Book reviews - fiction 5 to 11 (page 7)

Darcy Burdock: Sorry About Me by Laura Dockrill

10 year old Darcy Burdock has her own unique outlook on life and these books, with their engaging and light-hearted style, draw the reader into Darcy's lively and imaginative world. What may be everyday events for most people turn into mega-events when our heroine gets involved - when mice invade her house, the family must get a cat - not as easy as you'd think! And when Pork arrives, he terrifies Lamb-Beth... and then Will's long-lost dad turns up and takes him out of school and Darcy loses her friend. The quirky mix of writing styles means reading is never boring.

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home: Rocky's Story by Sarah Hopkins

Ellie's fed up - Dad is always travelling and Ellie doesn't get to go with him. There's one thing that could stop Ellie and big sister, Rachel, from feeling lonely - a dog. Rocky the Rottweiler is quite a handful but he earns his place in the family when Ellie gets lost. This is a lovely series for young animal lovers, which also carries important messages about caring for cats and dogs, and with some of the proceeds from the book going to support Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.

Barry Loser and the Holiday of Doom by Jim Smith

Just imagine! Barry and his friends are off on a camping holiday! Barry can’t wait to tell his friends that they’ve been invited on his family caravan holiday to Plonkton. But the weekend by the sea doesn’t turn out to be the keelfest Barry was hoping for. It’s all his best mate Bunky’s fault for going and falling in love. Amid the humour, there is plenty for boys to identify with. The writing is just perfect for boys of 7+, who will also thoroughly enjoy the zany illustrations.

Temple Run Book One Run for Your Life: Jungle Trek

This reader-directed story is a wilderness survival story based on the popular Temple Run mobile game. Your amazing 10th birthday party takes a dramatic turn when your plane crash-lands in the mountains. How will you manipulate the story so you escape being held to ransom? It's up to you to make the right choices. In Temple Run, the player controls an explorer who, having stolen a treasure from a temple, is chased by "demonic monkeys" who want to eat him/her. As the game is an endless running game, there is no end to the temple; therefore, the player plays until the character falls off the temple to his/her demise or is eaten by the crazed monkeys.

Ghost Soldier by Theresa Breslin

As was the case for so many children, the war has changed everything for Rob and Millie; again, like many others, their father is 'missing in action' so they are left wondering about his fate. Then one night, deep in the woods, Rob and Millie see an eerie figure in the window of an abandoned house. Ghosts don't exist...do they? This touching story explores the impact on the children left behind and its strong base in reality makes it meaningful and emotive. Superbly written, you feel all the children's emotions and share in the tension as the story builds to a close.

Dixie O'Day and the Great Diamond Robbery by Shirley Hughes

Shirley Hughes is well-known for her picture books, including the much-loved Alfie books. Here, she brings her talent to bear on stories for older readers, illustrated by her daughter Clara Vulliamy. Dixie O'Day and his best friend Percy are off on holiday and Peaches Miaow, the famous pop star, is a guest at the same hotel. But her pricelss diamond necklace stolen - can Dixie and Percy save the day? This first chapter book is prefect for young readers moving on from picture books and the extra material, including a map, adds to the interest for young readers. It's a lively and enjoyable read and the illustrations are great fun.

Princess Evie: the Unicorn Riding Camp (Princess Evie Young Fiction 2) by Sarah KilBride

Princess Evie is already the star of a highly popular series of picture books and this new series is a great chance for young fans of the books to follow Evie's adventures in first chapter books. In this story, Evie and Skye are at the unicorn riding camp, making new friends and improving their unicorn riding skills. In Princess Evie: the Forest Fairy Pony (Princess Evie Young Fiction 1) Evie and Willow meet a group of forest fairies. Each book in the series comes with a fabulous free poster and extra content including activities, pony facts and more, so there's lots to interest readers and engage them with the stories. The magical element of unicorns, plus friendship and gentle adventures is perfect to appeal to girls.

Freaky Families by Diana Wynne Jones

Two magical stories in one. The children have four grannies, all very different - but who will look after them when their parents go away? are left alone for a couple of days, while their parents go away on a busines trip. But when they all turn up, the results are hilarious. In Auntie Bea's Day Out, one very determined lady gets into trouble when she refuses to take any notice of the fact the island is fenced of and finds the island whisks her and the children around to different places trying to get rid of them… Inventive and imaginative, these are highly amusing and a little bit other-worldly.

Magic Betsey (Betsey Biggalow 4) by Malorie Blackman

Four short stories in one book, which are perfect for young readers to read alone or alternatively, are just the right length ofr bedtime stories. Betsey Biggalow is a fun character for whom things never go quite right, but she always makes the best of things, giving the stories a positive and encouraging slant. She learns the importance of believing in yourself, that practice makes perfect, and that some magic is real... Also available is Betsey's Birthday Surprise (Betsey Biggalow 3) which includes another four entertaining stories.

The Saddle Club: Horse Crazy & Horse Shy by Bonnie Bryant

A bind-up of two traditional pony stories from a popular author - good to see fresh new covers giving the books a contemporary feel. Horse Crazy introduces best friends Carole Hanson and Stevie Lake to new friend Lisa Atwood. Soon the friends are planning for the long-awaited Mountain Trail Overnight campout for the students of Pine Hollow. Horse Shy follows quickly on, with plenty of excitement and then tragedy, The series is continued in The Saddle Club: Horse Sense & Horse Power which finds the saddle club in with new friendships blossoming. These are stories with all the best elements of pony tales.

Blaze and the Dark Rider (Pony Club Secrets, Book 2) by Stacy Gregg

Mystery cobines with a pony story in the second in the Pony Club Secrets series. Issie's representing Chevalier Point Pony Club at the biggest competition of the year. - the Interclub Gold Shield. She's confident of success until things start to go wrong... When a friend is injured, Issie must call on the help of her pony guardian Mystic to stop the troublemaker before it’s too late… An excellent read for all lovers of the genre with lots of excitement plus informed writing about riding and horses alomg with a touch of fantasy, all cleverly intertwined.

Daisy and the Trouble with Sports Day (Daisy Fiction) by Kes Gray

Daisy is such fun and these chunky books with short chapters, large print and plenty of pictures are ideal for children reading alone and wanting a light-hearted and enjoyable read. Daisy is always in trouble and Sports Day is no exception! She and best friend Gabby have been training hard. There could be something wrong with their diet though - Mars bars, Twiglets and cheese strings don't seem quite right! Things don't go quite according to plan and the mishaps are full of fun and humour. With its plethora of amusing illsutrations, this is such fun for young readers - and hilarious to read aloud..

Paddington Helps Out by Michael Bond

"Paddington" and "help" are perhaps not words that go together, nut as always the good natured and lovable bear means well. Just think of the mayhem that could - and does - ensue with Paddington on a boat... in the kitchen... trying some DIY...  The settings are familiar to children, enhancing their pleasure, but Paddington's mishaps could only happen to this well-meaning but disaster-prone bear. Endearing and enduring, Paddington's popularity never wanes and parents and grandparents love to share their childhood favourite with another generation. In
Paddington Races Ahead by Michael Bond Fantastic! A brand new Paddington story - and Michael Bond has lost none of his storytelling skills, although I found it somewhat strange to find Paddington living in today's technology filled world. Trouble seems to follow Paddington wherever he goes and these new stories are no exception! It's no surprise when he gets into a spot of bother with some shaving cream, causes a London bus to be evacuated, and is mistaken for a famous Peruvian hurdler by a film crew. It could only happen to Paddington - and children's literature would be a sadder place without him. Back to the old stories, we have more mayhem in Paddington Marches On.

Sparky at Magic School by Ruby Nash

This is a super book for young readers, who will love cuddly adorable Sparky.He lives in an animal rescue centre, and dreams of having an owner. But things don't go to plan when he is accidentally whisked away on a broomstick and taken to Mrs Mothwick's Magic Academy! The rest of the class are training to become the familiar of a young witch but Sparky just isn;t magical. Can Sparky persuade Mrs Mothwick to let him stay? And will he find an owner? With the help of Sox the kitten, Carl the trainee witch, and his own nose, he just might... A delightful story, really well written for the age group, full of fun illustrations.

Central Park Showdown by Sheila Agnew

I enjoyed Marooned in Manhattan so was delighted to be able to follow Evie's adventures in this latest book. Evie was settled into her new life but the arrival of her father from Australia throws everything up in the air. Not just new people to get used to, but the very real threat of being taken away from her uncle and the new life she has embraced. But, as we know, Evie is not one to accept things without a fight, even when Scott is falsely accused of beating her. Can Evie’s friends rally and convince her father to withdraw his application for custody? Evie is a super character - she's strong and feisty and the reader is really drawn into the gamut of her emotions and wants things to work out for her. Perfect for pre-teens.

Supercat vs The Party Pooper by Jeanne Willis

Tiger was an ordinary pet, until the day he licked a toxic sock and was transformed into…SUPERCAT! Along with his owner, James, they are crimefighters and they must come to the rescue now that Count Backwards has kidnapped the Queen from her own birthday party and plans to take over the world!A hilarious story, liberally perrered with equally hilarious drawings, that will hace children laughing aloud at the incredible exploits of this intrepid duo.

Izzy's River (Holly Webb's Friends Series) by Holly Webb

These are charming stories about a group of friends - friends with a mission to improve the environment. When Izzy and Poppy are walking along the river with Billy the dog, they realise how full of rubbish the river is - especially when Billy falls in and gets caught up in an old bicycle. Both animals land in the river, which is so choked with rubbish that Billy can't get out. That gives Izzy a great idea for their next project, though, and it's a very very muddy one... A fun, light-hearted read but with an underyling message, true to life and strong on friendship, girls will love it.

The Spy Who Loved School Dinners by Pamela Butchart

Another laugh a minute treat from the author of Baby Aliens Got My Teacher. Izzy's thrilled to be asked to look after the new girl, Matilde. There's so much to show her - and things to avoid too! But there's something wrong Matilde likes school dinners so they just KNOW she must be a spy. Can they stop her? Izzy tells us the story in her own inimitable way and it's great fun - and so are the illustrations.

