Book reviews - fiction 5 to 11 (page 3)

Kajin the Beast Catcher (Beast Quest) by Adam Blade

Tom's perilous Beast Quest continues! The Evil Witch Kensa and Sanpao the Pirate King are loose in Avantia, and six new Beasts threaten the land. Will Tom defeat the awesome wolf-Beast Kajin, or will he fall to his doom?
Issrilla the Creeping Menace - Tom faces terrible danger on a brand new Beast Quest. Issrilla the Creeping Menace is out for blood! How can Tom defeat this ferocious Beast? Only one thing is certain: if he fails, the Beast Quests end forever...
Vigrash the Clawed Eagle - Six new Evil Beasts have been sent to destroy the Good Beasts of Avantia! Tom and his faithful companion, Elenna, must hunt down the invaders and destroy them. If he fails, the kingdom will face ruin, death and destruction.
Mikra the Ice Horse - Tom's bravery and fighting skills are tested to the limit in his next Beast Quest. Is he brave enough to continue with his most challenging Beast Quest yet? Or will Mirka the Ice Horse defeat him?
Kama the Faceless Beast - Tom has faced many Beast Quests, but this one might be his last! He has reached the end of the Warrior's Road and must face many enemies. He must defeat them all - if he fails, Avantia will be destroyed. Enjoy the suspense - will this be the end of the series?

Jennifer the Babysitter Fairy (Rainbow Fairies) by Daisy Meadows

This series can't fail to appeal to most little girls, with its glittery covers and fairy themes. Jennifer the Babysitter Fairy takes care of the babies, ensuring they stay safe amd happy. But when her three magical objects disappear, look what happens! All the fairy and human children are naughty and upset. Can Kirsty and Rachel help Jennifer make all babies happy again? Join Rachel and Kirsty, and see if Jennifer finds her three magical objects: a toy box, a snack pack and a nightlight! There are plenty of pictures and the text is well spaced and accessible, with easy-to-read language.

My Funny Family on Holiday by Chris Higgins

It's the summer holidays and the Butterfield family is going away to Cornwall. But a holiday is fraught with worries for poor Mattie, worrier extraordinaire. What if she loses the luggage she's been put in charge of? What if someone falls over a cliff? And worst of all ... what if they've forgotten someone? I enjoyed this book - there's lots of information about Cornwall and its language and customs, making it a really interesting read. The characters are well written and children will readily identify with them and enjoy their adventures.

Even Sillier Seriously Silly Stories by Laurence Anholt

What fun! These are brilliant collections of stories for reading aloud. Why not send your class home chuckling or your child to sleep with a smile on his lips by reading these as end of school day or bedtime stories? Once upon a time there was a silly-billy who carried a cow, a Bad Hair Witch and three pesky pigs - but did they all live happily ever after? The stories are eminently suitable for young readers moving on from picture books, with their high ratio of illustration to text. They're scarily silly! Includes Daft Jack and the Bean Stack,  Shampoozel, and Eco-Wolf and the Three Pigs - all recognised by book awards.

Not More Seriously Silly Stories by Laurence Anholt

Once upon a time there was a Big Bad Girl, a miller's daughter and a teeny-tiny turnip - but did they all live happily ever after? Includes Little Red Riding Wolf, Rumply Crumply Stinky Pin and The Rather Small Turnip. I love short stories - children don't feel daunted by them and they are far more willing to 'give them a go'. These are great fun, with plenty of illustrations to help the stories along - and the stories are hilarious and bound to appeal.

The Deadly Trap (Sam Silver Undercover Pirate) by Jan Burchett and Sara Vogler

Young readers, especially boys, are always fascinated by tales of pirates, and these swashbuckling adventures set in the Caribbean are great fun. There is a popular new member of the crew on board the Sea Wolf - the crew have taken to him but Sam is suspicious. But in acting on his suspicions, Sam himself becomes a suspect. The plot moves quickly and there's plenty of excitement, meaning that the reader's attention is kept going. The level of writing is perfect for young readers.

The Slither Sisters (Tales from Lovecraft Middle School) by Charles Gilman

The cover picture shows two quite normal looking girls - or does it? Tip the cover and you will see they have Medusa-like locks. This is the sequel to Professor Gargoyle and continues the story with no gap. Robert Arthur has some strange new classmates - they look ordinary enough but they are intent on abducting all the seventh graders. And school isn't all it seems either - it is the gateway to a haunted mansion. Robert and his friends must return there to thwart the plans of evil Crawford Tillinghast. Can they uncover the secrets of Lovecraft Middle School before it's too late? It's scary - just enough to send some shivers down the spine - but not too scary.

Shadows of the Silver Screen

The unusual setting for this story was the first thing that captured my attention - 1900 and the era of silent movies has just begun. In this exciting and atmospheric sequel to Twelve Minutes to Midnight, a mysterious movie-maker wants to film some of Monty Flinch's sinister stories but trouble comes as soon as filming starts. The story seems to be taking over the characters and the story becoming reality. Penny sets out to help Monty but finds herself enmeshed in a nightmare of her own creation. Her escapades in late Victorian London are vividly portrayed and the chilling atmosphere is excellently evoked. A real page turner, with a feisty heroine who is far from the conventional image of Victorian girls.

Night Riders (Survival Squad) by Jonathan Rock

The Tiger Patrol aka the Survival Squad are back with thier third and fourth exciting adventures. An ordinary expedition for the Tiger Patrol turns into an exciting adventure of paragliding, cycle racing and catching thieves in the night. No matter what situation they're thrown into, they manage to come out on there anything that the Tiger Patrol can't do? This is a super series, both for those who are already scouts and to encourage others to join and share the exciting world of scouting.

White Water (Survival Squad) by Jonathan Rock

An white water raftong expedition for the Tiger Patrol takes a turn for the worse when the water level rises. It's a matter of life or death, and they have only their training and skill to rely on. Scouting is - among other things - about friendship, relying on one another and developing valuable skills. These books feature all these and they are perfect for boys of 9+ who want some adventure set in the real world.


