Book reviews - fiction 5 to 11 (page 10)

Treasure Hunters: Peril at the Top of the World by James Patterson

The Kidds are still on their quest for stolen treasure - this time, they journey to exotic Russia and the dangerous Arctic. After their adventures in China and Germany, the Kidd family is ready for some rest and relaxation. But when you're an ace treasure hunting team, there's always another adventure waiting around the corner! This time, the Kidds head to Russia where a set of priceless paintings by Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt has gone missing. Hot on the trail of the daring thieves, the Kidds race through the sinister streets of St. Petersburg and the wild Arctic tundra to track down the stolen treasure. The action never stops with more chases, sneak attacks, spy missions, and doublecrossing than anyone can handle...except the Kidds!

The New Teacher (Mademoiselle Charlotte 1) by Dominique Demers

Meet a wonderful new character for children to enjoy. Mademoiselle Charlotte is not like other teachers: she wears a big hat an old-fashioned evening gown and big leather shoes... and she talks to a pebble. At first, the children think she's crazy, but they soon realize she makes school more fun than ever, getting them to measure the room with cooked spaghetti in maths class, telling fascinating stories about a gorilla and even taking the pupils on at football. This is the first book in Dominique Demers's popular series, already a great hit in Canada. The New Teacher, superbly illustrated by Tony Ross who shows us the characters to perfection, is an entertaining, imaginative and inspiring book that will make you wish you had a teacher just like Mademoiselle Charlotte.

Black Powder by Ally Sherrick

History is brought to life in this exciting adventure set in England, 1605 - the time of the Gunpowder Plot. 12-year-old Tom must save his father from hanging. He falls in with a mysterious stranger - the Falcon - who promises to help him in exchange for his service. But on the long journey to London, Tom discovers the Falcon's true mission - and a plot to blow up Parliament with barrels of black powder. Tom faces an agonising decision: does he put his father first or his king? The superbly descriptive language is an outstanding feature of the book, gripping the reader and really building up the drama and tension. Chicken House are spot-on with their summary - rip-roaring, historical adventure

The Secret Cooking Club by Laurel Remington

Perfectly timed to coincide with the new series of The Great British Bake Off, baking fans will thoroughly enjoy this light-hearted novel. Starring in her mum's blog makes Scarlett's life a misery; all she wants to do is keep her head down. But one evening, she finds a gorgeous kitchen in the house next door, left empty by an elderly neighbour in hospital. As Scarlett bakes, she starts to transform her life, discovering new friends and forming the Secret Cooking Club. But can she fix her family, seal her friendships and find the mysterious secret ingredient? The author gives us an excellent insight into the life and feelings of a pre-teen girl. Friendship - food - family; all perfectly combined to cook up a winner of a book.

Trouble at the Cat Café (Poppy's Place) by Katrina Charman

This is the second in a feel-good series about Poppy's Place cat cafe. Isla's great idea - a cat cafe - means that foster cats Poppy and Roo can be the family's forever cats, and there'll be lots of other cats coming and going, too. But there is so much to do that it seems the bright idea may never come to fruition. It's an easy-reading story young readers will love, with a loving, caring family and lots of cats. Attractive drawings by Lucy Truman add the perfect finishing touch.

Where Monsters Lie by Polly Ho-Yen

The monsters of the loch - just a story to keep the children of Mivtown away from the water... or is it? But bad things are happening to Effie's family; first, her rabbit vanishes from his hutch; then her mum disappears; and her home is infested by slugs. Effie and her best friend Finn seek out the answer to the mysteries of Mivtown and the legend of the loch. Could there really be something lurking beneath those dark waters? With a strong lead character with whom the reader will quickly bond, and a nicely judged element of darkness, this is a story that will be highly enjoyed. The story is well constructed and moves along at a good pace, scary and reassuring in equal measure.

Jim Reaper: Saving Granny Maggot by Rachel Delahaye

We met Jim Reaper in Son of Grim, where we learnt about about his father's 'grim' job'. Jim is getting to grips with his father's rather unusual job at the Dead End Office and is keeping the truth secret as a promise to Dad. But when Jim sees that Will's grandma is next on the list of Death Dates, he springs into action. Even though Granny Maggot is smelly, mean-spirited and really unfriendly, Jim's best friend Will adores her, so Jim has to do something. Can they keep her safe for long enough to save her life? A very funny story that will really appeal to young readers; lively and well-written, it moves at a good pace.

Voyage to Magical North (The Accidental Pirates) by Claire Fayers

Pirates and magic are an unusual combination but one which is used to great effect in this enjoyable story. Brine Seaborne was found alone in a rowing boat, holding on to a shard of the rare starshell needed for spell-casting. Now she housekeeps for an irritable magician and his hateful apprentice, Peter. But when Brine and Peter break the magician's starshell, they must flee the island. Lost at sea, they blunder into the path of the legendary pirate ship the Onion. Before you can say 'pieces of eight,' they're up to their necks in the pirates' quest to find Magical North, a place so shrouded in secrets and myth that most people don't even think it exists. If Brine is lucky, she may find out who her parents are and why they sent her out to sea. And if she's unlucky, everyone on the ship will be eaten by sea monsters. A lively humorous story.

Captain Pug (Captain Pug 1) by Laura James

"Pug is going on a seafaring adventure. He's had jam tarts for breakfast (his favourite). He's wearing a smart sailor suit." So what is he waiting for? Pug is afraid of the water! Oh dear. In this hilarious story, Pug is off on a sea-faring adventure with his owner, Lady Miranda... to the boating lake! Before they can get on board, Pug is somewhat side-tracked by a picnic hamper and has a mishap... Lots of watery adventure follow in this superb story that is perfect for young readers. The lovely comical illustrations help to tell the story, and make the book ideal for those moving on from picture books. A real winner and hopefully, the start of a long series.

I Funny TV (A Middle School story) by James Patterson

Jokes abound in this hilarious story that will have readers laughing aloud. Jamie Grimm has finally accomplished his dream of proving himself the Planet's Funniest Kid Comic, and the sky's the limit from there. Enter a couple of TV executives with a huge plan for Jamie: a new show about Jamie and his oddball friends. But will his life at Long Beach Middle School provide him with the material he needs? When Jamie struggles to learn the acting ropes, will it be an early curtain call for the biggest show of the decade? Jamie is a superb character - despite being wheelchair-bound, he is resilient and resourceful; and he has superb friends to help him through. Superbly written with a lead character you just have to love and admire. Spot on.

Marge in Charge by Isla Fisher

This is a delightful collection of three short stories that children will love. When Jemima and Jake's new babysitter turns up, things don't look too promising. She is very little and she looks as though she could be very strict... but things change as soon as the children's parents leave the house. Marge gives a mischievous wink, takes off her hat and reveals... a marvellous head of rainbow-coloured hair! Marge turns out to be an amazing babysitter - racing snails, slurping chocolate soup and mixing potions in the bath are some of the games the children enjoy. But if Jake and Jemima want her to babysit again they need to take charge of Marge, tidy up and settle her down for a little sleep. Full of hilarity, this is a great debut book.

Fizzlebert Stump and the Great Supermarket Showdown by A.F. Harrold

Sadly, this is the last book in this hilarious series - and Fizzlebert Stump is going out on a high note. When the ringmaster sells Fizz's circus to the mysterious Mr Pinkbottle, the acts who aren't fired are forced to work in his supermarket. But, talented though they are in the circus ring, the ex-performers just can't cope with serving in the supermarket... and as for the uniforms, the least said the better. Will they adapt to their new lives as shop assistants, or will Fizz find a way to save them all? As ever, the book is full of laughs and packed with wonderfully bizarre characters.

Strawberry Sisters: Especially Amelia by Candy Harper

The Strawberry Sisters is a series about four sisters who are quite different but who have a strong family bond which overcomes their differences. Little Lucy has a scheme help her become popular; Chloe’s facing the fight of her life; Ella would just like peace so she can do her homework; and big sister Amelia has decided it's time to make big changes in her personality. Although all the sisters have a part to play, this is Amelia's story. She really wants to make changes but it's hard when her best friend is keeping secrets, her mum won’t let her babysit and she's terrified about doing a solo in the school concert. These heartwarming stories about family life are thoroughly enjoyable and leave you with a warm and satisfied feeling.