Angels in Training (Angels Next Door Book 2) by Karen McCombie

Imagine - living next door to angels! Riley's life has changed a lot since she discovered her neighbours are magical. So, they must be the right people to help her find the answers she wants... or are they? But then strange things start to happen at school - are the Sngelo sisters to blame? Riley's a super character, really well portrayed, and the themes of school and friendship are enduringly popular, especially when as well written as this.

What's for Dinner, Mr Gum? by Andy Stanton

Refreshing and original, there's nobody quite like Mr Gum! Andy Stanton's wicked sense of humour is just right for children who will revel in the wacky events and wonderful words. Mr Gum's found himself a brand new treat - rancid kebabs just dripping with dirty grey sauce. And he just can't get enough of them. He's gotta have more! More! Less! I mean, More! But not everyone's too happy about Mr Gum's new dinnertime arrangements and soon the town of Lamonic Bibber is gearing up for war. Can Polly and her friends save the town from being torn apart? Will Mr Gum's hunger ever be satisfied?
   

Spymaster (Flashbacks) by Deborah Chancellor

In a court known for its intrigue, spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham protects his queen in drastic ways - plots, entrapment and torture are part of his weaponry. When Kit is forced into Walsingham's service, he is horrified at what he sees. Can he work in this sort of world and live with his conscience? And if Walsingham ceases to protect him - what then? A short and relatively easy read, this gives an excellent insight into the court and is a good way to support study of the Tudors in KS2, bringing a fresh look to the topic.

Cakes in Space by Philip Reeve

Imaginative, funny, crazy - these are the words that came immediately to mind when enjoying this culinary adventure in space. Astra goes off expolring with her robot friend, Pilbeam and discovers their spaceship is in deep trouble... from deadly cakes! But even the Poglites need Astra's help when they discover something far more sinister lurking in the canteen. Sure, they're cakes; but no one would describe them as sweet. This will appeal to even the most reluctant reader with its two colour illustrations woven through the story and drawing the reader in.

Class Six and the Nits of Doom by Sally Prue

Class 6 are dreading the start of the new school year - rumour has it their teacher is a witch... The dancing skeletons and pterodactyls they can see in her eyes are scary... and then there's Algernon the snake who helps the class with their 19 times table... Things just get weirder and weirder in this hilarious tale which takes a whole new look at teachers.

Leif Frond and Quickfingers by Joan Lennon

Leif is a small Viking wjo dreams of being a big hero. Only Leif is suspicious of the wandering peddlar who has suddenly appeared - and when he is proved right, maybe this is his chance to prove himself. Leif Frond and the Viking Games finds our lovable hero facing more challenges - Can he finally become a champion at the Midsummer Games? All he has to do is overcome just one or two far from minor problems... Great fun, these are easy reads which will appeal to boys and girls.

Frog the Barbarian (The Legend of Frog) by Guy Bass

Now that Frog has saved Princess Rainbow, and probably the whole world, he decides that he doesn't want to be a prince anymore. But he is still the most excellent, skilled-up outer space someone in Kingdomland and probably the entire universe, and it would be a shame to waste his talents. And when an arrogant bragon arrives to threaten the king and queen, there is only one frog for the job! The second hilarious tale about a frog on a serious mission, in a world where nobody is sure what the bumbles is going on! The illustrations and presentation are just right and make the book stand out.

The Savage Kingdom by Simon David Eden

Some are born to change the world. When Drue's cat Will-C goes missing, she's unaware that his disappearance is the start of the greatest global conflict the world has ever known: the animal kingdom has declared war on mankind. Cast into a world full of danger, but determined to rescue Will-C and bring him home, Drue starts out on a quest and makes an astonishing discovery: an ancient tribe of shape-shifters, who have lived in the shadows since the dawn of time, are about to play a key role in shaping the future - but can they save mankind? And what role is Drue herself about to play? An unforgettable tale about courage, hope, loyalty...and the unbreakable bond between a girl and her cat.

Viva Alice! (Alice and Megan) by Judi Curtin

Grace invites best friends Alice and Megan to spend Easter in her house in Lanzarote. When the girls are accidentally left alone for two days in the house, it’s fun at first... until they become trapped on an upstairs balcony and spend a long cold night and day waiting to be rescued! Meanwhile, back at home, Melissa is still unhappy at boarding school. Alice wants to help her to get back to their school, but Megan sees this as a betrayal. Tension mounts between the two girls, until Megan gives in and agrees to help. In the end, Melissa comes back, and Megan realises that she is confident enough to stand up to her. This is a charming girly series about best friends and it's perfect for readers of 9+. Whatever the problem, the friends can cope - and with a dollop of humour for good measure. A deservedly popular series.

The Children of Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren

The children who live on the three farms are very noisy - so noisy that everyone calls them Noisy Village. Join the adventures of seven year old Lisa and her friends as they enjoy all the freedom to play that any child could desire. A walk home from school turns into a pirate party looking for treasure; a trip to the local shoemaker becomes a mission to save one lonely dog from his grumpy owner; and a fishing trip ends with a night under the stars. A lovely evocation of beautiful countryside and a world where children were free to explore and enjoy adventures.

The Ellie McDoodle Diaries: Best Friends Fur-Ever by Ruth McNally Barshaw

What animal should Ellie choose for her school assignment? When a neighbour goes on holiday and asks Ellie to pet-sit for her parrot, Alix, Ellie has her answer! Unfortunately, Alix flies the coop - literally. But when Ellie can't lure him back on her own, it will take clever teamwork from a librarian, a zookeeper, some good friends and Ellie's own pet-obsessed family to save the day. The lively format of these books, with their plethora of cartoon-style drawings gives them instant appeal, even for less-keen readers; once they have picked up one of these books, they will soon be hooked on the engaging narrative style.

The Ellie McDoodle Diaries: Most Valuable Player by Ruth McNally Barshaw

Ellie's not exactly the athletic type so she's not keen when her best friend, Mo, suggests they try out for football together. Actually,, Ellie would much rather be doing brain-bending puzzles with her school's Journey of the Mind club. But when both teams have a tournament on the same day, the race is on to see whether Ellie can be in two places at once and help her teammates bring home a win - on and off the field. Fun, light-hearted stories with delightful characters, bound to attract a large following.

Close to the Wind by Jon Walter

This powerful novel comes close to fitting my 11+ category but I have kept it here as the lead character's age is 10. Malik's mother has been missing for days, his home has become unrecognisable, and his grandfather is insisting that they leave for a new life on the only ship left. But everyone has the same idea so how can they ensure their place? Seen through Malik's eyes, we are drawn into the dilemma that faces them as they choose between right and wrong. We see how Malik's innocence is challenged by the dramatic developments of this emotional story which had me feeling very emotional by the end.

The Hero's Guide to Being an Outlaw (Heros Guide 3) by Christopher Healy

The third book in this fast-paced and hilarious fantasy quest in the grand tradition of Shrek and The Princess Bride, starring four very unlikely, but likeable, heroes who have the worst luck in the world. After saving the kingdom YET AGAIN and going their separate ways, the princes are back in trouble… and this time it’s serious! Somehow, everyone thinks they have MURDERED a princess! And with bounty hunters after them, and a dastardly scheme sure to be behind it all, the princes have to overcome their differences, reunite, and clear their names. Oh, and save the kingdom again…

The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham

Luck Uglies was a name whispered around the docks and darkest taverns, places the law dare not tread… Rye has grown up hearing the legend of the Luck Uglies – notorious deadly outlaws who once stalked the streets. Now they have faded to ghosts and rumours and Rye isn’t sure they ever existed. Then on the night of the Black Moon, a mysterious stranger known only as Harmless, steps from the shadows to save Rye’s life and Rye learns that sometimes it takes a villain to save you from the monsters…
Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan When Apple's mother returns after eleven years of absence, Apple feels whole again. She will have an answer to her burning question - why did you go? And she will have someone who understands what it means to be a teenager - unlike Nana. But just like the stormy Christmas Eve when she left, her mother's homecoming is bitter sweet, and Apple wonders who is really looking after whom. It's only when Apple meets someone more lost than she is, that she begins to see things as they really are.

Boy In The Tower by Polly Ho-Yen

Ade loves living at the top of a tower block with amazing views. His mum doesn't really like looking outside; and he daren't go outside, away from the safety in the tower. But is the tower really safe? And then, the other tower blocks on the estate start falling down around them and in their place, strange, menacing plants appear - the Bluchers take over and everyone must evacuate. But Ade is left trapped... This is a dramatic and touching story; Ade is a superb character and his care for others shines through. The tension is kept going right to the end. A remarkable story.

Daisy and the Trouble with Sports Day by Kes Gray

Daisy is, quite simply, delightful. She is always in trouble but you have to like her! Daisy's determined to win her race at Sports Day and she and best friend Gabby have been training hard. There could be something wrong with their diet though - Mars bars, Twiglets and cheese strings don't seem quite right! Things don't go quite according to plan and the mishaps are full of fun and humour. With its plethora of amusing illsutrations, this is such fun for young readers - and hilarious to read aloud.

Extra Time by Morris Gleitzman

Just in time for the World Cup - or to keep the excitement going afterwards - comes this hilarious new story from a master storyteller. It definitely puts a new spin on football, with a marauding fluffy mascot, a wise-as-an-owl landlady and a WAG called Terrine. Teenage football genius Matt takes on the task of bringing back the fun of the game to top footballers; his sister (and manager) Bridie tells the story. It's a moving story with highly believable characters and a heart-warming account of family - especially sibling - support and closeness. Beneath the humour is a strong and thoughtful undercurrent about the real meaning of sport. A perfect way to get sports fans enthusiastic about reading.

Rendezvous in Russia (Laura Marlin Mysteries 4) by Lauren St John

The first in this series - Dead Man's Cove - was a well-deserved Blue Peter Award winner and I think the series has kept up the excitement and tension. When Laura, her best friend Tariq and her faithful husky Skye join the film crew on the set of The Aristocratic Thief, they find themselves in the midst of an adventure that could only happen in fiction - or could it be real? A well plotted story with plenty of adventure, characters that you really like and a mystery to solve - all combine to make an excellent read.

Fern and the Fiery Dragon (Railway Rabbits) by Georgie Adams

a long hot summer in the Ripple River Valley the Longears family are hungry as the grass has dried up. They set off to a cabbage field but get waylaid by a fire at Fairweather's Farm Park. When Fern gets lost she is found by the dog Toby - but is he to be trusted? And will the frightening Red Dragon make things worse ... or save the day? This gentle nostalgic-feeling story brings to mind Alison Uttley and her animal stories; descriptive and full of animal friendship, this is quite charming. The delightful black and white drawings add to the old-fashioned feel and it's lovely to be taken to a more peaceful world. Do look out for the others in the series - they are lovely to collect.

