Book reviews - fiction 5 to 11 (page 14)

The most recent reviews are at the top of the page, so these are generally the most recently published books.

MIDDLE SCHOOL: ESCAPE TO AUSTRALIA: (MIDDLE SCHOOL 9) BY JAMES PATTERSON

The success of the Middle School books has been validated by the fact that a film is to be made, called Middle School: The Worst Years of my Life - great news for fans. Finally, Rafe has won something - a school-wide art competition which mean he is off to Australia. But it's not what he hoped for -his host-siblings are far from friendly, the temperature unbearable and there are nasty creatures everywhere. So with the help of some new misfit friends, Rafe sets out to show everyone what he does best: create utter mayhem! The fabulous humour still abounds, complemented by hilarious drawings to appeal to the readership. Great fun.

I FUNNY: SCHOOL OF LAUGHS BY JAMES PATTERSON

What a challenge! Jamie must teach his schoolmates how to be funny - and if he fails, his school library will be shut down for good. The stakes are high - can he succeed? Whatever happens, the reader is guaranteed a hilarious journey as this fabulous series continues to delight. Jamie is not the first to discover that being good at something does not make you able to teach it - but he is determined to succeed, whether by giving homework and tests, or simply by example. With the fate of his school's library on his shoulders, Jamie has to dig deep to see if he has what it takes to succeed at his most difficult challenge yet. But just wait until you reach the end of the book - it's touching, poignant and heartfelt.

Treasure Hunters: Quest for the City of Gold by James Patterson

The Kidd family discovers an ancient map to the lost Incan City of Paititi. But when the map is stolen, the Kidds have to rely on Storm's picture-perfect memory to navigate the dangerous Amazon jungle – until she's kidnapped! To save Storm, the Kidds must locate the fabled city ... before the bad guys find it first. The race is on!

Jacky Ha-Ha: My Life is a Joke: (Jacky Ha-Ha 2) by James Patterson

Jacky Hart has found a hidden talent in the performing arts, and she's a triple threat onstage! She wants nothing more than to act and sing all summer – but her parents have other plans for her. Jacky reluctantly signs up for a summer job in her resort town of Seaside Heights, New Jersey, where tourists come to enjoy the beach and fun carnival atmosphere. Now she has serious responsibilities like her job and babysitting her younger sisters, but Jacky longs to perform in the summer stock performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Can she handle all of her important commitments and still have fun with her friends – or will she learn that juggling isn't one of her many talents?

Pirate Blunderbeard: Worst. Mission. Ever. by Amy Sparkes

Readers of 7+ will revel in this hilarious adventure . Pirate Blunderbeard is on a voyage which he hopes will be a relaxing cruise... but Grandpa has other more ominous plans. He wants to get his favourite ship back from the Scariest Pirate on the high seas he wants Blunderbeard to help. What could possibly go wrong? The writing style is perfect for the age group - short, effective sentences flow easily to make for a great read, full of fun. The text is perfectly complemented by the humorous illustrations by Ben Cort

The Secret Diary of Thomas Snoop, Tudor Boy Spy by Philip Ardagh

This superbly illustrated diary , set in Tudor times, tells the story of Thomas Snoop, spy in training. Entrusted with a secret mission by the mysterious Lord Severn, right-hand man to the Tudor king, Thomas must travel to the magnificent Goldenhilt Hall - in the guise of a servant - in order to uncover traitors plotting against the crown. It's a dangerous and challenging mission, but our intrepid hero is up to the challenge! Wonderful characters, superb illustrations and a real flavour of the period make for a fantastic read that children will love. A great way to get children hooked on historical novels.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

Published to tie in with the movie, this is an unabridged version of the classic story along with some fascinating extras. Meg always felt she was different and when her little brother Charles Murry go searching for their lost father, they find themselves travelling on a dangerous journey through a 'wrinkle in time'. As the cosmic evil forces of darkness threaten to swallow the universe, Meg must overcome her insecurities and channel all her inner strengths - her stubbornness, anger and ultimately her love - to save her family. An exciting mixture of fantasy and science fiction, which all the way through is dominated by the funny and mysterious trio of guardian angels known as Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who and Mrs Which, A Wrinkle in Time is an empowering story about the battle between good and evil and the power of love. This sci-fi story has stood the test of time and the character of Meg is just as relevant for today's readers as ever.

Alice Dent and the Incredible Germs by Gwen Lowe

Alice has got a cold... but this is no ordinary cold. The side-effects are seriously weird comes with some seriously weird sideeffects. For a start, Alice can't stop giggling and every animal she meets sticks to her like glue! But when the mysterious Best Minister for Everything Nicely Perfect and his scary masked henchmen come to take her away, Alice realises her troubles are only just beginning ...

The Girl with the Lost Smile by Miranda Hart

A feel-good book guaranteed to make you feel happy. Things have changed in the Long family - and on the day of Chloe's birthday, that is more apparent than ever. But Chloe is always determined to look on the bright side... but then she loses her smile. She's tried everything to bring it back but nothing seems to be working! Until one night, something utterly magical happens - and Chloe finds herself on an adventure that is out of this world ... This is a wonderful celebration of imagination, happiness and determination with a heroine you can't but adore.

Only You Can Save Mankind (Johnny Maxwell) by Terry Pratchett

This is the first in the hugely successful Johnny Maxwell trilogy - stories perfect for our modern world. Johnny Maxwell likes to keep himself to himslef, preferring the online world to reality. But then the stakes are suddenly raised - as Johnny prepares to blow the aliens into the usual million pieces, they send him a message: We surrender. That's not meant to happen, and soon tis is a game no longer. A wonderful group of characters, drawn with spot-on observation, who make the story vivid and compelling. This new edition features illustrations by Mark Beech.

Rugby Heroes: Ghostly Ground, Deadly Danger by Gerald Siggins

The world of rubgy is ful of excitement and intrigue in this pacy series by an author whose love for the game shines through in the writing. Eoin Madden is Castlerock College’s star player and he's been called up for Ireland in the Under 16 Four Nations. It's going to be a busy and exciting time but how will he juggle sport and school work? There are bigger issues though - and the biggest challenge of all goes way beyond his own concerns and right to the heart of Irish rugby. When his oldest and best ghostly friend calls for help, can Eoin and his band of heroes their deadliest mystery yet? A brilliant combination of sprt and mystery and definitely a story to encourage reading.

Brightstorm: A Sky-Ship Adventure by Vashti Hardy

Arthur and Maudie's famous explorer father has been reported dead in a failed attempt to reach South Polaris. His name has been blackened by reports that he tried to steal fuel from his competitors. It's up to the intrepid and loyal twins to prove this wrong, so they answer an ad to help crew a new exploration attempt in the hope of learning the truth and salvaging their family's reputation. As the winged ship Aurora sets sail, the twins must keep their wits about them and prove themselves worthy of the rest of the crew. But will Arthur and Maudie find the answers they seek? This is a gripping tale, with the scene beautifully and evocatively set, and with likeable lead characters who give the book equal girl/boy appeal.

