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.

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

Blueberry Pancakes Forever (Tuesday McGillycuddy Adventures) by Angelica Banks 

Winter has fallen in the world of story, and at Brown Street, Tuesday's typewriter lies silent. Far away in the Peppermint Forest, Vivienne Small fears that she will never again feel the touch of the sun. But when the mysterious Loddon appears in Vivienne's treehouse, he brings with him terrible danger. Without warning, Tuesday is swept up into the world of story as she has never seen it before. In this forbidding and unfamiliar place - and without her beloved dog Baxterr at her side - Tuesday becomes Loddon's captive. But who exactly is this strange boy? And will she find a way to defeat him?

Welcome to the Embassy of the Dead: Book 1 by Will Mabbitt

Gently gruesome and ith plenty of humour, children of 9+ will really enjoy this slightly macabre story. When Jake opens a strange box containing a severed finger, he accidentally summons a grim reaper who drags him to the Eternal Void; now he's running for his life! Jake isn't alone though, as he can see and speak to ghosts. Along with Stiffkey the undertaker, hockey stick-wielding, Cora, and Zorro the ghost fox - Jake and pals have one mission: find the Embassy of the Dead and seek protection. But the Embassy has troubles of its own and may not be the safe haven Jake is hoping for... A fast-paced page turner which will capture children's attention and have them looking forward eagerly to the next in the series.

Boy Underwater by Adam Baron

Cymbeline Igloo (no there's a name to catch the attention!) has never been swimming... but he's ready to give it a try. But When there's an accident at the pool, he is soon to find out just Why his mum has never taken him sWimming – or how the accient leads his mum to a sudden breakdown. It's a momentous discovery uhich is to impact on Cymbeline's entire life. It's a family mystery and, of course, the groWn ups aren't giving anything aWay, so it's up to Cymbeline and his friends.

The Shelter Puppy by Holly Webb

Holly Webb writes just the sort of stories that appeal to young animal-mad readers, especially girls; they are easy reads and a good way to build confidence and for children to find out the pleasure of being lost in a book and its characters. Visiting a local animal shelter, Kaitlyn falls in love with Winston who becomes the star of her school project. But she gets too involved with Winston and doesn't want to see him go to another family. Soon she and her friends are raising money for the shelter... but will her dream come true?

No More Mr Nice Spy (Spynosaur) by Guy Bass

This book has immediate shelf-appeal ith its zany and reader-friendly mix of illustrations (by the talented Lee Robinson) and comic-strip style story telling, coupled with an imaginative use of fonts. Spynosaur is accused of eating the princess of Canada's prized pet and has his Right to Spy revoked. And there's worse to come, so Spynosaur goes rogue. Travelling around the globe without his gadgets and equipment, can our hero evade capture long enough to clear his name? Great fun, lots of humour and bound to appeal to readers age 8 to 10, reluctant or not.

The Pony With No Name (Seaview Stables Adventures) by Tracey Corderoy

I always enjoy Tracey's books, especially the Shifty McGifty series, so was delighted to receive an early proof from her new series. Bryony May has moved to the seaside village of Brook Dale, reluctantly leaving both her school friends and her horse friends at the stables. Out exploring her new environment, Briony finds a spooked but beautiful bay pony. Soon, they meet again and Bryony discovers the horse's owner Georgina doesn't take care of her horse - but won't let Bryony close. After an exciting adventure, we learn the fate of the beautiful pony. Traditional in style, this is a well written and engaging story of evolving friendship, new beginnings, adventure and, of course, horses. I look forward to seeing the series develop and getting to know the characters even better. The book is published 23 August 2018.

Junkyard Jack and the Horse That Talked by Adrian Edmondson

Horses that talk? Nonsense! Or is it? Well, it certainly brings us a story full of hilarity to enjoy. From an intriguing start - with Jack hiding in his school bag, we are drawn into Jack's life. His mum is in prison and he lives with drippy aunt Violet, smelly uncle Ted and evil cousin Kelly - in a cupboard! But one day he finds himself on an adventure to free his mum from prison - with the help of rather a lot of talking animals! Filled with excitement, fun and far too much horse poo, and superbly illustrated by Danny Noble.

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. Perfectly suited to the tween market, and deservedly hugely popular, these well written and girl-friendly books are great reads.

Mirror Magic by Claire Fayers

This magical adventure takes place in the town of Wyse, on the border of England and Wales. Wyse is the last remaining human town where magic works. But that situation is in peril, as Ava and her brother Matthew find when they return to their birthplace of Wyse, to find Lord Skinner sapping the town of its magic. Ava links to the twinned town of Unwyse, where she meets Howell, one of the unlucky Fair Folk who is being pursued by the terrifying Mr Bones, and together they set out to get to the bottom of the loss of magic in their towns. An atmospheric story, with rich vocabulary and a strong and determined heroine who will not be daunted.

Marge and the Secret Tunnel (Marge in Charge 4) by Isla Fisher

This light-hearted and fun series is perfect for young readers enjoying the discoveries that come from independent reading. Life is always fun when Marge, the best babysitter ever, is around. Like the other books, there are three lively stories in one book - Marhe and the Secret Tunnel, Marge and the Great Shopping Race and Marge and the Lost Kitten. With plenty of lively drawings to engage the reader, this is a collection of enjoyable stories with a fun and very different heroine who children will enjoy getting to kno as the series progresses. Life is never quiet or boring with Marge around!

Ella on the Outside by Cath Howe

It's hard to be the the new girl at school, as Ella finds. She initially has no friends but can't believe her luck when Lydia, the most popular girl in school, decides to be her new best friend - but what does Lydia really want? And what does it all have to do with Molly, the quiet, shy girl who won't talk to anyone? Ella has a secret, a family secret, and she is somewhat naive. The girls are ell dran characters, true to life, and easily identifiable characters for today's readers. This is a realistic, credible, gripping and emotional story of lies, friendship, and blackmail hich doesn't waste words but gets quickly to the heart of the matter in a compelling way that quickly engages the reader.

Buttercup Sunshine and the Zombies of Dooooom by Colin Mulhern

Nothing every happens in Briar's ... or does it? Buttercup Sunshine lives in peaceful Briar's Cove with her Granny Fondant... but peace is shattered when a band of zombies approach, caused to rise by a fallen star. It's a real challenge for Buttercup and Granny but they soon come up with some ingenious ideas involving a vacuum cleaner and a ball of wool; you'll just have to read the book to see ho it all works out. This is a lively and unusual story for children of 7+ who want some gentle scaring along with plenty of humour - and enjoyable line drawings too. Publishes 28/09/18.

The Misadventures of Winnie and Wilbur by Laura Owen

With eight colourfully illustrated stories, there's plenty here to keep young fans of the series very happy; the small chunky nature of the book is very appealing. Good-natured Winnie is full of mad ideas but always intends to put her magic to good use, accompanied by faithful Wilbur, of course. A variety of adventures are here to relish, including Winnie's knicker shop, where spiders sew up the lacy trims, to Winnie's creativity in the kitchen where she often cooks up such delicacies as turkey tonsil titbits. The fun is endless and superbly complemented by Korky Paul's always suberb colour drawings. This book is just perfect for young readers who are ready to enjoy longer stories with more narrative content, encouraging the development of enthusiastic young readers.