Warrior Heroes: the Knight's Enemies by Benjamin Hulme-Cross

This exciting action-packed new series is perfect to get boys (I think the series will have greater appeal to boys but adventure-loving girls will also enjoy the books) interested in history. A group of terrifying ghosts have trapped brothers Arthur and Finn in their great grandfather's museum. They are forced to travel back in time in an attempt to change the course of history. In this story, they must stop the castle of Sir William Malory falling and prevent the death of his daughter Eleanor. Will they succeed? This fast-paced novel with its vivid historical background is a great way to teach history!

Warrior Heroes: The Viking's Revenge by Benjamin Hulme-Cross

Arthur and Finn must travel back in time to retrieve the stolen sword, Blood Hunter and rewrite the past. Fascinating historical facts combine with action packed fiction to create a dramatic and gripping adventure.  It's a fascinating new perspective on well-known eras in history, written to engage reluctant readers. The stories are relatively short but cram in lots of action and keep the reader gripped. The black and white illustrations add to the feel of the books.

Tiger Wars (The Falcon Chronicles) by Steve Backshall

Saker is a member of the Clan; each is an expert in jungle law, survival and the ways of animals. Saker is employed by a Chinese overlord who specialises in poaching for tiger farms and tiger organs for high-priced medicines. But something happens to make Saker change sides and now he's on the run from his predatory brothers. They're hunting him down and they're professionals. He meets 15-year-old Sinter, a spoiled rich girl, who is running away from an arranged marriage, and their uneasy friendship will eventually form an unshakeable bond. The Falcon Chronicles introduces Saker and Sinter on a quest to right some of the horrific wrongs perpetrated against wildlife around the planet. As they rescue tigers or mountain gorillas, thwart shark finners and cyanide fishers, rainforest exploiters and canned hunters, they come face to face with the world's most fascinating, majestic and lethal creatures.

Wendy Quill is Full Up of Wrong by Wendy Meddour

Great to see another episode in the hilarious stories of accident-prone Wendy Quill. "It is very tricky to get things right ALL of the time. Sometimes, I get things a little bit wrong. But it's not actually always my entire fault. Like when my too-fast-bike whizzed round a corner and I slightly-squished a lady, or when the ghost in my sister's room accidentally pushed her open diary into my hands..." The book is packed with comic doodles and illustrations which are perfect to draw in reluctant readers and they will soon get hooked on the story. There are three short stories in the book which make it accessible to new readers and they are brilliant to read aloud. Don't miss out on this sparky girl's mishaps and mayhem.

The Tornado Chasers by Ross Montgomery

This is an intriguing and original story, comical and quirky and ultimately heartwarming. Owen and his family have moved to Barrow in search of safety. But when safety becomes paramount, life becomes far too dull - intolerably dull. Children have to wear bright yellow at all times and are never allowed outside except to go to school. So Owen and his friends form a secret group - the Tornado Chasers. Their mission: to get as close to a Grade 5 tornado as possible. It's time for them to face their fears! A highly imaginative book with a positive young hero.

Borgon the Axeboy and the Dangerous Breakfast by Kjartan Poskitt

Welcome to a hilarious new character for young readers. Borgon the Axeboy is the last barbarian in the Lost Desert and he wants to find the most dangerous breakfast imaginable. He sets out to find the scariest dragon on the plains, but his annoying neighbour insists on tagging along. Grizzy is a little savage and far too nosey for her own good! But could they turn into breakfast for the breakfast? Philip Reeve's hilarious illustrations set the story off perfectly.

Spacejackers by Huw Powell

Jake Cutler was abandoned as a baby on the planet Remota, deep in the seventh solar system. His life was sheltered until his home is invaded by ruthless space pirates with just one target: him. Soon Jake is on the run with a bounty hunter and the suspicious-looking crew of a spaceship called the Dark Horse. Forced to contend with zero-gravity, shipwrecks and black holes, Jake must discover the truth about his past before he is hunted down and caught. And as for the crew of the Dark Horse, could there be more to his new-found friends than meets the eye? This action-packed book is the first in a trilogy.

Dragon Shield by Charlie Fletcher

Something dark has woken in the British Museum, and it has stopped time, literally freezing the city in its tracks and turning things upside down - the people are frozen like statues; the statues have come to life. In Great Ormond Street Hospital, Will and Jo are suddenly plunged into this world of statues - and find themselves pursued by murderous dragons. With help from a couple of friendly statues, Will and Jo must escape the evil that stalks them in the streets of London. It's a fascinating premise for a series - realistically written and full of excitement.

Hero 41: Book 1: Eye of the Gargoyle by Sam Penant

Dax Daley is on his way to prison - but it's no ordinary prison. But prison is actually a school - for superheroes! 40 superheroes, to be exact. But Dax - Number 41 - is no superhero. He can't turn himself invisible. Or see in the dark. Or read minds. And he definitely will not fight the strange things looming around the corners of Scragmoor Prime. Because Dax Daley doesn't have any superpowers... yet!

Mysterium: 3: The Wheel of Life and Death by Julian Sedgwick

Mysterium - a highly unusual circus. After the adventures in Barcelona, the company has regrouped and headed back to Berlin. Berlin is the city where Danny's parents perished in a mysterious fire and he is determined to find out what happened - but it's a race against time. These exciting adventures with their fast-paced action are perfect for 9-12 year olds.

TV Star (Dork Diaries 7) by Rachel Renee Russell

Nikki - Queen of the Dorks - and her friends are about to have their five minutes of fame! A reality TV crew is going to follow them for the whole month as they record their hit song together. But will the excitement also cause unexpected problems, now that cameras are everywhere Nikki and her friends go? Is life in the spotlight really going to be all they think it is or will it be a Dork Disaster? This is a great series for tweens - hilarious stories with a hint of romance. To really appreciate this book, read the series in sequence though.

Magic Animal Friends: 1: Lucy Longwhiskers Gets Lost by Daisy Meadows

The first four Magic Animal Friends books follow best friends Jess and Lily, who love all animals. But when they follow a mysterious golden cat into Friendship Forest - a place where animals live in tiny cottages and sip dandelion tea at the Toadstool Cafe - their summer holidays suddenly become much more magical! In this, their first adventure, can the two friends rescue adorable baby bunny Lucy Longwhiskers from the wicked witch Grizelda? In Magic Animal Friends: 2: Molly Twinkletail Runs Away, the friends must find little Molly Twinkletail who has been tricked into running away by evil witch Grizelda.
 

Magic Animal Friends: 3: Ellie Featherbill All Alone by Daisy Meadows

It's Ellie's birthday but once again Grizelda and the Boggits are out to spoil everyone's fun.Charming illustrations echo the gentle feel of the stories perfectly. Bella's gone exploring in Magic Animal Friends: 4: Bella Tabbypaw in Trouble - will the friends find her before Grizelda does? Talking animals, magic and friendship (and stickers) - what more can young girls ask for their aerly ventures into the world of chapter books. Over 29 million Rainbow Magic books from this popular author have been sold worldwide, and Daisy Meadows was the most borrowed author in UK libraries in 2013. A lovely collectable series.

Princess DisGrace by Lou Kuenzler

Princess Grace certainly doesn't live up to her name - she is anything but graceful! But things are about to change as she sets off for Tall Towers Princess School - she can learn to be a proper princess at last! But will her dream fail at the first hurdle? Only the princesses who are chosen by a unicorn can stay... and all the others are chosen... but finally, out comes Billy and Grace's future is assured. But Grace still has a long way to go and young girls will love to share in her escapades in this quirky take on school stories. It's a really fun read and a great start to the series.

World of Norm: 6: May Need Rebooting by Jonathan Meres

If only he hadn't fallen asleep in History! And if only he'd done his punishment exercise! And if only he could go biking instead of playing stupid football! Except Norm can't go biking. Why not? BECAUSE HIS BIKE'S BEEN STOLEN, THAT'S WHY! Nightmare? It's worse than that... Another hilarious slice of life from the inimitable Norm who has gathered legions of fans since first appearing in 2011.

Boyface and the Quantum Chromatic Disruption Machine by James Campbell

The Antelope family are definitely weird! Mrs Antelope steals bits of other people's houses to make her own and Mr Antelope is a Stripemonger. Their son, Boyface, has been waiting all his life to join his father taking stripes off one thing to put them on another. Like I said - weird! But Boyface is thrown in at the deep end when he has to look after the shop on his own. Will he cope? Weird, wacky and wonderful.

Foxy Tales 2: The Road to Fame and Fortune by Caryl Hart

Cunning Foxy Dubois is on a mission - a mission to get rich quick. Unfortunately, someone is in her way - Alphonso the Alligator. Can she out-fox the alligator? A hilarious story with wonderful illustrations by Alex J Smith. Try reading this aloud with a group of children - they will have great fun voicing the various characters.

The Girl from Hard Times Hill (Flashbacks) by Emma Barnes

When Megan's father finally returns after the end of World War II, everything changes for Megan. Her father is almost a stranger to her, and being uprooted to live in the city is a hard change for her. When she has the opportunity to be the first member of her working-class family to go to Grammar School, can she seize the opportunity? Her father is the one who supports her and we learn how this determined character copes with all the changes, set against an evocative backdrop of Cardiff and poverty after the war. These are the latest in the Bloomsbury Flashbacks series - dramatic stories set during key moments in history with strong characters and thrilling plots to bring the past to life.

The Night Run (Flashbacks) by Bali Rai

Amritsar, India, in 1919 - a city in turmoil, as tensions between the locals and the British colonial rulers come to a head. Arjan Singh's father has been falsely accused of crimes and faces hanging. Anger, fear and danger are rife in the city but Arjan sets out on a perilois quest to clear his father's name in a race against time. I have always encouraged children to read fiction set in the historical period they are studying. This can really bring the past to life and when the the books are written, as this series is, with strong credible characters and authentic settings, children are really transported to the period and place.

