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Colton

The Smurfs are coming to the big screen in August 2011 - perfect for the summer holidays - and Simon and Schuster have released movie tie-ins in the lead in to this. Follow the fun little blue beings as they are whisked from their medieval village to the hectic world of New York city. Will they manage to create the blue moon that they need to get back, and escape the evil wizard Gargamel. A hilarious laugh-aloud story to be enjoyed whether or not you get to see the film. Full colour photos from the movie are included. Look out for A Smurfin' Big Adventure! (Smurfs Movie) and Behold the Power of Gargamel! (Smurfs Movie) as well.

The Clan of the Scorpion by Gareth P Jones

This is an exciting new series from Stripes Publishing by popular, award-winning author Gareth P Jones. The Clan of the Scorpion are Jet Flashfeet, Chuck Cobracrusher, Donnie Dragonjab and Bruce Willowhammer - these are names to conjure with! The goal of this group of meerkats is to defeat evil, especially in the form of the Ringmaster, who is out to dominate the world. When Ming goes missing from the zoo, they know the Ringmaster is behind it and they are the ones to thwart his evil plans. Appealingly laid out, pacy and fast-moving, with lots of illustrations and clear font, this is ideal for encouraging boys to read.

 The Eye of the Monkey by Gareth P Jones

Another tale of the Clan of the Scorpion. This time, the palsare searching for an Indian emerald which has been stolen from its guardian monkeys. They enlist the help of the Delhi Lama (the name gives you a clue as to the humour found in the book) to help defeat their old enemy the Ringmaster. You can follow the adventures of the clan at Great books for boys.

 The Shaman's Secret: A Kit Salter Adventure by Natasha Narayan

The Wild West is an unusual setting for a story and one that will appeal to both girls and boys. Kit is in a coma after being poisoned by her enemies the Baker Brothers. Her friends decide to take her to Arizona, where they believe a cure can be effected. But she is soon in danger once again and the gang must now travel to the Grand Canyon - can they get there in time? An exciting adventure in the series about intrepid Kit, whose adventures take her to many unusual places, all depicted effectively by Natasha Narayan.

Aliens and Mad Scientists Under the Ocean by Nikalas Catlow & Tim Wesson

This is the third in the excellent Mega Mash Up series, which has been a huge hit. Cleverly designed to appeal directly to boys' interests, they combine an exciting story - can the mad scientists build a machine to save the earth? - with opportunities for lots of doodles to complete the story. Children's imagination is fostered as they complete the pictures and help design wondrous machines. The illustrations in the book are drawn in such a way that children feel they are able to copy the style and produce really good artwork of their own - and there are lots of hints to help plus a picture glossary at the back. Doodle book or fiction book - what do you think? More fun at

Animal Antics: The Singing Sheep by Lucy Courtenay

Poor Sunny the sheep - nobody seems to enjoy her singing. The sheep at Woolly Farm are enjoying the peace and quiet when their peace is shattered. They are a dull lot compared with the Sheep at Lively Farm, where Sunny came from. But Sunny is determined that the Woolly Farm choir will be the best at the Sheep Choir of the Year. There are other books in the Animal Antics series - a great way to get to know your favourite animals better! Introducing your child to a series like this is a brilliant way to get them 'hooked' on books and waiting eagerly for the next.

Bluebell Woods: Florence's Birthday Wish by LIss Norton

This new series from Stripes Publishing is just the sort of series enjoyed by girls who are just starting out on reading chapter books for themselves. Florence the rabbit is looking forward to her birthday, but everyone else seems to be rather busy. Have they forgotten? A magical world for little girls, Bluebell Wood is home to some lovable creatures - there's Natalie Hollyhock, Evie Morningdew and lots more and you can meet them on the reverse of the eye-catching cut-out cover. An easy read, with delicate pencil drawings.

Bluebell Woods: Honey's Summer Ball by Liss Norton

In the second story about the woodland creatures, they are planning for the Summer Ball. But Honey the woodmouse has nothing to wear. Can her friends help her out? This is another charming story, attractively presented and children will love to follow their favourite creatures as they pop up in different stories. There is always controversy over the value of 'series' books. I think that is is great to see children reading and that is the important thing; it is up to us as parents, librarians and teachers to capitalise on this interest, to encourage children to read the series they enjoy and to encourage them to widen out by finding other books related to their interests.

 Captain Pugwash and the Mutiny by John  Ryan

Captain Pugwash is an old favourite with an enduring appeal. This book was first published in 1982 and it is as funny as ever! The crew refuse to eat their biscuits full of weevils. They mutiny and cast Captain Pugwash and Cabinboy Tom out to sea in a dinghy.  In the second story, it all looks like fun aboard the Black Pig for a fancy dress party.until some uninvited guests arrive and Cut Throat Jake and his crew capture the Black Pig... The illustrations are key to the enjoyment of this book - packed with humorous detail, they really add to the fun.


 There's a Hamster in My Pocket by Franzeska G Ewart

Yosser is worried - her parent’s shop is struggling, so they have invited her Auntie Shabnam to come and stay and to help out., That means Yosser will have to share her bedroom with her grandmother – but not just her Nani; there's also her collection of stuffed animals! Yosser’s best friend, Kylie, is having family troubles of her own And to top it all, Yosser discovers a mysterious box among Nani's belongings. This is a very funny story, with just enough suspense to keep the reader's attention. The characters are believable and children readily identify with their worries. A good book for children setting out to read chapter stories by themselves.

Arabel's Raven by Joan Aiken

Arabel's life is transformed when her father brings home an injured bird he has found. But this is no ordinary bird - he eats everything in sight, answers the telephone by squawking "Neverrmore!" and gets into mischief wherever he goes -- and you will make amazed at what havoc he can cause! But whatever he does Arabel loves her new feathered friend, called Mortimer. Wonderfully illustrated in Quentin Blake's inimitable style, children take Arabel (and Mortimer) to their hearts. THis is the first volume in a series of hilarious adventures.


Diary of a Wimpy Kid : Do-It-Yourself Book By Jeff Kinney

Fans of this hugely popular series will be desperate to get their hands on a copy of this fun book and complete their very own book. They will love the opportunity to express themselves as they design a dream home; draw up a family tree; make their own comics; use the excuse maker.... and lots more. Then there is a full colour comic section and finally, the opportunity to write a diary - or whatever children choose to do. I think this is a great way to encourage children to write, to express themselvas and above all, have fun. Perfect for taking on holiday - full of variety and great fun.

 Eight Keys by Suzanne Lefleur

Elise and Franklin have been best friends for years but things start to go wrong between them when they make the move up to middle school. Just after her 12th birthday, Elise receives a mysterious key left for her by her father. A key that unlocks one of the eight doors upstairs in the barn behind her home . . .  Just what will she find there? The tension builds up wonderfully, drawing the reader into the story. A sensitive exploration of bullying, bereavement and friendship, which has a really interesting twist with the theme of the eight keys - just what will they unlock?

Penny Dreadful is a Magnet for Disaster by Joanna Nadin

Three hilarious stories in one in this book about likeable but disaster-prone Penny. She means well, but things just keep going wrong - with very funny consequences! Share in the fun as Penny becomes a hairdresser, rescues an abandoned dog and meets the school inspector. Written in the first person, Penny rambles her way through all sorts of incidents in a really amusing fashion - this would be a great book to read aloud to a class because of the way it is written. At the start of the book, the reader is introduced to a cast of amazing characters and there are lots of entertaining pictures. Great fun and Penny is set to become very popular.

Billionaire Boy by David Walliams

A hilarious tongue-in-cheek novel that will appeal to adults and children alike - a wonderful book to read aloud and share with your child; I guarantee that you will enhance each others' enjoyment with your different perspectives on the humour. Joe, the richest 12 year old in the country, has everything, except friends. He is a pupil at a posh private school where they have amazing lessons such as being beastly to servants, top-hat polishing and learning to talk posh. Then someone comes along who doesn't just like Joe because of his money. The moral of the story is that money can't make you real friends or give you a cuddle -  and that is what we all really need

My Uncle Foulpest by Timothy Knapman

This chuckle-provoking book is a promising start to a new series. Until the arrival of Uncle Foulpest, Wally is just an ordinary boy, and that's how he wants to be. Foulpest is an ogre, whi unwittingly causes chaos wherever he goes. Two funny stories - Teacher Trouble and Spooky Sleepover - are just the right length to encourage new readers to 'have a go' - and they will be well rewarded!


Lob by Linda Newbery

 Lob is a Green Man – an ancient spirit who lives in the tree in Grandad's garden. They believe in Lob, but Lucy's parents don't. When Grandad dies, his house is sold, and the story tells of Lob's search for a new home and Lucy's sadness at the death of her beloved grandfather. This is a touching story which deals sensitively and reassuringly with bereavement. Lob is an interesting figure, who comes out of the shadows as the book progresses. It is the perfect book for newly-confident readers, full of line drawings and reasonable length chapters. A lovely piece of story-telling which would repay re-reading as the reader will discover a new dimension each time.

The Filth Licker by Cristy Burne

Miku, Cait and their class are headed for School Camp in the forest. Miku has premonitions of danger, and when Oscar goes down with a festering rash, and a wind blows out the bonfire she's sure something dreadful is happening. Miku, Cait and Alex find themselves on a secret mission to overcome the vengeful Shape-Shifters before it's too late Can they all be saved from disaster? Cristy's knowledge of Japanese folklore and the supernatural shine through and this is a compulsive read. This is the sequel to Takeshita Demons and a third book is to follow in 2012.

 Too Much Trouble by Tom Avery

Where can two boys go when they're on their own, on the run, with little money or food? Emmanuel must keep his promise to his father - to look after his brother Prince. The contrast between a happy family life in Africa and the hurly-burly of London life is hard for the boys and things get too much for them when they meet the mysterious Mr Green and his friends. This is a gripping story - it really draws the reader in and Emmanuel's determination to do the best for his brother makes him a very sympathetic character. A good read for boys - even those who claim not to like books; get them to try it!

Too much Trouble was the winner of the 2010 Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Children’s Book Award.

Gargoylz: Mess at the Mill by Burchett and Vogler

This is the first book I have reviewed in this series, and found it great fun and a very accessible book which will appeal to even reluctabt readers - who will, of course be anxious to collect them all in order to get a collection of the sticker toys; a clever idea! Max and Ben are sent off to stay with Uncle Ben for the weekend. The boys don't want to go, so they're glad when their naughty gargoyle friends come along. And what a good think they do, as great fun ensues. Hilarious illustrations and a pacy easy-to-read story make this book great fun.

