Book reviews - fiction 5 to 11 (page 8)

Fleeced by Ellie Irving

I really can't do better than quote from the back cover of this hilarious book - it tells you all you need to know! "WARNING! THIS STORY CONTAINS: A sheep called Alan Shearer. Even though she's a she. The greatest illusion trick known to man! DASTARDLY crooks. A pesky big brother. A 1000-piece Lord of the Rings Jigsaw puzzle with all the pieces making up Gandalf’s face missing. Shear determination. A brave young hero. Yep, that’s me. Charlie Rudge, aged 10 and ¾… READ ON IF EWE DARE!" If you want a comic book that will have you giggling from start to finish, this is it - and the feel-good factor lasts.

The Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne

This is a powerful new novel from the author of the highly acclaimed The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, and it is equally atmospheric and disturbing. At the age of seven, newly orphaned Pierrot had to leave his life in Paris to live with his Aunt Beatrix, a servant in a house high in the German mountains. The house; is the Berghof, the home of Adolf Hitler; the date is 1935. Pierrot soon finds himself a protégé of Hitler, thrown into an increasingly dangerous new world: - a world from which there seems to be no escape. He finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into a world of terror, horror, secrets and betrayal. It’s a mesmerising story of how people behave when they feel protected from harm and are coerced into believing wrong is right. An amazing and disturbing story of how an innocent boy changes, as we watch Pierrot become Pieter.

Daisy and the Trouble with Piggy Banks (Daisy Books) by Kes Gray

Such fun! Daisy is a wonderful character - full of life, lively and hilarious; a laugh-aloud person who warms the hearts of her readers. Trouble is never far away where Daisy is concerned and the hilarity continues in this, the tenth book. When her best friend Gabby turns up at Daisy's house with the most awesome, immense, water-squirting micro-scooter Daisy's ever seen, Daisy knows she's got to have one too! Trouble is, they cost a LOT of money. So Daisy and Gabby hatch a money-making plan... This chunky book features short chapters and a good sized font, perfect to give newly independent readers confidence and show them how much fun there is to be had from books.

The Doldrums (The Doldrums, Book 1) by Nicholas Gannon

This is a superbly told story about friendship, adventure and imagination, with three unlikely stars. Archer B. Helmsley longs for adventure – but his over-protective mother will hardly let him out of the house. Not to be deterred, with the aid of his best friends, Adélaïde L. Belmont and Oliver Grub, Archer hatches a plot. They’re off to rescue Archer’s grandparents who, it seems, got stuck on an iceberg, never to return. Well, that’s the plan, but plans have a surprising habit of not turning out quite as expected… With beautiful coloured artwork, unexpected and very welcome in a novel for middle grade readers, this is an exciting and exhilarating debut novel.

Issie and the Christmas Pony (Pony Club Secrets) by Stacy Gregg

This special Christmas story takes us back to the time when Issie first met Mystic. Issie had always wanted a pony of her own and, with a little bit of Christmas magic, she gets her wish. Girls who enjoy these tales of gymkhanas, mysteries and friendship, all centred around the girls’ love of ponies, will thoroughly enjoy this festive prequel – a perfect stocking filler.

The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine

I did enjoy this! The reader is cordially invited to attend the Grand Opening of Sinclair's department store – and is immediately swept into the world of the Edwardians. Entering a world of bonbons, hats, perfumes and Mysteries around every corner you will wonder at the daring theft of the priceless Clockwork Sparrow. Dastardly villains are on the rampage – and set against them are the intrepid Miss Sophie Taylor and Miss Lilian Rose. Superbly written and with two wonderful heroines, this is the first in what promises to be an exceptional series. It’s the perfect example of a traditional crime/mystery series, ideally written for 8-12 year olds.

Mister Cleghorn's Seal by Judith Kerr

It's always a real treat to read a new book from a much-acclaimed author and this tender and touching story did not disappoint. What do you do if you find an abandoned seal pup on a rock in the middle of the sea? Well, take it home with you to your flat, of course. At least that’s what Mr Albert Cleghorn thought, though perhaps he hadn’t considered all the complications… This is their story, which turns into the story of a zoo... a zoo which needs saving. The pencil drawings almost tell the story by themselves, so beautifully drawn with delicate attention to detail. The story of the seal is inspired by a true story, which is related at the end of the book. This sensitively written story which has a touch of sadness, is a delight to read and will appeal to all ages - and there's a happy ending for everyone.

Dixie O'Day and the Haunted House (Dixie O'Day 4) by Shirley Hughes

These books are really visual treats and a lovely way to encourage newly confident readers to dip into books on their own. With short chapters and a heavy emphasis on the illustrations (by Clare Vulliamy, the author's daughter), they are fun to read. It's a dark and stormy night and Dixie has decided to eschew comfortable family camp sites in favour of somewhere lonely, despite Percy's misgivings. The duo seek refuge in an old house but get more than they bargained for... Luckily, all is well by the end. With maps to follow and activities to enjoy, this book is great fun.

Why Is This Night Different from All Other Nights? (All The Wrong Questions) by Lemony Snicket

The elusive Lemony Snicket is hugely popular and the adventures of the Baudelaire children have been a runaway success. This is the fourth and final book in the 'All the Wrong Questions' series. Before you start this book, you must ask yourself some serious questions - you'll find them on the back cover. There was a town, and there was a train, and there was a murder. Apprentice investigator Lemony Snicket was on the train, and he thought that if he solved the murder he could save the town. He was almost thirteen and he was wrong. He was wrong about all of it. He should have asked the question “Is it more beastly to be a murderer or to let one go free?” Instead, he asked the wrong question – four wrong questions, more or less. This is the account of the last… Wonderfully written, with wit and humour, this will appeal to all fans of both series.

The Enchanted Snow Pony (Princess Evie 4) by Sarah Kilbride

I like the way these early chapter books follow on from the picture books series, meaning young fans can continue to read about the exploits of Princess Evie and her friends. It's an excellent way to encourage children's reading progression as they will be keen to keep up-to-date with their favourites. Evie and her Welsh mountain pony Silver are off on a on a thrilling wintry adventure to see the Northern Lights, and to go to the Mid-Winter Ball. Evie and her friends are busy sledging, making magical snow dresses and catching up with old friends. As ever, their help is needed though - can they rescue one of the Queen's fairies on their way to the ball? To extend the enjoyment of the book, there are pony facts and activities. A dream book for pony-mad little girls.

The Enchanted Horse by Magdalen Nabb

This is a beautiful new edition of a much-loved classic. It is the story of Irina and a toy horse who transformed her life. Irina spotted a scruffy horse in a junk-shop window, and as a lonely only child, she decided to take it home and look after it. But Bella is a very special horse and magical journeys lie in wait for Irina and Bella. The magical line drawings are vivid and realistic with a wonderful sense of movement. A touching and sensitive story written with real insight; a timeless story and a lovely edition to hand down through the family.

Beyond the Stars edited by Sarah Webb

Sarah Webb has brought together a selection of short stories from a range of superb Irish authors; the final story is a winter-themed tale from the winner of HarperCollins’ competition for young writers. The stories cover a variety of styles, meaning there is something for everyone in this hardback a book to treasure. Authors include Eoin Colfer, Roddy Doyle, Derek Landy and John Boyne, and the line-up of illustrators is equally illustrious. All profits go to Fighting Words – the Irish Story Centre in support of Creative Writing for Children and Adults. Short stories are a good way to encourage children to try different authors, so make the most of the talented writers who have contributed.

White Boots by Noel Streatfeild

I am thrilled to see that Noel Streatfeild's books are still being reissued - her books were a huge part of my childhood and I would love to see children enjoying them as much as I do. Her characters are so well written and I love the way she expresses their words - she really brings them to life. Harriet is told that she must take up ice-skating in order to improve her health. She's not much good at it, until she meets Lalla Moore, a young skating star. But then Harriet's skills start to exceed Lalla's, and Lalla doesn’t like it. Does Harriet want to save their friendship more than she wants to skate? Or can the two be kept? Yes, it's a different world - but the themes of friendship, loyalty, talent and working hard to achieve success never date.A superb writer who brings people and places to life.

The Tournament at Gorlan: (Ranger's Apprentice The Early Years 1) by John Flanagan

When you have been engrossed in a really gripping series, often, you want to know how the protagonists reached their current point - and that's where prequels come in; this takes us back to the time before Will was a Ranger's apprentice. Halt and Crowley have discovered that the ambitious Morgarath has been infiltrating the Rangers in order to corrupt the corps and steal the throne; they must stop him. It's time for the Rangers to prove their worth... The series is fantasy at its best and this introductory story sets the scene and gives a marvellous introduction - newbies to the series, start here!

Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye by Tania Rio

Meet Warren the 13th, a cursed twelve-year-old Victorian bellhop who's terribly unlucky, yet perpetually optimistic, hard-working, and curious. Warren's pride and joy is his family's Warren Hotel, but he's been miserable ever since his evil Aunt Anaconda took over the management. Anaconda believes a mysterious treasure known as The All-Seeing Eye is hidden somewhere in the walls of the hotel, and she'll do anything to find it. If Warren wants to preserve his family's legacy, he'll need to find the treasure first - if the hotel's many strange and wacky guests don't beat him to it! The quirky and unusual presentation with plenty of red and black line drawings will attract the reader, who will quickly engage with the arrative style - and the charismatic hero.

Frank Einstein and the Brainturbo (Book three) by Jon Scieszka

Frank Einstein is a child who loves to take things apart, to investigate and to solve problems.. Along with his best friend Watson and Klink (a self-assembled artificial-intelligence entity), and Klank (a mostly self-assembled and artificial almost intelligence entity), once again find themselves in competition with T. Edison, their classmate and archrival. Their quest this time is to unlock the power behind the science of the human body - quite a challenge! An exciting narrative combines with plenty of accurate scientific information to make a fast-paced and exhilarating read for all children with an interest in science.

Night Break (Young Sherlock) by Andrew Lane

All good things come to an end - and this is the last in the young Sherlock series. There are problems in the Holmes family. Sherlock's mother has died, his father has disappeared in India and his sister is acting strangely. But while Sherlock is worrying about all of this, a man living nearby vanishes in his own house while Sherlock and Mycroft are visiting. Where did he go, and what is the connection with a massive canal being built in Egypt? The answer will rock the world, and tear the Holmes family apart! Superbly plotted and wonderfully characterised, the series has thrown a whole new (and entirely believable) light on the master detective. Maybe not too sad an ending though, because surely the excellence of this serie will stimulate readers to go on to discover the joys of Conan Doyle's classic stories.

My Great Success and Other Failures by Catherine Wilkins

Jess lives for her cartoons – and it seems her school work is suffering. But then her sister asks for her help with a campaign and all of a sudden, she is in danger of becoming really rather famous. Of course, fame won’t change her… or will it? Luckily, her friends are around to keep her grounded and when things change, they are there for her. Hilariously written and with superb characterisation, this is a perfect reads for tweens, who will really identify with Jess, her family and friends. It’s lively and engaging, with plenty of amusing cartoons to add to the fun. This is the fourth in a great series; they’re best read in order.

The Erth Dragons: Book 1: The Wearle by Chris D'Lacey

The Wearle came to Erth to find out what happened to their previous colony, who never returned. Among their number is Gabrial, a young blue dragon, who is keen to play his part. But the mountains conceal others - out beyond the scorch line, Ren, a young hom boy, is fascinated by the 'skalers'. Little does he know that his fate and theirs are linked in ways he could never have imagined. Compelling, engrossing, bewitching – this story is all these and more; a worthy addition to the canon of superbly imagined fantasy books. This is just the start of the series – I foretell great things.

Frankie's Magic Football: Meteor Madness by Frank Lampard

This lively series is the perfect way to encourage young readers who would much prefer to be kicking a football around. Get them engaged with these books and they will soon find out that reading can be just as much fun. Frankie has a very special football, and with its help, he and his team-mates have plenty of exciting adventures. This could be the most exciting of all - they're off into space! When Frankie and his friends climb into a broken Galaxy Quest ride, the shuttle sends them flying beyond the stars! Can Frankie and his team win a game against aliens, and save their new friends from a meteor? Can Frankie and friends win this really important game? Short chapters make the book ideal as a bedtime read or one for newly independent readers to enjoy.

A New Hero (World of Warriors book 1) by Curtis Jobling

Based on the fantasy adventure game, World of Warriors, this is an exciting adventure which brings a new dimension to what may already be familiar characters. Trick is running away from a group of bullies and seeks refuge in the British Museum... and finds himself transported to the mystical Wildlands, where the greatest warriors throughout history have been summoned to fight in a battle for survival - from Romans and Vikings to Knights and Samurai! Trick learnsthat he's there for a reason - to deliver the Wildlands from the evil Boneshaker, who rules with an army of terrifying minions. Trick has been chosen to form a band of the seven greatest warriors to defeat this terrible enemy. As Trick begins his epic quest the stakes couldn't be higher: defeat Boneshaker or never see home again. Compelling right from the start, this is a great way to learn more about warriors, with plenty of history along the way.

Aliens! (Dirty Bertie) by Alan MacDonald

The adventures keep coming and there is still plenty of fun to be had for fans of Dirty Bertie, the boy with the grossest habits, as he brings us his 26th book of adventures. The fun-filled stories keep up the high standard and variety as he encounters aliens in the school playground, takes to the skies at a balloon festival and becomes a modern day Robin Hood. There are three stories in each book, and they are the ideal length for confident readers to enjoy for themselves; the generous use of illustrations adds to the fun and reading enjoyment. They are also a good length for bedtime stories, to send your child off to sleep with a giggle on their lips.

Dara Palmer's Major Drama by Emma Shevah

11 year old Dara Palmer has a big ambition - to be a famous actress. So when she doesn't get a part on the school play - let alone the lead part she hoped for - she looks for a reason. Loath to believe her acting ability is the problem, she thinks it may be her looks; she is Cambodian. Reluctantly, she joins Miss Snelling's drama group - maybe her acting is the problem after all. As the story progresses, Dara learns more about her family and her background, and starts to think about others. Lively and well-written, with fun drawings around every page, this is a good read with a strong message about following your own path. Dara is a determined character and her story is moving, funny and enjoyable.

Theatre Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

Noel Streatfeild was one of my favourite childhood authors and it's good to see her books are kept in print. This is one of the series which included perhaps the best-known, Ballet Shoes, as well as White Boots and Tennis Shoes; I liked the fact that the Fossil sisters appeared in this book, giving a sense of continuity. The three Forbes children had no idea they came from a theatrical family, but when they are sent to live with their grandmother, they learn she was a famous actress, as are others in their family. Sent to theatre schoo, they are soon on their way to join the rest of the family. I love the way Noel Streatfield's child characters are brought to life - she has a very distinctive voice and expresses personality superbly. Daughter of a vicarage and an actress herself, Noel Streatfeild uses her background to create really authentic stories - her knowledge of theatrical life makes this book a vivid evocation of the theatre. A really good read which, although obviously dated in places, is still fresh and lively.

Katy by Jacqueline Wilson

Inspired by the much-loved classic, What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge, Jacqueline Wilson brings us a modern-day version in her own very special inimitable style. 11 year old Katy is an adventurous girl, but she struggles to relate to her stepmother. Katy's life changes in dramatic and unexpected ways after a serious accident and we learn what a strong and determined girl she really is. With the strong emphasis on family life which characterises the original story, Jacqueline Wilson is the perfect author to revisit this much-loved classic. There is much to remind us of the original family, beyond the names, and yet the story manages to be fresh and modern. It can be read with no knowledge of the original but I think it adds a level of interest if you read both books. Sadness and happiness mingle together in the book, which is excellently and sensitively written. Another hit for Jacqueline Wilson!

What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge

I really enjoyed re-reading this childhood favourute (my old copy is still on my bookshelf!). Headstrong tomboy Katy Carr intends to be beautiful and beloved and as sweet as an angel one day. But that's all for the future as she is far from that at the moment. Then a terrible accident happens and Katy must find the courage to remember her daydreams and the delightful plans she once schemed. Katy bravely learns to live with being unable to walk, her determination and imagination unquenched. With her family alongside her, Katy rebuilds her world. This edition features a special introduction by Cathy Cassidy, plus an author profile, a guide to who's who, activities and more. Read this and Jacqueline Wilson's story to make both extra-special; comparing the two would make an interesting classroom discussion.

Rescue on Nim's Island by Wendy Orr

Nim lives on an beautiful island with her father, a marine iguana called Fred, a sea lion called Selkie, and their friend Alex Rover, the adventure writer. This idyllic life is under threat when Nim's father invites a group of scientists to visit, along with their children. When Nim discovers what the scientists are really after, and what they will do to get it, the children and the island are under threat. Nim faces a hard choice - saving a natural treasure or saving someone's life. Well written and engrossing, this is the sequel to stories that inspired two major films.

Danger is Still Everywhere: Beware of the Dog (Danger is Everywhere book 2) by David O'Doherty

If you want to know how to avoid all sorts of danger, and especially very unlikely danger, then this book is for YOU. A little dog called Napkin hardly seems to pose a problem, but for Docter Noel it is. Every POD (that's Pupil of Dangerology to you and I) knows the only safe pet is a pet rock. So now Docter Noel is hiding in a wardrobe while Napkin wreaks havoc around the Dangerzone. Docter Noel is supposed to be writing his new VERY IMPORTANT handbook on Dangerology (Level 2)- that is until the Pet of the Year (POTY) contest is announced and Docter Noel hatches a plan. There's only one problem. Serial safety-flouter Max WURST is the judge. . . Silly through and through, children will love the zany humour and the wonderful illustrations which make up a huge part of the book.

Barry Loser's Ultimate Book of Keelness by Jim Smith

Is your child one of the legions of Barry Loser fans? Then they will LOVE this book, which is packed with silliness and is the perfect accompaniment to the series. Packed full of brilliant content, it includes the World Book Day book 'I am nit a Loser', the short stories ‘Bunky is a Loser’ and ‘My Dad is a Loser’, editions of the Daily Poo, a Q&A with Jim from his fans and pages of brand-new superkeel drawing guides and activities. The book has generous numbers of illustrations, all hilarious and bound to appeal to children who enjoy the books. It's all fun and a good way to encourage children to read more of the stories if they haven't done so already.

Victory and the All-Stars Academy (Pony Club Secrets, Book 8) by Stacy Gregg

This is an excellent Pony Club series which carries on the tradition of old favourites like Christine Pullein-Thompson, but gives them a modern twist. The classic elements are all here - riding competitions to win, rivals to defeat, mysteries to solve and ponies in danger. In this story, Issie has won a place in the National Junior Team and is selected to compete in the Young Rider Express Eventing Challenge in Australia. Victory is the perfect horse, but her instructor is hard to impress. That's not her only problem - a nightmare room-mate and a hard-to-keep secret threaten Issie success. Fortune and the Golden Trophy (Pony Club Secrets, Book 7) precedes this story but the books work equally well as stand-alones - although I think young horse and pony fans will want to collect them all! Issie has Fortune, a dozy piebald Blackthorn Pony she must work into winning form. True to form, there are other challenges - someone is doing their best to wreck relations between the riders and a nearby golf course? Could Pony Club itself be under threat?

The Glass Tear by Anna Howard

This lyrical story is set on the beautiful Pembrokeshire coast. Clearing up after her great-aunt died, her great niece finds, in an old tea caddy, wrapped in a piece of silk, a piece of frosted glass, shaped like a perfect tear and swirled with all the colours of the seascape. What is it? Where did it come from? Further investigation reveals tissue thin paper tucked away in the corner of the box, and there Bron tells the tale of a day like no other when a glass tear landed with a 'thwump' in her lap. This is a beautifully told story, accompanied by superbly detailed illustrations by Fran Evans which perfectly encapsulate the feel of the story. A book to treasure and to re-read when you want to be uplifted.

Spy Cat: Safari (Spy Dog) by Andrew Cope

First there was Spy Dog, and now there's Spy Cat. Exotic animals are going missing around the world, and the clues lead to Lord Large's country house. It's time for Agent 009, aka Spy Cat Shakespeare, to prove his worth. Fun and imaginative, this is a good read for children of 6+ - younger readers will enjoy it as a bedtime story and older ones will relish the chance to read it alone - and to get hooked into the whole series. It's a fairly easy read, but there's plenty of action to grab the attention and some super animal characters.

The Diary of Dennis the Menace: Canine Carnage (book 5) by Steven Butler

You might be surprised to know that Dennis the Menace keeps a diary - not something you'd associate with the tearaway. It's great fun - Dennis' inimitable style shines through and the combination of diary-style entries with hilarious illustrations and great use of text styles makes it a book that even Dennis himself would enjoy! Gnasher is in trouble and Dennis must go to the rescue of his faithful friend. "If he's not careful, DENNIS AND THE DINMAKERS are going to be kicked out of THE FAME FACTOR competition. And with our rockin' tunes, we're guaranteed winners! I have to do something to help Gnasher out - before he ends up in the doghouse for good!" Great fun; a lively read for all Dennis fans.

The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell

Rich people in Russia would keep wolves as pets - but they would find they couldn't cope with them, so they were returned to the wild. Here's where Feodora and her mother come in; Feodora's mother is a wolf wilder, and Feo is a wolf wilder in training. A wolf wilder teaches wolves to look after themselves, to fight and to be wary of humans. When the murderous hostility of the Russian Army threatens her existence, Feo must run from her old life. What follows is a story of revolution and adventure, set in a superbly depicted Russia of around a century ago, although in may respects the story is timeless. Feo is a strong and positive character with excellent character traits; she stands up for what she believes in and the story celebrates loyalty. The wolves are the other stars of the story, depicted with love and compassion.

Conor's Caveman: The Amazing Adventures of Ogg by Alan Nolan

This book is such fun - a really enjoyable read; right from the first page, it is full of zany, inconsequential humour which carries on through the book, ably abetted by the drawings. Conor Corcoran is quiet and shy and prfers to hide from the world. Class bully Damian Deegan is always teasing him about being small and having no friends – when in fact Conor has the only friend he needs in Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Finch, the toughest girl in school. But when Conor and Charlie accidentally uncover a prehistoric man who was flash-frozen in a block of ice, life suddenly gets a bit too interesting! How long can Conor keep his huge, hairy (and rather smelly) new ‘uncle’ a secret from his mum, his teachers and a gang of ruthless scientists? A pre-hysterical book indeed - the publisher's words, not mine!

All About Pumpkin: The Diaries of Bluebell Gadsby 3 by Natasha Farrant

Siblings Bluebell, Twig and Jas have been sent to stay with Grandma for the summer. The countryside is how Bluebell remembers it - full of fun and adventure. But this year, it feels different somehow. There is sobbing and shouting; there are cantering horses and night-time dares, confusing boys and grandmas to look after. But there is also laughter and more than this, there is love - and that's what being a family is all about. The appealing format is a mix of traditional diary format and transcripts of video clips - it sounds strange but it really works, changing the pace and keeping the attention. Happiness and sadness, family bonds and plenty of freedom and adventure combine to make a moving and engrossing read.

After Iris: The Diaries of Bluebell Gadsby 1 by Natasha Farrant

The story of the Gadsby's chaotic family life began with After Iris which introduced us, not only to the family but also to the Bosnian au-pair Zoran and troublesome next-door neighbour Joss - both of these just add to the chaos. Iris was Bluebell's twin; she died before the start of the book and things have never been the same. The story continues in Flora in Love: The Diaries of Bluebell Gadsby (Diaries of Bluebell Gadsby 2) with There is weeping and storming off. There are orphaned kittens and internet disasters. Guitar-playing runaway boys and little sisters with secrets. With a strong family theme running through the series, the books are perceptive and engaging; despite the chaos, the stories make us appreciate the bond of family. The first two titles in The Diaries of Bluebell Gadsby have been reissued to tie in with the third in the series. The tinted edges to the pages, which match the cover colour, make the books look very attractive and ideal to collect as a set.

Explosive Adventures by Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith writes just as well for children as he does for adults and this bindup of two fabulously fun, wonderfully witty adventure mysteries offers plenty of enjoyable reading. In Popcorn Pirates we meet what could be the greediest gang of grub-guzzling pirates ever to sail the high seas. They are after the Popcorn Islands' harvest; can Lucy, Hermione and Sam stop them? In The Bubblegum Tree, we learn that secret ingredient for Gopal's Best Pink Bubblegum has not been delivered for two months; Billy, Nicola and Mr Gopal are off to the jungle in a flying boat to solve the baffling mystery. Traditional in the best sense of the word, the books are full of adventure and feature some great characters.

