Book reviews - fiction 5 to 11 (page 4)

Sleuth on Skates (Sesame Seade Mysteries) by Clementine Beauvais

Would-be sleuth Sesame Seade has waited eleven years, five months and seventeen days to do some real sleathing and now the disappearance of jenna Jenkins gives her just the opportunity she has been waiting for. With some help from friends Toby and Gemma and a conspiratorial duck, Sesame is on the track of the missing dancer Right from the start, the reader realises that in Sesame, they have a really unusual, if not unique, heroine. Her unusual approach to life makes for a hilarious read, with some wonderful use of language. Complemented by amusing illustrations, this is an author to look out for.

The Secret Bridge by Hywel Griffiths

Owain, a pupil at Flatlands, a residential school on Merseyside, feels rootless, but then he learns that his class is going on a school trip to Wales. When Owain finds new friends, Geth and Marian, they're quickly drawn into the age-old conflict between Rippers and Stitchers. Time travel - a genre of fiction that opens up all sorts of exciting possibilities - is used to great effect here as Owen struggles to save his friends and return safely to today's world. An imaginative and intriguing story.

Adam's Starling by Gillian Perdue

Adam is struggling at school - he is being picked on by bullies; he is lonely at home - nobody seems to have time for him. But something small has the power to turn Adam's life around - a little starling who becomes Adam's secret best friend.  There comes a time when the starling needs Adam's help - can he find the courage to defend his little friend against the bullies? A perceptive and very moving story which will resonate with many readers - bullies and the bullied. An excellent opportunity for discussion of this emotive subject.

Faerie Tribes: The Crystal Mirror by Paula Harrison

Laney doesn't know it yet, but she is a faerie, a member of the Mist Tribe. She thinks that a boring summer lies ahead of her, but events soon prove her wrong. Why should there not be candles in her house? A burning pain, then the sight of a blood-red moon mean Laney's life changes forever. She and her faerie friends must stop an evil Shadow Faerie finding the magical objects he needs to become all-powerful. This is the first in the series, and the quest is on to find the crystal mirror. An enchanting story which will leave the reader anxious for more.

The Abominators in the Wild by J.L. Smith

The second book in this hilarious series certainly lives up to the promise of the first. Mucker, Boogster, Cheesy and Bob are The Abominators. Unlikely as it seems, posh boy Cecil has jumped into their lives like a demented grasshopper, and they're not at all happy about it. Having a gang member who wears ridiculous panty wanty woos is UNTHINKABLE! Will an adventure involving baked beans, a midnight quest and an escaped bear help to change their minds? There's only one way to find out . . .

Curse of the Dream Witch by Allan Stratton

An imaginative story with a strong element of friendship between a motley cast of characters. Milo, Princess Olivia and a curious talking mouse set off on an epic journey to defeat the Dream Witch, who is demanding the heart of the princess, or no child in the kingdom will be safe. Even so-called friends betray Olivia's parents so it's up to the intrepid Olivia to defeat the Dream Witch, Prince Leo and his uncle. Together with her friends they set off on a fantastical adventure, compelling told in this gripping story.

The Popularity Papers by Amy Ignatow

What immediately strikes you with this book is the journal/scrapbook style, which is attractive and appealing - I think it will really attract those who may be reluctant to read conventional novels. It is written by two friends, lydia and Julie, who set out to learn and copy what makes other girls populat, so they can join their ranks in secondary school. It's an interesting approach to a relatively common theme, and one which will have great appeal as it is so out of the ordinary. It's funny and entertaining and the characters of the two girls can be identified through the different font style used for each.

Bob's Film Fiasco: No. 5 (Bob and Barry's Lunar Adventures) by Simon Bartram

Bob and his faithful canine companion Barry have been very popular with children since the first book, back in 2004 - the books are often used in schools. It seems that things are going well for Bob when he becomes a Moon-Tube sensation after a heroic rescue. Hollywood want to make a film! Not just that, but they want to turn the moon into a Moon Land amusement park. His beloved moon is put in jeopardy - can Bob get things back how they were? An entertaining story with comical illustrations.

Emily and Patch (City Farm) by Jessie Williams

From new publisher Curious Fox comes this super series that girls will adore. Ever since Emily's mum died, she's had trouble adjusting to her new life with her dad and step-mum. But when she joins the Harvest Hope project at City Farm, she makes new friends...and meets a very special dog called Patch. Many of the animal based series which are so popular are for stlighly younger readers, so this series will provide excellent progression to more substantial and therefore more satisfying stories. A great series, which tackles important issues in a positive manner.

Zoe and Swift (City Farm) by Jessie Williams

Zoe was the fastest runner in her school…until an accident crushed her hopes for the Olympics. Can a friendship with a retired racehorse at City Farm help her find a new dream? There are lots more titles in the series, so girls will be keen to collect them all and find out how each girl finds an answer to her problems at City Farm. They are good reads, but also hold an important message and are very relevant to situations in everyday life. Animal stories are always popular and the setting of the Harvest Hope Project adds depth to the stories.

Crash Landing (Hyperspace High) by Zac Harrison

This series about a school with a difference, which comes from new publisher Curious Fox is perfect for boys. John Riley gets on the wrong coach and finds himself at an elite academy on an enormous space ship. Given that his classmates are aliens, the food is revolting, and there are harsh penalties for failing exams, you might ask why he is so anxious to stay. You'll have to read this amusing story to find out! It's a great read, with plenty of action.

Frozen Enemies (Hyperspace High) by Zac Harrison

Like everything in Outer Space, museum visits are much more fun than they are on earth. John and his class travel to the museum planet of Archivus Major. But the field trip goes badly wrong when two rival tribes of aliens are accidentally released from cryogenic storage. John and his friends have got to get them back on ice before war breaks out. Boys will love this series - space stories are always popular and combining this with the setting of a school is inspired.

Robot Warriors (Hyperspace High) by Zac Harrison

It s competition time at Hyperspace High as the students build robots to compete in the annual Robot Warriors contest. John and Kaal are in with a chance of winning, but will competition get in the way of friendship? The dialogue is well written and the characters well drawn, making the books enjoyable and ideal for the target market. Plenty of action is the key!