 Olivia's First Term by Lyn Gardner

This is the first in a very promising new series from Nosy Crow - a relatively new publisher. I can see the series being an instant hit with girls, who will love the thought of the glamour of stage school - or is it glamorous? Olivia is a circus girl and she doesn't want to go to stage school and the book opens with an angry but sad girl who feels she has been 'dumped' for convenience. Gradually, Olivia is drawn into her new world and finds the opportunity to put her high-wire skills to good use. . Lyn is a thetare critic and her passion for theatre and dance shinesthrough in this book, giving it a realistic setting which will appeal to stage-mad girls everywhere.

 The Magykal Papers by Angie Sage

This beautifully produced book is the ultimate companion to the Septimus Heap series. It is divided into four sections - the Castle, the Palace, the Wizard Tower and around the Castle. Compiled as a collection of letters, journals, posters, maps and other documents, this is an intriguing glimpse into a fantasy world and perfect for those who like to dip in and out of books. Full of humour, the reader will find out all those things he has been longing to know. Packed with illustrations and with an old-fashioned feel, this is a super guide to the wonderful world of Septimus Heap and should be part of the collection of all fans. An excellent way to round out the stories and bring them even more to life - but it is best read after you have read the series. And if you haven't read them - you should!

Spaceheadz by Jon Scieszka and Francesco Sedita

On his first day in a new school, Michael K has to be friends with two other new pupils, Bob and Jennifer, but they are STRANGE!  Michael K just wants to fit in, so he tries not to have too much to do with them. It turns out that Bob and Jennifer are in fact aliens from another planet and everything they know about Earth, they learned from TV - and that has certainly given them some very strange ideas!.  They have come to earth to recruit 3.14 million Spaceheadz and if they’re not succesful they’ll switch the Earth off! This is the first book in a new series that’s sure to be a hit with readers of 7+, particularly boys, whi will find it really funny. 

 Escape from Mercy Hall by Garth Edwards

This pacy story follows the exploits of 8-year-old Milly and 9-year-old George and Samuel, as they escape from the world of a Victorian orphanage where they are in trouble with the Headmaster,and set out to find Milly's older brother Tom. They find themselves in the Land of Muttons - sheep who eat anything pegged out to die. Can the children escape from this mysterious land - or have they become part of its people? I particularly enjoyed the vivid descriptive language, which helps the people and places come alive for young readers. This is the first in a trilogy of exciting adventure stories - The Thorn Gate Trilogy - and I am already looking forward to the sequels.

 Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days by Jeff Kinney

Share with Greg as he goes through the ups and downs of a boy's life. This series is really perceptively written and the reader emphasises with Greg's feelings. The quality of the writing is evidenced by the popularity of the series - I gave the previous one to a nine year old boy who loved it. I do think that readers will gain maximum benefit if they read theseries in order. Greg's idea of a perfect summer is not quite in accord with his mother's (indoors versus outdoors, a common dilemma) - with hilarious consequences, depicted wittily in both writing and through the cartoons. Written for children of 8 and up, I think this would also be enjoyed by teens - and even adults.

 The Time Spell: Friends Forever by Judi Curtin

It all started when Lauren got a cat, but no ordinary cat! Saturn has strange powers - Lauren is cuddling Saturn when suddenly it's 1912, and she discovers she is on The Titanic. Lauren knows exactly what is going to happen to Mary, whom she befriends and this is quite a scary thought. She sets out to try and undo history in this cleverly crafted book - the reader feels she must read on to find out if history can be rewritten. The story is easy to read, ideal for readers of 8+, with plenty of period detail and the atmosphere aboard The Titanic is graphically evoked. I lok forward to Lauren's character being further developed through the series.

Happy Birthday: Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel 

The curmudgeonly kitty is back in another fun-filled adventure. Packed with hilarious illustrations which interact perfectly with the text, this is a super read for young readers, who will be attracted to the book by the high ratio of illustrations - always appealing to young ones. There's plenty of information about cats, big and small, as well. Kitty makes sure she is always around for the action - when she wants to be, and the story introduces a zany group of feline friends. A heartwarming visit from a very important cat is a lovely feature of the story. A good combination of story, cartoon and fact - great fun.

 Dear Dumb Diary: Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jim Benton

This story will strike a chord with girls who are conscious of all the things that can go wrong with their lives, especially at school. This is the fourth in the series, which are written in the first person by a middle school girl called Jamie Kelly. Girls will enjoy the diary format and empathise with Jamie, who goes through all the same emotions as most 10 - 12 year olds girls. Amusingly written with plenty of quirky illustrations, Jamie is a determined characetr who finds ways around her problems.

Give us the Vote! by Sue Reid

This series of true life stories from Scholastic, set in key historical periods, cross the boundary between fiction and non fiction but I think that, on the whole, they will be read as fiction although that does not in any way  belittle the huge amount of historical facts they contain. Dora's story is set against the background of the Suffragette Movement and the reader is drawn into her world and the determination of these women shines through the gripping story. This feisty teenager, only 16, was arrested but imprisonment did not steal her spirit. She became famous through the tabloids and today's young readers can share her story. This is a brilliant way to put real life into history and I would recommend any students to read the books from this series set in the period they are studying. The books are complemented by a series of factual articles.

 One Dog and His Boy by Eva Ibbotson

Hal is desperate to have a dog, but his parents don't want their lovely home spoilt. This book is so beautifully written that I had a tear in my eye after the first few pages, reading about Hal's longing for a dog, and his parents' insistence on everything being absolutely perfect.His parents think they have found a solution - they will rent a dog for a weekend, and by the end of the weekend, Hal will be tired of it. But it doesn't work out like that and Hal is determined to be with Fleck forever. He runs away, taking with him a host of pedigree dogs, all of whom have a wonderful story. This is a story of what can be achieved through love and sheer, gritty determination and it dererves to become a children's classic.  A nostalgic review, because Eva Ibbotson, one of the 'greats' of children's literature, died shortly after finishing this book.

 The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan

This exciting second book of a three-book series has Carter and Sadie Kane, descendants of the magical House of Life, embarking on a worldwide search for the Book of Ra. The House of Life and the gods of chaos are determined to stop them - but will they succeed and will their powers work against Apophis? Rick Riordan is a great coimmunicator and really draws the reader into the lives of his characters in his action-packed stories. Not an easy read, but a book that will repay the reader for persevering. Children are fascinated by mythology and this well-researched book would be a super background read for KS2 studies of Ancient Egypt. Please - read the first in the series before tackling this book! 

 Bella Donna: Too Many Spells by Ruth Symes

At first glance, Bella appears to be like all her friends, at a normal school, doing all the things normal girls do. But that is far from the truth. She is also learning to be a witch. She lives in the amazing Coven Road, where even the houses are magic. Bella has a problem, though - when strange things start to happen at school, she wonders whether she is in control of her own magic. Share with Bella as she works hard to win the Spell-Casting Contest - I guarantee you will be cheering her on! This is an entertaining book, which carries a reassuring message about being true to yourself, with plenty of likeable characters. Generously illustrated too, which is always a plus.

Detective Brother by Pete Johnson

The two previous books in this series by popular author Pete Johnson have been well received, so it's good to see a third adventure starring Jamie, Harry  and Reena. This time, the three are on holiday and Jamie has made sure to pack his magic cape - but it is looking a little jaded and it needs a rest too. But when there's a theft and Jamie is suspected, he needs the magic powers of the cape to help him out. Another hilarious adventure, just right for those who are enjoying reading their first books on their own - but fun to read aloud too. A great story for those who have a rather annoying younger brother! Pete has written for all age groups, so his fans will find plenty more to enjoy.


 Willie and Old Miss Annie by Berlie Doherty

This is a reissue of an old favourite. There are three linked short stories about country life, wherein Willa and Old Miss Annie, who both love animals, play their parts in the lives of a goat, a pony and a fox. The language makes the book suitable to read to infant school children or for slightly older to read for themselves, as there is a simple vocabulary and plenty of repetition. These are enchanting, warm stories by a multi-award winning author who always captures the hearts of her readers with her sensitive and empathetic approach. The illustrations by Kim Lewis play their part in bringing the stories alive.


 My Summer Fair Surprise: Humphrey's Tiny Tales 2 by Betty G Birney

Lovable hamster Humphrey is back in another adventure in the series for younger readers. The children in Room 26 are really excited about the forthcoming Summer Fair, and Humphrey is thrilled when they decide to include both him and classroom frog Og on their posters.And things get even better when Aldo designs a special trolley so they can both join in the parade. But things go a bit awry and the Summer Fair ends up being more of an adventure than Humphrey had anticipated. This series is great fun for beginner readers, with short chapters, plenty of pictures and easy-to-follow language - plus a host of fun characters, who appear in each story, which always appeals to children.


Just One More by Joyce Cowley

I am a great fan of short stories - they are a great way to get children reading a wide range of genres. This collection by Joyce Cowley contains some fascinating tales - how about a horse on an escalator; a pirate driving a bus; a kingdom where nobody was allowed to smile or laugh; and a travelling bathtub. These are just the right length for one or two - or three or four - at bedtime or for sharing in the classroom, or for reading alone - I am sure the audience will indeed be asking for 'Just one more'. Lively illustrations make the stories more entertaining - good fun and a little out of the ordinary.

 Goliath: Tilly's Pony Tales 13 by Pippa Funnell

This series is just guaranteed to appeal to all horse-mad youngsters. Written with insight and a huge fund of knowledge from a star of Three Day Eventing, there is a lot youngsters can learn from this series. Here, Tilly is going her Work Experience at World Horse Welfare - what a fantastic opportunity and one girls many will envy! Tilly can't understand how anyone can ill-treat horses and the reader is drawn into her emotions. Tilly has a special gift as a Horse Whisperer and she determines to use this talent to find a new home for scared Shire horse Goliath. Fun to read, full of information and illustrated with drawings throughout, this is a great addition to the series.

SpongeBob: Legends of Bikini Bottom/Surf's Up SpongeBob! 

SpongeBob has a huge TV audience (over 13.4 million viewers by May 2011), so his fans will be pleased to see another colourful book to enjoy. If children are not too keen on reading, then books with their favourite TV characters are always a good way to develop enthusiasm.  This story follows SpongeBob as he bravely tries to unravel some of the mysteries of the deep. Six legends are unravelled in this colourfully presented book, which is generously illustrated to capture the attention and extend the enjoyment of young readers - designed for 5+.