Where Poppies Grow (Ellie's War) by Emily Sharratt

This is the third book in a moving series set against the backdrop of the First World War. It's winter, 1916 and Ellie is determined to leave tiny Endstone village and follow her dream of becoming a nurse. But Ellie faces a dilemma - working in the city hospital will take her away from first-love and childhood friend, Jack. Of course, with all the optimism of first love, they promise they will make it work, but will circumstances separate them? Touching and tender, this is a good read, with excellently drawn characters and an atmospheric background.

How Harry Riddles Got Nearly Almost Famous (Shoutykid, Book 3) by Simon Mayle

I can't do better than quote Harry's own introduction to his hilarious third set of adventures. "Hi there, So I’ve joined a band with Jess and this new kid, Kevin, who is pretty annoying but also a REALLY talented guitar player. We’ve got a good shot at winning the Battle of the Bands competition for our school as long as Kevin doesn’t get expelled first. But here’s the thing, my dad has this crazy idea to take me, my mum, my EVIL sister and my twin brothers sailing round the world. For TWO years!!!! Swimming with dolphins, and scuba diving would be pretty cool, but how am I meant to reach rock stardom if I’m stuck on a boat in the middle of the ocean? Good luck and have fun. Harry Riddles" This is Harry's own voice and this is what this whole book is like - full of big ideas that don't quite come off - but it's huge fun reading about them! It's a brilliant way to encourage boys and girls to enjoy books and reading.

Creature Teacher Goes Wild (Creature Teacher 2) by Sam Watkins

I loved Creature Teacher so it's good to se the series continue - and just as good as ever. It's not the children who are out of control in this classroom - it's the teacher! Mr Hyde is much-loved by his class and they are determined to keep his secret - when things go wrong, he turns into a Creature! Jake and his class are going to the opening of Wilf's Wild Adventure Theme Park. But when Mr Hyde tuns into Creature, he causes chaos and it's up to Jake and his friends to find Creature and get him to turn back into Mr Hyde before the truth about their teacher gets out. A hilarious story which turns the tables on normal expectations - here it's the children who must look after the teacher. A crazy but fun read, enlivened by the illustrations.

Biggles Defends the Desert by W E Johns

Biggles is almost too well known to need an introduction - but if you don't know about him - James Bigglesworth, ("Biggles") is a fictional pilot and adventurer, whose first adventures were during World War I. Now, it's the Second World War and Biggles is in the desert, defending the vital air-route from the West coast of Africa to the Middle East. Urgent stores, dispatches and important officials and officers are regularly flown over this route, but lately a number of planes have unaccountably failed to arrive at their destinations. They've disappeared on route and Biggles is there to find out why - and stop it happening again. In Biggles Fails to Return, our intrepid hero disappears when on a mission to rescue an Italian princess - luckily, he has good friends... These are traditional adventure stories, with strong characters and exciting settings; fairly easy reading but none the worse for that; they have thrilled generations of readers and their enduring popularity shows how good they are.

The Royal Bake Off by Clémentine Beauvais

This is a sweet eries and, of course, makes the most of the nation's current passion for baking and baking challenges. Keen bakers Holly, Anna and Pepino are delighted when King Steve invites them to be his kitchen assistants in an international Royal Bake Off. The prize money could finally make their dream of the intergalactic holiday of a lifetime come true. But have the girls bitten off more than they can chew? With round after round of death-defying baking; King Steve is determined to win whatever and one of the contestants also plotting to take over Americanada, this is one dramatic baking competition. With plenty of humour and amasing illustrations, this is a fun and enjoyable read.

Isaac Thompson and the Knights of Castle School by Douglas Gibson

One day, Isaac Thompson is just an ordinary child playing the part of a porcupine in the school play. But, in an exciting and unexpected twist when in search of his missing sister, he finds himself in a mysterious underground realm that has been lurking beneath his school - and he's off on a quest to be a knight The book uses cream paper, which makes the text more accessible for dyslexic readers.

Just William by Richmal Crompton

Fantastic! William introduced to a whole new generation of readers; and just as funny as ever. The story is set in 1922 - a very different world from today and William and his Outlaws fall foul of a varied selection of authoritarian characters. They mean well, but somehow things don't quite work out as intended.The setting may be different, but William's hilarious escapades will still appeal to today's girls and boys. The language is rewarding and the characters true-to-life. The inclusion of the original pen-and-ink drawings by Thomas Henry is wonderful - it brings the era to life and the book is a piece of social history in itself.

Oscar and the Amazing Gravity Repellent by Tina L. Peterson

An awkward third-grader discovers an old abandoned caboose and inside it, an antidote to gravity. Gravity always seems out to get Oscar - he's always falling over and it seems to be on the side of a 6th grade bully who makes his life difficult. But he can’t do anything about it…or can he? Accompanied by his best friend Asha, Oscar learns about the force of gravity: what it does, what happens when it goes away, and how it can be useful. In this page-turner sure to appeal to reluctant readers, Oscar faces the consequences of his actions, struggles with the complications of what’s right and wrong, and ultimately defends himself against the bully. Along the way, he gets to explore an old caboose, float upside-down, ride a ceiling fan, and hang out in the coolest tree-house a kid could want.

Nathalia Buttface and the Most Embarrassing Five Minutes of Fame Ever (Nathalia Buttface 3) by Nigel Smith

Nathalia Buttface has THE most embarrassing dad ever - and things get even more embarrassing in the third book in this hilarious series, which will have boys and girls in fits of laughter. This time, Dad has posted an embarrassing video of Nat online as a joke - and the video goes viral! Nat is an overnight sensation– even the Prime Minister is imitating her! Tryiing to use Nat's celebrity for good, Dad convinces Nat to raise money to save a local pet rescue home. Not quite the glamorous events she had envisaged, Nat finds herself hair-modelling job, campaigning for a local optician and turning on the town’s autumn illuminations. But is fale all it's cracked up to be, and will Nat's true friends stand by her?

The Curse of the Cairo Cat, A Lottie Lipton Adventure by Dan Metcalf

This is a lovely series for newly-independent readers who want a bit of excitement mixed with a bit of history in their reading. Young investigator Lottie livies in the British Museum with Great Uncle Bert and the museum is the setting for these lively mysteries. When the Golden Cat of Cairo disappears at the launch of a new exhibition, Lottie's home is under threat. Can Lottie, Great Uncle Bert and Reg the caretaker (and young readers) follow the clues and find the cat in time, or will Lottie lose her home forever? In Secrets of the Stone, A Lottie Lipton Adventure, following a break-in at the museum, our heroes discover a mysterious clue on the Rosetta Stone that will lead them to the legendary Trident of Neptune. Can they solve the clue and find the Trident before the canny thief, Bloomsbury Bill, beats them to it? The stories have appealing characters and are well-paced, engaging the readers' attention and involving them in the solving of the mysteries; there's good historical background too.

Alice-Miranda Shines Bright (Alice Miranda 8) by Jacqueline Harvey

Alice-Miranda and Millie make a very special discovery in the woods near their school and try to keep it to themselves. It seems that they are not the only ones on the trail to the treasure... And that's not the only mystery to sovle -  why is Jacinta being exceptionally grumpy? Will our inquisitive young detective be able to solve the mystery in time? In her next adventure, well travelled Alice Miranda  is off to Japan in Alice-Miranda in Japan (Alice Miranda 9) and finds herself drawn into another mystery; a missing person case. These are thoroughly enjoyable stories, with an endearing and resourceful central character.

Elspeth Hart and the School for Show-Offs by Sarah Forbes

Another fresh new heroine hits the shelves for for girls. Elspeth Hart is a thoroughly modern girl, full of grit and determination. Sadly, her parents were washed away in a flood and she is forced to live in the attic of the Pandora Pants School for Show-offs with her aunt, Miss Crabb. Miss Crabbhates everybody - and especially children. Elspeth spends her says cooking and cleaning and is never allowed out. But when a knock on the head brings back some of Elspeth's memories from before the flood, she suspects that Miss Crabb is hiding something. To find out, she invents a wacky plot... will she succeed? Hilariously written, wonderfully illustrated and with superbly depicted characters, I can see this being immensely popular - it's refreshingly different and Elspeth is excellent.

Elspeth Hart and the Perilous Voyage by Sarah Forbes

Elspeth Hart returns for her second adventure. Elspeth is a thoroughly modern heroine; a determined character, girls will love reading about her escapades. Having left the School for Show-offs, Elspeth is seeking her parents. Miss Crabb will have answers - but where ship has set sail! All at sea, unable to find Miss Crabb and still no closer to a reunion with her parents, things aren't looking good for Elspeth... but we know Elspeth, and she won't be deterred from her mission. With superbly written characters - many are highly unlikeable! - and plenty of humour, this is a quirky and unusual read.

A Whiff of Mystery (Fox Investigates) by Adam Frost

Famous perfumier Adolfo Aroma needs wily Fox's help at the launch of his new perfume. After a dramatic event at the launch, the recipe for a very special perfume has been stolen. This exciting story features a knock-out perfume, an underground hideout and a string of bogus bank robberies and takes the reader on a whirlwind journey from canals of Venice to the mountains of China, following detective Wily Fox on his mission to sniff out the thief. The use of language is wonderful - very clever and makes for a great read.

Silo the Seer by Veronica Peyton

Ten-year-old Silo Zyco is all alone, his family having perished in  a disaster; even his only friend has been killed. All he has inherited is a family reputation for thieving, and webbed feet. But Silo, last of the Zycos, does have one thing that others envy. He can see things. Things that will happen in the future. And the people in the Capitol are looking to recruit children just like him to save them from dangers as yet unknown. But will they want to know about the future that Silo can see?. Apparently set in a post-apocylaptic Britian, but one where recognisable elements remain, the dry humour and well drawn characters make for an exciting read - and potential for more to follow.

Katy's Pony Challenge: An Exmoor Pony Story (Katy's Ponies) by Victoria Eveleigh

Katy is busier than ever; riding Jacko, keeping Trifle in shape and trying to tame her cheeky foal Tinkerbell is keeping her busy. New neighbour, James, is willing to help but somehow just makes things worse. Alice is busy too, with her brilliant and demanding show jumping pony. So when Katy hears about a new sport called horse agility, she wonders if it could help her solve all kinds of problems.. The author has a clear love for the beautiful Exnoor countryside as well as a deep knowledge of horses and ponies, and these shine through. Young pony lovers will thoroughly enjoy this delightful book with its lovely line drawings.

Clementine Rose and the Seaside Escape (Clementine Rose 5) by Jacqueline Harvey

Adorable Clementine Rose is back with two new adventures. She is a very special little girl, who lives with Lady Clariss and her butler in a crumbling mansion. In this book, she is off to the seaside where she soon makes a new friend. Freddy takes her exploring in the beach caves, where they discover an exciting, wonderful secret. But then Clemmie's tiny teacup pig, Lavender, escapes during a storm, and everyone is needed to find her. In Clementine Rose and the Treasure Box (Clementine Rose 6), our heroine is excited to find that she has three new young neighbours and the children’s mother has promised to give ballet lessons! Clemmie can’t wait to put on a tutu and learn to dance. But when there's a disaster at the local hall, the ballet lessons are put on hold. Can Clementine Rose help the villagers? These charming books are perfect for encouraging girls to enjoy reading.

The Catsup High Detective Agency by Margaret Ryan

Cats have been going missing in Catsup and Malarkey, owner and sole employee of the Catsup Detective Agency, needs to know why. He decides to hire an assistant and his advert clearly asks for a cat - so he's surprised when Sparkie the kitten turns up. Sparkie is no ordinary kitten - he has special powers. Can this unusual detective duo solve the mystery and catch the catnapper before all the cats in Catsup disappear? The presentation of this book is great - there's a map so children can follow the events of the story and the pages are enlivened by many entertaining line drawings. A fun read.

Sparky's School Trip by Ruby Nash

Sparky and his friends are going on a school trip, and they can’t wait. They are off to a magic animal sanctuary to collect the three things they need for the Hideaway Spell: a golden egg, a dragon scale and a phoenix feather. Why do they need these things? Because if they don't find them, their school will be discovered by humans, so the pressure's on... and even more, someone is out to spoil the spell! Sparky is a lovable un-magic puppy who has found himself at a magical boarding school, enjoying fun, light-hearted adventures.

Ellie's Magical Bakery: A Royal Tea for Royalty by Ellie Simmonds

It's the annual bake-off in Greyton (bake-offs are everywhere!)and the winner gets an amazing prize - an all-expenses paid trip to London and the chance to meet a very special VIP. Ellie's always wanted to go swimming at the Olympic Park and now it looks as if her dream might come true. But she can only get there if she helps her horrid aunt and uncle win the competition. Ellie is a lovely character, a super friend and the fact she has dwarfism is not an issue in her life, but it does give an extra spice of interest to the stories. The book is packed with illustrations and the story is perfect for newly-confident readers.

Half a Man by Michael Morpurgo

From childhood, the author was both fascinated by and afraid of his grandfather. Grandpa's ship was torpedoed during the Second World War, leaving him with terribly scarred. Michael's mother warned her son not to upset his grandfather in any way and it was only when Michael grew older that he the story behind the injuries, and began to really know the man. Michael's perception and insight enables him to start healing the breach in his family. Moving and beautifully written, this perceptive short story does not hide from the truth but approaches it with empathy, making for a really moving succinctly told tale.

Prisoners in the Pyramid (Children of the Nile) by Alain Surget

This exciting adventure series is perfect for children who are fascinated by Ancient Egypt and ideal to foster an interest when studying the Ancient Egyptians at KS2. Set in the time of Cleopatra, this series tells the story of three 10 year old children, Egyptians Imeni and Cleo, and Greek Antonios, plus Fenk the desert fox. When the children uncover another plot against Cleopatra, they are trapped inside a pyramid before they can warn her. Will they escape in time to save her and themselves? Fast-moving and action-packed, readers will be kept in suspense as they enjoy the adventure and learn about past times.

I, Coriander by Sally Gardner

Coriander is the daughter of a silk merchant in 1650s London. When her mother died and her father went away, she was left with her stepmother who shut Coriander away in a chest and left to die. She emerged into the fairy world from which her mother came, and then returns at the age of 17, charged with a task that will transform her life. T. he superbly depicted historical background, including the conflict between Royalists and Puritans, and Coriander's cruel life are vividly depicted and the book is full of magic and enchantment.

The Picture That Made Time Fly by Sheila Harries

This is a time-shift story that is really credible and which handles the transition to perfection. On a school visit to the National Museum, Megan and Rhys are transported via a painting into the Cardiff Docks of the 19th century. The novel is full of adventure as they cope with living in Victorian times, trying to help a young Italian find his brother who has fallen onto hard times after becoming embroiled in a thieving racket. Will they manage to find their way back to their own times? This is an original and entertaining way of using the national collection as the basis of an intriguing plot, full of twists, set in the capital city of Wales. Well written and atmospheric, this is an excellent read.

Enid Blyton's Holiday Stories

Perfect summertime reading - and to anyone who says Enid Blyton's books aren't good reads, I would say 'look at the number of children who have developed a love for reading starting with her books'. This is a bumper selection of stories to read and share, all about summer. From sandcastles at the beach to enchanted ice-creams, step into the summer with these delightful characters; the stories epitomise childhood and all the simple pleasures that make up summer holidays. Adventure, fun and magic can all be found on holiday with Enid Blyton, who has been delighting readers for more than seventy years.

School for Stars 6: The Missing Ballerina Mystery by Holly and Kelly Willoughby

This is the sixth story in a glamorous and appealing series about dance, drama and friendship - a great combination for tweens to enjoy. It's been a busy term at L'Etoile,the school for stars, and it's time for a London holiday. But adventure follows the BFFs wherever they go, and it's not long before they find themselves exploring hidden tunnels and buried secrets surrounding a missing ballerina. Here's a mystery to really keep them on their toes! An easy and enjoyable read, with plenty of mystery and excitement.

Mortimer and the Sword Excalibur (Arabel and Mortimer Series) by Joan Aiken

Arabel Jones has a much-loved impossible pet - the raven, Mortimer. One day,a enormous hole is being dug in the park and rumour has it that King Arthur's round table is buried there. Mortimer, though, is far more interested in the giant grass-cutting machine... but the consequences are disastrous! In The Spiral Stair (Arabel and Mortimer Series), mischevious Mortimer spends his first night in the zoo and again, chaos ensues! Illustrated by the inimitable Quentin Blake, these light-hearted stories are excellently written and full of hilarious antics.

Curse of the Evil Custard (Superhero School) by Alan MacDonald

If your child is starting to read confidently and loves books that are funny and just a bit silly, then this series is for them! Dr Sinister is still out to take over the world so he hatches his latest plan - creating an evil custard that turns children into deadly blob monsters. And what better place to try it out than an unsuspecting school? Little does Dr Sinister realise that Mighty High is a school for superheroes - they are all acting ordinary to pass the school inspection! Can Stan, Minnie, Miles and, of course, Pudding the Wonder Dog come up with an anti-custard-dote in time? A laugh-aloud story and fabulous illustrations.

Dr KittyCat is Ready to Rescue: Daisy the Kitten by Jane Clarke

This cute series is perfect for early readers. In the middle of a bake-off, Daisy suddenly complains of a sore mouth and paws. Can Dr KittyCat and Peanut make her better in time for Daisy to finish her baking? This series follows the first-aid adventures of Dr KittyCat and Peanut the mouse, who's always at her side. Each book is about a small furry patient who badly needs Dr KittyCat's help. With fun and familiar contexts that children can relate to, lovable characters, and strong storylines around each medical emergency, the Dr KittyCat series has real appeal for children. The illustrations are particularly striking - a clever combination of photography and drawings that make for unusual and engaging pictures.

Pocket Pirates: 1: The Great Cheese Robbery by Chris Mould

A tiny pirate crew live in a ship in a bottle - and when nobody is watching, they come out of the ship to explore. They are only tiny but they are very adventurous... When the skirting-board mice kidnap Jones, the ship's cat, and ransom him for cheese, the Pocket Pirates spring into action. But to get the cheese, they must venture to the freezing cold place where it's always winter ... The place called Fridge. Can the Pocket Pirates survive their perilous journey and get their ship's cat back ...? An easy and fun read.

The Keeper's Secret by Diane Doona

This well-written story tells of a boy who moves from London to Pembrokeshire after losing his mother. This novel weaves the relationship between father and son, loss and adapting to new surroundings with a light touch - but it is all wrapped up in a contemporary adventure story which draws on elements of history and fantasy to create an exciting story. Running through the book also is the growing friendship between the boy and a local girl, who turns out to be somewhat of a kindred spirit. The descriptive swiring is a joy to read and the story is full of atmosphere.

Puppy Academy: Scout and the Sausage Thief (Puppy Academy 1) by Gill Lewis

Puppy Academy is just the sort of series to appeal to young animal lovers. Each story stars a plucky, irresistible puppy learning to be a working dog. Scout's taking her Care in the Community test, an important step on her way to achieving her dream of becoming a police dog. But when things go wrong, Scut finds herself left behind while her friends take the tests to get their badges. Perhaps Scout can redeem herself by finding the sausage thief who's at large in Little Barking. Easy reading and a delightful story; a great start to the new series.

The Black Lotus (The Samurai Wars) by Kieran Fanning

This exciting story introduces readers to the absorbing world of 16th century Japan. Travelling through time, we meet Ghost, Cormac and Kate - three very unusual children. Ghost can become invisible, Cormac can run up walls and Kate can talk to animals. These abilities which make them perfect recruits for the Black Lotus, a training school for ninjas. But when the Moon Sword, a source of unimaginable power, is stolen by Samurai, they are forced to put their new skills to the test in sixteenth-century Japan. Fast-moving and attention-grabbing, this is a fabulous read.

A Dog's Life! (Knightmare) by Peter Bently

This light-hearted and thoroughly enjoyable series follows the escapades of Cedric Thatchbottom training as a squire, serving Sir Percival the Proud. Sir Percival isn't all he should be and Cedric has an uphill task. After a suspected break in, Sir Percy decides that what Castle Bombast needs is a guard dog. But nothing can prepare Cedric for the amount of chaos caused by one slobbery hound. Well written with plenty of lively dialogue, the series also gives interesting historical background for KS2 history. A great series with child-friendly humour.

Clash of the Rival Robots (Adventures of the Steampunk Pirates) by Gareth P. Jones

Swashbuckling fun with a band of unusual pirates. Like all pirates, the Steampunk Pirates are in search of gold and are lured back to England. But their inventor, Mr Richmond Swift,has a new army of robots and it's not long before sparks begin to fly. Have the pirates finally met their match? A hilarious story which children will love.

The Magic Potions Shop: The Young Apprentice (Magic Potions Shop 1) by Abie Longstaff

Another new series which promises to be a big hit with young readers. In the Kingdom of Arthwen, there was a very unusual shop. not on the high street but deep in the forest; not in a building but inside a tree; not selling food, or clothes, or toys but potions. Tibben wants to be the Potions Master one day, just like Grandpa, but for now he is an Apprentice and there is lots to learn! Abie Longstaff is a great writer for young children, who knows just how to capture her readers' attention and encourage them to enjoy reading.

Dork Diaries: Once Upon a Dork (Dork Daries) by Rachel Renee Russell

A new episode in one of the best series around for tween readers. Nikki's had a bump on the head and has a wild dream in which she, her friends Chloe and Zoey, her crush Brandon, and mean girl Mackenzie all become fairy tale characters. Everything that appeals to the age group is bound up in these stories which have huge appeal both in their lively characters and in the eye-catching presentation which is perfect for the readership. Lively and engaging and perfectly pitched for its audience, no wonder this series is such a huge success.

The Magnificent Lizzie Brown and the Ghost Ship by Vicki Lockwood

This exciting series of mysteries stars Lizzie Brown, the circus' young fortune-teller and her Penny Gaff Gang. Lizzie and the Penny Gaff Gang come across imposters and kidnappers in this new Lizzie Brown adventure. Fitzy's travelling circus is invited to travel to Whitby to perform for a wealthy Maharaja. But soon after they arrive, a ghostly ship is seen haunting the nearby harbour. And then the Maharaja's precious ruby is stolen... Can Lizzie and the gang save the day? The Victorian background is vivid and realistic and Lizzie a determined and feisty character, making her way in a male-dominated world. In The Magnificent Lizzie Brown and the Fairy Child, Lizzie finds herself mixed up in Edinburgh high society - and accused of kidnapping a child. The variety of settings is another plus point for this excellent series.

Big Nate Lives It Up (Big Nate, Book 7) by Lincoln Peirce

This is the 7th novel in the bestselling Big Nate series which uses the wonderful diary/comic strip format which is such a hit with children - keen or reluctant readers. Nate is asked to befriend a new kid and it's up to Nate to convince Breckenridge Puffington III that his school is the best. Cue another hilarious story as Nate tries to make a good impression despite the fact the school is a hundred years old and falling apart! The school is celebrating its centenary, much to everyone's excitement but will the crumbling buildings hold up? With comic strips and cartoons, this will have readers laughing aloud from start to finish.

Bliss Bakery Trilogy - Bake Off Magic (The Bliss Bakery Trilogy) by Kathryn Littlewood

Rosemary Bliss won back her family’s magical cookbook by beating evil Aunt Lily. At the same time, she became famous - so famous that she has been kidnapped by the Mostess corporation. They want her help to improve their cake and snack recipes; but Rose knows something is not right. She must stop Mr Butter and the International Society of the Rolling Pin from taking over the world, one magically-evil cupcake at a time... We all know how popular baking has become and this fun story builds on that popularity, bringing us a delightful character to enjoy.

Uncle Gobb and the Dread Shed (Uncle Gobb 1) by Michael Rosen

We'd always expect something very special from Michael Rosen and this doesn't disappoint! Malcolm is an ordinary boy and this is an ordinary story... or is it? Malcolm has a very bossy and extremely annoying uncle and he and his friends decide they must get rid of him. With some baked beans, a school which tries to make interesting things boring, the famed Italian city of Ponky, and a genie who appears when you rub your nose, this is quite mad! It also includes lots of very useful facts, many of which are untrue - it's up to you to work out which. Lively presentation, with illustrations galore, this is a fun read for anyone who enjoys pure, undiluted silliness - and don't we all at sometime?

Rascal: Facing the Flames by Chris Cooper

Rascal isn't the bravest dog in the world - he is fun and playful and this can lead to trouble. Luckily his owner Joel is always there to stand up for him and hen they get into trouble on holiday, it's up to Rascal to find the way out. This exciting series of books follow Rascal and his adventures on his way home. Rascal is hot and thirsty, and still miles from his owner Joel. The woods are tinder-dry, and when careless campers start a forest fire, Rascal must fight to save not only himself, but a frightened and lost little girl. This series about a modern-day Lassie is perfect for lovers of animal stories who want a bit of adventure in their reading. Perfect for younger readers, with short chapters, large print and plenty of line drawings.