Pea's Book of Big Dreams by Susie Day

Some books have really appealing heroines - and this is one. 11 year old Pea is a delightful character and her family is weird and wonderful. Settled into London, it's time for Pea to make decisions about her future. A writer? An artist? A footballer? A pet therapist? Join Pea as she attempts to find out the answers - with hilarious results! This is a well written and thoughtful book. I like the way the family life is portrayed (harking back to traditional much-loved stories about families) and the sensitive issues delicately handled.

Friends and Fashion (Magical Mix-Ups) by Marnie Edwards and Leigh Hodgkinson

Building on the success of Mega Mash Up, Nosy Crow have now brought us Magical Mix-Ups, which follow the same successful format but especially for girls. I have said it before - I think the books are a brilliant concept, with their intermingling of story and doodling which combine to make a super way to draw children right into the story and extend their imaginations. In the second of the series, Princess Sapphire and Emerald the Witch, unlikely best friends, are at the grand opening of the fashion show . . . but Boris, Emerald's pet toad, causes a bit of a mix up! The girls need YOUR help to complete the designs for the show - so get out the crayons and glitter and have fun!

 OneSnowy Day (Willow Valley) byTracey Corderoy

Willow Valley is a magical place - a place for fun and friends,and all the more so at Christmas time. Riley and his friends are very excited - it's Christmas time and everyone is busy preparing. But there's just one thing missing - snow. As Willow Valley is such a magical place, though, you can be sure that everything will be just perfect - and so it is. And Riley has a special present to remind him all year round. Another delightful story to enchant young readers.

Furry Towers (Hamsters Online) by Jennifer Gray and Amanda Snift

When surfing the net one night - as hamsters do, Fuzzy comes across Furry Towers, which promises the best food and fabulous facilities for guinea pigs. So they are very excited when Ben and Henrietta decide to send them there to be safe from hamster nappers.  - Fuzzy and Coco are so excited! But they find themselves in a smelly old hutch with only mouldy lettuce to eat. What is going on at Furry Towers? The friends come to the rescue in another wacky and hilarious tale that will have youngsters giggling all the way through.

Oliver Fibbs: Attack of the Alien Brain by Steve Hartley

Great! A brand new series for boys. Fibs or true stories? Well, if they are true stories, then they are VERY far-fetched! Oliver Tibbs' life is very boring so he decides to brighten things up with a bit of fun during Show and Tell - but Miss Wilkins doesn't see the joke.... Easy reading and children will enjoy the mix of text and comic strip format which is excellent for encouraging reluctant readers. Oliver is a likeable character and I look forward to more in the series.

Alien and the Pants of Doom by Jimmy Mars

This is the second in a fun series for boys and girls of 6+. The key characters are a human boy and an alien child who share a love of mischief, and the stories are hilarious accounts of their antics. The parping pantpiper is on the rampage in Pete's classroom. This stinky little ickimal must be stopped - and fast! Plenty of amusing illustrations help the transition from picture books for young readers.

My Brother the Werewolf: Cry Wolf by Sienna Mercer

On the surface, Daniel and Justin are identical twin brothers - but they are destined to become very different.... This spin-off from "My Sister the Vampire" is hilarious! On their thirteenth birthday, one of the boys is destined to turn into a werewolf - everything will change with the full moon. Will Riley and Debi find out the boys' secret? And what will happen to the band?
This is not a book to be rushed - it's a book to be savoured, a book which will stay in the mind long after it is put down. It is the story of two girls lost in the Tasmanian bush who are raised by two Tasmanian tigers. Eventually, the girls are caught and return to a life full of devastating events. It is so beautifully written that you will think it is true. It raises a powerful issue - how do you return to civilization when something like this has happened? It is told, in her own unique language, by 76 year old Hannah O'Brien and I can guarantee that this unusual and at times horrifying story will make you think.
This is not a book to be rushed - it's a book to be savoured, a book which will stay in the mind long after it is put down. It is the story of two girls lost in the Tasmanian bush who are raised by two Tasmanian tigers. Eventually, the girls are caught and return to a life full of devastating events. It is so beautifully written that you will think it is true. It raises a powerful issue - how do you return to civilization when something like this has happened? It is told, in her own unique language, by 76 year old Hannah O'Brien and I can guarantee that this unusual and at times horrifying story will make you think.

Emma All Stirred Up! ((The Cupcake Diaries) by Coco Simon

The Cupcake Girls are back with four new titles for the beginning of 2013.  It's a collectable series for young girls who enjoy the family and friendship based storylines. At the outset, Emma is not happy about always needing to rearrange her schedule to babysit her younger brother, Jake - and they even have to take the bus to day camp together and Emma must look after Jake. But there's plenty of help and friendship on hand - and cooking, of course!

Spell Sisters: Olivia the Otter Sister by Amber Castle

This is the seventh adventure for the Spell Sisters and the stories are still bright and fresh - just right for young girls who love the familiarity of characters they have met before. Gewn, her best friend Flora and the magical horse Moonlight have been set a very special task by the Lady of the Lake - to rescue the eight Spell Sisters. This time the girls are off in search  of Olivia the sister who controls animals. To encourage girls to collect the whole series, there are stickers in each book which can be used to decorate scenes available at

Willard Price: Shark Adventure by Anthony McGowan

A traditional style adventure story, full of thrills and excitement. In the second adventure based on the Willard Price stories, Amazon Hunt and her cousin Frazer find themselves on a  remote Polynesian island.  They are working for TRACKS, the animal protection agency, helping to save rare leatherback turtles. But they are up against an international animal smuggler who wants the valuable turtles for himself. The adventure intensifies when a typhoon strikes and they find themselves in shark infested waters and have to save themselves as well as the turtles.

Fight My Monster: Monstrous Official Guide from Simon and Schuster

Not really fiction, I know, but hopefully a book which will encourage boys to read. Fight MyFight My MonsterMonster is the fastest growing online game for boys aged 8  -12 in the UK and this colourful book will really help them improve their tactics. Enthusiasts can find the different types of monsters to add,  learn how to increase their fight strategy and boost their monster's chances of winning. It's a colourful and detailed guide, packed with inside detail, which will become a must-have. As with any online game, I would encourage parents to be aware of what their children are accessing.