The Magic Necklace - Bumper Special Book!: Book 1 (Secret Princesses) by Rosie Banks

This is a great new series for young girls, who will lap up the combination of friendship and magic. Best friends Charlotte and Mia are distraught when Charlotte's family moves far away. But when they're given magic necklaces, they begin an amazing adventure together - and they can see each other whenever they like. When their magic necklaces whisk them to Wishing Star Palace, the friends meet the Secret Princesses who make wishes come true for girls just like them. When Charlotte and Mia find out that they can become Secret Princesses, they are over the moon. But life isn't perfect, even for magical princesses - Princess Poison is determined to stop the wish from coming true. Can Charlotte and Mia grant Olivia's wish and save Wishing Star Palace? A lovely story that young girls will thoroughly enjoy - it's bound to appeal, and there are plenty of attractive line drawings to make the book even more enjoyable.

Legends' Lair by Joe O'Brien

Football fans will thoroughly enjoy this inspiring story which tells of Charlie Stubbs, a passionate football player. Moving from Dublin to Manchester was hard, but it had the benefit of bringing him close to his favourite team, Manchester United. He's hopeful that he will catch the eye of a scout from Man U but tragedy strikes and the family must return to Dublin. When Charlie discovers that his grandfather was a great soccer player and hears about The Legends' Lair he plans to organise one more tournament on the legendary football ground. But his dream throws up unexpected tensions and rivalries - will his dream come true? Charlie is an excellent character and boys will readily identify with him through his hopes and frustrations. A good way to encourage sports-mad children to enjoy reading.

The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay

This hilarious book guarantees plenty of laughs as readers enjoy the story of the Magic Pudding - which is really a pie - which never runs out. It can be whatever you want it to be - from steak to apple - and, however much you cut, it never runs out. But that's not all - the Magic Pudding is actually alive and has a personality all of its own - a nasty, mean personality. And that's what Bunyip Bluegum (the koala bear) discovers out when he joins Barnacle Bill (the sailor) and Sam Sawnoff (the penguin bold) as members of the Noble Society of Pudding Owners, whose "members are required to wander along the roads, indulging' in conversation, song and story, and eatin' at regular intervals from the Pudding." It's weird and wacky; an extraordinary tale which appeals to children's sense of humour; the superb illustrations are an essential part of the humour.

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Ada's mother is ashamed of her daughter who has a twisted foot, and Ada has never left her one-room apartment. It's 1939 and threat of war means that Ada's little brother Jamie is evacuated from London; Ada follows him. The story tells of resourceful and determined Ada, and of Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to house the siblings. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother? As the story unfolds, Ada blossoms and the relationship the siblings have with Susan Smith deepens. A moving and sensitively written which will give readers a new and enlightening perspective on the war and its effects on people.

Star Wars: Adventures in Wild Space: The Steal by Cavan Scott

Star Wars is the number 1 board for boys across all categories, with phenomenal selling figures. As such, the books are an excellent way to engage boys (and girls) with reading, as they will be enthused by the popularity of the films, toys and TV shows. This illustrated fiction series is ideal for readers of 8+, and The Steal is the third in the series. It continues the story of Milo and Lina Graf, whose parents were abducted by agents of the evil Empire. Milo and Lina arrive on the planet Lothal, source of a mysterious transmission promising help against the Empire, in search of their parents. With a bounty hunter on their tail, and a ruthless crime boss to contend with, can they pull off a daring heist? The fourth book, Star Wars: Adventures in Wild Space: The Dark, Milo and Lina find themselves adrift in a starship that is spiralling towards disaster. A dangerous criminal is on the loose, the Empire is closing in – and something even deadlier awaits them in the darkness... There's plenty of excitement to grip the readers' attention, and it's good to follow the adventures through the series.

The Secret Cat (Tiger Days, Book 1) by Sarah Lean

This new series, about young animal lover Tiger Days, has many of the elements that appeal to young readers, so it's bound to be a hit. Animals, friendship and adventure combine with charming line drawings to offer plenty of enjoyment and incentive to read. When nine-year-old Tiger Days stays with her grandmother at Willowgate House she never knows what might happen… new friends to meet, animals to rescue and problems to solve! Tiger’s grandmother looks after animals in need and on her first visit, Tiger makes a new friend and quickly learns how to feed a baby warthog and keep it safe. As if that's not enough, a mysterious sound leads her to another little animal ...

Stars of Olympuss (The Olympuss Games) by Robin Price

It's been a bit of a wait for the conclusion to this claw-some series but it's well worth the wait and it is, of course, purr-fectly timed for the Olympic Games. This excellent series is set in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, making it ideal for KS2 children studying these ancient worlds, as it really brings history to life. Cats rule the world (and that's what cats have always thought!) and humans have never existed. Finally, the Son of Spartapuss and Furia have reached Mount Olympuss (find out how they got there in the preceding three books) and the games are about to commence. First, though, he must help Furia with her quest; can they defeat the monstrous Mewdusa? Full of humour and with super illustrations by Chris Watson, this will make a good class reader, especially to tie in with the history being studied. If you like puns, you'll love this - there are purr-sibly more puns here than in any other story!

The Order of the Furnace: Justice by Alex Keller

This is a pacy action-packed book which follows on from The Order of the Furnace: Rebellion. I found it a little hard to get into, so I recommend reading the books in order. Lena, Silas and the remainder of the Order of the Furnace are caught up in war against Queen Erin and her powerful forces; they are going to need something dramatic to happen to bring peace back to the kingdom. Unlike many fantasy books, it is set in the medieval world, so readers can really relate to the background; it gives a good picture of medieval life and it's a good way to encourage children who may not otherwise do so, to read a historical novel. The chapters are short, although the text is quite dense; I think the target audience would enjoy a few illustrations.

Somebody Stop Ivy Pocket (Ivy Pocket 2) by Caleb Krisp

Ivy had moved on since we met her in Anyone but Ivy Pocket; she is now the daughter of a pair of coffin makers! Treated more like maid than daughter, Ivy finds herself very busy. She has a new friend too - the devastatingly sympathetic Miss Carnage. But this is Ivy Pocket, remember, and if you read the first book, you will know that things are seldom what they seem in her world. When discovers that she can pass into the world of the Clock Diamond, she sees her friend Rebecca, horribly sad and desperate. Can Ivy save Rebecca, and what do a missing aristocrat, a forbidden love affair and a bullfrog have to do with her mission? Ivy is a very mixed character - sometimes I love her, sometimes I dislike her - but her adventures are undoubtedly entertaining.

The Twins and the Wild Ghost Chase (Black Cats) by Paul Mason

Stella and Tom have got friends - but these are no ordinary friends! They are ghosts, and a motley band they are too! There's the Duke of wellington, a belly dancer and more assorted characters who give the book a great feel. When the ghosts are feel homesick, a ghostly road trip is the only cure. But an enemy is on their trail - can Stella and Tom get their friends home without the interfering ghost catcher, Stoneyheart, catching up with them? A thoroughly enjoyable read, light-hearted and fun. "Funny, exciting or a little bit spooky, Black Cats are fast-paced stories with short chapters and illustrations throughout - stepping stones to reading confidence."

Franklin's Emporium: The White Lace Gloves (Black Cats) by Gill Vickery

Franklin's is no ordinary department store - there's magic on every floor, as Alex finds out when she is sent to Golden Bay for the summer. Her cousin Maisie makes Alex go shopping for some white lace gloves - and when you are shopping at Franklin's, what you end up buying isn't quite what you expected! It's amazing how exciting buying a pair of white gloves can become! The 'Bonus Bits' which are found at the end of Black Cat stories mean they are excellent as classroom readers. A lively enjoyable read with many unexpected twists and turns.

Katy by Jacqueline Wilson

Inspired by the much-loved classic, What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge, Jacqueline Wilson brings us a modern-day version in her own very special inimitable style. 11 year old Katy is an adventurous girl, but she struggles to relate to her stepmother. Katy's life changes in dramatic and unexpected ways after a serious accident and we learn what a strong and determined girl she really is. With the strong emphasis on family life which characterises the original story, Jacqueline Wilson is the perfect author to revisit this much-loved classic. There is much to remind us of the original family, beyond the names, and yet the story manages to be fresh and modern. It can be read with no knowledge of the original but I think it adds a level of interest if you read both books. Sadness and happiness mingle together in the book, which is excellently and sensitively written. Another hit for Jacqueline Wilson!