Rascal: Swept Beneath The Waters by Chris Cooper

Things are looking bad for Rascal in the fifth book in the series. Rascal's nearly home and close to finding his owner Joel again – but then a terrible accident destroys his hopes. Joel is struggling too - he knows all is not well with his beloved pet. When he finds three abandoned puppies, Rascal knows he must look after them, despite being intent on his own quest. In the final story, Rascal: Racing Against Time, our intrepid and caring hero is trapped in an animal shelter. Although the owner is loving and caring, Rascal is desperate to be reunited with Joel. This lovely series is best read in order, so do start with Rascal: Lost in the Caves to enjoy the books to the fullest extent. These stories are bound to be popular.

Stick Dog Dreams of Ice Cream (Stick Dog 4) by Tom Watson

The first thing that struck me in this book was the appealing layout which makes the book really easy to read, even for reluctant readers. It uses lines and a clear font, accompanied by fun drawings that really form an integral and essential part of the story. The temperature's rising and Stick Dog and his pals are feeling the heat! They need cold, cold ice cream on this hot, hot day – but their quest to find a sweet treat is threatened when Stick Dog is spotted by a human and the police are hot on his tail... Lovable characters, appealingly depicted, make for a super read. The initial simplicity actually opens up to reveal much more sophistication that you expect, making this a book which has lots to offer.

Mortimer Keene: Robot Riot by Tim Healey and Chris Mould

Young technophiles will love this imaginative story. Mortimer Keene is full of madcap plans, and if it's trouble you're after, look no further! With laugh-out-loud illustrations, rollicking rhymes, and short chapters perfect for new readers, this is great fun. Mortimer Keene has put his plans into action and made several robots. All is going well until chaos ensues when Robo-13 goes haywire and hacks into the Robot Control system. Can Mortimer get things back under control or has he created something too clever? More picture than text, this hilarious story is great for newly confident readers who want something a little out of the ordinary.

The Connie Carew Mysteries 1: The House of Eyes by Patricia Elliott

Mystery stories are becoming really popular for this age group and this first book about Connie Carew sets a new series off to a great start. Set in the first decade of the 20th century, a time of change and a time when women were really beginning to push for a position in the world, Connie is a feisty and likeable character. 13 year old Connie is ambitious and keen to be among the women taking their place in this world. She finds her ideal partner-in-crime in the glamorous Ida - but first Connie must prove that Ida is who she claims to be ... With good period detail and language, this transports the reader back in time and introduces some well-depicted characters. I'm looking forward to more!

The Lost Sword (Spacejackers) by Huw Powell

At just 13, Jake Cutler is ruler of the secret planet Altus. He and the crew of the pirate spaceship, the Dark Horse, are wanted over the disappearance of the ISS Colossus, the most powerful ship in the Navy's fleet. But Jake has another reason to fear capture - Altus is home to a fortune in crystals and to get hold of that wealth, the Interstellar Navy plans to start an intergalactic war bigger than any seen before. It's up to Jake to stop them, but how will a teenager convince the rulers of the universe that they're in terrible danger? It's a big task, but Jake is portrayed as a resourceful and fearless hero and, with his band of supporters, he puts up tough opposition in this gripping and action-packed adventure.

Daisy and the Trouble with Piggy Banks (Daisy Books) by Kes Gray

Such fun! Daisy is a wonderful character - full of life, lively and hilarious; a laugh-aloud person who warms the hearts of her readers. Trouble is never far away where Daisy is concerned and the hilarity continues in this, the tenth book. When her best friend Gabby turns up at Daisy's house with the most awesome, immense, water-squirting micro-scooter Daisy's ever seen, Daisy knows she's got to have one too! Trouble is, they cost a LOT of money. So Daisy and Gabby hatch a money-making plan... This chunky book features short chapters and a good sized font, perfect to give newly independent readers confidence and show them how much fun there is to be had from books.

Knight in Training: 2: A Horse Called Dora by Vivian French

A born storyteller, Vivian French can be relied on to bring us stories that angage the reader. Sam J. Butterbiggins' only ambition is to be a Very Noble Knight, and he is on a quest to complete six tasks. His plans are thwarted when he is sent to stay with his aunt, uncle and annoying cousin Prune while his parents are away.  Now he's found his True Companion (Prune), next on the list is to track down a Snow White Steed. But when Aunt Egg orders Sam and Prune to journey to Weasel's Hill to deliver Horace the warthog back to his owner, it looks like the young knight-in-training looks will have to put his quest on hold. Or will he ...? With plenty of humorous dialogue and lively pictures, this is great fun for young readers.

Timmy Failure: Now Look What You've Done by Stephan Pastis

A character almost guaranteed to appeal to children age 8 - 12, Timmy Failure is the founder, president and CEO of the greatest detective agency in town, probably the country, perhaps even in the world... yes, Timmy has big ideas - but can he live up to them? A school competition to find a stolen globe is the challenge he, along with Total, his lazy polar bear partner, and his unlikely new ally, eccentric Great Aunt Colander, must solve. He must overcome injustice and defeat his arch-enemy - if only he can overome the first hurdle; getting the entry form in on time! He has a cunning solution to that problem though! The wonderful illustrations help you get to know the characters even better. Timmy is well depicted - he means well, has big ambitions but doesn't quite live to them. A hilarious, laugh-aloud story which will appeal to even reluctant readers.

The Parent Agency by David Baddiel

What would the world be like if children could choose their parents? Have you ever thought, like Barry, “I wish I had better parents!”? Be careful what you wish for! Barry Bennett blames his parents for the things that are wrong with his life... and he finds that there is a world where parents don’t have children; where children are allowed to choose their parents. For Barry Bennett, this seems like a dream come true... but can it be as good as it sounds?tries out all sorts of parents On his quest, Barry This is a hilarious book written with an authentic voice of a young boy who shares many of the feelings of many young people - the book, clever and witty with a very contemporary feel, will appeal to boys and girls. A great story for parents to read to their children. If you are wondering whether your child will enjoy it, I suggest you look at some of the reviews written by children - almost unanimously, they love it. And do take a look at the trailer here.

The Eighteenth Emergency by Betsy Byars

Mouse has a plan for every emergency. He knows how to survive a fall from a plane, what to do in quicksand, and how to bewilder a charging bull. But nothing and nobody could be prepared for Marv Hammerman. Marv Hammerman, Neanderthal man, is twice the size of anyone else in the class and what he wants, he gets... or has he met his match with Mouse? If you are looking for an excellent story which deals with bullying in a strong and realistic manner, then you need look no further. Perceptive and thoughtful, the reader really identifies with Mouse and his struggles to stand up to the school bully; it will give confidence and reassurance to any child suffering from bullying and help bullies to understand the impact they have on the lives of others. Reading the book as a class reader will offer the perfect opportunity for discussion.

Pippi Longstocking in the South Seas (Pippi Longstocking 3) by Astrid Lindgren

Illustrations can date a book at least as much as the text, if not more, so it's great to see that the Pippi Longstocking books have been updated with illustrations (including new covers) by Tony Ross. Nine year old Pippi is a free spirit - an unusual and unpredictable character, she lives alone with a monkey, a horse, and no rules whatsoever! Every child's dream perhaps? In this collection of stories Pippi and her friends, Tommy and Annika, set sail for the Canny Canny Islands, where Pippi's father is king. They explore secret caves, and play marbles with real pearls. Luckily the pirates and sharks they meet are no match for Pippi Longstocking! Each chapter is a separate short story, perfect for bedtime reading or for children to read alone.

Ravenstorm Island: Mysteries of Ravenstorm Island: The Ship of Ghosts by Gillian Philip

Perfect for lovers of Enid Blyton! Molly and Arthur already know that Ravenstorm Island is alive with magical secrets. So they soon suspect that the appearance of a ghostly pirate ship might have something to do with the terrifying storms battering the island. What is the story behind the grudge between the pirates and Ravenstorm's gargoyle guardians? And can the children break an ancient curse in time to save the island? An exciting adventure with plenty of mystery to keep readers guessing.

Fleeced by Ellie Irving

I really can't do better than quote from the back cover of this hilarious book - it tells you all you need to know! "WARNING! THIS STORY CONTAINS: A sheep called Alan Shearer. Even though she's a she. The greatest illusion trick known to man! DASTARDLY crooks. A pesky big brother. A 1000-piece Lord of the Rings Jigsaw puzzle with all the pieces making up Gandalf’s face missing. Shear determination. A brave young hero. Yep, that’s me. Charlie Rudge, aged 10 and ¾… READ ON IF EWE DARE!" If you want a comic book that will have you giggling from start to finish, this is it - and the feel-good factor lasts.

Crowns and Codebreakers (Marsh Road Mysteries 2) by Elen Caldecott

When Minnie's gran from Nigeria comes to stay, Minnie knows there will be trouble. Gran has picked up the wrong suitcase at the airport and she's not at all happy to find she has a case full of boy's clothes! But that's not the end of it - when their house is burgled and the only thing taken is the suitcase, Minnie realises there'll be much more trouble than she bargained for. Can the gang solve the crime or will the mystery of the little lost boy be forever unsolved? With Minnie and friends on the case, that's not going to happen! A perfect mystery story for young readers with all the elements you'd expect, plus friendship and fun.

PathFinder: A TodHunter Moon Adventure (Todhunter Moon Adventure 1) by Angie Sage

Tod has grown up as PathFinder from an ancient seafaring tribe. Her mother died when Tod was young; she was from a mysterious magykal desert-dwelling family. Tod's father disappears, leaving her alone and with a hard decision to make to avoid a wicked sorcerer - does her destiny lie as PathFinder or Magician? Magyk will allow her to fight like with like, but her PathFinder heritage gives Tod something special - the edge. Wondrously imaginative, the story twists and turns but every thread is neatly interwoven and satisfyingly handled. The vivid and atmospheric language draws you into the story quickly and keeps you riveted to the end. Lovers of Septimus Heap will relish this new adventure.

Precious and the Zebra Necklace: A New Case from Precious Ramotswe by Alexander McCall Smith

In a relatively short story, the author manages to bring us a wonderful evocation of African life, aided superbly by the delicate drawings by Iain McIntosh which are redolent with the feel of the countryside and people. A new pupil, Nancy, arrives at Precious Ramotswe’s school and soon the girls are friends. When Precious finds out that all Nancy has to remind her of her missing parents is a photograph and a necklace of beautifully carved zebras, she offers to help find them. This is the start of an exciting atale that leads the two girls deep into the remotest parts of Botswana, where they meet an old lady who recognises the necklace and has some extraordinary news for Nancy. Precious Ramotswe, of course, grew up to become the famous detective of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, and the author is just as skilled at writing for children as for adults.

Claude: Lights! Camera! Action! by Alex T Smith

Who could fail to warm to lovable Claude with his sidekick Sir Bobblysock? Bouncing up and down on his trampoline, Claude discovers a whole new world on the other side of the fence – a film set. When the two lead actors are injured, Claude and Sir Bobblysock are asked to take their places. Can they become movie stars with just the simple addition of a wig? Of course they can! The format of these books is attractive too - small and chunky with shiny pages and black and white illustrations simply embellished with a single colour. Claude is a gorgeous character, full of fun and humour and his adventures make for great reading.

Ghosts of Shanghai by Julian Sedgwick

Ruby is one of a gang of Chinese and ex-pat children who hide out in ruined White Cloud Temple. This is Shanghai in the late 1920s - a world where disease, crime, espionage and revolution abound and nobody is safe. Since the death of her younger brother, Ruby faces another fear. She forms the Shanghai Ghost Club to hunt down restless spirits. Then, when best friend Faye is kidnapped by the Green Hand, Ruby must trust a mysterious stranger - and face her worst fears. Dramatic and compelling, this is a story with a vivid setting, and an unusual one. A page-turning spine-chiller which may not be the best bedtime read!

Emily Sparkes and the Competition Calamity by Ruth Fitzgerald

This is the second book in this hilarious laugh-aloud series with a hugely likeable heroine in Emily Sparkes. Once again, Emily is in trouble... she has accidentally entered her mother into a competition to find the nation's Mum in a Million. When Mrs Sparkes is shortlisted, Emily must act fast to avoid being shown up on TV. Mum needs a make-over, because her eco-warrior, allotment-loving, generally embarrassing parent can't make her star appearance in a granddad-cap and wellies - can she? True to life, with a marvellous heroine who most girls would love as their best friend. The observation is spot-on and readers will readily identify with Emily. Great fun and a new star to enjoy.

Dead End Kids: Heroes of the Blitz by Bernard Ashley

A wonderful author - I was fortunate enough to hear Bernard give a talk many, many years ago and he has stuck in my mind ever since. Hard-hitting and realistic, his books really show his knowledge of his city. London is at war and as the Blitz rages, children like Josie and her brother Len face the same dangers as the adults. Terrified, they showed the courage that East End children showed during those dark days. This amazing tale of bravery is inspired by the true story of the Dead End Kids of Wapping - young people who fought fires and rescued their friends and neighbours from bomb sites.Superbly written, you are really drawn into the horror of the time and will marvel at the resilience shown by Londoners, young and old.

Warning Cry (Guardians of the Wild) by Kris Humphrey

Like Alice in A Whisper of Wolves, Nara has been chosen to be a Whisperer, her fate sealed by a raven dropping a white feather on her doorstep on the day of her birth, it is a symbol of your destiny. Whisperers are guardians of the wild and must respond when summoned. is under threat. Nara and her leopard companion, Flame are called to attend a Whisperers' council of war when the kingdom of Meridina is under threat. But there is danger everywhere - will they reach their destination? This is fantasy at its very best, with a gripping story, plenty of mystery, a evocative setting and strong characters combining to create a spell-binding read.

A Brush with Danger (Fox Investigates) by Adam Frost

The Wily Fox Detective Agency is open for business! Adam Frost has crafted a hilarious story which is fast-paced, lively and full of adventure. All presented most enticingly through a mix of text and uillustration that will appeal to newly-confident readers. A special painting, some stinking cheese, a flying Vespa that becomes a submarine... this is packed with fun and some wonderfully depicted (and named!)animal characters. From the galleries of Paris to the palaces of Moscow, travel with Wily Fox and see if he can defeat Dimitri Gottabottomitch in this humorous tale.

The Parent Agency by David Baddiel

What would the world be like if children could choose their parents? Have you ever thought, like Barry, “I wish I had better parents!”? Be careful what you wish for! Barry Bennett blames his parents for the things that are wrong with his life... and he finds that there is a world where parents don’t have children; where children are allowed to choose their parents. For Barry Bennett, this seems like a dream come true... but can it be as good as it sounds?tries out all sorts of parents On his quest, Barry This is a hilarious book written with an authentic voice of a young boy who shares many of the feelings of many young people - the book, clever and witty with a very contemporary feel, will appeal to boys and girls. A great story for parents to read to their children. If you are wondering whether your child will enjoy it, I suggest you look at some of the reviews written by children - almost unanimously, they love it. And do take a look at the trailer here.

Timmy Failure: Now Look What You've Done by Stephan Pastis

A character almost guaranteed to appeal to children age 8 - 12, Timmy Failure is the founder, president and CEO of the greatest detective agency in town, probably the country, perhaps even in the world... yes, Timmy has big ideas - but can he live up to them? A school competition to find a stolen globe is the challenge he, along with Total, his lazy polar bear partner, and his unlikely new ally, eccentric Great Aunt Colander, must solve. He must overcome injustice and defeat his arch-enemy - if only he can overome the first hurdle; getting the entry form in on time! He has a cunning solution to that problem though! The wonderful illustrations help you get to know the characters even better. Timmy is well depicted - he means well, has big ambitions but doesn't quite live to them. A hilarious, laugh-aloud story which will appeal to even reluctant readers.

Dragons at Crumbling Castle: And Other Stories by Terry Pratchett

This is one of the funniest books I have read for a long time - and I'd expect nothing else from Terry Pratchett. Dragons have invaded Crumbling Castle, and all of King Arthur's knights are either on holiday or visiting their grannies. But, all ready to step in, are a very small boy called Ralph, Fortnight the Friday knight and Fossfiddle the wizard. Fourteen fantastically funny stories from master storyteller Sir Terry Pratchett but quite different from the later work to which we have become accustomed, so don't pre-judge. Readability and appeal are enhanced by great illustrations and clever use of fonts.

Opal Plumstead by Jacqueline Wilson

Jacqueline Wilson's novels with a historical setting as just as realistic as her contemporary stories and they really take us back in time and engage the reader with the everyday life of 'ordinary' people - although, of course, her characters are far from ordinary. When Opal Plumstead's father is sent to prison, her hopes of a university education are dashed. Forced to work at the Fairy Glen sweet factory to support her family, Opal finds it hard to fit in. Through Mrs Roberts, the factory's owner, she becomes involved with the Suffragettes - and with Mrs Morgan's son. But, as happened to so many, the First World War changed everything. Written in Opal's own words, here we have another strong admirable character to engage readers.

Oh, Obviously (Darcy Burdock 4) by Laura Dockrill

Darcy Burdock is a real treasure. Lively, full of fun, imaginative - you can't but warm to this likeable character who shares her world with us in her own inimitable style. Darcy has plenty to cope with in this latest story - granny coming to stay, maybe Pork the cat will be taken away and then there's the school sleepover... Readers will readily identify with Darcy's concerns and will love the resourceful and imaginative way she deals with them; the positive messages about friendship and families have great appeal too. The lively presentation is a wonderful way to appeal to girls, avid readers or not.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Alice in Wonderland really needs no introduction. This best-loved of children's stories was written in  1865 by English author and mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson using the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. It's the story of a girl named Alice falling through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by strange anthropomorphic creatures. The story plays with logic and this has given the story lasting popularity with adults as well as with children; it's one of those stories you can read over and over again, spotting something new or finding a different interpretation every time. This celebratory paperback edition has an eye-catching cover with shiny red foil, and engages the reader with fun bonus material, including a quiz, wordsearch and a glossary - great for classroom use.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Macmillan Books have brought out a superb collection of books to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland. This is a real treasure of a book - a cute miniature edition specially abridged for younger readers. A sixth of the length of the original, it features 32 brightly coloured illustrations by Sir John Tenniel; unusually, Alice is depicted in a red dress. These are an absolute delight. Faithfully reproduced from a rare archive copy, this unique little book retains all the charm of the historic original. With luxurious red  binding, cream paper and gold sprayed edges, it is the perfect celebration of Alice's special anniversary; an ideal gift for fans of every age.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Revel in the wonderful characters that Lewis Carroll has created for us in this cloth-spined hardback Macmillan Classic. The original line drawings by John Tenniel andplates coloured by John Macfarlane make this a beautiful book. The ribbon marker helps you keep yur place and the foreword by award-winning children's author Hilary McKay adds to appreciation of the genuis that is Lewis Carroll. Each of these books reviewed here has the classic illustrations by John Tenniel - to my mind, Alice just isn't the same without them. Macmillan have a superb website celebrating the 150th anniversary - don't miss it.

The Nursery Alice by Lewis Carroll

The Nursery Alice was originally published by Macmillan & Co. in 1890 and was the very first colour edition of Alice. Carroll rewrote Alice for a young audience, simplifying and abridging the original text; the Tenniel illustrations were also altered to engage young readers. This edition retains the every word of the original The Nursery Alice and restores the exquisite delicacy of Tenniel's artwork - lost in reproductions across the decades. This beautiful book is the perfect introduction to Alice, and a book which will be treasured; the gold edged pages, ribbon bookmark and delicate cover illustration make it beautiful. Macmillan was the original publisher of Alice in 1865 so it's wonderful to see they have continued the tradition and celebrated 150 years by bringing out a whole raft of new editions.

The 13-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths

Every child's dream! Andy and Terry's treehouse has a giant catapult, a secret underground laboratory, a tank of man-eating sharks and a marshmallow machine that follows you around and shoots marshmallows into your mouth whenever you're hungry! There are some hazards too - the sea monkeys, and the monkeys pretending to be sea monkeys, and the giant mutant mermaid sea monster.. And all the while, Andy and Terry's are trying to write to write a book. Children will be drawn into the story by the engaging combination of text and fantastic cartoon-style illustrations which go together to make an imaginative and hilarious story.

Princess Mirror-Belle by Julia Donaldson

Princess Mirror-Belle is no ordinary princess - nor would you expect her to be, coming from the pen of the great Julia Donaldson. Three short stories make up this book and they're perfect for those just starting to read on their own. When Ellie's double appears out of her bathroom mirror, she gets a shock - and there's trouble ahead for Mirabelle is a mischief-maker! The hilarious stories are Dragon Pox, Ellen's Castle and Snow White and the Eight Dwarves. With black and white illustrations by Lydia Monks, Princess Mirror-Belle is perfect for fans of this bestselling picture book team who want to continue enjoying their books.

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

Mia was just a normal Manhattan 14-year-old when, totally unexpectedly, she’s finds she's heir to the throne of Genovia. This means being trailed by a trigger-happy bodyguard, taking princess lessons with her mad old grandmere and having a makeover with someone called Paolo. But Mia is a determined girl and she won't give up her old lifestyle that easily. This hilarious diary will have the reader totally engaged with Mia and all the ups and downs of her life. Once they start, readers will be hooked and will be eager to continue through the series.

Dindy and the Elephant by Elizabeth Laird

Set in 1940s India, this is a sensitively told story about a girl faced with leaving her beloved childhood home. When Dindy takes her brother Pog into the tea gardens, a place they are never supposed to go to alone, they are terrified and see an India from which they have been sheltered. Up until now, she has accepted her lifestyle and the things happening around her, but now she must come to terms with the fact that many of these are wrong. Her realisation is tellingly related and makes the reader think too. A thought-provoking book.

Middle School: Ultimate Showdown: (Middle School 5) by James Patterson

Here we have an author who knows just what ticks the boxes for children. This, though, is a book with a difference but one that will be just as enthusiastically received; it's the reader's chance to join in with all the fun. There are more than 80 hilarious anecdotes from siblings Rafe and Georgia Khatchadorian accompanied by loads of fun activities. Georgia and Rafe have quite different approaches to life and that is shown to hilarious effect in this book which is full of back-and-forth banter on a range of topics – from bullying to cafeteria food to school dress codes. Much more than that, though - they want YOU to join in and you can, with writing and drama prompts, games and the chance to give your opinion. Boys and girls alike will love this book - it's such fun and totally engaging.

The Secret Dog by Joe Friedman

Birlinn are new to publishing children's books and I'm really pleased to be asked to review their first three books. Following the death of his mother, 11 year old Josh is sent to live on a remote farm with his uncle. A lonely and sensitive boy, Calum finds solace in animals. He rescues a tiny Border collie pup but he must keep Reggae a secret. But the secret can;t be kept for ever so he decides that he will train her for the local sheepdog trials - in secret. But someone discovers Josh's secret - can he complete his task? The characters are beautifully written; you feel for Josh and his devastating sense of loss and for Calum, trying his best. Tld with great empathy, this is a moving and sensitive story.

Jonny Jakes Investigates the Hamburgers of Doom by Malcolm Judge

A wonderful new hero for children to meet and love. Jonny Jakes is the undercover reporter for banned school newspaper The Woodford Word. Like all good reporters, he is tenacious in pursuit of a good story - and of the truth, of course. Nothing will stop him. Not teachers. Not parents. Not double detention. When a new head teacher arrives halfway through term, Jonny smells a rat. Teachers handing out sweets? All-you-can-eat hamburgers? He s determined to get to the bottom of it, because Jonny Jakes investigates the same way he eats his hamburgers: with relish. With its readily identifiable school setting and superbly written with lots of humour, this is bound to be a success. Enjoy a trailer.

Maze of the Minopaw (The Olympuss Games) by Robin Price

The adventures of the Son of Spartapuss continue in the latest hilarious pun-filled episode. Along with his feisty friend, h is battling towards the Olympuss Games. It's a dangerous journey, though and a shipwreck finds them lost in an ancient maze; the Maze of the ... Minopaw. This fun new twist on the legend of the Minotaur is a great way to introduce younger children (age 6-8) to Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. The books can be read in any order - and please, do introduce them to your child; they are such fun and they will encourage an interest in ancient history.

Timebomb by Scott K. Andrews

This complex and tightly woven novel sees not just two but three time periods skilfully brought together. In New York City in the year 2141, Yojana Patel throws herself off a skyscraper; In Cornwall in 1640, Dora Predennick discovers a badly-burnt woman at the bottom of a flight of stairs; in modern-day Cornwall, Kaz Cecka sneaks into the long-abandoned Sweetclover Hall, in search of a dry place to sleep. And it's there that the threads come together. Thrust into the centre of a war that spans the centuries, the three disparate people must escape not only villainous Lord Sweetclover but the forces of a fanatical army ...all the while staying one step ahead of a mysterious woman known only as Quil. A real pageturner which makes each period equally engaging and will have the reader anxious for the second in the trilogy.