Warlord's Revenge (Hyperspace High) by Zac Harrison

John's class is being examined by the mysterious Scholars of Kerallin. If that isn't stressful enough, a former student with a grudge arrives unexpectedly and puts them all in danger. Despite the setting being Outer Space, there is still plenty here which will remind boys of their own schools. The books are imaginative and hopefully will encourage boys to improve their creative writing. Use of language is good and age-appropriate and the story lines are compelling. The great thing about a series like this is that readers get hooked and are keen to continue reading. It would be an excellent class reader and then boys would go on to read the rest of the series.

Stars by Laura and Luke Jennings

A Noel Streatfeild for today's readers! This is the first in a fascinating new series set in a performing arts boarding school series for girls of 9+. Packed with insights into the world of ballet, it is a very promising start and I very much look forward to more. Dreams are made and stars are born at the Arcadia School of Performing Arts - so has Jess got what it takes? Shy at first, she soon settles and makes friends. Standards at Arcadia are high, and Jess soon starts to doubt her talents. She can't dance like Spike or sing like Ash and she doesn't have Foxy's style . . . So when an amazing chance comes her way, she knows she has to take it . . .

Blood Oath (Gladiator School) by Dan Scott

Ancient Rome and the thrills of life as a gladiator are brought to life in this richly textured novel. From a privileged lfe, Lucius suddenly finds himself living amongst the lowest of society when his father is accused of being a traitor. Brother Quintus takes the Blood Oath and vows to become a gladiator, whilst Lucuis faces danger in his quest for his father. It's an exciting and fast-moving story set in a ruthless time when a false move can endanger life. It is also a vivid evocation of the period and would make superb background reading to a study of the Romans - try it as a class reader. Look out for the next in the series...

Baddies, Beasties and a Sprinkling of Crumbs (Baddies and Beasties) by Tracey Corderoy

I am familiar with - and love - Tracey's super picture books and stories for younger readers, so I was really pleased to see a book for slighly older readers to enjoy.  The Crumbs really are a most unusual family - there's Martha, a born worrier; Otto, a would-be detective and Scarlett, who does just as she pleases. They live with their father, an inventor. This summer, Dad's busy inventing so the children have to look after themselves - and then Aunt Beastly appears on the scene. Their Dad's invention is under threat from the Unstoppables - can the children stop them? It's a lively and entertaining story, which makes excellent use of illustrations and an attrcative layout to capture the attention.

Claude in the Spotlight by Alex T Smith

When a new series comes out with a superb first book, I sometimes wonder if the quality can be maintained. No problem here, as author/illustrator Alex T Smith brings us the fifth in this hilarious series. Claude and his friend Sir Bobblysock set off for a gentle stroll through town - a stroll which leads to leg kicking and bottom shaking as Claude dances his way into the theatre and straight into the spotlight! It's great fun and a perfect series for new readers, with its mix of engaging text and very apposite illustrations which are full of quirky humour.

Dinosaur Scramble (Downtown Dinosaurs) by Jeanne Willis

When Mrs Stigson has an egg there is great rejoicing – Darwin always wanted someone to play with. But leaving mad Uncle Loops in charge of egg-sitting is not a good idea... On her return, Mrs Stigson is certain that it is not the egg she laid. Darwin’s determined to get to the bottom of it and suspects a certain gangster T. Rex is behind the swap. But which is the ‘real’ stegasaurus egg? And what will stop Flint Beastwood from smashing it on his wedding day? This is a super series - a family saga with a difference which makes excellent reading; great to read aloud!

Dinosaur Scramble (Downtown Dinosaurs) by Jeanne Willis

When Mrs Stigson has an egg there is great rejoicing – Darwin always wanted someone to play with. But leaving mad Uncle Loops in charge of egg-sitting is not a good idea... On her return, Mrs Stigson is certain that it is not the egg she laid. Darwin’s determined to get to the bottom of it and suspects a certain gangster T. Rex is behind the swap. But which is the ‘real’ stegasaurus egg? And what will stop Flint Beastwood from smashing it on his wedding day? This is a super series - a family saga with a difference which makes excellent reading; great to read aloud!

The Double-cross (Sam Silver Undercover Pirate) by Jan Burchett and Sara Vogler

This is a super series for young readers - action-packed and full of excitement. Captain Blade's old enemy Blackheart, the nastiest pirate in the Caribbean, is out for revenge. With his ruthless crew he's determined to steal the Sea Wolf. Can Sam and the pirates outwit their deadly enemy? Sam Silver travels in time to have his exciting adventures with Captain Blade and his crew.

The Awakening (Factor 4) by Paul Mason

Four friends become superheroes. Zaf becomes Zephyr, who can fly and direct the wind. Tara becomes Terra, who can make the earth shake and plants grow. Ian becomes Inferno, with the power to create fire. April becomes Aqua, her body turning to water as she creates waves, floods and waterspouts. These are exciting powers, but can the friends learn to use them properly in time to  quench the bushfire? They realise that they have agreat respobsibility and more adventures are on the way... Short chapters, just three or four pages, make this ideal for reluctant readers. There's plenty of excitement to keep the attention and the storyline is unusual.

The Opal Quest: DragonChild Book 2 by Gill Vickery

When the DragonQueen's Jewels of Power were stolen by the six sister-witches, the dragons were banished from the land of Tulay. They took with them a human child as hostage. Tia has been raised by the dragons and considers them her family. But when she learns that her mother is one of the sister witches, she must prove herself to be a true DragonChild by retrieving the jewels, with the aid of her DragonBrother. In this second exciting adventure, Tia goes after the jewel that gives its possessor the power to shift shape.

The Opal Quest: DragonChild Book 2 by Gill Vickery

When the DragonQueen's Jewels of Power were stolen by the six sister-witches, the dragons were banished from the land of Tulay. They took with them a human child as hostage. Tia has been raised by the dragons and considers them her family. But when she learns that her mother is one of the sister witches, she must prove herself to be a true DragonChild by retrieving the jewels, with the aid of her DragonBrother. In this second exciting adventure, Tia goes after the jewel that gives its possessor the power to shift shape.

The Snow Merchant by Sam Gayton

 Imagine! A world where there was no snow... Lettie Peppercorn lives a very ordinary life until the night the Snow Merchant comes. He claims to be the greatest alchemist ever and his latest invention lies in a suitcase. It is an invention that will change Lettie's life - and the world - forever. It is an invention called snow. A superbly imaginative story with a mystical element which has the reader gripped from the first page and transported into another world.