Rent a Bridesmaid by Jacqueline Wilson

Jacqueline Wilson never fails to delight; time after time, she brings us stories about girls we can't fail to love - and in Tilly and Matty we have two more wonderful characters. Tilly has always dreamed of being a bridesmaid, wearing a stunning dress and walking down the aisle behind a beautiful bride. The one wedding she’d really like to attend is her own mum and dad’s, but that's just not going to happen. Then Tilly's best friend Matty is asked to be a bridesmaid - but she doesn't want to be one! it’s time for Tilly to make her own dream come true – and put her bridesmaid services up for hire. And does anyone hire her? Well, you'll have to read this great story about friendship and determination to find out. Unmissable for all Jacqueline's fans.

Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo

This touching and evocative story is told in the voice of Private Tommo Peaceful. It dramatically compares the danger and drama of twenty-four hours at the front with his memories of his family and his village life. Vividly described and hugely atmospheric, whether in the heat of battle or in the countryside, Michael Morpurgo keeps us enthralled right to the dramatic conclusion of a compelling love story and a deeply moving account of the First World War. This beautifully produced hardback, with its embossed cover, includes a new introduction and an inspiration letter by Michael Morpurgo, as well as background on the execution of British soldiers for cowardice in the First World War, with personal testimony from soldiers. The book is also available in a paperback version - Private Peaceful which also celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, and features the same 'extras'. An unforgettable book from the pen of a superlative weaver of stories.

The Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne

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

Run with the Wind by Tom McCaughren

'Run with the wind' is the advice of the wily old fox when danger threatens. In the Land of Sinna, Black Tip, Vickey, Old Sage Brush, Fang, Hop-along and the rest of the foxes living around Beech Paw face danger. They are being hunted, trapped and harried and have no choice but to set out in search of the secret of survival; from the start of the story, we begin to understand the plight of these foxes, and we are drawn into their adventures. As they journey through countryside and city, facing many dangers along the way, they find new friendships and rediscover what it means to be ‘as cunning as a fox’. Superb descriptions of the countryside and an evident love for these wily creatures make for an exceptional read about the natural world.

Summer Camp at Trebizon (The Trebizon Series) by Anne Digby

Rebecca's disappointment when her summer holiday plans are thrown into chaos soon goes when she finds herself with her school friends Tish, Elf, Sue, Margot and Mara, helping out at Trebizon summer camp for city children; it's fun to see the friends outside their normal school setting. Things don't go as smoothly as the friends hope though - one very difficult little boy leads to some huge dramas.There's even a search for some legendary Roman treasure. With fresh new covers, these super school stories will appeal to girls just as much as they did when first written. Echoes of The Chalet Girls in Camp perhaps?

Emily Sparkes and the Backstage Blunder by Ruth Fitzgerald

Emily Sparkes is such a likeable character and you just have to emphasise with her through all the ups and (often humiliating) downs of her life. It's school play season, and Emily has landed herself a starring role . . . not. Join her, the Hollywood-star-to-be Chloe Clarke, and the terribly sensible Zuzanna as they blunder their way through the highs and lows of the theatre. A fun read, with plenty of humour, written with understanding and a very evident affection.

Myth Raiders: 2 Claw of the Sphinx by A. J. Hunter

In the exciting second adventure in the series, Sam and her cousin Trey are off to Ancient Egypt. They are the Chosen Ones and their destiny is to save the world from destruction by gathering together the scattered fragments of The Warrior's Shield. In the first story, set in Ancient Rome, they rescued one section of the enchanted shield from the terrifying Medusa. The second piece is being guarded by a fearsome sphinx - a creature with the body of a lion, the wings of an eagle and the face of a human. To get hold of this, Sam and Trey face mummies, beast-headed warriors... and the deadly sphinx itself! The story, and the series, is a super combination of myth and adventure, set against an authentic Ancient Egyptian setting; it's perfect for KS2 children studying Ancient Egypt, to give them an insight into the history.

Out of the Clouds by Diana Hendry

This is a really enjoyable read about a crazy but charismatic family, who live in the wonderfully-named Dizzy Perch, a house on the top of a mountain in remote Scotland. Pa is away, on mysterious but exciting scientific research and it's who Oliver keeps the household going... or tries to. But what does Oliver want himself? He'd like to escape the house sometimes. He'd like a friend, like the new boy he sees in the village. Most of all, he'd like to understand why his father went away. And where's he's gone. So Oliver sets out on a long journey to get Pa back. A happy family story, full of fun.

Dr Kittycat is Ready to Rescue: Nutmeg the Guinea Pig by Jane Clarke

These lively and light-hearted animal stories are ideal for young readers who are just beginning to enjoy chapter books. Dr KittyCat is a reassuring character who has plenty of first aid knowledge, and is always on hand for emergencies. Nutmeg starts to feel unwell at her birthday party but luckily Dr KittyCat and Peanut are close at hand to help, so Nutmeg can have a happy birthday after all! 'We'll be there in a whisker!' This series follows the first-aid adventures of Dr KittyCat and Peanut the mouse, who's always at her side. There are plenty of illustrations, cleverly blending photos with drawings, to break up the text, making the books an enticing read. A lovely series.

Unicorn In New York:Louie Takes The Stage! by Rachel Hamilton

Louie the unicorn has joined the New York School of Performing Arts in search of stardom, but he's yet to land any starring roles, with a big audition coming up, is it finally time for this unicorn to shine? Things don't quite go to plan, though... This light-hearted and hilarious series has a unique visual approach which combines real New York photography with character illustrations. Perfect for readers who love funny fiction and bonkers characters, this is a super series with a refreshing approach.

Beatrice and the London Bus: Volume 1 by Francesca Lombardo

I really like the idea of this new series which combines an enjoyable story with information about London - it's a great way to teach children about our capital city. Nine-year-old Beatrice has a dream – she wants to be a bus driver - but not just any old bus; she wants to drive a Routemaster. But her mother is a dream-flusher - someone who kills all your dreams, so we wonder how Beatrice can ever achieve her dream. When Beatrice sees a model of a Routemaster Bus in a shop, she's determined to have it and to turn it into a big talking London Bus that she can drive. And then, Beatrice meets a talking Bus in the streets of London, and it turns out that she is one of the few special people who can hear the bus talk. A really imaginative story that encourages us all to hold on to our dreams.

Beatrice and the London Bus: The Secrets of London - Volume 2 by Francesca Lombardo

Beatrice has a secret … Many secrets, actually, and she keeps them all to herself, apart from sharing a few with her best friend Mark. Every Sunday Beatrice embarks on a crazy adventure with a talking London - bus Bus RM 168 via Waterloo. The Bus takes Beatrice on a magical journey, showing her a ghostlike city no one knows still exists, a city full of secrets, illusions and traps. Its inhabitants - famous talking buildings, parks and tourists attractions - all have hopes, unfulfilled dreams and problems, just like her. She’s captured by the sloppy MI6's spies, helps a whimpering Red Telephone Box resolve the mysterious disappearance of her phone – then meets the Mayor of London, who has two big secrets of his own. And he’s planning to get rid of the old London Bus. Beatrice is a lovely character and she takes such pleasure in her exploration of London, that she will enthuse others too.

Beatrice and the London Bus - The Conquest of London - Vol. 3 by Francesca Lombardo

Our wonderful heroine is off on more city adventures with her friend the 168 bus to Waterloo. When the Queen sends Beatrice and the Bus an invitation for tea at Buckingham Palace, the London Bus is reluctant after his previous problems but of course, he can't turn down the invitation. There's a problem though – the Bus needs to be resized. and the help of the sloppy Magician with the 1000 Hats is needed and the royal invitation turns into a nightmare. And there are more super adventures to enjoy in the book ... The series is excellent - a great way to teach children about our wonderful capital city, and really enjoyable stories too.

Katy's Pony Summer (Katy's Exmoor Ponies 5) by Victoria Eveleigh

This is a great series, in the tradition of well-loved pony stories, brought perfectly up-to-date. Katy's looking forward to a fun-filled summer on the farm with her best friend, Alice. But thoughts of a peaceful summer come to an when an injured foal leads to a mystery it seems no one can solve. It's up to Katy and her friends to discover exactly what's going on; and you will want to read on to find out if they succeed. These are stories with an authentic and very believable background, written by someone who obviously knows exactly what she is talking about. We've seen Katy grow up but always being true to herself, to her friends and, of course, to her ponies. There's excitement, friendship and fun in a very enjoyable summery story.