The Naughty Croc (The Magic Toyshop) by Jessie Little

The toys whose home is the Magic Toyshop are like no others. They are magical patchwork toys who enjoy lots of fun adventures. In this, the second in the series, Jack arrives at the toy shop looking for a friend and Willow and Freddie know just what he needs - a Hoozle! But soon Croc the naughty Hoozle is making trouble for everyone. Can they stop his mean plans and find Jack a fuzzy friend? There are lovely stories for 5 to 7 year olds just starting to read on their own. The familiar characters give reassurance and these are charming stories.

 The Worst Thing About My Sister by Jacqueline Wilson

Jacqueline Wilson has such a sure touch when it comes to writing about families and that is well demonstrated once again in this book. Sisters Marty and Melissa couldn't be more different. Marty loves her Converse trainers, playing football, hiding in her secret den and helping her dad with his DIY. But Melissa loves Justin Bieber and all things pink, girly and pretty. The sisters live together OK until Mum tells them they have to share a room. For Marty, having to share her bunk beds and lose her private sanctuary turns out to be the very worst thing about having a sister. But the girls soon discover that being too close for comfort can have unexpected consequences, and when an accident happens, the sisters realise they are closer than they thought.

The Winter Sleepwalker and Other Stories by Joan Aiken

These fairytales are like no others. The Winter Sleepwalker and Other Stories will introduce you to sea kings and witches, princesses and giant pink snakes. From Martian monsters dumped on Earth to football played in space, there's magic and mystery on every page - both in the spellbinding stories and Quentin Blake's masterfully atmospheric illustrations. Joan Aiken has always been an exceptional writer of short stories - sometimes, short stories leave me feeling short-changed, but that is never the case with hers.

A Medal for Leroy by Michael Morpurgo

Inspired by the true story of Walter Tull, who, during the First World War, was the first black officer in the British army, this is a stunning new novel of identity and loss, with its background in World War II. Michael doesn’t remember his father, an RAF pilot lost in the war. And his French mother, heartbroken and passionate, doesn’t like to talk about her husband. But then Auntie Snowdrop gives Michael a medal, followed by a photograph, which begin to reveal a hidden history.The book tells an important story - a theme rarely tackled - in a touching and absorbing way, which make this an excellent book for classroom discussion - it will spark many a debate.

Geek Inc. - Technoslime Terror! by Mark Griffiths

The impossible is happening in Blue Hills and inanimate objects are coming to life. Time travellers from the future mingle unnoticed with the shoppers in the high street; school children develop uncanny powers and strange creatures lurk within the grounds of an old stately home. THese mysteries hid a threat of danger....but Gabby Grayling and Barney Watkins aka Geek Inc.! are there to investigate and uncover the truth...In the first book in the series, Barney and Gabby meet and form a friendship when they investigate a top secret Government technology that brings inanimate objects to life. They also have to contend with the evil machinations of Gloria Pickles, the terrifying eleven year old editor of the school newspaper and would-be dictator.

The Wind in the Willows (Usborne Illustrated Originals) by Kenneth Grahame

Usborne can be relied on to produce beautifully illustrated editions of the classics and Richard Johnson's soft reflective illustrations (most full page with some double page spreads) perfectly evoke the feel of the story. This is a chunky hardback book (complete with a padded cover) which is really satisfying to hold, and the paper is thick and shiny - a wonderfully produced book which is one to treasure.  I was delighted to see that this is the full text - none of Grahame's lyrical writing has been lost to the young reader. This book is a real joy and a wonderful way to enthuse young readers about this perennial favourite starring Mole, Ratty, Badger and Toad.

Rise of the Guardians: The Movie Novelization by Stacia Deutsch

Only the Guardians can save humans from the terrible nightmares which threaten them when Pitch starts to turn dreams into nightmares. When the children (all but one) stop believing in the Guardians,, the Guardians call on Jack for help. But Jack isn't so sure he wants to help anyone - he loves to have fun but is less sure when things turn serious and when people might ruin all his winter-time fun. For those who enjoyed the film, there are 8 pages of colour pictures.

Rise of the Guardians: Guide to the Guardians by Maggie Testa

This guide to the film includes full-colour trading cards and a sheet of stickers to delight young fans. They can learn more about all the characters in this comprehensive guide packed with information.. This paperback with glossy pages makes a perfect companion to the movie and comes with stickers and tear-out trading cards. Play games, learn trivia, and become an all-around Guardians expert!


 The Snow Bear by Holly Webb

This is a perfect magical Christmas story - as the snow falls just before Christmas, Sara makes a snow polar bear and then Grandad and Sara build an igloo in the garden.  And then, when Sara wakes in the middle of the night, she finds the igloo is surrounded by ice and her bear has come alive as a  polar bear cub. Together, they set off on an enchanted journey through the wilderness - but will they make it home for Christmas? It's a lovely story, especially the loving relationship between Sara and her Grandad, and the drawings depict the story beautifully. Just right for young girls who love animal stories.

Tich Vampire Hunter by Pete Barrett

A group of normal boys, with normal lives... mostly! Everyone is turning into vampires - even the teachers! Tich and his gang explorethe local graveyard to see what they can discover. Just who is the strange occupant of the grave - an occupant who just won't lie down.   It's up to Tich and his gang to sort it out: - but can they? But then they'll have to face the evil Dracula himself! It's a fun story, with well written characters and a great way to encourage boys to read.

Tich Dragonslayer by Pete Barrett

Tich thinks dragon slaying is tough but dragon baby-sitting is even tougher! Then dad gives him an old board game and suddenly he's off on an adventure. Slay a dragon on his own? Maybe school s not so bad after all. When Tich brings a real live dragon's egg home, can the gang really cope? A baby dragon may be a cool pet but no one wants to be burnt to a crisp. Just a little bit scary, but only a little bit so just right to bring a tingle to the toes of young readers. These are the launch titles - I look forward to more.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney

The fun continues in this seventh hilarious outing for The Wimpy Kid and the wit and ingenuity is as fresh as ever. It's time for the Valentine's Day Dance at school - but will Greg find a Valentine or will he miss out, as all the girls he asks first turn him down? And what about his pal Rowley? But before we even get to the dance, Greg has entertained the reader with his hilarious exploits and we have found out more about his background. Greg is such a typical teenage boy and his character is so well written, it is no wonder the series is such a phenomenal success.