The Lost King: Richard III and the Princes in the Tower (Flashbacks) by Alison Prince

Will we ever know what really happened to the Princes in the Tower? It's a question which has intrigued people for centuries and given rise to may books. Told through the eyes of the prince's nursemaid, it's the story of power hungry men who need the young Edward V and his little brother out of the way. The two boys are sent to the Tower of London for safety. They are never seen again... A fascinating look at the brief reign of Richard III, told through the eyes of the princes' nursemaid. The Flashbacks series are relatively short reads but gripping stories so keen readers will devour them and be looking forward to more.

Charlie Underwood Fights Back by Paul Manship

Bullying - an emotive subject handled here with sensitivity and realism. Charlie Underwood is the archetypal victim of bullying -he's little and he wears glasses. His move to a new school in year 6 should be a fresh start for him - but TJ Carver has other plans. Charlie escapes into a world of make-believe and the novel is full of his imaginative stories which enticingly interweave with the main plot; a plot full of twosts and turns which lead in unexpected directions. A funny and poignant story of an unlikely hero.

Monster Moon (Space Penguins) by Lucy Courtenay

"What's black and white, and flies faster than the speed of light? The Space Penguins!" This exciting series about space will have real appeal to young readers who will be immediately drawn in by the fact the book is illustrated on every page. Splash has a secret - he's hiding an egg he discovered on a strange moon. But when the egg hatches into a Flogisaur with a taste for metal the feathers fly. Can the penguins return the creature to its home planet before it eats its way through the Tunafish? Action, science fiction, humour and adventure all bundled together and an excellently related story - what more could the reader ask? Great to encourage even reluctant readers and with lots in the series, there's plenty to keep them going!

Top Dog by Emma Rea

Top Dog is a gripping story which highlights the pleasures children can find in the world around them. It is about a group of boys from a Welsh village, evocatively depicted in the story. Dylan has high hopes of building a challenging and exciting bike track around his father’s fields, but when a new boy, Floyd, arrives in the village, Dylan’s plans start to go awry. Floyd has a hge impact on Dylan's life so Dylan sets out to find why this is. Realistic and thoughtful, this empathetic story about friendship explores how people discover more about themselves.

The Palomino Pony Comes Home by Olivia Tuffin

Horse and pony books are always hugely popular and this new series really stands out - it has all the ingredients of the very best pony books and is written with an obvious love for and knowledge of horses. Pony-mad Georgia and she spends as much time as she can helping out at Redgrove Farm Stables. Spending a week in the Welsh hills, away from her beloved horses, is the last thing she wanted to do - but then she finds a mistreated palomino pony and she knows what she must do... Georgia is a great character and this is a brilliant start ti the series - a worthy addition to the genre.td>

Secret Agent Mummy by Steve Cole

Steve Cole's books are guaranteed to appeal to children - he has a great perception of what they want to read about. A 2000 year old mummy moving bext door s crazy enough but what about an army of brainwashed baboons; a flying bandaged dog's-bottom; A talking cat goddess and an evil sorcerer from another world? Niall has to cope with the lot of them. It's great fun - and children will learn about Ancient Egypt along the way.

The Vampire Bewitched by Pete Johnson

Marcus is no ordinary 13 year old - he's a half-vampire with all the special powers that entails. Along with his friends Tallulah and Gracie, his mission is to hunt out and destroy the deadly vampires, who are out to destroy all humans and half-vampires. But why has Marcus lost his memory? Could there be something sinister going on? It's just a little bit scary - just the right touch to send a little shiver down the spine and perfectly judged for children of 8+. It's funny, with plenty of adventure and suspense.

Ellie's Magical Bakery: Best Cake for a Best Friend by Ellie Simmonds

Friendship and baking - a great combination for young girls to enjoy. The engaging presentation of the book will encourage readers who will enjoy the plethora of amusing cartoon drawings which are a key part of the book. Ellie lives with her uncle and aunt in the dull town of Greyton. Her uncle, aut and cousin Ellie and won't let her into the bakery. But then Ellie receives a present - a very special cookery book where the recipes magically appear on the page. It's almost time for the Greyton Bake-Off - can she enter? The book ends with a magical surprise for Ellie and her new friend, Victoria Sponge.

Pea's Book of Holidays by Susie Day

Pea's idea of a perfect holiday is straight out of Enid Blyton - but with sister, Clover, going to Drama Camp, Mum staying at home to finish her new book, it may not be her dream holiday - but things change, especially when a determined little girl is there to change them! Pea is a delightful character - a dreamer and a doer, who makes things happen for her family and friends. A perfect summer read for girls.

Mission Survival 6: Strike of the Shark by Bear Grylls

Number Six in a terrific action-packed series that is perfect for boys who may have thought books are boring. When Beck Granger is ship-wrecked in the open seas, he needs all of his survival skills to save a small group of passengers. And survival skills are what Bear Grylls knows all about so as well as an exciting adventure, you can be sure that there's a solid base of truth. The sinking was no accident so before Beck can ensure his survival he needs to identify the enemy. In order to stay alive, he'll have to work out who wants him dead, and why. But the sharks are circling, the ship is sinking fast... time is short. An exciting and fast-moving story that holds the attention throughout.

The Killer Cat Runs Away by Anne Fine

Tuffy feels unwanted - maybe there have been a few accidents recently, but hardly enough to warrant all the fuss that's being made. So what if he broke the new TV? Got fur on all Dad's clean clothes? So he decides to run away - but when he can;t find the perfect home, he wonders if he has made the right decision. This is just one in a hilarious series, written with a deft lightness of touch and a wonderful sense of humour and told by a somewhat self-righteous cat who has a marvellous way with words.

Banana Spaghetti (Julian & Huey) by Ann Cameron

Julian and Huey are brothers and their story is told in a series of books, each of which contains several short stories which are ideal for beginner readers. They are simple, child-centred stoires which are popular in schools. In Banana Spaghetti, Huey wants to surprise his mum on Mother's Day, so, with some help from Dad, he invents banana spaghetti. He also shows he can be as brave as his big brother and eats some new foods. In Huey's Tiger (Julian & Huey) Huey has a plan to show big brother Julian that he is big enough to play - and there are two more enjoyable stories too. These are stories to which children can easily relate; told with touches of humour and highly credible characters, they are enjoyable reads and perfect to instill a love for reading.
   
   
   

Nathalia Buttface and the Most Embarrassing Dad in the World by Nigel Smith

Sometimes it seems that girls miss out on the most hilarious of books - but here's one to redress the balance. We all know that daughters often find their dads embarrassing but Nathalia's is one of the worst... from even before she was born. Thanks to Dad, she was born Nathalia Bumole. “It’s pronounced Bew-mow–lay,” Dad would tell her patiently, time and again. “If anyone says differently, the joke’s on them.” But of course, everyone does say differently and it's Nathalia who suffers the jokes. Can she keep her Dad away ffrom her new school? It's a real laugh-aloud book but it is also very moving and the reader will feel for poor Nathalia. Funny from beginning to end, this will be a sure-fire winner with girls of around 8+ who will readily identify with Nathalia - perhaps they should get their dads to read it!

Diary Of Dorkius Maximus In Pompeii by Tim Collins

This is the third story about Dorkius Maximus and they just get better and better! Dorkius has to swap the excitement of living in Rome for a boring little town called Pompeii. The citizens are so superstitious they base all their decisions around animal innards readings! But could there be more excitement in Pompeii that Dorkius expected? There are ominous rumbles coming from Vesuvius but nobody will heed his warnings... Dorkius and his new friend Fabricus flee the city and watch from a distance as the volcano erupts. Is this the end of the town? Hilariously written and generously sprinkled with equally hilarious cartoons, thi is an unmissable read for boys and girls.

Egyptian Diary: The Journal of Nakht, a Young Scribe by Richard Platt

Books like this are perfect to spark an interest in history, especially when studying the period at school. Nine year old Nakht is an aspiring young scribe in Egypt, circa 1500 BC. He has just moved with his family to Memphis, where his father has a prestigious new job. He and his sister, Tamyt, uncover a sinister plot involving the robbing of nearby tombs — and catch the mastermind! They are invited to the royal palace in Thebes where they meet King Hatshepsut - a female king! Packed with historical information, the narrative is lively and the pictures full of authentic detail

Roman Diary: The Journal of Iliona, a Young Slave by Richard Platt

Iliona finds herself in slavery in Ancient Rome. But her new family provides clothing, food and schooling, - and the freedom to explore the streets of Rome. The lively nattarive takes the reader with her to the baths, the Senate, gladiatorial combat, Roman feasts and uch more in authentic and entertaining detail - a super way to learn history. The diary format is always popular and a good way to break text into manageable chunks. Both books include a glossary and index, making them a useful reference source as well as enjoyable stories.

The Cat Who Came in off the Roof by Annie M.G. Schmidt

Tibble is a reporter - but an unusual one. He is very shy and doesn't like talking to people - he only ever writes about cats and things that are not bews, so he's about to be fired. Then Minou moves into his flat - but she is not what she seems; until recently, she was... a cat! And with her feline friends listening out for all the local human news, maybe she's the answer to all Tibble's problems. A gently hunorous and very unusual story which shows what determination can achieve.

The Naughtiest Girl In The School by Enid Blyton

Enid Blyton has gone in and out of favour but each generation always welcomes her books. Elizabeth Allen is spoilt and selfish and when she is sent away to boarding school she determines to be the naughtiest pupil ever... but it's not as easy as she thought, however hard she tries, and try she does right from the first train journey. In many ways, an archetypal Enid Blyton school story, and just as enjoyable as the better known series. Of course, much of it seems old-fashioned but that's half the charm. Lots of bonus material in the book gives us an insight into the author's life.

My Heart is Laughing by Rose Lagercrantz

This realistic story of childhood is perfect for newly confident readers who will enjoy a more challenging read but still appreciate plenty of visual material. Bubbly Dani is facing the challenges of school life without her best friend who’s moved to another town; bullying is one of those challenges. But Dani’s is a positive and cheerful character who rises above the unhappy times. And she's not the only well depicted character - her teacher and her father also stand out.