Traitor's Game (Spy Master 2) by Jan Burchett

Jack Briars is apprenticed to King Henry VIII's spy master Thomas Cromwell - it's a risky life, but full of excitement and adventure. The King's enemies are becoming ever more resourceful and the apparently simple mystery of a few missing items soon leads to something much more sinister. In a gripping development, Jack finds himself at the heart of a deadly plot. He must work with seamstress Cat Thimblebee to crack the code and save the King. Well written, with an authentic background and strong characters, this is an exciting story. I love to encourage children to read historical novels, especially to support their learning at school. They give good background detail and help history come alive - this book would make an excellent class read when studying the Tudors.

Millie Vs the World (Millie vs the Machines) by Kiera O'Brien

This is a creepy, thrilling, suspense-filled read with a dramatic background. Millie knows she is a real girl and anything else is just a crazy misunderstanding. If she could just talk to her Company without the police shooting at her - they could sort this mess out. But on the run and cut off from everyone she knew before, how can Millie get back to her friends when the only 'people' willing to talk to her are a bunch of outlawed machines? One thing's for sure, surviving in the real world is proving to be a lot dirtier, stranger and more dangerous than she could have expected. A real page-turner.

The Game (Outcasts) by David Grimstone

Jake and his friends Kellogg, Lemon and Fatyak call themselves The Outcasts; they spend their spare time playing role playing games. But things take a dramatic turn when they play Destiny, a brand new game. What they really have their hands on is the ancient Pandora's Box, containing superpowers for each of them. On the other side of town is an organisation called the Reach, who hunt down precious artefacts. They want Pandora's Box back for themselves. With their new superpowers, just what have The Outcasts unleashed on the world - and themselves? An addictive book which will appeal to boys and girls.

Little Bits of Sky by S. E. Durrant

Nosy Crow have been producing some exceptional fiction recently, and this book and the three below are their latest offerings. This story begins in 1987; Ira and Zac are fostered children and they have been uprooted yet again. Their new home is Skilly House, a home for social care children. The book covers three years of their lives over the next few years, set against a wild garden, the drama of the poll tax riots and the times Ira manages to find peace and hope despite her situation - what a strong and thoughtful person she is. It's a powerful story about loss and love, about friendship and belonging. Ultimately, it's uplifting and heartwarming but to get there, we share in the unhappiness foster children feel in not belonging; of always feeling different and wanting to hide the fact. It has a real ring of truth; you can imagine the author know exactly what she is writing about and you share in Ira's emotions.

Crimson Poison (The Nat Walker Trilogy) by Susan Moore

Nat's parents died in mysterious circumstances and she is heiress to their games empire. Nat's aunt is desperate to adopt Nat and get her hands on the huge fortune. The story takes a dramatic and unexpected turn when Nat's guardian, Jamuka, is recalled to Mongolia to sort out a clan emergency, Nat discovers vital information about the poison that is killing his people and she decides to follow him. In doing so, she becomes drawn into a deadly game of revenge, corruption and world domination that is playing out, set against the snowy white Steppes. The exotic surroundings coupled with Nat's true to life character make for an exceptional read, with an exciting and tense storyline.

Sweet Pizza by G. R. Gemin

Sweet Pizza is set in the south Wales town of Bryn Mawr and focuses on Joe, whose family runs the rather run-down Cafe Morelli. Joe wants to keep the cafe going, in fact, he wants to make it much, much better, but his mum has had enough. Just like his great-grandfather who opened the cafe in 1929, Joe is an entrepreneur. He's determined to save the family business and to bring a taste of Italy to the Welsh town. I like the relatively short chapters - readers will think 'just one more chapter' and they will be encouraged to read on. Strong on family, this is an excellent read which gives a real insight into both a Welsh community and Italian immigrants, especially before and during the war - and Joe is a super character; he deserves things to go well. You can almost taste the food, so vivid are the descriptions; this really is a book that transports you into a different world.

My Gym Teacher is an Alien Overlord (My Brother is a Superhero) by David Solomons

This follow-up to My Brother is a Superhero builds on the super characters we met in that book, and keeps the comedy element equally strong. Luke has new school shoes and a burning sense of resentment. He KNOWS that aliens disguised as gym teachers are about to attack Earth but will anyone listen? No. So one dodgy pact with a self-styled supervillain later, and Luke is ready to save the world. He just needs to find his trainers... As you can see, the book veers from the mundane to the dramatic, but all the time, the reader is thoroughly enjoying getting to know Luke better and laughing at his hilarious exploits.

The Mighty Dynamo by Kieran Crowley

All Noah wants is to be a professional footballer. He is so confident about his skills that he knows he needs to be scouted and then his chance will come. When his school qualifies for the Schools' World Cup qualifiers that could be what he needs... until, unjustly, he is banned from the team. It looks as though his only chance is to set up his own team, but can they get to the top in time? This super book brings together so many elements, and they all blend superbly in a hilarious story - there's football (of course), there's friendship and there's plenty of fun. A great story to encourage boys and sports fans to read.

Captain Pug (Captain Pug 1) by Laura James

"Pug is going on a seafaring adventure. He's had jam tarts for breakfast (his favourite). He's wearing a smart sailor suit." So what is he waiting for? Pug is afraid of the water! Oh dear. In this hilarious story, Pug is off on a sea-faring adventure with his owner, Lady Miranda... to the boating lake! Before they can get on board, Pug is somewhat side-tracked by a picnic hamper and has a mishap... Lots of watery adventure follow in this superb story that is perfect for young readers. The lovely illustrations help to tell the story. A real winner and hopefully, the start of a long series.

Uncle Gobb and the Dread Shed (Uncle Gobb 1) by Michael Rosen

Malcolm is an ordinary boy. This is an ordinary story. Well, if you believe Michael Rosen can write anything ordinary, your mind is about to be changed! When Malcolm looked through the keyhole on the bathroom door (and you may well ask, why a keyhole on the bathroom door?), he sees a very strange sight. And the story just goes on getting more and more strange, and more and more hilarious. There are baked beans, a school which makes interesting things boring, that well-known Italian city Ponky, and a genie who appears when you rub your nose. Together, and with plenty more zany additions, they make a fabulous story from a wonderful author. Children will love the lively presentation, with all manner of pictures, drawings and more.

A Taste for Adventure (Fox Investigates) by Adam Frost

There are several series of detective stories being published currently, and Wily Fox is one of the best - and certainly one of the funniest. Solving crime in record time! In his fourth adventure, Wily Fox travels from the streets of Tokyo to the beaches of Australia, on the track of whoever who tried to kill the celebrity host of Megachef. Wily's on a mission to find the culprit before they're in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons... Emily Fox's action-packed illustrations help us to visualise Wily Fox's escapades in this highly enjoyable story.

The Misadventures of Max Crumbly: Locker Hero (Misadventures of Max Crumbly 1) Rachel Renee Russell

From the author of Dork Diaries comes a great new series, and from the promising start, it's likely to be just as popular - but appealing more to boys this time. Having been home-schooled, the thought of starting at South Ridge Middle School is scary, even though it's his choice. There's a problem - it's the Doug aka Thug Thurston Problem. As in, Thug keeps stuffing Max in his locker. If only Max could be like the hero in all the comics he likes to read – or the ones he draws – and magically escape the locker and defeat Thug. Unfortunately, Max doesn't quite have the right skills... Max is a great new character - you have to warm to him. With masses of black and white comic strip-style drawings, and lively presentation, I think this will be a big hit.

The Wonderful Adventure of Nils Holgersson (Penguin Hardback Classics) by Selma Lagerlöf

"Scandinavia's best-loved children's classic - the enchanting story of a naughty little boy who learns to love nature." Naughty Nils, who delights in torturing animals and who, besides that, is very disobedient, is shrunk to a tiny size by a dwarf, becoming an elf. He is carried across Sweden by a flock of wild geese to their summer home in the far North. Through many perils and exciting adventures, Nils wins the respect and love of the geese and finally returns home. As well as a powerful and uplifting story, the book gives us a wonderful picture of Sweden, and its natural life. Superbly told, this classic has been excellently translated to keep the feel of the original whilst keeping it accessible for modern readers.