On A Starry Night from Stripes Publishing 

This is a charming anthology of stories for young readers - perfect for children just starting to enjoy reading stories for themselves. It's a cold, frosty night and the stars are shining brightly... and the animals are having wonderful adventures. A husky puppy dreams of life as a sleigh dog, a young goose learns how to navigate the sky at night, an arctic fox discovers he is afraid of the dark during the polar night, and a lost narwhal catches a magical falling star upon his spiral tusk.  Charming illustrations by Alison Edgson embellish the book which includes new stories from Penny Dolan, Karen Wallace, Holly Webb and many other popular writers. Short but satisfying reads  - a lovely collection and a perfect gift.

Tom Gates - Genius Ideas (Mostly) by Liz Pichon

Plenty of ilustrations mean this book is accessible for even somewhat reluctant readers - and readers (especially boys 9 - 11, although girls will enjoy the stories too) who do start the book will be very pleased they did! Life is rather traumatic for Tom - not only did he see See Delia without her sunglasses but (horror) Dad is going to compete at the school Sports Day. Meanwhile Tom, Derek and Norman are also busy with a training regime of their own - practising with Dogzombies to make sure they're ready for the school talent show. It's witty and amusing and packed with cartoons and doodles which make it great fun to read.

Professor Gargoyle (Tales from Lovecraft Middle School) by Charles Gilman

A stunning cover is the first thing you will note about this book - an amiable bearded gentleman morphs into a monster. Then you will meet 11-year-old Robert Arthur, one of the first students in the extraordinary brand new Lovecraft Middle School - truly the school of the future. It's even built almost completely from recycled materials. But there are some very strange goings-on! And the answer lies inthe origin of those recycled materials. By the end of this first volume, Robert will vanquish Professor Gargoyle and learn the creepy origin story of LMS. More books are promised!

Genie in Trouble by Ciaran Murtagh

This is the second book in an entertaining magic series for children aged 7 - 10.   School is really boring - especially spelling tests - so when Jamie Balthazar turns up, Jamie is glad to get away for another hilarious adventure. Bad genies have taken over Lampville and Balthazar needs Jamie's help. Jamie is an appealing character and children will revel in his adventures, which are imaginative and inventive, with excellent descriptive writing.

Mouse Time by Rumer Godden

It's lovely to see classic stories such as these reissued in bright colourful editions to attract today's readers. Here are two stories of adventurous micve looking for a change. Mouse House and The Mousewife are both stories about mice who are intent on finding a better life for their families. Delightful stories. Jane Nissen Books - "The purpose of this personal venture is to bring back into print some of the best-loved children’s books of the 20th century and to enable a new generation of readers to discover for themselves high-quality, timeless titles that should not be lost."

Mouse Time by Rumer Godden

It's lovely to see classic stories such as these reissued in bright colourful editions to attract today's readers. Here are two stories of adventurous micve looking for a change. Mouse House and The Mousewife are both stories about mice who are intent on finding a better life for their families. Delightful stories. Jane Nissen Books - "The purpose of this personal venture is to bring back into print some of the best-loved children’s books of the 20th century and to enable a new generation of readers to discover for themselves high-quality, timeless titles that should not be lost."

Horrid Henry's Fearsome Four by Francesca Simon

A bumper collection of four Horrid Henry stories, that will make a great gift for any fan (and especially boys) just starting out on reading for themselves. Full colour bind-up gift book of four Horrid Henry Early Reader stories - including Horrid Henry's Birthday Party, Horrid Henry's Underpants, Horrid Henry's Nits and Horrid Henry and the Football Fiend. The book is a compilation of books from the Early Readers series - with their plentiful colour illustrations, these are an ideal stepping stone from picture books to reading books.

A Palace Full of Princesses by Sally Gardnerbook

 A lovely collection for girls who are just starting to read on their own.  This is a gift book bind-up edition of four favourite Early Reader Magical Princess stories: Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and The Frog Prince. These fairy tales are charmingly retold and are lovely renditions - a lovely way to introduce children to reading these tales for themselves. There are plenty of delightful illustrations to captivate the reader and this is a book which is a real joy to read. A satisfyingly chunky hardback.

Angelica the Angel Fairy (Rainbow Magic) by Daisy Meadows

This story has the perfect theme for a Christmas book - making sure that we treat others well. Perfect to slip into a young girl's Christmas stocking to reinforce the Christmas message. When Jack Frost steals Angelica's magic items, everyone from the Brownies to the residents of an old fpeoples' home start to play up! What is going on and can Kirsty and Rachel restore order in time for Christmas? The lovely glittery covers of the Rainbow Magic series make this a lovely set of books for girls to collect.- Daisy Meadows is a hugely popular author.

The Emerald Quest (Dragon Child) by Gill Vickery

In this, the first in a promising new series, Tia is searching for the jewel that gives its possessor the power to control beasts. An enchanting and beautifully told tale that will have young readers impatiently waiting for the sequel. Tia has been brought up by a family of dragons and now sees herself as one of them. She is horrified when she finds out that her mother is one of the cruel rulers of Tulay and sets out to prove she is a true DragonChild in this series.

Emerald Star by Jacqueline Wilson

Written with Jacqueline Wilson's unique insight into the world of young girls, this is a fantastic new adventure for popular character Hetty Feather, who we feel we know really well through the first two books in the series.  Following the death of her beloved mother, she sets off in search of her father, but it is obvious there is no place for her withing this new family.  When she is reunited with her beloved childhood sweetheart Jem, do we finally see a happy ending for Hetty? It's still not enough but finally, it does seem that Emerald has found just what she wants in life. A satisfying end to a wonderful series.

The No 1 Car Spotter and the Firebird by Atinuke

This is the second book in this series about the irresistible No. 1, which are super stories for newly confident readers. They are a refreshing change from the familiar settings of many books for this age group, as they introduce the reader to No. 1 who lives in an Africal village. His hobby is car spotting but he is also good at solving all sorts of problems for his village. In this book, we read how he solves all sorts of problems, but can he make a Firebird stop in his village?