A Monster Helping of Horrid Henry by Francesca Simon

A real treat for Horrid Henry's many fans - three super books and a total of 12 stories in one volume. Horrid Henry Rocks, Horrid Henry and the Zombie Vampire and Horrid Henry's Monster Movie. Once again, Horrid Henry has the reader laughing at his exploits as we meet his friends and long-suffering fanily in a series of hilarious adventures. The stories are always bright and lively and we can't fail to love Henry, despite the havoc he causes.

Spell Sisters: Chloe the Storm Sister by Amber Castle

It's time for the final adventure for the Spell Sisters. Only Gwen and her friends can save the enchanted Isle of Avalon from evil Morgana Le Fay. In the most challenging adventure of all, Gwen, her cousin Flora and Moonlight, a very special horse, must rescue Chloe, the magical sister who controls the weather. And then they have to face the fearsome Morgana Le Fay herself. Girls will love to complete their very own Spell Sisters Kndgom picture with the last set of stickers.

The Mummy That Went Moo (You, Me and Thing) by Karen McCombie

This is the fourth story about Ruby and Jackson and the Thing that lives at the bottom of their gardens. The thing about Thing is that he is irresistible so he gets his young friends into all sorts of scrapes, which are hilariously recounted in this fun series.This time, Ruby and Jackson decide to sneak Thing along with them on a school trip to the museum. As you might guess, if you have enjoyed previous stories, things don't go QUITE according to plan...

The Last Wild by Piers Torday

An unusual book and an unusual character. Kester hasn't spoken since his mum died, so he resides at a home for troubled children - a terrifying place. But although he can't talk to humans, Kester finds he can talk to animals - and animals are rare indeed in a world where animals have been killed by disease and are still killed by a deadly organisation. A flock of pigeons fly Kester to a wild place where the last creatures in the land have survived and Kester has to try to save the animals.

Fluff the Farting Fish by Michael Rosen

If you've got a reluctant reader, just leave this book lying around and you can almost guarantee that any child will find the title enticing enough to pick the book up! And then they will have a joy of a book to read. Elvie wants a puppy but all she gets is... a fish. Not to be daunted, she determines to teach the fish tricks and finds the fish has a very special talent...  A hilarious story, perfect for reading aloud and with plenty of opportunities for audience participation.

Wendy Quill is a Crocodile's Bottom by Wendy Meddour

A humorous book which contains three stories, perfect for young readers to read themselves, with the amusing illustrations (by 11 year old Mina May) and funny comments within the text. Things never seem to quite work out for Wendy, but that doesn't stop her having lots of fun! A school play, a tap dancing class and a school project are all enlivened by Wendy's input. Not just for girls - boys will enjoy the humour too. The first in a new series with an endearing lead character. Publication date 25/4/13.

Genie in a Trap by Ciaran Murtagh

The genie in training is back! He's promised a fantastic adventure but he finds himself in deep trouble. Why have his friends tricked him? Who is the mysterious cloaked genie who seems to have them under his spell and what terrible plan does he have for Jamie and the Genie Academy? In this latest hilarious adventure Jamie will have to escape poison spikes, fire-breathing frogs and double crossing friends to make sure the genie world is not destroyed for ever.

The Abominators (Panty Wanty Woos) by J.L. Smith

Great fun and a super way to encourage boys to read. Cheeky Mucker, Boogster, Cheesy and Bob aka The Abominators, cause havoc wherever they go.Their interests include chaos, mayhem and filling the school toilets with strawberry jelly. You wouldn't hink that Cecil Trumpington-Potts would want to know such troublesome people - but you'll be surprised. at the unlikely relationship. Full of fun and mischief and with hilarious illustrations, young readers will relish this series. One of the funniest books I have read recently.

Sid and the Cwmhendy Dog Show by Tanya L. James

Sid is a wonderfully depicted dog - who could fail to love him? His owner, Geraint, loves him, of course and Mum and Dad do really - except when he ruins their garden! Sid is all ready for the Cwmhendy dog show, looking very smart - after his second bath! Nothing can go wrong now - or can it? But little Sid is determined to enter... It's a delightful story and the illustrations are quite charming. Gentle and humorous, perfect for all pet lovers.

The Wild West Show by Phil Carradice

Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley really did visit Wales and the fascinating historical note at the end of the book tells us more about this. Taking the visit as his inspiration, Phil Carradice has written an exciting story about Sam who witnesses a murder on the very day that Bill Cody's Wild West Show comes to Cardiff. The excitement of the colourful spectacle is vividly depicted and we get a clear picture of the period. It's an unusual background and young readers will respond well to this exciting story which has you guessing right to the end.

Aldo Moon and the Ghost at Gravewood Hall by Alex Woolf

I was intrigued by the strange character depicted on the cover of this book, and immediately wanted to know more about him. He was as intriguing as he looked - Aldo is flamboyant, eccentric and a touch wild, with the ability to pick up 'ripples in the ether', He uses this ability to investigate spooky goings-on in 19th century England. ,Aldo inquires into mysterious nocturnal noises at a spooky house in the country. With the help of his companions, he gradually uncovers an evil and sinister secret at Gravewood Hall. The use of illustrative language is exceptional and the narrative style is gripping and highly enjoyable

Wolf and Dog by Sylvia Vanden Heede

Somehow, when I get a slightly unusual looking book, I just know it's going to be from Gecko Press and that I am in for a treat. It may not look like it on the surface, but Wolf and Dog are cousins. They have differences - Wolf is wild and Dog is domesticated - but they have things in common too and form an unlikely alliance. Nine short stories all about the important things in life - and some not quite so important. Told in short stanzas and simple language, it's perfect to read aloud. But share the wonderful pictures which are such an important part of the book. It's beautifully produced on heavy cream paper with colour illustrations throughout.

Petticoat Pirates: The Mermaids of Starfish Reef: by Erica-Jane Waters

Pirates - but not as we know them! Marina, Aqua and Oceana are the Petticoat Pirates who live on their ship in the Periwinkle Lagoon. The seas all around them give all sorts of opportunities for adventure in this enjoyable series for girls of 7+. The mermaids need help - all the sea snails on the mer-farm have disappeared and it's up to the Petticoat Pirates to solve the mystery. Magic, a pretty setting, adventure and friendship - just what young girls want!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney

Greg Heffley is in big trouble - nothing new perhaps...but this time Greg is innocent - or is he? School property has been damaged and the authorities are closing in. But a blizzard saves Greg - or is it a worse punishment to be confined indoors with his family? Greg is a character who appeals hugely to boys and girls and even reluctant readers are drawn into his exploits and look forward to reading the next book. The format is friendly, with lots of hilarious cartoons to enhance enjoyment. Funny and well-written, it's a great series.