Magical Kingdom of Birds: Sleepy Hummingbirds by Anne Booth

Instant appeal is guaranteed by the pretty glittery cover, always a good way to capture interest. Maya has been given a very special colouring book, The Magical Kingdom of Birds. It magically takes her to beautiful realm filled with magnificent birds and their fairy friends... but trouble lurks in the apparent paradise. Wicked Lord Astor has a plan to capture and cage the tiniest residents, the hummingbirds - and it's up to Maya to protect them. Beautifully illustrated and with information on the real birds that inspired the story, the book also includes a special colouring page for added interest. A lovely imaginative story with the added bonus of increasing knowledge about birds.

Where Do You Go, Birdy Jones? by Joanna Nadin

Birdy Jones feels as though she doesn't belong anywhere - except at her grandpa's pigeon loft. It's a place she feels safe and where she meets Dogger - her only friend. Life has changed dramatically from Birdy's little world of her and Dad - now she has a stepmum, a little sister, and another baby on the way... and the fanily is moving. Drastic measures seem to be the way forward even if it means running away from everything she's ever known. Insightful and perceptive, this is an excellent read about contemporary issues with superb characters and thought-provoking scenarios.

The Polka Dot Shop by Laurel Remington

Chicken House summarise this book as Fashion - Friendship - Love, which immediately places the story within its key market - I love this simple but effective way of introducing a book. Andy is not as keen as her classmates on the new non-uniform policy at school. She wants to blend in, but with her mum being the owner of a run-down kooky vintage boutique, that's not going to happen. But when Andy finds a gorgeous bag full of designer goodies in the shop's storeroom, everything changes. This is a story that will really appeal to girls with its contemporary feel, personable lead character and interesting setting.

The World’s Worst Children 3: Fiendishly Funny New Short Stories by David Walliams

Children just won't be able to resist this superb collection of 10 more horrendously hilarious stories about the absolute worst children ever! David Walliams has such a wonderful gift for knowing just what children love, and his writing for them is absolutely spot-on. Of course, Tony Ross's marvellous colour illustrations are a key part of the appeal of the book, reflecting its mood to perfection. The overall presentation is superb, with glossy paper, interesting use of fonts and plenty of colour - something that is sadly missing in many books for this age group. If you have a reluctant reader on your hands, introduce them to this super book.

   
   

The Boy Who Grew Dragons by Andy Shepherd

This is the first in a promising new series and I'm looking forward to reading more. Dragons are certainly a very unusual thing to grow - and a lot more trouble than your average garden plant! When Tomas takes the strange fruit from the tree in Grandad's garden he is astounded and delighted when a tiny dragon hatches! It turns out the tree is a dragonfruit tree, and Flicker becomes Tomas's very own dragon. Trouble is, Flicker is full of mischief - but loveable all the same. And then, when more dragonfruits appear on the tree. more fun follows. A warm-hearted and really fun story.

Kat Wolfe Investigates by Lauren St John

Kat Wolfe is happily settling in to her new home in Bluebell Bay. When she starts pet-sitting for pocket money, she finds that life in the towwn is not as idyllic as it first seemed... WWhen a pet owner disappears from his clifftop mansion, Kat turns to her new friend, Harper Lamb, for help. What began as mystery-solving holiday fun quickly turns deadly for Wolfe and Lamb. Can they count on their unruly animals to save their lives? This is all you want from a good mystery - a compelling storyline, a determined lead character, heroes and villains, some intriguing animals for a refreshing change... all excellently interwoven. The first in a new series.

The New Football Coach by Dominique Demers

Miss Charlotte is an eccentric character - she wears clothes that make her look like a scarecrow and talks to a rock! When she turns up as the new coach of a children's football team, they are amazed to find the first thing she teaches them is how to lose! But she also teaches them to have fun. Despite her efforts, what will happen when Black Duck Brook's star player decides to join the other team? This is the latest instalment in Dominique Demers's popular Adventures of Miss Charlotte series, and it's brilliantly illustrated by Tony Ross. A well-told story about believing in yourself and beating the odds.

The Journey Begins: Adventures through the Bible with Caravan Bear and Friends (The Animals' Caravan) by Avril Rowlands

Rabbit has been given a very special gift - a bible. He takes his book with him on a special journey with his new friends, Hector the horse, Caravan Bear and Whitby the dog in their gypsy caravan. As they travel, they enjoy Rabbit’s storytelling and talk about the bible with others they meet. Questions children ask, like "What did Adam and Eve talk about to God?" and "How did Jonah come out of the whale?" are answered. A lovely way to answer children's questions and an enjoyable story in the classic tradition.

Iguana Boy Saves the World With a Triple Cheese Pizza by James Bishop

One boy. How can a massive cheese pizza save the orld? If you want to know, then read this zany story about a would-be superhero. Dylan has wanted a superpower for as long as he can remember, but when his wish finally comes true, he's very disappointed... all he can do is talk to iguanas. But they are needed to come to the rescue when supervillain Celina Shufflebottom kidnaps all the superheroes in London. Crazy illustrations by Rikin Pareth are the perfect complement to the story. The chatty writing style makes this book great to read aloud, so parents have a good excuse to share the fun!

The Holidays by Blexbolex

A totally visual book from a master illustrator that evokes the scent of summer and the complications of friendship. Told entirely wordlessly, this illustrated story allows the 'reader' to put their own interpretation on what they see. Unusual and stimulating. The Holidays, by Blexbolex has been awarded Pépite 2017—the French most prestigious children’s book award at the Montreuil Children's Book Fair.

The Yark by Bertrand Santini

The Yark is a monster who eats children - but only well-behaved ones! Amd that's a problem because there are not many around! Then the Yark finds delicious, sweet Madeleine. Will he gobble her up? Or will she survive long enough to change his life? Eye-catching black and white illustrations by Laurent Gapaillard set off the dark nature of the story perfectly.

More of Milly-Molly-Mandy by Joyce Lancester Brisley

Milly-Molly-Mandy lives in a tiny village in the country, and enjoys everyday adventures ith hich every child ill identify. Life is always fun when Milly-Molly-Mandy is around, whether she is running errands, having a day at the seaside or preparing for a delicious picnic. This classic collection is perfectly set off by its hardback format and traditional illustrations by the author - it's a lovely nostalgic read and one parents (and grandparents) will love to re-visit and share with their children. Its publication marks 90 years since the stories were first published, and they are still thoroughly enjoyable.

Ottoline and the Purple Fox by Chris Riddell

Ottoline and Mr Munroe love to solve puzzles, clues and mysteries, so when they meet the mysterious purple fox, who offers to take them on a night-time urban safari, they can't resist. They meet the hidden animals of the city and find anonymous poems stuck to lampposts. Mr Munroe wants to know who the secretive poet is and whether he and Ottoline can help him. A zany and entertaining story with plenty to appeal to children. It's full of fun, the characters are great; it's best read alone or shared one-to-one rather than being read aloud so that the illustrations can be fully appreciated as the key part of the book which they are.

Older Not Wiser (Bad Nana) by Sophy Henn

Jeanie is seven and three quarters and she has three grandmas; one of her Grandmas is bad... but she is also great fun. Sometimes she gets Jeanie involved in her mischievous schemes and then the fun really starts. The story is related by Jeanie and her character really comes through strongly as we enjoy the exploits. There's a serious element to the story too, but lightly handled, as it shows it's fine to be different. The story is highly illustrated throughout with vibrantly coloured spreads which make it really appealing to children. A hilarious start to a new series.