King Coo by Adam Stower

You will be immediately struck by the super eye-catching presentation of this book. It's an engaging melee of text and illustrations which has huge visual appeal which is just perfect to engage even the most reluctant reader. And that reader will be rewarded by a hilarious story about Ben Pole (who is almost inevitably called Bean Pole). Chased by bullies, Ben falls into a hidden world where he embarks on an amazing set of adventures in a forest - a forest ruled by King Coo. King Coo is a fab character - a tree-swinging, wombat-owning, trap building and most remarkably fully-bearded girl! With laughs aplenty this whirlwind of an adventure is filled with the most crazy capers as Ben and King Coo try to defeat their dastardly enemies who are trying to destroy the forest so that they can swindle a huge pot of money from the townsfolk. Brilliant - I love it!

Mummy Fairy and Me by Sophie Kinsella

Best-selling author Sophie Kinsella has turned her attention to children's books for the first time, with a sweet and cute story perfect for 5 - 7 year olds who are just starting to read alone. Ella's family have a very sspecial secret ... her mummy is a fairy! Sadly, though, she's not a very good one! And when things go wrong, Ella comes to the rescue. Marta Kissi's charming line drawings pick up on the magic of the story, helping children's enjoyment. A fun story about friendship and families helping together.

Mollie on the March by Anna Carey

Mollie Carberry and her friend Nora are suffragettes - but secretly. They have been bravely fighting for women’s rights – even though no one else really knows about it, but when they hear a big protest is being planned, it's time to step forward and be bold. If only they didn’t have to worry about Nora’s terrible cousin, her awful brother and her neighbour’s very annoying dog. An engaging story about a strong and intelligent girl fighting for the right for women to vote. This is a fascinating look at a key period in history, packed with informative historical detail and with a strong and sassy heroine who readers will love.

Thomas & Friends Character Encyclopedia by DK

Young Thomas fans everywhere will be thrilled with this colourful encyclopedia which will really enhance their knowledge and enjoyment of the stories. Packed with information, they will learn about all the favourite characters - over 100 of them, would you believe? The book is clearly liad out to help children navigate their way around, with good use of varied fonts and information boxes. There are plenty of colour photos of every character, showing them in action, plus fact files, fun facts and where they fit into the stories. An index helps children find their favourites and is a good way to introduce learning of this vital skill. For added fun, a little Thomas train rolls along the top of the book. A lovely gift for all Thomas fans and a perfect complement to the series.

Spy Toys: Undercover by Mark Powers

The Spy Toys are three toys who went rather wrong; since they can't be toys, they have turned to detection. Dan is the teddy bear who is too strong, Arabella is the rag doll with the bad temper and Flax is the tech genuis robot rabbit. Can they save the day when catetaker Arthur turns up for work, only to find that the world's most famous chocolate factory has disappeared? If the chocolate runs out, there could be riots from children everywhere, so the Spy Toys are sent undercover into a school where they need to disguise themselves as regular pupils. The story is fast-paced right from the start, and will draw children in with its quirky characters and mysterious events.

The Cloak of Feathers by Nigel Quinlan

Just once in a hundred years, fairies known as the Good Folk join the villagers of Knowmealldown at their annual celebration, for a Great Festival. It should be a raucous, beautiful, enchanted celebration... Except every time Brian helps to organise the Great Festival it's a disappointment. Worse, this time the Folk Princess has been stolen. Can Brian thwart the Princess's evil captor in time to avoid the wrath of the Folk King and Queen, and finally deliver a Festival to remember? This is a dreamlike story, beautifully described; it has something quite special that sets it apart.

Weirdest Show on Earth (Beaky Malone) by Barry Hutchison

Beaky has taken a spin in Madame Shirley's truth-telling machine and he still can’t tell a lie, which is making life very difficult. Now he is playing Romeo to Evie’s Juliet in the school play and that makes his crush on her even harder to disguise. And worse - his dog Destructo has been chosen to appear on TV’s Most Talented Pets because he can ride a bike. Only problem is … he can’t. How is Beaky going to get out of this one?. Maybe just telling the truth about a few things wouldn't be so bad... A hilarious read.

A Spoonful of Murder: A Murder Most Unladylike Mystery by Robin Stevens

I love this series! Daisy and Hazel are great characters who complement each other so well. The storylines are always gripping and there are plenty of clues along the way to keep the reader thinking. This time, the girls are off to Hong Kong. Hazel Wong's beloved grandfather has passed away, and Daisy is travelling with Hazel to the family estate. Matters take an unexpected turn when they arrive - there's a new member of the Wong family. Daisy and Hazel think baby Teddy is enough to deal with, but as always the girls are never far from a mystery. Then, tragedy strikes very close to home, and Hazel has been framed for murder. Once again, the girls' quick thinking and resourcefulness are needed to save the situation.

Danny Brown and his Daft Dog by Brianog Brady Dawson

When Danny goes to the park on a cold day with his grandparents, baby Susie and his dog, Keeno, Danny is worried that Keeno has nothing to keep him warm. Danny's intentions are good, but what will happen when he tries to resolve the problem? This is a colourful series, ideal for children who are starting to read independently. With plenty of illustrations, easy to read sentences and lots of repetition, the stories will really help to build children's confidence.

Danny Brown and the Big Surprise by Brianog Brady Dawson

Another entertaining story about well-meaning but accident-prone Danny Brown. Danny has been entrusted with a secret - but is that wise? He has to keep Granny's secret until Mum's birthday, but Danny isn't very good at being good. When he's told that he can't let Keeno into his room, he decides to find another hiding place for the Big Surprise!

Zoe's Rescue Zoo: The Giggly Giraffe by Amelia Cobb

Zoe, who lives at her uncle's rescue zoo, can actually talk to the animals! Jamie the baby giraffe has just been born, and his wobbly walk on his long legs makes everyone laugh. But his tricks can cause trouble, and with the Best Zoo Competition coming up, can Zoe help Jamie behave and have fun? This is a cute and collectable series that will encourage children to enjoy reading. The attractive line drawings by Sophy Williams are an appealing feature that help children get involved with the story and to picture the characters and theur settings, making the stories more vivid.

A Pony Called Secret: A Friend In Need by Olivia Tuffin

A girl's dream - joining the Pony Club and Alice is so excited to finally join the pony club with her gorgeous pony, Secret!Things get off to a great start when Alice is invited to super-popular Hannah's birthday party. But on the night of the party the snow starts to fall and a pony escapes into the night. Alice and Finn must go to the rescue ... but will their friendship survive the storm? This is a classic pony story that will appeal to children, whether or not they are lucky enough to go riding - it's an ever-popular genre.

Bee Boy: Clash of the Killer Queens by Tony De Saulles

Melvin Meadly is Bee Boy, half boy, half bee. As a bee, Mel is ready to defend his hive against all enemies taking on killer wasps, terrifying hawkmoths, and battling queen bees. But as a boy, has he got what it takes to protect his bees (and himself) against the greatest menace of all, Nasty Norman Crudwell? An unlikely story but so well written that you will immediately engage with it. Superbly illustrated (in black and yellow, of course!), this is the highly entertaining story of an unlikely superhero. By the end of the story, the reader will be much better informed about bees, too!

