Book reviews - fiction 5 to 11 (page 12)

 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. Download a fun Jacky Ha-Ha photo booth kit, perfect for parties, sleepovers and those moments when you just feel like striking a pose! Read more here.

ANIMALCOLM BY DAVID BADDIEL

Malcolm doesn’t like animals - but his family do, and his house is full of them.So when he gets a chinchilla instead of the laptop he really, really wanted for his birthday present, Malcolm is far from happy. But there's always the school trip to look forward to... until he discovers it's a trip to a farm. But the unexpected happens and Malcolm changes. He learns exactly what is is like to be an animal; several animals, in fact, in the most unexpected way. But will he end up the same as before? It's mad and yet it is also cleverly perceptive and, of course, full of humour. It will make you think.David Baddiel has put his comic gifts to brilliant use in his children's fiction; his books are hugely popular and not just because of his name - he genuinely is a real talent.

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Winnie and Wilbur: Disgusting Dinners and other stories by Laura Owen

It's great to see the hugely popular picture book characters of Winnie and Wilbur in novel form. Children who have enjoyed the picture books will really be encouraged to read on and enjoy their further adventures - and there are still lots of lively drawings by Kprky Paul to enjoy too.In these stories, Winnie and Wilbur enjoy all sorts of adventures - they take part in a fancy dress fun run, take on a spot of DIY, take road safety seriously, and take it upon themselves to rustle up lunch at the local school and more. Since 1987, Winnie and Wilbur have been delighting children and adults all over the world and more than 7 million books have been sold. Winnie and Wilbur will be hitting TV screens worldwide in 2017, airing in the UK on Milkshake, Channel 5's popular pre-school slot. A Winnie and Wilbur stage show is set to run in Birmingham in 2017 followed by a national UK tour. These 12 short stories are perfect for building up children's reading confidence and enjoyment.

Bring Me the Head of Ivy Pocket (Ivy Pocket 3) by Kaleb Krisp

Ivy Pocket is a feisty heroine who swept into our hearts in Anyone But Ivy Pocket. Now our heroine is off on an even more exciting adventure, bound for London and Prospa House to save Anastasia Radcliff and young Rebecca Butterfield from fates worse than death. But there are difficulties at every turn. The devious Miss Always and her devilish Locks are in hot pursuit. Anastasia is gone, taken by her evil sister-in-law Estelle and hidden in a place no one will ever find her. And worst of all, the Clock Diamond is no longer working, blocking Ivy's route to Prospa. There's a mystery to be unpicked and if anyone can do it, it's Ivy Pocket. After all, she has all the natural instincts of a Russian chess master. It seems that Ivy meets problems at any turn, but you can guarantee that this resourceful young lady has a solution!

Invisible Emmie by Terri Libenson

This debut novel from US cartoonist Terri Libenson follows two girls who could not seem more different: shy, observant, wallflower Emmie; and loud, popular, cheery Katie. What both girls do have in common are their strong feelings for the same boy, Tyler Ross. Then Emmie's very private, very embarrassing scribbles fall into the wrong hands. The presentation of this book is outstanding and makes a refreshing change for the tween age group -one that is bound to be a big hit. Emmie tells her story through text and carton drawings and Katie relates hers through comic strips. The friendship between this unlikely pair is well portrayed and the whole story is credible and highly enjoyable.

Knighthood for Beginners by Elys Dolan

A laugh-aloud book for newly confident readers, or for sharing aloud, this will have kids in fits of giggles - guaranteed! Dave lives high up in the mountains and he is a terrible (as in rubbish) dragon. So when he finds a book called Knighthood for Beginners he decides to learn how to be a knight instead - surely he can succeed at that? Dave sets out on a quest with his trusty steed, Albrecht the goat (all the best horses were taken), to be brave, chivalrous, and knightly in all ways. He'll be up against Sir Gnasty, who scoffs at the idea of a very small, strangely green knight and has an absolutely massive sword. Great fun, written with a lively wit and an appealing main character who is such fun.

See You When I See You (My Happy Life) by Rose Lagercrantz

A new story in the acclaimed and beloved chapter book series that began with New York Times Notable Book My Happy Life. Dani is on a school trip to the zoo but gets separated from her school friends. But when she sees her best friend from another class, Dani and Ella are reunited on a school trip, but it doesn't turn out as they expected. There are lots of emotions in this book, which takes a perceptive look at how girls react to events in their young lives.

Giant by Kate Scott

11 year old Anzo, the narrator of the book, is one of an aspirational family who dream of opening a restaurant. It seems everyone has a role to play - except for Anzo, who is so short, everyone overlooks him. HIs life at home and school revolves around his height - or lack of it. Then, overnight, Anzo starts to grow. Is life as a giant going to solve all his problems, or should he stop worrying and learn to just be himself? Anzo is a well-written character - boys will relate well to him, and to the emotions he goes through; his friendship with Elise is a key part of the book. There is plenty of humour in the book, plus interesting family dynamics which make for a great heartwarming read.

The Bagthorpe Saga: Absolute Zero (Collins Modern Classics) by Helen Cresswell

This has to be one of the funniest series around and it has kept its popularity and freshness through the years. This is the second book in The Bagthorpe Saga, starring the wonderful and unforgettable Bagthorpe family. Strange things always happen to this family but now something even stranger than normal is happening in the Bagsthorpe house. Ever since Uncle Parker won a luxury cruise in a competition, the family’s gone competition crazy. Only Jack and his trusty dog Zero are staying out of it. So just how does the mixed-up mutt become the most famous dog in Britain? This feisty family is full of great characters, all of whom interact well together, to bring us a chaotic and hugely enjoyable story of family life.

Mold and the Poison Plot by Lorraine Gregory

Mold is somewhat unusual - his nose is big but his body is decidedly puny. So is it a surprise that his mother abandoned him in a bin when he was a baby? Luckily, he was taken in the old healer, Aggy, but when Aggy is accused of poisoning the King, Mold sets out to clear her name. This makes for an exciting and tense story as Mold must save Aggy from the hangman's noose. His opponents are far from easy as he faces hideous, deadly monsters like the Yurg and the Purple Narlo Frog. He finds true friendship in the most unusual - and smelly - of places and must pit his wits and his clever nose against the evil witch Hexaba. Mold is a big-hearted and warm character, despite appearances, and the strong thread of friendship really holds the story together to great effect. This is a fantasy story that will appeal to those who don't normally enjoy fantasy.

THE DIAMOND HORSE BY STACY GREGG

Anna Orlov is the daughter of a Russian Count and lives in a beautiful snowbound palace that is home to a menagerie of wonderful animals: tigers, wolfhounds and, of course, horses. She is also the owner of a beautiful heirloom – a diamond necklace with a secret past that links two very different girls. Little does she realise the consequences of defying her father and rearing a young colt alongside her pet tiger cub... Valentina is a circus performer and she too has a very special horse. Anna, her tiger and her horse will be fighting for survival in the frozen tundra of Siberia… An exciting story with a dramatic background

Tilly and the Time Machine by Adrian Edmondson

Tilly's mum died a year ago, so when dad builds a time machine in the shed there's only one place she really wants to go: back to - her sixth birthday party, when her mum was still with them. But unfortunately, things go just a bit wrong and Tilly's dad finds himself stuck way back in the past, having all manner of adventures - and only Tilly can get him home safely in time for tea.This is an excellent debut novel, marvellously peopled and vividly written so that you really feel a part of Tilly's adventures - and gain an insight into history on the way! Time travel books can tend to get a little lost on the way, losing the attention of the reader, but not this gem of a book. I loved it.

The Enchanted Puppy (Evie's Magic Bracelet Book 2) by Jessica Ennis-Hill

In the first story, Evie had a very special bracelet, given to her by her Grandma Iris. The bracelet lets Evie bring toys to life, leading to exciting adventures. This is the second story and Evie's grandma has sent her another parcel. Inside layers of tissue and colourful ribbons is a beautiful bracelet - but will it be as magical as the first? Evie must solve the riddle first to find out...! This time, the bracelet lets her bring things to life. But when a stuffed toy becomes a cute little puppy with a mind of his own, Evie and her friends are off on a magical adventure. This is just the sort of story that young girls reading independently really enjoy, and the appealing line drawings are a great asset too.

The Long Lost Secret Diary of the World's Worst Pirate by Tim Collins

Thomas dreams of swashbuckling adventures aboard ship but the reality is that he is a sheltered passenger sailing with his parents aboard an 18th century merchant ship. But then his chance comes - and Thomas finds himself one of Captain Bartholomew Morgan's dastardly crew ... but he has trouble finding a suitable role. As poor Thomas lurches from one disaster to another, the reader shares in his agony whilst laughing aloud at his mishaps. Wonderfully narrated, you can't but help but warm to Thomas and I found myself totally hooked as I waited to see what calamity would befall him next. Don't miss the informative 'Get Real' boxes. Brilliantly written and superbly illustrated by Sarah Horne, this is really out of the ordinary and well worth a read.

The Long-Lost Secret Diary of the World's Worst Knight by Tim Collins

Here we have another calamity-prone yet thoroughly likeable hero, this time it's Roderick, squire to Sir Lionel. Roderick is chosen to become the knight on a quest to find a holy relic (the fingers of St Stephen), and is determined to prove his honour and graduate from zero to hero... but seemingly insuperable obstacles await our hero... will he learn from his mistakes? The genius of these books lies in the way you are really encouraged to get inside the head of the hero, and the engaging writing style is the perfect way to encourage this. These unusual but brilliant books are great fun and I thoroughly recommend trying them with reluctant readers, who will find the engaging style and exciting writing a great encouragement to read. Along with the hilarious diary, there are 'Get Real' boxes, which put events into their historical context and bring the period to life. Highly recommended.

The Doorman's Repose by Chris Raschka

The Doorman's Repose is a collection of 10 short stories about 777 Garden Avenue, an apartment block in New York City. The first story is about the doorman himself, who excels at all his tasks except perhaps the most important one... talking baseball. The other stories in this varied collection tell of a long-forgotten room, a cupid-like elevator, and the unlikely romance of a cerebral psychologist and a jazz musician, both of whom are mice. These are just some in this intriguing and unusual collection which will appeal across the ages. Beautifully produced in hardback with a cloth binding and colourful cover, this is a book to treasure.

Star Wars: A New Hope Junior Novel (Star Wars Junior Novel 1) by Ryder Windham

2017 sees the 40th anniversary of the release of Star Wars: A New Hope, the film that launched the greatest space fantasy epic in history. Star Wars is the most successful boys' licence in the world and the best-selling LEGO theme in history- so the books are a great way to encourage boys to read. To celebrate this, Egmont are publishing a set of junior novel adaptations of the original trilogy. The paperback books are lavishly produced, with foil, Pantone colours and sprayed edges, making them great for fans to collect. In A New Hope, follow the adventures of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca and the Rebel Alliance as they fight against the evil Emperor Palpatine, and his sinister agent Darth Vader! Then continue the adventures with The Empire Strikes Back. The Imperial Troops have driven the Rebel forces from their hidden base and pursued them across the galaxy - and Darth Vader is obsessed with finding Luke Skywalker. In Return of the Jedi, this novel which is ideal for readers of 7 - 11, has Luke Skywalker back in his home planet of Tatooine, attemnpting to rescue Hans Solo from Jabba the Hutt. In The Force Awakens, young readers have the opportunity to revisit the Star Wars universe with the newest addition to the franchise. An exciting world awaits, filled with new characters, locations, ships and aliens. Plus, welcome back some of your old favourites like Han Solo, Chewbacca, Leia and Luke.

There's a Werewolf in My Tent! (Baby Aliens) by Pamela Butchart

This hilarious series is perfect for newly confident readers who are ready to move on to more substantial reading - but who still demand plenty of fun in their reading. Izzy and her friends are off on a camping trip and they are really, really excited. They are going with Miss Jones and the weird new PE teacher who has very hairy legs... It all starts well but when they hear howling sounds at night, sausages go missing, and it's nearly a full moon, things start to get worrying. The chapters are relatively short and broken up by the hilarious illustrations and plenty of diverse fonts and other devices to make the book really appealing. Great fun and a good incentive to persevere with reading alone - although the book will also be a great read-aloud.

The Incredible Billy Wild by Joanna Nadin

Billy wants a dog, so when his teacher asks the class to write a letter to their god, he knows just what he wants. But he doesn't really expect his request to be answered... When he discovers a greyhound hiding in the shed, he decides someone must really be listening, but Billy knows his Dad won't let him keep the dog - but it's a hard secret to keep, especially when Billy's classmate Paris enters them all in a local talent show.A big decision awaits Billy, but will he have the courage to take it and save more than one dog? Billy is a good character and we really get to know him well through the story - and want a good outcome for this warm-hearted, caring boy.

Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk

This mesmerising story had me gripped from the first page when we meet Crow, washed up onto an island inhabited only by Osh. Crow has lived her whole life on the tiny, starkly beautiful island. knowing only Osh and Miss Maggie, their neighbour across the sandbar. But it is only when a mysterious fire appears across the water that an unspoken question of her own history forms in Crow's heart, and an unstoppable chain of events is triggered. Crow sets out to find her lost identity - and, ultimately, to learn what it means to be a family. But will she lose all that she holds dear?Haunting, amospheric and powerful, this is a superlative read.

Llama United by Scott Allen

Definitely time to suspend credibility when you start to read this weird, wacky and totally bonkers book... it's hugely enjoyable and bound to raise plenty of laughs throughout. What happens when eleven llamas unknowingly eat the ashes of one of the greatest footballers of all time? They become brilliant at football, of course! Managed by eleven-year-old Tim, his unusual friend Cairo and Scottish World Cup-winner McCloud, Llama United goes on an amazing cup run. Rival teams are not happy - and who can blame them? And when the best cup in the world is at stake, will fair play win? Football fan or not, this is a hilarious and very worthwhile read.