The Storm Keeper's Island by Catherine Doyle

This is an atmospheric story which instantly draws the reader in to its mystical world. Once in a generation, Arranmore Island chooses a new Storm Keeper to wield its power and keep its magic safe from enemies. Now Fionn's grandfather is stepping down and there must be a new keeper. hen Fionn first sets foot on the island, he instantly feels enveloped by the island - "Come home", it says. Deep underground, someone has indeed been waiting for Fionn and as the battle to become the new Storm Keeper intensifies, a more sinister magic is waking up, intent on rekindling an ancient war. A gripping story with superbly drawn characters who compel you to read on to find out what happens to them.

Llamas Go Large: A World Cup Story by Scott Allen

Perfectly timed, this is a great way to encourage reading in the build-up to the World Cup. This humorous book sees Llama United going from strength to strength after their first Cup win... but the same can't be said for the England football team who are not having the same success. It's time to find something special and Llama manager Tim and Cairo agree to loan some of Llama United's top players. But things don't work out as expected. Just what is happening? Full of laughs all the way through, this is perfect for girl and boy football fans.

Hubert and the Magic Glasses (Little Rockets) by Candice Lemon-Scott

With short chapters and plenty of colour illustrations, Little Rockets is a series perfect for children starting to read independently. Hubert plays football for the Able Ants - but they are not a very good team and , worryingly, Hubert's skills seem to be getting worse not better. Could magic glasses be the answer? His parents think so, especially when Hubert tries to feed the family on dog food instead of spam! An entertaining story with plenty of humour, perfect to encourage reading.

Keeper of the Crystals: Eve and the Griffith's Gold by Jess Black

The Keeper of the Crystals is an adventure fantasy series perfect for younger readers who enjoy this genre - and there are plenty who will love this series. It's a good way to involve children with stories, as they enjoy a series and look out eagerly for the next. Friends Eve and Oscar accidentally tap in to the power of the crystals and are thrust into different and often dangerous worlds. In this adventure, the fifth in the series, they are transported to the world of Dracburn where riches are coveted and and where the Griffins guard the greatest treasure of all, the Tree of Life. their mission is essential and fraught with tension - can they help the Griffins before all life on Dracburn is wiped out forever? In Keeper of the Crystals: Eve and the Hidden Giant, Eve and Oscar are thrown in to the land of giants where all is not well. Can they help the giants before their world is destroyed? Friendship, fantasy, adventure - plenty to enjoy.

Al's Awesome Science: Splash Down by Jane Clarke

This is a great series to attract children who are interested in science, and to build up their background knowledge. The combination of an exciting adventure with science experiments mean the books appeal to those who enjoy both fiction and non-fiction. In this story, Al is experimenting to find out what kind of covering his time machine will need to survive its SPLASH DOWN! back to Earth. Water experiments have a habit of making things very wet and messy.. and Mum may not be too pleased!

Ade's Amazing Ade-ventures: Battle of the Cyborg Cat by Ade Adepitan

It's hard to fit in to a new environment when you look different to everyone else. Ade knows he should make an effort and make some friends but it's not easy when you look different to everyone else. Based on real-life, this is a reassuring and well-told story that shows how determination can overcome obstacles. When Ade sees off some bullies that Dexter, Brian and Shed realize who Ade really is: their new friend, part cyborg, part footballing genius and all hero. Friendship is at the heart of this series - good friends help us cope with anything and that's the reassuring message that comes across strongly in this thoughtful story about integration and fitting in.

The Last Chance Hotel by Nicki Thornton

If you want to know if a Chicken House book is for you, just look at the back cover where the theres of the books are covered in three words; this one is magical: murder: mystery. The Last Chance Hotel doesn't sound a great place to stay, but some inportant visitors are expected. Seth is the over-worked kitchen boy and his only friend is his black cat, Nightshade. When Dr Thallomius is poisoned by Seth's special dessert, a classic locked-room murder investigation ensues - and Seth is the main suspect. He's got to prove his innocence. Can you solve the mystery? There are plenty of clues in this atmospheric book which will have you gripped throughout as you root for Seth.

   
   
   
   

Barry Loser is the best at football NOT! by Jim Smith

Let's face it - Barry Loser is unlikely to ever be the best at anything! Except, of course, at being the star of brilliantly hilarious books that children will lap up. In his tenth escapade, we find everyone at Barry’s school has gone football crazy as the World Cup is coming along, but poor Barry is, simply, rubbish at football. So he decides to become a coach... and, never one to pass up a challenge, soon he's committed his team to playing Tarquin and friends. And that's just the start of another hilarious series of adventures. The author has a quite exceptional gift for knowing just what will appeal to children and he brings something fresh and new to every story. The lively and quirky layout and the fact the books are written in the first person ensure children will be thoroughly engaged and eager to look out for the next book.

Marge and the Secret Tunnel (Marge in Charge 4) by Isla Fisher

Marge is every child's dream babysitter, and life is never dull when she's around. And maybe - just maybe - Marge can help Jemima and Jakey work out who (or what) is at the end of the secret tunnel. In the second story, shopping is never going to be ordinary with Marge. The final story sees Marge in charge at the end of the holidays and soon she is trapped... With lively drawings and three stories in the book, this is perfect for newly confident readers, who will relish the hilarious stories and friendly characters. There's plenty happening to engage readers, without being too much to absorb, and to ensure their attention is held throughout; there are no boring passages in the Marge books! Creative and imaginative, with lovely characters, readers will really feel a part of the story.

In the Mouth of the Wolf by Michael Morpurgo

Once again Michael Morpurgo returns to the setting of the Second World War, a period which he evokes so vividly and realistically, never failing to totally engross the reader with his captivating use of language and charismatic characters. Brothers Francis and Pieter but they see the world from very different standpoints - Francis is a fierce pacifist but Pieter signs up to fight. What happens next will change the course of Francis’s life forever . . . and throw him into the mouth of the wolf. This is the the true story of Michael’s uncles against the epic backdrop of World War Two, and evocatively illustrated by Barroux. Courage, fear and hope combine in another superb narrative which dpesn't shy away from the harsh reality of war. Stimulating and thought-provoking, as we expect, of course. I enjoyed the photos at the end of the book which really made the characters come to life for me.

The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson

Who could resist the title? Marinka lives in the strangest of houses - a magical house owned by her grandmother Baba Yaga, who guides spirits from this world to the next - which moves without warning, hence the title. All Marinka wants is a house that stays still long enough for her to make friends. Marinka longs to change her destiny and sets out to break free from her grandmother's footsteps, but the house has other ideas... Who would have thought a house could have such character? The house definitely has its own ideas and the illustrations capture the spirit of both the house and feisty brave and determined Marinka. Superbly written, packed with vivid imagery and a wonderful way for children to learn how to extend vocabulary and story-telling skills. An unusual and original story, based on Russian folklore, which keeps the reader on tenterhooks; unputdownable and mesmerising.