Fabio The World's Greatest Flamingo Detective: The Case of the Missing Hippo by Laura James

Mystery stories are becoming a really popular genre for KS2 readers and this, which combines a healthy dose of humour with the mystery, is a great new addition that will have readers giggling away happily. Fabio the flamingo is very clever and loves to solve mysteries. Fabio has been persuaded to judge the Hotel Royale's talent contest. But when the most promising contestant - Julia the jazz-singing hippopotamus - goes missing, Fabio must put his thinking cap back on and solve the mystery! The attractive black and white illustrations, embellished with pink and green, are by Emily Fox, and they are a great addition to the book.

Barry Loser: worst school trip ever! (Barry Loser 9) by Jim Smith

If your child claims that reading is boring, introduce them to the hilarious Barry Loser and they may well change their mind. The books just go on and on delivering, giving children plenty to look forward to. Barry's class are off on a school trip to see a history of television exhibition, which Barry knows will be comperleeterly rubbish. But then he discovers that Future Ratboy (super-keel superhero TV show) is filmed in the same TV studios! All he has to do is find a way to sneak away and find the set . . . Will Barry come up with an amazekeel plan? Will he get to audition for Future Ratboy? Will they get the best seats on the coach?? Picking up perfectly on the way children think, this is another fabulous read.

Sam Wu Is NOT Afraid of Ghosts! by Katie and Kevin Tsang

This is a promising start to a new series which has instant child-appeal due to its highly visual presentation. Sam Wu is determined to prove he is not a scaredy-cat - well, not really, anyway. When a trip to the Space Museum goes terrifyingly wrong, Sam begins a mission to prove to the school bully, Ralph Philip Zinkerman the Third, and all of his friends, that he is a fearless space adventurer. Surely his crafty plans will succeed? The dynamic writing style will keep children engaged and eagerly turning the pages to see what fun comes next.

The Unwanted Puppy by Holly Webb

Holly Webb can always be relied on for touching animal stories that appeal to children, and this is no exception. Zoe no longer has a dog of her own, so when she meets Scout in the park, she falls for him and is soon taking him for walks, as she feels his own family aren't caring for him properly. She must work out a way to help Scout, even though he is not her dog. An easy but enjoyable read for all young animal lovers. The free app for tablets, Holly Webb: Puppies and Kittens, is available now to download on the App Store and Google Play.

The Eye of the North by Sinead O'Hart

Keen readers of fantasy novels will fall in love with this magical story, which is full of atmosphere and drama. Emmeline Widget is happy that she has never left Widget Manor, but when her scientist parents mysteriously disappear, that has to change. Emmeline finds herself being packed off on a ship to France, heading for a safe house in Paris. Onboard the ship she is befriended by an urchin stowaway called Thing, who becomes her trusted companion. But before she can reach her destination she is kidnapped by the sinister Dr Siegfried Bauer. Dr Bauer is bound for the ice fields of Greenland to summon a legendary monster from the deep. And he isn’t the only one determined to unleash the creature. The Northwitch has laid claim to the beast, too. The book is peopled with a superb cast of characters, all so vividly described and each very distinctive.

Funny Kid Stand Up by Matt Stanton

Being funny is a serious business. At home, Max is the Chief-Walburt-Entertainer (CWE) and at school, he’s the funny kid. So when the Redhill Talent Quest comes to town, Max is confident that his jokes will make everyone laugh, win him the competition and a ten-million-pound book deal. That is until Tumbles the Clown auditions, who everyone thinks is hilarious. But who is the strange clown and why was he hiding in the bush on the day his granddad was kidnapped? With the help of his temporary best friend and life coach, Hugo, will Max solve the mystery of his grandfather’s whereabouts and overcome the pressures of fame and entertaining?

A Faraway Magic by Amy Wilson

When Angel moves to a new school after the death of her parents, she isn’t interested in making friends. Until she meets Bavar - a strange boy, tall, awkward and desperate to remain unseen, but who seems to have a kind of magic about him. Everyone and everything within Bavar's enchanted house is urging him to step up and protect the world from a magical rift through which monsters are travelling, the same monsters that killed Angel's parents. But Bavar doesn’t want to follow the path that's been chosen for him - he wants to be normal; to disappear. Fighting one another as well as their fears, Angel and Bavar must find a way to repair the rift between the worlds, and themselves, before it's too late . .

Nancy Parker's Chilling Conclusions by Julia Lee

Maidservants, mystery, murder and mayhem! Nancy, our 1920s detective heroine, has another new job - this time she's a ladies' maid. Her new employer has been invited to the mysterious Midwinter Manor, so of course, Nancy goes too. With a fascinating cast of characters in the varied house guests, it promises to be an interesting few days. But then Nancy discovers a dead body in the library... There's plenty to hold the attention of readers, not least of which is the engaging presentation, which makes excellent use of varied fonts, attractive layout and journal extracts to keep interest high. Nancy herself is a super character, full of determination and ingenuity and the plot is well written. An excellent historical novel, setting the scene and adding to knowledge of the period.

The Goozillas!: Attack on Fungus Fort by Dexter Green

This is an exciting adventure series for young readers. A computer game become reality when Max sneezes himself into his World of Slime game... and his creations come to life - the Goozillas that he created! But the Goozillas are under attack from the cute-but-evil Sicklies, with their gentle appearance that belies their evil nature. They have taken over Fungus Fort and it's up to Max and his gooey friends to reclaim it... The colour illustrations by Jake Dash are lively and add greatly to the reading experience, and will encourage even reluctant readers to give the book a go. The characters are illustrated on the inside covers, and this is a great way to help children follow their progress in the book.

Make Me Awesome by Ben Davies

Freddie Smallhouse can't resist the temptation to sign up for the Make Me Awesome programme, run by his idol, Chuck Willard. Knowing that Chuck will always be there to help, Freddie embarks on various schemes to make himself awesome... but where is Chuck when Freddie needs him? A hilarious story and one which will probably appeal particularly to boys, this is one that will really encourage reading.

Ask Oscar by Alan Macdonald

From the author of the much-loved Dirty Bertie stories comes the first in what promises to be a hilarious new series, bound to appeal to a child's sense of fun. After all, any book featuring a pig on a bike, a Poopomatic, and a talking dog can't fail to appeal. Sam has always wanted a dog, so when Oscar turns up on this doorstep, it seems his dream has come true, especially when he discovers Oscar is no ordinary dog. Oscar thinks humans are silly and rather badly trained – but when the freedom of the town’s dogs is under threat, Oscar’s about to discover that a dog’s best friend is his boy. Sarah Horne's amusing and expressive illustrations complement the story to perfection.

Kid Normal and the Rogue Heroes by Greg James and Chris Smith

Kid Normal, which was published in July 2017, became the bestselling children's fiction debut of the year, so it's great to see this new book following hot on its heels ((March 2018) while interest is still high. Murph Cooper runs a team of crime-fighting superheroes, even though by day, he's just a normal schoolkid. His achievements have caught the attention of at least one person. Far away in a maximum security prison, the world's most notorious supervillain, Magpie, has just broken a 30-year silence... and he's after Kid Normal. Children will respond well to the engaging writing and the page-turning storyline, and they will love the varied cast of characters, who are so well portrayed.