Chicken Mission: Danger in the Deep Dark Woods (Chicken Mission 1) by Jennifer Gray

If you enjoy clever twists on words, then this is the book for you! Young chicken Amy Cluckbucket dreams of a life of chicken adventure and it seems as though her dream has come true when she receives a summons to the Kung Foo School for Poultry in Tibet. But fellow squad members, Ruth and Boo, don't seem to want to make friends - Ruth is too busy inventing things and Boo has problems of her own. The chickens travel to Chicken HQ to meet their mentor, Professor Rooster. When their first mission flops Amy persuades the others that they should stick together to restore Professor Rooster's faith in them. A laugh-aloud story which will have young readers in fits of giggles.

Wolfgran (Red Flag) by Finbar O'ConnorWolfgran

There are many new takes on well-loved fairy tales around at the moment and this is one of the cleverest which I think will have adults chickling as much as children. Granny has sold her house to the three little pigs and moved into the Happy- Ever-After Home for Retirement Characters from Fairy Tales. But the Big Bad Wolf doesn't give up! He is stalking the city streets - and the police are after him as well as a very clever little girl guide in a red hood. But will they get to the wolf before he gets Granny? And who will let all those little old ladies out of their cells in time for bingo? Hilarious and very clever.

Diamond (Hetty Feather) by Jacqueline Wilson

Diamond was always a disappointment to her parents - they wanted a boy but they got dainty delicate Diamond. Diamond has a sensational gift for acrobatics and her father sells her to a stranger for five guineas, and she becomes an acrobat at Tanglefield's Travelling Circus. Here she meets an old favourite - Emerald Star, Tanglefield's brand-new ringmaster as well as making many other friends. As we know from Jacqueline's previous books, friendship is all-important and that shows strongly in this book. Diamond needs her friends as she is terrified to step into the ring as her master's demands become increasingly dangerous. When life at the circus becomes too dangerous to bear any longer, what will the future hold for Diamond? And will her Emerald be a part of it? Another superb read from the acclaimed story-teller.

The Mute Button by Ellie Irving

Have you ever wanted everyone around you to be quiet? Anthony Button loves his big family, but their noise makes him mad. Finally, Ant can take no more, so he starts a silent protest to try and get everyone's attention. But now he's pressed the mute button, will he ever find his voice again? A hilarious yet highly perceptive story, full of wit and humour - a great read that will be enjoyed by girls and boys and would make a brilliant class read.

Tale of a Tail by Margaret Mahy

Margaret Mahy's books are always wonderfully imaginative and this is no exception! Tom and his mum move to Prodigy Street and find one of their new neighbours is a man with a magical name who has a very friendly dog who takes his turn in telling the story. Strange things start to happen and wishes come true - but be careful what you wish for! Brilliantly descriptive with a superb use of language which makes it great to read aloud. Perfectly complemented with lots of line drawings by Tony Ross.

Two Laura Marlin Mysteries by Lauren St John

Two Laura Marlin mysteries in one - Dead Man's Cove and Kidnap in the Caribbean. The books instantly bring Enid Blyton to mind and will really appeal to those who enjoy her books. When orphaned Laura Marlin moves from a children's home to live with her uncle in Cornwall, she longs for a life of excitement just like the characters in her favourite detective novels. Why is everyone so afraid of Dead Man's Cove? Is Tariq, the shopkeeper's silent son, a friend or an enemy? Why does her uncle seem intent on erasing his own past? It's up to Laura to find the answers. In Kidnap in the Caribbean Laura finds what should have been an adyllic holiday is unexpectedly dangerous. Laura is a feisty heroine who will appeal to boys and girls alike. Her determination to follow the example of the hero of her favourite books will strike a chord with many children. These enthralling stories are great reads and perfect summer reading.

Terror Town: Elf Girl and Raven Boy by Marcus Sedgwick

Elf Girl and Raven Boy are on a mission to save the world in this hilarious series which takes them around the world. Terror Town is Trouble with a capital T. What will happen to our intrepid trio (that includes Rat) when the Tears of the Moon are taken, and Terrible Tim and the Trolls are on their trail? There are tempers (Elf Girl's), tests (for Raven Boy), tunes (the Singing Sword's), oh and Zombies, with a capital Z, too. Mystery and adventure combine in a funny book which will keep children's attention throughout with its great characters and excellent storyline.

Secret Agent Mummy (Special Agent Mummy 1) by Steve Cole

Madness and mayhem abound in this, the first book in a madcap new series from the popular author of the Astrosaurs books. What could be crazier than a 200-year-old Egyptian mummy detective moving in next door? How about: An army of brainwahsed baboons? A flying bandaged dog's-bottom? A talking cat goddess? An evil sorcerer from another world? If you think these sound like the ingredients for a great story, then you are in the right place! Boys will love this hilarious story with its unlikely characters; the short charpers are just right to encourage boys into books. A great start to the series!

Secret Breakers: 5: The Pirate's Sword by H L Dennis

This is a great series for young readers who want a meaty story that involves a challenge for them to get involved with. Cracking codes has always been a fascinating topic and this exciting series based on breaking the Voynich manuscript is completely engrossing. Team Veritas, the team from Station X, must escape to the US where they embark on an epic treasure hunt, from New York City to Washington DC and then a trek across the Blue Ridge Mountains in search for treasure hidden in a long forgotten cavern. They are getting closer but danger follows too...

Valkyrie: 2: The Runaway by Kate O'Hearn

This is a book which, fro me, crosses the age boundary and will appeal to 11+ readers too. The Valkyries of legend are Norse goddesses, reapers of souls from human battlefields - they have the power to cause death with just one touch. Freya is a Valkyrie - but she has not followed in the footsteps of the legends before her. She has been to the World of Man to befriend humans - and not to reap their souls. Now she must return to the World of Man on a new quest to track down the runaway Valkyrie of legend. There she will discover a dark secret that leads her to the Land of the Frost Giants where she must take on new enemies. But this time she has friends to rely on, and lots more to gain.

The Devil and His Boy by Anthony Horowitz

Tom Falconer is on his way to London - the London of the first Queen Elizabeth - a distant and dangerous place. Some of the cit's criminals are on Tom's trail and it's only when he meets Moll Cutpurse, a thirteen-year-old pickpocket, that he has an ally. Things are more serious than Tom knows - on the first night of the new play - The Devil and his Boy - Tom realises that the fate of the Queen and her country lies in his hands. Evocatively written, the period springs alive with vivid characterisation and settings in the hands of a mastwr storyteller. This is the way to bring history to life for children and to get them to engage with the subject - a brilliant story.

Milo and The Raging Chieftains - The Milo Adventures Book 2 by Mary Arrigan

In this new adenture, Milo’s ghostly buddy, Mister Lewis, appears in the town’s ancient castle, but he’s not alone. He’s in trouble and needs Milo’s help. Things get very complicated when Milo’s teacher, Miss Lee, accidentally wakes some raging chieftains from long ago. And then she disappears... Mister Lewis takes Milo and Shane through the castle time portal to seek her out in this gripping, page-turning supernatural adventure. The lively and engaging writing style make this an excellent series for reluctant readers.

The Unbelievable Top Secret Diary of Pig by Emer Stamp

When Pig finds a pen and a diary, he sets out to write his diary - but you need to be able to read Pig to understand it! Pig has some bad news - he learns that the Evil Chickens want to send him into space; and then, that, far from loving him, Farmer wants to eat him! At first sight, it looks like a book for newly confident readers, with lots of illustrations, short chapters and child-like font - but don't be fooled; it will have all ages clamouring to read it! Certainly far from conventional, with its quirky take on grammar, it's emphasis on farts and it's unusual layout.

Horrid Henry's Wedding (Early Reader) by Francesca Simon

Just imagine! Horrid Henry has to be a pageboy at a wedding - and dressed in green satin knickerbockers at that! This is a wonderful story to share with any boy who is, reluctantly, due to act as pageboy. The full colour illustrations really bring Henry's plight to life and add vastly to the hilarity of the story. This is a Red Early Reader - the next step on children's reading journey.

Fintan's Fifteen: Ireland's Worst Hurling Team Wants You! by Alan Nolan

A book to delight all fans of hurling - and sports fans in general, who will enjoy this look at a sport that may be unfamiliar to them. Ray's team, the Ballybreen Terriers always loses. Not only are they constantly at the bottom of the league, they have to face the gloating of rival Dennis ‘Dirty Den’ Conway. Something must be done, so Ray persuades Fintan Heffernan, ex-star player of U10’s to leave his early retirement and computer games to help bring ‘Dirty Den’ down and lead the Ballybreen Terriers to the victory they deserve. Can they succeed? An entertaining read which keeps up the pace throughout.

Running on a Patchwork of Earth (Black Cats) by Jonny Zucker

AJ is one of the best runners in his school. But his life changes when his parents suddenly move him to cold, wet London, and he finds himself in a very different environment, contending with bullying. When the bully's father, a washed-up drinker who used to be a runner, takes an interest in AJ's training, it might make all the difference to AJ - or it might just make things a lot worse. The story addresses many issues - immigration, bullying and the importance of sport - and handles these sensitively and compellingly.

The Woebegone Twins (Tales from Schwartzgarten) by Christopher William Hill

A grimly dark tale set in the city of Schwartzgarten; sequel to Osbert the Avenger. Twins Greta and Feliks are sent to the ill-omened Schwartzgarten Reformatory for Maladjusted Children when their aunt dies - from eating poisoned marzipan cake! Are things looking up when they are rescued by the glamorous and wealthy Olga Van Veenen, or does she have an ulterior motive? If you like your reading dark and gruesome, then this is the series for you!

Operation Sting (Swarm) by Simon Cheshire

Operation Sting is the first in a very promising new series about SWARM, The Secret Intelligence Agency's new weapon. They are artificially intelligent robotic bugs that act as undercover agents. Operating below the radar, they can fly faster, see further and sting harder! When a prototype weapon is stolen, it's a race against time for SWARM to locate and reclaim the weapon before the thieves crack the encryption code protecting it. Can they stop the villains before it's too late? Young readers will love the high-tech story and the suspenseful, fast-moving action. Find out more on the website www.littletiger.co.uk/swarmseries.

Take a Look at Me-e-e! by Alex Barr

This is quite delightful - seven short interlinked stories about the farmyard at Rhos Evan Farm, written by an author with an obvious love for animals. The stories explore the relationship between animals and humans as well as between animals themselves, all with quirky touches of humour. All the creatures have their unique character, and the stories revolve around their role on the farmyard and in the fields. A very appealing read for children who live within a rural context, but also for the many children who love animals, especially dogs and horses. It's beautifully presented too - with shiny pages and captivating line drawings.