Shield Maiden (The Nine Worlds Series) by Richard Denning

Twelve year old Anna comes from a Saxon village in 7th century Mercia. Her life is turned around when she finds a golden horn in the ruins of a Roman Villa which leads to msyterious, exciting and sometimes frightening events. Not only do a dwarf and a sorceress want the horn, but even her own people are after her. Mysteriously, Anna is the only one who can play the horn. Why? This gripping story for children of 8+ will appeal to lovers of several genres, including historical fiction, myths and fantasy. The historical background is vivid and informative and the characters true to period. The final section 'About the world of the Shield Maiden' gives an excellent background.

Amictus vs Tagus (Battle of the Beasts) by Adam Blade

This is the second in an exciting follow-on to the Beast Quest series. It's the perfect series for boys, with its excitement and magic and fast-paced action. Fight the Beasts, Fear the Magic! A clash of Beasts is about to begin! Evil Max is using the magical Golden Gauntlet to turn Tagus the Horse-man and Amictus the Bug Queen into mortal enemies. Meet a new Avantian hero...Evan must ride forth and take on a new Quest to rescue these noble Beasts from a terrible fate. Who will be victorious in this Battle of the Beasts? A brand new Beast Quest is about to begin!

Operation Kick Butt by Niki Daly

Helping out at an old people's home as a holiday project? What a depressing thought for Alastair D'Arcy McDermott. Who would imagine that such a laugh-aloud tale could begin so inuaspiciously? Because when Al meets the sinister Mrs Black, the fun begins - that's why!  Plenty of illustrations add to the humour of the story, which is just right for children aged between 7 and 9.

The Assassin (Trinity) by Zack Satriani

This is the sequel to The Assassin, and I think readers should tackle these books in order so they get the maximum enjoyment from the series.  In a distant galaxy, three planets co-exist in a fragile alliance. Ayl's violent experiences have isolated him from his peace-loving Acquanth brethren.Dray can't convince her father that she is ready for active Bellori duty. And Keller, Trade Prince of Cantor, is about to be assassinated ... The fight to save Trinity has never been more dangerous.

The Cupcake Diaries Mia's Baker's Dozen by Coco Simon

Another story in the light-hearted and fun series for girls of 7+. Now Mia is getting used to her new family routine and  going to her dad's house at the weekend.. The thing that isn't going right is Spanish at school - despite speaking Spanish at home, Mia struggles to write it down. This brings her into conflict with Mrs Alvarez. Katie doesn't want to upset things at home, but when things come to a head she realises that three parents are even better than two! A thoughtful and positive insight into step families as well as a fun story with lots of cakes!  Published at the same time - Katie, Batter Up! (The Cupcake Diaries)

Agatha Parrot and the Zombie Bird by Kjartan Poskitt

This is a series that brilliantly captures what young readers (7+) really want out of a book. The stories are hilarious and the illustrations are very funny. The use of language is good, especially the descriptive language and this will help writing skills. It's a book about magic, but the reader needn't worry, nobody will be turned into a frog! "Guess what? We had a battle of magic at school. A magician came to do a show and he made a Zombie Bird come out of a silver egg." Read the book and find out what happened!

Ferrok The Iron Soldier (Beast Quest) by Adam Blade

A new adventure in this exciting series for boys finds Tom up against an old enemy, and a brand new Beast! Ferrok the Iron Soldier has risen from the ground, and is marching to conquer Avantia with his army of slave-warriors. Can Tom defy the odds and win the battle? Fans can add to their collection with the four new cards included with the book; and enjoy more activities at

Dinosaurs in Disguise ((Downtown Dinosaurs) by Jeanne Willis

Dinosaurs are perennially appealing, especially to boys, so here's a great way to encourage them to read. A new dinosaur causes fresh havoc with the carnivores, but the herbivores are more worried about Darwin. He’s gone missing, and as the two groups descend on No Man’s Land, it’s bound to end in disaster. Arthur Robins' hilarious pictures add another dimension of fun to the book. And readers can enjoy more fun at


Super Soccer Boy and the Monster Mutants by Judy Brown

It's great to see so many series being published for boys. Once they get hooked on a book, they will want to read more in theseries, so this is a great way to encourage reading. Monsters and football - a winning combination for boys! Plants are tthreatening to take over Middletown, and things get worse when they start to attack people, who go green! Worse still - they start to grow leaves... Can Harry Gribble aka Super Soccer Boy stop the invasion?Another hilariously funny story that will appeal to boys' sense of humour.

Alien Schoolboy's Z - A Guide to Earthlings translated from Alien by Ros Asquith

Yes, the title does give away how hilarious this book is going toi be! The humour is guaranteed to appeal to boys and is pitched at just the right level. In the fourth in the series, The Aliens find that the English language is illogical and baffling - how true that is! This Z to A guide - which does actually astart at A! - reveals the ridiculous things we say and shows what they really mean. Not just our language but the customs and way of life are discussed with hilarious results. Packed with jokes, both in the text and the pictures, this is a great read.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the Race Against Time by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Oh dear - poor old Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is stuck in reverse! And not justr reverse as we know it, but reversing in time, thanks to baby Harry pressing a button.  The hapless Tooting family are all aboard and to their horror they find themselves in a steaming jungle facing a evry hungry dinosaur. How are the Tootings – and Chitty – going to get out of this one? They need to find the Potts, last seen in 1966! A series of hilarious adventures finally sees them... well, I'll leave you to find out where! The author is, as the front cover proudly states, the writer of the 2012 Opening Ceremony. I think children will be intrigued to know that the author of the original stories, Ian Fleming, is the author of the James Bond books.


Seriously Silly Stories by Laurence Anholt

Laurence Anholt is a higely popular, multi-award winning children's author and these collections of stories are just as good as one would expect! This volumeiIncludes the Smarties Award-winning Snow White and the Seven Aliens, The Emperor's Underwear and Billy Beast. They are imaginative and full of fun - a brilliant way to inspire children to look at well-known stories and concepts with new eyes. If you're doing a bit of DIY, then perhaps you want to follow the example of Billy, who has got his castle just the way he likes it - with green mouldy walls and puddles in the corridors!