How to Get What You Want by Peony Pinker by Jenny Alexander

We all want lots of things and Peony Pinker and her family are no exception! Peony's greatest wish is to get rid of her big sister Primrose's horrible new best friend - but how is she going to manage that? As I started the book, I was immediately drawn to Peony's character and felt for her as her sister and her sister's friendf are so nasty to her - the reader immediately sympathises. She finds support from Mr Kaminski next door, who tells her how to get what you want. .. but you must know exactly what it is you want. An engaging heroine, well rounded characters and a lively story make this a good read.

 Gruff's Guide to Fairy Tale Land by Amy Sparkes

If you are going to Fairy Tale Land for your next holiday, then don't forget to take this essential guide. From where to stay (and where not to stay - be careful what you say about the porridge at the Three Bears B and B!) to how to travel (and how not to get around - that pumpkin coach may be just a vegetable!). The guide on what not to eat is particularly important - it's best to avoid the gingerbread men and apples are always risky. Where to shop, who to meet and what to do - it's all here in this most unusual guidebook. This book is hilarious - every page will have you chuckling out loud and children will adore it. Benji Davies' illustrations reflect the feel of the book wonderfully and add to it enormously.

How the Whale Became by Ted Hughes

'Long ago when the world was new, all the creatures were pretty much alike.' This classic collection of stories is inevitably compared with Kipling's Just So Stories, but this is totally different and a wonderful collection in its own right. 11 stories including the title one, which tells us how the whale got to be so huge. Read about the Owl who deceives the other animals; the sly Fox who develops a taste for chickens; the  vain Polar Bear; why the Hyena laughs; how the Tortoise got a shell instead; and then there's the Bee, the Cat; the Donkey; the Hare and the Elephant.  All children should be introduced to these humorous and thought-provoking tales (ideal for reading aloud) and they deserve to be even more widely read, so it's great to see a new edition.

Space School: Bug Wars by Tom and Tony Bradman 

Fans of the first two books in this mini-series will be pleased to see this, the third book. I like the idea of mini-series for early readers - they give them something to look forward to and hold their attention for just long enough for them before they move on to more challenging reads. In this story, the Buzz Aldrin is captured and the captors think Luke is an expert combat pilot - but really, he is just a computer gaming whizz! Can the friends save themselves and prevent war? Clear to read text, pacy narrative, plenty of speech and illustrations make this an accessible and fun book for young newly independent readers.

Grubtown Tales: When Bunnies Turn Bad by Philip Ardagh

These books are so silly that they are bound to be a hit with young children - and the adults who share them with children. What a great excuse to read aloud a book that adults will also laugh along with. Some very strange things happen in Grubtown - a chimp escapes from the Old People's Home for starters. Another hilarious story, with suitably entertaining illustrations, for readers of 7+. Find out more about this weird and wacky world at

 School According to Humphrey by Betty G Birney

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Humphrey in his book for younger readers 'My Pet Show Panic. This story is for older readers and I love the concept of a character whose stories appeal to different age groups - a great concept to keep interest going. i thought too, that it would be lovely if siblings can both be reading about the same character. Humphrey the hamster is back at school and looking forward to meeting all his old friends in Room 26 - but wait a minute, these are all strangers! What's happened? Well, of course, children will know what happens at the start of a school year... Another hilarious adventure, and we find out that nobody can have too many friends. Don't forget the website at

The Day of the Flying Thumbs by Steve Cole 

Sara and Sam meet up as the new girl and boy at school and they just want to keep their heads down and settle in quietly - how hard can that be? But Freekham High School turns out to be a rather strange place, with fingers and thumbs cropping up all over the place. Plenty of humour and word play, all set in the background of a school, which will appeal to children, as they think 'that's just like my school' or 'I'm glad my school isn't like that'. Ideal for readers of 9+, who will love the quirky humour and easy read of this fun series.

 S.W.I.T.C.H. :Beetle Blast by Ali Sparkes

S.W.I.T.C.H. is an exciting series by Ali Sparkes. 'Two boys, one serum, and a whole world of trouble' sums up the series. Josh and Danny eat a chocolate muffin laced with the secret formula and this time they find themselves swimming around in a pond and fighting off predators. The book is great fun and involves the reader, who really feels as though they are part of the story. Along the way the reader learns a surprising amount about pond life. What really makes the book stand out is the section of fun and games at the end. Find out more on the website at

Run Rabbit Run by Barbara Mitchelhill

Run Rabbit Run is a well-written, sympathetic emotional story  about an emotive subject. 'Conchies', as conscientious objectors were known, were misunderstood and ill-treated and this book gives a real insight into the effect this had on the CO's families. Lizzie and Freddie go on the run with their father, who has refused to fight. They find temporary safety in Whiteaway, but safety is short-lived and they are forced to run. Eventually, their father has to give himself up. The family unit is strong and excellently portrayed and the book really makes the reader think about bravery and courage and how these qualities are perceived. A thought-provoking read which would be excellent background reading for pupils studying World War Two.

 The Rabbit Girl by Mary Arrigan

The story starts in 1934; moves to the present day and back to the time of the Second World War as Alice and Tony are evacuated to the Lake District to escape the horrors of The Blitz. The discovery of a picture in a modern day junk shop weaves the two periods together. The stories of Mallie and Tony are intriguingly interwoven. The story is well-written; the characters are believable and I found I wanted to read on and find out what happened; the twist at the end was a surprise. Comparisons with Goodnight Mr Tom and Carrie's War are inevitable - I will leave you to decide how you think this story measures up.


Small Change for Stuart by Lissa Evans 

A pacy novel which combines mystery, humour and magic. Little Stuart Horten leaves all his friends and moves to the dull town of Beeton. When he gets to know his new next-door neighbours, things get even worse. He is swept up in quest to find his great-uncle’s lost workshop – a workshop stuffed with trickery and magic. There are clues to follow and puzzles to solve, but what starts as fun ends up as danger, and Stuart begins to realise that he can’t complete the task alone... who can help? A fun read and a little out of the ordinary. The use of language is excellent although it may prove a little challenging in places - no bad thing.

 Huey's Story by Jane Clarke

Who will be able to resist the adorable puppy on the cover of this book? Hannah is finding it hard to settle at her new school - everyone already has friends and she feels left out. Her parents decide a puppy wiould be the answer so off they all go to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, where they fall in love with Huey the Husky. Can Huey help Hannah make friends with her classmates? Lots of pictures, simple text and short chapters make this a good early independent read. I like the added dimension added by the selection of facts and activities at the end. And buying the books in this series helps dogs and cats find new homes.

The Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum

The story, of course, needs no introduction. Everyone knows the wonderful story of Dorothy, her friends and their journey through the Land of Oz, and it is perennially popular. This is a sumptuous new edition from Templar Books and it would make a wonderful gift as it is an edition to treasure. A beautifully produced large format hardback, with thick creamy paper, it is a real pleasure to read. The watercolour illustrations by Robert Ingpen are delicate and full of detail. The way they are integrated through the text(including sone stunning double-page spreads) really makes them a part of the book and they complement the story wonderfully. A beautiful edition to be cherished.

 Clone Chaos by Simon Bartram

This is the fourth in the series Bob and Barry's Lunar Adventures. The combination of pacy descriptive text and plenty of absorbing and detailed illustrations with short chapters make this series ideal for readers of 6 to 8, starting out on reading for themselves. In this adventure, Bob is outraged to find someone has got into his house and helped himself to Bob's food - but wait a minute, Bob is face to face with...Bob.  Bob has been cloned - but just who is the real Bob? This is a great story, easy to read and very entertaining.

Shadow  Guy and Gamma Girl Heroes Unite by Arie Kaplan

Find out how Shadow Guy and Gamma Girl joined forces in this comic storybook. It all started on the incredible island called 'Club Penguin'. Finding a meteor is the start of an incredible adventure for Amy. Young readers will appreciate the comic strip format, bright cartoon illustrations and the clear text. This is easy reading and a fun story with lots of friendly characters. Enthusiasts of Club Penguin will thoroughly enjoy this story and the chance to get to know some of the characters.

 Claude in the City by Alex T Smith

This book looks a little out of the ordinary, so that attracted me to it from the start. A cross between a chapter book and a picture book, this tells the story of Claude - no ordinary dog. When Mr and Mrs Shinyshoes set off for work every day, Claude sets off for a new adventure, together with his friend Sir Bobblysock. This time, they go off to the city where they visit a museum, prevent a robbery and carry out a miraculous cure. Simply written and very accessible and full of humour, in text and illustrations. I hope there will be more of Claude's adventures!

Tilly's Pony Tales: Autumn Glory the New Horse by Pippa Funnell 

The appeal of horse and pony stories for girls has never waned and Pippa Funnell's books are a great addition to the genre. She writes with an inside knowledge and love born from her riding career. Young riders will love the practical tips included in these books; those who don't ride will love the peek behind the scenes. Mia is looking for a new horse, and with Tilly and Angela's help she should succeed... but will she? Delightful illustrations bring the story to life, and if you want to get more involved, look at the super website and join the club at

 Madeline the Mermaid by Anna Fienberg

Young girls will be immediately attracted to the pretty glittery cover of this story. People have always been fascinated by the idea of mermaids, so the story of Madeline will be very popular - not to mention her merdog, Bryan and her mercat Bella. The book includes four magical stories about sea creatures - these are charming fantasies, beautifully complemented by the colour illustrations by Ann James. Vividly descriptive, these make wonderful use of language and will imcrease children's descriptive skills and foster the imagination. I can see some lovely pictures being drawn based on the stories too - encourage your child to do this.

 Labradoodle on the Loose by T M Alexander

Three stories in one book make this an appealing volume to encourage the less-keen reader, although keen readers will also relish the adventures of the five friends who make up Tribe. These characters are very credible and children will readily identify with them - right from the opening page, where it is surprising that Fifty is up as early as 8.30 when it is half term! Well-written, with plenty of action and humour, this series about ordinary children who have extra-ordinary adventures is most enjoyable. I find it a real plus that these are children all children can relate to. Join in the fun at

 Zilombo by Susan Gates

'Something strange is going on by the River Oozeburn.' Madalitso knows there is terrible danger and Zilombo will escape - but nobody believes or understands her. This is the dramatic beginning to this gripping story. Zilombo snatches Jin's baby brother and there is a race to save him. The characters are well-rounded and appeal to the reader. Susan Gates' knowledge of and love for Africa shines through this book. A good read fpr 9+ readers.