Journey to Dragon Island (The Accidental Pirates) by Claire Fayers

Brine Seaborne, her magician friend Peter and former-librarian Tom lives have been turned upside down since they accidentally joined a band of pirates. And now they hatched the world's last-known dragon... Searching for a family for their fire-breathing friend takes the friends into uncharted territory. Their aim is to find the legendary Western Island and its floating castle, where - hopefully - there are dragons. Great plot, plenty of humour to keep readers engaged, and characters who will really appeal. A well-thought out and executed story with plenty of the elements children love - pirates, magic, monsters and dragons. What's not to love?

The Story of a Snail Who Discovered the Importance of Being Slow (Alma Junior) by Luis Sepúlveda

In our fast-moving world, we so often forget the importance of just slowing down... and when Rebelde the snail is cast out of his snail community, he is forced to travel the world alone. As he explores in his slow snail-like way, Rebelde makes new friends and goes on plenty of adventures, gaining wisdom from every new encounter. But when he finds out his friends are in danger, he decides to rush home to warn them. Will he get there in time to save them? This is a wonderful story of loyalty and hope, gently and effectively told.

Revolt Against the Romans (Flashbacks) by Tony Bradman

I have said this often, but I love to encourage children to read historical fiction set in a period they are studying at school - and Tony Bradman writes some of the best around, with their blend of exciting stories with excellent period detail to bring the history alive. "I've fought every kind of barbarian, but the Britons are by far the worst..." Marcus is excited about travelling to Britannia, the island at the edge of the world. But the Britons are savages who tattoo themselves and take the heads of their enemies in battle. They won't bow down to the rule of Rome. As Marcus travels to meet his father he meets a barbarian chief instead and his destiny is changed forever, along with that of Britannia... An intriguing insight into the early history of our nation.

Wave Me Goodbye by Jacqueline Wilson

Along with tens of thousands of other children at the start of World War II, 10 year old Shirley is sent away on a train to an unknown destination. All she has been told is that she’s going on ‘a little holiday’. She finds herself billeted in the country, with two boys from East End London, Kevin and Archie – and their experiences living in the strange, half-empty Red House, with the mysterious and reclusive Mrs Waverley, will change their lives for ever. The author has a wonderful knack for getting inside her characters (I really felt for poor Shirley on her lonely train journey), and the period - and this is her first book set in World War II. I thoroughly enjoyed this and highly recommend it - to my mind, the best Jacqueline Wilson book for a while, with its superb period detail and evocative setting and - of course, an archetypal JW feisty and lovable heroine.

The Homeless Kitten (Holly Webb Animal Stories) by Holly Webb

Holly Webb knows just what young girls will enjoy in their first attempts at independent reading, and her heartwarming Animal Stories are great to encourage reading. When Lily finds a litter of kittens abandoned in the woods, she rescues them. But her little sister is afraid of cats so Lily knows she won't be able to keep any of the kittens - not even her favourite, Stanley... or can she?

Manxmouse (Collins Modern Classics) by Paul Gallico

Little Manxmouse, the ceramic mouse who comes to life, may look very odd, but he is bold and fearless as he sets out on a special journey. Danger is at every turn- can he survive fearsome foxes, terrified elephants and cats big and small to reach his destination? His confidence comes from the fact he knows that destiny awaits him... and there’s someone he dreads and yet desires to meet more than anyone else. The someone who has been waiting for him all along... the Manx Cat. A beautifully told and very emotional story about being true to your dreams and befriending others on the way.

Paddington's Finest Hour by Michael Bond

A whole new generation have met Paddington through the film - but the books still beat the film hands down, to my mind. They give the scope for children to imagine their own interpretation of the lovable bear, and what could be better than that? If there's a misunderstanding to make, then Paddington can make it - in the loveliest way possible. 'Hurrying forward, he held out a welcoming hand. “Sir Percival Rushmoor,” he said. “I’m invigilating.” “I’m sorry to hear that, Sir Percival,” said Paddington. “I hope you feel better very soon.”' In this collection of stories, Paddington always finds himself in unusual situations so it is no surprise when he has a run-in with the police, appears in a TV cookery show, and gives one of his hard stares to a hypnotist... and there are four more brand new stories to enjoy with these. Just as enjoyable as ever, it's wonderful to enjoy these new stories.

Code Name Flood (Edge of Extinction, Book 2) by Laura Martin

Following on from the very enjoyable Edge of Extinction, Laura Martin keeps the pace and suspense up admirably in this sci-fi novel. Sky Mundy’s life has changed dramatically since she fled the underground compound where she grew up. She and her friends are now prey to dinosaurs and being pursued by marines but Sky is determined to follow a map left by her missing father. When the map leads to a hidden underwater lab, Sky is horrified to learn that scientists are still breeding dinosaurs. As she delves deeper into her father’s secrets, Sky uncovers a plan that will destroy the world, unless she can put a stop to it. Richly peopled with superb characters, and wonderfully descriptive, this is an edge-of-your-seat book.

The Giver (Collins Modern Classics) by Lois Lowry

The forerunner of a whole, hugely popular, genre, The Giver is the classic award-winning novel that inspired the dystopian genre. It is, of course, the future - a future where everything seems perfect... but things are not whet they seem. When Jonas is selected as the Receiver of Memory, he discovers flaws in the community and it's only with the help of the Giver, that Jonas can find what has been lost. Jonas is a superb character and it is only through his personal courage that he finds the strength to do what is right. Thoughtful and thought-provoking, it's a book and a genre you will love or hate - but it's a masterful work.

The Gold Thief (Ned's Circus of Marvels, Book 2) by Justin Fisher

Ned and his family are trying to be ordinary ... but they are far from ordinary. Imagine - and this is a book which really encourages the imagination - that all the world’s gold has gone missing, and its leading scientists too. When an oily thief and his pet monster turn up at Ned's door, Ned finds himself on the run again… and racing to find out what this new villain wants. Meanwhile, looming in the shadows, a machine with a mind of its own vies for power, and mysterious men in grey suits are watching the Circus of Marvels' every move. Together with his best friend Lucy, his clockwork mouse and his shadow, Ned must use his growing magical powers to try to uncover a secret that could end them all. A gripping story which will captivate children; a story which will be read on different levels and with varying perceptions, according to the age of the reader.

Beards from Outer Space (Pet Defenders) by Gareth P. Jones

This isn't a cosy pet story - Pet Defenders are secret agents with a difference and the books will appeal to fun and adventure loving youngsters. There's a new mayor of Nothington-on-Sea and the bearded, sunglass-wearing politician has attracted a whole load of fans. Soon everyone in the town is sporting a beard – even the women! But these are not just any beards – the Beard King is in town and he's planning to conquer the world. Soon every single living thing on Earth will be controlled by a beard... can the Defenders come to the rescue? Plenty of action, plenty of silliness and hilarious drawings. Great fun.

The Adventures of Miss Petitfour by Anne Michaels

Five short stories introduce us to an irresistible new character. As you have probably guessed, she loves baking - and she also loves making and dancing with her cats, but most of all she loves to fly. All she needs is a favourite tablecloth and she's off on an adventure. Wonderfully whimsical, Miss Petitfour's tablecloths take her on all manner of adventures - and always accompanied by her 16 cats. The full colour illustrations by Emma Block are a real treat, capturing the essence of the book to perfection. I hope Miss Petitfour is set to have more adventures.

Orse, the Moon and a Piece of Smelly Cheese (Orse the Polar Bear) by Richard Allen

Orse, the polar bear is a warm-hearted and playful polar bear who seems to have aknack of getting himself in trouble, despite having the best of intentions. There are four short stories for newly confident readers to enjoy. I like the way the book introduces each of the characters, and also includes a map so young readers can track the stories (a great way to learn to read maps). Each page has one or more full colour illustrations, making the book excellent for the transition from picture books. Children will really warm to the lovable characters in the stories. The books are ideal for readers of 6 - 8 years, and the language is ideal - enough to stimulate without being too difficult. The book includes comprehension questions.

Orse to the Rescue (Orse the Polar Bear) by Richard Allen

Four more lively short stories about the lovable polar bear, Orse, and his band of friends. This time, Orse comes to the rescue of his fiends who have drifted out to sea; tries to find some fairy dust; tries to catch a moose; and goes to a fancy dress party. Again, the book is superbly illustrated, making it really appealing. Just a small reservation - I would prefer, for the target age group, to see the stories split into chapters for easier reading. That aside, this is an excellent series, produced to a high quality which makes the books a real pleasure to read.

King Coo by Adam Stower

Ben Pole is the victim of a bully - Monty - who chases Ben until he escapes by falling down a hole... and into a world miles away of wonder and adventure. To give you a taste of the fantasy world, there are wombats, tree-houses and the mysterious and hilarious King Coo, as well as a whole host of other strange characters. There are high jinks on every page and the story relies heavily on visual impact with a plethora of hilarious pictures. And what becomes of Monty? Well, you'll have to read the book to find out. Pacy and fast-moving, it's a book that will have readers hooked from the very first page.

Star Wars: Rogue One: A Junior Novel by Matt Forbeck

Perfect for younger Star Wars fans, this junior novel has all the excitement in an easy-to-read form. Readers will join a group of unlikely heroes who band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire's ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves. This is a stand-alone story, so there's no need for readers to have read others to gain the full benefit.

Dogs and Doctors (Marsh Road Mysteries 5) by Elen Caldecott

Sadly, this is the last outing for friends Piotr, Minnie, Andrew, Flora and Sylvie - the Marsh Road Mystery solvers. Sylvie Hampshire comes to the fore in this story and we meet her in hospital - she knows she's responsible enough to take control of her diabetes medication, but do the doctor and her mum? When Barry, a therapy dog, goes missing in suspicious circumstances, it's time for the gang to come to the rescue. The stakes soon become much higher than they thought. Have they finally met their match? Not if Sylvie Hampshire has anything to do with it! A highly enjoyable read for young mystery lovers, with plenty of clues to follow, and some great characters.

The Fearless Travellers' Guide to Wicked Places by Pete Begler

Nell Perkins knows there is magic at work that she can't yet understand; she is veiwed as weird by her classmates. Her mother has been taken by witches and turned into a bird and Nell must journey to get her mother back, even if it takes her deep into the Wicked Places - the frightening realm where Nightmares resides. There she must break the spell and stop the witches from turning our world into a living nightmare. Pete Begler brings us a vividly depicted world, one which swings from horrific to gentleness with perfect credibility, keeping the reader on tenterhooks throughout.

How to Stage a Catastrophe by Rebecca Donnelly

A book in three acts. ACT 1: The Juicebox Theatre is about ready for the recycling bin. ACT 2: Sidney and Folly consider a crime. ACT 3: Sidney and Folly save the Juicebox Children's Theatre. Sidney Camazzola plans to be the director of the Juicebox Theatre when he grows up... but he needs to ensure the theatre doesn't close, so he and his friends know they need a plan to save it. Zany, pacy and peopled with larger-than-life characters, this is an unusual and hilarious story. Middle grade readers will love the presentation too, with super illustrations to capture attention.

Hashtag Hermione: Wipeout! (Girls Can Vlog) by Emma Moss

Topical and up-to-the-minute, this is very much a book for today's girls. Hermione's parents are separating - and although they're trying to deal with everything in the best way possible,life for Hermione is very unsettling. At least she's got the school skiing trip to France to look forward to for a break from all the stress of being at home. The Girls Can Vlog gang are all excited - vlogging about what to pack and how to look good and stay safe on the slopes. Unfortunately for them, Dakota (the prettiest and meanest girl in school) is also coming on the trip, and she's planning to do everything she can to cause trouble. The book even includes tips on setting up your own blog, and I think that readers will really be encouraged to have a go as the book itself is so enjoyable.

The Family Fiasco (The Mortifying Life of Skye Green) by Anna Wilson

Skye Green's life has turned seriously problematic since her mum started dating Rob, 'the man next door'. Life is full of embarrassment and to make matters worse, his irritating son, Finn is always around too. With her younger brother aspiring to be Dorothy in his school play - and singing to the dog - it seems things can't get worse. But they can... Perceptive and firmly grounded in reality, this is a good read and an interesting look at the dynamics of family life.

The Mysterious Librarian (The Adventures of Miss Charlotte Book 2) by Dominique Demers

Any book which promotes the joy of books has got to be a hit for me, and I love this one! Mysterious and eccentric Miss Charlotte has arrived in Saint-Anatole to take over the tiny library. But she doesn't sit waiting for readers to come to her - oh, no - she goes out ot the readers!.Sometimes she is so caught up in the magic of the stories she shares with her audience that she forgets all sense of reality - so much so that one day she loses consciousness and the children must find a way to bring her back. A wonderful story, with a message for all who want to promote books.

Kensuke's Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo

Washed up on an island in the Pacific, Michael struggles to survive on his own. With no food and no water, he curls up to die. When he wakes, there is a plate beside him of fish, of fruit, and a bowl of fresh water. He is not alone ... Full of anticipation, superbly described and wonderfully characterised, it's a book to keep you guessing. Egmont Books are re-releasing a collectable backlist of Michael Morpurgo's wonderful books; with stunning new covers and at a excellent price, tese a brilliant to start off a whole new collection or o fill in gaps in an existing one.