Ghost Detectives: The Missing Dancer by Emily Mason

It's good to see a detective story for girls of 9+  - there's a gentle paranormal element too, but quite appropriate for the age group. As well, there are romance and friendship. Abi, Sarah, Hannah and Grace are visited by the ghost of a girl trying to dance just one last time so that her spirit can rest,. Can they help her, without upsetting others? The girls are always there for each other, and to help others, and there are touches of humour to enliven the story.

Penny Dreadful is a Record Breaker by Joanna Nadin

Who could fail to like the calamity-prone but delightful Penny Dreadful? She means well, but somehow, things don't quite go to plan... and here are three more enjoyable stories. Penny Dreadful versus the Vampire; Penny Dreadful Looks on the Bright Sid, and Penny Dreadful and the World Record. The characters are very well drawn and the language just right to draw in young readers. I like the quirky use of fonts too, which helps to break up the text and make it appealing. The illustrations are just as funny as the stories and capture the expressions of the characters wonderfully well.

The Witching Hour (Magic Trix 1) by Sara Grant

Welcome to a delightful new character in children's books! When Trix's tenth birthday came along, she got a very surprising present - magical powers. Trix seems just an ordinary girl, but then strange things start to happen - was that really a witch she saw flying through the night sky? Now she's taking witching lessons and has an invisible kitten of her very own. Trix's problem is how can she keep it all a secret from her best friend, Holly? It's a fun, lively read, with plenty of vivid description to bring the story to life.

Flying High (Magic Trix 2) by Sara Grant

All witches need to learn to fly, of course and Trix can't wait to learn. It looks easy enough...  As she and her magic kitten, Jinx, grapple with broomsticks and try to help their friend while outwitting mean girl, Stella, Trix finds her whole world turned upside down - literally! A charming story of magic and friendship. Look out for more to follow and find out how Trix becomes a real fairy godmother.

The Naming of Tishkin Silk (Kingdom of Silk) by Glenda Millard

Griffin Silk is an unusual boy and we meet him when he first goes to school and is picked on for being different. He knows he has found another unusual person when he meets and befriends Layla, a princess with a daisy-chain crown. Never before has he shared his secret but he trusts Layla together they find a way to cope with his secret. This is one of a series based in Australia, and it vividly evokes the country. This is a touching story, poetically written and wonderfully descriptive

Sammy Feral's Diaries of Weird: Yeti Rescue by Eleanor Hawken

Brilliant! Another book in this somewhat weird but completely hilarious series. Sammy expects things to be weird, so he takes in his stride the appearance at his zoo of a Mongolian Death Worm. The Death Worm needs help: his best friend, Bert the Yeti Chief, has gone missing. Can Sammy summon the Ministry of Yetis and rescue Bert? He's going to need help from his old friends Donny and Red, not to mention a very reluctant Wish Frog... Engaging writing with amusing illustrations and plenty of dialogue ensure the reader's attention is held.

The Positively Last Performance by Geraldine McCaughrean

It's brilliant to see a new book by this talented author and this moving story lives up to expectations - it had me gripped right from the start, with its evocative and atmospheric setting. Gracie's parents are determined to restore interest in the neglected theatre in Seashaw - but Gracie can see things they cannot. She makes friends with a stange ensemble of people; people nobody else can see. Will Gracie and her new friends be able to save the theatre, or is the curtain set to fall on their very last performance? I love the vivid descriptive writing - anyone who wants to learn how to use language should take note! There is a really important message here too - our seaside towns and their people need their theatres.

The Croods: The Novel

Grug and his family are forced out of their cosy cave by an earthquake and have to set off through the dangerous Croodaceous landscape in search of a new home. On the way they meet Guy, a brave and impulsive risk-taker who seems to like Grug's daughter a little too much for his liking. Can overprotective Grug learn to like Guy and this weird and wonderful world around him? This is a movie tie-in, so will generate lots of interest. It includes a selection of colourful pictures to bring the characters alive.

Darcy Burdock by Laura Dockrill

Meet Darcy Burdock - one of the most captivating characters I have read about recently. Right from the start you realise that here is a real character, as you follow her thoughts that bounce from one topic to another. We meet her family: Mum, who Darcy loves as much as her favourite fried egg and chips, Dad, who is kind and fair if a bit hopeless, and siblings Hector and Poppy. Darcy is a noticer, and the whole book shows her awareness of what goes on around her - all in the most engaging and entertaining way. Darcy is fun, feisty, loyal and endlessly inventive - I hope this is the first of many books.

The Demon's Watch: Tales of Fayt, Book 1 by Conrad Mason

Half-goblin boy Joseph Grubb lives in Fayt, a bustling trading port where elves, trolls, fairies and humans live side by side. Fayt is excellently depicted - you really feel as though you are in the town. Grubb dreams of escaping from his boring work at the Legless Mermaid tavern - and his wish comes true when he encounters a smuggler who plunges him into Fayt's criminal underworld. There he meets the Demon's Watch and learns of their mission to save the port from a mysterious and deadly threat. Can Grubb and his new allies uncover the dark plot in time, or will they end up as fish food in Harry's Shark Pit? This is fantasy at its believable best, with a cast of fascinating characters.

About Zooming Time, Opal Moonbaby! by Maudie Smith

Opal Moonbaby is an alien and she is spending a year on Earth. Martha is so excited but she is a bit disappointed because Opal is off making new friends, doing new things and throwing herself into life on Earth - and nothing is quite so much fun without Opal. Opal's somewhat unusual take on the English language will have the reader giggling throughout the book. But then things start to get more serious - the Mercurials, enemies from their home planet of Carnelia, are on their way to Earth, planning mischief. Martha's worried but Opal is far too busy having fun to worry. But perhaps she should worry... A really unusual book with two excellent heroines.