Borgon the Axeboy and the Whispering Temple (Borgon the Axeboy 3) by Kjartan Poskitt

If you want laugh-aloud fun and a book that is really bonkers, look no further. Borgon the Axeboy, barbarian extraordinaire, is back for his third adventure. Borgon and his friends the savages Hunjah and Mungoid stumble across a ruined temple in the Lost Desert and they wonder if there is treasure inside. Annoyingly, they need the of Grizzy, their annoying neighbour, to get in and find out. But the desert is rife with danger - including monsters, dragons, skeletons, vultures, rattlesnakes and even the ancient God. Great fun.

Sister, Sister by Jess Bright

In a short space of time, Willow's life has been turned upside down. She's never known her Dad; now she finds he is a famous novelist. Not only that, but she has a half sister who is seriously ill - and Willow s the only one who can save her. These are huge issues but the author has handled them with great sensitivity; with warmth and humour that makes for a wonderful read about family life. The dilemma Willow faces is discussed honestly and openly, with true empathy; it's a book which should be read and appreciated by others in the same position.

Arabel's Raven by Joan Aiken

Arabel's life is transformed when her father brings home an injured bird he has found. But this is no ordinary bird - he eats everything in sight, answers the telephone by squawking "Neverrmore!" and gets into mischief wherever he goes -- and you will be amazed at at the havoc he can cause! But whatever he does Arabel loves her new feathered friend, called Mortimer. Wonderfully illustrated in Quentin Blake's inimitable style, children take Arabel (and Mortimer) to their hearts. This is the first volume in a series of hilarious adventures.

Arabel, Mortimer and the Escaped Black Mamba (Arabel and Mortimer Series) by Joan Aiken

Another very, very amusing story about these wonderful characters. Arabel and Mortimer are having plenty of fun with their favourite babysitter - but the result is chaos! When the culprits  are out replacing the milk, Arabel's parents return home to find the house a disaster zone. Panic sets in - has a black mamba has escaped from the zoo or has Arabel been kidnapped? Policemen, firemen and anxious ladies comb the streets in search of the missing trio, who are quite oblivious to everything that is going on. Quentin Blake's signature style is absolutely spot-on for these stories, and the new covers bring the books right up-to-date for today's readers. Gentle, humorous and thoroughly enjoyable; perfect for children to follow the whole series.

Only Eva (The Eva Series) by Judi Curtin

Only Eva... can bring people together in her own inimitable way. This delightful character has a wonderful way of seeing what people need and stepping in to help. When Aretta hurries away after school every day Eva's determined to find out why. And when her friend's granny has been parted from her beloved dog, it's Eva who looks for an answer... but she knows she needs help from her friends. The nursing home finds itself in turmoil and Aretta finds her problems resolved - and it's all down to this charming heroine who loves to make people happy.

A Home for Molly by Holly Webb

Holly Webb writes sweetly charming animal stories which are just right for newly independent readers to enjoy. Anya is enjoying a seaside holiday and makes friends with a family with children her own age - and an adorable puppy. When she returns returns to the beach the next day, she finds Molly the puppy all on her own. There's a surprise in store for Anya when she finds Molly didn't belong to the family; they though Molly was Anya's... Time is running out - can Anya find Molly's real owner? Or might there be a surprise ending? A heart-warming story with lovely line drawings.

The Cleo Stories: The Necklace and the Present by Libby Gleeson

Cleo desperately wants a necklace but her parents say special presents are only for birthdays. That's no obstacle to one very imaginative little girl, though. It's Cleo's mum's birthday and Cleo doesn't know what to give her - until she has a brilliant idea and Mum gets the best birthday present ever. It's a charming story about families, love and imagination with subtly coloured pictures which are a delight.

Dork Diaries: Drama Queen (Dork Diaries 9) by Rachel Renee Russell

These humorous books are the personal diary of 14-year-old Nikki Maxwell. Embellished with drawings, doodles and comic strips, they chronicle the daily dramas of her life in a lively way. And this is mega-drama - mean girl Mackenzie has stolen Nikki's diary; will she reveal what Nikki has written? This is Dork Diaries with a twist and makes a great read. Perfect for tween girls, these stories are superbly written and very enjoyable. A brilliant series which puts this writing style firmly in place for girls. Look at the fun Facebook app:  and the Dork Diaries Website for more fun with Nikki and her friends.

Frankie's Magic Football: 11 The Grizzly Games by Frank Lampard

Frankie and his friends are taken to some amazing places and play some wonderful teams - all courtesy of Frankie's magical football. This time, they are in the Canadian Rockies - first stop, a freezing river! Luckily, a rescue dog is on hand - and then they rescue the dog's owner. But when they get back to school, they realise something has accompanied them... so back they go! Young football fans will love the series, which is perfect for encouraging new readers into reading, with short, lively chapters.

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

This fantasy series explores themes of families, relationships and education; the first books in the series are now reissued, 10 years after they first appeared. They tell the story of 14 year-old Miri who attends a princess academy to learn who will win the hand of the prince. In this, the first story, Miri finds that the royal court is coming to her mountainside village in search of a match for the Prince. If Miri is the one chosen, it will mean the end of life as she knows it, and the start of a new, royal world. Life at the academy is hard, but when danger threatens, everyone must work together. The book has elements of traditional tales, but richly and cleverly told, full of imagination and with a well-rounded central character.

Palace of Stone (Princess Academy 2) by Shannon Hale

Life in the city is a far cry from her village but when Miri gets the chance to attend university, she faces up to and copes with the strangeness. Her best friend, Britta, has been chosen by the Prince of Asland to be his bride, and the royal wedding is fast approaching. Miri discovers an evil plot against the royal court; is her priority to the princess, her friend,or reform for the people? Faced with this dilemma, Miri is also coping with a new love interest, so there is plenty of action for readers to enjoy in the book.

My Brother is a Superhero by David Solomons

It's quite amazing what you can miss out on, simply by going for a wee! Brothers Luke and Zack share a treehouse; when Luke goes off for a wee one evening, he gets back to find his brother has changed! While he was gone, an alien gives Zack superpowers and then tells him to save the universe. Luke is thoroughly put out - after all, HE is the one who reads all the comics so why was Zach singled out? There's too kuch fun to be had for him to ignore Zack's powers though and the two have great fun together - until Zack is kidnapped by his arch-nemesis. Then it's sibling loyalty to the fore as Luke and his friends have only five days to find him. A truly hilarious story with superbly imaginative ideas and some wonderful dialogue.

Hetty Feather by Jacqueline Wilson

Jacqueline Wilson's feisty young Victorian heroine is now starring in a CBBC series. In 1876, Hetty Feather was abandoned by her mother on the steps of the Foundling Hospital in London. After an idyllic life in the country, Hetty must return to the Foundling Hospital for her education. The strict regime is really hard for Hetty after the life she has experienced, and she misses foster brother, Jem. But an opportunity opens up - to find her mother. Hetty is a wonderful character, superbly portrayed and the atmospheric background captures Victorian London and the attitudes of the time to perfection. The emotions in the book will have you laughing one minute, close to tears the next, as you share Hetty's journey every step of the way.

The Mad Apprentice (Forbidden Library 2) by Django Wexler

Old Readers should never die... but they can be murdered. As an ancient Reader is killed, apparently by his own apprentice, the hierarchy of the magical world tumbles and its spider web of alliances begins to unravel. Now it’s up to Alice and her fellow apprentices to sort out the mess and catch the murderer. But the world is changing all around them. Things are not as they seem. It’s almost as if they are trapped in a strange sort of labyrinth . . . Alice is a superb character - she faces up to everything thrown at her with initiative and bravery. A spell-binding story with wonderful use of language and description, this is one of the best of recent fantasy stories.

Sedric and the Great Pig Rescue by Angie Morgan

This book is the winner of the Turnip Prize. Only joking - but it's an eye-catching statement to make on the cover and perfectly reflects the wonderful sense of humour that pervades this hilarious book. Life in the Dark Ages village of Little-Soggy-in-the-Mud is hard going - it's cold, it's muddy and there are RATS. Despite that, Sedric, his friends (and his beloved pig, Denzel) love their life and their village, so when it comes under threat and Denzel is pig-napped, Sedric and his friends will need to use all their tricks and cunning to outwit dastardly Baron Dennis. Can they rescue Denzel before it’s too late? It's crazy, it's zany, it's fabulous fun and children will lap it up.

Amy Wild: Amazon Summer by Helen Skelton

In an attempt to keep her out of trouble, Amy Wild's parents send her on a trip with mad Auntie Marg, a photographer, who travels all around the world to dangerous, exciting places. But even that can't keep Amy out of trouble - trouble just seems to follow her... When Auntie Marg is involved in an accident, Amy has to escape into the Amazon rainforest. She has no clothes, no food, no money, and no map; she faces spiders, poisonous plants, legends of evil spirits – and something even more sinister. All she does have is Juan, a local boy, but he has a secret. A convincing setting and a heroine who, eventually, learns from her own mistakes make this adventure story a good read for those of 9+.

Happy Holidays by Jacqueline Wilson

Far more than just a story but I have included this book here because it will appeal to every girl who loves Jacqueline Wilson's wonderful story telling. How are you going to spend your summer holiday? Will you be going on a sunny beach holiday, meeting your friends at the park, or relaxing in the garden with an ice cream? Packed with brilliant short stories, puzzles, facts, recipes and activities, this book epitomises summer; the bulk of the book is actually the popular story Buried Alive!. There's even a very special brand-new story from Jacqueline, as well as Tracy, Hetty and all her other favourite characters. The perfect accompaniment for the summer holiday, home or away.

Dog Ears by Anne Booth

A best friend is there to listen and Anna tells her best friend Tim everything. So what, you may be asking? Tim is a dog and he is laways there for Anna in this gentle and touching story. There's great excitement when it is announced that popstar Pippa Green is coming to school to judge a singing competition. But, underneath all the excitement, Anna is really worried about her home life and the only one she can talk to is Jack. It all gets too much for Anna and running away seems the only solution... This sensitive story, with its focus on friends and family, also highlights the issues and pressures faced by young carers - something we should never forget..

Binny in Secret by Hilary Mckay

We met Binny in Binny for Short, when her life changed completely. Binny is a marvellous character, undaunted by change and the ideal friend. More changes are afoot in this story - Binny hates her new school, and then the family are forced to move out to the countryside. Along with her sensible older sister Clem, and her rambunctious brother James (and his chickens), Binny begins to accept life in the country. When one of James's beloved chickens vanishes and Binny finds strange footprints in the mud, she must find out what kind of creature is lurking in the undergrowth. Hilary McKay has a superb way of depicting families with all their ups and downs - her characters are so real and the story telling so good, the reader really engages with the novel.

The World of Norm: 8: May Contain Buts by Jonathan Meres

Life must be pretty boring for Norm when he finds himself going to the toilet, just for something to do! But things can only get better, right? WRONG! If only Brian and Dave hadn't found Dad's million year old aftershave. If only Mikey wasn't feeling lower than a snake's backside. If only Chelsea would hurry up and move! It's all ifs and buts though. Or should that be whiffs and butts? Either way it's just so flipping unfair! Another hilarious episode in the life of one of the funniest book characters around. If children are reluctant to read - give them this book and they'll change their minds!

Happy Times in Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren

Lisa, her family and her friends live in Noisy Village. There are so many children there that it's a really noisy place! This collection of short stories shows just how much fun the children have - racing their sledges on the slopes, hunting for treasure, playing jokes on teacher, watching for pirate ships from their robber's den and many more. These very short stories are perfect for children starting to read on their own and depict an almost idyllic childhood - shown off by Tony Ross' charming illustrations.

Travels of an Extraordinary Hamster (Gecko Press Titles) by Astrid Desbordes

We can always count on Gecko Press to bring us books that are refreshingly out of the ordinary and here we have another delightfully unusual story. Told entirely through pictures and speech bubbles this quirky and humorous book is really appealing. Hamster lives in the clearing with his friends Mole, Snail, Hedgehog and Rabbit. Luckily, they are all very accepting of Hamster, who is actually really selfish but they tolerate him. Hamster wants to visit his cousins on the moon; his friends decide to go to the North Pole... A delightful story, beautifully illustrated and presented - one to ponder over and savour.

The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones by Will Mabbitt

This debut novel is wonderful fun with some hilariously written characters. Just what has Mabel Jones unknowingly done? None other than 'The Deed'. What is the deed, you ask? You'll have to read the book to find out - and take care you don't do 'The Deed' or, like Mabel Jones, you may find yourself bundled into a sack and carried off to the pirate ship the Feroshus Maggot. Crewed by the strangest bunch of pirates ever and captained by the dreaded Idryss Ebeneezer Split, the Feroshus Maggot whisks Mabel Jones off on the adventure of a lifetime. Superbly written, the story simply races the reader along, enlivened on the way by zany illustrations and effective use of fonts to help the story on its way.

Sink or Swim (Whatever After) by Sarah Mlynowski

In this amusing series (of which this is the third book) Abby and her younger brother Jonah visit the magic mirror in their basement at night, and the mirror transports them inside a different fairy tale. This time, Abby and Jonah find themselves splashing around with the Little Mermaid. Abby determines to change the ending of the story so it's a happy one for the Little Mermaid. Can she succeed? Lively and engaging, this is a fun take on fairy tales for older readers - 8+ - who still love these favourite stories but enjoy a fresh look.

The Tender Moments of Saffron Silk (Kingdom of Silk) by Glenda Millard

This beautifully written series just gets better and better. It's a wonderful celebration of families and friendship and shows just how important our families are. Perry Angel has a real insight into people's hearts and he uses this gift to support his sister Saffron when she starts to suffer from terrible headaches - forewarned by firebirds. She is really scared but Perry is there for her, showing how families are there for each other. The delicate and atmospheric illustrations set the scene beautifully. Tender and thoughtful, this is a book which remains in the reader's mind long after the final page is read.

Squirrel Boy vs The Bogeyman by Dave Lowe

Strange things happen to quite ordinary boys, courtesy of a radio-active squirrel - yes, you did read that right! With the help of his ferocious elderly neighbour, Mrs Onions, Walter finds himself fighting crime in this hilarious new series for 6 -10s about an unlikely and totally ridiculous - and that's no exaggeration! - superhero. When Jeremy becomes the Bogeyman and embarks on a series of thefts, Walter is the only one who can stop him. Following a strict training regime, orchestrated by Mrs Onions, Squirrel Boy is ready to save the town. Off the wall and zany, this is a book which appeals directly to the reader, making him (or her) feel they are really a part of the story.

Araminta Spook: Skeleton Island by Angie Sage

Ghoulish fun which is just creepy enough to send a shiver down the spine of young readers of 7+. Araminta and Wanda's school trip to Skeleton Island turns out to be more scary than they had bargained for! The girls find themselves marooned on the island... and then a skeleton comes walking towards them... Luckily these ghoulish pirates just want someone to help them find their lost treasure and then they will go away. But they are not the only ones seeking treasure... It's a great story which will really capture the attention and keep the reader turning the pages to see what strange thing happens next. Fun and imaginative, it's good either as a read-aloud or for confident young readers.

Princess Academy: The Forgotten Sisters (Princess Academy 3) by Shannon Hale

Miri thought she could return home as she had learnt all about being a proper princess. Instead, it's time to teach others and to set up her own Princess Academy to prepare three distant royal relatives for marriage to a prince. But who are these forgotten sisters? Things are not what they seem and she must ensure the safety of the sisters before she I've not read the first books in the trilogy, and I think I would have enjoyed this more had I done so - so I suggest reading them in order. Despite this, I found the story compelling and the writing enchanting.

Frank Einstein and the Electro-Finger: Book Two by Jon Scieszka

Science fact meets science fiction in this engaging series which really makes science accessible and fun. In this second book in the series, Frank Einstein and his band of strange friends once again find themselves in competition with T. Edison, their classmate and archrival. The challenge this time is to unlock the power behind the science of energy. Frank wants to help all the residents of Midville to have cheap energy; arch-rival Edison is just after making money. This hilarious story is packed with scientific information and diagrams which show children what is going on. An unusual and inventive approach which brings a new dimension to science.

Attack of the Giant Sea Spiders (Adventures of the Steampunk Pirates) by Gareth P. Jones

If you like your fiction to be totally bonkers, then look no further! The rascally robotic pirates will do anything for some dosh - except put themselves into danger! When they find the result of snooping is finding themselves sandwiched between the Dread Captain Inky beard and a spider on the attack, there's no choice but to try to escape. With hilarious dialogue, snappy text, colourful characters and plenty of pictures, this second adventure is just as good as the first.

Moone Boy: The Blunder Years by Chris O'Dowd

11 year old Martin Moone is the only boy in a family of girls and he's desperate for someone to redress the balance. When his best friend Padraic suggests an imaginary friend, he thinks that will be the answer. First up is Loopy Lou, but when that doesn't work out, in comes Sean 'Caution' Murphy. The trouble comes when Martin tries to get rid of Loopy Lou... It's great fun and will appeal to those ready to move on from the Wimpy Kid and his ilk. With fabulous illustrations and great presentation, guaranteed to appeal, this is a brilliant book.

Sir John the (Mostly) Brave (John Smith is Not Boring!) by Johnny Smith

John Smith is always being teased for having the most boring name in the world - but his life is anything but boring. He and his granddad share a special secret - there’s a magical John Smith society, which allows its members to travel all around the world and have wonderful adventures. This is a superbly imaginative story which will capture the attention of young readers; there's plenty of dialogue and pictures to keep interest going.

Third Term at Tall Towers (Princess Disgrace) by Lou Kuenzler

It's Princess Grace's third term at Tall Towers Academy. Grace is keen to start swimming lessons - taught by real mermaids. But her best friend Scarlet is terrified of the water and begins to act very strangely. Grace follows her to the beach and finds there is a mystery to be solved - a mermaid mystery. These stories are an enjoyable variant on traditional boarding school stories, with lively characters and unusual storylines

Galactic Hotdogs: Cosmoe's Wiener Getaway by Max Brallier

Cosmoe was just a normal boy on Earth but now he's captain of the Neon Wiener, the finest flying food truck plying its trade in the galaxy and selling their trademarked 'Galactic Hot Dogs'. Cosmoe and his friends find themselves in trouble when Princess Dagger gets herself on board their ship and her evil mother is after the Neon Wiener. Told mostly in cartoon format, this is a wacky story that I can see appealing hugely to children who will love the presentation and the humour.

Rebellion (The Order of the Furnace) by Alex Keller

Lena is on her way to becoming a knight in the Order of the Furnace, one of the greatest fighting forces the world has ever seen. But all her dreams are about to fall apart. Chased by assassins, she finds herself fighting armies and even waking a mechanical dragon, in a battle to stay alive as the Order of the Furnace is almost completely destroyed. Will Lena and her friends survive to see their Order rise once again?

The Akimbo Adventures by Alexander McCall Smith

As adult readers well know, we can rely on this author to produce wonderfully atmospheric books and these works for children are no different. Akimbo lives with his parents live on the edge of an African game reserve. His father's job is to protect the thousands of amazing animals who call the reserve home, and Akimbo dreams of following in his footsteps. In these three adventures, brought together for the first time, Akimbo protects elephants from poachers, saves a lion cub from a trap, and rescues a man from a crocodile. It's all exciting stuff and Akimbo is a lovable boy who really cares about wildlife. The stories are excellent for encouraging childen to think about the natural world and its relationship to humans.

The Lost Fairy by Marian Broderick

Flora the fairy is a proad fairy who thinks she is the best part of Christmas. When she learns that sometimes the fairy at the top of the Christmas tree is replaced by a mere star, she makes sure she puts the star back in its place. But when Flora falls off the tree, the vain and selfish fairy has much to learn before she can regain her rightful place on the Christmas tree. This special edition has a cover picture selected as part of the Design a Cover competition - it was designed by Shelagh-Jessica Gilbourne.

Jackpot! (Dirty Bertie) by Alan MacDonald

Amazingly, this is Bertie's 25th book and he is just as revolting as ever! Here we have another three short stories for children to enjoy, either for newly confident readers to read alone, or for sharing. Join Berite as he wins the lottery (or thinks he does), cooks up a storm in the kitchen and finds himself face-to-face with a demon dolly! With each hilarious story around thirty pages long and liberally embellished with comical illustrations, the books are excellent for encouraging confidence in reading - and for showing children that reading can be really FUN.

Fangs by Malorie Blackman

Fangs the tarantula tells this story in an engaging manner that makes you really warm to her - even if you don't like spiders! She is very lonely and bored with her life in the pet-shop, so when Nathan takes her home, she's really excited about her new life. But before Nathan can introduce his new pet to his family, he's going to need her help to convince them that spiders aren't just creepy and crawly . . . they're beautiful and brave too! Malorie Blackman held the prestigious post of Children's Laureate from 2013 - 2015.

Dixie O'Day: Up, Up and Away! by Shirley Hughes

Dixie, Percy and their new friend, Ariel, are off on an adventure in the clouds. Making a speedy getaway from their archenemy Lou Ella, they find themselves soaring away in a hot-air balloon! But there are stormy skies ahead… The mother and daughter pairing - Clara Vulliamy is the illustrator - works brilliantly to bring us a stylish and appealing series which is perfect for encouraging new readers and sharing with them the joy of reading.

Creature Teacher by Sam Watkins

Mr Hyde is the best teacher in the world and his lessons are always fun. But there is a problem... Mr Hyde transforms into a naughty, little creature whenever he becomes upset; a creature with amazing abilities but unfortunately, very badly behaved. So the class must work together to hide the creature and put the Headmistress off the scent. Short chapters, familiar settings and an engaging cast of characters make for an enjoyable read, with plenty of humour in both text and illustrations.

Notebooks of a Middle-School Princess by Meg Cabo

t Olivia Grace is and ordinary girl - until Her Royal Highness, Princess Mia Thermopolis whisks Olivia away to New York. She gets a shock when she discovers her father is actually the Prince of Genovia - and Olivia is a princess. That means a whole lot of new things to be learnt. Olivia is a witty and engaging character and younger readers will welcome this spin-off series from the much-loved Princess Diaries. The friendly and fast-moving writing style makes the book easy and enjoyable to read.

The Accidental Prime Minister by Tom McLaughlin

The park has been closed - and the Prime Minister is at Joe and Ajay's school. So they must get to speak to him... And then things take off at a phenomenal speed and Joe finds his impassioned speech has gone viral. Everyone is calling for him to become Prime Minister, but does he really know best? A totally hilarious story, brilliantly written and amusingly illustrated - with clear undercurrents of reality. Politicians will never seem quite the same again! Perfectly timed for the General Election, and now released in paperback - get yourself a copy for some light relief!

Hercufleas by Sam Gayton

Hercufleas is the youngest member of the flea family who live in... a top hat! This wonderfully unusual story tells how he is chosen as the hero who can help Greta on her mission. The monstrous giant Yuk is threatening to destroy her home and others in the town of Tumber, so she needs someone to venture to Avalon and bring back a hero who can save the town. Hercufleas may be very small but he is full of courage and determination - so can he help? Bizarre - yes, but wonderfully inventive and superbly told with a storyline that works well and holds the reader's attention throughout.

Rascal: Lost in the Caves by Chris Cooper

Rascal isn't the bravest dog in the world. His playful nature sometimes gets him into trouble. Luckily his owner Joel is always there to stand up for him. But when exploring on holiday puts them in great danger, Rascal knows that only he can save his best friend. This is a super new series and Rascal is such a lovable dog; it's been a while since I have seen a good new dog series, so it's good to know 3 books are issued now with more to follow. Children will love to collect them and get to know Rascal and his owner Joel better.

The Farm Beneath the Water by Helen Peters

Following on from the superb The Secret Hen House Theatre, we meet Hannah and the other characters again. Hannah's family farm is under threat from a water company wanting to build a reservoir. Hannah can't let this happen and she fights to find reasons to stop it, and the book has a strong message about the environment and conservation. Hannah's love for the theatre has a key part in the story and the school play might just give her the chance she needs... An absorbing mix of farm and theatre, both written about with great insight. Above all, a celebration of family, love and determination. A great read.

The Water Horse by Holly Webb

As princess of Venice, Olivia is bred to alife of privilege and wealth. But when the waters start to rise, flooding the streets and causing chaos, she realises only her magic can prevent disaster befalling the city. Desperate for help, and a friend, Olivia discovers something incredible - a water horse. Invisible to most, centuries old and possessing his own powerful magic, Lucian knows the deepest secrets of the sea - secrets that could hold the key to saving the city... If only their friendship can overcome those plotting against not just Olivia, but the beautiful city of Venice itself.