Why Is This Night Different from All Other Nights? (All The Wrong Questions) Lemony Snicket

Before he wrote 'A Series of Unfortunate Events', Lemony Snicket (whoever he might be) asked all the wrong questions. Four to be exact. This is the account of the fourth question. "There was a town, and there was a train, and there was a murder. Apprentice investigator Lemony Snicket was on the train, and he thought that if he solved the murder he could save the town. In the tradition of great storytellers, from Dickens to Dahl, comes an exquisitely dark comedy that is both literary and irreverent. You’ll laugh only if you find humour in gothic and mysterious things involving detectives and crime solving." I think that Lemony Snicker is a love him or hate him author - there can be no half measures with these books. They appeal to a huge audience, and have done so for many years, so there are lots of fans out there who enjoy these puzzling and intricately plotted books.

Jonny Jakes Investigates the Old School Ghoul (Middle-Grade Novels) by Malcolm Judge

Middle grade fiction is a boom market and it's a great time to get children, and especially boys, hooked on reading, before too many other distractions enter their lives. A wonderful character like Jonny Jakes is a good way to achieve this. Jonny is undercover reporter for the (banned) school newspaper, The Woodford Week. Nothing will stop Jonny - even though it's over a hundred years since Principal Victory Piggot terrified his last student, it's up to Jonny to investigate, before Piggot unleashes unspeakable horrors on the school. Written in diary form, with super drawings by Alan Brown, there's madcap mayhem all the way.

The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol

When Arianwyn fails her witch's assessment, she's declared an apprentice and sent to protect the remote, dreary town of Lull. But as arch-enemy Gimma arrives on the scene and turns out to be Gimma is the pompous mayor's favourite niece, life has more challenges than Arianwyn ever expected. As Arianwyn struggles with her spells, it's soon clear there's much more than her pride at stake ... There's magic and mystery aplenty in this enchanting book.

The Scandal: Theodore Boone 6 by John Grisham

Theodore Boone, courtroom hero and the only kid lawyer in town, is facing a tough week at school with his exams; he's been at the top in middle school and doesn't relish the prospect of starting again at the bottom in high school. But then his best friend April finds out there's been cheating - and she's been deprived of what she wants most. So April makes a decision that Theodore advises against - she turns whistle-blower and the scandal suddenly blows up and is all over the news. Their futures are on the line and April's scared. Can Theodore find a way to reverse the damage and save several lives from ruin?

The Beaky Malone: The World's Greatest Liar by Barry Hutchison

What's to be done? The world's greatest liar has lost the ability to lie - his long-suffering sister has pushed him into the truth-telling machine at Madame Shirley's Marvellous Emporium of Peculiarities. Now Beaky can't tell a lie - but could a truthful Beaky be even worse than a lying one? Beaky narrates the story in his very own style and it's the minutae of his everyday life that makes the book so believable. Full of humour, with brilliantly depicted characters and wonderfully comic illustrations, this is just the sort of book to give reluctant readers, girls and boys, to help them appreciate the wonder of books.

A Crown of Dragons (The Unicorne Files) by Chris D'Lacey

Michael has completed two missions for UNICORNE, but still he hasn't found his missing father. Perhaps this time, he will be closer, as he has been asked to investigate a scale of a dragon - the very same artefact his father was researching before he disappeared. Soon, he learns that his father is lost in an alternative reality, and Michael is the only one with the power to save him ... The twists and turns in the plot are kept going from the second book, keeping the reader engrossed - there's always something new, and often unexpected, just around the corner. Chicken House sum this book up in three very apt words - action-packed, paranormal, fantasy.

Stormwalker by Mike Revell

Something strange is happening to Owen. One minute, he's living a perfectly ordinary life: school, football, video games, hanging out with best friend Danny. The next, he finds himself sucked into a terrifying dream world, a wasteland where a terrible Darkness plagues his hometown, threatening the lives of everyone in it. Owen can't control when he enters this world, or when he gets to leave. All he knows is that he has to help fight this terrible Darkness. But what is this world? Why is he here? And what if he never gets to go back home?

Billy Bramble and The Great Big Cook Off by Sally Donovan

Billy Bramble likes rude words - in fact, he likes anything rude! But when bad things happen, his invisible angry dog Gobber barks in his ears, gives him brain mash and breaks things. One day a competition is announced at school - The Great Big Cook Off - can Billy Bramble defeat Gobber and change his epic bad luck? An irreverent story for children aged 8-12 about a less than perfect boy, this book will inspire any child who's ever secretly thought they might be less than perfect too. This book is far more than it seems on the surface - it's the story of a boy who wants to do better but who is somehow thwarted at every steep. It's the story of how, with patience and understanding, he can be helped to finally make things work out. Children will relate well to Billy, and to his invisible dog.

The Emergency Zoo by Miriam Halahmy

1939 and war is imminent; London's children will soon be evacuated. Tilly and her best friend Rosy find out that they will not be able to take their beloved dog and cat with them; even worse, their pets will be put down. Determined not to let this happen, the girls decide to hide them in a derelict hut in the woods. When other children find out and start bringing their rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters, their secret den turns into an emergency zoo. Inspired by real events during the Second World War, Miriam Halahmy's novel is a touching tale of courage, resourcefulness and camaraderie in desperate times, as well as a stirring defence of animal welfare. It's a story that needed to be told - what happened to animals before and during the war is glossed over. By telling the story in such a compassionate manner, from the viewpoint of children, the author has enlightened us and given us a new understanding..

To Wee or Not to Wee (Baby Aliens) by Pamela Butchart

The clue is in the title - this is an unusual and very engaging collection of stories to mark the 4ooth anniversary of Shakespeare's death. Izzy, well known to readers of the Baby Alien series, - so what better than Shakespeare's tales? There's Macbeth to start with - battles, blood,scary witches and even trees that walk. Her friends enjoy that so much, they want more - A Midsummer Night's Dream with a man called Bottom, Romeo and Juliet for a touch of romance and Hamlet (who left that skull lying about?). These lively tales are a great way to interest children in Shakespeare.

Chaos Descends (Darkmouth, Book 3) by Shane Hegarty

Darkmouth is a great fantasy series, cleverly written and well plotted with plenty of touches of humour. You might be scared, but then you are brought back to reality by the quiet wit. Finn thinks that, perhaps, he has had enough of excitement and adventure - and certainly, he hasn't had an easy ride as a trainee Legend Hunter. But fate decrees otherwise and now he's going to be made a proper Legend Hunter. But then suddenly people start disappearing, Legends are appearing where they shouldn't, Broonie's complaining, and an attack so big is coming that Finn has the weight of the world on his shoulders. It's chaos. Is Finn up to it? Finn is a wonderful character and the book fairly races along, keeping the reader hooked.

The Accidental Secret Agent by Tom McLaughlin

I loved The Accidental Prime Minister and this is at least as funny, if not more so. Kevin Twigg has a dream - like many boys, he longs to be a spy, but that's not likely to happen. Or is it? When Kevin meets a real spy, he gets his chance. Trouble is, Kevin is rather disaster-prone and that's not a good thing for a real spy to be - but it leads to plenty of hilarity in this fun story. The sparkling humour makes for a superb read, perfect for 9-12 year olds who want a book that leaves them feeling upbeat and amused.

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

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

Alfie Cat in Trouble by Rachel Wells

Alfie the Doorstep Cat now stars in stories specially written for a younger readership. Everyone loves Alfie who has a big impact on the lives of everyone he meets. When the Clover family move into Alfie’s neighbourhood he soon makes friends with eight-year-old Stanley Clover. Stanley wants to be a famous explorer and takes Alfie along on his adventures. But Alfie soon realises that Stanley is unhappy. He is jealous of his talented sister Viola and feels ignored by his mum and dad who only ever seem to notice him when he gets into trouble. Can Alfie help Stanley get noticed for the right reasons? Alfie tells the story himself, and young readers will respond well to this; with short chapters and cute illustrations, the book is bound to be popular.

Herobrine's Message (The Elementia Chronicles, Book 3, Part 2) Sean Fay Wolfe

The inspiration for this (unofficial) series is the hugely popular Minecraft game, so there's a ready-made audience out there. This is the conclusion of the thrilling final instalment which finds The Noctem Alliance having conquered the entire server of Elementia. The citizens are in hiding and Lord Tenebris is threatening to destroy Minecraft. Nail-biting tension with unexpected twists and turns right up to the end will will keep readers hooked on the story. I would especially recommend it for reluctant readers who are Minecraft fans, as it's a great way to encourage them to read.