More Seriously Silly Stories by Laurence Anholt

Three more really silly stories to amuse and entertain your child - they're great fun to read aloud, or the high proportion of illustration to text makes them great for young independent readers. And the illustrations, by Arthur Robins, are as hilarious as the stories and are another way to extend children's imaginations and creativity. The stories in this collection are Cinderboy, the Fried Piper of Manstring and The THree Scares. The titles are wonderful and the stories more than live up to expectations.

Amazing Esme and the Pirate Circus by Tamara Macfarlane

Paperbacks are fine, but sometimes it lovely to have an attractive hardcover book to enjoy! Uncle Mac sets off with amazing Esme and her fearless cousins on a journey to return the rescued animals from the pirate circus to their homes. Their trek takes them to hot and cold near and distant lands. And they have to contend with dastardly pirates who will stop at nothing to recapture the animals. This is the third of Tamara Macfarlane's Esme stories which are perfect for newly confident readers to read by themselves, or for parents or teachers to read aloud.

Claude in the Country by Alex T Smith

Another Claude book - wonderful! Inevitably, with Claude in the picture, what shoud have been a peaceful walk in the country turns out to be nothing like that! It becomes a busy day on the farm when Claude (and faithful Sir Bobblysock, of course) ends up mucking out the pigs, feeding the chickens, and lassoing a fearsome bull - and all in the name of helping Mrs Cowpat! These books neatly crossover the picture book/chapter book bridge and are excellent for newly confident young readers, especially as the numerous illustrations are full of clues to the text. They are beautifully produced too, on sturdy shing paper and in a chunky format perfect for little hands.

Wolf Story (The New York Review Children's Collection) by William McCleery

This is an excellent read-aloud chapter book to share with young children, especially boys. It depicts a strong father-son relationship. It's a story about a father, his son, the boy's best friend, and a wolf. The stories are a series of exciting and fantastical adventures. The NYRCC is a wonderful collection of books, all with a traditional feel, cloth covers and charming cover illustrations - definitely a set to collect and cherish.

Beyond the Pawpaw Trees (The New York Review Children's Collection) by Palmer Brown

This is a story which takes the reader through a strange and mystical world; a world full of colour; a world where anything is possible. It begins on a lavender blue day when Anna Lavinia's father saw a double rainbow and went chasing after it. And Lavinia and her cat Strawberry set off on a journey beyond the walled garden where the pawpaw trees grow, to a place where the buttercups are pink and the laws of gravity sometimes don't apply. Who is right? Her mother says "Never believe what you see," and her father says "Believe only what you see," The scene is set by the delicately coloured illustration on the front cover, which perfectly epitomises the feel of this charming book.

The Silver Nutmeg (The New York Review Children's Collection) by Palmer Brown

The reader is taken on another imaginative journey by Anna Lavinia in this sequel to Beyond the PawPaw Trees. The viewpoint Anna Lavinia's father put in the garden wall to allow her to see further allows her to see a great deal further than he expected - all the way to an entirely new land on the other side of Dew Pond. Anna Lavinia discovers meets a boy named Toby, who takes her to his looking-glass world, where nothing is quite as she expects, and she meets a cast of enchanting characters.

Cheerful (The New York Review Children's Collection) by Palmer Brown

Cheerful is a little city mouse who lives in a church with his family. They play in the church in the rainbow shadows cast by the stained glass windows, and run between the pews and up the belfry steps. THey dine in style on the crumbs left after wedding feasts. But Cheerful, who loves the green colours of the stained glass, longs to live in the country, so one day he sets off on a great adventure... The wonderfully delicate pictures entice me to colour them in! It's a gentle old-fashioned tale, with a happy and reassuring ending. A good way to introduce young children to chapter books.
Will Solvit and the T-Rex Terror (Book 1)

Will Solvit and the T-Rex Terror by Zed Storm (from Parragon Books)

Will Solvit is a fantastic series, especially appealing to boys. The books are packed with excitement and are pacy and fast-moving. Will Solvit is a regular ten year old - or so he thought. With the help of his dad's crazy inventions, Will finds himself with a broken time machine, a hungry T-Rex, and a trail of secret letters to decode. Featuring amazing dinosaur fun facts, easy to read text, and a whole lot of mysteries to solve, Will Solvit makes a great companion for middle readers ages 6-11. Be sure to check out all 12 adventures in the Will Solvit series! Download Book 1 for free from iTunes and see for links to all the books. 

Gobbolino the Witch's Cat by Ursula Moray Williams

Gobbolino is a very special cat, who has entranced generations of children since appearing in print 70 years ago. Instead of bieng a witch's cat with sparky whiskers and magic tricks, Gobbolino just wants to be an ordinary cat. So off he goes to find a family for himself. This is a special 70th anniversary edition with drawings by Catherine Rayner, and it has a lovely traditional feel with its cloth cover. The story has fun and magic to captivate children, and also a strong message of acceptance and overcoming prejudice. It's equally good to read aloud or for young readers to tackle and enjoy alone.

The Dreadful Dragon by Kaye Umansky

Poor Ronald the Magnificent is not a very good wizard and he has to put up with a lot of teasing. He needs a friend, so he decides to try a bit of magic and create a pet of his very own - with hilarious consequences! Plenty of elements to appeal to chldren - wizards, fire-breathing,  magic and ... sausages! The drawings by Nick Price are a key part of the fun of this story - you can meet all the characters at the start of the book. I have always been aware that Kaye Umansky has a marvellous ability to know just what appeals to children, so am not surprised to learn that she taught in primary schools for 12 years. A beautifully written story, which will have adults and children giggling in unison.

Dork Diaries: Dear Dork by Rachel Renee Russell

Dork Diaries (the diaries of 14 year old Nikki Maxwell) is one of those series which seems to have just hit the mark where young readers are concerned. They can readily identify with the characters and events, which reflect the issues relevant to today.  Will Mackenzie use the gossip column she is writing to reveal secrets about Nikki's crush, Brandon? If you can't beat 'em, join 'em -  so Nikki joins the newspaper too, and finds herself as the advice columnist, Miss Know-It-All. What started as fun suddenly becomes overwhelming - and that' where the importance of good friends is shown.  The cartoon-style drawings are full of fun and humour, just like the book. Enjoy lots of interactive content at

Phantom Pirates (Frightfully Friendly Ghosties) by Daren King

The friendly ghosts who have trouble scaring anyone are back again with another ridiculously finny adventure. They decide that a cruise would make a perfect holler-day, but when they miss the ship, they find themselves on the Raggy Dolly, which is crewed by phantom pirates - how frightful! And worse is to come - the pirates plan to invade a still-alive ship. Well, our polite and friendly ghosties just can't let that happen, can they? Another charming story which is sheer joy to read - and fabulous to read aloud..