Hour of the Doomed Dog (Undead Pets) by Sam Hay

A wish on an amulet turned Joe into the Protector of Undead Pets. Pets need Joe's help before they can make the transition from this life to the next. This time, Frankfurter the sausage dog needs Joe's help. Frankie overheard two men plotting to burgle the hotel that is run by his owner and he needs Joe's help to stop the robbery and bring the criminals to justice. An unusual series and certainly not your ordinary pet story - the quirky idea will appeal to many children.

Boyface and the Quantum Chromatic Disruption Machine by James Campbell

The Antelope family are definitely weird! Mrs Antelope steals bits of other people's houses to make her own and Mr Antelope is a Stripemonger. Their son, Boyface, has been waiting all his life to join his father taking stripes off one thing to put them on another. Like I said - weird! But Boyface is thrown in at the deep end when he has to look after the shop on his own. Will he cope? Weird, wacky and wonderful.

Maya's Secret (Friends 1) by Holly Webb

This is the first in a new series for 7-9 year-old girls from popular author Holly Webb. The four friends want to make the world a better place to live in and their strong friendship helps them achieve this. Maya has a problem - environmentally aware herself, how can she be true to her belief when her parents have a private jet and their own swimming pool? And she has a secret too - what would her friends think if they knew who she really was? When Maya has a great idea for a project, but things aren't working out, it's time to tell her secret... This is perfect reading for the age group - friendship, fashion and fame combined with some super characters who girls will look forward to meeting again as the series develops.

The Glassblower's Children by Marcia Gripe

Albert the glassblower and Sophia are the loving parents of two small children, Klas and Klara. While Albert spends time in his studio, making beautiful but unsellable bowls and vases, Sophia works in the fields, collecting flax. Every year Albert goes to the fair to sell his goods, and sometimes Sophia and Klas and Klara get to go along. The children especially like to admire the dolls and toys that the family is too poor to buy. It is at the fair that Albert and Sophia meet Flutter Mildweather, a wise woman who weaves rugs that tell what the future holds. And it is at the fair that the Lord of All Wishes and his Lady first set eyes on Klas and Klara. The Lord and Lady live in a castle in a fabulously luxurious but nearly deserted town, and they have everything they want, except for children of their own.

The Scruffy Puppy (Holly Webb Animal Stories) by Holly Webb

Holly Webb has written many lovely animal stories for children and she always comes up with a fresh story to keep her fans happy. When Bella sees her scruffy puppy Sid she knows he is the dog for her. But Bella's friends Megan is not impressed - she is getting a pedigree puppy and is very snooty about Bella's pup. So Bella decides to enter Sid into a dog show, so she can prove for once and for all that all dogs are brilliant. A heart-warming story of friendship, loyalty and not judging on appearances. The charming illustrations show us just how lovable Sid is.

Betsey Biggalow is Here! by Malorie Blackman

Betsey Biggalow is a bright sparky character, perfect for encouraging new readers. Each story is short, but packed with fun - as we would expect from such a popular writer. Set in the Caribbean, these give children an interesting background and the line drawings add to the enjoyment.Betsey may be little, but she has a big impact! This book is one of five short story collections featuring the lively and likeable Betsey Biggalow. Look out for the others, including Betsey Biggalow the Detective

The Tin Snail by Cameron McAllister

This is an unusual and delightful story about a car which found itself playing a vital part in World War II. It's the story of that iconic car, the 2CV. A mundane start - the little car has the important task of conveying the farmer, his wife plus a flagon of wine and some eggs across a bumpy field; just what this workhorse of a car was designed for. But then, the little car must stay hidden so the German army can't copy the design. A clever blend of fact and fiction which works really well and brings us an enticing story - a story which will appeal to all ages.

The Curse of the Pampered Poodle: Mariella Mystery 4 by Kate Pankhurst

The presentation of these books is brilliant - a quirky mix of diary, humorous illustrations and extracts from Mariella's notebooks, their visual appeal is huge. And the stories are just as enjoyable - told in the first person by a fun and feisty heroine who is phased by nothing. No mystery is too much for Mariella and this time, she and her pals are on the trail of a poodle who is terrorising the inhabitants of Puddleford.

The Goblin's Gift: Tales of Fayt, Book 2 (Demon's Watch) by Conrad Mason

Joseph Grubb is the new recruit to the Demon's Watch - those who protect Port Fayt, where humans live in peace alongside trolls, elves and fairies. Their protection is crucial as the League of the Light has sent an armada to wipe Port Fayt off the map. Can the townspeople persuade persuade the magical merfolk to fight with them? Only if their princess is returned to them from the clutches of the most dangerous nine-year-old in the Ebony Ocean. It's up to Joseph and his friend Tabitha to rescue the mermaid princess . . . But a secret from Joseph's past is about to change everything. A magical fantasy, full of action and suspense, which will be enjoyed by boys and girls.

Daydreams and Diaries by Jacqueline Wilson

A bumper book which gives a fascinating insight into Jacqueline Wilson;'s life and helps us understand just how she has written al those wonderful books. It's all here - her earliest memories, her first friends and teachers, her family life and even her first kiss. Jacqueline was a daydreamer and it's those daydreams that have made her one of the most popular children's authors ever. Illustrated by, of course, Nick Sharratt and with photos from Jacqueline herself this highly readable book will be warmly welcomed by all her fans. The book includes Jacky Daydream and My Secret Diary as well as exclusive new material taken from Daydreams and Diaries, the smash-hit exhibition all about Jacqueline's life and books. A perfect complement to the books.

Mission Survival: Rage of the Rhino by Bear Grylls

These are super adventure stories for today's readers, especially boys. Authentic backgrounds, well depicted characters and an in-depth knowledge of survival in real life combine seamlessly to make a fabulous read. Beck Granger is invited to South Africa by an old friend of his parents' to help out on a project to prevent rhino poaching... but there is far more to it than that. Not only must he contend with poachers but it seems that he is being hunted himself.

The Great Escape by Natalie Haynes

Millie's bored. Each week, she goes with her dad to clean windows at a laboratory. Things aren;t what they seem and then a cat asks her for help. And Max needs a lot of help. He's trying to escape, he wants to know who kidnapped him, and why - who on earth would want to make cats that can talk? And he needs Millie to help him rescue the friends he's left behind before it's too late… International animal-smuggling, illicit computer-hacking, break-neck chases and a fast-talking cat. Just your ordinary summer holidays...

Dixie O'Day: In The Fast Lane by Shirley Hughes

Meet Dixie O'Day and his friend Percy - a couple who are always having adventures. They've entered the All-Day Car Race but get more than they bargained for. There's danger ahead for the friends and for their arch enemy, Lou Ella. Packed with lively illustrations, this is a great way to encourage children to move on from picture books to chapter books. The illustrations are black and white embellsihed with red amd they really stand out; the small format of the book is attractive too. It has a strong message about helping others and is a charming read.

Team Spirit (Tilly's Pony Tales) by Pippa Funnell

Pippa Funnell's pony stories are written in such a way that we see her love for horses and her vast knowledge throughout the stories, thus giving them an extra dimension. As Tilly has grown up, we have followed her adventures - she is 14 now and she and her horse, Magic Spirit, have been together for over three years. Tilly, Ben, Kya and Anna are chosen for the Pony Club Eventing Championship team - dressage, cross country and show jumping. Can they pull together as a team? A super story which gives a good look at the world of eventing - Pippa's world.

Smash! (Dirty Bertie) by Alan MacDonald

One of the most revolting boys in children's fiction is back to delight and disgust his readers again. Amazingly, this is his 22nd book and the mayhem is still increasing. Three stories - Smash! Bingo! and Holes! make up this fun-filled book as we meet friends old and new. The short stories are split into chapters with illustrations on most double page, making the stories ideal for newly confident readers. They are also great fun to read aloud and share.

The Sword of Kuromori by Jason Rohan

This is the first in a new fantasy series set in Japan. When Kenny Blackwood arrives in Tokyo to spend the summer with his father he finds himself in the middle of a hidden war that is about to explode. Racing against an impossible deadline, Kenny must find the fabled Sword of Heaven and use it to prevent the disaster. But a host of terrifying monsters is out to destroy him, and success will come at a price. With clever, fearless, sarcastic Kiyomi at his side, Kenny must negotiate the worlds of modern and mythic Japan to find the lost sword, before it's too late.

Dark Lord 3: Eternal Detention by Jamie Thomson

This is the thrid in the series but the first I have had the pleasure of reviewing - and I think I have missed out on a lot of fun! School is, for the Great Dirk, a place of misery... and it's made worse by the new Headteacher, Dirk's old enemy Hasdruban the White. I felt a little confused as I started the book, so I recommend that children start with the first in the series to get the full benefit of this unusual, funny and absurd story. And if you don't buy it, be prepared to be dosed with a potion of mind control, imprisoned in a spirit bottle or poisoned by the Black Hag's fingernails - you have been warned!

Sesame Seade Mysteries: 3: Scam on the Cam by Clementine Beauvais

Sesame Seade is a super character - determined and suspicious, she accepts nothing at face value and alsways seeks out the answers. Unlikely as it seems, when Sesame sees something fishy - a pirate chest must mean pirates, surely? - going on by the river she's determined to get to the bottom of it. Sarah Horne's detailed drawings are full of humour. The quirky use of language is unusual, to say the least, and really makes the reader stop and think - just what is a paper bag-induced calm, you wonder? It's brilliant, really unusual, and had me hooked throughout.

Little Soldier by Bernard Ashley

Kaninda has joined the rebel army after an attack on his East African village in East Africa. He is rescued by aid workers who take him to a new life in London - but conflict is everywhere. With Laura Rose, the daughter of his new family, he is drawn into a conflict that is potentially as dangerous as any from which he has escaped. Kaninda is set on revenge but as the story unfolds in a masterful way, we see his attitudes change. Bernard Ashley's novels are always hard-hitting and realistic, with a strong sense of place - his teaching background makes his accounts of Victoria Comprehensive School and its people compelling reading; his knowledge of the local culture shines through. A powerful novel which had me gripped throughout.