Love from Paddington by Michael Bond

Revel in these wonderful letters which are Paddington's accounts of his adventures as sent to his Aunt Lucy in the Home for Retired Bears in Peru. This delightful series of letters, written in Paddington Bear's own inimitable style, showcases his uniquely charming and hilarious take on the world. From stowing away on a ship, to working as a barber, watching the Changing of the Guard and visiting the theatre there is certainly never a dull moment! It's a super way to take a fresh look at Paddington's adventures and a must-have for every Paddington collection.

Big Nate Blasts Off (Big Nate, Book 8) by Lincoln Peirce

The stand-out appeal of the hilarious Big Nate books lies in the super presentation, which will captivate the most reluctant of readers. It's a zany combination of cartoons, drawings and text which tell the story to perfection. As ever, Nate's life is packed - he's got a new crush, and the annual Mud Bowl is coming up. When Nate submits a mocking cartoon of Randy Betancourt to the school paper, tensions between the two rise. After Randy jumps Nate the boys are caught in a fight by the Principal and forced to undergo joint peer counselling sessions run by Nate’s arch-enemy: teachers’ pet Gina! A super series to encourage boys to read.

The Grimstones Collection by Asphyxia

Martha Grimstone is out to find her own place in the world - she is convinced great things lie in store for her. The Grimstone family live in a miniature world made of other people's cast-offs, such as a clock made from an old watch, stools made from candle holders and scrap-paper wallpaper. I was intrigued when I first came across Martha and wanted to read more stories about her - and my wish is granted in this bumper collection of four stories; Hatched, Mortimer Revealed, Whirlwind and Music School make up this collection of Gothic fairytales. What really makes the books stand out for me, are the combination of full colour illustrations with their quirky and fascinating detail, alongside the scrapbook style presentation and good quality production - an enticing combination that made the book a joy to read. Even if you don't read the stories, you can't fail to be entranced by the illustrations.

The Invincibles: The Piglet Pickle by Caryl Hart

This is a perfect story to get beginner readers on the road to reading - try it as shared reading to get your child into the story and they will soon be off on their own, hooked by the hilarious but true-to-life characters. Nell and Freddie are The Invincibles - they can never be defeated. When they go on a school trip to a farm, they come home with an unexpected when Freddie smuggles a piglet out in his backpack. He thinks he's saving it from becoming sausages. So Nell keeps it in her bedroom, gives it a bath and gets it involved in bringing a local crime wave to an end... Great fun, with plenty of lively two-tone illustrations to help the story along.

The Jungle Books (Alma Children's Classics) by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Books are, of course, The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book. This new edition comes with extra material for young readers which will enhance their appreciation for the stories - very useful for teacher. It's good to see both books bound together, as I often feel that The Second Jungle Book is less frequently read. The adventures of Mowgli and his friends Baloo the bear, Bagheera the panther and Kaa the python, as they face the arch villain Shere Khan the tiger, need no introduction - the superlative story-telling is world-renowned. This book has brand-new illustrations by the talented Ian Beck, but sadly, not as many as I would like to have seen. Nonetheless, it's a good edition of these classics.

Rose Campion and the Stolen Secret by Lyn Gardner

The shady world of Victorian London is brought to life in this evocative novel with its exhilarating combination of murder, mystery and musical thrills with a music hall background. Rose was abandoned by her mother at the door of Campion's Palace of Variety and Wonders as a baby. It's her home, and she loves it, but that doesn't stop her wanting to know who she really is. When murder threatens to destroy the music hall, and Ned Dorset disappears, Rose and her friends set off on a dangerous journey. Lyn Gardner is theatre critic of The Guardian and, as with her previous books, her love for and knowledge of the theatre shines out.

The Very Royal Holiday (Royal Babysitters 4) by Clémentine Beauvais

Holly, Anna and Pepino are thrilled to finally be going on the amazing intergalactic Holy Moly Holiday! They have been promised scuba diving in volcanoes, followed by a flight to Mars and, most excitingly of all, hot chocolate on tap. But if there's trouble to be had, the three friends will find it. Even on this terrific trip ... Just as imaginative as ever, with even more to laugh about, this is a great addition to the series.

The Wilderness War by Julia Green

Sadly, playing outside is becoming far less a way of life than it used to be - I hope this book will re-kindle children's interest in the great outdoors as well as reassuring parents that it can still be enjoyed. Noah and his friends have spent a wonderful summer in the place they call the Wilderness - revelling in their freedom to make dens, sleep under the stars, and toast marshmallows over an open fire. But one day their Wilderness is sold so their dens torn down to make way for houses. For Noah and his friends this means war and they'll do anything to stop the Wilderness being destroyed. From the author of Seal Island, this exciting new adventure celebrates the outdoors and the freedom to explore it - and with the exclusive, fun tips and ideas in the back of the book, you can make the best of wild spaces too!

Cryptic Casebook of Coco Carlomagno (and Alberta) Book 6: The Talkative Tombstone by Ursula Dubosarsky

Coco Carlomagno is Chief of Police in Buenos Aires; Alberta is his more sensible cousin. Together they crack the cases that confound this puzzling city. Coco's nerves are all a-jangle. Deep in a cemetery in Buenos Aires, the tomb of the famous, much-lamented tango singer Anibal Manzana has everyone baffled. It is talking! Could it be haunted? Luckily Coco has his commonsensical cousin Alberta on hand to help. Can they unravel this ghostly riddle? More to the point - can you, the reader, help them? Throughout the book, there are puzzles galore for readers to solve which is a great way to get them to engage with the story - if they need encouraging, as it's a super story anyway.

Dotty Detective (Dotty Detective 1) by Clara Vulliamy

The first in a great new series with a feisty girl detective readers will love. Dorothy Constance Mae Louise, Dot for short, loves super-sour apple sherbets, running fast and especially loves solving fiendish puzzles. With the help of trusty sidekick, Beans and TOP DOG, McClusky, she is always ready to sniff out a mystery. So when mean girl Laura seems set on sabotaging the school talent show, Dot is determined to find out how, and save the day… Short chapters, well spaced text which makes good use of differing layouts plus plenty of lively illustrations, makes this a great book for children who are newly confident readers.

Boy Trouble at Trebizon (The Trebizon Series) by Anne Digby

We are back at Trebizon to enjoy boarding school stories at their very best, with a slightly more modern twist than Enid Blyton - after all, boys barely existed in the world of Malory Towers! Rebecca is looking forward to the new year at Trebizon, to seeing her friends and playing tennis. Maybe she may even realise her long-held ambition to get into the county’s junior squad. But when her friend Tish’s brother is accused of stealing a car, the friends turn their attention to finding out the truth. It turns out that Rebecca’s the only one who can help him – but it might cost her the squad place that she wants so much... These aren't demanding reads, nor are they expected to be. They are light and enjoyable, and it's great to get to know the characters as we read our way through the books.

More Trouble at Trebizon (The Trebizon Series) by Anne Digby

It’s spring term at Trebizon – with more freedom for the friends who are now in their second term of middle school. Not for Mara, though - her tycoon father, convinced she’s going to be kidnapped, has sent her back to school with a bodyguard. Mara’s furious – but could she really be in danger? When she suddenly disappears, her friends are bewildered. This looks like it could be their most challenging mystery yet. Fans of school stories shouldn't miss this series - they are slightly less formulaic than Malory Towers and St Clare's, with more emphasis on the characters (good to see Mara to the fore in this story) and their achievements; the fact that the books focus on just one term offers more scope. Trebizon is a world far removed from modern schools but that is part of the charm. Jolly good reads.

Are We There Yet?: Enid Blyton's complete Family Series collection

Far less well known than many of her stories, these are about Mike, Belinda and Ann, who love the Summer holidays – making the books perfect summer reading. There are six stories in this collection - The Saucy Jane Family, The Pole Star Family, The Caravan Family, The Seaside Family, The Buttercup Farm Family and The Queen Elizabeth Family. The family spend their holidays in all sorts of exciting places - a caravan, a houseboat, a steamer and even The Queen Elizabeth. The stories are vintage Blyton - children who love to spend time outdoors, with freedom unknown to today's children. This is the perfect holiday book for children from 6 years old upwards - and anyone who loved Enid Blyton stories as a child and who missed out on these.