Why the Whales Came by Michael Morpurgo

Is the Birdman really the danger that Gracie and her friend Daniel have always been warned to stay away from? When they find a message in the sand and discover the Birdman, he is not who they thought. They build up a lovely friendship with him, but when the children get stranded on Samson Island they don’t know whether to believe the birdman’s story that the island is cursed. As ever, the author builds up a wonderful sense of suspense and expectation. Set against the backdrop of the First World War, Michael Morpurgo, in his own inimitable way, brings us a true sense of conflict and danger without over-stating or terrorising. Such a gifted narrator.

The Secret Mountain (Little Legends) by Tom Percival

The series is a great way to encourage newly independent young readers to love books; they will love to re-meet old favourites from fairy tales in exciting new stories. This is the fifth book and it finds the fairy tale friends on a thrilling adventure to the mysterious mountain home of the trolls. Trolls equal trouble but when Jack and his friends Red and Anansi see the prisoner, they find out the so-called spy is just a lost troll child . . . With the help of all their friends, the Little Legends decide to rescue the young troll and take it back to its secret mountain home. But what they find out when they get to Troll Mountain changes everything they've ever known! a lively enjoyable read.

Spirit of the Jungle (The Jungle Book: New Adventures) by Bear Grylls

Any readers who love adrenalin-fuelled stories will love Bear Grylls' exciting fiction. After being washed away down the Wainganga River during a flash flood, Mak wakes up alone in the Indian jungle. The jungle is full of danger - poisonous snakes, cunning monkeys and desperate poachers - and every step Mak takes might be his last. Mak finds help and friendship from other jungle creatures, but he will need all his skill and luck to survive and make his way back home. What really brings these books alive is Bear Grylls' real life experience which he puts to such excellent use to bring us lots of excitement.

Swashbuckle Lil and the Jewel Thief (Swashbuckle Lil: The Secret Pirate) by Elli Woollard

Two swashbuckling stories about one very good pirate, guaranteed to elicit chuckles from newly independent readers. In the first story, evil pirate Stinkbeard tries to steal an old king's ruby ring from the museum, and it's up to schoolgirl and secret pirate, Lil, to stop him! In story two, Lil and her pet parrot are off to a birthday party. But when Stinkbeard and his pet croc turn up, it's up to Lil to save the day. Superbly illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson, children will find these prolifically illustrated books the perfect move onto chapter books.

Bigfoot, Tobin & Me by Melissa Savage

Lemonade's mother named her for her favourite saying: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But now her mum's dead. After relocating to her grandpa's place in Bigfoot-obsessed Willow Creek, Lem meets Tobin. Quirky and determined, he's the CEO of Bigfoot Detectives, Inc. and sole investigator for the town. Lem is reluctantly enlisted as his assistant. Together, they try to capture a shot of the elusive beast on film, but what they find is even more amazing. I love the way Chicken House sum up their books for us: this is bittersweet - quirky - adventure.

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The Boy Who Went Magic by A. P. Winter

They say magic is long-gone ...but is it? A chain of fantastical mishaps in schoolboy Bert's dull life spiral out of control - but then he's rescued by Finch, a plucky girl-adventurer with metal legs. Soon they're sailing through the clouds on a pirate airship bound for the forgotten land of Mirinor. Magic is their destination, for reasons Bert will soon discover ... Chicken House tell us this book is action-packed - enchanting - fantasy.

The Spiral Path: Book 3 in The Ayla Trilogy by Matt Griffin

When orphaned Ayla first arrived in Ireland, she found deep roots in the country - and landed in deadly peril. Saved by her friends, the drama is far from over. The battle was won, the storm has subsided. But the enemy has escaped, the few remaining Danann leaving Fal with a threat that leaves Ayla, Sean, Finny and Benvy in no doubt: their home of Kilnabracka is in serious danger. All is not well in the town. It looks untouched; life goes on, with no sign of the dangerous Danann. But a storm is brewing, and the friends are being drawn into a trap, down a Spiral Path. Deep, dark and haunting.

Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam: Up, Up and Away! by Tracey Corderoy

Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam are far more than just bakers - they are master crime-solvers too. Now they are back in three more hilarious stories - enjoying a road race, catching a jewel thief and puzzling over a mysterious parcel. Each story comes in short chapters, and with Steven Lenton's humorous illustrations, they are just right for newly independent readers, giving them the confidence to tackle chapter books on their own - and ensuring they will thoroughly enjoy their reading.

Mirror Magic (Star Friends) by Linda Chapman

Maia and her friends believe in magic - and young girls will love this magical animal story. When Maia meets Bracken, a fox with indigo eyes, she is amazed at how beautiful and unusual it is. Then she realizes that she can hear the fox speaking to her! Maia and her friends are Star Friends – girls who can use magic to keep the world in harmony. It's a precious gift, one to be used with care. Maia’s older sister has started acting strangely and the Star Animals sense dark magic at work. Can the girls use their newfound Star Magic to help them put a stop to it? This is the first in a series of four books about friendship, belonging and magic.

The Silver Unicorn: Book 1 (Evie's Magic Bracelet) by Jessica Ennis-Hill

This is the first in a promised seven book series by the famous Olympic athlete, who now turns her attention to inspiring children to read and explore their imaginations. When Evie gets a parcel in the post from her Grandma Iris in Jamaica, she finds it contains a beautiful bracelet... a bracelet that gives her the power to talk to animals. Evie's going to need the bracelet and plenty of courage when her friend meets a frightened silver unicorn. But she's always ready to have some magical adventures. A great start to the series.

Ballet Shoes for Anna (Collins Modern Classics) by Noel Streatfeild

Noel Streatfeidl was my favourite author when I was a child, so I am always thrilled to receive one of her books for review. She had such a distinctive writing style and her characters always spring off the page in a wonderful way. Having lost their parents in an earthquake, Anna and her siblings live with their prim uncle and feeble aunt. Anna life revolves around dancing, but her uncle forbids it. What can Anna do? Nobody to teach her, no money to pay - and dancing is forbidden, even if these obstacles can be overcome. Will she ever become the ballerina she longs to be? Ballet Shoes for Anna may not be as well known as some of her other works, but it is just as good and it's wonderful to see this new edition. Of course, the story is dated in places but it's still really readable today and the period aspects just add to the charm, taking us back to a more peaceful world.

The Mark of the Cyclops: An Ancient Greek Mystery (Flashbacks) by Saviour Pirotta

A perfect way to immense KS2 children who are studying Ancient Greece into the ancient world, giving them a real feel for the atmosphere of the time. We are taken back to Athens in 434 BC. Nico's new friend Thrax has a strange knack of figuring things out. And when a valuable wedding vase is broken Thrax's special skills might just come in useful. Can the boys prove that slave girl Gaia is innocent, and discover what the mark of the cyclops means? Fast-paced and full of action, with plenty of line drawings by Freya Hartas to really set the scene.

Goodly and Grave in A Bad Case of Kidnap (Goodly and Grave, Book 1) by Justine Windsor

Mysteries are becoming a really popular genre for children, and this promises to be another highly enjoyable series. Having been wagered in a game of poker, Lucy Goodly finds herself the new boot girl at Grave Hall, working for the cold, aloof Lord Grave. The other staff – Vonk the Butler, Mrs Crawley the cook and Violet the scullery maid – all seem friendly but Lucy soon notices that strange things are afoot in her new home. There are moving statues, magical books and Lord Grave has a secret. Meanwhile, all over the country, children are vanishing. Could the mystery of the missing children be linked to the strange goings-on? Lucy sets out to solve the mystery. Packed with humour, mystery and intrigue right from the start, this is a great start to the series.

Tiger, Tiger (Collins Modern Classics) (Essential Modern Classics) by Lynne Reid Banks

It's a vicious world in Ancient Rome under almighty Caesar. Much of his power is played out in the gladiatorial arena, where animals and men are baited, challenged and destroyed. Two tiger cubs, captured from the jungle, lead totally contrasting lives. One is tamed and de-clawed for pampered life as an exotic pet for Aurelia, Caesar's daughter, but the other is cruelly caged and made even more brutal, trained to fight and kill. But when things go wrong for Aurelia, the cub and his keeper are doomed to death in the arena. A gripping and atmospheric narrative, superbly told.

Dark Days (Skulduggery Pleasant - Book 4) by Derek Landy

"Skulduggery Pleasant is gone, sucked into a parallel dimension overrun by the Faceless Ones. If his bones haven’t already been turned to dust, chances are he’s insane, driven out of his mind by the horror of the ancient gods. There is no official, Sanctuary-approved rescue mission. There is no official plan to save him. But Valkyrie's never had much time for plans. The problem is, even if she can get Skulduggery back, there might not be much left for him to return to. There’s a gang of villains bent on destroying the Sanctuary, there are some very powerful people who want Valkyrie dead, and as if all that wasn’t enough it looks very likely that a sorcerer named Darquesse is going to kill the world and everyone on it. Skulduggery is gone. All our hopes rest with Valkyrie. The world’s weight is on her shoulders, and its fate is in her hands. These are dark days indeed."

Mortal Coil (Skulduggery Pleasant - Book 5) by Derek Landy

"Skulduggery Pleasant and Valkyrie Cain are back – just in time to see their whole world get turned upside down. With Valkyrie struggling to protect her dark secret, Skulduggery and the gang are more vulnerable than ever, just as a plague of body-snatching Remnants are released upon the world…"

Death Bringer (Skulduggery Pleasant, Book 6) by Derek Landy

"The Necromancers no longer need Valkyrie to be their Death Bringer, and that’s a Good Thing. There’s just one catch. There’s a reason the Necromancers don’t need her any more – because they’ve found their Death Bringer already, the person who will dissolve the doors between life and death. And that’s a very, very Bad Thing…" Skulduggery Pleasant is a highly acclaimed series of fantasy novels. The two central figures are the skeleton detective, Skulduggery Pleasant, and a teenage girl, Stephanie Edgley/Valkyrie Cain; other friends also appear throughout the series. The theme is Valkyrie's struggle to stop evil forces threatening the world, to find justice for her late uncle's death, and her own struggle of keeping the darkness within her to stay within.

Clash of the Worlds (House of Secrets, Book 3) by Chris Columbus, Ned Vizzant and Chris Rylander

This is the exciting finale to the excellent House of Secrets series - but I strongly recommend you enjoy the first two stories, if you haven't already done so before starting this one. Cordelia, Brendan and Nell Walker may have saved the world, but they can’t save their home and must leave Kristoff House. It turns out the Wind Witch is still alive and planning an invasion and to defeat her the Walkers must return to the book world and embark on a dangerous quest – facing aliens, dinosaurs and monstrous creatures from the deep. But this time, they must go it alone, each one without their siblings to rely on - and that's going to be hard. Who can they trust? Family loyalty, adventure and danger interweave to bring a gripping conclusion.

The Little Black Sheep (Pandas 6) by Elizabeth Shaw

This is a cute and lovable story for early readers. It tells about an outcast little black sheep who is always in trouble with the bossy sheepdog, Polo.But the brave little sheep saved the whole flock in a snowstorm, put Polo the bossy sheepdog in his place - and gave the shepherd a great idea! With delightful line drawings on every spread, this is a story children will love, simple and effective.

Cowboy Pug (The Adventures of Pug) by Laura James

We first met Pug as Captain Pug, the pirate who was afraid of water. Now Pug and his faithful companion, Lady Miranda, are going to be cowboys for the day - and first of all they're going horsetrading! But with their noble steed Horsey safely acquired, it's not long before they find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Can Pug the reluctant hero overcome his fears and save the day once more? Perfect for newly confident readers, with plenty of illustrations to aid the transition from picture books. It's full of humour and with some great characters and a very enjoyable storyline; good to read aloud too.

Starring Meg: Star Club Book 2 by Natasha Mac a'Bháird

Hannah, Lucy, Laura and Meg formed the Star Club - their own drama club. Summer may be over but the Star Club is definitely not and now it's time to plan their next show! This time, the story focuses on Meg who has to get used to a new town and new school. She has a family secret she wants to keep hidden too. Luckily her Star Club friends are there to support her but can they keep her secret? Will other people accept Meg for who she really is? This second Star Club adventure is full of excitement, fun and of course drama. It's a perfect series for girls, full of friendship, fun and laughter.

Goldenclaw (Spynosaur) by Guy Bass

Guy Bass is an author who really knows how to capture children's attention and he is the author of many very successful series; this is the second in a new series. When Spynosaur locks up the last of the world’s worst criminal masterminds, is there anyone left worthy of his super-spy skills? Even Goldentoe, their last hope of a dastardly villain, admits to only pretending to be evil to win the heart of Shady Lady. Frantic that her dad has lost the will to spy, Amber has to work hard to convince the villains to become worthy of the name. With its appealing mix of text, pictures and cartoon illustrations, the story is guaranteed to have huge appeal.

Little Lord Fauntleroy (Alma Junior Classics) by Frances Hodgson Burnett

First published in 1886, Little Lord Fauntleroy was Frances Hodgson Burnett's first children's novel; it's goo to see it reissued with a fresh new cover to appeal to today's audience. Both young and old will appreciate the way it looks at the contrasts in culture between the US and the UK which were, of course, very strong at the time the book was written. Growing up in a poor New York neighbourhood, Cedric Errol seemed to be a normal American boy but when he meets his grandfather, the Earl of Dorincourt, he learns that he is actually Lord Fauntleroy. He must therefore become an English gentleman and Cedric is Whisked away from his mother and his friends - but he must find a way to convince his grandfather to send him home and show him that there is more to nobility than titles and wealth. This edition from Alma Books contains a wealth of additional material which really adds value to the book, especially for classroom use.