 Welcome to Silver Street Farm by Nicola Davies

This is one in a series of entertaining stories set in a city farm. Did it start with jellybabies? Did it start with poodles? Or did it start with three friends who were the only ones not crying at the start of infant school? They have great plans for a derelict railway station and some assorted animals ready to make their home there. But can the council close it down? A charming story about what a little determination and plenty of imagination can achieve. Fun for young readers, who gain real satisfaction from reading their first chapter books, with plenty of entertaining illustrations to break up the text. A topical subject too, as children are being encouraged to learn about nature and where our food comes from.

 The Krow Twins in the Da Finchi Code by J D Smith

J D Smith is a new author and this book is the first in the series about The Krow Twins. The title gives the reader a clue asa to the nature of the book! Lots of word play and plenty of chuckles in this entertaining story, just right for five year olds upwards. The Bird Police are after the Krow Twins, who they blame for most of the crime in high crime area East Wood. Is Mother Know's lovely painting genuine or is it a trap? Meet the bird characters and find out the geography of the area before you start reading - and let the fun begin! Can you solve the mystery? A fun read.

 Roodica the Rude and the Famous Flea Trick by Margaret Ryan

In a time long ago, the Romans invaded Britain....and their plans are foiled by Queen Goodica's youngest daughter, Roodica the Rude. This book had me chuckling right from the first pages - they taught washing 'Don't forget to wash behind your ears, o stinkius peasant!' We are introduced to a comical cast of characters and then the fun really begins. A brilliant portrayal of family life, with two perfect daughters - and then there's Roodica... Queen Goodica thinks the family should do everything the Romans ask, but Roodica doesn't agree. A lovely feisty character, children will love this story, with its amusing illustrations and hilarious text. Great fun.

 Jake the Good Bad Dog by Annette and Nick Butterworth

Jake is a really popular character so I was pleased to see this book about the lovable dog. He is a dog who loves life and heartily embraces any adventure. Jake knows he is often a bad dog, but he wants to be a good dog and go to Crufts, just like Holly next door. This is a charming story about acceptance and friendship, shown through the relationship between Jake and lonely Sam. Jake protects Sam and becomes a hero and achieves his ambition - but then lets himself down in a lovely piece of humour at the end. A delightful story for young readers just starting to read for themselves (but great to read together too) and a very endearing, well-drawn character - and super to see Jake illustrated in colour.

 The Squirrel's Birthday and Other Parties by Toon Tellegan

I loved the unusual approach of 'Letters to Anyone and Everyone' so I was pleased to see another book by the same author and illustrator. The world depicted in this charming collection of nine stories about animals is worlds away from some of the grittier books being produced for children today. Gentle stories about parties, friendship, food and more, all illustrated in wonderful detail by Jessica Ahlberg. Her pictures seem to become an integral part of the text and complement the stories wonderfully. A lovely keepsake gift book, this is beautifully produced and a wonderful way to stimulate children's imaginations. A refreshing change.

 Vampire School Stage Fright by Peter Bently

 Lee goes to school every day - or rather, every night. For Lee is no ordinary boy and St Orlok's Primary is no ordinary school - it is a school for young vampires. The combination of school stories, which have always appealed to children and vampires is bound to be a hit with young readers. Just right for newly independent readers, who will love to follow the characters and get to know them through the series, the text is clearly laid out, with plenty of white space and entertaining illustrations to keep the attention. The chapters are just the right length to give a real sense of achievement.
In Stage Fright, disaster strikes when Bella, who has the lead role of Snow Fright in the school pantomime, is taken ill. Can Lee and his friends save the day?
A class trip to the funfair (and wouldn't children love a school that takes them to the funfair?) sees Lee and friends finding some strange characters hanging around, and they decide they must get to the bottom of the mystery in Ghoul Trip. Another fun read.
Casketball Capers finds Lee, Billy and Bella part of the team about to take on the Chaney School werewolves. Before that, Lee has great fun pretending to be a bat and learning from a real bat. But how will the game go... and will they find the cheats?
What is in the box delivered to school? And why is Mr E Gore waiting for an electrical storm? Supply teachers are always an unknown quality, and Miss Fitt is no exception. She is a monster - literally! More fun for both girls and boys in Teacher Screecher


Magical Mail by Claire Barker 

Faith is an ordinary member of an extraordinary family, but as the book progresses she discovers an inner strength and finds out she is not so ordinary after all. Faith is the one chosen to save the magical world from doom and she undertakes a fascinating journey into a world of magic, along with Bus Bear who was with her 'for extraordinary courage' . A mystery informer is intent on uncovering characters from folklore as frauds who live very ordinary lives. She meets some wonderful characters during her journey and her interaction with them is well written and engrossing. An original story with plenty of touches of humour and entertaining characters.

 The Grunt and the Grouch: Freaky Funfair by Tracey Corderoy

More fun with this disgusting duo of trolls - this time join the pair at the fair; find out what happens when they want to take a dinosaur bone home for Grotbag; and fall out over sharing. The Grunt and the Grouch really are quite revolting - but Tracey Corderoy knows her readers and they will love this fourth set of adventures about the trolls who think bogeys and pond water are treats. It is perfect for those just starting to read chapter books, with plenty of illustrations giving clues to the text, as well as providing an additional humorous element. Girls and boys alike will love this troublesome pair and their hilarious antics.

Star Makers Club: Sam in the Spotlight by Anne-Marie Conway

 The Star Makers Club is a relatively new series and the first book, Phoebe Finds her Voice, was a big success. Sam has always been a show-off but this hides her insecurities and when she turns down the lead in The Phantom Face, everyone knows there must be something wrong. There are great upheavals in Sam's family and she must sort these out. This story is a readable combination of drama, mystery and a family story, with humout added to lighten the tone. Serious issues are sensitively handled and the characters are well drawn. This story will be a big hit with girls.

 Barney the Boat Dog: Runaway Horse by Linda Newbery

This is a lovely series for newly confident readers who will enjoy the adventures of Barney as they start to explore books for themselves. The familiarity of a series is reasuring and a good start to the great adventure of reading. Barney and his owner Jim live on a narrowboat and have lots of adventures as they travel along the canals. This time, their boat breaks down in the middle of a journey - will they deliver the present in time for Jim's grandson's birthday? Old technology steps in to help! A lively read with plenty of ilustrations to capture interest and explain the story.

 Super Soccer Boy and the Alien Invasion by Judy Brown

This is one on a fun series about Super Soccer Boy. Packed with pictures, they are just the thing to get boys interested in reading - not that girls won't enjoy them too! What seems an ordinary football game turns into an alien invasion. Can Harry's soccer skills save the world? Full of humour, combining football and superheroes this is perfect for its target market. Plenty of action and fun-packed drawings will engage the reader. Look out for the others in the series and find out more at

 The Secret Kingdom by Jenny Nimmo

This new story by an exceptional storyteller will have instant appeal to all fans of fantasy. Tomoken and his sister Zobayda (and a talking camel!) have to set off to find safety in a new kingdom. The Viridees are determined to get the moon spider's web which protects Timoken and will do anything to get it. Timoken is powerfully portrayed and the danger which surrounds him grips the reader right from the start of the book. This is the first book in the Chronicles of the Red King series - I look forward to seeing the characters develop and the adventures continue. It is ideal for readers of 9+.

Doctor Proctor's Fart Powder: Time Travel Bath Bomb by Jo Nesbo

This is the sequel to the highly successful The Fart Powder. How about a Time-travel Bath Bomb. Throw the Bath Bomb in the bath and decide where you would like to go in time. But Doctor Proctor has plans for this new invention - he wants to go back to the past and win back his lost love. All does not go according to plan and it's up to old friends to Nilly and LIsa to travel in time and save the day. This is a real fun, laugh aloud story - the title alone guarantees it instant appeal to its target audience. And a bit of history thrown in on the side for added value! Great fun for seven year olds and above.

Will Solvit and the Knights of Revenge by Zed Storm

This is an excellent series of books for getting boys interested in reading so it's great to see some new titles. I gave a previous title to a 9 year old to read and he really enjoyed it. In this story, Will finds himself in a spooky adventure in an old castle and the Time Travelling Adventurer goes back to the time of the knights. Can he prove himself and guard his amulet? Line drawings throughout break up the text, making it accessible to the most reluctant reader. Add to that the fun of decoding the pictures with the decoder included, and this series grabs the attention. Pick up interesting historical facts too, with Will's 101 colourful Facts and Stats Guide. There is a Schools' Pack with lots of activities to support these books.


 Will Solvit and the Battle of the Ninjas by Zed Storm

In this exciting adventure, Will travels back in time to Japan in the time of the Samurai warriors - another topic guaranteed to appeal to boys. Can Will and Zoe help the Samurai preserve the secret of the sacred spring and fight off the Ninjas. Pacy writing and lots of adventure in this fast-moving story. And the opportunity to learn about the Ninjas and Samurai in the fact-file. Look out for more in the series: Will Solvit: The Pirate Puzzle (Will Solvit Novels); Will Solvit: The End of the World (Will Solvit Novels) and The Aztec Empire of Doom (Will Solvit Novels) - all with the same mix of adventure, facts and codes to crack.

Milo and the Restart Button by Alan Silberberg

This book tackles the difficult issue of bereavement in a sensitive and touching way. Milo's life has been turned upside down - he faces the death of his mother, a new house and a new school. Milo is a really determined character who just wants to get through this difficult year. He makes two good friends, who really help him to adjust and make the most of his new life. The narrative style really draws you into Milo's life and allows you to share in his emotions. This is not a depressing book because Milo is such a strong and positive, well-drawn character and you know he will succeed. The touches of humour and cartoon-style illustrations give a light touch. A thoughtful read.

 Lyra and the Adventure of the Flying Fish by Peter Emina

This is a most unusual and thoughtfully written book. It is the story of a premature baby who finds herself in the midst of an amazing nautical adventure. Lyra's rabbit is stolen away and she is determined to get him back. Floating on the sea, she tries to ignore the rock, but it turns out to be a strange being called a turtle. Follow Lyra's fantasy adventure as she finds a wondrous home inside the turtle and enlists his help to find rabbit. This story really needs careful consideration to draw out its full meaning and value but is an inspiring story if you take that time. The illustrations are fascinating in their detail. I would recommend it for 9+.

The Wombles to the Rescue by Elisabeth Beresford

Another fun set of adventures from the original recyclers brought to today's readers. The appeal of these loveable creatures, who are so wonderfully brought to life by Elisabeth Beresford, is as strong as ever and this is bound to be another hit with young readers. It is a very topical story, as The Wombles are finding that humans are being much tidier and not throwing away so much. Some ingenious ideas are needed and, as ever, they are not far away. The stories are fun to read aloud but also make perfect read-alone stories as children are drawn into the fantasy world of The Wombles. 