Nick and Tesla's Special Effects Spectacular by Science Bob Pflugfelder

Subtitled "A Mystery with Animatronics, Alien Makeup, Camera Gear, and Other Movie Magic You Can Make Yourself!" this is one of a wonderful series which really encourages children to enjoy science and takes the mystery out of it. Siblings Nick and Tesla are inventive young scientists and throughout the story, the reader will find full instructions to make the inventions that feature in the story - it's a super mix of science and fiction that will appeal to many children, even those who think books are boring. Nick and Tesla have been invited onto the set of a big-budget movie and when things go wrong, it's up to them to save the show. With plenty of humour and action, the book also provides an enjoyable insight into the world of film-making.

The Royal Wedding Crashers by Clémentine Beauvais

Anna and Holly Burnbright and their friend Prince Pepino are trying to earn some money to go on the holiday of a lifetime. So Mademoiselle Malypense's offer to them to help with the Francian Royal Wedding came just at the right time. But things are not what they seem as it is all very secretive. It's fast-moving, full of fun and unexpected twists and turns; plenty to enjoy here for young readers, including lots of lively illustrations and engaging dialogue.

Mischief at Midnight (Knight's Haddon) by Esme Kerr

This series is a brilliant combination of mystery with the tradition of school stories like Malory Towers. Janet, the new girl at school, is quite different from anyone the girls have met before. Edie is thrilled when they become friends, especially as Janet is there for her when things get difficult with Anastasia. But then trouble begins and Edie begins to question her new friendship... A great new take on the traditional school story which cleverly combines all the best of boarding school stories with a good dose of mystery and excitement. Edie is a super character, engaging and feisty.

Perfectly Ella (Strawberry Sisters 1) by Candy Harper

Meet a family of sisters who are bound to attract a keen following. Each is very different and so every girl reading the book will find one who is most like her and therefore identify with the story. The oldest is Amelia; then comes Chloe; youngest is Lucy and before her comes Ella. There's also Baby Kirsti who lives with Dad and his Finnish girlfriend. At the centre of the family is one very tired Mum, trying to keep it all together. Despite being crowded together, it's a happy home and the sisters are always there for each other. Told with plenty of touches of humour, this is a superb story about families, love and being there for one another.

The Magnificent Lizzie Brown and the Mysterious Phantom by Vicki Lockwood

Lizzie Brown is the circus' youngest fortune teller; living on her wits, she has escaped the slums of Victorian London and joined Fitzy's Travelling Circus. Lizzie has an amazing ability and may be the only truly clairvoyant palm reader in existence! In this story, she sees images of a robbery when reading a palm. She gathers together her gang of circus friends, the Penny Gaff Gang, and sets off on a dangerous quest to stop the masked burglar. In The Magnificent Lizzie Brown and the Devil's Hound Lizzie receives a chilling message from beyond the grave and decides to confront the so-called 'Devil's Hound' once and for all. The books keep the reader guessing throughout, with plenty of twists and turns; above all, it's the strong character of Lizzie that makes the stories so good.

The Dragonsitter's Party (Dragonsitter 5) by Josh Lacey

Entertainingly presented through interchanges of emails, this is perfect for today's young readers, around 6 to 8 years olds. They will happily devour the book, maybe even in one sitting, enjoying the lively, amusing and easy to read story. It's Eddie's birthday but he and his mum are looking after Uncle Morton's dragons...again. So they come to the party too but their idea of a good time involves eating everything in sight and ruining the party magician's tricks. Not the party Eddie expected... Great fun.

Friends Forever by Julia Jarman

Three best friends - sporty Erika, friendly Daisy and artistic Phoebe - star in three stories about fun and friendship. They all go to primary school together and share the ups and downs of friendship in Make Friends Break Friends; A Friend in Need!; and New Friend Old Friends. These are really lovely stories for girls to enjoy and share and the lively fun-filled line drawings help the reader to get to know the friends.

Nixie the Bad, Bad Fairy by Cas Lester

Nixie is far from being a stereotypical fairy - she is better with a spanner than a wand! Of course, she's not bad, except that sometimes she has to be a little bit bad to counteract goody, goody fairy, Adorabella. Fairy dust and magic are fine, but when your wand's as mischievous as you are, sometimes you have to rely on your own genius inventions to get you out of trouble! It's an enchanting story which young girls will love; full of fun and mischief, it's light-hearted and enjoyable. Ali Pye's sweet illustrations top it off ideally.

Boyface and the Power of Three and a Bit by James Campbell

Brilliant and unusual, Boyface has captured the imaginations of children with his hilariously wacky adventures. Mr Antelope has disappeared, leaving Boyface Antelope in charge of the stripemongering shop. When Boyface gets a message from his dad, hidden in a message in a bottle, he is determined to go and rescue him. Will Boyface and his friends be able to defeat the evil villain and rescue his dad? Perfect for young readers of 7+, even the most reluctant will find this is well worth the effort - try starting by reading it aloud with your child and see if they go on to finish the book on their own.

Wigglesbottom Primary: The Toilet Ghost by Pamela Butchart

What child is going to resist a book with such an alluring title?! And the book doesn't disappoint - it's packed full of hilarity as we join the kids of Wigglesbottom Primary, the school where anything can and does happen. There are three short stories - there's The Toilet Ghost, who had all the boys desperate; The Stinky Shoe of Fortune which knows what will happen; and finally, The Itchy Carpet. The humour is perfectly pitched for children and the zany illustrations are the perfect complement. Great fun.

The Shark-Headed Bear Thing (Benjamin Blank Series) by Barry Hutchison

The shark-headed bear thing is terrorising the area so it's up to Benjamin Blank and his friends Paradise Little and Wesley Chant to stop him. Set in the 15th century, but not the 15th century we know from history, this is a world where dragons roam, sailing ships transform into submarines, and blacksmiths build steampunk robots. It's absurd yet captivating and children will love the wonderful exploits of the (sometimes reluctant) heroes. It's ideal to encourage reluctant readers and with plenty of amusing illustrations, they will find it an easy but satisfying read.

Julius Zebra: Rumble with the Romans! by Gary Northfield

Set in Roman times, this is the first in an illustrated chapter book series. Taking the reader from a smelly watering hole deep in the heart of the Serengeti to the ferocious clamour of the Colosseum, they join Julius Zebra and his motley menagerie of friends as they gear up to be ... gladiators. And they will only survive if the fickle Roman public want them to. It's perfect for 6 to 8 year olds, and especially for those fascinated by the Romans as there are plenty of snippets of history to be picked up while enjoying the story.

Treasure Hunters: Danger Down the Nile: (Treasure Hunters 2) by James Patterson

The Kidd family are treasure hunters - but Mum and Dad have gone missing so it's up to Bick, Beck, Storm and Tommy to find, not only their missing parents but also the legendary Mines of King Solomon… and their parents. As they journey down the Nile, from hot and dusty Cairo to deep dark jungles, they meet some dangerous characters and they'll need to keep their wits about them to survive.It's a great read for 9-11 year olds - don't let them be put off by the size of the book. It could be a bit daunting, especially for reluctant readers, but actually it's brilliant for them as it's packed with illustrations. A fun and lively read with a good storyline that keeps the reader enthralled.

The Tapper Twins Go to War (With Each Other) by Geoff Rodkey

When did it begin? Did it begin in the Tapper family kitchen, earlier that morning? Or was it Reece's unwarranted accusation about his sister Claudia in the school canteen? What really happened? It depends on who you listen to... Told in a mix of styles, including emails, text messages and char logs, it's a style you love or hate - personally, I don't like it but it's a format that will engage today's readers and encourage them to read. The format allows several voices to be heard and leaves the reader free to make his or hew own decisions on right and wrong. The lively illustrations, mostly annotated, add to the feel of the book. It's amd and it's funny and will be well received by its target audience who will relate well to it - especially if they have a sibling.

Shoutykid - How Harry Riddles Made a Mega-Amazing Zombie Movie by Simon Mayle

Harry writes to lots of people asking them to help him wmake a zombie movie - and this is the hilarious account of how he did it. "Hi there My name is Harry Riddles and I’m ten years old, which my mum says is too young to have problems but she’s WRONG. My dad just lost his job, so I need money to make my mega-amazing zombie movie and save this family, but there’s NO WAY I’m selling my Xbox! So I’ve written to the Queen, Harry Styles and a bunch of other famous people, who MIGHT lend me a hand, or a tenner, but so far no one’s written back… If you have any bright ideas for making money I’d love to hear them." With its contemporary way of story telling, through emails, letters and forum chat conversations, this can't fail to engage the reader who enjoys this approach. It's well handled and the story flows well, keeping the attention focused. Harry is, in many ways, a typical 10 year old kid and he is wonderfully brought to life in this entertaining story.

How Harry Riddles Mega-Massively Broke the School (Shoutykid, Book 2) by Simon Mayle

Things aren't going well for Harry in the second book in this hilarious series. His mum is expecting twins and his dad thinks he should do something more useful with his life than play computer games. Cue another set of letters, this time to get some help with the school football team and to take twins off the family's hands. It's another great read, really engaging and perfectly tuned to life today, with some really pertinent questions raised, albeit always in a light-hearted, humorous manner; Harry is a great character and you can't but like him. Don't miss the ShoutyKid website which is packed with activities and resources
"Dear David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband,
hi there Do you get nervous when you have to give a speech? I’m doing a talk at school about this awesome game I built called Zombie Show Jumping, but what if I forget my words or have to go to the toilet part way through? Has that ever happened to you? GBTM soon.
Good luck and have fun Harry Riddles"
"Dear Prince George,
It kind of sucks when your mum has a new baby and everyone’s like, ‘Congratulations, isn’t it great?’ and you’re thinking, ‘Not really, I might have to share my bedroom.’ But maybe you don’t have that problem? Don’t worry that your Mum and Dad will like the new baby more than you – they probably won’t and anyway you still get to be King one day so Ha! I won’t get my own country but I am better than the twins at X-box!
Good luck and have fun Harry Riddles
P. S. Say hi to the Queen from me."

Knight in Training: 1: Dragons Can't Swim by Vivian French

Sam J. Butterbiggins' ambition is to be a Very Noble Knight - but even his name is against him. Now he's staying at the castle next door while his parents are away - and having to put up with his annoying cousin Prune, as well as the rest of the guests at the castle. But Sam and Prune have to combine forces when Godfrey the dragon gets stuck down a well. Then they make an incredible discovery - a scroll giving instructions on the six quests to be completed in order to become the perfect knight. Just what Sam has always wanted. It's a great start to a new series that will be enjoyed by girls and boys who are ready to move on from picture books; the lively drawings will encourage them to read and they will thoroighly enjoy this fun story.

Frankie's Magic Football: 10 Frankie's Kangaroo Caper by Frank Lampard

Frankie and his team love playing football, and with their magical football they're playing against teams they could never have imagined! This time the magic football takes them all the way to Australia - what adventures will they find in the land Down Under? These stories are perfect for young readers, with their exciting mix of football, friends and adventures all around the world; ideal to encourage reluctant readers - readers who think they would prefer to be kicking a football to reading. Perhaps these will change their minds.

Dork Diaries: TV Star by Rachel Renee Russell

This is a great series for tweens, who will love Nikki and her antics, and her friendships. 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, and you'll really get to know the characters. Look at these great links: The Dork Diaries Website; The Dork Diaries Facebook page ; Dork Diaries on Twitter ; Simon & Schuster Kids on Facebook -  and Simon & Schuster on Twitter to make sure you are always up-tp-date.

Alien Attack! (Superhero School) by Alan MacDonald

It's time for another trip to Mighty High - the school for superheroes. Stan and his friends are busily preparing for their Heroes exams and having flying lessons buut Miles is acting very oddly. Can fully-fledged superhero Captain Courageous lend a hand or will their fates be decided by a piece of bionic bubble gum? That's right - bionic bubble gum. That's typical of the lively humour that will be much appreciated by the young readers of this hilarious story. The drawings are a really key part of this book - they are plentiful throughout and carry their own touches of humour to set off the text.

Kenny Wright: Superhero (Kenny Wright 1) by James Patterson

Grandma's boy or superhero? In reality, Kenny Wright is a sixth grader in a tough inner city school; in his imagination, he's a fearless superhero, Stainlezz Steel. Kenny Wright fights bullies and keeps his school life secret from his Grandma; Stainlezz Steel fights crime, saves lives and rescues helpless animals. Kenny is a great role model, a black kid who lives in a tough inner-city environment. Finally, his under-achieving school has a decent principal - when it comes down to it, can Kenny use his superpowers in real life to help his ‘G-ma’ save the best School Principal he’s ever had?

The D'Evil Diaries: 1 by Tatum Flynn

12 year old Jinx is hopeless at being evil - but as Lucifer's youngest son, that's not what's expected. When Jinx runs away from Pandemonium, the walled city he's lived in all his life, he bumps into dead girl Tommy - who's been sent to Hell for accidentally feeding her nasty uncle to a circus lion. They discover a conspiracy that could up-end the entire underworld. Cue shenanigans involving carnivorous carousel horses, death-trap-riddled libraries and hungry quicksand. Now the fate of the realm rests in the hands of its most unlikely demon and a girl who shouldn't be in Hell at all...

Detective Gordon: The First Case by Ulf Nilsson

Detective Gordon ( a very clever toad) has been assigned a somewhat cold and tedious job - he must find out who is stealing nuts from the forest. Unfortunately, solving this crime means standing in the snow and waiting for a long time... What he needs is an assistant - someone small, fast, and clever; Buffy the mouse is just right for the job. So Detective Gordon can go back to doing what he's really good at: thinking, eating cakes, drinking tea, and stamping important papers. I love the way the relationship between the two animals grows - and you can enjoy meeting them through the delicate coloured illustrations which depict them so well. A delightful story.

My Funny Family by Chris Higgins

9 year old Mattie is a worrier - she worries about EVERYTHING. And so would you if your family was like the scatty but lovable Butterfield family. She has all sorts to worry about in this captivating first story about this fabulous family - will the seeds she's planted in the garden with her brothers and sisters grow into fruit and veg like everyone promised? Why does it seem as if Grandma doesn't like them sometimes? And what's wrong with Mum? The great thing about a big family, though, is that there's always someone on hand to reassure you. Great fun to read, younger readers will love this - and the sequels.

House of Secrets: Battle of the Beasts by Chris Columbus

When Brendan, Cordelia and Nell move and their family moved into to Kristoff House they had no idea that they were about to unleash the dark magic locked within. Just when they thought they were safe, the Wind Witch blasts Kristoff House into a crazy world of battles, beasts and cyborgs. From the searing heat and clashing swords of the Colosseum, to the snow-capped Tibetan mountains and some seriously freaky monks, this exciting book whisks the reader on a perilous journey. Brendan, Cordelia and Nell must be prepared to fight for their lives… This is the second book in this atmospheric, suspenseful and exciting trilogy - do read them in order.

Nathalia Buttface and the Most Epically Embarrassing Trip Ever by Nigel Smith

Every girl who has ever found her parents embarrassing will love this! It's laugh-aloud fun all the way. The Most Embarrassing Dad in the world is back and embarrassing Nat even more than ever! This time they’re on holiday in France but everything is far from ‘bonne’ as it seems that Dad has bitten off much more than he can chew! Girls will love this hilarious book and will breather a sigh of relief that their dad isn't like Nathalia's - nobody could be that bad, surely? The crazy situations just keep on coming and, just as you thought yoy couldn't laugh any more, we're off again. Wonderful fun.

Demolition Dad by Phil Earle

This is the story of Jake Biggs and his dad, George. George spends all week knocking down buildings ... and all weekend knocking down wrestlers - but sadly, not many people go to watch him so when Jake hears about a pro-wrestling competition in the USA, he decides to enter his beloved dad. But it's always been a secret between him and his dad so things don't quite turn out the way he expected... find out just how in the unexpecetd ending to this entertaining read. There is plenty of humour but there's also reality and how to cope when things don't work out. Sensitive and well written, an engaging and meaningful read.

Princess Evie: the Rainbow Foal (Princess Evie 3) by Sarah KilBride

The Princess Evie picture boks have been a huge success and young girls will be delighted to carry on reading about her adventures in this series of first chapter books. Princess Evie returns in this delightful book. Evie sets out to find the missing pony, Corolla, and save the Rainbow Blossom Festival. It takes magic, friendship and love and Princess Evie has all these in abundance. With lots of charming line drawings and delicately embellished pages, this is a perfect step up from picture books. To add to the pleasure, there's a colourful poster and plenty of pony facts. A lovely series to collect.

Princess Poppy: The Unicorn Foal byJaney Louise Jones

Pony-mad young girls are well served at the moment, with these series of charming books just right for those who are beginning to fread independently with confidence. Poppy isn't looking forward to the summer holidays as all her friends are off having fun - but then her family get the chance of a camper van holiday at the enchanting campsite, Fairy Moon. Together with her new friend Jonny, Poppy has fun discovering all sorts of wonderful wildlife – and could she even have spotted a real unicorn? But danger lurks even in this idyllic place. Princess Poppy is a lovely character and she has starred in many books, picture and chapter, so girls can share her adventures as their reading progresses. Charmingly illustrated and perfect to collect.

The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza (Joey Pigza 5) by Jack Gantos

Fans will be sad to know that this is the last book in the series - but better to end on a high than drag out a series and spoil it for readers. With his dad MIA in the wake of appearance-altering plastic surgery, Joey must give up school to look after his new baby brother and fill in for his mum, who hospitalizses herself to deal with a bad case of postpartum blues. As his challenges mount, Joey discovers a key that could unlock the secrets to his father's whereabouts, a mystery that must be solved before Joey can even hope that his broken family might somehow come back together. It all seems too much for one boy but Joey copes in his own inimitable way - but always with a dark undercurrent which may not be to everyone's taste.

The Milkshake Detectives by Heather Butler

I enjoyed this book from the start with its accurate and [erceptive view of family life. Charlie soon makes friends with Julia and the pair decide that the sleepy village of Peddle-Worth must contain some mysteries - so they set up The Milkshake Detectives. When 'The Bear' starts leaving strange clues, they can't wait to put their spy skills to use. Trouble is, they're not the only ones on his track - worse of all, are Charlie's annoying step-brothers. But with the competition heating up, Charlie might be missing a more important mystery. And this one lies a lot closer to home. Really well written with characters who are 100 per cent credible as well as being really likeable, this is a very good read.

The Astounding Broccoli Boy by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Rory Rooney thinks he is prepared for anything until the unexpected happens on a school trip. It's not easy being green, as Rory Rooney finds out when he suddenly turns green. He's not the only one - there are two more green children in his hospital ward. Perhaps it's not something they ate...perhaps it's not a mysterious virus...perhaps they are actually superheroes. There's only one way to find each night, they sneak out of the hospital and try out their superpowers on the streets of London - with hilarious consequences. Zany and humorous, this quirky book will appeal to readers of all ages; it would make a brilliant classroom read, guaranteed to send children home happy at the end of the day.

The Secret of the Swords (Sword Girl) by Frances Watts

I reviewed a bind-up of six stories previously and loved the stories but had a slight reservation about the size of the book which could be a little daunting for young readers. Here's the answer - the individual stories. Tommy is Keeper of the Blades (caring for the swords in the armoury), and she shares lots of fun adventures with her friends including Lil, the talking cat, the friendly Crocodiddle who lives in the castle moat and Jasper, the ghost of a young squire. When Sir Walter's most valuable sword goes missing from the sword room, will Tommy (and her friends) be able to find it before she is sent back to the kitchen in disgrace? Light-heated and great fun with a feisty lead character - good to see a girl in the role - and plenty of interesting background about castle life. The drawings are fun too, full of comedy. In The Poison Plot (Sword Girl), it's up to Tommy to prevent one of Sir Walter's enemies from poisoning him at the banquet. Don't miss the rest of the series!

Harry and Hope by Sarah Lean

Before Frank, it was always just Hope and her artist mum, living in the Pyrenees, until Frank comes along. Frank is Hope's mother's boyfriend and he and Hope form a close bond, with Frank teaching Hope much. But Frank is a free-spirited traveller and the time comes for him to move on - but he leaves behind Harry the donkey. Hope finds it hard to come to terms with losing Frank but a tender and loving relationship builds up between her and Harry, who is also missing Frank. This sensitive and touching story about the power of friendship is beautifully written with perfectly depicted characters. Listen to an extract here, and find out more about the author on her website.

The Islands of Chaldea by Diana Wynne Jones, completed by Ursula Jones

How are you supposed to turn into a Wise Woman if your powers just won’t show up? Aileen is supposed to be a Wise Woman but her power just isn't there. When her aunt is set a seemingly impossible mission, Aileen must go with her to the island of Logra to rescue the kidnapped High Prince from the enemy. They meet up with a motley crew along the way but how can this small band penetrate the invisible barrier in the sea, set by the Lograns. But Aileen is about to discover that she could be more important to the mission than she realises. Perhaps it is her, above all, who is being drawn to Logra, and for a very special purpose… This has all the hallmarks typical of the author and it's impossible to tell when her sister took over the writing. Magic and fantasy, the ordinary and the supernatural all brought together and interwoven to make a memorable story.

Truckers: The First Book of the Nomes (Bromeliad Trilogy 1) by Terry Pratchett

To the tight-knit communities of tiny nomes who live hidden from humans in a large department store, there is no Outside. Maskin and his group have lived Outside but succumb to the cold and discomfort, joining the others in the Store. Then - disaster! The store is to close and it's up to mastermind an unbelievable escape plan that will take all the nomes into the dangers of the great Outside ... Masterful story-telling and characterisation makes these tiny creatures almost unbelievably real. Their adventures show the importance of working together and have a strong message for us all - but all written with the most amazing touches of humour which make the book a real cross-generation winner.

The Hero Pup by Megan Rix

11-year-old Joe's father has died and Joe is dreading the first Christmas without him. Mum suggests they volunteer for Helper Dogs who train puppies to help people in need. As Joe has always wanted a dog, this sounds perfect for him - and golden Labrador Patch is the one they are allocated. There is so much to larn and Joe tries to do everything right so Patch acn go from playful pupy to heroic helper... but there's a hard time to come for Joe. Ultimately, though this is a warming and uplifting story which is a touching account of the bond between dogs and humans. Bound to appeal to all fans of animal stories and a good next step from the first chapter books on animals which are so popular.

Witch Wars (Witch Wars 1) by Sibéal Pounder

Tiga doesn't believe Fran the Fabulous Fairy when she turns up in Tiga's shed to tell Tiga she is a witch... not until Fran points out that TIGA WHICABIM is actually an anagram of I AM A BIG WITCH anyway. So Fran magics Tiga away down the drainpipes to compete in Witch Wars - the competition to crown the next Top Witch of Ritzy City. The stakes are high - win, and Tiga will be crowned Queen of Ritzy City; lose and it's back to her mean aunt. Fun, friendship, fabulous illustrations - what more could girls want from a book?

The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White

This classic animal story blends wildlife with fantasy to bring a very special tale. Louis, the trumpeter swan, cannot make a sound so, with the encouragement of his father, he sets out to overcome his problem. He decides to learn to read and write and so he sets off to Montana to go to school with his friend Sam Beaver. That isn't the end of his problems though - when he returns to the lakes and falls in love with the beautiful Serena, she can't raed his sign. But Louis has very special parents who are determined to help him. A powerful and touching story, gently told and a wonderful demonstration of the strength of family love. Unusual and original, deserving to be better known. Puffin Modern Classics have been relaunched under a new logo: A Puffin Book. There are 20 titles to collect in the series, all with exciting new covers and fun-filled endnotes.

The Secret Kitten (Holly Webb Animal Stories) by Holly Webb

Another sweet and heart-warming story from a popular writer of animal stories. Lucy feels lonely when she and her brother move in with their gran, leaving behind their old friends. She'd love a pet but Gran isn't keen. When a stray kitten catches Lucy's attention, she instantly falls in love with it and makes friends, calling the kitten Catkin. Can Lucy resist the Catkin - and what will happen when Gran finds out?

The Dance Camp (Hello Kitty and Friends, Book 16) by Linda Chapman

Perfect for girls who are starting to read independently, this series about popular favourite Hello Kitty will be very popular - and a great incentive to get reading. Full of fun and friendship, this is the 16th book in the series - a series which girls will love to collect. Hello Kitty and the Friendship Club are off to Dance Camp! But when none of them can agree on what dance they want to do together, how can they all have fun? As with all the stories, it contains a message about friendship and working together, so there is a gently taught lesson along with the fun story. The pictures are great fun too.