Zoe's Rescue Zoo: The Scruffy Sea Otter by Amelia Cobb

Zoe always has animals to care for, as her Great Uncle Horace brings all sorts of creatures to live at the Rescue Zoo. This time, there are three orphaned seal pups and the youngest pup, Sasha, is the cheekiest and fluffiest of all. Zoe has a special skill which helps her - she can talk to animals. Sasha feels sad when her older, more confident, siblings are chosen to take part in a special otter display. Can Zoe and Meep persuade Sasha the scruffy sea otter not to give up and to bring her own special skills to the show? A lovely, heart-warming series of animal stories, perfect for newly confident readers.

The New Friend: Book 3 (Polly and the Puffin) by Jenny Colgan

I first 'met' Neil the Puffin in Jenny Colgan's Little Beach Street Bakery books, and it's lovely to see he has been made into the star of a series for children. Polly and Neil have had lots of fun together but now the time has come for Polly to go to the place she calls 'Big School'. It might be fun, it might be exciting, and it's definitely a little bit scary. Making new friends can be harder than it sounds . . . join Polly on her quest and find out if there might be a new feathered friend for Neil too! With lovely two-tone illustrations, this is ideal for bedtime stories and early readers; not surprisingly, it also includes some delicious recipes!

Mammoth Mayhem: Book 18 (Frankie's Magic Football) by Frank Lampard

The Frankie books have worked up into a substantial series, but there's always a fresh theme to be enjoyed. It is a fantastic series for 5+ readers combining magic and football, written by superstar footballer Frank Lampard. This time, Frankie and friends are camping with their fathers for Father's Day but their peaceful holiday is threatened when they meet a boy whose father has gone missing and, what's more, there's a woolly mammoth on the loose. More fun and mayhem ensue! Each book has game cards to collect.

Hamish and the Gravity Burp (Hamish 3) by Danny Wallace

This book is far from ordinary - it knows something terrifying! And that is that the people of Earth face their gravest, grimmest threat yet! When Hamish arrives home to find his mum and his brother lying flat on their backs ON THE CEILING, he knows there’s something seriously wrong (again) in the town of Starkley. What is the strange burping noise he keeps hearing? Why are weird seeds suddenly falling from the sky? And should he be worried about the odd woman with a cone around her neck? All Hamish and his gang the PDF can be sure of is that an adventure is coming. And that means two things: You have to be prepared. You have to prepare a sandwich

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

The Adventures in Wild Space is an original Star Wars fiction series which is set in the period between Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: A New Hope. It's perfect to get Star Wars fans reading as they meet a whole host of new characters, including a new droid, CR-8R, and a new villain, Captain Korda. It is a time of darkness. With the end of the Clone Wars and the destruction of the Jedi Order, the evil Emperor Palpatine rules the galaxy unopposed. After their parents were kidnapped by the ruthless Imperial Captain Korda, young explorers Lino and Milo Graf set out to find them. This is the first full-length adventure, Milo and Lina look for allies on an ancient frontier world – but the cruel Imperial officer Captain Korda has prepared a trap. It's an exciting, fast-moving story which will grip the attention of Star Wars fans and even those who are new to the stories will find it very enjoyable.

   

The Clubhouse Mystery (Cass and the Bubble Street Gang) by Erika McGann

Cass and her best friends, Lex and Nicholas, are the Bubble Street Gang and, of course, they’ve even got their own secret clubhouse from which they investigate crimes, solve mysteries and simply have brilliant adventures. But the first mystery they must solve is very close to home - things are being moved around, there are crumbs on the table and hairs on the floor... and the door is open. Join Cass and the Bubble Street Gang as they investigate The Clubhouse Mystery. Perfect for younger readers who are confidently reading alone, this traditional-style mystery story is great fun, enhanced by the lively illustrative material.

Midnight Mystery (Dotty Detective, Book 3) by Clara Vulliamy

The Join the Dots Detectives: Dot, Beans and McClusky are back on the case in their third adventure. I think the best thing about these books (apart from the great stories, of course) is the presentation - written in diary format by Dot, young readers will really feel drawn into the story as they enjoy the pictures and interesting text layout. Dot and Beans are off to Adventure Camp for their school trip. They are really looking forward to lots of exciting activities like zip-wiring, grass tobogganing and roasting marshmallows round a campfire! But once they arrive, strange things start happening. Could mean girl Laura could be up to her old tricks in a bid to win the Adventure Camp Prize? It’s up to the Join the Dots Detectives to find out! Meanwhile, back at home, McClusky is entered into a local dog show! Will he keep up his training while Dot’s away and win the prize for handsomest pooch? Lively and entertaining, and with plenty of clues to help readers solve the mystery, this is a really enjoyable read.

 

Born to Dance (Dance Trilogy, Book 1) by Jean Ure

This is the first in a brand-new series about dancing, friendship and following your dreams. Jean Ure is a hugely popular author who has been delighting readers for many years - her books are described by Jacqueline Wilson as “funny, funky, feisty - and fantastic reads!” There's a mystery afoot when new girl Caitlyn arrives at Coombe House School - she looks just like a ballerina and Maddy is sure she must be a fellow ballet dancer; she certainly has all the grace and poise of a ballerina, but Caitlyn denies it. So why is Caitlyn secretly practising ballet in the gym? Maddy is determined to find out. A great start to the series which introduces the characters and makes the reader want to know more about their stories.

The Bagthorpe Saga: Ordinary Jack (Collins Modern Classics) by Helen Cresswell

Brilliant to see the first story in the wonderful Bagthorpe saga reissued. Jack and his faithful dog Zero are the only ordinary ones in an extraordinarily gifted family and jack is fed up with being ordinary. So when Uncle Parker comes up with a plan to make Jack stand out, he’s really keen. Can he really get away with claiming to predict the future? And will the hare-brained scheme help Jack shine, or get him noticed for all the wrong reasons? This hilarious story is a great way to introduce readers to the series - hopefully, they will really want to carry on reading about the adventures of this extraordinary family.

Mary Poppins in Cherry Tree Lane / Mary Poppins and the House Next Door by P. L. Travers

Two short stories about the famous and quite extraordinary nanny are brought together in one enjoyable book. In Mary Poppins in Cherry Tree Lane, going to the Park for a supper picnic proves to be more than just the expected treat when Mary Poppins is around! The strangest people turn up, and Jane and Michael have a wonderful time. In Mary Poppins and the House Next Door, Luti, the child who comes to live at No. 18 Cherry Tree Lane with Mr Banks’s much-feared elderly Governess, longs to go home to the South Seas. So Mary Poppins takes him and the Banks children on a spectacular trip to the Man-in-the-Moon. The characters are familiar to most of us from the film, but it's great fun to read about them too.

Helper and Helper by Joy Cowley

Enjoy more funny stories and wry observations with the bestselling Snake and Lizard. Snake and Lizard are busy creatures who are always ready to give a helping hand to others. Great stories to read aloud, with a gentle moral and plenty to think about.

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Detective Gordon: A Case in Any Case by Ulf Nilsson

This is the third and final book in the much-loved Detective Gordon series by one of Sweden's top children's writers. Ideal for newly independent readers who will enjoy solving the mystery along with Detective Gordon. They will be helped on the way by the lively colour illustrations, hints in the text and the map of the forest. There's plenty of humour, but it's also a book to reflect on.

DARKMOUTH (DARKMOUTH, BOOK 1) BY SHANE HEGARTY

For those who love terror mixed with humour, this new series promises great things. Legends (also known as terrifying, human-eating monsters) have invaded the town of Darkmouth (the last of the blighted villages, gateways for the feared Legends) and aim to conquer the world. Finn: just 12 years old, is being trained by his father to be a Legend Hunter. But gentle Finn, who loves animals, is not a natural fighter.  He tries, though, he tries really, really hard, but somehow he prefers running away. Highly atmospheric, this is a book which draws you in to the story through wonderful language which vividly sets the scene. It's dark... it's adventurous.. it's exciting...it's fantastical.This is the book that can’t wait to get its teeth into you. It’s about to get legendary.

WORLDS EXPLODE (DARKMOUTH, BOOK 2) BY SHANE HEGARTY

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

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.

GRANDPA'S GREAT ESCAPE BY DAVID WALLIAMS

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

Thomasina by Paul Gallico

This moving story tells of Thomasina, the beloved pet cat of 7-year-old Mary Ruadh. Mary's father is a vet but when Thomasina is injured, Mary's cruel father (who doesn't like being a vet) refuses to save her. Mary is heartbroken, refuses to speak to her father, and becomes dangerously ill. Her life is saved by Lori, a young woman who is rumoured to be a witch with healing powers. While Lori helps Thomasina recover from her ordeal, Mary's health continues to deteriorate and it is only when Thomasina makes her miraculous return, on a dark and stormy night, and is reunited with her owner that Mary is pulled from the brink of death. Paul Gallico has written some superb animal stories, and they deserve to be better known as they couple excellent depictions of people with empathetic stories about well-described animals. A totally absorbing book.

The Spellcoats (The Dalemark Quartet, Book 3) by Diana Wynne Jones

From one of the best of magic and fantasy writers, this series by Diana Wynne Jones may be less well-known than Chrestomanci, but it's as equally deserving of attention. The Spellcoats is the third in the series, and I really think that Cart and Cwidder and Drowned Amnet should be read first to get the very best out of the series; it can be read separately, however. The story is related in the first person by Tanaqui, giving the story a really personal feel with draws the reader into the book. Tanaqui and her family have always known they were somehow different from the other villagers. But when the great floods come and they are driven from their home, they begin to realise the part they must play in the destiny of the land. As Tanaqui weaves the story of their frightening journey to the sea and the terrifying, powerful evil of the mage Kankredin, she realises the desperate need to understand the meaning of it all. Can she fit the pieces of the puzzle together in time to halt Kankredin’s destruction?

The Crown of Dalemark (The Dalemark Quartet, Book 4) by Diana Wynne Jones

Since his arrival in the North of Dalemark Mitt has become disillusioned. The North seems no more free than the Holand he fled, a fugitive accused of attempted murder. And now he is trapped by the order to kill someone he doesn’t know or else risk the lives of his friends. Forced once more to flee, Mitt is joined by Moril, the quietly powerful musician, and Maewen – out of her time, but mysteriously fated to play a part in their quest. For the evil powers of the mage Kankredin are re-assembling, and only the Adon’s gifts – the ring, sword and cup – can once more unit Dalemark. There are plenty of surprises in this conclusion to the series, and it brings everything to a conclusion in a most satisfying way, with plenty of tension en route.

Freddie Mole, Lion Tamer by Alexander McCall Smith

A hugely popular author brings us an exciting circus-based tale for younger readers - and as we would expect from this author, the atmosphere are setting are rich in detail. Freddie is just an ordinary boy until he joins the circus one eventful day. He can't believe his luck as he is asked to understudy some of the acts. But is he brave enough to go into the lions' cage? Join Freddie Mole as he tumbles through the air, flies around the big tent and tames four growling lions! A lively story, enhanced by Kate Hindley's action-packed drawings.

The Anti-Princess Club 5 Cruise Control by Samantha Turnbull

The members of the Anti-Princess Club, Emily, Bella, Grace and Chloe are determined not to be stereotyped and these feisty young girls are great role models. Emily has won a place in a video game competition - on a summer cruise! And her best friends are with her all the way. While on board, the girls set themselves a few anti-princess missions: win the regatta, rescue the endangered turtle, show the gift shop manager that dolls can be more than be pretty, and prove to the gamers that girls can compete - and win! Can the anti-princesses work together to complete their missions, and maybe pick up some new members along the way? This is a great summer read, and there are lots of really enjoyable activities to enjoy as part of the book.

Tashi and the Wicked Magician by Anna Fienberg

Tashi is a popular character in Australian children's fiction, who whisks children away into a wonderfully imaginative world of mystery and magic. This collection is an ideal introduction, as Tashi tells four tales of courage and daring, each featuring a beautiful colour illustration. There's a Magnificent Magician with a greedy plan, a haunted house about to go up in flames, ruthless ruffians after a rare orchid, and a quest for the bravest person in the land to face the fire-breathing Red Whiskered Dragon. Excellent storytelling will really engage children's attention and develop their imagination.

St David's Day is Cancelled by Wendy White

Surely it can't be true? Suspicious that Mrs Right, the head teacher, has no plans at all to celebrate Saint David’s Day this year, Seren Wen and the rest of her school newspaper team are on a mission. But what can Seren Wen and the team do? One thing’s for sure, they have plenty of ideas! The gang of friends soon form a cunning plan to try and save the annual celebrations with a range of amusing mis-haps and coincidences. The characters are excellently depicted and the storyline is warm and humorous; a great read for St David's Day.

Rugby Runner: Ancient Roots, Modern Boots (Rugby Spirit) by Gerard Siggins

Life is full-on for school rugby star Eoin Madden – he’s captain of the Junior Cup team, he’s training with Leinster and hoping to be chosen for the Ireland team for the first-ever Under 16 World Cup. But it’s not all fun and games, as Eoin also has to deal with grumpy friends, teachers piling on the homework – AND a ghost on a mission that goes back to the very origins of the game of rugby. But what does the restless spirit need, and can Eoin help him? A great combination of sport, school story and a mystery, this will give readers plenty to think about as they join Eoin on his quest.

Warrior Heroes: The Pharaoh's Charioteer (Flashbacks) by Benjamin Hulme-Cross

I love to encourage children to read fiction with a historical background and it's a very effective way of supporting teaching. Children really absorb the feel of a period through fiction and they can learn so much to make their history studies come to life. This series is a great background and the stories are really exciting and fast-paced. Arthur and Finn have travelled back to ancient Egypt, where they discover dangerous rivalries, and a prince and princess with strong opinions. Can they prevent a kidnapping and stop a war? Will the boys succeed in helping the Egyptian prince and princess and both make it back to the present? In Warrior Heroes: The Spartan's March (Flashbacks), brothers Arthur and Finn to change the life of one Spartan soldier and make sure he saves his family before his final battle. Will the boys succeed in completing their mission, avoid the wrath of the Persian Army and make it back to the present in one piece? The line drawings are also excellent for setting the scene.