Boyband of the Apocalypse: Washed Up by Tom Nicoll

Sam should have known better than to think things have returned to normal after the challenging events of the first book. Not so! Thrust into a black van by agents of the Apocalypse Intelligence Agency he finds himself on the jungle island of Fin del Mundo set to take part in a celebrity reality TV game show. There are friends and enemies sharing in the experience but, as you'd expect, great challenges come from the experiences that are a part of this type of show, from alligator-infested swamps to public vote offs. But the stakes are high and the fate of the world is at stake. A hilarious read with plenty of excitement plus a nicely judged element of yuckiness to attract young readers. Perfect for reality TV fans - and a good way to encourage reading.

Happyville High: Geek Tragedy by Tom McLaughlin

I loved The Accidental Prime Minister, so I was thrilled to receive this, the first in aa new series. It's just as witty as The Accidental Prime Minister, with plenty of humour that will appeal to adult as well as child, so it will make an excellent class reader or bedtime story to share and enjoy together. There are strange goings-on at Happyville High, and it takes three outsiders to see what's happening; it may seem like the perfect school, but investigate beneath the surface and there's something really weird going on. Super nerds Tyler, Dylan, and Ashley are united by their lack of cool, allowing them an unbiased view. As the only impartial observers, it's up to them to get to the bottom of things. Great characters who blend well together plus plenty of very odd goings-on combine to make a fun and lively read.

THE WIZARDS OF ONCE BY CRESSIDA COWELL

Cressida Cowell is a gifted author with a real talent for taking her readers right inside her fantasy worlds. Now we have the start of a great new series, with more to look forward to. The boy Wizard and the girl Warrior have been taught from birth to hate each other... but the time comes when their worlds collide. This the thrilling tale of what happens. Xar is a Wizard boy who has no Magic, and will do anything to get it. Wish is a Warrior girl, but she owns a banned Magical Object, and she will do anything to conceal it. In this whirlwind adventure, Xar and Wish must forget their differences if they're going to make it to the dungeons at Warrior Fort where something that has been sleeping for hundreds of years is stirring. The illustrations by the author are an outstanding feature of the book -they really convey the atmosphere and propel the reader into this fantastical world. Totally absorbing.

Spirit by Sally Christie

Quiet shy Matt and popular confident Jazzy seem an unlikely pairing - but unusual circumstances lead to unusual friendships. It all started with the truth game when Matt said he had seen something extraordinary up in Burnham Wood - and had taken it home; a real live fairy. Jazzy is the only one who believes him, and things can never go back to where they were, and soon the friends have unleashed a powerful force. A powerful story about friendship, supporting one another - and finding magic if you look hard enough.

THE AMAZING MAURICE AND HIS EDUCATED RODENTS: (DISCWORLD NOVEL 28) BY TERRY PRATCHETT

For those who don't know the series, Discworld is a comic fantasy set on the fictional Discworld, a disc which stands on the backs of four elephants who themselves stand on the back of a giant turtle. This new edition is to celebrate Sir Terry's 70th birthday and publishes on Sir Terry Pratchett Day, 28 April. In a twist on the story of the Pied Piper, Maurice the tomcat works out a clever scheme to earn lots of money and he leads a group of educated ratty friends and a not-so-clever child into his schemes... but things don't go all his own way. A hilarious story with a moral twist.

Dennis and the Chamber of Mischief (Beano) by Nigel Auchterlounie

Beanotown - boring? Never! But that is the case and Dennis is going to have to do something to liven it up. It seems he has found the answer when he hears about the legendary Golden Pea-shooter of Everlasting Fun. So he and cousin Minnie set off in search of it - and they need the reader to help them through this interactive story. There's plenty of the hilarious fun you'd expect from this much-loved character, ranging from ghostly Vikings to skateboarding Grandmas to an enormous Gnashersaurus-Rex. The interactive puzzles really involve the reader too.

Science Geek Sam and his Secret Logbook by Corien Oranje and Cees Dekker

It's great to encourage and inspire a love of science in children and Science Geek Sam certainly achieves that. Sam is a science geek extraordinaire, and just as all good scientists should, he keeps a logbook - and readers get a peek inside this fascinating document. When a meteorite crashes into Sam's school bike shed, his class ask questions about space, the universe, and life on earth. Differing views abound and are clearly explained, giving children facts to make their own decision; surprisingly, the answer is a clear yes. Plenty of facts presented in a thought-provoking story with lots of touches of humour.

A Witch Alone by James Nicol

The Apprentice Witch series is building into a lovely traditional set of books with an old-fashioned charm but plenty of adventure to keep readers gripped. Arianwyn, now a fully qualified witch, has been enjoying a holiday in Kingsport when she is recruited for an important mission: to retrieve the Book of Quiet Glyphs from its hiding place in the Great Wood. It turns out to be a hazardous mission, with feyling refugees hex plaguing the forest. Even her friends cause problems... and only Arianwyn can find the Book. Descriptively written and a book that totally engrosses the reader with its captivating heroine.

Barking Up the Wrong Tree: Stick and Fetch Investigate by Philip Ardagh

I did enjoy this! It's perfect reading for children who are moving on to chapter books with lots of lively illustrations by Elissa Elwick, nicely presented in yellow and black to make the book appealing. It's a collection of three short stories, perfect for reading one at a time, with plenty of slapstick humour and chaos to make for reading fun. Sally and her canine sidekick Fetch love to investigate a good mystery - but unfortunately, they get things rather wrong! A laugh-aloud set of adventures that children will love and that will set them on the path to enjoying reading.

Rose Rivers by Jacqueline Wilson

Jacqueline Wilson excels at bringing us superbly realistic historical heroines and here we have a great new Victorian heroine in Rose Rivers. Afficionados will be pleased to learn that another favourite, Clover Moon, returns in this book, giving a sense of continuity to which readers respond well. Rose Rivers has been born to a rich family; she has everything a girl could apparently want, but she is far from satisfied. She sees the men in her family living very different lives; she also sees the injustice of poverty. When Clover Moon joins the household as a nursemaid to Rose’s troubled sister Beth, Rose finally finds a friend; a friend who can enlighten her about the world outside her privileged one. and she starts to learn more about the world outside. Is this the chance Rose needs? The book gives an excellent insight into late Victorian England, its restrictions and its characters. Classic Jacqueline Wilson - feisty female heroines, family values and friendship all brought together for a gripping read.

Elise and the Second-hand Dog by Bjarne Reuter

Elise is lonely as herr mum is far away in Brazil helping to finish the building of a suspension bridge and her dad is really busy. So dad agrees to let Elise have a dog - but he turns out to be no ordinary dog. Soon the two are best froends and Elise's vivid imagination comes into play with a series of adventures. The book is delightfully illustrated by Kirsten Raagaard. Unfortunately, a spelling mistake (barbecue spelt barbeque) on the first page coloured my view of the book. I also found the quick change from winter in the first chapter to late summer in the next rather disconcerting. I don't know whether it's meant as a joke, but to say, in response to being asked if a person knows Scotland, to say they spent two years in Dublin, to me is just plain confusing.