The Adventures of Pipi the Pink Monkey (Alma Classics) by Carlo Collodi

Carlo Collodi is, of course, the author of Pinocchio - and Pinocchio actually appears in this story, somewhat older. Pipi isn't like the other young monkeys who live in the forest of Hullabaloo: he has bright-pink fur, a mischievous character and a rebellious streak. In this story, which has been expanded by Alessandro Gallenzi, we see Pipi lose his tail to an ancient crocodile, end up as a valet to a young master, fall into the hands of flying bandits and become emperor of a tribe of apes, before preparing to set off on a long journey at sea - an adventurous life indeed. With so much excitement packed into a relatively short book, this is a pacy and highly enjoyable read, with the added benefit of lovely illustrations by Axel Scheffler.

Emily's Tiara Trouble (Anti-Princess Club) by Samantha Turnbull

Mothers have dreams for their girls - but those dreams don't always tally with what girls themselves want. It's great to see a series which has hugely likeable characters with strong opinions, yet a way of going about things that makes the reader warm to them. Talented ten-year-olds Emily, Bella, Chloe and Grace are sick of adults trying to turn them into helpless princesses and when maths whiz Emily Martin's mother enters her in the local beauty pageant, they've had enough. So the four friends form the Anti-Princess Club, with the motto WE DON'T NEED RESCUING. Can they use their awesome skills to show the world that girls want to be valued for more than what they see in the mirror? Of course they can - but you'll have to read the books to find out how.

Bella's Backyard Bullies (Anti-Princess Club) by Samantha Turnbull

Design genius Bella Singh has built a clubhouse in her backyard, where the anti-princesses meet to thumb their noses at the notion that boys are best. But when they receive angry anonymous emails telling them to act like girls or else, followed by sabotage of their beloved clubhouse, it's clear they have a new mission. Can they unite their awesome talents to beat the bullies? The girls are great characters, down-to-earth and totally credible - girls age 8-11 will love them! The first book is told by Emily, and this one is narrated by Bella - I like the way the storyteller changes, giving us a different perspective. Find out more about the girls on their very own website

Girl vs. Boy Band: The Right Track by Harmony Jones

Lark, who is extremely talented but painfully shy, secretly writes feisty, heartfelt songs about school, crushes on boys, not getting along with her mum and missing her dad who lives in Nashville. But her songwriting becomes harder to keep secret when Lark's mother, a music record executive at her own label, announces that British boy band Abbey Road will be coming to live with them while they make their first album! Sharing her L.A. house with three noisy, mischievous rising stars isn't as glamorous as she expected, especially when things aren't going smoothly with the band members. When one of them plagiarises one of Lark's songs and passes it off as his own, will she gain the courage to step into the spotlight herself?

Ned's Circus of Marvels (Ned's Circus of Marvels, Book 1) by Justin Fisher

Something about this book captivated me as soon as I saw it, and I wasn't disappointed. Ned Waddlesworth is a very ordinary boy, average at everything... until his 13th birthday. Then he discovers that everything magical he’s ever read about or imagined is real... and he is the one who can save the world from monstrous beasts and beings. From her on, the book is truly magical as Ned, with the help of a robot mouse, a girl witch and a flying circus unlike any other, comes to the rescue. Roll up, roll up, and prepare to be AMAZED by Ned and the marvellous, magical, monstrous flying circus! It's wonderfully vivid, peopled by an amazing cast of characters and packed with excitement. Intrigued and can't wait until the publication date of 30 June 2016? Watch the trailer now at

The World of Norm: 10: Includes Delivery by Jonathan Meres

Norm continues to delight his fans in this, the tenth in the hugely popular series. Why so popular? Because Norm is a character readers can easily identify with and laugh with, knowing that whatever happens to them, it'll never be quite as bad as what happens to Norm - or half as silly. Norm just knew it was going to be one of those days when he lost his house... How can anyone lose their house? Well, if you've read the earlier books, you'd know! But even when he finds it, things don't get much better. What could be worse than imagining your parents at a salsa dancing event - with your best friend?! Norm's not sure what's got into Mikey, but he suspects hormones may be involved. A big part of the appeal of these books is in the presentation, with amusing cartoons and creative use of fonts to give the books a friendly and approachable feel.

Born Free Chimp Rescue: A True Story by Jess French

Read about real life animal rescue and learn about the work of the Born Free Foundation with this touching story. It's the story of Chinoise, a baby chimpanzee who was held captive in a cage and rescued by Born Free and their supporters in 2014. After spending her early life isolated and in captivity, Chinoise forgotten her early life in the wild. She now lives in a special nursery for rescued primates where, at last, she has made friends and learned how to play. The book is illustrated throughout with gorgeous colour photos which make you wonder how anyone could ill-treat such a beautiful creature. The Born Free Foundation is an international wildlife charity, founded by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna who starred in the iconic film Born Free.

Max Helsing: Monster Hunter by Curtis Jobling

Max Helsing is just an ordinary eighth grader by day... but he changes at night when, by virtue of being descended from a family of monster hunters, his job is to his town safe from demons, ghouls and the occasional mummy. That all seems quite straightforward - but when he reaches the age of 13, he discovers he's been cursed by an ancient vampire who wants him dead. To save the world - and his life - Max must rely on his wise-cracking best friend, cantankerous monster, computer genius neighbour, and brand-new puppy. He'll need all their help and more to break the Thirteenth Curse! You'd expect horror, but what surprises with this book is the clever way that there's plenty of humour too, as well as a hero who isn't just out to destroy by force; he is much more clever than that.

Roman Quests: Escape from Rome by Caroline Lawrence

Caroline Lawrence is a best-selling author, well-known for her Roman Mysteries series. This time, for a new series, she has turned her attention to Roman Britain in the time of the evil Emperor Domitian. It's 94AD and the story starts in Rome as Emperor Domitian sends soldiers to seize Juba's family and their home. The only hope of safety for the family is to travel to distant Britannia, right on the edge of the known world. This exciting adventure really captures the attention as well as being packed with authentic historical detail. The historical locations featured are Rome, Ostia, Londinium and Fishbourne; the story is perfect for KS2 children as the curriculum required them to study the impact of the Roman Empire on Britain. I am really keen to encourage children to read novels set in historical periods they study - they bring history to life, stimulate an interest and children absorb information readily.

3: The City of Beasts (Dragon Shield) by Charlie Fletcher

This has been a compelling series and the excitement continues into this, the third and final book. New allies and new hope leave siblings Will and Jo ready to face the dark force that lurks in the British Museum. It has frozen London, leaving the life force of the city's inhabitants to drain away. But with nearly all the animal statues of London and a nest of dragons against them, will they be able to save their mum - and the world - before time runs out? The tension keeps up throughout, and the characters have developed and rounded as the series has progressed. I didn't want this to end, but look forward to seeing what this gifted author has in store for us next.

The Mystic Moustache (Mariella Mystery) by Kate Pankhurst

Girl detectives seem to abound in children's fiction at present, and Mariella Mystery, now starring in her eighth book, is one of the most engaging. Mariella Mystery is a self-confident young lady who has no doubt about her abilities - she knows she can solve the most mysterious mysteries and perplexing problems, even before breakfast. Now there are strange goings-on at the Young Super Sleuth convention... who has stolen the famous Mystic Moustache? And can our heroine solve the mystery? What really sets this book apart and gives it huge appeal for young readers, is the dynamic presentation, with lots of drawings, diary style narrative and fun cartoons - all make reading fun.

Half a Creature from the Sea: A Life in Stories by David Almond

A skilful blend of past and present, the down-to-earth and the mystical, this is a fascinatingly diverse collection of stories from a master storyteller, author of the acclaimed Skellig. The stories are woven together with illuminating autobiographical pieces on the inspirations behind the fiction; these give us a fascinating insight into the author's life and help us see from where his inspiration comes. There are eight stories, each challenging in its own way; there is an element of darkness which will come back to haunt the reader. These are beautifully crafted stories, showcasing the short story at its best, and bringing us a range of characters and settings portrayed with a depth often missing from a short story.