Frightfully Friendly Ghosties Collection by Daren King

Three stories in one delightfully chunky book -  Frightfully Friendly Ghosties, Ghostly Holler-Day and School of Meanies. Meet Humphrey Bump, Wither, Charlie Vapour, Pamela Fraidy and Tabitha Tumbly, the friendliest and most well-meaning ghosts in town. They just want to be friends and cannot understand why the still-Alives are so scared of them. These are highly imaginative stories which children will love - and they are not in the least bit scary! They romp along with a delightfully quirky use of words which will extend children's imaginative and story-writing skills.

Operation Bunny (Wings and Co) by Sally Gardner

Sally Gardner is very popular with young readers, so it's great to see not just a new book, but one which is the start of a new series. Emily Vole has had an exciting life - rescued from an abandoned hatbox in Stansted Airport and then receiving a mysterious inheritance. It's an inheritance which sees the long-defunct Fairy Detective Agency re-established. Emily, Fidget the Talking Cat and Buster the fairy detective need all their skills to Magic and mystery with a generous sprinkling of humour make this a great read for 7+. David Roberts' quirky drawings are just right! 

Ratburger by David Walliams

David Walliams has definitely found himself a successful new career! His books for children, of which this is the fifth, have proved to be hugely popular. Children who have previously been uninterested in reading are really getting hooked on his books, which is wonderful. This is the story of a little girl called Zoe, who has many problems in her life - but not the sort of problems you might expect! Her stepmother Sheila is so lazy she gets Zoe to pick her nose for her. The school bully Tina Trotts makes her life a misery – mainly by flobbing on her head. And just what does Burt from Burt’s Burgers want with Zoe's pet rat? Well, I think you can guess... The hilarious characters draw the reader straight into the story and the fun continues on every hilarious page.

Om Shanti, Babe by Helen Limon

A story which beautifully evokes the colourful atmosphere of Kerala as Cassia and her mum visit on a trip to buy goods for their Fair Trade shop. But things don't go the way Cassia hoped. There are business troubles and relationship problems to contend with ... but things start to look up when pop idol Jonny Gold arrives on the scene. It's an action-packed story with an environmental element - always a topical theme. It's a well crafted story - the many elements are well intertwined yet still produce a clear story line. Cassia's character develops through the story as events affect her life and thoughts. A captivating story which takes the reader to the heart of Kerala.

Tilly Tiptoes Takes a Curtain Call by Caroline Plaisted

Little girls are always fascinated by stpires about the ballet, and Tilly Tiptoes is just the type of heroine they love - and aspire to emulate. This is the third book in the series about the girl who dreams of becoming a Pirma Ballerina  and in the meantime helps out backstage. Tilly and Rose are auditioning but Tilly is number 13 and everything that could go wrong does go wrong. Will things go right in the end? Written in the first person, girls will find it easy to put themselves in Tilly's place and share her adventures.

The Famous Adventures of Jack by Berlie Doherty  

This is an unusual and intriguing story which blends together some of the many Jacks from folk tales, all cleverly told within another story. It begins when Jill is told by a man she met on the road to find Jack. The problem is: "Which Jack?"  There's Great- grandfather Jack, Uncle Jack, Cousin Jack, Daft Jack, Jack the Giant Killer, and more, and, of course there's Mother Greenwood's lazy, good-for-nothing, waste-of-a-wishbone son, Jack. The reader soon finds himself, along with Jill, of course, in Jill finds herself in a storybook-world of magicians, dragons, floating castles and giants. But does she find her Jack? It's a lovely way to enjoy retellings of these well-loved folk tales, which brings fresh life to them.

The Icarus Project by Laura Quimby

Maya is the daughter of scientists, and this gives her the chance to travel the world and enjoy some wonderful adventures - her mother visits tropical rainforests, uncovering ancient artefacts and her father digs up mammoths. Maya wants to follow in their footsteps and make a discovery of her own. Is this her chance? Joining her father in the Arctic, something unbelievable is hidden in the ice. It's a fascinating journey of discovery, written through the eyes of a feisty and ambitious girl. Well told and atmospheric, this is a good read. Published October 2012.

My Best Friend and Other Enemies by Catherine Wilkins

Such an apposite title! Sometimes, the boundary between best friends and enemy can become very blurred for young people. Jessica and Natalie have been best friends forever, but that all changes with the arrival of new girl Amelia. Could forming a gang be the answer? Then Jessica finds her talent for drawing cartoons could be just the thing to get back at Amelia. This is a hilarious look at pre-teen friendships, which carries a positive and sensitive message about relationships. The contrasting characters of Jessica and Amelia are well depicted and Jessica is a likeable character who will appeal to the reader.Humorous and acutely observed, I really enjoyed this realistic book with its feisty heroine.

Roodica the Rude Party Pooper by Margaret Ryan

Another very funny book about young Celtic princess Roodica the Rude. In this continuation of her adventures against the invading Romans, we see her birthday plans likely to be ruined when Magnus Maximus has a party up at the Roman villa on the same day... but our crafty heroine has a trick or two up her sleeve and she turns the tables on the Romans by using their own superstitions against them. A super book for newly confident readers, perfectly set off by the amusing illustrations by Sarah Horne.


Rock 'n' Rolling (Strictly Come Dancing) by Chloe Melody

Just in time for the new series of 'Strictly' comes another title in this fun series.The mega-hit BBC show, Strictly Come Dancing, quicksteps its way into a brand new young fiction series. The girls at the Strictly Dance Academy are thrilled to be auditioned when a famous musical director is looking for Rock 'n' Roll dancers to perform on the West End stage. Can Bella get to grips with a completely new style of dancing in time? As we well know, anything is possible in the world of dance!