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

Even funnier than the first story, children will love this hilarious story about Murph Cooper, a would-be hero who just doesn't have the superpowers he would like. Things are getting tough - the world's most feared supervillain has broken a thirty year silence... and he's after Kid Normal. Comedy, jokes, fast-moving action and a well plotted story - what more do we need? So much of the appeal of the book is in the zany layout which will really capture the attention - but it's effective too, as even reluctant readers will respond well to the quirky use of layout and the fact there are plenty of illustrations, making reading a joy for everyone

Greta Zargo and the Amoeba Monsters from the Middle of the Earth by A F Harrold

Greta Zargo is a very unusual girl - despite being only 11, she lives alone and looks after herself (due to a spelling mistake!). Greta is always looking for the next big story and she doesnt have far to look as there are plenty of strange goings-on in the usually quiet little town of Upper Lowerbridge. Aunt Tabitha, the great inventor, has gone missing and weird, wobbling, blob-like monsters are appearing via a very deep hole in Greta's garden - devouring her neighbours one by one. Greta is independent, intrepid and determined - a lovely and very unusual character who makes a refreshing change. With lots of clever textual and layout quirks to capture the attention, this book will have immediate appeal and offers a satisfying story.

The Mystery of the Colour Thief by Ewa Jozefkowicz

Izzy's mum is in a coma after a car accident - and Izzy thinks it is her fault. Brave Izzy is trying to hold everything together but then the colours start to disappear from the mural her mother painted. What is happening? A meeting with her new neighbour, Toby, sets Izzy off on a new course. Toby is paralysed after a skateboarding accident, but still maintains a positive attitude which works wonders for Izzy. These two people can still save others and restore confidence when they find a nest of cygnets who need rescuing. Will she and Toby solve the mystery of the colour thief and bring hope and happiness back to Izzy's life? Moving and emotionally highly charged, this is a haunting story that will stay with you long after the last page is read.

Just Jack by Kate Scott

Jack's life has been in turmoil since his dad left and he and his mum have moved house five times... and Jack has changed schools too, with all the problems of fitting in. He does his best to be inconspicuous and he has learnt survival techniques to remain as unnoticed as possible. But Jack is lonely, until Tyler comes along and teaches Jack an important lesson - that the very best thing he can be is to be himself. An important message lies at the heart of this book, about being true to yourself. Some tricky issues, including divorce and moving on, are covered in the book with sensitivity and understanding. Written with a fresh light touch, this is a good read.

Emmeline and the Plucky Pup by Megan Rix

This is an excellent mix of animal story which will appeal to lovers of the genre, and a well described historical background which will inform young readers about the Suffragettes and their struggle for the vote. Alfie and his sister are cared for by Emmeline Pankhurst, and Alfie is overjoyed when he is allowed to keep a tiny puppy he finds abandoned on the street. Soon the two are doing useful work, delivering messages between the Suffragettes as they organise their 'Votes for Women' campaign. But it's sometimes dangerous work, and it's not long before Alfie and Rascal find out the true cost of the fight.

Rory Branagan (Detective) by Andrew Clover

HarperCollins, quite rightly, claim this as being a Transatlantic dream team as the author pairs up with illustrator Ralph Lazar to bring us a laugh-aloud new detective character. Who is Rory Branagan? He is a nine-year-old boy, younger brother, dog walker, boggle champion and a detective. He's a detective because he needed to find out what happened to his dad. In this story, we meet Rory and his accomplice Cassady as they investigate the poisoning of Rory’s next door neighbour. Detective novels are currently proving really popular and this is a superb addition to the genre. Look out for the rest of the hilarious series.

Wombat and Fox: The Whole Story by Terry Denton

Meet Wombat, Fox and their friends in three engaging, highly illustrated stories. Trouble follows Wombat and Fox wherever they go. The city is a surprising place and adventure always finds Wombat and Fox, and their friends Croc, Bandicoot, the Hippo Sisters and the mischievous Five Monkeys. The book is ideal for beginner readers - don't be put off by its size as there are plenty of illustrations to both break up and to explain the text. Great fun and full of hilarity.

Sky High (D-Bot Squad) by Mac Park

Allen and Unwin, the publishers, tell us that these books are "A world kids will love, using words they can read" and they certainly succeed in that claim. The carefully selected vocabulary and good use of succinct paragraphs make the books very accessible to new readers. Add in the high picture content and you have stories perfect to instill a love for reading. Of course, dinosaurs are ever-popular. There's a pterodactyl on the loose and Hunter must catch it. Dino Corp is depending on him. Will the d-bot he made be up for the job?

Dino Hunter (D-Bot Squad) by Mac Park

Hunter Marks knows everything there is to know about dinosaurs. And I love the fact that the school librarian encourages him in his passion. But does he know enough to pass the computer game test and make it into top-secret D-Bot Squad? The stories move along at just the right pace for young readers - enough to keep them engrossed without confusing them with too much happening. A super series with with plenty more for children to enjoy.

The Cursed First Term of Zelda Stitch. Bad Teacher. Worse Witch by Nicki Greenberg

Zelda has a problem! She is a witch - but not a very good one and she certainly doesn't want anyone at the school where she teaches finding out. And that's not her only problem - her classroom is full of them in this laugh-aloud book. There's wild-child Zinnia, lonely Eleanor, secretive Phoebe and a hairy, eight-legged visitor called Jeremy. Not to mention the nits... Time for Zelda to go back to school herself. Readers will warm to Zelda, who writes this story in the first person, making it feel very personal. The line drawings are great fun too.

Lady Mary by Lucy Worsley

Lucy Worsley brings her accessible and approachable view of history to children with her excellent historical novels. This novel gives us a new perspective on the story of Henry the Eighth and Catherine of Aragon's divorce - that of their daughter, Princess Mary. Like all children, Mary just wants her family to stay together, but when her father announces that his marriage to her mother was void and  that Mary doesn't really count as his child, she realises things will never be as she hoped... and they just get worse. But Mary is a princess, and a feisty determined young lady who will dig deep to find the strength to stand up against those who wish to bring her down.The author brings such an infectious enthusiasm for history to all she does, and this book is no exception - what a lovely way to encourage children to enjoy our rich history.

Planet Stan by Elaine Wickson

This is a book that will have instant appeal to those who enjoy a high visual element to their reading - the zany illustrations by Chris Judge are an integral and essential part of the fun of the book. Stan loves a peaceful organised environment; his brother Fred is his complete opposite. Surely they must have something in common? As Stanley struggles to cope with his high maintenance brother and his hair-brained schemes he charts all the ups and downs of his life in a series of hilarious infographics in this highly entertaining book that will strike a chord with siblings - and their parents - everywhere.

The New Adventures of Mr Toad: Toad in Troubled Waters by Tom Moorhouse

It's a brave thing to do, to write about Kenneth Grahame's famous Mr Toad, but Tom Moorhouse succeeds admirably in bringing us a new story about Mr Toad - and all his friends, of course. And meet a new character - Teejay is Toad Junior, who we meet fishing on the riverbank with Mo and Ratty; they are fishing on the riverbank when their peace is disturbed by Toad's out of control river cruiser. Toad is obsessively following some rather dubious treasure-hunt clues but who is setting the clues and why are they so keen to keep Toad away from Toad Hall? It seems that the stoats and weasels are up to no good again and it's up to Toad's loyal friends to guide him out of troubled waters once again. With stylish two-colour illustrations from Holly Swain that capture all the comedy, this is a really good read for all lovers of the classic.

Max the Detective Cat and the Disappearing Diva by Sarah Todd Taylor

Meet an engaging new character - Max the detective cat. Max was a pampered cat, living a life of luxury, until he blotted his copybook and had to escape, ending up hiding out at the Theatre Royal. He takes on a new role, as a detective cat. What is wrong with Madame Emerald? Max's attempts to solve the mystery find him chasing a villain across rooftops and, of course, saving the day... and the Queen's jewels. Delightful characters populate this witty and humorous story which describes theatre life vividly and realistically.