Three Pickled Herrings (Wings & Co 2) (The Fairy Detective Agency) by Sally Gardner

This is the second in a very promising new series for girls. In five months, the Wings & Co. Fairy Detective Agency haven't had a single case. But then everything happens at once - landowner Sir Walter Cross dies suddenly; Mr Rollo the tailor mysteriously loses everything and Pan Smith's wedding plans are ruined. It seems as though everyone's luck has run out and there's definitely something fishy going on. Can the ill-assorted trio find out what's ahppening before things get worse? Wonderfully imaginative, full of quirky humour and delightfully illustrated.

The Case of the Stolen Sixpence (Maisie Hitchins) by Holly Webb

Holly Webb is the author of many very popular books for girls, so this new series is bound to be well-received. Maisie Hitchins is a detective in Victorian London - definitely an unusual role for a Victorian girl. She longs for adventure and now is her opportunity! Maisie rescues a puppy and decides to investigate the puppy's original cruel owner. Somehow, this turns into an intriguing plot involving stolen sausages, pilfered halfpennies and a fast-paced bicycle chase. Maisie is an appealing character and girls will love her!

SOS Lusitania by Kevin Kiely

To some extent overshadowed by the perhaps better-known tragedy of the Titanic, the sinking of the Lusitania with the loss of more than a thousand lives is a hugely dramatic event. In May 1915 this huge ocean liner sank off the caost of Cork coast in Ireland. But her sinking was no accident - she was torpedoed by a German submarine. It was runoured that there were spies, gold and armaments on board.A compelling mix of fact and fiction, this is the story of the Lusitania seen through the eyes of Finbar, 13 year old son of the captain. Compellingly told, this is a gripping tale which brings to life the terrible events and that which lead up to them.

Young Knights of the Round Table by Julia Golding

Rick believes that humans are the enemy - that's what he's been taught by the Fey Folk who "rescued" him from earth. He has been trained to take his place in an elite force of warriors.Rick is entrusted to return to earth to investigate rumours about the re-forming of the Round Table and he finds he has to quickly adapt to loife as a modern teenager.He finds humans are very different to what he has bee lead to believe - they care for others (and the modern Round Table is a revelation! I love the way this book is written - it really draws the reader into the lives of the characters and you can't wait to find out what happens.

Cephalox the Cyber Squid (Sea Quest) by Adam Blade

This is a great series for young readers - it packs adventure and excitement into books that children just can't wait to read. Deep in the water lurks a new breed of Beast. Evil swims beneath the seas of the planet Nemos... When Cephalox the Cyber Squid kidnaps Max's dad, he gives chase in a stolen submarine. Can Max use his bravery, cunning and skill with gadgets to rescue him? And will he discover who controls the terrifying Robobeasts? There's the added attraction of collector cards and a Sea Quest sticker book too. Plus a super website

Secrets by Jacqueline Wilson

Jacqueline Wilson's books really need no introduction. For many years, she has been writing books that really reach deep into the heart of family life - families of all types, accuratley and engrossingly portrayed as a reflection of our modern society. Two very different girls form an unlikely friendship in Secrets - India lives in a large, luxurious house; Treasure lives on the local council estate with her loving and capable grandmother. When Treasure has to run away to avoid her stepfather, India comes up with a hiding place inspired by her favourite writer, Anne Frank. Girls are invariably intrigued by the story of Anne Frank and this makes a compelling background to the story which is itself told in diary form. The girls are portrayed with the author's usual skill and empathy and this is an excellent read for Jacqueline Wilson's older fans.

Lola Rose by Jacqueline Wilson

Again, this is a book for Jacqueline Wilson's older readers as it is hard-hitting and realistic in it account of escape from an abusive father. Jayni, her mother and her little brother Kenny are forced to escape in the middle of the night. They set off to London and check into a hotel and have to take on false identities to protect their secret - hence Jayni becomes the glamorous-sounding Lola Rose. But the game can't last for ever... An emotional roller-coaster of a book.

Princess Ponies 1: A Magical Friend by Chloe Ryder

This new series combines many elements that appeal to young girls - magic, friendship, adventure, horses - it's bound to be a success! With the glittery covers and cut out jewellery as well, I can see lots of girls clamouring for the whole series. Chevalia is an enchanted island ruled by horses and ponies but its magic depends on eight golden horseshoes. But the horseshoes have been stolen and time is running out as they must be found by Midsummer Day. Can Pippa and Princess Stardust, the youngest pony of the royal family find the horseshoes? A delightful story. This comes with a pretty tiara to make.

Princess Ponies 2: A Dream Come True by Chloe Ryder

It's Sports Day but Pippa and Princess Stardust have much more important things to do. One horseshoe has been found but there are still seven missing. But friendship calls too - who will cheer on Stardust's best friend Blossom in the Chevaliathon? And is it possible to have two best friends? Girls will love the pretty pink bracelet to cut out.

A Hero for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi

My initial impression was that this is a hugely thick book for the 7+ age group given by the publisher. I do hope young readers are not put off by the sheer size of the book because this is an excellent read, with striking illustrations by the author. In the sequel to The Search for Wondla, Eva Nine has finally found what she has always been looking for; other human beings. Having been rescued by Hailey, Eva couldn't be happier, and now Hailey is taking Eva and her friends to the human colony New Attica, where humans of all shapes and sizes live in apparent peace and harmony. But all is not as idyllic as it seems in New Attica, and soon Eva and her friends realize that something very bad is going on ~ and if they don't find a way to stop it, it could mean the end of everything and everyone on Orbona. Visit to find out more.

Belle the Birthday Fairy (Rainbow Magic Early Reader) by Daisy Meadows

Belle the Birthday Fairy uses her magical objects to make sure that all birthdays are filled with joy and laughter! But nasty Jack Frost has stolen these magical items... Can best friends Kirsty and Rachel help Belle find them? This is a special version for developing readers and they will love this very girly collection of three stories with charming illustrations and big print for easy reading.