Nina and the Travelling Spice Shed by Madhvi Ramani

Things aren't always what they seem - Nina's aunt's spice shed is a travel machine! But Nina didn't know that and when she is sent out for some spices, she finds herself plunged into an exciting adventure involving a lost envelope, a charming street thief, glamorous Bollywood star and a fierce tiger. Nina really didn't want India as her school project, but her exciting adventures change her mind! first in a promising new series which will help children learn about other countries and cultures.

The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket by John Boyne

A quirky and unusual book about someone who is proud to be different. When Barnaby Brocket is born, to a family who put great store by being ordinary, it's clear that he is far from ordinary. Barnaby defies the laws of gravity - and floats, but desperate to please his parents, he does his best to remain firmly grounded, but just can't. So Barnaby has to go and finds himself a magical journey around the world. During his extraordinary journey, Barnaby meets a wealth of fascinating people, and from each one he learns something of value, and that it's OK to be different. Well-written, humorous and heartwarming, this is a great story which also carries a meaningful message..

Princess Katie's Kittens by Julie Sykes

The fourth title in this series about the cute royal kittens finds Suki as a stowaway on Princess Katie's skiing holiday. The little white kitten sets off to find her own way home and finds herself in a snowstorm. Of course, she is hard to spot, so can Katie and becky find her in time? Cute kittens, each with a clear character of its own, and lots of potentially problematic situations make these books a good read for 5 - 7 year olds. And they can learn about caring for kittens too!

The Magic Pony (Jinny at Finmory) by Patricia Leitch

The popular Jinny books were first published in the 1970s and have sadly been out of print for many years. It's great to see that Catnip Publishing have chosen to reissue the series, which remains as fresh and enjoyable as ever. The stories are set in the wild and beautiful Scottish Highlands and the locality is vividly evoked through the evocative writing. Jinny planned to spend her holiday riding on the moors but when Shantih is lamed, her plans change and she visits a local riding school. Her horror at what she sees set her off on a dramatic course of action. A real love for horses shines through and there are important messages about caring for animals which are as relevant as ever.

The World of Norm: May Produce Gas by Jonathan Meres

Poor Norm - life is just SO unfair! But it makes for a hilarious read for the rest of the world, even though to Norm it seems the whole world has gone mad. His dad's obsessed with gas, his best friend has come down with a case of hormones and his brother is in dire need of deodorant. Looks like there's going to be quite a stink. Jonathan Meres follows up May Contain Nuts and May Cause Irritation with another laugh-out-loud story about Norm, a boy who can't understand why everything always seems unfair... Witty and clever, with equally amusing illustrations this is another great book.

The Templeton Twins Have An Idea by Ellis Weiner

A quirky and unusual book, with a really unusual eye-catching layout, this is the first in a funny, illustrated young-teen series about twins John and Abigail who set out to foil kidnappers bent on stealing their genius father's ideas. It's an intriguing mix of adventure, humour, questions and puzzles, clever plays on words and more. This debut novel has a fast-paced plot, clever heroes, evil (albeit buffoonish) villains, a sly sense of humour and is filled with puns, word games, puzzles and even a recipe for meatloaf! When, Professor Templeton takes up a new job, an ex student with a grudge soon kidnaps the twins. The story is funny, fast-paced and full of twists and turns, and the illustrations give the reader lots to think about.

The Orphan of the Flames (Secret Breakers) by H L Dennis

The second in this intriguing new series finds our  team of code-crackers facing a new code that has never been solved. Brodie, Hunter and Tusia are back at Station X (Bletchley Park). This time, their challenging search takes them to the stories behind Elgar's famous music and a coded letter he wrote to a young friend, Dorabella. The 'Dorabella Cipher' has never, ever been solved. Now our team of code-breakers are on a twisting trail via medieval book burnings in Florence, a mysterious boy known as the Orphan of the Flames, and a one-time famous prisoner in London's Newgate Prison who wrote about King Arthur. It's a beautifully drawn together story and a challenging read for those who set out to solve the clues given in the book.

Pegasus and the Origins of Olympus by Kate O'Hearn

In the fourth title in the mythical adventure Pegasus series, we join Emily and Pegasus as the legend continues in a new epic adventure that takes us back to the very origins of mythology. The Olympians fade one by one as a deadly plague strikes Olympus, Emily's heart breaks as she watches Pegasus slip away. Determined to save him, Emily embarks on an investigation that takes her back in time to the origins of Olympus and to the deadly battle between the Olympians and the Titans. There Emily is confronted with the full power of the flame and a discovery that will change the face of history. In the race against time to save Pegasus, will Olympus find its true Hero?

The Grunts in Trouble by Philip Ardagh

Meet the gruesome Grunts - a family with some pretty disgusting habits! They have a sort-of son called (very originally!) Sonny and he is comparatively normal, even if his means of adoption was weird - the Grunts stole him from a washing line as a baby. Other hilarious characters include Lord Bigg of Bigg Manor, Bigg-hater Larry Smalls, Mimi the Bigg Manor boot boy - all brought amusingly to life by Axel Scheffler's vivid drawings. Enjoy Philip Ardagh's clever plays on words - great fun while you are reading this book aloud. Children will love this revolting yet strangely likeable family and will revel in their antics

Polar Bear Wish (WWF Wild Friends) by Linda Chapman and Michelle Misra

Emily's parents work for the WWF (the World Wildlife Fund) and she has some fantastic opportunities to see animals in their natural habitats as she accompanies her parents on their quests to save endangered species. Emily longs to see a polar bear but with their habitat home melting fast, the frozen north is becoming a difficult place to raise their young. - A tiny polar bear cub, lost on the sea ice, needs Emily's help to find its mother again. Can Emily reunite Snowy with his mother and make all their Christmas wishes come true? Lots of drawings help the appeal of this super series.

The Snow Leopard Lost (WWF Wild Friends) by Linda Chapman and Michelle Misra

This time, Emily's in Mongolia with her dad for half term. He is helping to set up a new project to help endangered snow leopards in the area. Emily can't believe her luck when she makes friends with adorable snow leopard cub, Leo. With the help of a local boy, Emily shows the locals that man and beast can love harmoniously together. As well as being great adventures to enjoy, the books carry a serious message about how man must look after rare species and their habitats. The books include games and puzzles to enjoy, as well as animal facts and a whole centre section of lovely photos.

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