Pirates of Poseidon: An Ancient Greek Mystery by Saviour Pirotta

This book is perfect to accompany KS2 learning about Ancient Greece and would make an ideal class reader. When scribe Nico and his friend Thrax journey with their master to the island of Aegina, there's another intriguing mystery for them to solve. A valuable ring was stolen from a merchant, and he will be cursed if he cannot find it... but a fearsome pirate is also on its trail. It's up to young detectives Nico and Thrax to follow the clues, rescue the ring and escape from the pirates of Poseidon. Compelling writing and well-drawn characters make for a great story. A super way to enthuse children for the period, with plenty of excitement and action to keep them hooked - and they will learn so much historical detail to bring Ancient Greece to life as well.

Fighting Fantasy: The Gates of Death by Charlie Higson

Part game - part story - pure excitement... and the reader gets to take control. A plague has devastated the Kingdom of Allansia - its people are being turned into hideous, demonic monsters. you - the hero - must respond to a call for help from the people of Allansia. Read the game play rules first, then you are ready to journey to the Temple of Miracles in the Invisible City, making choices all along the way. You are going to need all your stamina and the mission will soon take a darker turn as you face the legendary Gates Of Death. On the other side waits the Queen Of Darkness, Ulrakhaar. To stop her, and save Titan from destruction, you will have to venture further than ever before... to the Kingdom Of The Dead. It's totally engrossing and a brilliant way to encourage children to read and to learn that books can be just as much fun as electronic devices.

Charlie Chumpkins by Helen Laycock

Initially, Sam is just an ordinary boy, enjoying the normal events in life that make up childhood... but they are given a magical twist when he discovers, beneath his bed, a tiny, old-fashioned gentleman, Charlie Chumpkins. Sam has to keep Charlie a secret but that proves to be quite a challenge as one mishap after another occurs as Charlie becomes an integral part of Sam's life. The story is excellently told, the characters are well-written and the accounts of Sam's daily life full of humour yet grounded in reality. Charlie adds a fascinating dimension to Sam's life which lifts it from the ordinary and makes for a great read.

To the Edge of the World by Julia Green

Life is harsh on the tiny island far out in the Atlantic Ocean off the west coast of Scotland where Jamie and Mara live. Jamie fears the ocean; Mara fears being sent away from the island and the time comes when she must plan her escape... And so begins a thrilling and atmospheric adventure which keeps the reader turning the pages to see what happens next. It's a gripping account, with excellent characterisation and a strong message of trust, survival and friendship.

Lyttle Lies: The Stinky Truth (Lyttle Lies 2) by Joe Berger

Now here's a challenge for Sam... Sam is a consummate liar, he just can't seem to help himself. It's the school holidays and Sam and his best friend can't wait to see Cry Wolfe, the first movie starring their favourite crime-fighting hero... but Sam's mum has set him a challenge. He can only go and see the movie if he can make it through the entire holiday without telling a single fib. This graphic novel is the hilarious account of Sam's endeavours, and of plenty of hilarious events that take place along the way. A real laugh-aloud that children will love. And does he succeed? You'll have to read the book to find out!

The Ghosts & Jamal by Bridget Blankley

This thought-provoking book tells the story of 13 year old Nigerian Jamal who has epilepsy and is banned from the family home; as a result, he survives when the rest of his family are killed in a terrorist attack. Jamal explores his family’s compound, finding the weapons that killed his family and realising how he has been kept apart. With nowhere else to turn,he seeks out his grandfather whmo he hardly knows, but again he is rejected and still faces danger. Vividly portraying the terror of living in a Nigeria rife with conflict and intolerance, the book explores both the good and bad of human nature and ultimately has a strong message of hope and friendship. Powerful and believable.

The Secret of the Cave by Julia Johnson

Everyone in the remote mountain village longs for rain after a long drought. Ameera sets out to look for berries and falls into a deep, dark cave with no way out. If only her cousin Hilal was here. Then, miraculously, an owl appears; an owl whose life the cousins saved, but he is far away and cannot help her.., or can he? Helped by the owl and a mysterious child and then Halal, who was mysteriously summoned to help, Ameera is saved and the village has water again. It's a relatively short book, at just 64 pages, but it packs a powerful message, full of atmosphere which is enhanced by the greyscale drawings with highlights of red by Emily Styles - very effective.

Max Champion and the Great Race Car Robbery by Alexander McCall Smith

It's not always the case that authors who first write for adults can produce equally successful wok for children, but here we have an author who successfully transfers his story-writing skills. Max's grandfather was one of the most successful car manufacturers around - until his ideas book along with his favourite car, Arabella, were stolen by greedy rival Mr Grabber. The story begins when Max, helping out at his grandfather's garage, finds an old car that has his last name - Champion - on the bonnet. Can Max find a way to get back what Grandfather Gus lost? And will Arabella ever be seen again? Short chapters and plenty of attractive line drawings make the book ideal for children starting to read alone.

The Buried Crown by Ally Sherrick

In 1940, the threat of invasion is high - and so is the tension right from the first pages of this gripping book. Londoner George has been sent to live in in the Suffolk countryside while Charlie, his brother and guardian, fights overseas. But his location is far from safe, as a nearby burial ground contains a priceless treasure, a magical Anglo-Saxon crown Hitler is desperate to possess. Alongside Kitty, the granddaughter of a Jewish archaeologist, George must find and protect the crown from the Nazi invaders before it's too late ... An excellent blend of events from history interwoven with magic and legend to bring us an exciting adventure. Chicken House say this book is Exciting - Historical - Adventure. Can you sum it up in three words?

What Lexie Did by Emma Shevah

Written with a delicate touch of humour, this is an engaging book about families, loyalty - and coping with serious illness. Lexie lives in London with her Greek-Cypriot family; she's devoted to her fragile cousin of the same age, Eleni, who has a heart condition. But the close family is spilt when Lexie tells a lie after the death of their grandmother, about an heirloom necklace. It can be hard to get back after such a lie, but Lexie must find a way to do so. A dilemma that can arise all too easily is sensitively and positively handled in this absorbing story which highlights human foibles and facing up to them. The range of cultures we meet in this book make it full of interest, and each is portrayed with genuine knowledge and understanding, widening our outlook in a positive way. Chicken House describe the book as Friendship - Family - Drama.

Beyond the Odyssey (Who Let the Gods Out?) by Maz Evans

Life just continues to get harder and harder for Elliot as this dramatic series progresses. Now he has been suspended from school, there's no help from his ex-convict dad and his mum's health still deteriorates. And, as if this world is not enough, the gods are determined to forge on with the quest for the third chaos stone. It's an exhausting and emotional journey for Elliott to cope with these disparate events, but can the mythical potion rumoured to cure all ills help? Nothing can take priority over this, and Elliott's quest is both hilarious and heartwarming, with a complex and gripping storyline. Chicken House say Riotous - Action-packed - Heartwarming and it certainly is.