Kittens in Chaos: Siamese in Sun AND Cat in Candlelight (Animal Ark) by Lucy Daniels

Animals always come first for Mandy Hope, and at Animal Ark - her parents' busy veterinary surgery where all sorts of small animals are cared for - Mandy is always making new friends. SIAMESE IN THE SUN: Mandy and James have gone to Jersey with Mandy's mum and dad to look after a local veterinary surgery. They spot a gorgeous Siamese cat ornament in the window of an antiques shop - but they soon discover that Sud Su Ming is a real cat! Mandy thinks she should be entered in the prestigious island cat show but how can she - and Ming - persuade her reluctant owner? CAT IN THE CANDLELIGHT: Welford is in the grip of a flood when, late one night, Mandy rescues a cat washed to Animal Ark in a barrel. Where can it have come from? Despite the weather, Mandy is determined to find a home for the little cat - and to arrange some seasonal celebrations that the village will never forget! Stories that have lots of appeal to little girls - a perennially popular series.

Dear Scarlett by Fleur Hitchcock

Nosy Crow fiction can always be relied on to stand out from the ordinary and with Fleur Hitchcock, they have found another super new author. I was caught up into Scarlett's world right from the first page. On her 11th birthday she is given a cardboard box left to her by her father and she attempts to learn more about her dead father through the objects in the box. Scarlett and her friend, Ellie, go on a sometimes hilarious, sometimes scary, journey of discovery, to find out just who and what her father really was and Scarlett finds out a lot about herself in the process. It's a gripping story, with strongly presented characters and a wonderful use of language, which has you guessing right until the end.

Monstrous Maud: Horror Holiday by A B Saddlewick

Monstrous Maud is the series for girls who always wanted a Horrid Henry-type heroine. Will Maud's parents find out the truth about Rotwood School? It seems that Maud is lucky this time! She is very excited - she loves camping and she has been invited to go on Wilf's family holiday in the woods. Will she be the first camper ever to solve the Monstrous mystery of the Beast Of Oddington?

Monstrous Maud: Scary Show by A. B. Saddlewick

What can Maud do at the talent show? When she decides to perform some magic her tricks spiral out of control in typical Maud fashion. But things turn out right in the end for our likeable heroine. Another hilarious story that will elicit plenty of giggles - and will have girls wishing their school was like Rotwood!.

 Mega Mash-Up: Cowboys vs Trolls in the Arctic by Tim Wesson

Another super story in this unusual series that gives the young reader the opportunity to put his or her own stamp on the story. What if some cool Cowboys and some hairy Trolls wanted to be rich? What if they went digging for gold in the Arctic? What would happen if the ice started to crack and they all floated out to sea? There's plenty to laugh about in this hilarious story with its eccentric cast of characters and it's a brilliant way to stimulate children's imaginations as they complete the story with their own doodles.

A Horse for Angel by Sarah Lean

What would you do to protect your secrets? Nell has packed her emotions away in a suitcase. But after a frightening encounter with a horse the case is stolen. Staying in the country with family she’s never met before, Nell is drawn to a mysteriously wild, troubled girl. Angel has a strange affinity with horses and dark secrets she’s unwilling to share. Secrets that she’ll do anything to protect. But Nell and Angel will discover that to care for the things they love the most they must trust each other, to save a hundred horses…

Otter Chaos! (Awesome Animals) by Michael Broad

This is a delightfully original series for young animal lovers. It's witty and amusing with plenty of action and lots of entrancing animal characters. The otterly bonkers Brown family are HUGELY excited, as today’s the day they move to their new home. But when they get there they find the beastly Black family have got there first! This riverbank ain’t big enough for the both of them, so there’s only one thing for it: war. Well, not REAL war. Otters are more into playing than fighting, so instead they decide to hold a giant sports day – and may the best otters win! Whether that’s the Browns or the Blacks, only time will tell, but one thing’s for sure, it’s bound to be OTTER CHAOS!

Oz, the Complete Collection: Wonderful Wizard of Oz; Marvelous Land of Oz; Ozma of Oz Volume 1 by L. Frank Baum

This is a lovely chance for fans of The Wizard of Oz to have a really good read! Most readers are familiar with the first story, but having the three together is great.In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and Toto, find themselves far from home in a strange land called Oz where they meet the Munchkins and join the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion on an unforgettable journey to the Emerald City. In The Marvellous Land of Oz, Tip escapes from a witch and sets out to explore the land of Oz making lots of new friends on the way. In Ozma of Oz, perhaps the least known story, Dorothy is sailing to Australia when a huge storm washes her overboard. Eventually she and a yellow hen named Billina wash up on the magic shore of Ev where they meet the mechanical man Tik Tok. But Dorothy and Billina are taken prisoner by the evil Nome King who has captured the royal family of Ev. Only Ozma of Oz can save them, but will she be in time?

The Diamond Thief by Sharon Gosling

Remy Brunel leads a double life – on show as a talented trapeze artist; in private as a jewel thief. Forced into this course of action by brutal circus owner, Gustave, Remy is drawn into Victorian London’s terrifying underworld. Forced to steal one of the world’s most valuable diamonds, she finds herself pitted against a young detective called Thaddeus Rec – who has the sharpest wits and greatest resolution? This is wonderfully descriptive writing – you feel swept back to the murky gas-lit streets as you follow the twists and turns of this atmospheric story. Remy is a feisty character – a Victorian heroine determined to break out of the mould and escape the restrictions imposed by society. The two main characters make an interesting contrast and the elements of steampunk make an interesting, if somewhat unexpected, element. A promising start for new publishers Curious Fox.

Catch That Bat (Zoo Story) by Adam Frost

This is a super series for all animal-loving children and an excellent way to raise awareness of conservation issues. This time, Tom and Sophie Nightingale are needed to help out with a bat in peril and an owl on the prowl as well as an outbreak of night-terrors for the zoo's nocturnal residents. The books are written with the help of the team at London Zoo, so accuracy is guaranteed - a lovely way to learn more about animals whilst enjoying a realistic yet exciting story. I like the way we get to know the  (rather eccentric!) family better with each book. Publication date 20/04/13.

Arthur and the Mystery of the Egg by Johanne Mercier

Meet seven year old Arthur, the delightful hero of this new series. He often visits his grandparents' house and when he is there he has wonderful adventures, which he shares in these stories. Written from the viewpoint of a seven year old, they are perfect to capture a child's attention as they will so readily identify with Arthur.  Which came first, the chicken or the egg? This is the question Arthur hopes will be answered when he finds an egg with no chicken in sight.

Arthur and the Earthworms by Johanne Mercier

Arthur's grandfather has an idea when Arthur finds hundreds of earthworms for his pet duck. There must be plenty of people willing to buy earthworms and so the scheme is hatched! The stories are full of amusing pictures and these, combined with the quirky yet highly credible characters, give guaranteed appeal to young readers. Great to read aloud too and adults will enjoy the humour. They are just that little bit different and stand out from many other books for this age group.