Seacrow Island by Astrid Lindgren

When the Melkerson family arrive on Seacrow Island for their summer holiday, they wonder if they will ever get used to the quiet and to the somewhat basic amenities. But gradually, the benefits of the beautiful island become apparent to the family, as they enjoy the natural environment - the woods to wander in, the fish to catch, the boats to sail in, and all kinds of animals. We see the characters develop in this feel-good read which has such a positive message. The island people make a good contrast, and gradually a rapport grows. Beautifully written, it's a story to make the reader slow down, take stock, and appreciate all the wonders of the natural word away from the hustle and bustle of our busy lives.

The Jungle Book: The Strength of the Wolf is the Pack by Joshua Pruett

15 April 2016 saw the release of the all-new live-action adventure The Jungle Book from the Walt Disney Studios, featuring the voice talents of Scarlett Johansson, Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray and Idris Elba. This novel is based on the film, and is ideal for readers of 8 - 12. Mowgli has lived in the Jungle for as long as he can remember. Raised by a noble wolf pack and mentored by a wise panther called Bagheera, Mowgli enjoys the rich, vibrant world of the animals. But when a vengeful tiger makes a vow to remove the man-cub from the Jungle, Mowgli's world is turned upside down. With help from his new friend Baloo the bear, Mowgli finds himself on a journey to protect his wolf family and himself – a journey that could change things forever. The story is dramatically told to grab readers' attention, and the descriptive language puts the reader into the heart of the story; the book is packed with black and white drawings which enhance the sense of place.

Mystery & Mayhem The Crime Club

Crime fiction for younger readers seems to be increasing hugely in popularity. This collection of 12 stories from some of today's best children's crime writers is an excellent way to introduce children to the genre as they get their chance to see if they can solve the mysteries. The range of stories is good, with creepy, hilarious, brain-boggling and heart-pounding mysteries featuring daring, brilliant young detectives. The Crime Club are twelve UK-based authors who are mad about crime fiction. Clementine Beauvais, Elen Caldecott, Susie Day, Julia Golding, Frances Hardinge, Caroline Lawrence, Helen Moss, Sally Nicholls, Kate Pankhurst, Robin Stevens, Harriet Whitehorn and Katherine Woodfine can be found anywhere there is a mystery to be solved, a puzzle to be cracked or a bun to be eaten, and they are always ready for the next puzzling case. Short stories are a favourite of mine, perfect for reading in class and for encouraging children to try a different genre or author.

Jacky Ha-Ha by James Patterson

Welcome to a fabulous new character for tween readers. Jacky Ha-Ha is her name and with a name like that, you just know she's going to be a bundle of laughs. She just can't resist telling a joke, whatever the situation, suitable or not. But Jacky's life is far from fun and her wise-cracks help her to cope with the fact her Mum serving in a dangerous, faraway war, and her dad is hardly ever home. What's more, she has an embarrassing stutter to cope with. Would giving up the jokey persona help to keep her family together? Jacky is prepared to give anything a try. Jacky is a smart girl; she knows just what is going on in her mind and tries her hardest to make things better - but the real character will always come through. Written in the first person, the author has really got inside the character and brought us a great new heroine to love.

Fletcher and Zenobia by Edward Gorey

A delightful story, simple but very memorable. Fletcher the cat is stuck up the tree - and then strange things begin to happen. Fletcher finds a trunk full of hats and a papier-mache egg that opens to reveal Zenobia, a worldly talking doll who was locked in the egg. In this whimsical tale, Fletcher and Zenobia decide to throw a party... with the unexpected consequence of finding an escape plan. A gently told story of friendship and being able to adapt with a lovely traditional feel due the the New York Review Children's Collection trademark cloth and picture binding.

Gorilla Dawn by Gill Lewis

Gill Lewis has to be one of the best writers of animal stories around. The animals she writes about are as well portrayed as the people and her authentic backgrounds set both off to perfection. A baby gorilla has been captured by a group of rebel soldiers; Imara and Bobo are two children also imprisoned in the rebels' camp. When they learn that the gorilla is destined to be sold into captivity, they swear to return it to the wild before it's too late. But the consequences of getting caught are too terrible to think about. Will the bond between the gorilla and the children give them the courage they need to escape? The story is told from different viewpoints and this is effectively done, giving the story an added depth.

Nancy Parker's Diary of Detection by Julia Lee

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

Through My Eyes: Zafir by Prue Mason

This is a truly excellent series; an important series because it shows the trauma caused by war, and how it impacts on young people. These personal accounts really take us inside troubled times and place and help us understand the suffering that war brings. Zafir has a comfortable life in Homs, Syria, until his father, a doctor, is arrested for helping a protester campaigning for revolution. While his mother heads to Damascus to try to find out where his father is being held, Zafir stays with his grandmother - until her house is bombed. With his father in prison, his mother absent, his grandmother ill and not a friend left in the city, Zafir must stay with his Uncle Ghazi. But that too becomes dangerous as the city becomes more and more besieged. Will Zafir survive long enough to be reunited with his parents? This stirringly told story would make an exceptionally good class reader, stimulating discussion and fostering understanding.

Wings: Flyboy by Tom Palmer

This is another exceptional book from Barrington Stoke, who are really bringing some excellent stories to the market - they should be made available for all readers, as they are just too good to miss. This book has everything that young readers, particularly boys (although I do try not to stereotype books or readers), want from a book. Jatinder is training for his team's youth squad, and his host parents Steve and Esther are really great. But Jatinder is different and the other kids pick up on that. Steve reckons it's OK to take risks, just like his own hero, Hardit Singh Malik. And then Jatinder wakes up in a strange situation - flying Hardit's World War One fighter plane into enemy airspace. The book picks up on the diversity found in British troops during the First World War, and gives an interesting insight in this thrilling adventure. This is the first in the Wings sequence, so more to look forward to.

The Secret Railway by Wendy Meddour

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

Deep Sea Dive (Frankie's Magic Football 15) by Frank Lampard

The magic football that Frankie's team play with take them to all sorts of places to play matches that seem an impossible dream. This time, the team is on a visit to a holiday park where Frankie and his friends discover a theme park with a difference - each ride is a portal into an amazing fantasy world. This time, the magic football takes them all on an underwater adventure that asks Max to swim his best doggy paddle, and makes playing football a game against the tide! Of course, it's all make-believe but it's a great way to encourage young football fans to enjoy reading; you don't need to be a football fan though - these are fun stories for all young readers. There are game cards to collect too, to encourage children to get all the books in the series.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Novel

Revisit the Star Wars universe with the newest addition to the franchise, The Force Awakens; the film was released in December 2015 and this is the book of the film. The brave men and women of the Resistance must stand against Kylo Ren and the villainous First Order. Star Wars fans old and new will be transported into a world filled with new characters, locations, ships and aliens. Fans will also welcome back some of their old favourites including Han, Chewie, Leia and Luke. All the excitement of the film is here in book form to allow fans to revisit the story.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Illustrated Storybook

This richly illustrated book is perfect for younger fans of Star Wars. Luke Skywalker has vanished and the sinister First Order will not rest until he has been destroyed. General Leia Organa leads the search to find her brother Luke and gain his help to restore peace. The book has the story based on the screenplay with super colour illustrations throughout. There is also lots of additional information on the people, places and objects that appear in the film.

Star Wars Bounty Hunt: Lift the Flap

Young Star Wars fans will have fun exploring the Star Wars universe in this colourful lift-the-flap book. Follow Bossk, the famous bounty hunter, as he pursues a fugitive on Tatooine. Discover all about this world and its famous locations, creatures and secrets. On each spread there are various flaps to lift to reveal new information. There are clues to find clues so readers can engage with the book and try to work out the answers to help Bossk find his target. It's a great companion to the other books and a good way to encourage boys to enjoy books - Star Wars is the number one boys' brand across all categories.

The Bears' Famous Invasion of Sicily (Alma Classics) by Dino Buzzati

In a magical and mythical long-ago Sicily, the bears are starving after a harsh winter so they descend from the mountains in search of food. They invade the valley below, where they face fierce opposition from the army of the Grand Duke of Sicily. After many battles, scrapes and dangers, the bears' reign is established over the land, but their victory comes at a price. This is no pretty fairy tale but it is an outstandingly well narrated story. This beautifully presented book is adorned with superb colour and black and white illustrations, many of which tell their own stories in a sequence of linked pictures- quite fascinating. It's a favourite of Lemony Snicket who has written an extensive readers' resource guide which forms part of the book. Teachers - do look at this as a classroom book.

Elspeth Hart and the Magnificent Rescue by Sarah Forbes

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

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