Whoever You Are by Diana Hendry

This is a thoroughly enjoyable classic-style mystery adventure. Why is Big Mac spying on Dizzy Perch, hidden home to the Coggins family? All will be revealed... Pa is off again to work on his world-changing scientific discovery, leaving Oliver in charge of the family, with strict instructions about no visitors. But Ma has other ideas, and invites her favourite author to stay. But just who is it who has turned up? The family are taken in by the friendly lady who turns up - except for Oliver, luckily. It turns out the visitor is the sister of Pa's adversary Big Mac, whose mission is to bring Pa down and steal his research.Oliver just has to make his family listen... An entertaining story with great characters

Mudpuddle Farm: Six Animal Adventures by Michael Morpurgo

Fans of the lovely Mudpuddle Farm stories are in for a real treat with this wonderful bumper bind-up of six stories. A richly varied group of animals live in the farmyard behind the tumble-down barn at Mudpuddle Farm and here are the stories of some of them. They are Mossop’s Last Chance, Albertine, Goose Queen, Jigger’s Day Off, Pigs Might Fly!, Martians at Mudpuddle Farm, Mum’s the Word. With a high proportion of illustration to text, Shoo Rayner's vibrant and active pictures really link well with the stories and together, they are a real incentive to read, being ideal for newly confident readers who love to snuggle up with some satisfying and enjoyable stories to read. Brilliant stories and bound to encourage children to read more by this superlative author.

The Dark Side of the Moon (Space Runners, Book 2) by Jeramey Kraatz

Fast-paced, action-packed and with all to play for, this is the second in an exciting series perfect for lovers of sci-fi. Set in 2085, Benny Love has won a trip to visit the Moon. He finds far more than he bargained for when he finds he will have to stop an attack by the Alpha Maraudi, who are intent on destroying the Earth. The first attack is successfully overcome, but now genius inventor Elijah West, who brought Benny and companions to the moon, has gone missing. With Earth in acute danger, just who can be trusted? And are Benny and friends in danger themselves? Full of tension, and Benny is an appealing and resourceful character who works well at the heart of the story.

Mascot! (Dirty Bertie) by Alan Macdonald

Amazingly, this is the 30th Dirty Bertie book - what a testament to his popularity. Dirty Bertie is a boy with disgusting habits - and obviously that's a winner with children! His plans get madder and madder with every book and there's always plenty of fun to be had. There are three short stories to enjoy, perfect for new readers. In Mascot, unlikely as it seems, Bertie is picked to be the mascot for Pudsley Rovers; in Swot Camp! he attempts to get himself expelled from a geeky summer camp and in Robot Wars, hedesigns his very own robot, a Bootosaurus, to replace Miss Boot! Plenty of fun and hilarity with highly amusing illustrations by David Roberts.

Flamingo Boy by Michael Morpurgo

Set in World War II, this tells of Lorenzo, a young autistic boy who lives on his parents’ farm on the salt flats of the Camargue. Routine is all-important to Lorenzo and every week he goes to market with his mother, to ride his special horse on the town carousel. So when German soldiers damage the carousel, Lorenzo is devastated, his safe world fallen apart. At the same time, a flamingo is badly injured. Salvation for Lorenzo comes in the form of a kindly German sergeant who works with Lorenzo to put things right. Michael Morpurgo has a wonderful way of getting right inside his characters, bringing them vividly to life for us, and in this book he really shows a perception and understanding of the world of an autistic boy. This, combined with the atmospheric setting of the Camargue which is so vividly portrayed, brings us a superbly written story to add to this author's unforgettable work. A story of peace, hope and optimism that will leave you feeling uplifted.

Hamish and the Baby Boom! by Danny Wallace

This is the fourth in a hilarious series that really hits the mark for readers of around 7 to 11, with humour that will have them laughing aloud throughout. Hamish and the PDF have been left in charge of Starkley while his dad and the rest of the Belasko agents are off hunting down the universe's second-most dangerous villain - Axel Scarmarsh! But what seemed like an easy option turns very difficult when the babies of Starkley go on the rampage and cause chaos - but why are only Hamish and his friends worried about the odd behaviour? Can the mutiny be stopped? Great fun and a brilliant way to encourage even reluctant readers to enjoy books. Jamie Littler's comical illustrations and the appealing use of differing type faces and jazzy layout give the book real child-appeal.

Shaozhen: Through My Eyes (Natural Disaster Zones) by Wai Chim

I wa immediately drawn into this book by its vivid opening description of schooldays far removed from those familiar to us. Now Shaozhen is returning home for the summer holidays, although he has no intention of spending his life in his remote village. He is imagining days filled with playing basketball with his friends, but it all changes when the crops, on which the whole village rely, fail. As the situation worsens, Shaozhen realises he must come up with a plan. But will it be enough to save his family and friends and secure the future of his village? This emotional and compelling account tells the story of the 2014 drought in Henan, China in a wonderfully effective way, as we share Shaozhen's efforts to save his village; it is superbly told.

Horace and Harriet: Take on the Town (Horace & Harriet 1) by Clare Elsom

With a name like Lord Commander Horatio Frederick Wallington Nincompoop Maximus Pimpleberry the Third, you just know you are in for plenty of fun. Called Horace, for short, this wonderful name belongs to a statue that has been in Princes Park for hundreds of years, suffering all manner of indignities. So Horace decides it's time to get off his pedestal and find himself a new home, aided and abetted by seven year old Harriet. It seems that Mayor Silverbottom's house will make a good home for Haorace... but Mayor Silverbottom is a descendant of Horace's arch enemy. Horace has a very extensive vocabulary, so readers will find the dictionary at the end of the book a great help! The book is excellently illustrated and it's perfect for newly readers moving on from picture books, with a little adult help. A really enjoyable read with super characters to engae children;s attention.

The Company of Eight by Harriet Whitehorn

The heroine of our story is Cass, a very determined girl who has always wanted to audition as an acrobat for the famous Circus Boat that sails the warm seas of the Longest World. Not one to be thwarted, when her chance is taken away, she gets a job on the Palace Boat and follows the circus around the islands. But things are not what they seemed, and Cass finds herself consorting with thieves, sword fighters and a mysterious group of women called The Company of Eight.

Tiger Boots by Joe O'Brien

The Littlestown Crokes are doing well in the football league this season, but off the pitch things aren't so good; Danny's dad is the Crokes' coach,and he is having a hard time away from football - he's worried about his job, and his friends' daughter, Clara, is sick and needs an expensive operation. When Danny and the Crokes hear that Clara is the captain of her GAA team in Boston, they decide to raise money for her. Despite some hitches along the way, this will be a season to remember! An enjoyable story for football fans with the added element of caring for other people. A good story with well-rounded characters and plenty of football action for sport fans.

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

This new edition of the much-loved classic includes a phizz-whizzing novelty element - fuzzy stickers which are all of illustrations by Quentin Blake. James Henry Trotter lives with his aunts, who are two ghastly hags. Aunt Sponge is enormously fat with a face that looks boiled and Aunt Spiker is bony and screeching. James is very lonely until one day something peculiar happens... a peach starts to grow and grow and grow. Inside, there are are seven insects waiting to take James on a magical adventure. But where will they go in the giant peach - and what will happen to the horrible aunts if they stand in their way? There's only one way to find out . With memorable characters and a heart-warming ending, this is Dahl at his best.