Battle of the Beetles by M G Leonard

This is the third in a trilogy; it took me a while to get into the story so I would recommend reading the previous books first to get the best out of the book. The trilogy is a mesmerising mix of exotic beetles, a daring quest, a mixture of bold male and female characters and a truly venomous villain. Now Darkus and his friends continue their unforgettable adventure in this final instalment of the Beetle trilogy. Arch-villainess Lucretia Cutter has a secret Biome hidden in the Amazon rainforest: can Darkus and his friends, human and beetle alike, find it before it's too late? If they can't stop Lucretia, she will release her hoard of giant Frankenstein beetles, and the planet will never be the same again ... Vivid descriptions and packed full of excitement, this is a great read for children of 9+.

The Ice Sea Pirates by Frida Nilsson

This is a real page-turner of a book - a future classic even. It's wonderfully descriptive language is totally gripping and brings the characters alive so you are immersed in their frozen Arctic world - especially that of 10 year-old Siri and her sister Miki. When Miki is abducted by Captain Whitehead, the reader shares the anguish of knowing she will be put to work in his diamond mine. Rather than letting her father go to Miki's rescue, Siri sets out to find her sister by herself. In Siri's adventure on the seas she meets a fascinating array of wolves, sailors and mermaids. Wickedness if offset by genuine human love and care in this enthralling read.

Hounds and Hauntings: Book 3 (Rose Raventhorpe Investigates) by Janine Beacham

This atmospheric series is set in the city of Yorke, which has its own special bands of guardians. But despite that, the city  is in a state of panic. A woman has been murdered - Is the culprit an ancient ghost-hound called the Barghest? It's up to Rosie Raventhorpe with her friend Orpheus and the secret society of butlers search for clues.. Rose believes that the villain is human, and she's determined to prove it. I love the evocative atmosphere and the quirky cast of characters.

 Sky Song by Abi Elphinstone

Erkenwald is a snowy world where wildlife abounds - whales glide between icebergs, wolves hunt on the tundra and polar bears roam the glaciers. But where are the people? Erkenwald is ruled by an evil Ice Queen and the tribes must stay hidden or risk becoming her prisoners at Winterfang Palace. There is just one way to overcome the Ice Queen and this gripping story tells of the search undertaken by Eska and Flint, as they search for the ancient song which has the power to force the Ice Queen back. Beautifully and poetically written, the story and the characters drew me in.

Trouble at School by Chris Higgins

It's Bella's first day at her new school and she's really pleased that her best friend, Magda, will be in the same class. But that may not be such a good thing after all... Bella is determined to make a good impression, but with Magda around, things don't always go according to plan. By the time she arrives, she's already drenched in yoghurt and marmalade, and things are about to get much, much worse in this laugh-aloud story. With plenty of illustrations (by Emily MacKenzie), this is an ideal transition from picture books, fun and lively to read to get childreb engaged with books.

Bah! Humbug! by Michael Rosen

A sublime combination of the author along with illustrator Tony Ross brings us a wonderful edition of the classic story to enthrall all children. The story is based around a school theatrical production of "A Christmas Carol", To add to the usual nerves, the boy who plays Scrooge wonders whether his very busy father will stay for the whole play - or will business come first as usual. We all know the story's message of Christmas cheer and family love - will it work in this case? A heart-warming story told with tenderness and compassion.

Secret Spell (Star Friends) by Linda Chapman

The Star Friends believe in magic, and a whole world of magic opens up when they meet the Star Animals. In this adventure, it's Lottie's turn for the spotlight, along with her star animal, a squirrel called Juniper. They, along with the rest of the Star Friends, must use their special powers to stop the forces of dark magic that are at work in the village. The girls use their magic powers in a positive way which will help readers think about our environment, doing good and caring for people. A lovely story of friendship.

The Ice Garden by Guy Jones

Jess is a lonely and isolated girl; she is allergic to the sun and spends most of her time in darkened rooms, or otherwise completely covered up. It's a strange half-life, only seeing other children from a distance as they play in the playground. Her only friend is a boy in a coma, to whom she tells stories. One night she slips out and explores the playground where she discovers a beautiful impossibility: a magical garden wrought of ice. But Jess isn't alone in this fragile, in-between place ... Touching and moving, without being in the least sentimental, this is a magical story.

Sky Chasers by Emma Carroll

A chance encounter changes pickpocket Magpie's life forever. She meets a boy who shares her dreams of flying over the rooftops of Paris. When you learn that his family is the Montgolfiers, the story takes on a very real and believable feel. They are desperate to be first to discover the secret of flight. Together with Pierre, Magpie is soon caught up in a world of inflatable bloomers, spies and a trio of unruly animals in a race to be the first to fly a hot air balloon - in front of the King and Queen of France. An exciting historical adventure, based on a prize-winning idea by Neal Jackson.

Tom Gates: Epic Adventure (kind of) by Liz Pichon

Families can be annoying, but they can be amazing... especially when it comes to present time! Then, two sets of grandparents is working out pretty nice for Tom. The Wrinklies are really keen on giving presents. They are planning a fabulous family outing too... although, annoyingly, Delia’s coming too. A hilarious story with strong visual impact that will immediately capture children's attention - and hold it. Great fun to read and Tom is a super character.

Wed Wabbit by Lissa Evans

Just imagine - you are a girl called Fidge and you're nearly eleven. You've been hurled into a strange world. You have three companions: two are unbelievably weird and the third is your awful cousin Graham. You have to solve a series of nearly impossible clues. You need to deal with a cruel dictator and three thousand Wimbley Woos (yes, you read that sentence correctly). And the whole situation - the whole, entire thing - is your fault. Wed Wabbit is an adventure story about friendship, danger and the terror of never being able to get back home again. The compelling writing really does allow the reader right into Fidge's world, and readers will be rewarded with a very, very funny read.

Jamie Johnson: Final Whistle by Dan Freedman

This is one in a series that is perfect for football-mad children - and a great way to encourage them to read. Jamie has a great opportunity. "This was the team of teams. The club of clubs. And now they wanted him to join them." A transfer to the best club in the world is on the cards for Jamie Johnson. But a time bomb is already ticking within Jamie... The final whistle about to blow! Well written and full of tension, the text is broken up by illustrations, newspaper cuttings, letters,score cards and more, to make the book easy and fun to read.

The Getaway (Diary of a Wimpy Kid Book 12) by Jeff Kinney

The hilarious series continues with Greg Heffley and his family off to new places to try and escape the stress of Christmas... but with the Wimpy Kid, is escape ever possible? A tropical island resort sounds just right, but will a few days in paradise really do wonders for Greg and his frazzled family? When sun-poisoning, stomach troubles and venomous creatures all threaten to ruin the family's holiday, things are looking bleak. Will the holiday turn out to be a disaster? Of course, with the Wimpy Kid you can be absolutely sure that, whatever happens, there will be plenty of hilarity. A hilarious seasonal story for fans old and new. 2017 marks the 10th year of the Wimpy Kid, with 63 editions sold in 53 languages.