How To Get Fabulously Rich by Thomas Rockwell

Billy's desperate to win the lottery - but how to choose the numbers?. They're all good and making a decision is almost impossible. But decide he must, because winning the lottery would make his life perfect... or would it? A hilarious story which children will love.

The Case of the Secret Tunnel (Maisie Hitchins) by Holly Webb

I like this detective series for younger readers. It is set in Victorian London and has a feisty and likeable heroine, far from the norm for Victorian girls. Maisie is intrigued by a new lodger, Mr Fred Grange. Why would a clerk for a biscuit factory work such odd hours - and why does he know nothing about biscuits? So Maisie's detective instincts set to work and she finds an intriguing list in his room... Is he a thief or is there more to it than there appears? An exciting and fast-moving adventure story with a superbly portrayed and authentic setting.

The Dragonsitter's Island by Josh Lacey

This unusual series (this is the fourth book) with its contemporary approach will appeal to young readers. Written as a series of emails between Eddie and his uncle Morton, it tells the story of Eddie who is dragonsitting and looking after Uncle Morton's Scottish island. Strange things are happening - sheep are disappearing, and what was that in the loch? A surprise is in store... A fun story. The lively presentation is what makes this book stand out - the illustrations are great fun<./td>

Temple Boys by Jamie Buxton

Set around the time of Jesus' death, we meet the Temple Boys, a gang who live between the temple and the back of a baker's oven. They fight for survival and have nobody who cares for them. Dramatic times - this is Jerusalem in 33 AD and we see the events unfold through the eyes of smallest gang member Flea. The gang hear that the Healer is coming and they hope to profit from his visit - but the tables are turned. It's a totally new perspective and the story vividly evokes the atmosphere withing the city. A compelling story which really makes the reader feel part of the momentous events.

Hank Zipzer: The Curtain Went Up, My Trousers Fell Down by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver

This is the TV tie-in edition of one of the stories about Henry "Hank" Zipzer. Hank is dyslexic and has his own unique way of finding solutions. Hank is struggling with his maths and having extra tuition and he is also the star in the school play... as long as he gets his maths grades up. A costume disaster on opening night threatens the whole show... A pacy story which will be especially enjoyed by boys, even reluctant readers. TV tie-ins are always a good way to generate interest in reading.

Sam Swann's Movie Mysteries: Tomb of Doom!!! by Tanya Landman

This is a super light-hearted mystery with an intriguing Egyptian setting. Sam Swann's off with his dad to film Tomb of Doom. But all is not simple - th.ere are mysteries to solve on set. Firstly, his friend Tinkerbelle Cherry has her room broken into and then she succumbs to a strange illness. And just who is the mysterious starnger who follows them everywhere? The lively presentation which includes lots of entertaining cartoons and other illustrations is just the thing to capture children's interest.

Foxy Tales: The Cunning Plan by Caryl Hart

Such fun! Foxy DuBois is on a mission to get rich quick - if she can keep Alphonso the Alligator out of the way! Can Foxy's hair-brained schemes make enough money to keep Alphonso fed? Or will Foxy DuBois find herself on the menu? With masses of really entertaining illustrations and an amusing text, this is just the thing to get children hooked on books.

Frankie's Magic Football: Frankie vs The Knight's Nasties by Frank Lampard

Frankie and his friends own a magic football - a football which takes them travelling through time and playing matches against some unexpected teams. This time, they are transported back to medieval England and it's the knights they have to face. Teamwork is the key and the friends face the challenges together as they enjoy their football. Fast-moving and engaging, this is a great series.

My Name Is Parvana by Deborah Ellis

The story opens with Parvana, suspected of terrorism, imprisoned. Her strength and her imagination are going to be tested to the extreme to handle this and to esnure her safety and that of her family. She looks back over the life she and her family built - the life she's always dreamt of. She's learning in a real school, and teaching too. But this is Afghanistan, and the war is far from over with many still in fear of the education and freedom of women. And that means Parvana - and her family - are in danger. Insightful and compelling, this gives the reader a real in-depth view of life behind the news

Angels Next Door by Karen McCombie

Riley is lonely. Her best friend has moved - moved to New Zealand.forever and Lauren 'Queen of Everything' Mayhew is making school a nightmare. It looks like Riley's on her own, until the three Angelos Sisters move in next door. Her new neighbours are . . . different. Colourful and sparkly, they stand out. It's not just their names or how they dress - there's something magical about them. And since they arrived there have been loads of strange coincidences. The strength of the story lies in its theme of friendship with just a twist of magic - enough to believe in. This is the (very promising) first book in a new series for girls of 8+ - look out for Angels in Training due out in August 2014.

Alice-Miranda in New York by Jacqueline Harvey

Alice-Miranda is a humorous and likeable character whose varied adventures are creating a thoroughly enjoyable series of books. Alice-Miranda is having an exciting time in New York at Mrs Kimmel's School for Girls, right next to glorious Central Park, as well as enjoying all the sights. Her family's glamorous department store, Highton's on Fifth, has just been renovated, but plans for the fabulous re-opening party are going curiously wrong. Is that why Alice-Miranda's father Hugh seems so worried? And why is her new friend Lucinda so shy about inviting Alice-Miranda home? Light-hearted and fun, this is a great read.

Free Spirit (Stardust Stables) by Sable Hamilton

Horse stories can be somewhat samey - but not when the stables are home to the talented group of children who work as stunt doubles for film stars! Kellie and her horse Dylan are in the Colorado mountains taking part in a film about a group of pioneers in the 1800s. The location is so remote that the cast and crew are all living out under canvas, and Kellie's enjoying being part of the team. Then disaster strikes and there's only one person who can save the day. Has Kellie got what it takes to step into the limelight and be a star...? An enjoyable read whether you like horses, films... or just books.

V.I.P. (Very Important Pup) (Pooch Parlour) by Katy Cannon

We've all heard about amazingly papmered pooches - well, here's your chance to step into their world and find out what goes on behind the scenes in luxury grooming salon, Pooch Parlour. Abi is thrilled to be spending the summer at Aunt Tiffany's grooming salon. And when a famous actress turns up with her Pomeranian, that's really the icing on the cake! Can Abi make a good impression?

Dog Star (Pooch Parlour) by Katy Cannon

This is the second in the series about Pooch Parlour - the perfect place for pet pampering. Every dog gets special treatment and now Pooch Parlour as the official grooming salon for A-list film-star dogs. What more could girls want in a book than celebrities, glamour and dogs? The line drawings are a real feature of this series - they are lively and full of interest. Breaking up the text with a generous number of illustrations is excellent in books for this age group - children who are now reading fluently and independently.

Planet Peril (Space Penguins) by Lucy Courtenay

The Space Penguins crew the spaceship Tunafish and they are off to explore unknown worlds. This is book five of the series and this time the penguins are off on holiday to a new leisure planet. But they are destined to become the star attraction! Can they aescape and rescue the other animals before it is too late? A hilarious series, ideal for children of 7+ who will appreciate the humour and the amusing illustrations.
 

Gladiator Boy: Collection 1 by David Grimstone

This is a three story bind up of an exciting series about a young hero, Decimus Rex, who takes on the might of Ancient Rome. It includes A Hero's Quest; Escape from Evil and Stowaway Slaves to give a really satisfying set of books to engage readers. Reading books set against a historical background is an excellent way to support children's learning and understanding of history. The illustrations add to the feel of the book and to knowledge of the city. An exciting, action-packed series which should help to show boys that ancient history is far from boring.

Stinky Space Race: Cosmic Colin by Tim Collins

Harry is very strange - he is suspiciously neat for starters... and he spends a lot of time in the bin at the back of the school. So Colin decides to investigate and instead of the rotten food he expects he finds sonething MUCH more exciting - he is off on an exciting exploration. And he will still be back in time for lessons! But, worrylingly, there seem to be a lot of boring teachers in this weird new world. This is a super series for young readers just developing confidence in reading for themselves - the illustrations are an integral part of the books and they wouldn't be half as much fun without them. Just beware that your child doesn't try to copy Colin's ideas for annoying Nr Watkins!

Sneezy Alien Attack: Cosmic Colin by Tim Collins

And if readers enjoyed Stinky Space Race (and I am sure they will) they can move straight on to this equally amusing story. When Harry the alien lands his spacebin in his friend Colin's garden, it's time for another adventure. Trouble is, they'll have to take Colin's naughty little brother with them because he can't be left home alone. When aliens attack, will it end in disaster? Fans will enjoy the website www.cosmiccolin.co.uk.

The Ruby Quest (Dragonchild) by Gill Vickery

Tia is on a quest - to retrieve the DragonQueen's six stolen Jewels of Power from the High Witches. In this, the fifth story, it is the ruby that can stop time that she is seeking. On her own, Tia must face Hyldi the High Witch. This series for younger readers has a real page-turning quality that is sommetimes missing in writing for this age group. The vocabulary used is appropriate but stretches the reader just enough; the imaginative story will leave the reader eager to conclude the series.
Blood Brother, Swan Sister: 1014 Clontarf; A Battle Begins by Eithne Massey Three children are unexpectedly drawn together in this gripping story set at the time of the battle of Clontarf in 1014. Elva's sister comes under the control of an evil queen; Dara marches towards the city as part of Brian Boru’s army; and Skari sails from the Orkneys to fight with King Sitric of Dublin. Magic and warfare are unexpectedly but skilfully mingles in this atmospheric tale set in a period about which the average English reader will know little - but will find engrossing.

Life Stinks! (Knightmare) by Peter Bently

This is a super light-hearted and fun book which will be enjoyed by girls and boys. Cedric Thatchbottom is squire to Sir Percy the Proud - but is the knight really as brave as his reputation says? Roland the Rotten has challenged Percy the Proud to a duel. But Percy has lost his lucky underpants and is refusing to fight. Is he teling the truth and can Cedric save his knight's reputation? The characters are hilarious - so are the illustrations.

The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler

This is the start of an imaginative fantasy series perfect for lovers of C S Lewis or Lewis Carroll. Alice overhears a strange and menacing conversation between her father and a fairy; shortky after, her father dies in a shipwreck and she is sent to live with an 'uncle' - an uncle she never knew she had. He owns a huge library, to which Alice is forbidden access. But when she gets in, she finds herself inside a book with no apparent means of escape. She is in a world where magic is controlled by Readers through books and she must open more books and conquer powerful enemies. Alice is a brave and enterprising character who faces up to the challenges she meets. An exciting and fast-moving story that has the reader engrossed from the very start.
 