Stone Age Tales: The Great Storm by Terry Deary

I make no secret of my enthusiasm for stories with historical settings. They really bring history alive for children, give them good background knowledge and support their learning by engendering an enthusiasm for history. And Terry Deary writes some of the best stories around, perfectly pitched to enthuse children. The Great Storm is set on the cold and windy island of Skara Brae, where Tuc and his sister Storm are trying to vary their diet by catching birds in their fishing net. But then their food stocks are stolen - and their father is accused. Can they save his reputation? The Great Cave is set in the famous caves of Lascaux, and tells the story of Willow, who is not strong and brawny but relies on his wits to survive. The Great Monster is based on the famous tales of the legendary Gilgamesh. Although all the tribe must work, lazy Sin-leqi doesn't have to work, as long as he keeps telling them... but what happens when they end? At the end of the Ice Age, in The Great Flood, Jay listens to his grandfather's stories of the Great Spirit and the Earth Mother. But outside, danger is at their door; food is getting scarcer, tribes are at war, and all the time the river water is rising... All the stories are imaginatively written, have plenty of accurate historical detail based on real evidence, and illustrations which really do add to the setting. The writing style is pacy and there's plenty of action to hold children's attention.

Love from Lexie (The Lost and Found) by Cathy Cassidy

Lexie's life is in turmoil. Her mum has vanished but despite all the changes in her life, Lexie never gives up hope that she will return. The story is movingly told through letters Lexie writes every day to her mum. There's plenty going on - the new group of misfits she calls friends, the talent for music she never knew she had and the gorgeous boy with blue eyes and secrets to hide. But her letters remain unanswered and she's starting to feel more alone than ever. The storyline is intriguing, there's plenty going on and it's all instantly relatable for readers of 9 - 11, who will identify with the characters and the events of the book.

Amelia Fang and the Unicorn Lords by Laura Ellen Anderson

I love the way the covers of this series are so eye-catching - the sparkly purple really draws the attention and makes you want to read the book. Amelia Fang may be a vampress - but she's a very lovable one! And she has an amazing set of friends - there's Florence the yeti, Grimaldi the Death and Prince Tangine (reformed spoiled sprout) and her pet pumpkin Squashy - who could resist? They must brave the journey to the terrifying Kingdom of the Light to try to find Tangine's missing mother, Queen Fairyweather. With amazing and unexpected adventures every step of the way, this is a hilarious and captivating story.

Skate Monkey: Demon Attack (High/Low) by Paul Mason

Mischevious Monkey and his friends, Zu and Sandy, lived in the Emperor's Cloud Palace, but they were sent to earth as a punishment for their trick-playing. They can only return if they prove that they can use their magical powers for good. In Demon Attack, the friends are called to investigate when a headteacher is acting strangely. There are some very creepy goings-on behind the scenes. Will they uncover what is happening and defeat the mysterious villain? Skate Monkey: Kidnap (High/Low)sees the friends caught up in a frightening plot to capture a girl. Using their magic powers and some friends at the zoo, will they defeat the evil villains? The books are designed to encourage reluctant and struggling readers and succeed admirably, with their gripping stories, carefully considered vocabulary and high print values including cream paper.

The Book Case: An Emily Lime Mystery by Dave Shelton

Daphne is off to St Rita's, a posh boarding school and Daphne thinks it will suit her to perfection. But it turns out that things are not what they seem and her role as Librarian's assistant's assistant is far from what she expects. It seems the librarian's assistant, Emily Lime, is a crime-solving genius, who's looking for a new assistant of her own. And booksmart Daphne is just the girl for the job, because mystery and intrigue are about to strike St Rita's and Emily Lime is going to need all the help she can get... An unusual and enjoyable story with plenty of unexpected twists and turns and some excellently drawn characters.

Fang-tastic Friends (Vlad the World’s Worst Vampire) by Anna Wilson

Vlad is an unlikely member of a vampire family - he's even afraid of the dark! When his parents are off to Transylvania, they leave Vlad at Misery Manor with Grandpa Gory. Luckily, Grandpa Gory is short-sighted, making it easy for Vlad to do what he really wants - sneak off to human school. Things aren't that simple though - Vlad’s parents have set him a whole list of vampire challenges to complete before their return – if he can’t impress them, there’ll be trouble! A light-hearted fun read that will elicit plenty of giggles.

St Grizzle’s School for Girls, Geeks and Tag-along Zombies by Karen McCombie

Far from being a traditional boarding school story, this is definitely one with a difference - and a very weclome one too. When Arch turns up at St Grizzle’s, Dani is delighted to introduce her best friend to her new classmates. But she soon discovers that mixing her old life with her new one isn’t quite as easy as she’d imagined. And Arch isn’t the only new pupil – there’s also super-smart Boudicca, who barely says a word to anyone. It’s only when she meets Arch that she perks up and takes to following him everywhere he goes. Then she disappears. With the help of Granny Viv, it’s up to Dani and Arch to find Boudicca … and unravel the truth about this shy tag-along zombie. This is a great series, full of humour, with some superb characters that children will love - and they'll want their own taste of boarding school life!

KidGlovz by Julie Hunt

KidGlovz is a musical genius with a gift so precious that he is kept under lock and key. But when a young thief helps him escape, Kid must embark on a perilous journey through which he will discover the terrifying nature of his talent. A spellbinding graphic fable about friendship and freedom with stunning black and white illustrations by Dale Newman.

   

A Far Away Magic by Amy Wilson

Bavar and Angel are united by the magic that killed Angel's parents. Even though neither wants to get involved, they cannot avoid the link - Bavar is the one who can protect the world from the monsters who are travelling through a magical rift, even though he just wants to hide away. His conscience won't allow that. Wonderfully relatable characters, with whom the reader can readily identify, sweep us into the story and have us rooting for them and their friendship - and for a successful outcome. A mesmerising and compelling story which seamlessly binds reality and fantasy.

The Lost Island (A Silver Service Mystery) by Laura Powell

I love the current popularity of mystery stories and would have thoroughly enjoyed them as a young reader. This can be read as a stand-alone story, but it's even better if you enjoy Pattern's saving of the Grand Duchy of Elffinberg from the jaws of a dragon in The Last Duchess. The Silver Service Agency has employed Pattern to help solve supernatural mysteries and she finds herself on the Island of Cull as a housemaid to the mysterious Lady Hawk, to investigate the disappearance of a young man called Henry. Things are strange on the island, where everyone (except Pattern and Nate) are in thrall to Lady Hawk. Then the male house guests begin to disappear one by one... Superbly descriptive and with a varied cast ofcharacters, readers will be drawn into this mystery.

The Lotterys Plus One by Emma Donoghue

With four parents, seven children and five pets, the Lotterys are an unusual family. They live happily together in their huge old house, Camelottery, and 9 year old Sumac is the organiser of the family. A fun summer is ahead... until their grumpy and intolerant grandad comes to stay. Can their happy summer be rescued? A wonderfully diverse and accepting family are the stars of the book, each one marvellously portayed with all their idiosyncrasies yet accepted by the others for what they are... even grandad. Wonderful and warm-hearted.

Song of the Dolphin Boy by Elizabeth Laird

Lyrical and poetic, Elizabeth Laird has a superb writing style that totally engrosses the reader. Finn is lonely; he just wants to make friends... and to swim in the sea. Why does his father fear the sea so much, when they live in a little fishing village? Finn starts to find answers when he swims with the dolphins... but they are in danger from the rubbish found in our seas - such a topical story and a great way to emphasise the message for our children. Can Fin work with the children who have previously avoided him, in order to save the dolphins? Thoughtful and perceptive, this is a superb read.

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.

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