Supercat vs the Pesky Pirate (Supercat, Book 3) by Jeanne Willis;

Jean Willis has produced some super picture books and young readers who have enjoyed these will enjoy seeing her narrative style reappearing in early chapter books. Everybody’s favourite all-action cat is back in the third instalment of the hilarious cat-superhero series. When all the grown-ups disappear from the family funfair Supercat and his sidekick James suspect the evil Count Backwards is behind it. The crime-fighting duo track the count to his underwater headquarters – but can they sneak on board a submarine and save the day or will they end up as fish food? A good storyline is not sacrificed in the interests of being funny - a great story is enhanced by clever humour to produce an excellent read, enhanced by Jim Field's hilarious illustrations which will produce fits of giggles.

Anyone But Ivy Pocket by Caleb Krisp

Ivy Pocket is a 12 year old lady's maid who finds herself abandoned in Paris. Ivy Pocket has a very high opinion of herself, however, and soon finds a new post. For the awesome sum of £500 Ivy agrees to courier the Duchess of Trinity's most precious possession - the Clock Diamond - to England. Not just that, but she is o put it around the neck of the revolting Matilda Butterfield on her twelfth birthday. Ivy Pocket is a true original - love her or hate her, her ascapades are well worth reading. Far from perfect, although she sees herself as perfect, her employers and others around her see a different picture. The story is full of surprising twists, with ghosts and mysteries playing their part in engaging the reader. Publication date 9/04/15.

The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and Jory John

Miles Murphy had it all, with great friends, a good place to live - and the reputation of being his town's best prankster. So when he learns he is moving to Yawnee Valley, famous only for cows, he is NOT happy. cows. Bigger problem still - Yawnee Valley already has a master prankster! If Miles is going to take the title from this mystery kid, he is going to have to raise his game. A war of trickery sets off but finally the two realise that joining forces is the only way forward. Miles is a lively, articulate character who engages the reader and Niles soon takes place alongside him in the reader's view. Great fun, well written and not OTT with the pranks, it produces its humour through the conversations and actions.

The Dreamsnatcher by Abi Elphinstone

Magical! 12 year old gypsy Molly Pecksniff finds herself in the middle of the forest one night, lured there by a recurring nightmare - the one with the drums and the rattles and the masks. The Dreamsnatcher wants more than her dreams - he wants her life. The Oracle Bones foretold that Molly and Gryff, a wildcat that has always been by her side, are the only ones who can fight back against the Dreamsnatcher's dark magic. Suddenly everything is at stake, and Moll is drawn into a world full of secrets, magic and adventure. The woodland setting is richly atmospheric. Mesmerising and full of suspense, this is beautifully told, leaving the reader with haunting memories of a wonderfully evocative world of gypsies and ancient lore.

Demon Dentist by David Walliams

Deservedly, this is one of the runaway successes of recent times. Alfie never goes to the dentist now - and who can blame him? And when a very srange new dentist comes to down, really weird things start to happen... children would put a tooth under their pillow for the tooth fairy, but in the morning they would wake up to find creepy crawlies instead. What - or who - could be behind this evil? David Walliams has a wonderful insight into the way children think and feel and he knows to perfection how to write for them. Alfie is a superbly drawn character - a loving caring boy who looks after his invalid dad. Imaginative and comical and blessed with the most hilarious illustrations to bring the story even more alive.

Dr KittyCat is Ready to Rescue: Posy the Puppy by Jane Clarke

Join the first-aid adventures of Dr KittyCat and Peanut the mouse who's always at her side in this attractive series, perfect to collect. It's been a busy day at the clinic, sorting out the bumps and bruises of would-be contestants practising for the Paws and Prizes sports day. Now Posy is stuck in the agility tunnel and she won't come out! Is she hurt or is there another reason? With little snippets of practical first aid, lovable characters and familiar scenes, this is a highly enjoyable book in an excellent series. I love the presentation - full of illustrations in two colours which cleverly mingle photos and drawings. It's different and very appealing, ideal for newly confident readers and a great series to get into.

The Accidental Prime Minister by Tom McLaughlin

The park has been closed - and the Prime Minister is at Joe and Ajay's school. So they must get to speak to him... And then things take off at a phenomenal speed and Joe finds his impassioned speech has gone viral. Everyone is calling for him to become Prime Minister, but does he really know best? A totally hilarious story, brilliantly written and amusingly illustrated - with clear undercurrents of reality. Politicians will never seem quite the same again! Perfectly timed for the General Election, this book is released on 2 April 2015 - get yourself a copy for some light relief!

Three Cheers for Wales by Wendy White

Just in time for the Six Nations Cup, Emyr Rhys and Betsi Wyn are back, following the success of Welsh Cakes and Custard. Five short stories are ideal for young readers just beginning to enjoy reading books on their own. Between cheering for Wales at the Millennium Stadium, spending important time with grandparents Da-cu and Mam-gu, dressing up like a frog and visiting a Victorian school, they have plenty to keep them busy and amused! Exciting times – and funny moments – fill these five new stories for young readers by award-winning author, Wendy White, with humorous illustrations by Helen Flook. The stories reflect real life, enabling children to identify with the characters and they have a stromg Welsh bias which makes them excellent for youngsters in Wales.

Foxy Tales: 03: The Great Jail Break by Caryl Hart

Foxy DuBois and Alphonso the Alligator find themselves in a very tight place. Can they escape or are these lovable rogues doomed to a life behind bars? This is the third title in an hilarious series for young readers from an award-winning author-illustrator team. For young readers who love slapstick humour, hilarious scrapes and unending fun, you can't go wrong with this great series. Packed with hilarious illustrations by Alex T Smith, every page brings a fresh delight and touch of humour. Great fun and perfect to show children that reading is thoroughly enjoyable.

Whatever After: 2: If the Shoe Fits by Sarah Mlynowski

"Once upon a time my brother and I found a magic mirror..." The magic mirror transports brother and sister Jonah and Abby into a magical world of fairytales... but not fairytales as we know them. Oh no. Join the siblings as they find themselves looking for Cinderella... Cinderella has broken her foot, and there's massive swelling so glass slipper won't fit... no happy ever after unless Jonah and Abby can learn how to use a dustpan; stay out of jail; find Cinderella a job and make sure true love finds its way. And all before the clock strikes 12. This is a full-lenght story so there is plenty for young readers to get their teeth into as they enjoy this humorous take on the old favourite.

The Butterfly Club by Jacqueline Wilson

Three is so often an awkward number, and for triplet Tina, this is the case - she's always been the odd one out. Sisters Phil and Maddie are bigger, stronger and better at everything. No problem as the 'big' sisters look after their triplet - until the girls are split up at school. Tina finds herself in super-strict Miss Lovejoy's class. Worse, Tina is paired up with angry bully Selma but when Miss Lovejoy asks them to help her create a butterfly garden in the school playground, Tina finds her own strength and her own friendship. As ever, the book is perceptive, homing in with the writer's unique talent, on just how young people feel. Heartwarming and confidence-building, girls of around 8-9 will love tis latest addition to Jacqueline Wilson's exceptional catalogue. Listen to Jacqueline introducing the book. You can buy the eBook here - The Butterfly Club. Dame Jacqueline Wilson is a former Children’s Laureate and a multi award- winning, best-selling author who has recently been revealed as the most borrowed author from public libraries of the past decade. Over 35 million copies of her books have been sold in the UK alone and her books have been translated into 34 different languages. The Butterfly Club is her 101st novel.

Lupo and the Secret of Windsor Castle by Aby King

This is a super book which will appeal to adults and children (and all those of us lucky enough to have a cocker spaniel!) with its clever humour and exciting story. There's enough of royatly here to provide a great background but all done in the best possible taste. Lupo who is, of course, a cocker spaniel, shares a special bond with his young master; a relationship which lies at the heart of the story. Enjoying a walk with Nanny and Prince George in Kensington Gardens when he is lured into a wtrap and accused of attacking Cyrus the swan and stealing royal treasure. In an exciting tale of animal good against evil, we are taken through places only known to the highest in the land. Of course, Lupo is innocent but can he prove it? Wonderfully written, lively and fun, and certainly deserving of a place in the royal nursery.

The Gladiator's Victory (Warrior Heroes) by Benjamin Hulme-Cross

Reading exciting books with an accurate historical context is an excellent way to support classroom learning and to encourage even reluctant readers. The brothers are trapped in their great grandfather's museum and must travel back in time to set free the restless ghosts of dead warriors. In this exciting adventure, they must help the gladiator escape not only from the ampitheatre but also from the powerful Roman soldiers. Extracts from 'Warrior Heroes by Finn Blade' are found throughout the book and give fascinating facts about Roman times. In Warrior Heroes: The Samurai's Assassin Arthur and Finn's challenge is to stop powerful samurai warlord Kinji Kuroda seizing power. Their quest finds themselves in conflict with ferocious warriors in another fast-paced action-packed story which will really appeal to readers looking for excitement set against a historical background.

The Bike Escape (World War II Tales) by Terry Deary World

War II Tales are set on the Home Front and are a good way to show children how life carried on at home during the dark days of the war. In The Bike Escape, we meet Harry, an evacuee from London, who hates being in the country and is determined to get back home. The Apple Spy (World War II Tales) has a completely contrasting setting - a small Scottish village. Twins Jamie and Marie suspect there is a spy in their village, and risk their lives to alert the authorities. The stories are written with Terry Deary's trademark humour and true-to-life backgrounds. A refreshing change from books about the war itself, and stories and characters with which children can readily identify.

Operation Code-Cracker (Black Cats) by John Townsend

John Townsend is a porlific author who has written many exciting novels. Children can get engrossed in this one, which offers them the opportunity to solve puzzles on their way through the book. Code-loving Max is recruited to spy on his friend's uncle, a suspected terrorist. But nothing is quite as it seems in this new world of espionage, double-crosses, kidnaps and car chases - and in the end, it may be Max's skill with word puzzles that saves the day. A fast-paced novel which offers the reader to chance to help Max.

The Binding (ACB Originals) by Jenny Alexander

When Jack and his family arrive on the remote, blustery Scottish island of Morna, the whole summer holiday seems doomed. But they are not the only ones of their ages on the island. They find the den and the three children who claim ownership, and become members of the secret society, The Binding. It is led and dominated by charismatic Duncan, who presides over with elaborate rules, ceremonies and punishments. Jack doesn't want trouble but he comes to realise that someone must stand up to Duncan - and that person is him. A tense and exciting book which to me, had undertones of Lord of the Flies

Pinocchio by Michael Morpurgo

This is the story of perhaps the most famous puppet in the whole world, told in his own words - and what a wonderful storyteller he turns out to be! Michel Morpurgo brings his superb story-telling abilities to this famous tale and we enjoy the story in a way we never have before. We meet Pinocchio as a tiny cherry-pip in a blackbird's beak and learn how Gepetto found the cherry-wood and fashioned a puppet who came alive. The story-telling is out-of-this-world - we all know Pinocchio cam to life but never before so wonderfully as in this story; you really feel you know him and share in all has escapades. Beautifully illustrated throughout in black-and-white by the acclaimed Emma Chichester Clark - but how I would love to see this as a glossy full-colour book. It certainly puts new light on Pinocchio and other renditions will seem to pale in comparison.

Destiny and the Wild Horses (Pony Club Secrets, Book 3) by Stacy Gregg

An exciting summer lies ahead for Issie and her horse, Blaze, even though they are not at Pony Club. Instead, she's training horses for the movies!. At her aunt’s farm, Issie hears of plans to cull a group of wild ponies. She’s determined to save them, especially the beautiful stallion Destiny. It’s lucky that Issie can call on her pony-club friends because she is going to need all the help she can get. It's a perfect series for horse-mad youngsters and has all the ingredients of classic Pony Club stories, but even better; and, of course, written with today's readers in mind.

Secrets and Dreams by Jean Ure

Girls who dream of going to boarding school will love thos new book by a popular author. When Zoe’s parents win the lottery, her dream of going to boarding school becomes a reality. But things seldom turn out as expected and when one of Zoe's new friends reveals a secret too big to share with the others in the group, Zoe finds herself caught in the middle. Will she be able to keep the Daisies together? Staying loyal while ‘fitting in’ has never seemed harder. Friendship and loyalty are the themes of this boo, which shows a real insight into the way girls think - and into what they want to read about.

Nowhere Boys by Elise McCredie

Based on the popular TV series, this is, to me, a rather disturbing novel. Four boys were caught in a freak storm and when they arrive home, after a terrifying night, it seems that they don't exist. Nobody recognises them, and their places in the world seem to have disappeared without leaving a trace. Sam, Jake and Andy are desperate to get back to things as they were and this contrasts interestingly with Felix, who likes some aspects of this new life. I like these two opposing views which add an interesting dynamic to the story, as do the very different characters and reactions shown by each boy. Things are not what they seem - a dark force has been unleashed and evil threatens.

Monster High: Haunted: The Junior Novel by Perdita Finn

When Spectra Vondergeist goes back to her old ghost school to find out why Monster High is being haunted, the other girls use Boogey Sand to transform into ghosts so they can follow her. There, they die-scover that spirits are low because the Principal weighs students down with ghastly rules and detention chains. It's up to the ghouls and their new ghost friends to uncover the mystery of the hauntings and the secrets of the ghost school! Movie tie-ins are an excellent way to encourage reluctant readers, who will want to know more about their favourite films, and this bok with its clever illustrations will appeal.

Don't Look Now: A Magician Never Tells and Elephant Bones by Paul Jennings and Andrew Weldon

Two fabulously funny stories that will have young readers in fits of giggles. 10 year old Ricky famous - and that might well come true because Ricky has a special gift. He can fly. Trouble is, he can obnly fly when nobody is. looking. And that's the danger - if anyone sees him (even a bird) he will fall out of the sky. Is he prepared to risk it? In A Magician Never Tells, Ricky finds a clever way to show off his trick and in Elephant Bones, he finds out (in an unusual way) what his neighbours have been digging. Related by Ricky himself, these hilarious stories are great - and made even better by the superb cartoons which accompany them.

The Diary of Dennis the Menace: Bash Street Bandit (Book 4) by Steven Butler

Dennis' escapades continue in this, the fourth of his diaries. Dennis is worried  -someone out there is out-menacing him and Dennis won't stand for that. Day-by-day and even hour-by-hour, follow Dennis as he fights against his competitor - and revel in the humorous text and hilarious drawings in this dog-eared and ink-blotted diary. It's great fun and will appeal to all Dennis' many fans - and hopefully make him some new ones.

Emily's Dream (Holly Webb's Four Friends Forever) by Holly Webb

Keen readers of this lovely series about friendship will be really disappointed that the series comes to an end with tis book - but no doubt Holly Webb has something new waiting in the wings as she always comes along with super series. Emily loves animals and she cares very much about the environment. As one of a big family she can't have pets at home so she helps at the local animal rescue centre instead. When the rescue centre is under threat you can be sure that Emily and her friends will do something about it... It's a lovely heart-warming story to conclude what has been a super series about the strength of friendship and the importance of caring and sharing.

Arsenic For Tea: A Wells and Wong Mystery (Wells & Wong Mystery 2) by Robin Stevens

I loved the first in this series - as a fan of both school stories and detective fiction, it couldn't fail to appeal. This time, the Detective Society (aka Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong) are at Daisy's ancestral home, Fallingford, investigating the mysterious death of Mr Curtis. The country house setting in the 1930s is reminiscent of traditional murder stories and Robin Stevens has plotted the story perfectly. Of course, the house is cut off from outside help - by floods, so it's down to our feisty detective pair to unravel the mystery. It looks as though the murderer can only be a family member, a guest or a servant... as the possible perpetrator could be one of Daisy's family, she needs Hazel's support and the friendship between these two quite different girls develops and strengthens through a well-constructed novel. The era and the way of life are perfectly evoked and the clues are there for you to follow... I love this and can't wait for more!

My Head Teacher is a Vampire Rat by Pamela Butchart

Izzy and her friends decide that their new head teacher is a vampire rat. Why, you may ask. Well, he is a bit scary, he keeps his blinds drawn duing the day and he has banned garlic bread - and all their research points to these being the hallmarks of vampires. It's up to the friends to hatch a plot to defeat their enemy - and they are highly inventice with their ideas. A very funny story, embellished with hilarious drawings, that engages the reader and has you eagerly turning the page for the next hilarious event. - if the giggles don't stop you reading!

Mission Survival 7: Rage of the Rhino by Bear Grylls

A thrilling adventure that will especially appeal to boys and an excellent way to encourage reluctant boy readers to explore the joy of books; adults could try reading turn and turn about to encourage this - you might well fin d your son continues on his own. Written with real insight from an experienced survival expert, this time Beck Granger heads to the Kruger National Park, South Africa. His task is to help stop rhino poaching - but he and his friend Samora find themselcves facing greater danger than poachers - the Silverback has caught up with them. Fast-moving and exciting, this is a great series for those who love adventure and danger.

Witch Wars (Witch Wars 1) by Sibéal Pounder

When Fran the Fabulous Fairy turns up in Tiga Whicabim's shed to tell her she's a witch, Tiga doesn't believe her. But when Tiga realises that her surname is an anagram of I AM A BIG WITCH, she's convinced. Could Tiga be the next Top Witch of Ritzy City? This is a witchy story unlike any other, full of fun and hilarity, silly spells, delectable dresses, ridiculous riddles and a serious shoe problem, Tiga is an extremely likeable lead character.

Barry Loser and the Case of the Crumpled Carton by Jim Smith

There's a new baby on the scene - Barry's baby brother and his parents are so busy looking after Desmond Loser that they don't seem to know - or care - what Barry is doing. The only thing that’s keeping him going is a superkeel new drink from Feeko’s Supermarket - Tears of Granny Laughter. But then disaster strikes, and Barry has to turn detective to solve the mystery of the century: the case of the crumpled carton! It's great fun and will be lapped up by boys who want plenty of humour in their stories. The liberal use of hilarious pictures, the informal presentation and the hort chapters combine to make an easy and thoroughly read, even for reluctant readers.

Far From Home: The sisters of Street Child by Berlie Doherty

Street Child has become a modern classic and this companion story has all the superb reading qualities of its predecessor; it's been quite a wait for a sequel, but well worth the wait. When Jim Jarvis was separated from his sisters, he wondered if he would ever see them again. Lizzie and Emily were left in the care of a cook but in a dramatic turn, their story takes them to the mills of northern England. Here they are subjected to a harsh regime from which escape seems impossible - or is it? This is a must-read book with its superbly dramatic evocation of Victorian life from the homes of the rich to the appalling working conditions of the poor in factories. LIzzie and Emily are superbly depicted and you will share in their fortunes throughout every gripping page. I expect great things for this book - a potential award winner.

The Case of the Missing Moonstone (the Wollstonecraft Detective Agency, Book 1) by Jordan Stratford

Detective novels for younger readers seem to have become popular of late. Quite rightly so - it's a genre that appeals to a huge number of adults so why not let children enjoy detective fiction too - there will be plenty of books for them to graduate to as they get older! An imaginary meeting between Ada Lovelace (often hailed as the world’s first computer programmer) and Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein) as girls in 1826 leads to the formation of a secret detective agency. Their first case involves a stolen heirloom, a false confession, and an array of fishy suspects - with the brains of Ada and Mary pitted aginast them, the villians haven't a hope! A superb book on many levels - two clever and feisty heroines who are great role models, plenty of historical backgroynd plus a mystery to solve. Brilliant!

The Leaky Battery Sets Sail (Adventures of the Steampunk Pirates) by Gareth P. Jones

This is the start of a wonderful new series that promises to have readers hooked right from the start. The robotic Steampunk Pirates are seaching for gold and causing chaos and terror across the high seas. They find themselves pitted against the evil Iron Duke, who has been promised a reward if he can capture our heroes. Can they outwit - and outsail - him? Full of zany humour, piratical puns and oceanic action, this will have readers giggling from start to finish as they revel in the adventures of these mechanical marvels.

Frankie's Magic Football: 09 Frankie's New York Adventure by Frank Lampard

Frankie and his teammates love playing football - and who wouldn't if they had a magic football? In their latest escapade, they find themselves in New York, meeting a giant green woman - the Statue of Liberty! And is that THE George Washington? They don't need the teams' help, but there's a boy who does. Can they help Ernie make it to the try-out for the Yankees' junior team? The series brings a great mix of football, magic and friendship which is perfect for newly confident readers - even those who would prefer to be out kicking a football!

Emily Sparkes and the Friendship Fiasco by Ruth Fitzgerald

This is the first in a new series about fun-loving Emily Sparkes who finds her life completely changes when her best friend moves away and there's a new baby in the family. As if that's not enough, she's paired with revolting Gross-Out Gavin for the school trip. Maybe new girl Chloe Clarke could make things better... but it seems that trouble is everywhere for Emily at the moment. A promising start with a great character for girls to love and follow with enthusiasm. The characters are well written with a perfect understanding of tween girls.

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; shortly 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.

The Mighty Frog (The Legend of Frog) by Guy Bass

Hold tight for the finale of this excellent trilogy. Frog has already saved the world twice with his incredible mightiness. His powers are really going to be put to the test this time as he and his friends take to the skies to fight the bad-tempered extra-terrestrial Kroakan army. It's a series which works on many levels and from which each reader will take away something different - younger readers will thoroughly enjoy the adventure tinged with magic; older readers will appreciate the vivid use of language and the subtleties of the plot. Great characters, laugh-aloud humour and appealing presentation combine to make a fun read.

Rotten Luck! (Knightmare) by Peter Bently

This series is such fun, and perfect for readers who are starting to enjoy books for themselves. Cedric Thatchbottom is finding that life as a squire isn't quite what he espected - and Sir Percival the Proud is not all that a knight should be. Now a notorious outlaw is terrifying the locals and Sir Percy is off to track him down, with plenty of help from Cedric. But there are fearsome things in the forest which will frighten the bracest of knights - and that doesn't include Sir Percy! Lively and amusing drawings, a touch of history and a fabulous cast of knights and squires make for a hilarious read which will be thoroughly enjoyed.

I Totally Funniest: A Middle School Story: (I Funny 3) by James Patterson

Lots of hilarious reads in my latest batch of reviews, and plenty to appeal to children, whatever their choice in humour. It's great for children to be able to escape into books and have a good laugh. And Jamie knows the value of humour - he's on a quest to be the best child comic. He did well on TV and now all the attention is going to his head. Friendships are suffering and the stress of coming up with winning material is getting to him. It's all getting too much for Jamie... will he cope? More riotous fun from a great author.

Boy In The Tower by Polly Ho-Yen

Ade loves living at the top of a tower block with its 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.

Darkmouth (Darkmouth, Book 1) by Shane Hegarty

For those who love terror mixed with humour, this new series promises great things. Legends (also known as terrifying, human-eating monsters) have invaded the town of Darkmouth (the last of the blighted villages, gateways for the feared Legends) and aim to conquer the world. Finn: just 12 years old, is being trained by his father to be a Legend Hunter. But gentle Finn, who loves animals, is not a natural fighter.  He tries, though, he tries really, really hard, but somehow he prefers running away. Highly atmospheric, this is a book which draws you in to the story through wonderful language which vividly sets the scene. It's dark... it's adventurous.. it's's fantastical.This is the book that can’t wait to get its teeth into you. It’s about to get legendary. View the trailer here.

Evacuee - a Real-Life World War Two Story by Jan Pollard

I love to encourage children to read real-life accounts presented as stories. They engage with the telling and learn so much about how real people reacted and coped with the situations they faced. Children will enjoy and relate to this story of an evacuee during World War Two; it's the author's own true story of her evacuation to the countryside during the war and this reallly personal approach is simply and excellently told to help young readers understand just what it was like to be separated from family and sent to a totally different environment. A moving and positive story that shows how Jan's escape from the Blitz changed her life for ever.

Richard III (I Was There) by Stuart Hill

Another story which brings history alive for children; this is a personal account, 'written' by Richard III. Perfect for readers at the younger end of KS2, they are taken into the world of 1464, and share the emotions of the young Prince Richard who is about to experience his first real battle. It's set in a colourful world of knights, battles and chivalry. and as such will definitely appeal to young readers, especially boys. I like the way the story really talks to the reader and draws him into the book, and readers will learn about late medieval England as they enjoy an exciting story.

Pegasus and the Rise of the Titans by Kate O'Hearn

This atmospheric novel with its vivid setting takes us back to the ancient rivalry between the Olympians and the Titans so vividly depicted in the earlier novels in the series. The Titans are in possession of a secret weapon that can rival the power of the Flame of Olympus and which threatens to overturn the power of Olympus. Emily and Pegasus are caught up in the struggle and they must head to the Diamond Head volcano in Hawaii to track down the one thing that can save Olympus. A superbly told action-packed story with great characters; a story which brings Greek legends alive.