Paws and Whiskers edited by Jacqueline Wilson

This is an excellent collection of stories about cats and dogs which will be hugely popular with all animal-loving children. Featuring stories old and new from some of the best children's writers, this book is full of stories to share and to treasure. There are extracts from many children's classics including The Incredible Journey, The Hundred and One Dalmations and Through the Looking Glass. 'Pet's Corner' is famous authors telling the reader all about their favourite pets. A super anthology.

Cowgirl by Giancarlo Gemin

Gemma is growing up in a tough urban environment where crime is rife and unhappiness abounds. She dreams of better times, times when people felt safe. Her quest leads to an unexpected involvement with someone who seems an outcats - Cowgirl. Cowgirl is Kate, a girl determined to save her small herd of cows no matter what lengths she must go to. Gemma's grandmother has a strong part to play and I enjoyed seeing their relationship explored. It's a thoughtful book about not taking people at face value, about unlikely friendships and about working together towards a common aim. Perceptive, down-to-earth and eminently readable, I t=really enjoyed this.

Joe and the Race to Rescue: A boy and his horses (Horseshoe Trilogy) by Victoria Eveleigh

This is the concluding book in what has been an excellent trilogy. Unusually for a 'horse' book, the star is a boy and that's great to see. Joe loves horses, all horses, and in this story he gets to know two stunning Shires, who are able to help him when a rescue is needed at the Hidden Horseshoe Sanctuary. He also has his own second pony, Fortune, to get to know. Excellently written, this series is a worthy successor to the great pony stories of yesteryear.

Magic Mansion: Magic Trix 6 by Sara Grant

Fun and friendship are at the heart of this magical series for young girls. Trix wants to go to the glamorous Sisterhood of Magic Ball, but first she must pass a series of magical tests. Can Trix draw on all her witchy know-how - and the power of friendship - to become the belle of the ball? The short chapters are just right for children just starting to enjoy reading on their own and the gentle stories are very enjoyable. Getting early readers hooked into a series like this is a good way to encourage reading before widening their interests.

Horrid Henry's Biggest and Best Ever Joke Book by Francesca Simon

Be warned! This book is too rude for adults - what better way to encourage children to want to read it? Be prepared for lots of groan-inducing jokes with this bumper bind up of of Horrid henry's Joke Book, Mighty Joke Book and Jolly Joke Book. Enjoy gems such as "What does the Spanish farmer say to his chickens? Oh lay" and "What goes up but never comes down? Your age" - all, of course, complemented by Tony Ross's hilarious illustrations.

Wisher and the Runaway Piglet (Railway Rabbits) by Georgie Adams

The first thing that struck me about these books was the nostalgic feel of the covers - adorable animals and soft colours make for great visual appeal. A piglet has escaped from Fairweather's Farm Park. On its trail is Wisher, the smallest of the Longears family. It's a dangerous world out there and there are many enemies for a little rabbit. Anna Currey's line drawings are delightful - they are full of detail and very expressive.

Bramble and the Easter Egg (Railway Rabbits) by Georgie Adams

Nothing exciting happens to Bramble - or does it? But when he hears about golden eggs at Fairweather's Farm Park, he knows that this is his chance to do something special. But what he finds when he gets there turns out to be much more important than an Easter egg... Perfect for sharing and equally good for young independent readers, this is a charming series with traditional values - think Beatrix Potter and Alison Uttley. A lovely series for children who enjoy animal stories - and for those who don't think they like animal stories!

Dandelion Clocks by Rebecca Westcott

Olivia's happy settled family life is shattered when her mother becomes ill and dies. from thirteen weeks before to the time after, this is an deeply emotional and incredibly sad account of the last weeks of Olivia's mother's life and the events after. Her autistic brother Isaac and the way he struggles with the unexpected is a key part of the story and is portrayed with great insight. Liv gains strength from her photos and her diaries in this moving account which, despite the deep sorrow, has uplifting and heart-warming moments that lift the story and amke the abiding memory the loving relationship between mother and daughter. Definitely one for the upper level of this age range and a book which will strike a chord in anyone who has suffered loss in a similar way.

The Magnificent Lizzie Brown and the Mysterious Phantom by Vicki Lockwood

Lizzie Brown is part of Fitzy's Travelling Circus. In a world full of charlatans and tricksters, she may be the only true clairvoyant palm reader. While reading a client's palm, she sees shocking images of a masked man, The Phantom, taking part in a violent robbery. Lizzie musters together her gang of circus children, the Penny Gaff Gang, all with their own amazing talents to reveal the true identity of The Phantom.

Gladiator School: Blood and Sand by Dan Scott

Gladiator School is an exciting series set in Ancient Rome. Lucius and Isidora are looking after the wild beasts that will hunt, fight and die in the arena. Emperor Titus has decreed a hundred days of games to celebrate the opening of his new amphitheatre. Lucius's brother, the famous gladiator Quintus Felix, will once again face death or glory in the games. Lucius still faces the uphill task of convincing the Emperor that his father is innocent. I love to encourage children to read books like this, with their authentic historical background, to support and encourage their school work.

Nick and Tesla's Secret Agent Gadget Battle by Science Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith

This is an interesting combination of fiction and science which will attract a new group of readers - those who are uninspired by conventional stories. 11-year-old whizz-kids Nick and Tesla discover that someone in the quiet town of Half Moon Bay has placed their beloved Uncle Newt under electronic surveillance. Who is spying on him, and why? To expose the secret agent, Nick and Tesla build all kinds of outrageous contraptions. Throughout the book, the narrative is interrupted by blueprints and instructions so that budding young inventors can follow along. Science and electronics have never been so much fun! A super concept and with some excellent projects to tackle. Also available in this super series is Nick and Tesla's Robot Army Rampage: A Mystery with Hoverbots, Bristle Bots, and Other Robots You Can Build Yourself

The Black Crow Conspiracy (Penny Dreadful) by Christopher Edge

This is the conclusion of a trilogy which I have really enjoyed. Feisty heroine Penelope Tredwell is an unusual and strong female character who stands out in male-dominated Victorian/Edwardian England - although she writes under a male pseudonym. But Penny has writer's block - until she hatches a plot based on a mysterious letter. Things are not what they seem though and soon she finds she has uncovered a real mystery... and that's just the beginning. A fast-paced story that has the reader gripped - to my mind, the best of the trilogy and what a shame this is the last.

Joey Pigza Swallowed The Key by Jack Gantos

Joey is absolutely full of life and a real handful - he bounces everywhere and just never seems to stop. He's not a bad boy but he just can't help himself. Will his school be able to cope or will he be sent to another school? This is a fast-paced story that never stops - just like Joey himself. Joey has ADHD and these hilarious stories give a wonderful insight into his life which will enlighten as well as entertain. I'd recommend the books to parents of children with ADHD too, so they can get a different perspective. In Joey Pigza Loses Control we find out some of the reasons behind Joey's behaviour when Joey spends the summer with his Dad. The ensuing chaos is hilarious!

I Am Not Joey Pigza by Jack Gantos

Joey seems to be more settled but his life is changing - his Dad is back home, wealthy after a lottery win. His Dad is going to run a diner - and changes the family name to Heinz. And - there's a baby on the way. This story shows us a softer side of Joey which makes him even more likeable. What Would Joey Pigza Do? is the third story and takes place before I am Not Joey Pigza. Grandma wants Joey to find a friend, stop running around after his parents and look after himself. But Joey's got other plans ... Humorous and yet realistic stories which will take the reader on an emotional roller-coaster, children (whether with ADHD, with classmates with ADHD and just children in general) will love these and they would make great class reads. Written with thoughtful perception, these stories will surely promote greater understanding as well as being thoroughly enjoyable reads.

Agatha Parrot and the Odd Street Ghost by Kjartan Poskitt

If you want a fun-filled series, then this is for you - it goes from strength to strength. "It was a dark and stormy night..." - what a way to start a story and capture the attention. But before that, don't miss the hilarious 'How to read this book'. Agatha and her friends are woken by the bell ringing... and ringing... and ringing so they decide to spend the night in the school hall to investigate. Inventive and creative, girls will warm to Agatha and her friends and the zany illustrations and layout will captivate even reluctant readers.

Darcy Burdock: Hi So Much. (Darcy Burdock 2) by Laura Dockrill

I loved Darcy Burdock when I read her first story and I enjoyed this even more. It's time for Darcy to move on to big school and everything is changing. Darcy, with her quirky way at looking at the world, always faces challenges head-on and a new school won't faze her. The story is sprinkled with Darcy's own highly inventive stories and the book enlivened by delightfully quirky sketches which could be done by Darcy herself. Lively characters and a great narrative style make this an engaging read. This would be a great read for girls in Year 6 who are about to make that big move themselves.

Girl Wonder and the Terrific Twins by Malorie Blackman

Maxine is Girl Wonder and her twin brothers Anthony and Edward are The Terrific Twins. Here are nine hilarious short stories, perfect for building confidence in new readers, whether reading aloud or reading alone. Just the right length to read in one sitting they are fun and light-hearted for young readers.

Biggles of the Fighter Squadron by W E Johns

Fitting releases for this centenary year, these are still exciting adventures and it's good to see they stick to the original text. Towards the end of First World War, Biggles and his fellow flyers are struggling to maintain supremacy over the enemy pilots. It's a dangerous world but Biggles and the other resourceful pilots are determined fighters.Biggles: The Camels Are Coming is the first Biggles book that was published so this is an excellent way to get to know him and share in the excitement of his early flying adventures. Danger and comradeship are the key elements of these stories - elements that will never date. The book covers are even produced with a nostalgic feel - nice touch.
 

Doll Bones by Holly Black

 A chilling story, haunting and memorable which really crosses between this age group and fiction for 11+. Imaginative twelve-year-old Zach is too old to play with toys, says his father. But even though he stops hanging out with Poppy and Alice, stops playing with his action figures, it's no good, he can't escape the one toy that still wants to play with him. China doll or a doll that's made from the bones of a dead girl, The Queen creeps her way into Zach's dreams. The only way to end the game is to lay the doll to rest forever. It's time for a journey to Spring Grove cemetery.  Scary? Creepy? Yet there's a light touch that makes it readable without too much terror.

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