 Lily Alone by Jacqueline Wilson

Lily wishes she was 'home alone', but she's not. Mum has gone on holiday, leaving Lily at home with her three younger siblings. Lily is desperate to keep the family together and decides the only safe place is camping in the park. Despite her best efforts, though, LIly just can't manage to keep her family safe. Written with Jacqueline Wilson's usual empathy, this is a well-told story peopled with very believable characters.Lily's determination to do her best for her family is heart-warming and there is humour to lighten the story. Fans of Jacqueline Wilson will enjoy this story - best for 9+.

The Case of the Ruby Necklace by Alex Carter 

This is the first in a new series for 8+ readers - The Mayfair Mysteries. It introduces us to four friends, one of whom (Lauren) has the good fortune to live in a luxury London hotel, and that certainly has some benefits, which she is happy to share with her friends! Among the famous people staying at the hotel is actress Isabella Duval - can the girls get to meet her? But there is a mystery and the girks get drawn onto trying to solve it. Some mysteries can be hard to follow but children will follow the plot easily. It is good to see the start of a series with an unusual setting and I look forward to seeing the girls' characters develop through the series. A promising start!

Muncle Trogg by Janet Foxley

Not all giants are big. Muncle Trogg lives wit the other giants on Mount Grumble but they laugh at him because he is human-sized. At least he is quite good looking by giant standards, with his bushy eyebrows, warty skin and yellow teeth among other attractive attributes. As the book opens, with Muncle being swung upside down by his younger (but MUCH bigger) brother, the reader's sympathies are immediately drawn to Muncle and you just hope he comes out on top. But despite being small, in true classic tradition, Muncle Trogg is able to save the community and his family. A well-written and very descriptive tale, which involves the reader right from the start. A lesson to be learnt too, that it is what is indide the person that counts, not size. Sensitively and believably written, this book is an excellent read.

 Dirty Bertie: Kiss! by Alan MacDonald

Dirty Bertie has some rather disgusting habits so his antics will strike a chord with many children. A really funny series about a boy who just can't seem to stay out of trouble. This collection of three short stories (Kiss!, Hamster! and Boast!) is ideal for youngsters venturing into the exciting world of chapter books and also good to share as bedtime stories - sharing a story at bedtime is a routine that should be carried on for as long as possible. Will Angela get to kiss Bertie? Will Snuffles the hamster survive half term week with Bertie? Can Bertie learn to play a musical instrument? Real-life characters in real-life situations make this series great fun.

My Naughty Little Puppy: Rascal's Sleepover Fun by Holly Webb

When the family got their puppy, Ellie called him 'Rascal' - and waht an appropriate choice that was! This endearing puppy is never far from trouble. In this story, Ellie wants a sleepover party but Mum isn't too keen and insists that Ellie and Rascal must stay out of trouble if she is to agree. Can they manage that? Like the other fiction series from Stripes Publishing, this book is full of lively b&w illustrations which help understanding of the story and add to the fun. 

Wild Rescue: Desert Danger by J Burchett and S Volger

As well as being an exciting adventure story, this book (and the rest of the series) raises awareness of crucial issues - the danger which faces so many of our rare and beautiful creatures. Twins Zoe and Ben work for the top secret organisation Wild. Their mission is to travel the world saving rare animals. In this story, can the twins rescue a lion cub  trapped in a well - and keep themselves safe from its protective mother? Vivid language, rich in adjectives, and a pacy adventure will keep the reader's attention throughout. Useful facts and web links extend children's interest.

Space School - Crash Course by Tom and Tony Bradman

This title, and Blast Off! are the first two books in a mini-series of four books, aimed at readers 7 to 9 years old. Any book by Tony Bradman guarantees a good read and it is good to see him teaming up with his son.  Luke and his friends are stuck on the Buzz Aldrin spaceship becaudse pollution has destroyed the earth. In the first story, Luke manages to give the spaceship's mainframe a virus and they are racing towards a radioactive moon - can Luke and his friends stop it in time? I enjoyed the way the story draws the reader in to a world that seems just like any boy coming home from school - but Luke's world is very different.

Space School - Blast Off! by Tom and Tony Bradman

In the second story in the series,  Luke and his friends are off on a school trip - but this is not just any school trip! Even so, they think it is boring  and go off exploring. They make a big mistake when they come across Planetary Defence Unit Alpha. Will they, and the rest of the group, manage to escape from the planet? These books are ideal for young readers to tackle on their own - pacy stories, believable characters and plenty of adventure. The life children know today - school grades, school trips, computer games  -are cleverly mingled with the excitement of life in space. Readers will be keen to see the next two in the series.

 Gorillas and Robots in the Desert  by Nikalas Catlow and Tim Wesson

I really didn't know where to put this exciting new book, so I was delighted to have two titles to review - I have put Romans and Dinosaurs on Mars on the Activity Books page. This new series (called Mega Mash Up) from Nosy Crow is an innovative and clever combination of novel and doodle book and I think is an absolutely brilliant idea for reluctant or struggling readers, especially that notoriously hard market - boys. Gorillas and robots are two topics that will appeal to boys and the juxtaposition is clever. Enjoy the story as the robots and gorillas race in the desert and finish the illustrations in this novel doodling book. Zany stories and quirky illustrations make these books great fun. Have a look at the website too -

 My Pet Show Panic by Betty G Birney

Make friends with Humphrey, Humphrey is the classroom hamster in Room 26 and each weekend he is taken home by a different member of the class. Already a star of 'According to Humphrey', these shorter stories are perfect for beginning readers and a great way into reading the longer stories - because once children's appetites are whetted for this adorable character, they are sure to want to read more. In this story, all the children hope that Humphrey will win a prize at the pet show, but competition is stiff and Humphrey gets VERY worried. Lots of pictures make this an easy and fun book for children to enjoy. Lots more fun at

 Letters to Anyone and Everyone by Toon Tellegen

This book is really out of the ordinary. A fascinating collection of letters from one animal to another - or even, in the case of mole, a letter to himself. They are illustrated with Jessica Ahlberg’s delicate pictures which perfectly complement the gentle theme of the book.  These gentle stories really made me stop and think, and go back and reread to see what I had missed first time. I love the story about Squirrel wondering if you can write a letter to a letter - we have all been there, wondering just what to write. The animals are well-portrayed and quite charming. A beautifully produced book to keep going back to, to enjoy and treasure.

 Alien Alby by Kaye Umansky

Alby and his family live on an alien planet. Alby, who is a very untidy little person, can play in his garden but must not go in the swamp - but he does. A likeable character, with whom children will readily identify, this is an ideal beginner book.
Get your child hooked on reading with this excellent series 'I Am Readiing' from Macmillan. Short chapters, simple sentences and fun stories by top authors make this an excellent introduction to chapter books. The helpful tips for beginner readers will be useful to parents, and I like the integral bookmark so the book is ready for next time.

 Lulu and the Brontosaurus by Judith Viorst

Lulu is an extremely determined little character who always gets what she wants, but when it comes to wanting a brontosaurus for her birthday, things have to change. When she was told that she couldn't have one, Lulu screamed and screamed until all the lightbulbs burst! Follow Lulu as she stomps off into the forest to find her own pet. But is it the brontosaurus or her who would make the perfect pet? This is a very funny story with a cheeky heroine, who will appeal to both girls and boys.I like the unusual shape of this book - the height is just perfect for the humorous illustrations. A refreshing change.

Alfie Takes Action by Karen Wallace

Alfie is a meerkat - meerkats are really popular, lovable creatures, so this is a great start to the story.
The meerkat family all have their own jobs to do - but Alfie is a daydreamer and one day all the little meerkats run away when he is supposed to be looking after them; the roof falls in  when he is digging and he faiuls to keep the predators away. Oh dear - what will happen? A lovely story and a great early reader.
This book is one in the Chameleon series of early readers by A&C Black. With full colour illustrations throughout, clear font and short chapters, these are the perfect books for 5 to 7 years olds just starting on the adventure of reading proper story books.


Little Wolf by A H Benjamin

Little Wolf is determined to be good and help people, but everything he tries goes wrong. Poor Little Wolf - he is even misunderstood when he tries to rescue the woodcutter. Everyone chases him - but that turns out to be a good thing... A charming story about beoing helpful, perfectly pitched at the target audience who will enjoy the story and learn that reading is fun. Plenty of lovely bright illustrations capture the interset and provide clues to the words in the story.
The publisher (A&C Black) says Chameleons are 'Full-colour chapter books for children who are learning to read by themselves, Chameleons provide an ideal bridge between picture books and early readers.'

 Stop Thief! by Meg Harper

Poor Jed! How embarrassing - his father is a tap-dancing policeman. But never mind - nobody knows  -at least they don't, until he appears in the local paper, tp dancing in his uniform. Then the bullies start teasing him and Jed doesn't know what to do. Until the day of the burglary, and an exciting chase through the park, in which everyone joins....
Stop Thief and Don't Forget Lara are titles in the White Wolves Familiar Settings series. The publisher, A&C Black, says: 'White Wolves are brilliant stories that have been selected to mtch developing reading skills. Aimed at 5-7 year olds, these books have full colour illustrations throughout and short chapters ease the transition from picture books to young fiction' and that sums up this series perfectly.

 Don't forget Lara! by Juli Green

Another richly illustrated book for developing readers, with short chapters ideal to develop confidence and fluency. The story starts off with Lara's days at school and I like the way it is a reassuring story about school. Lara learns how to help herself remember everything, but on Friday she can't take her painting apron - but you have to read this comforting story to find out why! Perfectly written to both help reassure and as an erly reader.
This is a really attractive series of books and the stories are all great fun to read. More about the White Wolves series here.

 Jack and the Jungle by Malachy Doyle

Jack is bored but then he meets Abbie, a little girl with a VERY vivid imagination. Wolves, snakes, a giant - all in the garden? I wonder....Another excellent early reader from the White Wolves series, designed for readers in Year 2. These are a far cry from the old-fashioned reading books - they are super stories in their own right and a real pleasure to share with children. The stories flow beautifully and there is always a hint of suspense to grab the reader's attention.