The Moonlight Statue (The Hounds of Penhallow Hall) by Holly Webb

Holly Webb is well known for her animal stories, and here we do have an animal story but one with more depth and a more complex story than some of her other books, which makes for a really good read. Polly's has got a job managing Penhallow Hall and once the last of the visitors leave for the day the place is all theirs! One night, Polly sleepwalks into the garden and wakes to find her hand on the head of one of the stone dogs that guard the steps down to the lawn. Then she feels him lick her cheek! The dog introduces himself as Rex, an Irish Wolfhound who lived at Penhallow many hundreds of years earlier. And he is not the only resident ghost – Polly has also glimpsed a strange boy around the place. With Rex’s help she finds herself unravelling the story of his beloved master, William Penhallow, who was killed in the First World War aged only 17.

Danny Brown and the Monster Toothbrush by Brianóg Brady Dawson

A seemingly unlikely theme for a book but one which leads to a surprisingly good story. Danny is delighted when his Mum tells him to put his toothbrush in the bin: he hates brushing his teeth... but here's more to it than that, when he discovers that his Granny has a brand new toothbrush for him! Danny determines to destroy it through ever-more creative and inventive ideas but the toothbrush proves to be indestructible. There's more mischeif afoot in Danny Brown and the Talking Teeth. Danny is very excited to have his Granny over to visit. When she takes her teeth out and puts them in a glass before bed Danny is puzzled. It's not long before Danny is wearing his Granny's teeth and bringing them to school! Illustrated throughout in full colour, with a high proportion of picture to text, these lively and engaging stories are perfect for newly confident readers.

Molly & Pim and the Millions of Stars by Martine Murray

Molly just wants to be normal like her friend Ellen. But Molly's mum spends her mornings tramping through the woods, looking for ingredients for her potions. Their house is not neat, and their rooster, the Gentleman, runs wild in their yard. And when the Gentleman annoys their grumpy neighbours, the Grimshaws, Molly's mum makes a potion that will grow a tree between their houses. But that goes terribly wrong when mum accidentally drinks the potion and turns into the tree. It's up to Molly to save her mum before her branches get cut down. With the help of her mysterious classmate Pim Wilder, Molly sets out to save her mother and discovers the wonder that lies in the ordinary. Join Molly on her voyage of discovery as she starts to view the world from a different perspective in this magical and perceptive story.

The Bus Stop at the End of the World by Dan Anthony

At the bus stop, halfway between his new home and school, Ritchie's stumbled upon the spot where myth and real trouble get mixed up. Singing cowboys, green creatures from the hedge and the fastest girl on two wheels might not be enough to save him from the most dangerous enemy known to man. Unusual and imaginative, this fast-moving story will really encourage children to use their imaginations as they revel in the strange and compelling occurrences.

Giant by Kate Scott

It's hard to measure up in a family with high expectations... and even harder when those people sometimes use you as an arm rest. And call you 'Peanut'. Anzo is 11 years old and very, very short. Mum, Dad and his two uncles are extremely tall but they're also high achievers, obsessed with fulfilling their lifelong ambition of opening a restaurant together. Everyone has a role - chef, DIY, marketing, accounts - but where does Anzo fit in? If only he could grow a few inches in height, then no one would be able to overlook him. Josh would stop teasing Anzo in school, he wouldn't have to play all seven dwarfs in the school play, and at home he could tell his parents about his drawing and the comic convention he's been invited to. Then, overnight, Anzo starts to grow. Is life as a giant going to solve all his problems, or should he stop worrying and learn to just be himself?

Barry Loser and the birthday billions (The Barry Loser Series) by Jim Smith

Barry Loser just gets better and better - as you'd expect from a series which won the Roald Dahl Funny Prize. Perfect for readers aged 7-10 years old who love humour in their books, the series is ideal for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Tom Gates, Dennis the Menace and Pamela Butchart's Wigglesbottom Primary series. Barry is over the moon with his birthday present - it's the amazekeel new gaming helmet he wanted ... until his baby brother breaks it and ruins everything. But the ever-resourceful Barry has a plan: he’ll just have to become a billionaire inventor and make enough money to buy another one! Simple? But this is Barry Loser... Another hilarious madcap adventure.

Mostly Mary (Mary Plain 1) by Gwynedd Rae

This is a really nostalgic book and wonderful to see the lovable Mary Plain being introduced to a whole new audience. Mary Plain is an orphan who lives with her relatives in the bear pits at Berne Zoo, Switzerland. A delightful but rather unusual bear, with a huge personality and an appetite to match, you never quite know what escapades she'll get up to next! But whatever it is, you are guaranteed great fun. The stories have been brought up to date with fresh, funny and energetic illustrations by Clara Vulliamy, which really capture the indomitable spirit of this wonderful bear. The original text is lovingly reproduced in this hardback foiled edition which includes a new heart-warming introduction from Clara Vulliamy about what the books mean to her.

All Mary (Mary Plain 2) by Gwynedd Rae

A wonderfully funny whirlwind adventure, full of madcap mishaps and misunderstandings, as Mary Plain goes on her first ever ‘svisit’ and ends up as Berne's most famous bear! Join Mary, who in her own words is 'an unusual first-class bear', as she tries all sorts of new things, including eclairs, cream buns, going on buses, aeroplanes, boats, taxis and even winning first prize at a show, all in the company of her long suffering-friend, the Owl Man. Mary Plain is quite irresistible - she is full of fun, and her adventures are just as fresh and enjoyable as when they were first written. Those who grew up with Mary Plain will love to collect these gorgeous new hardback editions. They are lovely stories to read aloud.

Our Dog Benji by Pete Carter

This is the perfect book to share with fussy eaters and hopefully it will encourage them to be a little more adventurous... though we probably don't want their choices to be as wide-ranging as a dogs! While ice cream and pizza might be devoured in the blink of an eye, the dreaded 'green stuff' (vegetables to the adults) is often pushed to one side of the plate. Author Pete Carter understands this phenomenon well, as he shows in the adventures of Benji. In delightful duotone illustrations and engaging text, we see how Benji's willingness to eat anything - from daffodils to brussels sprouts, ice cream to avocados, sandwiches to bones - gradually inspires his child owner to be a little more adventurous at mealtimes. Although dogs and children do have standards and it seems there's one thing neither of them will touch... but perhaps that is excusable!

How to Outsmart a Billion Robot Bees (Genius Factor 2) by Paul Tobin

It's Friday the 13th again, and for sixth grade genius Nate Bannister, that means doing three more not-so-smart things to keep life interesting. But he has bigger problems than his own experiments. His nemesis, the Red Death Tea Society, is threatening to unleash a swarm of angry bees on the city of Polt if Nate doesn't join their ranks. But then a new group of people with murky intentions shows up -- the League of Ostracized Fellows -- and they want Nate as their own, too. To top it off, he's convinced there's a spy in his very own school. Nate must once again team up with his new, resourceful, friend Delphine to save the day. They'll need the help of Nate's crazy gadgets, such as his talking car Betsy and super-powered pets Bosper the Scottish terrier and Sir William the gull, if they hope to see another Friday the 13th. Because they might be battling more than just sting-happy bees and villains with a penchant for tea this time around.

   

Mabel Jones and the Doomsday Book by Will Mabbitt

How far would you go to save your best friend from the creaking gibbet? Intrepid Mabel Jones will do all that it takes. is on her way to the city of Otom in search of the legendary Doomsday Book - an ancient document that might help her save mankind. But Otom is a dangerous place, packed with soldiers, spies and stinking rebels. Can Mabel escape with the book, or will she fall victim to the dreaded Grand Zhoul ...? Funny, clever, silly, out-of-the-ordinary - it's all of these, combined to bring us a really good read.

The Elephant Thief by Jane Kerr

Pickpocket Danny gets more than he bargained for when he accidentally bids for Maharajah the elephant at an Edinburgh auction. The consequences are far-reacjing and set him off on a wonderful and quite unforgettable journey. His new employer, a zookeeper, transforms Danny into a bejewelled Indian prince. As he rides Maharajah from Scotland to his new home in England, even Queen Victoria follows their journey with delight. But a rival zookeeper wagers on their failure, and soon Danny's shady connections threaten to overturn the mission ... Superbly atmospheric, full of colour and atmosphere as well as superb historical detail, this is a book to sweep you away on a wonderful journey. It's based on a true story, bearing out the fact that often fact is stranger than fiction.

Hilo Book 1: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth by Judd Winick

HiLo is a new middle-grade graphic novel series that will appeal to fans of books like The Wimpy Kid and Tom Gates. D.J. and his friend Gina are just normal children... until a mysterious boy comes crashing down from the sky. This is HiLo, but he doesn't know who he is or where he came from.But maybe something else fell along with HiLo... Can the trio unlock the secrets of his past? The characters are great and the comic-book style will really appeal to readers - especially as they are in full vibrant colour throughout, and the story is told just as much through the pictures as through the text. Plenty of humour, strong friendships and just enough tension to keep the reader hooked.

Hilo: Saving the Whole Wide World (Hilo Book 2) by Judd Winick

Hot on the heels of a great start to the series comes another adventure for Hilo the alien robot and ordinary kids D.J. and Gina are TOTALLY ordinary kids. Life on earth has taken some getting used to for Hilo when strange portals begin opening up all over town and even STRANGER creatures are coming through them! In this zany, off-the-wall story all sorts of weird and wonderful creations are imaginatively brought into the story. There's a giant mutant chicken, a Viking hippo, a magical warrior cat... not to mention the killer vegetables. Can Hilo, D.J. and Gina figure out how to send these creatures back to their own worlds before they DESTROY the Earth? Hilarious.

Claude Going for Gold! by Alex T Smith

I love the Claude books - they are the perfect transition from picture book to chapter book, with an utterly irresistible star character. When Claude and Sir Bobblysock are very excited about being invited to take part in a Very Exciting Sports Competition. But Claude's doggy paddle isn't quite fast enough, and he's not quite as good at gymnastics as he thought he might be. Then some robbers steal the Gold Cup and Claude chases them - can he run fast enough to catch them? Wonderful humour and perfect pictures. It's great news that Claude is due to star on Disney Jr in 2017 - brilliant!

Attack of the Alien Dung! (Pet Defenders) by Gareth P. Jones

It can be a problem for natural enemies cat and dog to work together, but when it's up to Mitzy and Biskit to save the world from alien invasions, they just have to work together. The town is under threat from... cluster of cow pats! It’s time for Biskit and Mitzy to put aside their differences and kick some alien butt! Great fun, with pacy humour perfectly geared to children's sense of humour.

King Flashypants and the Creature From Crong: Book 2 by Andy Riley

When rumours of a huge and terrifying monster called the Gizimoth reach Edwinland, King Edwin Flashypants decides that, to be a proper king, he needs to go and fight it. Meanwhile, Emperor Nurbison has had a similar idea, but he has a much sneakier plan for what he can do with the Gizimoth. And it involves squishing Edwinland. A laugh-a-minute book which will have the reader in fits of laughter; the wonderful line drawings and clever use of layout will really engage readers.

Nelly and the Flight of the Sky Lantern by Roland Chambers

If you want a story that is totally out of the ordinary, then you've come to the right place! When Nelly returns home to discover that her mother has mysteriously disappeared, she vows to stop at nothing until she's found her... as long as she has her turtle Columbus with her. Climb to the tops of the clouds in a laundry basket? Why not? Dive to the depths of the ocean in an oversized tin can? Of course! This is a truly original, highly quirky adventure story, beautifully written, full of amazing characters, illustrated throughout in two tone drawings.

The Pest in the Nest: Book 2 (Rabbit and Bear) by Julian Gough

Another lovely story about the friendship between Rabbit and Bear, who seem to want different things and yet whose friendship stays strong and meaningful. All Rabbit wants is some peace and quiet - something has got to be done. But high in the branches, perhaps Bear can show Rabbit how to see the world from a different place ... A story of friendship, wisdom, and how to be REALLY NOISY. The relationship between the two is excellently depicted and I love the way they talk to each other. Full of humour - a real joy to read.

Me and Mister P by Maria Farrer

Meet Arthur and his brand new friend, Mister P - the world's most helpful polar bear!. What would you do if a polar bear appeared at your front door? Why, let him in, of course - what else could you do? Arthur has plenty of problems with his family, but perhaps a helpful polar bear can make things better. Packed with gorgeous illustrations throughout, this touching story depicts a family relationship with compassion and humour. It's superbly told, sweeping the reader along into the hearts of Arthur and Mr P. It is sure to be a hit with developing readers and is a great book to be read aloud and to share as a family.