Tales from Schwartzgarten: 3: The Lily-Livered Prince by Christopher William Hill

When Marius encounters the Band of Blood, a group of orphaned children who live in a dilapidated hotel in Schwartzgarten's mysterious Old Town, it seems they have a theory to explain the abductions. Could it be that the new chocolate shop in the artisan quarter of the city is a front for the kidnappings? Time is running out before they themselves are dragged from the dark city streets and spirited out of the city. Luckily, the members of the Band of Blood have Great Uncle Kalvitas on their side. But is Kalvitas really the ancient war hero he claims to be and can he save his Great Nephew from the abductors? It's a strange and dark world, full of imagination and the children are wonderfully depicted. Perfect for fans of the incomparable Roald Dahl but could anything be as good? I leave you to decide...

Wherever You are (Ellie's War) by Emily Sharratt

This is the second book in an emotional and moving sequence set against during the First World War. It's August 1915 and we follow Ellie as her life continues the dramatic changes set in train by the war, and which we read about in the first book in the series. Ellie and her family have to face up to devastating news but at least best friend Jack is at her side. But then Jack runs off to war, leaving Ellie lonely and frightened, and feeling the hardship of being a woman in the time of war. Sadness abounds in this poignant and heartbreaking book which gives a realistic look at the lives of those left behind by war.

Ellie's Magical Bakery: Brilliant Birthday Bakes! (Ellies Magical Bakery 3) by Ellie Simmonds

Ellie Simmonds has starred in The Great Comic Relief Bake Off so she knows about the world of baking! This new title is Book 3 in the series starring Ellie and her pet cat, Whisk. Ellie has been invited to her first ever birthday party... but she must bake a very special birthday cake for her new friend Talia. There's a big problem - her magical recipe book has gone missing! Where could it be? This is a lovely series for girls who like to get to know their favourite characters better as they follow their adventures through a series of books. Ellie is a feisty and inspiring young girl who is not phased by anything, even her dwarfism; a great role model.

Wonderfully Winnie! 3-in-1 (Winnie the Witch 3 Books in 1) by Laura Owen

Wonderful Winnie is here with a super collection of 12 stories to delight her fans. You'll meet Winnie in many different settings - in 'Jurassic Winnie' she uses magic to take a dinosaur's photo; in 'Detective Winnie' she tries out her sleuthing skills; in 'Winnie's Time Machine' she comes face to face with afierce cavewoman and in 'Winnie Goes Wild' she swings through the trees, Tarzan style! There's more too - bonus pages of jokes at the end of the book to get everyone giggling. Korky Paul's lively line drawings are abundantly distributed throughout the book, making this the ideal next step for children who have enjoyed the fully illustrated picture books complement the humour, slapstick, and moments of real drama that run through each story. Quite magical!

A Whisper of Wolves (Guardians of the Wild) by Kris Humphrey

The Whisperers have an inescapable destiny, signified by a raven dropping a white feather at birth. Alice is a Whisperer - a guardian of the wild and feared by the villagers. But the Whisperers are the ones who can defend the kingdom of Meridina from the demonic Narlaw. When hunters from her village disappear without a trace, Alice is suspicious. With the help of Storm, her wolf companion, she fights to save her village. Plenty of action and a well-constructed plot will keep the reader's attention - and have them waiting eagerly for the next book in the quartet. Publication 2/3/15.

Blood Oath (Gladiator School) by Dan Scott

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

Gladiator School: Blood Justice by Dan Scott

Lucuis' quest continues in this, the sixth title in Gladiator School, a series of novels set in a stirring background of heated battles, fierce loyalty and even fiercer rivalry. Lucius, Isi and Quin have proof that Titus was poisoned - now they must work out who they can trust and persuade them to believe them. Who will be found guilty in the end - and will justice be done? Another fast-moving story which will have the reader engrossed throughout. A wonderful way for children to become immersed in the world of Ancient Rome and to absorb knowledge about the period whilst enjoying a really good read. Particularly good for reluctamt readers who will be captivated by the excitement abd background. A great series and perfect to read alongside learning about Ancient Rome - perhaps as a class reader.

The Amazing Tale of Ali Pasha by Michael Foreman

We meet Henry Friston and his tortoise Ali Pasha during the 1950s, when Henry is telling his amazing adventures to a young newspaper reporter. The story begins with Henry as a boy and then goes on to his time in the Royal Navy. On 6th May 1915, Henry rejoined his battleship after ten days on 'X Beach', ferrying the wounded from Gallipoli. This incredible story is based on true facts and it tells how, amid all the horror, Henry met a tortoise... and managed to keep him. The harshness of war is contrasted with the hope and warmth of a special relationship to bring us yet another superb and emotional story from a true master. Extracts from Henry's journal combine with superb illustrations from who else but Michael Foreman to bring us a story to capture hearts. Unputdownable.

Marsh Road Mysteries: Diamonds and Daggers (Marsh Road Mysteries 1) by Elen Caldecott

Mystery, adventure and friendship from a prize-winning author - it's got to be good! This is the first in a new series about friends Piotr, Minnie, Andrew, Flora and Sylvia - solvers of mysteries. Their first challenge is to find a diamond necklace which goes missing when a famous actress appears at the local theatre. The prime suspect is Piotr's dad who works at the theatre, so the stakes are high and the friends must catch the real criminal. Will they succeed? I'm not telling you - but I will tell you that there is a dramatic denouement in the best tradition of crime novels. A super story that will be enjoyed by fans of Enid Blyton.

Young Houdini: The Magician's Fire (Young Houdini 1) by Simon Nicholson

Travel back to New York City in 1886 and meet Harry Houdini and his friends Billie and Arthur. There's a mystery afoot - Herbie Lemster, a magician and mentor to Harry has disappeared. The friends set out on an exciting journey in search of him, taking in the theatre, the docks and boarding houses on the way. With a well drawn background that brings the city alive this is an excellent story with a strong cast of characters - and an interesting perspective on the supposed young life of an intriguing personality; but don't take Harry's young life as depicted here as gospel - it just makes for an entertaining story.

Mudball Molly (Adventures at Hound Hotel) by Shelley Swanson Sateren

The Hound Hotel is THE place to go if you are a dog who wants to look its very best. Molly the Westie is due to be a flower girl at a wedding - but she hates being groomed, so there's a back-up plan. And Alfie is it - but the last thing he wants is to be a page boy; on the other hand, his sister Alfreda would love to be a flower girl. All that pales into insignificance against the fact the wedding rings get lost... This light-hearted and amusing story is perfect for early readers, with short chapters and well laid out pages.

Shyanna's Song (Mermaid Kingdom) by Janet Gurtler

Mermaids always appeal to young girls so this series will be very popular with newly confident readers. Since her father disappeared, Shyanna hasn't been able to sing - but with the help of her friends, that may just be about to change. Set in a magical underwater kingdom, this is a sweet story about friendship. The lovely full page colour illustrations are a real bonus. THere are discussion ideas at the end of the book, making it ideal for classroom use.

Little Grey Rabbit's Valentine by Alison Uttley

It's lovely to see these gentle stories with their charming illustrations being reissued in these gorgeous editions - I want them all! It's almost Valentine's day and Robin the postman is having trouble coping with all the deliveries. Little Grey Rabbit, Hare and Squirrel don't know what Valentine's Day is but once they find out, they sit down to write their own - rather unusual - Valentine greetings. These are wonderful stories to share with children and Margaret Tempest's delicate illustrations are quite perfect. Beautifully produced on creamy paper, the Little Grey Rabbit books make lovely gifts.

Apocalypse Bow Wow by James Proimos III

Chaos has come to the world - but (as dogs do) Brownie and Apollo only realise when dinner time comes that there owners have disappeared - perhaps for ever. There's only one thing to do; they will have to leave the comfort of their home - if they can get out! But it's a free-for-all out there and the pals have to call on all their resources to survive. It's a wacky and hilarious graphic novel which is unusual and quirky.

Secret Agent Mummy: The Cleopatra Case by Steve Cole

This fascinating and quirky series is perfect for all children interested in Ancient Egypt, with its engaging mix of humour and history. Sam, the Secret Agent Mummy, is on a mission - to find Cleopatra’s tomb. He gets more than he bargained for - inside he uncovers a statue that bites; an undead empress with unfinished business; terrifying intergalactic lizard-men and an ancient plot that threatens all life on Earth. Can Sam and his friend Niall save the planet? Another hilarious story from an ever-popular author who gets it just right for his readers.

Sparky's Bad Spell by Ruby Nash

Somehow, Sparky found himself at Mrs Mothwick’s Magic Academy, but he's just not magic at all. Now it's the dreaded inspection time - the Grand Council of Wizardry and Witchiness are coming to inspect the school. Sparky will be in troubke if he can't master some tricks and the future of the school could be in danger. When a mysterious witch appears and offers to help, can Sparky trust her? To engage young readers fully in the book, there is an excellent section at the end with magical games and activities to enjoy - a great way to add interest.

Haatchi and Little B - Junior edition by Wendy Holden

Haatchi was injured by a train and sadly lost one of his legs and his tail. He needed some serious love; and so did Owen who was also finding life hard. This is an inspiring true story of friendship and how it gave Haatchi and Owen the strength to overcome problems together. Perfectly adapted for younger children, this is a moving and uplifting story which carries important messages.

Mortimer Keene: Dino Danger by Tim Healey

A madcap and hilarious book with a lively presentation that will appeal to even reluctant readers. Mortimer Keene has invented a Time Machine and sent the school back in time to the age of the dinosaurs. But what happens when a pterosaur grabs poor Emily Bruce? The wonderful rhyming text races you through the book - but don't forget to stop and enjoy the equally hilarious illustrations. It's wonderful fun and there is plenty to learn about dinosaurs too. Unmissable!

The Deadly 7 by Garth Jennings

You just know this book is going to be fun as soon as you flick through and see the illustrations! You won't be disappointed - it mixes adventure and excitement with a little bit of scariness and excitement. When Nelson's sister goes missing, he is left with his mad uncle Pogo, the caretaker of St Paul's Cathedral. Nelson discovers a machine invented by Christopher Wren and not seen for hundreds of years. Designed to extract the 7 deadly sins, problem is, the sins become monsters then follow the sinner around! When Nelson extracts his sins, he finds he is being followed by monsters. Luckily, they are quite harmless - in fact, then even help Nelson on his quest to find his sister. Highly imaginative and wonderfully told, this is bound to be a hit.

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 and the perfect way to encourage children to seek out the full length stories.

Romans on the Rampage by Jeremy Strong

It's always fantastic to see a new Jeremy String title. One of our most talented humorous authors for children brings his talent to bear on the fruitful topic of the Romans. Young Roman Perilus is mad about chariot racing. He has his own (homemade) chariot pulled by the family goat. Will he achieve his dream of riding in the Circus Maximus? Sooner then he expects, it seems, in this hilarious story which will have young readers laughing throughout.

How To Train Your Dragon: Incomplete Book of Dragons by Cressida Cowell

Once upon a time, the world was full of dragons... take a wonderous journey to that world in this lavishly produced account. Taken from the notebooks of Viking Hero Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third when he was just a boy. A keen dragonwatcher, Hiccup paints a picture of the brilliance and fire and spirit of that lost dragon world. Featuring dragon profiles, dragon anatomy, dragon riding tips and lots more must know info e.g. how to spot the difference between an arsenic adderwing and a glow worm (you don't want to mix those two up) and what to do when confronted with a Hellsteether. A must-have book for all dragon watchers.

Berry Goes to Winterland (Railway Rabbits) by Georgie Adams

These gentle nostalgic stories transport you back to another world - a pastoral world perfect for fans of Beatrix Potter and Alison Uttley. It's Christmas time in the Ripple River Valley. Berry and Wisher go exploring and after a mix-up with Father Christmas's bag of toys they find themselves at Fairweather's Farm Park. Can the adventurous creatures get home safely? An enjoyable book which is perfect for early readers to read on their own.

Horrid Henry's Tricky Tricks by Francesca Simon

Every Horrid Henry fan will want a copy of this super full-colour compilation - it's a perfect gift. Ten popular stories have been chosen from the Horrid Henry books, including Henry finds a fool-proof way to win at Gotcha, wakes the dead, gets his own back on Stuck-Up Steve and builds the best snowman ever. But not just stories - extras include Gotcha rules, Henry's Talent Show Rap, Grump Cards and the true autobiography of Henry, Lord High Excellent Majesty of the Purple Hand Gang. Of course, there are hilarious illustrations by Tony Ross throughout the book.

First and Second Term at L'Etoile (School for Stars) by Holly Willoughby

L'Etoile is an exclusive school for talented young musicians, singers and dancers and here we have the first two books in the series, telling of twins Maria and Molly Fitzfoster and their adventures at the school. In the first book, they face the same issues around friendship as many children face, so girls will readily identify with the storyline whilst loving the very unusual background. The secod story has even more excitement! This is, quite rightly, a very popular series and the compilation volume is the ideal way to introduce readers to the series.

The Fright at Zombie Farm (You Choose Stories: Scooby Doo) by Laurie S. Sutton

The reader is in change in this exciting and mysterious story. The Mystery Gang Inc are looking forward to a weekend on the farm - until they discover it is full of zombies. What should they do? Stay or search the fairground? Try the cave or the attic? You decide - then go back and try again if you don't like the ending! Great fun.

The Case of the Stolen Sculpture (Museum Mysteries) by Steve Brezenoff

The Capitol City Sleuths are on the trail of a priceless sculpture which has been stolen from the Capitol City Art Museum. But with insurance money to cover the theft and build a new education wing, no one is overly worried about getting the missing art back. The only ones who seem concerned with solving the case are Clemetine and her friends. Can these determined detectives get to the bottom of the art-museum mystery before it's too late? The full page colour illustrations are an especial feature of this book.

The Great Cake Bake by Jenny Sullivan

Aled is a friendly boy and he faces many issues in his life in apositive way - and that is the message of this enjoyable book. His dyslexia is one issue and so this book will appeal to those who also struggle with reading. THere's a cake baking competition coming up at school - but Aled can't read the recipes - could his mum's new friend help? A sensitively written and enjoyable read with an overwhelmingly positive nessage about meeting challenges head-on.

Feel the Fear (Ruby Redfort, Book 4) by Lauren Child

Good, old fashioned (but never, ever dull) adventures with a sassy heroine who is very much of today's world. Ruby Redfort:is a supercool secret agent, code-cracker and thirteen-year-old genius and this is the fourth books about her adventures. This time Ruby must pit her wits against a seemingly invisible foe. How do you set your sights on catching a light-fingered villain if you can’t even see him…? Lauren Child is a superb author who, whatever age she is writing for, knows exactly what will appeal to her audience - and delivers it with verve and style. Readers really identify with Ruby Redfort and thoroughly enjoy her crime-cracking adventures which keep them guessing right to the end. An engaging page-turner.

House of Robots: (House of Robots 1) by James Patterson

This is a great new series from an outstandingly talented author. When an extraordinary robot signs up for an ordinary fifth grade class elementary school will never be the same! The illustrations make this book stand out - they are a significant and vital part of the book and an excellent way to draw in even reluctant readers. Fitting in is hard enough for Sammy Hayes-Rodriguez to fit in, let alone when his genius mum insists he bring her newest invention to school: a walking, talking robot he calls E – for "Error". Sammy's no stranger to robots – his house is full of a colourful cast of them - this one not only thinks it's Sammy's brother... it's actually even nerdier than Sammy. Can things get worse - or might they actually improve? A fabulous read with great characters - can't wait for more!

Seal Island by Julia Green

A touching and sensitive story about friendship and nature, compellingly written. Grace is excited about staying with Granny at her house by the sea - a whole week of freedom and exploration - and perhaps she migh even get to see a seal. Grace makes friends with local boy Col and this friendship runs through the heart of the book. Col knows all the secrets of the Island and who better to help when Grace discovers a small seal pup, separated from its mother. This atmospheric story really conveys the wonder of living on an island and the detailed line drawings echo the feel.

Frozen Fish Fingers by Jason Beresford

An intriguing itle to attract the reader! When danger is near, best friends Gary, Ruby, Bel and Morris become superheroes with very special talents. And with those talents, a school trip to Transyldovia is bound to throw up some unusual events. It starts with a runaway toilet and rapidly becomes a wild and dangerous adventure with flying pigs, vampires and beetroot all playing a part! Will the Fish Fingers survive their most chilling ordeal yet? A hilarious story with lots of child-friendly humour. Cleverly written with great xharacters, it's a super read-aloud book.

Battle of the Beach Freaks (Screaming Sands) by Sam Hay

Jess has always wanted to be a bridesmaid and her aunt's wedding gives her the chance she wants - until the wedding is called off. Not one to give up, Jess puts herself up for hire but when the advert goes wrong she gets more than she bargained for... and she finds herself helping two ghosts to tie the knot and outwit their enemy. Spookily funny, this is a great read for children who want their books just a little bit scary but not too much so!

The Long Haul (Diary of a Wimpy Kid book 9) by Jeff Kinney

Still he goes from strength to strength with each book maintaining the high standard of humour. This time, Greg and his family are on the road - and just imagine the opportunities the storyline offers! As always, the story is told in diary format with lots of drawings to enhance the story. The amazing adventures that take place on the journey will have all readers in fits of giggles! Beneath the humour is a strong feel of realism with Greg experiencing just the same rollercoaster of emotions as any boy of his age. His family are well drawn and this strong element of reality makes the books truly engaging.

Winter's Bullet by William Osborne

Forced by the Nazis to loot abandoned Dutch homes for valuables, Tygo is, understandably, despised by everyone, but goes along with it to keep his family alive. When he discovers a Jewish girl hiding in a chimney with a diamond, he refuses to give her up. He turns spy and trades the jewel for information about Hitler's ultimate weapon. Can a ferret become a hero? He has one shot to stop the war. A compelling what-if story which makes the reader think about what might have happened and ponder on how far Hitler was prepared to go in hsi quest for world domination. Superbly written, this is a great addition to books about the period.

Winter Wonderland (Animal Anthologies)

This would be a real treat for any young fan of animal stories to find in their Christmas stocking. Some very popular authors including Holly Webb, Tracey Corderoy, Linda Chapman and Anna Wilson have been brought together in this delightful collection with a wintry theme, all delightfully illustrated with line drawings by Alison Edgson. They are the perfect length for bedtime stories or for young readers starting to read alone. A feel-good book perfect for all young animal lovers.

The Brockenspectre by Linda Newbery

Tomas' Pappi is a mountain guide – strong, brave and fearless; just the sort of person Tomas wants to be. Tomas knows about the dangers of the mountains and he fears the Brockenspectre the most; a huge, shadowy creature that lives alone in the mountains, preying on unwary climbers. When Pappi goes out one day and fails to return, Tomas knows he must set out in search - so he conquers his fears... and fins himself deep in a mystery as well asfinding who the Brockenspectre is. A haunting and memorable story.

The Ghastly McNastys: Fright in the Night by Lyn Gardner

Gruesome and Grisly, the terrible pirate twins are still in pursuit of treasure, regardless of the havoc they cause. Only Tat and Hetty - and their cat called Dog - can stop them. Engagingly written, with plenty of touches of humour and excellent use of words, it's an easy and very enjoyable read. The story is interspersed with lively comical illustrations woven through the text which children will love - and it's a good way to encourage young readers.

Secret Animal Society: Cornflake the Dragon by Ruth Louise Symes

Twins Eddie and Izzie get more than they bargained for when they take home a grumpy lizard from school for the holidays. Why Cornflake? Because that turns out to be his favourite food! Then strange things happen - he grows wings and the twins know they have to keep him a secret - but how? A fun and light-hearted story with a close-knit family at its heart.

A Pig Called Heather by Harry Oulton

Heather is a pig who loves on a farm in Scotland - but Heather is no ordinary pig; her best friend is a girl called Isla. When a thunderstorm destroys the farm and forces Isla's dad to sell up and move to London, the friends are separated - until fate intervenes. When Heather finds herself in London, can she track down her best friend? Deftly told, with lively touches of humour and great haracterisation, this is a story in the very best tradition of animal stories.

The Return of a Pig Called Heather by Harry Oulton

After the exciting adventures in A Pig Called Heather, Heather should be happy living with the pigs at London Zoo. But her friend Isla is sad - so Heather is sad too. So Heather decides she must return to Scotland and get the farm back. It's not a simple journey, even for a very determined pig - and even if she gets back to Scotland, the challenge is far from over. Heather is wonderfully drawn - a loyal and feisty character who warms the heart of the reader.

Wings & Co 4: The Matchbox Mysteries by Sally Gardner

Whatever is going on in Podgy Bottom? All over town cars are being shrunk to the size of matchboxes; there's a giant purple bunny rabbit running amok and a strange-looking broomstick is causing chaos. Time for Wings & Co, the famous fairy detective agency, to step in. A gently humorous story with a nice balance of magic and mystery; perfect for girls of 7+ who will really engage with this series and the characters. The pace is just right to keep the attention and the lively illustrations by David Roberts add to the appeal.

Clementine Rose and the Perfect Present (Clementine Rose 3) by Jacqueline Harvey

Clementine Rose is an appealing and delightful character; she lives with her mother, Lady Clarissa, Digby Pertwhistle the butler and a teacup pig called Lavender.Clementine Rose is so excited - here’s going to be a wedding at Penberthy House. But things go wrong and mean Aunt Violet is left in charge. The beautifully wrapped wedding gifts give Clementine a great idea, but will she find the perfect present in time? Clementine Rose and the Farm Fiasco (Clementine Rose 4) finds our heroine on a school trip to a farm - buth things are never straightforward and once more, Clementine Rose had to come to the rescue. This is a lovely series for girls of 7+, to read alone or to share as bedtime stories.

Mysteries at Starlight Academy by Jess Renison

This is an excellent series for all ballet-mad girls of 7+ - they will thoroughly enjoy the boarding school setting with the added interest of it being a ballet school. It's the summer term at Starlight Academy and Cassie is looking forward to choreographing a dance for The Sound of Music. There are friendships to build too, and girls who need Cassie's help... until a dramatic trip to a cave by the sea changes everything. A series which combines the best traditions of boarding school and ballet.

White Boots by Noel Streatfeild

It's wonderful to see this book reissued and still popular after so many years - a real testament to a superb children's author. Noel Streatfeild had a wonderful gift of understanding children and of writing about them in a way to which the reader can relate. Of course it's a different world - a world of nannies and governesses - but that just adds to the charm. She gave us a real insight into exciting worlds and White Boots shows us just what it was like to become a skating star. I loved the book as a child and loved it just as much on re-reading it.

Spymaster (Flashbacks) by Deborah Chancellor

Historical novels are a marvellous way of helping children to understand history and giving them a new perspective on events and the Flashbacks series are particularly good at bringing history to life. In the dangerous world of Queen Elizabeth I's court, spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham protects his queen with plots, entrapment and torture. It's a cruel and dangerous world and when Kit is forced into Walsingham's service, he is horrified at what he sees. Can he work within this world - but can he afford not to? It's an exciting and dramatic story set in a colourful and tense period.

The Thieves of Pudding Lane (ACB Originals) by Jonathan Eyers

The Great Plague had devastating effects on the population of London, including orphaned Sam, now starving on the streets. Uncle Jack preys on Sam and his like and teaches them to steal - punishable by death in those days. Then a fire at the Pudding Lane bakery gets out of control and they realise the extent of Uncle Jack's evil plans. This exciting adventure winds through the atmospheric streets of London and provides an excellent read with an authentic period setting.

Hubble Bubble: The Super Spooky Fright Night by Tracey Corderoy

Pandora's granny is no ordinary granny - she's a witch and she causes mayhem wherever she goes. These three stories, divided into short chapters are full of fun - at a Halloween party, at a build-your-own-bear factory and at the local swimming pool with some very unexpected visitors. A great range of settings! Lavishly illustrated throughout, these stories are perfect for children moving on from picture books - they will thoroughly enjoy the deftly humorous stories. They are also great fun read aloud.

Zoe's Rescue Zoo: The Lucky Snow Leopard by Amelia Cobb

The books in this series of charming animal stories are highly covetable for young girls. What has happened to the dear little snow leopard? Usually, he is so good but he has started to be very naughty. Maybe it's because his mother is pregnant and he's not looking forward to being a big brother? Zoe, who lives at her uncle's rescue zoo, can talk to the animals so luckily she's on hand to help Ali out. Both human and animal characters are well-drawn and engaging, and given a good balance through the story. Perfect for young animal lovers.