 Sundered Lands: Trundle's Quest by Allan Frewin Jones & Gary Chalk

The Sundered Lands are a collection of islands in the sky. There are six lost crowns scattered through these islands. Trundle the Hedgehog has been living peacefully on one of them until Esmerelda Lightfoot persuades him to set off with her to find them. This fantasy story is fast-paced and will have the reader glued to the story right to the end. Good for reading aloud too and the illustrations help understanding and to break up the story to encourage reading. This is the first in a new series - look out for the sequels! And find out more here

The Magical Detectives by Brian Keaney

When Otto gets home from school and finds his mother missing, he turns to the Magical Detective Agency - and thus a new series of books for children is born. Otto looks like a normal boy, but he doesn't feel different from other boys and girls.Join Otto, his friend Juliet and her cat on a strange and mysterious quest to find Otto's mum. This is a compulsive story which has you intrigued as to what strangeness will happen next. If I say that this series is being billed as perfect for lovers of Lemony Snicket, you will know its appeal. I like the idea of a series of books, as they can really get the reader, even the most reluctant one, 'hooked' and eagerly looking out for the next in the series - and that's the perfect time to introduce other stories too.

 Rose by Holly Webb

This is the first in a charming new series of books by Holly Webb. Rose leaves the orphanage which is the only home she has known, and lives in the grand house of Mr Fountain (a famous alchemist)  - a house she just knows is full of magic. And Rose herself knows that she too is magic - she can tell stories that transform themselves into reality. She is going to need her magical powers because all over town orphans are mysteriously disappearing. Can she help them? This is an entrancing story which draws the reader in right from the start. Just how do Rose's stories come to life? An ideal blend of history, magic and fantasy which will appeal to lovers of each genre.


Rose and the Lost Princess by Holly Webb

In this book, Rose has become apprentice to the king's Chief Magician - and she can't quite believe it! It seems that only Rose can help find the king's missing daughter  -but can she find her before it is too late? Each book in the series does stand alone, as previous developments are described. However, like any series, the reader gains more involvement by starting at the beginning and really getting involved with the characters, who develop and deepen as the series goes on. The eye-catching covers mean girls will want to add every volume to their set.

Read the next two in the series: Rose and the Magician's Mask Rose and the Silver Ghost


Ravira, Ruler of the Underworld by Adam Blade

This is the seventh book in this hugely popular series, which also includes a handbook and an annual. A new beast has arisen from the underworld - can Tom defeat him and his pack of terrifying hounds? Recommended for readers of seven and over, these are not books for the faint-hearted! The cover draws the reader in by asking 'Can YOU survive the Beast Quest?' This series is perfectly designed for its target audience - boys will avidly collect the cards and will love the website - both excellent tactics to get boys hooked on the series and therefore encourage reading.

 This pack, as shown alongside, also contains Ferno the Fire Dragon (can Tom free the magical beasts?) and a fantastic poster.

Rudie Dudie by Michael Lawrence

This book has plenty of slapstick humour and will especially appeal to boys - they will love the image that appears when the pages are flicked! Jiggy McCue is the hero of a series of hilarious books, which are very popular. In this story, there is a new drama teacher - and guess who gets chosen to play Bottom in the play? And that's not the worst thing - he is asked to do all sorts of things which are really far, far too rude to do in public. I am sure this book will hit the spot with its target market.

 The Amazing Adventures of Curd the Lion.... by Alan Gilliland

Alan sent me some fantastic children's reviews of his book, so I couldn't wait to read it! I wasn't disappointed - this is a really striking book right from the first look. In large format, lavishly illustrated in black & white, it is hard to categorise this book, which will appeal to all ages, including adults. With undertones of Alice in Wonderland and Edward Lear, this is a really funny as well as mysterious story.The twins are blamed when the Great Raven steals their mother's brooch. If they can't find it, their party will be cancelled and their 4 animals given to the Charity Shop. Can the animals rescue the brooch? This is a really gripping, unputdownable book, with a plethora of wonderful characters. Here's just one of those reviews:Emily  aged 9, of Fareham, Hants."WOW!!! what a book. i couldn't wait to finish it! [and as i finished it in 24hrs you can see how desperate I was!!!] It had a surprise on each page. The illustrations are fab and made the characters jump out of the pages. It is the best i've ever read and i've read… the whole of Harry Potter."


 Dreamer Ballerina by Sarah Rubin

Ballet Shoes was one of my favourite books as a child, so I was excited to read a new book billed as being 'in the spirit of Ballet Shoes'. I wasn't disappointed by this well-written first novel by Sarah Rubin. Casey Quinn thought she could never be a ballerina but her passion overcomes the problems she meets. This determined, believable and well-rounded character shows us how we can achieve the seemingly impossible - in her case, to dance in New York. Dreamer Ballerina is a feel-good story showing the importance of working hard for what we want and it will be enjoyed by girls of 10 and over.

 Murder on Stage by Cora Harrison

Murder mysteries with a historical setting are becoming increasingly popular with children and 'The London Murder Mysteries' are a good example of the genre. The very first words, "Only Alfie saw the hand. He stared in horror..." grip the reader's attention - always vital with this age group. Alfie and his gang are drawn into the mystery - and Alfie has to fight for survival. This book will appeal mainly to boys, who are always drawn to stories about gangs and will readily identify with the characters. The story is fast-paced and will keep interest alive, either for group reading or independent reading. It is also excellent for KS2 studies of the Victorians, and I do recommend reading stories set in the period as a background to studies.

Spies, Dad, Big Lauren and Me by Joanna Nadin

This is a story about a family starring a boy, in contrast to many of the genre. The fact Billy hasn't seen his dad for ages doesn't stop him thinking the world of him, and he is determined to stop his mum marrying Dave. Billy's life gets increasingly complicated as he makes plans to stop the wedding. Portrayed with humour and realism, Billy is a character that both boys and girls will identify with as he faces a situation common in many families today. A well-written, pacy book, divided into very short chapters ideal to encourage young readers.

 How to Blow Up Tollins by Conn Iggulden

The fact that this book is written by the creator of The Dagerous Book for Boys will guarantee instant appeal. Although they both have wings, The Tollins are a long way from being fairies - they are much bigger for a start. Their world was peaceful and secure until Chorleywood was chosen as the place for a firework factory - and someone has the bright ide of putting Tollins into the fireworks. Can Sparkler save the day? Plenty of fun and subversive humour will make this book a great hit. Divided into three books-within-a-book, these stories are the perfect length for newly independent readers, with plenty of illustrations (by Lizzy Duncan) to grab attention.

 Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

This book is deservedly an Amazon best-seller. It is hilarious and had me reading it right through in one go. Every boy will readily identify with Greg as he goes through the stages of growing up and falling out with his best friend. The presentation of this series is just wonderful, written as it is in a diary form and generously illustrated with cartoons giving us an insight into Greg's life and making him a totally believable character. This is the real strength of this series - he could be any one of us. Like all in the series, these are a really accessible read and will appeal to even the most reluctant of readers, but it also make a great read-aloud sharing book.

Sophie and the Shadow Woods: the Goblin King by Linda Chapman and Lee Weatherly

This is the first in  new series for girls of seven and up - girls who want action and adventure. Starting at the beginning of a series like this is great to get girls enthusiastic about reading and keen to get the rest of the series, which are all due in 2011. On her tenth birthday, Sophie learns she is the guardian of a magic gateway in the Shadow Woods - an intriguing start to the story. Can she protect the human world from the inhabitants of Shadow Wood? Fully illustrated to enhance understanding of the story. This, the first collaboration for two acclaimed authors, is a good read for those just starting on independent reading. Published 28/04/11.

 Casper Candlewacks in Death by Pigeon by Ivan Brett

You just know from the title that this is going to be a funny story, and you won't be disappointed. Lots of villages have a village idiot, but Casper's village (the wonderfully named Corne-on-the Kobb) is just full of them - in fact, he is the only boy in the village with any sense, so it's up to him to save the day when his father is sentenced to 'death by pigeon'. This is a very readable story which should have children laughing aloud and wanting more about this unlikely hero. Plenty of illustrations add to the humour and readability. Published 28/04/11.


 Haywired by Alex Keller

This book is described by the publisher as 'a steampunk fairytale', and I can see that it will have appeal to both children and adults. In the quiet village of Little Wainesford, Ludwig Von Guggenstein is about to have his unusual existence turned inside out. When he and his father are blamed for a fatal accident during the harvest, a monstrous family secret is revealed. Soon Ludwig will begin to uncover diabolical plans that span countries and generations while ghoulish machines hunt him down. He must fight for survival, in a world gone haywire. It is a fast-paced story that has you wanting to read just one more chapter to find out what is going to happen next.

 Justin Thyme by Panama Oxridge

This is a really unusual story, which had me in its grip from the start. A book set in the present, but not yet written - how can that be? Justin Thyme is a self-made billionaire living in a castle overlooking Loch Ness. On his 13th birthday, he receives an anonymous gift: a fabulous watch with a puzzling message hidden on it - and a mysterious stranger arrives. Is he who he claims to be?  When Justin tells his father of his plans to build a time machine, the Laird reveals fragments of past spying and warns his son of a ruthless enemy keeping him under constant surveillance. Someone in the castle may be the spy, so everyone is under suspicion. I was very pleased to see a comprehensive appendix - some of thre language had me completely bamboozled! Who knows what an ambigram is? Fans of Gilbert and Sullivan (like me) will find an added dimension of interest, too. This is a very funny, fast-moving and eventful story. A great read.

London Deep by Robin Price and Paul McGrory

This book is a real page-turner and the inclusion of comic-strip style illustrations will ensure this book is a great hit, especially with boys  and reluctant readers. It is set in the future, in an underwater world of a flooded London. Can the rival police forces (one for adults, one for children) keep the peace? Who is Father Thames? This atmospheric book deals with contemporary issues of climate change and draws you in to Jemima's world - a world where engines are illegal and air has to be bought. Look out for Father Thames - next to come in the series.

I am Spartapuss by Robin Price

This is the first book in this endearing series - but don't read it if you don't enjoy puns! If you do, it will have you laughing out loud. Spartapuss is the manager of Spatopia, Rome's finest bath and spa, but his peaceful existence is overturned when he is arrested and imprisoned by Catligula. Will he be turned into dogfood? Written in the form of a diary, the characters are beautifully portrayed and the background of Ancient Rome is really brought to life. I thoroughly recommend this as the purrfect book for all those who want an entertaining read.