The Pudding Problem (Lyttle Lies 1) by Joe Berger

Sam has a reputation, as being a habitual liar. Nobody can trust what he says. He thinks it's easier that way, skirting the truth, and avoid trouble, rather than being completely honest. However, he soon finds out that in trying to avoid trouble, not telling the truth gets him in to all sorts of scrapes! His Mum, Dad, Sister and Grandpa would like him to be more honest - but will Sam ever learn? This lively graphic novel is a wonderful celebration of the imagination, told in an engaging way that will capture young readers' attention. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Saturdays at Sea by Jessica Day George

In the seaside kingdom of Lilah's betrothed prince, Lulath, Celie and her companions are completing the construction of a grand ship built from parts of the Castle. But on their maiden voyage, the Ship steers them far off course into dangerous and unknown waters. Celie and Lilah hope that the Ship is taking them to the ancient island where unicorns once roamed, but as the journey grows longer and supplies run low, they are in trouble. Celie, Lilah, and Rolf know they must trust the Ship as they trust the Castle, but what if they never reach land again? An exciting story which nicely blends fantasy with adventure, and gives us some great and somewhat unusual characters to enjoy.
Alma Books

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

On the grounds of Misselthwaite in Yorkshire, nine-year-old Mary Lennox finds a mysterious walled-in garden that has been locked securely for years. Helped by Dickon Sowerby, a young local boy who can charm animals, Mary cultivates the garden, and thereby both improves her health and raises her spirits. Ultimately, the secret garden proves beneficial not only to Mary, but to her sickly cousin Colin, with its power to heal the heart. First published in 1911, Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden is an enduring classic. This edition from Alma Classics features lively line drawings to bring the story to life, plus very useful additional material including a quiz and character outlines. Perfect as a class reader. This book can be bought as part of Alma Books' Children's Classics Collection.

Starstruck! (Angela Nicely) by Alan MacDonald

We first met Angela Nicely in the Dirty Bertie story Kiss! The she starred in her own series of which this, sadly, is to be the last. Angela is a lovely character with a big personality and high ambitions. This book contains three more really funny stories to delight young readers; with its short chapters and plenty of illustrations, it's great for newly confident readers. Whether she’s tussling with Tiffany about who is the biggest super-fan, helping her mum win the Best Kept Garden Competition or trying her hand as an agony aunt, everyone will know that Angela Nicely is around! Great fun.

The Fintastic Diary of Darcy Dolphin by Sam Watkins

In Darcy Dolphin, we meet a great new character, perfect for newly confident readers of 6+. This is Darcy's very own diary, showcasing her exploits day by day - Monksfishday, Tunaday, Whalesday and on through the week... In the first book of the series, Darcy gets a pet, auditions for the role of Finderella in the school play, and solves a mystery on the reef. It's a great blend of the reality children will know - school, friends, pets - with an underwater world that gives plenty of scope to be different. There are, as you may have already gathered, lots of plays on words and these are used to great effect. It's a great combination, well written with lots of humour to keep children engrossed. Readers can even learn to draw a dolphin!

Monty the Sad Puppy (Holly Webb's Animal Stories) by Holly Webb

Holly Webb has a huge following for her ever-popular animal stories - this is the thirty-fifth in the series. Amelie has always loved dogs, and now her family have two - puppy Monty, and her grandad’s beloved dachshund Daisy. But when Daisy arrives, she is obviously unhappy and scared; Monty doesn’t understand why there is another dog in his house. He soon feels left out as Amelie seems to give Daisy all her attention... so Monty decides to explore the wider world. Another lovely animal story.

The Pirate King: Spacejackers, Book 3 by Huw Powell

The galaxy is at war and Jake Cutler is at the heart of it. With his friends and allies captured, it's up to teenage space pirate, Jake, to go into battle and take down the corrupt Interstellar Government once and for all. But in order to win this battle, Jake must find his father and confront secrets from his own past. An exciting, fast-moving adventure story, perfect for Star Wars fans. I recommend starting with the first book in the series, though, for maximum enjoyment.
Alma Books

Black Beauty (Alma Classics) by Anna Sewell

An all-time classic, Black Beauty showcased the terrible conditions and treatment meted out to horses (and by inference, other animals) in Victorian Britain. Black Beauty tells the story in his own words, from his carefree days as a colt on a farm, to his harsh life pulling cabs in London, and on to his happy retirement in the country. In true Victorian form, the chapters recount incidents in Black Beauty's life containing a lesson or moral typically related to the kindness, sympathy, and understanding treatment of horses. It is never mawkish or sentimental, though, and it is still as readable and enjoyable as ever, giving the reader an insight into the world of the Victorians through the eyes of a loyal horse. Full of insight and told with empathy, this is a must-read. It's one of Alma's collection of classics and includes some very useful additional material. This book can be bought as part of Alma Books' Children's Classics Collection.

Baker Street Academy: Sherlock Holmes and the Disappearing Diamond by Sam Hearn

Sherlock Holmes has been catapulted into the 21st century with this engaging story told through John Watson's blog, detective notes, school assignments, media reports, and action-packed comic-strip illustrations. Meet the young John Watson from the Baker Street Academy on a trip to one of London's top museums, home to the Alpine Star, the world's most famous jewel. The gem is stolen from right under their noses! When police catch the thief along with the stolen gem, it seems the case is closed - but the young Sherlock Holmes has other ideas. With John and Martha at his side, can he uncover the mystery behind this extraordinary gem? It's a great way to introduce Sherlock Holmes to young readers.

Kitty's Magic 3: Ruby the Runaway Kitten by Ella Moonheart

This is the third in a series of cute animals stories that young girls will love. Kitty is no ordinary girl - she can turn into a cat! But her magic carries responsibility - Kitty is the Guardian of the local Cat Council and must help them find the solutions to their feline problems. Coco is Evie's pet cat and she's not happy when Ruby the kitten joins the household. In fact, she is so unkind, Ruby runs away. Can Kitty use her magic to find the lost kitten? A light and easy read, perfect for pet-lovers.

Word of Mouse by James Patterson

Isaiah is a very unusual mouse - he can read and write, and talk to humans. Join Isaiah on a unique journey during which he makes one special friend. Separated from his mouse family (did you know that a group of mice can be called a mischief?), Isaiah has to use his special skills to survive in the dangerous outdoors, and hopefully find his missing family. But it's a perilous world out there... and a lonely one. When he meets an equally unusual and lonely human girl named Hailey, the two soon learn that true friendship can transcend all barriers. It's wondrously illustrated by Joe Sutphin, with gloriously detailed line drawings. A highly imaginative story which has pertinent messages from Isaiah to begin every chapter. A great read with a lovely character, who develops as the book progresses.

What Katy Did (Alma Children's Classics) by Susan Coolidge

This classic story should be a must-read for all girls. It is, of course, the story of Katy, who we first meet as a 12 year old tomboy. Full of mischief, but never malice, Katy leads her family into all sorts of trouble - until the terrible accident that leaves her a bedridden invalid. Now she is forced to learn the virtues of patience, sacrifice and hopefulness, as she comes to terms with her disability. It's very much of it's time, and yet it is still an excellent read today, with its strong family theme and diverse characters. I like the contemporary feel of the cover, which gives the book appeal for today's readers. This would be an excellent edition for classroom use, with its profile of the author, notes about the story, very good brief character profiles, plus a quiz. These all really add to the book and make this edition very appealing.

Worst Ever School Trip (Beaky Malone) by Barry Hutchison

Great stuff! A second book in the new series from an award-winning author. Beaky Malone is a character who will appeal to boys and girls alike. It’s been 92 hours since Beaky last told a lie but the annual school trip is going to take Beaky’s survival skills to a whole other level – especially as a mix up in the school office means that Beaky and his class are on a trip to Learning Land, an educational theme park aimed at eight-year-olds. Beaky’s partnered with school bully Wayne. With Beaky unable to tell a lie and Wayne intent on beating him up, things aren’t looking good... and things continue to go downhill. With comical illustrations to accompany the hilarious story, this is bound to be a winner.

The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis

Aventurine is a fearless and ferocious dragon - but she has met her match when she captures a human who tricks her into drinking enchanted hot chocolate. Not only does Aventurine find herself transformed into a puny human girl; she also discovers a passion for chocolate. But that's no problem to Aventurine, who is as bold and brave as ever... An apprenticeship in a chocolate house sounds just the thing. This is a glorious blend of reality and fantasy as we share with Averturine in her adventures, her new friendships and an insightful view of what it means to be a human. A scrumptious read!

The Cat and the King by Nick Sharratt

We all know and love Nick Sharratt as an illustrator but now he's turned his attention to writing - and very successfully! A gentle, unworldly King and his very clever cat are the stars of the story. They live happily in the castle until an unfortunate incident with a dragon burns the castle down and they must find a new home. Settling in to Number 37 Castle Close means the cat must introduce the King to all sorts of new experiences, from washing-up to shopping - with hilarious consequences. But the dragon isn't done yet... A truly hilarious story and one that will have children in fits of giggles... and probably adults too! It is, as you'd expect, illustrated throughout in two colours with Nick's irresistible wit and humour. Let's hope this is the first of many.

Simon Thorn and the Viper's Pit by Aimee Carter

Action and adventure abound in this exciting story. Simon is an Animalgam - one of a secret race who can shift into animals. Now, for the first time in his life Simon has real friends to train and study with at the secret Animalgam Academy. Simon's mission is to rescue his mother, held captive by his evil grandfather, Orion, who's bent on taking over the animal world. Simon must head cross-country with his friends, battling rogue Animalgams and their own doubts and torn loyalties along the way. But if Simon's going to succeed, he will need to keep Orion from gathering together the fragments of a terrible weapon, or the lives of everyone Simon loves will be at risk. It's a well-paced story with excellent characters and a plot that will keep you gripped.

St Grizzle's School for Girls, Goats and Random Boys by Karen McCombie

11 year old Dani is very put out when her mum prefers the chance to study penguins in the Antarctic to staying at home with her. And when her mum decides the best place for Dani is a strict girls’ boarding school, things look grim. But when they arrive at St Grizelda’s, it's far from the school Dani is expecting... it seems to be a total madhouse! Gradually, though, Dani starts to see the good side as she warms to the strange environment. Far from the traditional idea of a boarding school story, this anarchic story has a wonderful charm of its own, enhanced by the lively and entertaining drawings. Told with fun and zest, it's a great read.

Alice Jones: The Ghost Light (Alice Jones 2) by Sarah Rubin

Alice Jones is a maths whizz who puts her skills to good use solving mysteries. Theatres are notoriously spooky places, home to the wraiths of long-gone actors. The Beryl, newly refurbished, is no exception. Days before opening night, the ghost light - left on at night to appease the ghosts of actors - is extinguished. Alice digs into the Beryl's past, sleuthing in a network of dark backstage corridors and cobwebby storage rooms. Gradually, she starts to uncover the hundred-year-old secret of the theatre: a stolen diamond. Is the Beryl haunted by a ghost - or a living thief? It's cleverly written, with plenty of edge-of-the-seat moments, and with all the twists and turns you'd expect from a good detective novel. Chicken House sum the book up as smart - page-turning - mystery.

The Elf Express: Book 17 (Frankie's Magic Football) by Frank Lampard

Frankie's magic football has now given Frankie and his team-mates 17 fun adventures and it is still taking them to new places for different adventures. This time, Frankie and co are in Austria with his penpal Heidi. He's excited about learning a new skill - skiing. But their football skills will be needed too, when late on Christmas Eve they discover a lost elf who needs help. Can they get the elf back to his world, and return in time for Christmas? Another light-hearted and enjoyable tale, with more game cards to collect.

Marge and the Pirate Baby by Isla Fisher

Those who read Marge in Charge will be delighted to see the second in the series; those who haven't yet had the pleasure of meeting Marge have a treat in store. The book contains three separate stories - Marge the pirate nanny has Marge trying to keep 'pirate' baby Zara under control; in Marge and the stolen treasure, there are high jinks at the swimming pool and in Marge and the wacky wedding, it's up to the children to make sure Marge behaves. Superbly written, full of humour and with super illustrations to accompany the text, this is a great read.

Nixie: Fizzy Firework Fun by Cas Lester

It's time for the Fairyland Funfair and Nixie the Bad, Bad Fairy is determined to have a fantastic time. But where Nixie goes, trouble follows and sure enough, Nixie's impatient nature soon gets her into trouble, and it's not long before her wonky wand is causing chaos. Nixie is far from the conventional idea of a fairy but she is great fun - and as for the troublesome wand, it gets her into all sorts of scrapes. A hilarious story about a great character; perfect for girls who are just starting to read chapter books alone.

Trouble Next Door by Chris Higgins

Bella and her family have just moved house. The new house is old and gloomy, and she's sure there's a ghost in the attic. The best thing about the move is Bella's new next-door neighbour Magda. Magda is bubbly and full of imagination and can even turn cartwheels; soon the girls are best friends. But there's a problem - Magda is also trouble! She breaks Bella's mum's best tea set, wrecks Bella's room and covers the whole living room in soot; somehow, she makes sure Bella gets the blame for everything. This is a great start to a new series that brings together the talents of author Chris Higgins with illustrator Emily MacKenzie. It's a delightful story about friendship.

Winnie the Pooh: The Best Bear in all the World inspired by A. A. Milne

What better way to celebrate the beloved bear's 90th birthday than with brand-new stories from some popular children's authors - Paul Bright, Brian Sibley, Kate Saunders and Jeanne Willis. You will be transported back to the Hundred Acre Wood for more adventures with Winnie-the-Pooh, Christopher Robin and all their friends. The stories take us through a year of adventures, all superbly told with just the right feel; all the authors have captured A A Milne's style to perfection. Look out for a new character who has joined Pooh's friends... The book is beautifully illustrated by Mark Burgess, and again, the style has been captured to perfection - quite an achievement! I love the attention to detail; the endpaper map shows Pooh's world just as E H Shepard would have drawn it, illustrating the seasons which are the themes of the stories. A wonderful book which will take a well-deserved place alongside the classics; a gold cover makes it extra special and a perfect gift.