I Swapped My Brother On The Internet by Jo Simmons

A new brother on the internet? This sounds like a sibling's dream come true! For Jonny, the dream is about to become a reality with SiblingSwap.com. But beware of what you wish for is certainly the case in this hilarious story that will really strike a chord with every child who has ever had an annoying brother or sister. But things aren't as simple as they seem, as the replacements get increasingly extraordinary. First there's a merboy, then a brother raised by meerkats, and then the ghost of Henry the Eighth, followed by Alfie, who never seems to stop... what next? Maybe the original brother wasn't too bad after all... Full of child-centred humour and hilarious illustrations by Nathan Reed, this has a great storyline, excellently written.

The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris

Carter doesn’t believe in magic - magic tricks are just tricks. But magic is his life. Since he left his cruel uncle, who made him do dishonest things, he is working as a street magician. Carter finds himself alone and in danger from dastardly carnival ringleader, B.B. Bosso. He could really use some magic now . . .and that's what happens when he meets Mr Dante Vernon, who leads Carter to a magic shop, where he teams up with five other like-minded kids and the Magic Misfits begin. Can the gang use their magical talents to save the day and stop B.B. stealing a priceless diamond? The characters are very varied and easy to like. It's great fun, with an underlying message about friendship and building trust. Children will love the way there are magic tricks interspersed through the book, and this is also a good way to break up the text and make it easier to read.

Snow by Sam Usher

The beautiful cover with its glittery snow scene and little boy peeping out sets the scene for the book perfectly. Sam is impatient but he has to wait for his Grandad. Trying to hurry him up, Sam tells Grandad all the other children have gone to the park - and all the local dogs - and all the zoo animals! When they eventually get out, it is apparent that lots of people really have gone before them... like so much of the story, the pictures tell the tale; the simple text is perfectly complemented by the expressive drawings. A joyful story which captures all the excitement of a snow day and depicts a loving grandchild/grandparent relationship.

Secret Of The Ron Mor Skerry by Rosalie K Fry

Fiona McConville lives on the Scottish mainland, but she is an island girl at heart and at age of ten she is sent back to her beloved Western Isles to live with her grandparents. There she learns more about the magical islands she calls home, about her mother's strange ways with the seals and seabirds. She hears stories of the selkies, mythological creatures that are half seal and half human; and wonders about her baby brother, Jamie, who disappeared long ago but whom fishermen claim to have seen. Fiona is determined to find Jamie and enlists her cousin Rory to help. When her grandparents are suddenly threatened with eviction, Fiona and Rory go into action. Secret of the Ron Mor Skerry is a magical story of the power of place and family history, interwoven with Scottish folklore. Rosalie K. Fry's novel, which was the basis for John Sayles's classic 1994 film The Secret of Roan Inish, is back in print for the first time in decades. A mystical and atmospheric tale, lyrically told.

Secret of the Oracle: An Ancient Greek Mystery (Flashbacks) by Saviour Pirotta

Historical novels are such a good way to give children a sense of period and place, and to support their curriculum learning. This is the exciting follow-up to Mark of the Cyclops, first in the Greek Mysteries series. As well as plenty of authentic historical background, there's a mystery to solve in this dramatic story. Scribe Nico and his friend Thrax have come to Delphi with their master, who seeks guidance from the great oracle. When a farmer's daughter goes missing, Nico and Thrax must solve the clues, save the girl and learn the secret of the oracle. Superb full page black and white drawings by illustrator Freya Hartas give a real atmosphere to the story. This mystery is peopled with wonderful characters and gives an insight into the daily life of the ancient Greeks,

Attack of the Vikings by Tony Bradman

An exciting period and a fearsome nation are brought to life in this story by an excellent historical novelist. Finn wants excitement in his life - he wants to be a Viking warrior, not live a humdrum existence as chieftain of a farming village like his father. But Finn soon learns that there can be plenty of excitement and danger close at hand too, when the village is under siege and only Finn and his friends to protect it, can he save the day and learn what it really means to have the blood of a Viking? Fast moving and full of action, with great characters, this is a really good read.

The Doldrums and the Helmsley Curse (The Doldrums, Book 2) by Nicholas Gannon

We first met Archer B. Hemsley and friends in The Doldrums, and now we have another fast-paced zany adventure to enjoy. Archer B. Helmsley’s famous explorer grandparents are finally coming home after being missing, marooned on an iceberg. But peoples' reactions are strange, and it is obvious there is a mystery surrounding their real whereabouts. People are claiming that they made it all up. Determined to prove them wrong, Arthur and friends determined to restore his grandparent’s reputation. There's plenty of humour, there's a close-knit family and friendship, lots of tension-building adventure - and it's all superbly illustrated, with line drawings and full colour plates by the author.

Jack Beechwhistle: Rise Of The Hairy Horror by Kes Gray

We first met Jack Birtwhistle in the author's highly popular Daisy series, and now he is the star of his own series, of which this is the second book. Jack Beechwhistle is no ordinary boy - really he's a junior secret agent. Nothing is too extraordinary for him to tackle - exploding conkers, zombie sweet-shop owners, and man-eating giant slugs are all in a day's work. He needs some help, of course, and that's where Colin and Harry come in. Just what is Valentine, the hairdresser, doing with all the hair he collects? Does he have a sinister purpose? It's up to Jack to find out in this hilarious story, with its comic style illustrations and short chapters, ideal for beginner readers.

Lucky Button by Michael Morpurgo

The author recreates historic periods with a wonderful sense of atmosphere, truly transporting the reader to a different era. This touching story is inspired by the Foundling Museum. It starts with the story of Jonah, a lonely boy who cares for his invalid mother, and who is the target for bullies. One day, Jonah encounters a mysterious figure who reveals what life was like in the Foundling Hospital in the eighteenth century. Mozart and Handel appear in this touching story about the power of music. Sometimes, dream pairings of author and illustrator come along - and Michael Morpurgo and Michael Foreman are one of those pairings. The delicate illustrations and colour plates encapsulate the emotion and atmosphere of the story perfectly.An atmospheric and moving story from a master storyteller.

Can Doctor Proctor Save Christmas? (Doctor Proctor's Fart Powder) by Jo Nesbo

We are on to number six in this hilarious series, which has enormous appeal for children with writing that is spot-on to tickle the young sense of humour. Right from the first page, the story has the reader guessing and wondering. Mr Thrane, wealthy owner of a department store, has bought Christmas from the King of Norway - and the only people who can celebrate are those who buy 10,000 crowns worth of presents from his department store. Otherwise, that's it - no Christmas. It's time for ​Doctor Proctor, Nilly, and Lisa to step up to the mark, find Santa and save Christmas. The witty dialogue makes this a great story to read aloud. It's superbly imaginative with wonderful characters and enough silliness to satisfy any child.

There's a Dragon in my Stocking! by Tom Nicoll

What could be making the noise in the living room? Could it be the man himself? Excitedly, Eric and Pan go to investigate and find it is Pan's parents who have flown all the way from China on the wing of a plane. And there are more unexpected guests, much to Eric's dismay. How is he going to keep Pan's family hidden? But when disaster strikes, leaving them all without Christmas dinner, the Pans come to the rescue. A lively light-hearted seasonal story, with plenty of graphical interest to engage children's attention. Perfect to show children reading is fun.