Die Clawdius by Robin Price

The title alone gives you a good idea of what to expect from this story.  This is the third story in this entertaining series and is as charming as its predecessors. Clawdius, the one least likely to be Emperor, needs to show his enemies who is boss. He decides to invade Spartapuss' home - The Land of the Kittons. As battle commences, Spartapuss must take sides. Can the magic of the Mewids help him to make the right choice? It is often hard to interest boys in reading, and I think this series would be good to encourage boys. Great Roman historical background, too, to help with KS2 history. I always recommend reading some historical fiction set in the period, to bring history to life.

The Longest Whale Song by Jacqueline Wilson

A new Jacqueline Wilson book is always eagerly awaited by her multitude of fans and this story will delight them. With her normal sensitive handling of family issues, Jacqueline tells us the story of Ella, whose Mum is going to have a baby with stepfather Jack. After giving birth, Ella's Mum slips into a coma and Ella and Jack have to look after the baby. Ella learns that humpback whales sing wonderful songs and vows to sing to her mother in the hope it will bring her out of her coma. As always, the characters are beautifully portrayed and you are really drawn into their lives, especially that of Ellie as she shares her story with us. Jacqueline Wilson has done so much to encourage children's love of reading and fully deserves her place as the most borrowed author of the last decade.

 Spy Dog Secret Santa by Andrew Cope

Andrew Cope's Spy Dog series is a huge hit with children and they are great fun reads. In this story Lara and her puppies Spud and Star are on the trail of Strange Stanley, who plans to hijack Christmas. Can they stop him in time? Lara selected the Cooks as her family - but how wrong they were when they thought they were getting an ordinary pet! This is a well written and very imaginative series which children will love. They will enjoy reading it for themselves or as a bedtime story and, either way, it will extend imagination and encourage creative writing.

Cherry Crush by Cathy Cassidy

The stunning cover of this book made me want to pick it up and dive in as soon as it arrived! It is the first in a new series, The Chocolate Box Girls, by this popular writer. Until the story starts, Cherry has been brought upo  by her father but in this story, they move to to Somerset to become part of a new family. Cherry has four new sisters, whose stories are told in the series. The story is set in an idyllic country setting and sympathetically handles family issues and emphasises the importance of family. You are drawn into Cherry's life and warm to her character. I think 9 year olds Jacqueline Wilson fans will love this series.  At the end are some yummy recipes and a quiz to find out which Chocolate Box girl you are.

 Shipwrecked by Garth Edwards

This is the first in the series 'The Adventures of Titch and Mitch'. In this story - which I read from start to finish in one sitting - the two young pixies leave the safe world of the Valley and find themselves on a desert island. Here, amongst ather friends, they are befriended by a fairy who leaves them a bicycle, which, when they say the magic words "Up, up and away" flies them off on a series of adventures. Brought to life by the illustrations, this adventurous pair will make lots of new friends as readers follow them through the series.

The Magic Boots by Garth Edwards

 My dear boots", said the mayor, allow me to introduce you to two very nice pixies. Please choose either Titch or Mitch!" A lonely pair of magic boots are locked up in a tower and in need of good home. Titch & Mitch would dearly love to have them, but the boots have other ideas, and prefer Wiffen the turkey. Escaped lions, mercy missions, a turkey with special powers, Christmas chaos and some very strange cheese! These two pixies take it all in their stride. This, the fourth in the series, contains a series of adventures in chapters perfect for a bedtime story or a class story at the end of the day.

The Blue Wizard by Garth Edwards

This is the fifth collection of the adventures of Mitch and Titch and the stories are as good as ever. Who is searching for Titch and Mitch? Could it be the Black Witch, up to her tricks again? As ever in these stories, the importance of friendship is brought to the fore.
Inside Pocket is a new publisher, who publish 'traditional good reads and excting adventures for boys and girls alike'. I will certainly be looking out for more books from them as it is good to see a return to traditional values in story telling.

Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

Noel Streatfeild was my favourite author as a child and it is brilliant to see that her books are still popular with today's children. This is a lovely hardback edition from Orion Books, which would make a lovely present for any stage-struck child (or car-mad child!) - because Ballet Shoes is about more than just ballet. Gum adopts three girls, Pauline, Petrova and Posy, who are looked after by Garnie and Nana - and a houseful of assorted lodgers. The Fossils go to stage school and learn that it is hard work being on the stage but the three girls are very determined and keep to their vow that they will put their name in the history books. This is a timeless story and it does not feel dated, even though, amazingly, it was written over 80 years ago.

My Brother's Christmas bottom - Unwrapped by Jeremy Strong

 The title alone will have every child clamouring to read this story. Coupled with the name Jeremy Strong, this book is guaranteed to be a firm favourite. Dad loses his job just before Christmas and it looks as though the only presents are going to be home-made ones. Nicholas and his family come up with what seem like great ideas for making money, but somehow they all go wrong. Then the doorbell rings and there is an old friend with the answer to the problem - but what has Cheese's unwrapped bottom got to do with it? There's only one way to find out - get a copy of this hilarious book for yourself!

Cleocatra's Kushion by Robin Price

I hope you like puns, because if you do, this is just the book for you! The characters are wonderfully named - how about Eddipuss for starters? A wonderfully punny story which had me reading the book right through as soon as I received it. SOS (Son of Spartapuss) falls in love with the wondrously named Haireena. After a disastrous first date, Haireena is taken by Emperor Nero's gladiator and we follow their adventures through the Land of the Purramids as they seek treasure at the source of the River Nile. A really funny and beautifully written story, whisking you back to the days of Ancient Rome - a great way to interest children in history. This is No 5 in the Spartapuss series, and if you haven't already read the others, I urge you to do so.

The great rabbit rescue by Katie Davies

The Great Hamster Massacre was a prizewinner, so this sequel is guaranteed instant popularity. The stars of the book are again Anna and Tom, but they meet lots of new characters, meaning that this book is not just a rehash of the previous success, but is a wonderful book in its own right, combining humour with a touch of sadness.  Joe goes to live with his Dad but has to leave his pet rabbit behind. Both the rabbit and Joe become ill and Suzanne, Anna and Tom are sure they need to be reunited - but can they make this happen in time? A lovely touch of humour is added by the quirky illustrations and I love the way children can follow events on the map at the front - a great learning experience too!



Magical mischief by Anna Dale

Whatever is happening in poor Mr Hardbattle's bookshop? He can smell dung - his customers can't but they can smell hyacinths and vinegar. Whatever he does, the smell just won't go away. The book gets straight into the plot, which moves quickly presenting the reader with new situations, new people and different opinions. The plot thickens when Arthur, enters the storyand is given the task of relocating the magic but it is much harder than he anticipated to give the magic a new home. This is a really well written and characterised book which draws the reader right in from the start. In the very best sense of the word, this is a lovely old-fashioned story which I loved and will be a great read aloud classroom or bedtime book.

 The Penguins of Madagascar: Happy King Julien Day

Ladybird Books have published a super set of books to tie in with the Nickelodeon TV series (see our Activity Books page for more titles). This book contains three stories, plus pages of glossy pictures from the show. When the zoo closes for the day, the fun really begins - but the animals have to ensure they are not spotted by the humans. Generously illustrated throughout, this book will be very popular with all young fans of the show. Following up on the interest generated by TV is a great way to get children into reading.

A circus adventure by Emily Bearn

This is a super book or children starting to read on their own. Tumtum and Nutmeg are two helpful mice who have a lovely home hidden in the broom cupboard - but, shush, you mustn't tell anyone - it's a secret. The touches of humour will appeal to adults just as much as to children - the route taken by General Marchmouse in the early pages had me keen to read on. Where had the Big Top come from and what will happen when the General takes the toy bus for a ride? The characters are beautifully portrayed and this is a gentle, old-fashioned story which makes a refreshing change in today's fast-paced world.  A lovely story - get your child hooked on the series and they will have hours of enjoyment.

 Fruitloops and Dipsticks by Ulf Stark

'Am I a fruitloop?', asks Simone. When her Grandfather tells her she will probably turn into one, Simone knows her desire for a normal life is unlikely to happen. And when her new teacher mistakes her for a boy called Simon, things get worse. Simone has to move house and school because of her mother's new boyfriend, who she doesn't like, and her life becomes beset by mischievous demons determined to cause chaos in her life. This is a heartwarming story, funny and moving and full of the family relationships which are so important to all of us.


 The Montgomery Murder by Cora Harrison

This is a really atmospheric book set in the streets of Victorian London. It is an exciting (and occasionally scary) story about Alfie,a Victorian street boy and his gang who live by their wits .The police need someone who knows the streets and the people to help them - and that person is Alfie. This is the first in the action-packed series London Murder Mysteries, and it brings to live the poverty-stricken streets of London.  In KS2, children study the Victorians, and reading books set in the period is always a good way to bring history to life. The book is ideal for children of 8-12.


Tribe: Goodbye Copper Pie by T M Alexander

Having several short stories in one volume is always a good idea for younger or reluctant readers, as it puts reading into manageable chunks.  This is the second book about the five friends who make up Tribe - find out more about their challenges and the importance of friendship as you delve into their adventures. Will Copper Pie abandon The Tribers, and why do they think he will? Did Flo steal the medals - and how were they returned? In the third story, The tribers find out they can still have other friends but they will always remain The Tribers.


 Dinoburps by Ciaran Murtagh

Any book about dinosaurs is always hugely popular and what young boy (or dino-loving girl) will be able to resist a series of books with titles such as Dinoburps, Dinopoo and Dinopants? During a hot summer, caveboy Charlie Flin invents a new fizzy drink to keep the dinosaurs cool.  But it has the result of producing huge, smelly dinoburps, which never stop until the town is covered in a horrid, smelly fog. What can be done? Charlie has to make a dnagerous journey - with a girl - to find the cure. The amusing illustrations really add to the story, which is great in the way it appeals to a young sense of humour. Another good read for reluctant readers.

 Dustbin Cat by Ingrid Lee

This beautifully written story starts by telling the reader why Billy's town is overrun with stray cats. Billy finds a stray cat with her kittens, and despite the fact he knows his father would get rid of them, he is determined to care for them. The book holds a wider message than is immediately apparent  - that we must take care of all abandoned animals. The story is designed to make children think and it succeeds marvellously but don't be misled by the appealing cat on the front cover - this is a gritty book so be sure it is right for your child. An unforgettable book - one your child will remember long after reading.


 A boy called M.O.U.S.E. by Penny Dolan

As soon as I had read the first page of this story, I was drawn into the life of Mouse. Why did his nurserymaid, Hanny, think he was in danger from Uncle Scrope? Hanny takes Mouse to safety and he loves his new life but he can't escape the evil clutches of Mr Button. He is taken away to a Dickensian boarding school - but why does he find himself in the kitchen? Follow his adventures as gripping story takes you into a world of kidnapping, theatre, shipwreck and lots more adventures. The beautifully depicted characters, both the evil villains and the faithful friends, will stay in your mind long after you finish reading this wonderfully evocative story.