Revenge of the Black Phantom (Captin Valiant & Me) by Adam Britten

Welcome a new superhero family to the world of children's literature. Mark Taylor - average schoolboy or Dynamic Boy? He and his family – Captain Valiant, Ms Victory and Moon Girl – are a superhero team. But poor Mark doesn't look like the stereotype hero in his electric bee-like costume - and his super powers aren't up to much either! This is a hilarious story which will soon garner a lot of fans for the likeable hero. 

Danger on Shadow Mountain, The (Double Detectives Series) by Zack Norris

Good old-fashioned adventure/mystery with twins Cody and Otis Carson and cousin Rae. A trip to the Rockies to snowboard? Cool. Hanging out with champion snowboarders on the mountain? Really awesome! When twins , along with their cousin Rae, join their dad at the Shadow Mountain Lodge, they're expecting a relaxed vacation. But after a series of strange and dangerous 'accidents' aimed at two rival snowboarders, the twins set out to discover what's going on - before someone gets killed.

The Tunnel of Bones (Double Detectives Series) Zack Norris

Paris: city of light, catacombs, pastries and art thieves? When Cody and Otis Chandler, their father and their cousin Rae journey to France, they discover that there's a crime wave going on: hundreds of paintings have been stolen and replaced by forgeries. When the thief snatches their dad's painting, the twins can't resist getting involved. Will they find out the truth before it's too late? The ending involves a chase scene through the Paris catacombs - plenty of dead ends, skulls, danger and rats!

East of the Sun, West of the Moon by Jackie Morris

This is an entrancing story which is many hundreds of years old and which has stood the test of time. Beautifully retold by Jackie Morris, this is the tale of an extraordinary journey. She journeys to the bear's home, where she is well treated but there is an underlying mystery and sadness. As the story unfolds, the girl travels to the homes of the four Winds and beyond, to the castle east of the sun, west of the moon. A lovely gift edition, beautifully illustrated by the author, this is a book to treasure.

Dance Dreams (A Sugar and Spice Novel) by Malaika Rose Stanley

Ballet stories - ever popular and ever-evolving to meet the needs of young ballet fans. Keisha is on her way to the famous Birchwood School for Dance; on her way to becoming a famous ballerina. The bok starts with the excitement - and stress - of the audition. But until Keisha knows the outcome, she must keep it all secret from her firneds - but can she do this? The tension rises as Keisha awaits the fateful decision - an engaging book.

Tiger Tells All by Ann Cameron

Tiger loves his human family - even though they make no attempt to learn to speak dog, even though he has learnt their language. And they have trouble understanding some of his customs too. He loves Huey especially - but even Huey doesn't understand what Tiger is saying. A lovely story for young readers, all told through the eyes of Tiger.

Alice-Miranda Takes the Lead by Jacqueline Harvey

This is the first Alice-Miranda book I have read and it immediately transported me back to books like Malory Towers - except, of course, that Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale is a very different sort of school!This term,  the girls are preparing a play with the neighbouring boys' school (and boys didn't feature highly in Enid Blyton!) - but there is plenty of other excitement too there are rumours of a witch in the woods, and Jacinta and Millie are clashing with a rude new student, Sloane, and her pushy mother, September, who's plotting to steal the fortune she's always dreamed of. A super series with wonderful characters.

Alice-Miranda at Sea by Jacqueline Harvey

Alice-Miranda leads a very luxurious life - this time, she is off on a luxury cruise aboard the royal yacht Octavia. It's the wedding of Aunt Charlotte and the famous actor Lawrence Ridley andher family and lots of her friends will be there. But of course, with Alice-Miranda on the scene, all is not what it seems. There are rumours of a jewel thief on board  - and why does the ship's doctor look familiar? And who is the shy blond boy hiding in one of the suites? Can Alice-Miranda solve the mysteries in time for the celebrations?

Queenie by Jacqueline Wilson

Jacqueline Wilson never disappoints and her latest book is a fascinating portrayal of life in 1953 - the year of the Coronation. Elsie Kettle can't wait to go to London to join in with the celebrations - but before she can, both she and her Nan, with whom she lives, are struck with TB - a terrifying disease in those days and one which meant months in hospital. And not just hospital, but a rigid and unbending routine which Elsie finds almost impossible. But she's a feisty character and she finds herself surrounded by friends - - including Queenie, the hospital's beautiful white cat. And there's a very unexpected surprise before she leaves hospital... A moving, often sad, and very emotional story with a lovable heroine.

Fairy Lies by E D Baker

In the sequel to Fairy Wings, Tamisin is torn - just where does she belong? Ordinary girl, with a boyfriend in the real world and fairy princess who longs to be reunited with her mother Titania. Then matters are taken out of her hands when she is kidnapped by Oberon, King of the Fairies who thinks he is her father.  When Tamisin's boyfriend, Jak, finds out, he sets off to rescue her. In this funny and heart-warming chase through the land of fairies, goblins, sphinxes, unicorns and many more, Tamisin and Jak must look for each other, and find their way back to the human world.

Rainbow Beauty: Peppermint Kiss by Kelly McCain

A super new series to appeal to tweens. Things are not good for Abbie since her parents separated but this determined girl finds a way to help her family , by turning her love for beauty potions into something meaningful. With the support of her family and friends, she sets out to open her very own beauty parlour. A lovely story of supportive family and friends, despite the family problems, which shows the rewards of working together - and, of course, a romantic element too - all perfect material to capture the target audience. I look forward to the next in the series.

Princess Mirror-Belle by Julia Donaldson

Six short stories in one book - just right for beginner readers who can have the satisfaction of reading a whole story in one sitting - and perfcet lengt for a bedtime story too. Just who does Ellen see when she looks into the bathroom mirror? It's a very naughty little girl called Mirror_Belle who leads Ellen into all sorts of mischief. It's great fun and full of imagination - as we would expect from Julia Donaldson, of course.