The Night Of Wishes: Or The Satanarchaeolidealcohellish Notion Potion (NYBR Children's Collection) by Michael Ende

The books in the New York Book Review Children's Collection are superbly produced traditionally styled books that are a delight to collect. After the excitement of Christmas, this is a lovely book to give children to continue the seasonal theme. At the Villa Nightmare, it's New Year's Eve at the Villa Nightmare but it's no time to celebrate. Shadow Sorcery Minister, Preposteror must to perform a certain number of evil deeds in service to the Minister of Pitch Darkness and he's short of his target. Could his aunt, Tyrannia Vampirella with the famous Notion Potion, have the answer? All that stands in their way is the unlikely team of-a cat named Mauricio di Mauro and a raven known as Jacob Scribble. An imaginative fantasy which is cleverly written and full of surprises.

Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic (Timeless, Book 1) by Armand Baltazar

This is a stunning, eye-catching book with a beautiful cover. Inside, you will be blown away by the stunning full colour, full page illustrations... and that's all before you are drawn into an unforgettable story. In a timeless blend of past and future, Earth is transformed - continents reshaped, oceans re-formed, cities rebuilt. The time-crossing continues with dinosaurs roaming the plains and giant robots navigating the same waters as steam-powered ships. It's powerful and absorbing and cleverly, it is all highly credible. In New Chicago, Diego’s middle school hallways bring together children from all eras and cultures... and Diego thrives on it all. On his thirteenth birthday, Diego learns of a special gift he has, a secret that is part of something much bigger. a secret that brings huge responsibility. There are over 600 pages, but don't be daunted - with the high proportion of illustrations, there's not an overwhelming amount of text. An exciting and imaginative story. The book is superbly produced, on shiny paper - it's a feast for the eyes and a joy to read.

Puppy Rescue Riddle An Animal Planet Adventure by Catherine Nichols

This is the first Animal Planet book I have seen. The books combine non fiction information with an exciting story to encourage reading and to inform children about the animal kingdom. It's a great combo and works really well. Amy and Elliott, who are volunteers at the dog rescue, have to get the rescued puppies up to higher ground before the storm arrives. Bit there is a pup missing and they have to solve the mystery... and so does the reader, with the help of an old book, a series of riddles, and a spooky storm. Colour photos and illustrations make an attractive book. Published by Liberty Street, October 2017, ISBN 9781683307716.

Jack Fortune and the Search for the Hidden Valley by Sue Purkiss

We are taken back to 18th century England to meet Jack, who is an orphan and full of mischief. He's too much for Aunt Constance so he is sent to live with Uncle Edmund. But Uncle Edmund is off to the Himalayas, plant hunting, so Jack will have to go with him. A thrilling adventure ensues, which really picks up on the excitement of plant hunting in a very different world to our own. On the journey, Jack makes discoveries about himself that help him come to terms with his life. It's an exciting adventure with an unusual background, an insightful look into a boy's life and an interesting piece of history.

Curiosity House: The Fearsome Firebird (Book Three) by Lauren Oliver and H C Chester

A compelling story from a well-known author and... just who is H C CHester? This is the third thrilling adventure (please read the others first!) about Sam, Philippa, Thomas, and Max. They have just started to recover from their capture and subsequent escape from Rattigan... but life doesn't stay quiet for long. Bank robbers are terrorising the city. Things get worse when Professor Farnum, the ringmaster of the museum's now immensely popular flea circus, is charged with murder; the children must step forward and solve the mysteries. The search for the real killer uncovers a plot much bigger than any individual crime-a plot that can only be the work of Nicholas Rattigan. A gripping mystery that encourages children to follow along closely, seeing if they can unravel the clues along with the protagonists.

Jamie Johnson: Final Whistle by Dan Freedman

This is one in a series that is perfect for football-mad children - and a great way to encourage them to read. Jamie has a great opportunity. "This was the team of teams. The club of clubs. And now they wanted him to join them." A transfer to the best club in the world is on the cards for Jamie Johnson. But a time bomb is already ticking within Jamie... The final whistle about to blow! Well written and full of tension, the text is broken up by illustrations, newspaper cuttings, letters,score cards and more, to make the book easy and fun to read.

Moone Boy: The Notion Potion by Chris O'Dowd and Nick V Murphy

This is a hilarious read that will be loved by children of 8+, even reluctant readers; it's the third in the series and they go on getting better and better. Coming towards the end of his time in primary school, Martin Moone feels dis-satisfied with his achievements, especially as he is compared with his sisters. Will entering the Invention Convention science competition get him recognised on the school’s Winners' Wall? Problem is, he and his friends Trevor, Padraic and Declan Mannion are short on ideas. It's Martin’s imaginary friend, Sean, comes to the rescue - Notion Potion is the answer. Mishaps and mayhem abound but underneath the irreverence is a strong current of loyalty, friendship and determination.

The 91-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths

This is the seventh book of the series and the treehouse gets bigger and bigger... there were only 13 when it started. Now there are another 13 levels, including the world's most powerful whirlpool, a mashed-potato-and-gravy train and a human pinball machine. It's funny and well written, packed with the sort of zany humour that children can't resist; it's great to encourage an interest in reading. The brilliant combination of text and cartoon/comic book style illustrations is a winner and guaranteed to appeal to children.

Teddy Robinson Meets Father Christmas and other stories by Joan G Robinson

Teddy Robinson has been a favourite since he first appeared in print in 1953. This edition is illustrated with the author's original black line illustrations, which are lively and appealing. Join Teddy Robinson as he meets Father Christmas, tries to disguise himself, goes to the Dolls' Hospital, encounters a china gnome and has many more adventures. Teddy Robinson loves rhymes and there are lots of rhymes to enjoy in the stories. These short stories are perfect bedtime reading - gentle and relaxing. Teddy Robinson is a lovable character; he is full of imagination and his appeal is timeless.

The Road to Ever After by Moira Young

Davy David is an orphan who lives by his wits in the dead-end town of Brownvale. In a magical turn of events, a stray dog brings about a total change in Davy's life, as the pair flee town together. A mischievous wind blows the two of them to a boarded-up museum on the outskirts of town where they meet the elderly recluse, Miss Flint. She has planned one last adventure before her time is up and hires the reluctant Davy and George to escort her. The result is a memorable journey and an unlikely friendship. It's a story full of hope; proper story-telling.

The Hippo at the End of the Hall by Helen Cooper

Helen Cooper's experience as an illustrator of picture books, and her knowledge of what appeals to children, have been put to excellent use in her debut novel The invitation was delivered with the milk, addressed to... nobody, but Ben knew it was for him. It would lead him to an old, shambolic museum, full of strange and bewitching creatures; a museum that is hardly ever open. A peculiar world of hidden mysteries and curious family secrets . . . and some really dangerous magic. The link to his father is the most significant thing, and Ben must save the museum to keep the family link Filled with her own wonderful illustrations, this gripping story neatly falls between magic and reality.

Potter's Boy by Tony Mitton

Far away and long ago, a young boy yearns for adventure. When Ryo sees a lone warrior chase bandits away from his home, and learning that the man is from a secret group of warriors known only as the `Hidden Ones', he determines to train as a fighter Setting out on his journey to find his way in the world, Ryo will meet brave warriors, wise hermits, and heart- breaking tragedy. His quest and the people he meets along the way lead him to an understanding of what it means to follow his dream, and where his place in the world truly lies. Superb story telling with a wonderful narrative style that keeps you hooked, this is a stirring read. The poetic writing style ( the author is a poet) is dramatic and compelling.