 Flood and Fire by Emily Diamand

Lilly has the last handheld computer in the world in her possession and a gripping train of events are set into action when it is plugged into an old mainframe computer.  This thought-provoking story is set in the year 2216 when floodwaters cover most of England and strange out-of-control robots threaten to take over control. Why are the English in danger? Can Lilly, Zeph and friends save the world? A chilling story, full of unexpected twists and turns, which makes us think about what the future can hold. What monsters are we creating?

Letters from an alien schoolboy by Ros Asquith

This is a hilarious story that will have kids laughing out loud. Analien called Flowkwee agrees to help his dad study Earthlings by disguising himself as a schoolboy and taking a trip to Earth Earthlings are such strange, ugly people! No wonder they are stupid - they only have one head! But he has no idea that he'll soon be called upon to save the human race from disaster.   Follow his adventures through his letters to his best friend, Rokbumme and revel in the fantastically funny illustrations. This book is great fun and helps us laugh at ourselves.

 The secret of the skull by Simon Cheshire

Ever fancied playing Watson to Sherlock Holmes or Lewis to Morse? Well, here is your great chance to be a detective's sidekick! Rather than those frustrating mysteries where the reader doesn't know quite enough to solve the mystery, this book gives you all the clues you need to solve the mysteries, so can you get the answer before Saxby Smart, schoolboy private detective? This book really engages the reader, and will be especially good for reluctant readers, as you just have to concentrate and be drawn in to the story. There are three stories in this collection, the eighth about this popular character. You can learn more about Saxby on his very own website.

 Super soccer boy and the snot monsters by Judy Brown

Can Professor Mucus find a cure for the colds afflicting the residenst of Middletown - or can he be trusted? Harry Gribble, the Super Soccer Boy  uses his super senses to solve a mystery.  It’s a fun, wacky story packed with lots of pictures throughout and a perfect combination of football and superheroes that will absorb even the most reluctant readers. From the title on, this book is just full of the sort of humour that appeals to boys - a cat turned into a snot statue, anyone? The witty illustrations add greatly to the enjoyment of this book. Great fun - look out for others in the series.

 The White Wand by Martin Howard

This is the second book in the series Witches at War! and will be welcomed by fans of Esmelia Smiff and her much more talented apprentice Sam. Can they stop Diabolica Nightshade and her band of witches from taking over the world? They will have to learn to work together if they are to have any chance of succeeding. The full page black and white illustrations by Colin Stimpson are a real feature of this book and make it stand out. The use of language in the story is very atmospheric - 'whispers of a chill draught that crept under doors and through cracks in the cold stone walls.' It would be a wonderful story to read aloud and a super way of encouraging children to extend their vocabulary and inprove their descriptive writing.


 The Wombles by Elisabeth Beresford

Wonderful! The Wombles are back to appeal to a whole new generation of children. Remember Madame Cholet, Orinoco, Wellington, Tomsk, Tobermory and, of course, Great Uncle Bulgaria? And what could be more appropriate in these eco-conscious days than stories about the original recyclers? Renovating your home is nothing new either, as we find out how these endearing creatures carry out their own DIY. Fun and laughter are guaranteed in these charming tales and adults will love re-reading these favourites. Look our for all six original titles to be released.

Miss Bubble's troubles by Malaika Rose Stanley

Just imagine if your teacher lost her memory! Miss Bubble is the coolest teacher at Topley Primary School. The children in Rainbow Class love her. At home she has a pet parrot, Shriek, and a cat, Milkshake. One night Miss Bubble has a bad accident. When she wakes up she has lost her memory and even the doctors don't know what to do. Rainbow Class is summoned to her bedside... The rhythm of this story will keep children captivated from beginning to end - a lovely story to read aloud.


The Hoozles by Jessie Little

This wonderful new series about magical teddies, talking toys and terrific adventure will appeal to 5-7 year olds.  Willow and Freddie's Aunt Suzy owns a toy shop, and she makes her own special Hoozle soft toys. Aunt Suzy made Toby the teddy bear for Willow and Freddie has Wobbly the Lion. In the first story, Willow has to help Freddie find his toy's magic pocket heart. Willow loves Toby very much, but it wasn't until she stayed with her aunt that she discovered that Toby can come to life and they can talk to each other! This begins a summer full of magical adventures which are told in this lovely series. Illustrated throughout, these are perfect for newly independent readers. Look out for more stories to come in the near future.

Madame Pamplemousse and the Enchanted Sweetshop by Rupert Kingfisher

This enchanting book makes a refreshing change from many of today's books, with its traditional look.....but don't be deceived! The story will draw you into Madeleine's enchanted world which she enters as a result of the sweets given her by Madame Bonbon - so who is Madame Bonbon?

Ben's birthdays by Elizabeth Hawkins

Everyone else has had more birthdays than Ben and it's not fair! But Ben is a kind boy and when he rescues a snail, he is granted a wish.......... and what did he wish for? So Ben has a birthday next day.....and the next day...and the next day. How wonderful, you think - but perhaps not! The lively illustrations really enliven the story and make this a super book for young readers. 

How Ali Ferguson saved Houdini by Elen Caldecott

This is a great mystery story which also handles family issues in a sensitive way. Ali and his mum move to Lever Tower after his parents split up, and he is really excited at the prospect of a new home. He soon makes new friends and becomes embroiled in the mystery of Miss Osborne's disappearance after her holiday. The three friends work together to solve the mystery.

 The Deathstalker by Gill Harvey

This new series 'Egyptian Chronicles' will appeals to fans of Caroline Lawrence's Roman Mysteries. It is ideal background reading for KS2 studies of the Egyptians - I find that fiction set in the period studied helps to bring history to life for children. Set in Egypt in around 1150BC, you can follow the adventures of Hopi and Isis, orphaned when their parents were killed by crocodiles. 

Beowulf retold by Jacqueline Morley

Graphic novels are a great way to introduce the great classics of literature. They draw children in and motivate them to read books which they may not otherwise attempt. This retelling of Beowulf introduces the characters and explains how the poem came to be written. The striking illustrations and speech bubbles will capture the attention. I especially like the inclusion of facts about the author, the poem and the historical setting, and the index is a useful feature. There are many more in the series, including Kidnapped and Oliver Twist. An excellent series.

 Alan and the animals by Evelyn Foster

This vibrantly illustrated book is one in the Tiddlers series, designed for children starting to read alone. The word list at the start of the book is a super idea, allowing you to foster your child's confidence by ensuring beforehand that the child knows the words. Find out at the end of the book just why Alan has so many animals! Your child will love counting the 10 animals on some of the pages and the puzzle at the end of the story encourages the child to retell the story in their own words.

Spike and Ali Enson by Malaika Rose Stanley

Bright green poos and a scaly skin? Surley there is something strange about Ali, even though everyone loves him? He's so cute even the school bullies want to babysit him. But Spike's not sure and when he finds a way to learn the truth, he begins to realise just how different his family really is... Dad does the knitting and Mum goes hang gliding and Spike looks like neither of them. You will have to read the story to find out why!

Horrid Henry rocks by Francesca Simon

A new collection of stories about everyone's favourite naughty boy is always eagerly awaited so these four new stories will be a great addition to anyone's collection. Horrid Henry's Invasion; Moody Margaret's Sleepover; Horrid Henry's Autobiography and the title story Horrid Henry Rocks are the perfect length for young readers. The illustrations by Tony Ross really bring these favourite characters to life and no fan will be disappointed by this new collection


Dead Man's Cove: a Laura Marlin mystery by Lauren St John

The title instantly brought Enid Blyton to mind. When orphaned Laura Marlin moves from a children's home to live with her uncle in Cornwall, she longs for a life of excitement just like the characters in her favourite detective novels.Laura is a feisty heroine who will appeal to boys and girls alike. Her determination to follow the example of the hero of her favourite books will strike a chord with many children. This enthralling story will appeal to those who read the Famous Five and will be a really good move forward into new books. I read it in one sitting!


Fen runners by John Gordon

I was thrilled to see a new book by John Gordon. I have loved his haunting stories since reading 'The giant under the snow' and this is another gripping page-turner.  Many years ago, Tom Townsend fell into the water and lost the blade of his skate. He returned to the surface suffering nightmares.and granddaughter Jenny has nightmares too. What horror lurks beneath the water? John Gordon really evokes a sense of place in his haunting novels and the mysterious world of the fens is brilliantly depicted in this story.

The Heartless Robots by Simon Bartram

This is one in the series 'Bob and Barry's Lunar Adventures' and will appeal to all young sci-fi enthusiasts and especially 6 to 8 year olds. What could go wrong when Bob's has invented a wonderful prize-winning robot which does everything and even has a heart which sends out waves of kindness? But Bob has no idea how angry his success has made Stan the Man, the person who was narrowly beaten for the prize. Bob’s ordered world is suddenly reduced to complete chaos by Stan in this enjoyable story. The amusing detailed illustrations give plenty of scope for discussion of the story. 

Will Solvit and the T Rex terror by Zed Storm

Travel through time and space with 10 year old Will Solvit, in this new action/adventure series for 6+ - a super way to start boys off on independent reading. Each book is packed with illustrations and cartoons, and comes with a fun decoder to use with the pictures. With the help of Morph, a brilliant invention of his father's, Will is able to travel through time to solve a series of mysteries. Boys will be able to identify readily with Will, as the books are written in the first person.The colourful Fact File included in each book is a brilliant way of learning about the background to the story and putting knowledge into context. These books are a brilliant concept and increase knowledge of history at the same time. The use of comic strips between the text will be a great hit with reluctant readers and help to make reading less daunting . Theseries keys into topics of interest to boys - Ancient Egypt, dinosaurs and the solar system for starters.

With 6 books in the series initially published and 6 more just added, there is plenty here to keep boys entertained. Highly recommended.There is a Schools' Pack with lots of activities to support these books.

Will Solvit Novels: Will Solvit and the Mission of Menace Bk. 2
Will Solvit Novels: Will Solvit and the Curse of the Mummy's Tomb Bk. 3
Will Solvit Novels: Will Solvit and the Dreaded Droids Bk. 4
Will Solvit Novels: Will Solvit and the Cannibal Cavemen Bk. 5

Find out more and enjoy the fun on Will's website.

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