Tiana the Toy Fairy: Toys And Me Special Edition (Rainbow Magic) by Daisy Meadows

This special story stars YouTube star Tiana from Toys And Me. Tiana's special magic marble looks after toys and fun times everywhere but it all goes wrong when naughty Jack Frost steals the marble. So Tania joins Kirsty and Rachel to go to the magical Land of Toys and help find Jack Frost and his goblins, and get the marble back. Join the new friends as they have a toy-filled adventure. The real-life Tania is a young toy reviewer who posts reviews on YouTube. The Rainbow Magic series is hugely popular with girls of 5+ and an excellent way to encourage the start of independent reading.

Noddy Goes to Toyland: Book 1 (Noddy Classic Storybooks) by Enid Blyton

This is the first of the classic Noddy stories. Noddy Goes to Toyland is where it all started, when Noddy meets Big-Ears, who decides that Toy Town is the best place for Noddy to live. There he makes lots of new friends - and acquires his special blue hat with a bell on. First published in 1949, this edition contains the original text by Enid Blyton and illustrations by Hamsen van der Beek. A nostalgic read which will delight parents as much as children.

The Valley of Whispers by Karla Brading

Having recently moved with his mother to a new area, Tomas is eager to settle down, make new friends and to explore. In an enchanting tale of innocence and discovery, he soon comes to realize that things aren't quite what they seem in the village and that the past is more than just a distant memory. This relatively short book is packed with action and includes some very vivid writing which sets the scene excellently. When you learn that Tomas has moved to the village of Aberfan, you will have an idea of the atmosphere of the book, which is well evoked. The freedom enjoyed by the two boys is quite remarkable in this day, and contrasts well with more sombre moments.

The Icarus Show by Sally Christie

This insightful story tackles the topic of bullying in a powerful and compelling way - it will make an excellent class reader, opening up all sorts of opportunities for discussion. Alex avoids being picked on by the simple and effective tactic of not reacting. On the other hand, David does react and becomes an outcast. Alex's determined to avoid the same fate is challenged by the note he discovers in his bag, that forces him out of his safe little world. Who sent the note? And is it true - will a boy really fly? Aptly titles, this is a gripping and powerful story about friendship with wonderfully written characters who will resonate with readers. The tension really builds as the story progresses. Definitely one for the top end of the primary age range.

The Midnight Gang by David Walliams

David Walliams has really made an impression on the children's fiction market and his numerous fans will be thrilled with this extra-special Christmas story. children are fast asleep at midnight... except for the Midnight Gang, whose adventures start at midnight. When Tom is hit on the head by a cricket ball, he finds himself at Lord Funt Hospital, which has some decidedly odd, and unfriendly, staff. Despite that, Tom is about to embark on the most thrilling journey of a lifetime. Five children are united by being on a hospital ward, and despite their surroundings the the dragon of a matron, they determine to enjoy themselves - in hilarious yet heartwarming fashion. Despite their surroundings, the children's friendship thrives and dreams come true. Readers are set to be utterly spellbound by this heartfelt story that will bring magic to everyone’s Christmas. Wonderfully illustrated by Tony Ross, the story is simply told, with wonderful characters and an unusual setting for a children's story. You wouldn't want to stay at Lord Funt Hospital though!

Clover Moon by Jacqueline Wilson

I love Jacqueline Wilson's stories set in Victorian times - she depicts the period and the characters brilliantly, transporting the reader back in time. Life for the poor in Victorian London is hard enough, but when tragedy strikes, it's enough to defeat anyone - but not feisty Clover Moon. Even though everything she knew about the place she called home is gone, she remains strong. Clover hears of a place she could run to - but is leaving her family the right thing to do? Clover Moon is a wonderful character, strong, courageous and determined - attributes that are all the more remarkable when you consider society of the time. I love to encourage children to read historical novels, and especially novels based on a period they are studying at school, because that way, history really comes alive and a good book, like this one, instills a desire to learn more. A wonderful story.

Double Down (Diary of a Wimpy Kid book 11) by Jeff Kinney

Jeff Kinney has really hit on a winning formula - a wonderful character who will be loved by girls and boys, coupled with superb cartoons and a diary style make for reading perfection for children, keen readers or not. Things are getting tough for Greg. His mom thinks video games are turning his brain to mush, so she wants her son to put down the controller and explore his 'creative side'. Just imagine! And with Halloween's looming, is there no end to the challenges facing Greg? But being Greg, he always has an idea that can turns things his way and when he discovers a bag of gummy worms, it sparks an idea. Can he get his mom off his back by making a movie . . . and will he become rich and famous in the process? Or will doubling down on this plan just double Greg's troubles? A superb depiction of US middle school life.

Return to Glory (Glory Gardens Cricket Club) by Bob Cattell

Return to Glory is the ninth story in a popular series. The last book in the series was published 15 years ago, so this looks set to garner a whole new raft of fans. Glory Gardens is a team of young cricketers - there are many great characters in the team which makes for excellent reading. This time the team has left Britain to travel to Woolagong in Australia. The tour gets off to a testing start and, as Christmas approaches, captain Hooker Knight is battling to motivate his players for the vital ‘Ashes’ game. Will Ohbert's urn still be with Glory Gardens when they return to the UK? There are not many stories about cricket, but this is an excellent series that not only has strong storylines, but also introduces the reader to many aspects of the game - the author's knowledge and enthusiasm shine through and will really motivate the reader. The story can be read as a stand-alone, but hopefully it will also encourage readers to seek out the rest of the series.

Prom King: The Fincredible Diary of Fin Spencer by Ciaran Murtagh

You might think from the title that this will be an American story, but it's not - it's UK through and through. But the idea is American - Blake, a US exchange student, has suggested a Prom Night for the end of term. As if Fin doesn't have enough problems, with waiting hand and foot on his pregnant mum, he has to be on the committee and help organise everything in just two weeks. So Fin's going to use the diary again to help him, but on the night will he remember what's really important? A hilarious, laugh-aloud story with a visual presentation that will really attract readers; even reluctant readers will find this book, illustrated by Tim Weeson, a great read.

Able Seacat Simon: The True Story of a Very Special Cat by Lynne Barrett-Lee

The abridged, junior edition of the best-selling adult story of Able Seacat Simon, beloved hero of dangerous wartime seas. Told in the words of Simon himself, it tells of an orphaned kitten discovered in the Hong Kong docks in 1948 by a British sailor. The cat is smuggled onto HMS Amethyst and named 'Simon' by his new friends, and soon he is accustomed to life on the seas, appointing himself chief rat-catcher. When tragedy strikes, Seacat Simon keeps spirits up - but it's a long and dangerous journey back to England for the heroic kitten and his crewmates. The story is inspired by real events, and this edition is perfect for children - it would be excellent if child and adult can read the books at the same time and talk about the story, which is so engagingly told for children from Simon's viewpoint.

Dork Diaries: Frenemies Forever by Rachel Renee Russell

In her eleventh adventure, Nikki is spending a week at the elite North Hampton Hills as part of the school transfer programme. So why is Nikki so upset? The bad news is that Nikki’s nemesis MacKenzie started there two weeks ago. But, being Nikki, there is a whole lot happening before she gets to NHH - and as ever, her adventures are totally hilarious, but threaded through with plenty of realism. When she arrives at NHH, she is faced with queen bee Tiffany and it seems that Nikki ids going to have to work with Mackenzie to get through the week. Can Nikki and MacKenzie overcome their differences and become BFFS … Best Frenemies Forever? As ever, the book is highly visual with lots of super cartoons. Rachel Renee Russell has really captured the affection of the tween market with her best-selling series; she is right on target for her audience.

Spirit of the Jungle (The Jungle Book: New Adventures) by Bear Grylls

This is a thrilling modern take on the much-loved classic. Inspired by Rudyard Kipling's classic The Jungle Book, Bear Grylls has brought us a dramatic and fast-paced thriller of a story. After being washed away down the Wainganga River in a flash flood, Mak wakes up alone in the Indian jungle. There is danger everywhere - poisonous snakes, cunning monkeys and desperate poachers. Max needs help, and he finds it from the jungle creatures - but his path to safety is still fraught with danger. Bear Grylls brings all his experience and knowledge to this exciting story, and I think the original creator of The Jungle Book would enjoy the story.

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

Macmillan have published Kipling's books right from the publication of The Jungle Book in 1894 and it's good to see they are still publishing them in 2016, the 150th anniversary of Kipling's birth. The Jungle Book is the classic collection of animal tales that shows Rudyard Kipling's writing for children at its best; children have become familiar with these through films but they are missing out if they don't read the original stories with their masterly storytelling. The short stories and poems include the tales of Mowgli, Shere Khan, Bagheera, Baloo and Kaa. Other famous stories include the tale of the fearless mongoose Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, and that of elephant-handler Toomai of the Elephants. The book has a lovely silver foiled cover and original illustrations by Kipling's father, J Lockwood Kipling as well as others.

Marvel Iron Man: The Gauntlet (Marvel Fiction) by Eoin Colfer

This is an exciting new venture from Egmont Books; it is the first in a range of new Marvel fiction adventures written by some of today's best authors. Tony Stark is, among many other things, the invincible Iron Man. People expect amazing things from him at all times, and he doesn't disappoint. But when he heads to an international eco summit, he detects an anomaly off the coast of Ireland, and being who he is, he has to investigate, leading him into exciting conflicts with both inner and outer demons. The story-telling is dramatic and fast-paced, drawing the reader in right from the start. Children will be thrilled to see their favourite Marvel characters in book form - and what a brilliant way to encourage reluctant readers into reading.

The Amazing Adventures of Freddie Whitemouse by Elizabeth Jane Howard

The author of the Cazalet Chronicles turned her attention, very engagingly, to children's books before she died. Freddie is a young mouse who lives at the wonderfully named No.16, Skirting Board West - but he doesn't like being a mouse; he wants to be anything but himself. He doesn't want to be a frightened mouse - he wants to be brave and bold, and have fun. So when a sorcerer toad hears Freddie's pleas and offers his assistance, there is really little else Freddie could ask for. But he is a cautious little mouse, despite his high ambitions, so he very sensibly decides to spend a week as each animal. But what will he discover on his amazing adventure? And will he ever want to be just a plain old mouse again? Quirky and whimsical, this is an endearing story which might just make you think about what you wish for.

Prankenstein on Tour (The Prankenstein Series) by Andy Seed

In the third instalment of this hilarious series, Soapy Thompson's dad has won a world cruise for a family of five. somehow, Soapy has managed to convince his parents that his best friends, Arvo and Loogi should join them to stop him going mad with boredom. As if life could ever be boring with Soapy and his pranking alter ego Prankenstein! When pirates board the ship and taken two hostages - his parents - and demand a huge ransom, Soapy knows that his only hope is to unleash Prankenstein. Sparkling wit abounds, aided by the lively humorous illustrations, and a brilliant main character. Great fun.

The Fox and the Ghost King by Michael Morpurgo

“Every fox in the whole town, in the whole country just about, is a football fan… And we all have an impossible dream.” Just like all the foxes, the family who live in a cosy den under a garden shed love to watch football like all the foxes do. But their favourite team keeps losing and losing, and it seems like things will never look up... until Daddy Fox finds the ghost of a king, buried underneath a car park. A king who wishes only to be free. Can the foxes release him? If they can, he will grant them a wish... The king is of course, Richard III; the club, Leicester City. Michael Morpurgo has woven together a short but magical tale, combining these elements with a superbly depicted family of foxes, to show us that the seemingly impossible can become reality. A magical story, superbly illustrated by Michael Foreman.

The Diamond Horse by Stacy Gregg

Anna Orlov is the daughter of a Russian Count and lives in a beautiful snowbound palace that is home to a menagerie of wonderful animals: tigers, wolfhounds and, of course, horses. She is also the owner of a beautiful heirloom – a diamond necklace with a secret past that links two very different girls. Little does she realise the consequences of defying her father and rearing a young colt alongside her pet tiger cub... Valentina is a circus performer and she too has a very special horse. Anna, her tiger and her horse will be fighting for survival in the frozen tundra of Siberia… An exciting story with a dramatic background

The Falcon Chronicles: Shark Seas: Book 4 by Steve Backshall

Saker is a member of the Clan, a clandestine group offering child renegades for hire to the highest bidder. The Clan are like brothers, but there's no escape from the Clan. Each member of the Clan has their own animal identity and corresponding tattoo, each is an expert in jungle law, survival and the ways of animals in order to make them better spies, thieves or assassins. In this fast-paced exciting adventure, Saker and Sinter are continuing their quest to save the world's endangered animals. There's peril at sea as, working alone, Sinter protects sharks, dolphins and sea turtles; and peril on land when Saker's past catches up with him. Sinter is the only one he can turn to. Superb depictions of wildlife add to the interest of this adrenalin-fuelled adventure.

Freddy Tangles - Legend or Loser by Jack Brand

Nobody is more scary than bully Sid Malone, and it looks like Freddy will be his next victim. But Freddy's plan - staring at a white wall for long enough so eyes will start to shoot laser beams, seems somewhat unlikely to work. A back-up plan is needed. Trouble is, Freddy is even afraid of his (evil) little sister. He has to find a way to rescue himself and his friends from Sid and his gang. Children will really respond well to this book with its super lively cartoon drawings throughout, and a main character who is thoroughly likeable. Good fun.

Anders and the Comet by Gregory Mackay

Anders, Eden and their new friend, Bernie are all set for a fun-filled summer holiday. There are comics to be made, games to be played, ice-cream to be eaten, and rhinos to impress at Wekiwa water park. Then Anders and his friends meet the Green Grabber and things take on a whole new twist, leading Anders to a wonderful pet, Skip, and to wild adventures - and a dramatic rescue - in the sky. The whole story is told in detailed cartoon strips; there's not too much text and the story is almost told simply through the pictures. A lively, fun story, with cute animal characters who display friendship and courage.