Dragon Fire (Sam Silver Undercover Pirate) by Jan Burchett and Sara Vogler

Sam Silver has a pirate ancestor and when 21st century life begins to pall, he rubs his magic coin and is transported back to the swashbuckling days of piracy. The Sea Wolf runs aground on a remote desert island, and Sam, along with his friend Charlie set off to find legendary dragon who breathes smoke and fire from the mountain. But are the other pirates right to be frightened? Full of action, these are exciting stories for young readers.

The Thunder Omen (The Roman Mystery Scrolls) by Caroline Lawrence

Saturnalia - a time of misrule and chaos, when anything can happen. This is the third story about Threptus, a former beggar, and Floridius, soothsayer and seller of sacred chickens - friends who solve mysteries. The thunder omens are worrying - it's up toThreptus help his Floridius matchmake and avoid the disaster looming. The Roman Mysteries is a hugely popular series and it's good to see this series for slightly younger readers. It's fun and well-written and has a real appeal. The authentic Roman background makes this an excellent series for classroom use to support and enhance the study of Ancient Rome.

Survival Guide: The Ultimate Guide to the Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan

Background information about a series is a surefire way to enhance enjoyment, so fans of the gripping Kane Chronicles will welcome this fascinating insight. Meet Carter and Sadie Kane - two very different siblings who only meet up twice a year - but when they do, they have some amazing experiences, told in the Kane Chronicles. The Survival Guide is packed with fascinating background reading - learn about the Kane family, then back to the world of Egyptian gods, hieroglyphs and magic. A glossy hardback, packed with mystery and intrigue, this is the perfect gift for fans of the series. 

Bubble Volcano (Secret Kingdom) by Rosie Banks

When mean Queen Malice puts a spell on King Merry, Ellie, Summer and Jasmine must find six magical ingredients to make a cure. They're soon off to Bubble Volcano to find the first ingredient. Can they find the hidden bubblebee hive and get the magic honeycomb they need to save King Merry?

Angel Creek by Sally Rippin

A book which covers a range of emotions - fear, bracery, selfishness... There are only two things Jelly likes about her new falling-down house: the old apricot tree and the creek over the back fence. One night, Jelly and her cousins spot something in the creek's dark waters. At first they think it's a bird, but it isn't...It's a baby angel with a broken wing. And they decide to keep it. But soon things start to go wrong, and Jelly discovers that you can't just take something from where it belongs and expect that it won't be missed.

Diary of Dorkius Maximus by Tim Collins

Meet Dorkius Maximus - a young boy living in ancient Rome. This hilarious diary recounts his exploits as he endeavours to become a great hero, with plenty of misadventures along the way. But poor (but very likeable) Dorkius doesn't seem to be cut out to be a hero. Things conspire against him - his dad doesn't listen to him, his friends pick on him, and his mum is more interested in her sacred chickens. This is a great read, with the amusing illustrations helping to keep the interest alive. A fascinating insight into growing up in Ancient Rome, too - it would make a good class read alongside studying Ancient Rome.

Eeek! by Karen Inglis

How amazing! Eleven-year-old Charlie Spruit opens his door - and there's an alien. An alien who has run away from space because he's a soccer fan and the World Cup is on. Charlie decides to call him 'Eeek,' and Eek takes up secret residence in Charlie's bedroom. He sleeps by night and learns about football by day. But their harmonious co-existence is threatened by space-mad Sid from next door. An unusual friendship leads to some very amusing situations. A truly imaginative story that will make an excellent class reader as it will appeal equally to boys and girls.

The Secret Lake by Karen Inglis

Just where does Harry, the dog next door, go? And why does he come back wet? Siblings Stella and Tom set out to solve the mystery.  They find a secret lake, and a terrified boy - and then hear children's voices. And whose are those children's voices carried on the wind from beyond the woods? The children have travelled 100 years back in time, to their house and garden as it was. Friendship and emnities are formed in this exciting story, perfect for girls and boys. Mystery, adventure and time travel combine in a story which captures the reader's imagination. The story incorporates unexpected twists and turns which engage the reader and sustain interest in the book.

Bone Quill b y John and Carole E Barrowman

Fast paced - exciting - full of twists and turns - excellent characterisation - compelling storyline - what more can you ask? Just imagine (and imagination is rife in this gripping tale) being able to enter paintings at will. Well, that's what the 12 year old Calder twins can do. But the gift brings with it a huge responsibility - they must prevent a breach in Hollow Earth: a supernatural place that holds all the demons, devils and creatures ever imagined. Imagine the wickedness held there. And as if that's not enough, their father's life is endangered and the twins face an impossible decision.

The Odds Strike Back by Adam Perrott

Love practical jokes? Then you'll love the Odd family. The Odds spend their time causing havoc in their home town of Trott - and the results are  hilarious. It's inspection time for the Odds - the Head Prankster is checking they're still up to their meddling best. But the new man who'll be doing it is none other than Mr Nobody, sworn enemy of Mr Odd! So the Odds must pull out all the stops to make sure their pranks are the best ever. Hilarious!

A Star is Born (Stardust Stables) by Sable Hamilton

Horse stories are enduringly popular and this series is a great example of the genre. Stardust Stables - a place for only the very best riders; riders who are stunt riders for top movie stars.  Kami's the latest recruit but she finds the life isn't as glamorous as she expected. When a role comes up, will she have the necessary experience to compete with the experienced Becca? An enjoyable story with an interesting and exciting setting.

The Smug Pug (Pooch Parlour) by Anna Wilson

I love this series - but then I love dogs!  Smug the pug is a newcomer to Crumbly-under-Edge. He and his owner Tallulah are an interesting pair!  Smug has invented a special cleaner-ironer-washer-upper - but will it work? PIppa Peppercorn thinks the newresidents are great but Dash the dachshund isn't so sure. Full of laughs, fun and friendship - and lots of lovely dogs.

Solek Scourge of the Sea (Beast Quest) by Adam Blade

Fans of this exciting series will be thrilled to see that 6 new titles - 67 to 72 - have been released. It's an eminently collectable series, especially because of the trading cards included in every book - a great incentive! Join the hero Tom on a high-action adventure with terrible Beasts and deadly danger! In Solak, Scourge of the Sea, Tom is about to embark on his biggest Quest yet! The lands of Avantia, Kayonia and Gorgonia are under attack from six Evil Beasts. Tom's first deadly challenge is to defeat Solak, Scourge of the Sea. This series is a super way to get books hooked on reading - they will find the stories fast-moving, full of excitement and a satisfying read.

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