Witch for a Week by Kaye Umansky

This is a magical tale from the author of Pongwiffy; Kaye Umansky really writes superbly and her characters are full of life and charm. Elsie wanted some excitement in her life, beyond her parents' emporium - but she gets more than she bargained for when she housesits for Magenta Sharp, the witch. It seems she must also take on the role of witch for a week, and use a boxful of volatile magical ingredients that must be used immediately. Written with wonderful touches of humour, adults will love to read this aloud and share it with children. Elsie is a super character, resourceful and positive and she throws herself into her unexpected role with zest and humour.

The Storm Dog by Holly Webb

Tilly finds her school project on World War II turns into something more realistic when, instead of finding herself with her grandma and greatgran, she finds she has been transported back to the start of the war. She’s being evacuated to Wales with her two younger brothers. Stern Mr Edwards offers to give them a home on his remote farm, where she meets a very special sheepdog. It's a bleak lonely place, and as Christmas approaches, the farm is cut off... then Tarran the sheepdog comes for help and Tilly must summon all her resources. A touching seasonal story, with bravery and loyalty at its centre.

The Shield (The Finder Book 1) by C J Bentley

Peggy is a good-hearted girl, growing up in the 1960s, and trying to find her place in life. She also happens to be very good at finding things. Finding herself in medieval England, with the help of a mysterious wise woman and a chivalrous knight, she finds and returns his shield. Not just any shield - it holds vital secrets. She meets King Edward III, his wife Philippa and their son, who will later become the Black Prince. Personally, I found the font and density of type made the book hard to read, which is a shame, as it's a well-written historical adventure which will enhance children's knowledge of the period. It's an interesting premise for a series and I look forward to finding out where the adventure goes next.

The Powerpuff Girls: Hero to Zero from Orchard Books

Packed with all the quirky fun of the TV show, in these original adventures the Powerpuff Girls, Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup, will fight baddies, save the day and be home before bedtime! They are cross when Princess Morebucks is nominated for the Townville Citizen of the Year award instead of them. How many monsters does a girl have to fight?! They decide to go to neighbouring Villageton, where they're appreicated. But Villageton isn't as nice as it seems ... and soon the girls are battling without their superpowers! Perfect for girls of 6+.

The Powerpuff Girls: Official Handbook by Orchard Books

Join Blossom, Buttercup and Bubbles for hours of fun in this super cute and super fierce handbook! This is the perfect book for Powerpuff Girls fans everywhere, with all manner of activities, information and fun to enjoy. There's an episode guide, character profiles, facts and figures and much more, all in full colour.

Witch Snitch by Sibeal Pounder

This is 'the inside scoop on the witches of Ritzy City, and it will fascinate all fans of the series. Tiga and friends are famous throughout Sinkville for their part in the Witch Wars competition, but there's so much more of Sinkville to discover! Ritzy City's Top Witch Peggy Pigwiggle has asked Tiga and Fran to make a TV documentary about the most interesting witches in town. This hilarious companion story sits alongside the main Witch Wars series; it can be read as a standalone title, but I think it's best for those who have read the books. It is full of character profiles, facts and activities to fascinate fans and give them everything they need to create their very own Witch Wars party, including instructions to make decorations, bunting and cakes.

Dork Diaries: Crush Catastrophe by Rachel Renee Russell

In the 12th instalment of the best-selling series, Nikki Maxwell’s newest diary is all about the countdown to the end of the school year. With the summer holidays coming up, what will Nikki be doing? She’s also facing an unexpected crush catastrophe — there’s a new kid interested in Nikki, but the last thing she wants to do is hurt Brandon! Big decisions are looming, all told in Nikki's own inimitable and highly entertaining way. Perfect for the tween market, these well written and girl-friendly books are great reads.

Hetty Feather's Christmas  by Jacqueline Wilson

Christmas as we know it owes a lot to the Victorians, so enjoy the insight given in this book about much-loved Victorian foundling, Hetty Feather. It's Christmas Day at the Foundling Hospital and unexpected gift leads to jealousy and trouble for Hetty. Arch-enemy Matron Bottomly is delighted to have an excuse to exclude Hetty from the festive celebrations and Hetty is distraught,,, but things soon look up for her in thus festive tale that will delight all her fans. As always, Jacqueline Wilson captures the period and the characters brilliantly; the illustrations by Nick Sharratt are the ideal complement. Bonus material gives fun facts about Victorian Christmas. The perfect gift for every Jacqueline Wilson fan - and bound to make her some new ones, too.

The Happy Christmas (Polly and the Puffin) by Jenny Colgan

Jenny Colgan has made a really successful transition to writing children's books - Polly the Puffin is such a super character and ell deserves her own books. Polly and her puffin friend Neil have wrapped presents, practised for the village nativity and written their lists for Santa. But for impatient Polly, Christmas is taking a very long time to arrive. And Neil, as male puffins do, is busy helping to keep an egg warm, so he hasn't got much time to play. This is ideal for beginner readers, and the lovely two-tone illustrations really add to the enjoyment.The book includes lots of fun festive recipes and activities.

The Rise of Wolves by Kerr Thomson

How come Innis Munro hears the eerie cry of a wolf when walking home across the bleak wilderness of Nin Island? Wolves were hunted to extinction centuries ago. Intrigued, he decides to investigate his island home and accepts an ancient challenge: he who jumps the Bonnie Laddie's Leap wins a fortune. As the wolves rise from the darkness of history, and long-buried secrets resurface, Innis's adventure truly begins. Atmospheric and totally engrossing, this is a well-written story. Chicken House tell us it is about Friendship - Animals - Adventure and it will appeal to lovers of all three genres.

BINNY BEWITCHED BY HILARY MCKAY

Hilary McKay is one of those authors who knows exactly what children want - and she delivers it. Her characters are always highly credible and have the reader sharing in their story with the greatest enthusiasm; her portrayal of family life is always spot-on. Binny Cornwallis has lost something. Something that wasn't really hers in the first place. With her best enemy Gareth and her beloved dog Max she turns detective to track it down, but the her family are anything but helpful. Little brother James and his friend Dill are having an adventure of their own and big sister Clem is acting very strangely. And on top of all this, Binny suspects their next-door neighbour may be a witch ... Superbly told with a wonderful lead character; a gem of a story.

King Flashypants and the Toys of Terror by Andy Riley

Just brilliant! This is the third in this inventive and imaginative series (do look out for the others!). King Flashypants is back for his third rib-tickling adventure. Something weird is happening in Edwinland - Emperor Nurbison isn't evil any more! He's doing stuff like smiling and making toys of himself for the peasants. Is he up to something? Probably. But what can it be? The hilarious cartoon-style illustrations are an integral part of the book, and make up a large proportion of it, which children will love. It's exactly the sort of book that children will respond to, and is especially good for reluctant readers, to show them just how much fun reading can be. They will miss out if they don't read this!