Santa Claude by Alex T Smith

I love Claude - he is such a gorgeous character, and so is his friend Sir Bobblysock. As soon as Mrs and Mrs Shinyshoes go out, they get up to all sorts. Then the friends think they've caught a burglar coming down the chimney on Christmas Eve, they clap on the handcuffs and turn on the lights. But, oh no - it isn't a burglar - it's Santa Claus himself! Now the key for the handcuffs is lost and it's up to our two well-meaning but disaster-prone heros to deliver all the presents before midnight... A wonderful sense of humour comes to the fore int ESE books - adults will love them too, and they are a joy to share and read aloud. Superb stylish red/black/white illustrations are such fun and will help readers progress from picture books - and enjoy the joy of reading.

Middle School: Dog's Best Friend by James Patterson

It's taken Rafe Khatchadorian a while to adapt to life in middle school, and it is finally starting to seem bearable – and followers of this engaging series will know just what he has been through! Fans will also know that nothing is plain sailing for Rafe, and imagine how he feels when he spots his grandmother standing in the free-meal line at the local soup kitchen. So he dreams up a typical Rafe plan – a dog-walking business that soon turns into a huge money-making neighbourhood empire. Of course, things aren't pl lain sailing and readers will thoroughly enjoy this high-spirited hilarious episode in Rafe's tumultuous life. There's bound to be an upsurge of interest as Rafe Khatchadorian is getting the Hollywood treatment in a film version of Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life starring Griffin Gluck, Lauren Graham, Rob Riggle and Thomas Barbusca.

AniMalcolm by David Baddiel

Malcolm doesn’t like animals - but his family do, and his house is full of them.So when he gets a chinchilla instead of the laptop he really, really wanted for his birthday present, Malcolm is far from happy. But there's always the school trip to look forward to... until he discovers it's a trip to a farm. But the unexpected happens and Malcolm changes. He learns exactly what is is like to be an animal; several animals, in fact, in the most unexpected way. But will he end up the same as before? It's mad and yet it is also cleverly perceptive and, of course, full of humour. It will make you think.David Baddiel has put his comic gifts to brilliant use in his children's fiction; his books are hugely popular and not just because of his name - he genuinely is a real talent

Brer Rabbit Story Collection by Enid Blyton

Brer Rabbit is crafty and clever; he loves to play jokes and tricks on his animal friends, but he doesn't always come out on top. Now today's children can enjoy meeting Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox and Brer Bear in over 80 short stories re-told in Enid Blyton's own inimitable style which makes them perfectly accessible for children. This collection contains stories from the books Enid Blyton's Brer Rabbit Book and Brer Rabbit's a Rascal!: I think perhaps the book is a little too big for children - it's great to have a comprehensive collection, but it is a very thick book for its target age group. The book is illustrated throughout with black and white illustrations. I remember the Brer Rabbit stories from my childhood, so it shows that they are memorable and enjoyable.

The Horror Handbook by Paul Van Loon

"Ghoulies and ghosties. And long-leggedy beasties. And things that go bump in the night..." - they are all here in this spooky book which tells you all you need to know - and more - about ghosts, zombies, vampires, werewolves, monsters and all kinds of creepy-crawly creatures that give us the heebie-jeebies. It's packed with tips, anecdotes and trivia that children will love to scare you with. The crowning glory must be the ghoulish illustrations by Axel Scheffler who has picked up the atmosphere of the book to perfection. A light-hearted lively book for all fans of scary stories and things that go bump in the night - it's not too scary, I promise!

The World of Norm: May Be Recycled: Book 11 by Jonathan Meres

This is turning into a very long series - and long may it continue, as Norm and his antics never pall; he just gets funnier and funnier. Norm knew it was going to be one of those days when he woke up and nothing happened ... Home alone and the fridge to himself? What could possibly go wrong? Well, apart from the snails. And having to hang his mum's pants out to dry. And the dreaded perfect cousins paying a visit. And worst of all, the entire family going vege-flipping-tarian! Surely nothing else could go wrong? Well, if you've been following Norm's adventures, you will know the answer to that one! Much of the humour comes from the illustrations, which form a goodly part of the book - perfect to entice reluctant readers, who will be in for a treat.

Mystery at the Ice Hotel (Chasing Danger) by Sara Grant

After surviving a kidnapping attempt in the Maldives, Chase and Mackenzie are off to the Ice Hotel in Iceland! What could go wrong there? But as soon as they arrive, accidents start to occur that seem targeted to scare - or worse, seriously hurt - the guests. When a body shows up frozen in an ice bed, it's up to the two girls to figure out who is behind the attacks ...before anyone else gets hurt! A strong and courageous heroine and an exciting location - a perfect mix to bring us an engrossing read, full of pacy action with plenty of danger.
   

StarChaser: A Todhunter Moon Adventure by Angie Sage

This is the third book in the fantasy series from bestselling author Angie Sage. In SandRider, Alice TodHunter Moon, saved the last-ever Orm egg from the evil machinations of sorcerer Oraton-Marr, and now she's looking forward to a quiet life back at the Wizard Tower. But what no one realised was that without the Orm Egg safely embedded in the heart of the Magykal Ways, all the Magyk in the world would begin to fade. Can Tod find a way to reverse the destruction? Could the mysterious StarChaser spell be the key? Or will the Magyk be lost forever? A breathtaking story which brings the trilogy to an exciting and very satisfying conclusion. The story-telling is vivid and spell-binding, full of atmosphere, the characters have real depth, and the plot is wonderfully woven. Alice TodHunter Moon is a superb character, a worthy star character to follow the superb Septimus Heap (who does, of course, play a significant part in this story) and I am wondering what magical wonders Angie has in store for us next.

Earth to Daniel by Gwyneth Rees

This is a thoughtful and topical book, which handles a difficult subject with empathy tempered with humour. Daniel's mum was once mentally ill, but she is fine now. She's got a new job, too, as a headteacher... at Daniel's new school. What could be more embarrassing. He's soon to find out. When his father is abroad, his mum stops taking her medication and soon she is acting as if she's from another planet, Daniel has a huge responsibility when realises that something is terribly wrong and that he is the only person who can help her. Originally published as My Mum is from Planet Pluto.

Shockwave (Urban Outlaws) by Peter Jay Black

Urban Outlaws is the perfect series for readers who like edge-of-the-seat excitement - and this, the last book of the series, has racked up the pace and excitement even more. Hector Del Sarto has infected the Urban Outlaws with the deadly Medusa virus and now the whole of London is in lockdown. Only Hector and his father have the antidote. Can Jack, Charlie, Obi, Slink and Wren work together to bring down the Del Sartos once and for all? Great characters and vivid storytelling combine for an excellent read - but I'd suggest you start with the first book in the series. It's a race against time for the Urban Outlaws in this dramatic conclusion to the series.

A Storey Street novel: The War Next Door by Phil Earle

Masher is the bully of Storey Street. No one ever dares stand up to him and that's the way he likes it... until Jemima and her family move into the plot of land next door, and he meets his match. Jemima isn't afraid of him at all, and she's making him look like a bit of a wimp. To Masher, that just means one thing: war. (At least until teatime...). I like the way the series introduces new characters, to keep the stories fresh and appealing. Down to earth humour, somewhat silly and decidedly positive, this is a lively read that children will thoroughly enjoy.

The Cat Who Ate Christmas by Lil Chase

It's Christmas, and everyone in the Hudson family is very excited - including their kitten Jingles, who is causing utter chaos. First he knocks the Christmas tree over, then he shreds the presents, and finally he eats the entire Christmas turkey. When Mum gets angry (and who could blame her?), the kitten runs away. When he doesn't come back, the Hudson family have to venture out on Christmas Day to find their naughty kitten. Can they have a merry Christmas after all? This gorgeous book is illustrated in two-colour throughout, with a special section at the back for Christmas facts, jokes, craft activities and recipes. It's a perfect book for readers who are moving on from picture books, and it's a lovely Christmas read.

Run for the Hills (Run With The Wind) by Tom McCaughren

Run with the Wind is an award-winning wildlife series, and after a long wait, Tom McCaughren has brought us a fresh title in the series - and it's just as mesmerising as the previous books. All the foxes who lived in Glensinna knew about Sionnach, the Great White Fox. But they had never seen him. Some thought that on one occasion they might have, but it was only a fleeting thought and one that had passed like the melting snow. When they were cubs their mother had told them the story as she whiled away the time in the darkness of their earth... It's an exciting and dramatic story which offers a real insight into nature.

A Piglet Called Truffle by Helen Peters

Jasmine lives surrounded by animals - her dad is a farmer, and her mum is a large-animal vet, so Jasmine, who loves animals, spends a lot of time caring for them and keeping them out of trouble... but getting into trouble herself. This is the first in the series, and tells how Jasmine rescues a tiny little piglet from certain death. But Jasmine's parents don't believe in farm animals being pets and insist that Truffle must be sold as soon as she's big enough. Jasmine is desperate to give Truffle a home for life. And then, one stormy night, disaster strikes... Engaging characters, an enjoyable storyline and charming line drawings combine to bring us a book with great appeal. I love it and I am already looking forward to the next in the series - A Duckling Called Button.

How to Catch a Witch by Abie Longstaff

Charlie and her family have moved from the big city to a small country village. Their old cottage is creepy and worry about her new school is causing Charlie's stutter to return. All sorts of mysterious people are around - young singer Suzy Evans glows with a strange light that only Charlie can see; Cat, won't keep her nose out of Charlie's business; and Agatha, is definitely a witch... All this begins to have an effect on Charlie. Perhaps some of Agatha's magic would fix her worsening stutter? But bad-tempered Agatha has long since retired from magic. Besides, she tells Charlie, her stutter is part of who she is, not a curse that can be removed. Not like the curse that's been put on Suzy Evans, the sparkling singer, who is set to lose her wonderful voice when she turns sixteen in just a week's time...

There May Be a Castle by Piers Torday

11 year old Mouse is travelling to see his grandparents on Christmas Eve with his mother and two sisters. But it's snowing, and visibility is bad, and the car goes off the road, and crashes. When Mouse wakes, he's not in his world any more. He meets a sheep named Bar, who can only say Baaa, and a sarcastic horse named Nonky, who is a surprising mix of his beloved toy horse and his older sister. So begins a quest to find a castle in a world of wonder - a world of monsters, minstrels, dangerous knights and mysterious wizards; a world of terrifying danger but also more excitement than Mouse has ever known. But why are they looking for a castle? As the cold grows, we realise it might just have something to do with the family he's left behind; and that Mouse's quest is more important than ever. This is a novel about love and death. It's about the power of stories to change the way we view the world - and it's about the power of a child to change their own world. Emotionally arresting but ultimately uplifting, this is a remarkable novel for our times.

Shield Maiden (Flashbacks) by Stuart Hill

This dramatic story follows Aethelflaed, daughter of King Alfred, in her quest to become a warrior princess - a Shield Maiden. She has fled with her father, following the destruction of King Alfred's great hall. How can she fulfil her destiny, hidden in the marshes? Flashbacks offer dramatic stories set at key moments in history, perfect for introducing children to historical topics. This story is an excellent way to enthuse children for the period, which is studied at KS2. It's well written, and really conveys the feel of the period, and the peril in which the Anglo-Saxons found themselves.

Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam: The Spooky School by Tracey Corderoy

Children who have enjoyed the adventures of these rascally-but-reformed characters in picture book form will love to follow their adventures in these three stories for older readers - and they will be glad to know that the book is lavishly illustrated by Steven Lenton, making it an ideal transition to chapter books. Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam, having made the transition from a life of crime, now put their experience to good use in solving mysteries. There are three hilarious stories to be enjoyed in this book - The Spooky School; The Wacky Weather Week; and The Trouble at the Museum. Well written and extremely entertaining, with wonderful characters.

Winnie and Wilbur: Winnie the Bold by Laura Owen

It's excellent to see much-loved picture book characters brought into chapter book form so older children can enjoy them; children can be reluctant to make the transition to longer books, but give them the incentive of popular characters, and they will happily move on. Winnie and Wilbur are full of surprises. Winnie surprises Wilbur by getting a new 'kitten', they give a greedy goat a surprise when they go hiking up a mountain, they astound the children at school with some marvellous magic tricks, and they get the biggest surprise of all when they stumble into a medieval jousting competition! It's important at this stage of reading to offer children books with plenty of illustrations and Korky Paul's lively line drawings fit the bill perfectly. The book offers everything children want - humour, a great friendship, plenty of silliness and lots of excitement.

Isadora Moon Goes to School by Harriet Muncaster

Isadora Moon is a girl like no other - half vampire, half fairy. Her mum is a fairy; her dad is a vampire; and Isadora is a bit of both. This makes for a fascinating, multi-faceted character who loves the night, bats, and all things black, as well as the outdoors and the colour pink. So where should she go to school - vampire school or fairy school? The pink and white artwork represents Isadora perfectly, and children will love the appealing drawings which capture the character beautifully. This is the first in a promising new series of first chapter books for children who love magic but don't want it to all be pretty and pink. Funny and charming, I love it.

The Pumpkin Project by Katie Smith

The Pumpkin Project was the winner of ITV Lorraine's Top Tales 2016 children's book writing competition. When Lottie and her class are given an end of term project competition called Big and Small, Lottie knows that class show-off Penelope Pembleton-Puce will probably win - she always does. But with help from Gramps, and the plan to grow a giant pumpkin, perhaps Lottie can win. Gramps has a few tricks up his sleeve.. but the pumpkin seems to have a mind of its own. This is a lovely story about friendship, family and believing in yourself, perfect for newly confident readers.

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