Scaredy Cat, Scaredy Cat (A Storey Street novel) by Phil Earle

Kay Catt, aka Scaredy Catt, is scared of everything - and when you meet her father, you'll find out why. But it wasn't always like that... Then, one day she spots a mysterious old man on Storey Street, waering a long pointed hat and a silky cloak, and it heralds the start of a great adventure for Kay. Because Wilf Wilkinson isn't your average, cardigan-wearing, sherbet lemon-sucking old codger. Kay is obsessed with wizards - and carries her own magic wand for protection... could Wilf be a wizard? Superbly illustrated by Sara Ogilvie, this is a hilarious story with a very positive and encouraging conclusion... sad it is the last in the series.

Heidi by Johanna Spryi

Heidi was one of my childhood favourites - I read it over and over again and still have my original copies; I hope today's children will love it as much. Heidi is a young girl who goes to stay with her embittered grandfather in the Swiss Alps. Initially, her grandfather resents Heidi, but he is soon won over by her happy demeanour and interest in the world around her. She soon makes friends with her neighbours, who in turn grow more attached to Heidi. The time comes for her to leave the mountain... but she comes back, with Clara who needs help. This beautiful gift edition of the classic novel includes illustrations in full colour by Jessie Wilcox Smith,and is beautifully produced with a pink and gold leather binding, top quality paper and a bookmark. It really is a book to treasure. Published by Barnes and Noble, September 2017, ISBN 9781435144668.

Curse of the Werewolf Boy (Maudlin Towers) by Chris Priestley

This is the first in what promises to be an excellent series. Mildew and Sponge are pupils at Maudlin Towers, a gloomy, gargoyle-infested place... and hardly surprisingly, they are unimpressed. Despite that (or because they are desperate to escape!), when somebody steals the School Spoon and the teachers threaten to cancel the Christmas holidays until the culprit is found, they determine to solve the crime. Things get more and more weird - who is the ghost in the attic? What's their history teacher doing with a time machine? And why do a crazy bunch of Vikings seem to think Mildew is a werewolf? As you can see, this is far from a traditional detective mystery - it's full of fun and unlikely situations which will keep its readers totally engaged.

Eve and the Mermaid's Tears (Keeper of the Crystals 3) by Jess Black

Keeper of the Crystals is an adventure fantasy series for those who love secrets and mysteries - this is the third in the series and the book works as a stand-alone or to read in sequence. Eve and Oscar find themselves in a world where cut-throat pirates rule and the language of the sea is the only one spoken. Mermaids are being captured so that their tears can be sold as treasure. But they are essential to the balance of ocean life, so they must be protected. Can Eve and Oscar understand this world and come to their rescue? In Eve and the Last Dragon (Keeper of the Crystals), Eve has been commanded to open a wooden box... a box she has been told never to touch. With her friend Oscar, she finds herself with the task of protecting and saving the dragons who are being hunted down by an evil dragon-slayer. These fantasy stories are ideal for young readers who enjoy a touch of magic and intrigue.

Jake in Space: Moon Attack by Candice Lemon-Scott

Jake in Space is a series of sci-fi adventures with plenty of action and suspense. Jake lives in a space station on Earth and travels around the universe, solving mysteries - a storyline kids will love. This time, Jake is sent to remedial space car driving school on the Moon. Nothing could be more embarrassing. He soon uncovers a sinister plot and must summon his courage, and driving skills, to save everyone. These space age adventures are perfect for somewhat reluctant readers, especially boys, with their pacy action which is easy to follow and grabs the attention. There is plenty of action and enough suspense to get readers hooked and wanting to find out what happens next. Look out for all six in the series

The Princess and the Suffragette by Holly Webb

This is written as a sequel to Frances Hodgson Burnett's A Little Princess, and takes up the story nine years later, in 1913. Lottie, the smallest girl from the original story, learns about the Suffragette movement from Sara, who returns to visit the orphanage from time to time. Soon Lottie finds herself sneaking out to attend a demonstration, in defiance of her cold, distant father. A father who has a secret to hide about her own missing mother... It's a story about lost mothers turning up in unexpected situations, the power of friendship and female empowerment, excellently and empathetically written. Holly Webb is well known for her touching animal stories, and now she has taken on a totally different genre with great success. Young readers will be attracted by her name, and they will enjoy an informative and well-constructed story.

Harper and the Fire Star by Cerrie Burnell

Magic and whimsy, fantasy and adventure, this series has it all for those who want to be whisked out of the everyday world by a cast of funny and loveable characters. Harper and her friends want to help the Wild Conductor win back his place in the magical Circus of Dreams. They put on a wondrous show, but instead of the Wild Conductor, the ringmaster selects the musically gifted Harper. Once inside the circus, Harper begins to solve a mystery involving Fire Star, a girl who shines like a star whenever she hears music... The wonderfully descriptive language really draws the reader in, making you a part of Harper's magical world.

Toto the Ninja Cat and the Great Snake Escape by Dermot O'Leary

Toto the cat and her brother Silver live in a townhouse in London; by day, they are just ordinary cats. This changes at night, despite the fact Toto is almost totally blind - her senses come to the fore in the darkness. One evening, news reaches Toto that a king cobra has escaped from London Zoo! Together with help from a very posh cat and two hungry tigers, Toto and Silver must investigate. Can they find the giant snake, before it's too late? The stunning cover with its silver foil effect is testament to the fabulous quality of the illustrations by Nick East which liberally adorn the book, bringing the story to life. This hilarious read has serious undertones of the importance of friendship, inclusivity and winning in the face of adversity.

Lockwood & Co: The Empty Grave by Jonathan Stroud

The thought of a break is alien to the Lockwood & Co team, so they they decide to risk their lives breaking into a heavily-guarded crypt. A building full of unsettled souls, it’s also the final resting place of Marissa Fittes, the legendary and (supposedly) long-dead ghost hunter – though the team have their suspicions about just how dead she might be. What they discover changes everything. Action, suspense and sometimes sheer terror are well blended and tempered with a touch of humour. This is the thrilling finale to the multi award-winning series, and the excitement and tension are held right to the very end. Sad to see a great series reach its conclusion, but better to go out on a high note, as this does.

Eloise Undercover by Sarah Baker

Be whisked back in time by this evocative novel that transports you to the fearsome world that is Nazi-occupied France in 1944. 12 year old Eloise’s father is missing and she is desperate to find out what’s happened to him, and so she courageously joins the Resistance. A dangerous adventure ensues, full of secrecy and suspense, as we really feel what it was like for these courageous people. Full of emotion all the way through, the darkness of some parts is tempered by hope and courage. The excitement is maintained throughout, and the vivid descriptions and obvious knowledge of the setting grab the attention.

Victorian House Maid: The Secret Diary of Jane Pinny by Philip Ardagh

A clever blend of fact and fiction, this gives an excellent insight into Victorian life and would make a great read for KS2 pupils studying the Victorians, bringing the period to life for them. Jane Pinny Maid Of All Work at the very grand Lytton House... and that means she has to do all the tough jobs - cleaning, dusting, scrubbing, washing. But when a priceless jade necklace belonging to the lady of the house disappears, Jane turns accidental detective (with the help of her unlikely best friend, a pigeon called Plump...). Jamie Littler's super drawings really help with the period setting and add to the fun of the book - the details are fabulous. A light-hearted and highly enjoyable read with a lovely heroine.