Lost in the Mountains of Death (Lost: Can You Survive?) by Tracey Turner I

t's all down to the reader to decide the course of the story in these exciting books. As they read through, they are given a series of options, each of which moves them on to a different place in the story with different outcomes. There's danger at every turn in the Mountains of Death - poisonous bites, terrifying mountain lions and deadly heights. To help the reader decide on the best course - and get out alive - the stories are full of fascinating facts and essential information; by the end of one of these books, the reader will really know a lot more about the dangerous habitats of the stories.

Lost in the Sea of Despair (Lost: Can You Survive?) by Tracey Turner

Out in the secluded ocean, danger lurks where you least expect to find it - can you survive hungry hammerhead sharks, treacherous storms and deadly stings and bites? The layout is perfect to engage readers, with plenty of illustrations and lots of factual information to help the decision making. It's an excellent way to encourage children to think about what they are reading; to encourage their creative writing skills; to inspire them to read.

Better than Gold (ACB Originals) by Theresa Tomlinson

Egfrid is the prince of Bernicia, an Anglo-Saxon kingdom. When Egfrid, prince of Bernicia, is captured by Penda, King of Mercia during a raid, he finds himself brought up, as hostage and adopted son, in the court of his father's worst enemy... Inspired by the Staffordshire Hoard, the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found, this engrossing story takes the reader back to a time of clashes between rival factions and strong loyalties. Children in KS2 will be studying the Anglo-Saxons as part of the new curriculum so this is an excellent way to obtain some background period detail - try it as a class reader.

The Gunpowder Plot (National Archives) by Ann Turnbull

London in 1605 is a secretive place, with plots and whispered secrets. Two girls follow a mysterious stranger and stumble across a terrifying plot to destroy the House of Lords, taking countless lives along the way. But will anyone listen to them? With its authentic and richly described historical background (using the wonderful material that is part of the National Archives), this story takes the reader right inside the exciting events leading up to the attempt to blow up the House of Lords. Written from the viewpoint of Eliza and Lucy, readers will find it easy to identiy with their adventures and will be caught up in the thrilling events.

Kingdom of Silk: Plum Puddings and Paper Moons by Glenda Millard

These thought-provoking books transport the reader to a world of friendship and caring; of wanting to make a difference and believing you can. Scarlet Silk, the eldest of the Rainbow Girls, has made a new friend, Anik. When Anik tells Scarlet about the war in his home far away and of all the things he has lost, Scarlet is determined to make a difference. She decides to declare peace on Cameron's Creek, and maybe even the world. Thoughtful and compelluing, another excellent book in the series.

Battle for the Nether (Gameknight999) by Mark Cheverton999

This is the follow-on book to Invasion of the Overworld: a Gameknight999 Adventure (Gameknight999 Adventure 1) and continues the story of Gameknight999, King of the Griefers, who is suddenly transported into his favourite game, Minecraft. War is raging and he is the one who can stop it... These gripping adventures will engross all fans of Minecraft (although it is not sanctioned by Minecraft), and encourage them to enjoy reading an exciting story alongside gameplay.

Middle School: Save Rafe!: (Middle School 6) by James Patterson

It's back to the dreaded Hills Village Middle School for Rafe. A tough time is ahead as he's going to be held back a year unless he can prove himself on an outdoor survival excursion – complete with dangerous white-water rafting, dizzying rock climbing and military style counsellors. Rafe and the rest of the pack of 'delinquent' trainees are forced to cooperate as they prepare for the final test: a solo excursion in the deep woods. Fast moving and funny with great cartoon drawings to enjoy.

Dork Diaries: Once Upon a Dork (Dork Daries) by Rachel Renee Russell

A new episode in one of the best series around for tween readers. Nikki's had a bump on the head and has a wild dream in which she, her friends Chloe and Zoey, her crush Brandon, and mean girl Mackenzie all become fairy tale characters. Everything that appeals to the age group is bound up in these stories which have huge appeal both in their lively characters and in the eye-catching presentatio which is perfect for the readership. Lively and engaging, no wonder this series is such a huge success.

The Nutcracker by E T A Hoffmann

The Nutcracker ballet was based on this classic story and it makes a charming read - especially around Christmas time. Marie,already tired of her presents (sound familiar?) is happily playing with a nutcracker instead. As we well know, the nutcracker leads her into a magical adventure and the sense of wonder is as fresh as ever and it's lovely to read the detail of the whole story and see how it translated into the magic of the ballet. These new editions from Hesperus Press are high-quality publications and make perfect gifts and collections to treasure.

The Wouldbegoods by E Nesbit

This is the sequel to the bestselling The Story of the Treasure Seekers. We rejoin the Bastable children who find themselves in disgrace and exiled to the country. Somehow, though, even when they try to be good, things just keep going wrong... The story has plenty of touches of humour and despite being written over 100 years ago, the characters are fresh and appealing - if not always quite PC!  It's great to see a reissue of this wonderful story - one of my childhood favoutires and a story which deserves a much wider audience. The Hesperus Press classics collection are lovely books, produced in paperback with flyleaf covers which give them a great appearance.

Alice-Miranda Shows the Way (Alice Miranda 6) by Jacqueline Harvey

The highlight of the village show is going to be the horse race. When Rockstar the prize racehorse refuses to leave the stables ever-resourceful Alice-Miranda introduces him to her own pony, Bonaparte. But when Bony is kidnapped it seems things are back to square one. Can Alice-Miranda find her beloved pony and get him back to the show in time for the race? Alice-Miranda is a great character - sparky and determined, she has already created a loyal band of fans who readily identify with her world. This is traditional story telling at its best. Number 7 in the series is Alice-Miranda in Paris (Alice Miranda 7) which tells of our sassy heroine finding adventure during Fashion Week.

Nick and Tesla's Super-Cyborg Gadget Glove by Bob Pflugfelder

A Mystery with a Blinking, Beeping, Voice-Recording Gadget Glove You Can Build Yourself - this is another engrossing cross between fiction and invention. A humorous story and hands-on science are brought together to bring us a really out-of-the-ordinary book that will intrigue readers. Intelligent and inventive, siblings Nick and Tesla Holt come up with another ingenious idea to unravel the mystery of their parents' disappearance - all-new cyborg gadgets which they develop with the aid of zany scientist Uncle Newt and their friends Silas and DeMarco.

Wade and the Scorpion's Claw (The Copernicus Archives, Book 1) by Tony Abbott

This story really draws the young reader in, as they join Wade in his 12 quests to find 12 relics - and save the world. Set in San Francisco, our hero is on the run from one of Galina Krause's most treacherous henchmen. Full of suspense and totally engaging, this is excellent and a truly satisfying read - ingenious, pacy and with compelling characters, both heroes and villains.

The Secrets of Flamant Castle: The complete adventures of Sword Girl and friends by Frances Watts

Tommy is Keeper of the Blades (caring for the swords in the armoury), and here we have 6 stories about the adventures she shares with friends including Lil, the talking cat, the friendly Crocodiddle who lives in the castle moat and Jasper, the ghost of a young squire. Light-heated and great fun with a feisty lead character and plenty of interesting background about castle life. My only reservation is - don't let young readers be put off by the size of this book; it looks a weighty tome and could be daunting but the font is large, the chapters short and there are plenty of line drawings.

Nina and the Magical Carnival by Madhvi Ramani

Nina has a magical secret - a globe-trotting spice shed that takes her to wonderful places. Nina has to take part in the school talent show in a few days, and she still doesn't know what to do! When her teacher mentions a magical fantasia that could help, Nina knows she can find the answer in Brazil, so off she goes... and finds a mysterious costume, a samba parade and a top-secret mission! A great way to learn about other countries through enjoyable stories.

Rosie The African Elephant by Janet Kaschula

Rosie the elephant lives with her extended family and friends in the Zambezi valley - until wicked Mr Umani and his men commit a terrible act which leaves Rosie alone. Sam returns from England to live with his grandfather, a special holy man who has magical connections to the plants and animals around him. The very spirit of nature lives in the valley and makes its presence known to Rosie, imbuing her with magical powers and thwarting the evil plans of Mr Umani who is powerless against the power of nature's goodness. Emotional and atmospheric, this story really made me think.

Hatched: The Grimstones 1 by Asphyxia

Martha Grimstone is out to find her own place in the world. The Grimstone family live in a miniature world made of other people's cast-offs, such as a clock made from an old watch, stools made from candle holders and scrap-paper wallpaper. I'm intrigued by Martha and would love to read more stories about her. What really made this book stand out for me, was the combination of full colour illustrations with their quirky and fascinating detail, alongside the scrapbook style presentation and good quality production - an enticing combination that made the book a joy to read.

Opal Plumstead by Jacqueline Wilson

Jacqueline Wilson's novels with a historical setting as just as realistic as her contemporary stories and they really take us back in time and engage the reader with the everyday life of 'ordinary' people - although, of course, her characters are far from ordinary. When Opal Plumstead's father is sent to prison, her hopes of a university education are dashed. Forced to work at the Fairy Glen sweet factory to support her family, Opal finds it hard to fit in. Through Mrs Roberts, the factory's owner, she becomes involved with the Suffragettes - and with Mrs Morgan's son. But, as happened to so many, the First World War changed everything. Written in Opal's own words, here we have another strong admirable character to engage readers.

Blue Moon Day by Anne Fine

An intriguing collection of short stories -school stories but with a difference. Have have you ever wondered what life must be like at a boarding school? A school for young offenders? A school for the blind? With her trademark humour, insight, sensitivity and razor-sharp wit, Anne Fine explores these different worlds in a short story collection that will fascinate young readers. Cleverly linked, these make for fascinating reading.

The Glass Children by Kristina Ohlsson

When her father dies, Billie and her mother move to a new house in a small town. The house still holds the belongings of the previous owner - including two small glass figures, a boy and a girl. Billie senses secrets linked to the house, embodied in those glass figures. Her mother dismisses her fears as nonsense so, with the help of her new friend Aladdin, Billie desperately tries to uncover the truth. Suspense abounds in this sinister and eerie novel.

Nightmares! by Jason Segel

This is NOT bedtime reading! When Charlie's beloved mother died, his father remarried - and they moved into his stepmother's mysterious purple mansion, since when Charlie hasn't had a decent night's sleep. And the terror is insinuating itself into the waking world. Only by finding the courage to face their deepest, darkest fears can Charlie and his friends conquer the creatures of the night and save the day. Written for pre-teens, this will be thoroughly enjoyed by thrill-seekers; it also carries a message about facing up to and overcoming fears

Beyond The Stars compiled by Sarah Webb

Sarah Webb has brought together a selection of short stories from a range of superb Irish authors; the final story is a winter-themed tale from the winner of HarperCollins’ competition for young writers. The stories cover a variety of styles, meaning there is something for everyone in this hardback a book to treasure. Authors include Eoin Colfer, Roddy Doyle, Derek Landy and John Boyne, and the line-up of illustrators is equally illustrious. All profits go to Fighting Words – the Irish Story Centre in support of Creative Writing for Children and Adults.

The Most Beautiful Place in the World by Ann Cameron

Juan lives in a beautiful place - the country of Guatemala - but he wants something that children in our country take for granted - to go to school. The beauty of the country, with volcanoes rising from the shores of a blue lake, and flocks of brilliantly plumed wild parrots living in the trees, is beautifully evoked in contrast to the harshness of Juan's life. The seven year old boy is a shoe-shine boy who works hard every day to earn his keep. He has lived with his grandmother since his parents abandoned him. A stroy to make you think.

Here Be Monsters! by Alan Snow

Meet the Boxtrolls in the book that inspired the film. There's an emergency in Ratbridge! Only orphan Arthur and his new friends Willbury Nibble QC, Marjorie the inventor, a timid cabbagehead, and some very excitable boxtrolls can save the day! But are they really up to the job? Why has the evil Snatcher taken up residence in Cheese Hall? Who has stolen Marjorie's latest invention? And who knew that rats were so good at removing stains? Imaginative, quirky, inventive - these are just a few words that come to mind when reading this amazing book. Intriguing illustrations are a key part of a book which abounds with weird and wacky ideas and flows along wonderfully.

Dragons at Crumbling Castle: And Other Stories by Terry Pratchett

This is one of the funniest books I have read for a long time. Dragons have invaded Crumbling Castle, and all of King Arthur's knights are either on holiday or visiting their grannies. But, all ready to step in, are a very small boy called Ralph, Fortnight the Friday knight and Fossfiddle the wizard. Fourteen fantastically funny stories from master storyteller Sir Terry Pratchett but quite different from the later work to which we have become accustomed, so don't pre-judge. Readability and appeal are enhanced by great illustrations and clever use of fonts.

Lucy's Secret Reindeer by Anne Booth

Santa needs help - his smallest reindeer is ill and he's the one who guides the sleigh. So Santa's left him in Lucy's garden shed. Can Lucy make Starlight better and save Christmas? A magical tale about a very special friendship, perfect for Christmas with a gentle warmth. Glittery stars make the cover extra festive.

A Treasury of Animal Stories by Holly Webb

Holly Webb is an author who understands exactly what her readers want. Her gentle animal stories are ideal for young readers and her own love for animals shines through. This beautifully presented book, with its padded cover, bookmark and lovely colour illustrations will be perfect for her many fans. There are 11 stories here plus lots of added extras so fans can learn more about Holly, how she became a writer about her own pets and much more. A really nice gift book, excellently produced - one to treasure.

Rebecca is Always Right by Anna Carey

It's been an eventful summer for Rebecca and she's not looking forward to the new term. She's upset to find that her annoying classmate Vanessa got the starring role in a new ad campaign - but a new arts and music studio space for teens has opened up where Hey Dollface and their summer camp friends can practise. Things are busy at home too - her sister's relationship problems need sorting; her dad who is trying to take over his amateur musical; her mum keeps on about school work... a fun and lively story.

The Winter Wolf by Holly Webb

The dreamy cover with its touching picture set the scene wonderfully for the lovely story of a very special friendship. Amelia is exploring the huge, old house where her family are spending Christmas when she finds a diary hidden in the attic, written by a boy struggling to look after an abandoned wolf pup. Amelia finds herself transported into the wintry world of the diary, searching for the pup's mum. Heartwarming and touching, a lovely story.

Winter Wonderland (Animal Anthologies)

This book collects together a selection of charming short animal stories written by some very popular authors including Holly Webb, Tracey Corderoy and Anna Wilson, all delightfully illustrated with line drawings by Alison Edgson. They are the perfect length for bedtime stories or for young readers starting to read alone. A feel-good book perfect for all young animal lovers.

Milo and the Pirate Sisters: The Milo Adventures: Book 3 by Mary Arrigan

This is the third in a pacy adventure series which keeps readers hooked throughout - and wanting more. When ghostly Mr Lewis has to leave his cosy home in the castle, Milo and Shane help set him up in a local ruined mill. However, the mill is haunted by two ‘lady ghosts’, daughters of Granuaile’s pirate cousin. Little do the boys realise the danger this puts them in, and the trouble it will cause for themselves – and this time Mr Lewis can’t help them. The characters are well drawn and true to life and the story is exciting.

The Spaghetti Yeti: Mariella Mystery Book 5 by Kate Pankhurst

Mariella Mystery (age nine and a bit) can solve the most mysterious mysteries and perplexing problems, with a little help from the Mystery Girls. Could there really be a spaghetti-loving yeti stalking the woods next to Limpet Rocks Campsite? Mariella is a great character, lovingly portrayed so that the reader really feels she knows her well. The illustrations and general lively layout makes the book very appealing. There's enough excitement to keep the reader hooked through the story and readers will always look forward to the next mystery.

Spies in Disguise: Boy in a Tutu by Kate Scott

I really enjoyed Boy in Tights so I was looking forward to the next in the series - and I wasn't disappointed. Joe and Sam are facing a new villain dressed in ...tutus?! Why, you may ask? Well, they want to know who is scheming to steal the World Cup memorabilia exhibition at the local leisure centre so they sign up for ballet lessons there. Can they solve the mystery? Full of humour, this is a lively and out of the ordinary read which will appeal to both boys and girls.

Lost Worlds 2: Shadow Creatures by Andrew Lane

Calum Challenger is desperate to find a creature not yet discovered by anyone else. He is sure that its DNA will unlock a cure to his paralysis. But a sinister corporation called Nemor also wants rare DNA - but their motive is financial. As Calum guides a group of friends in a thrilling search for a shadowy creature, it looks as if he has the upper hand. But then a spate of brutal kidnappings puts everything at risk. With Calum held hostage in New Mexico and computer-hacker Tara locked up in London, who can warn the rest of his group of the danger they face?

Young Sherlock Holmes 7: Stone Cold by Andrew Lane

Sequels are common but a well-written series of prequels, such as this, can be just as enticing. Sherlock Holmes has been sent to live in Oxford to focus on his education. But something strange is happening in the university pathology labs - body parts are being stolen from corpses and posted one by one to an address in London. What can these sinister goings-on mean, and what message is someone trying to send? Sherlock follows the trail to a very sinister house deep in the countryside. Can he get to the bottom of another baffling mystery? Sherlock Holmes: think you know him? Think again.
Figaro and Rumba and the Crocodile Cafe by Anna Fienberg Partway between picture book and early chapter book, this enjoyable story finds irrepressible Figaro and his cat-friend Rumba caught up in a cat napping adventure. Figaro is a dog who loves to run like the wind and Rumba is a cat who once sang and danced in Cuba - and they are best friends. When they catch the Very Fast Train that goes all the way to the beach, they meet a cunning crocodile with conga drums and an elegant satin waistcoat. Appealing characters make this a lovely story for young readers.

The Watching Wood by Erika McGann

Grace and her five best friends have been drawn into a nightmare world of witches and faeries. Forced to take part in the Witch Trials, they risk life and limb to compete against other trainee witches in magical, death-defying stunts. Things go wrong when they are found to be humans and the supernatural world turns on them. These six very different girls must work together and use their power to outwit the witches and return home.

The Diamond Ship by Adrian Beckingham

For young fans of swashbuckling pirate tales, here's a true story that has waited 300 years to be told. Pirates are, of course, always in search of treasure and the diamonds destined for the King of Portugal are now in the hands of Captain Taylor. They are the largest single prize in history so there should be plenty to go round - so did he share them fairly with his men? What do you think? Excellent storytelling brings the tale alive - fantastic to read aloud.

Team Training: Tilly's Horse Magic 2 by Pippa Funnell

Tilly's thrilled - she been selected to train for the British Equestrian Junior Squad. She's looking forward to spending a week at top event rider, Livvy James' yard and being taught by a professional. Together with her team mates Anna, Ben and Kya, they start their days early and finish late working in the yard. There's lots to learn and gradually the tensions get to the members of the team and rivalries surface. Can they put these adise and work together? Packed with inside knowledge from a well-known rider, this series really takes the young reader inside this exciting world.

Whatever After: 1: Fairest of All by Sarah Mlynowski

Twisted versions of fairy tales have become really popular in picture books of late, and its great to see the concept brought into chapter books for older readers. This hilarious take on Snow White, Abby and Jonah find themselves tangled in Snow White's world. They succeed in stopping her from eating the poisoned apple - but that spoils the fairytale.To achieve the 'happy ever after' they must put things right. Short chapters and short sentences make the book ideal for those reading alone and the hunour will keep then entertained throughout. A great start to a promising series.

A Spoonful of Secrets: Best Friends' Bakery 2 by Linda Chapman

This is just the sort of series young girls loved to get engrosed in. They enjoy the familiar settings and meeting old friends again; this series has the added bonus of some great baking tips (I learnt something!) and recipes. Things are going well for the Sugar and Spice Bakery. Business is good, and Hannah is excited about starting school with her new friends. But as school starts, Mia is acting strangely, and it looks as though things aren't going to be as easy as Hannah had thought... Easy to read and with charming line drawings throughout, this is a good read.

Prankenstein by Andy Seed

Just look at the chapter titles and you know this book is going to be fun! Soapy's life, however, is far from fun - until his granny is shot through the roof on a turbo-charged stairlift ... and that's just th start of the pranks. Soapy and his friends appoint themselves chief detectives to solve the mystery of who is carrying out these ingenious pranks and discover that the culprit is a hairy, superman figure. It's a brilliantly told story and an excellent way to encourage children to love reading.

Binny for Short by Hilary Mckay

This engaging story follows Binny through major changes in her life. First, when her father dies, she is goes to live with Aunt Violet in a crapmed city flat with her Mum, her big sister Clem and her small brother James - but without her beloved dog Max. Then, Aunt Violet dies, leaving the family a small cottage in Cornwall, so it's all change again. It's ALMOST perfect - but she needs Max back for real perfection - will she be able to find him? An excellently written story of family life with a really positive message about overcoming adversity and making the most of life together.

Barley and the Duck Race (Railway Rabbits) by Georgie Adams

This delightful series has a charmingly nostalgic feel to it with its gentle adventures and endearing animal characters. The Longears family are enjoying a beautiful spring day when danger strikes! Burdock the buzzard attacks, and Barley finds himself taking an unexpected dip in the river - and then an even more unexpected flight with Hazel Heron! He lands in Fairweather's Farm Park, in the middle of a Pet Show - but can Barley get home before he's mistaken for one of the pets? Beautifully illustrated with line drawings by Anna Currey, this is a lovely story for young animal lovers.

Big Book of Old Tom by Leigh Hobbs

This is a bumper collection of Old Tom and Angela Throgmorton stories, which includes Old Tom; Old Tom at the Beach; Old Tom Goes to Mars; Old Tom's Guide to Being Good; A Friend for Old Tom. Angela Throgmorton lives alone and likes it that way - until one day she found an unusual bundle on her doorstep - Old Tom had arrived and her life had changed! Don't be put off by the fatness of the book! The text is minimal with just a sentence or two on each page, along with hilarious drawings which almost tell the stories by themselves. Perfect for beginner readers, the stories have plenty to entertain older and reluctant readers too.

Son of Spartapuss (The Olympuss Games) by Robin Price

Spartapuss is already the star of a great series and now younger readers can enjoy his son's exploits in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. Not the ancient worlds you may know, though - humans have never existed here. Son of Spartapuss has a lot to learn when a mysterious stranger offers to pay his debts he finds himself in the School for Strays, a school for gladiators.. and en route to the Olympuss Games. If you love to groan at puns, then you are in for a real treat! And if you don't, but want to learn a bit of ancient history whilst enjoying a fun story, either way, this is a great series for you!

Eye of the Cyclaw: 2 (The Olympuss Games) by Robin Price

The fun continues as The Son of Spartapuss discovers that his friend Furia is on a secret quest. Before their adventure begins, they must defeat the one-eyed Cyclaw. Join the Son of Spartapuss and his fiery friend Furia as they battle their way from gladiator school to the Olympuss Games. The series is an excellent way to introduce young readers (6+) to the world of ancient Greece and Rome; they make good class readers. Lively illustrations by Chris Watson add to the enjoyment.

Mysteries of Ravenstorm Island: The Lost Children by Gillian Philip

Molly and her little brother Jack are spending the sumer with their rich relatives on Ravenstorm Island. It's not what Molly anticipated, what with mysterious warnings, eerie statues of children (but no children, except unfriendly cousin Arthur) and then Jack disappearing. Worse - nobody remembers Jack at all. Molly and Arthur must work together to unlock the secret of the island before it's too late. The book cover tells us it is for fans of Enid Blyton, but anyone expecting a Famous Five type mystery will not find what they expected!

Loyal Creatures by Morris Gleitzman

Will was determined to go to war - as long as his horse Daisy could go with him. Not to the trenches though, but to the gruelling Middle Eastern campaign of the First World War. Will and Daisy have a vital role - finding water for their regiment. What really matters, though, is their devotion to each other - is that enough to ensure survival? Comparisons with War Horse are inevitable and this powerful novel stands that test well and will definitely appeal to the same audience, who will not be disappointed. Emotional and hard-hitting, prepare for a tale that will haunt you long after finishing the book.

The Great Kitten Cake Off by Anna Wilson

Ellie Haines despairs - her younger brother will do anything to appear on TV; her Mum's going through some kind of midlife crisis and as for Dad's bad jokes... Luckily, best friend Mads is always there for her - or is she? Rivalry in baking and boys threatens their friendship - which will win out? Deftly written, with a light touch that will appeal to girls, many issues close to their hearts are here in this enjoyable story.

Ellie's Magical Bakery: Perfect Pie for a Perfect Pet by Ellie Simmonds

Ellie's Magical Bakery is a great success. and Ellie and her friends (with help from the magical Victoria Sponge) are busily baking. When Abdul loses his new puppy, Ellie and Basil are desperate to find it for him - with the help of a recipe from Ellie's magical book. Will a pie lead to the puppy? A lovely story for young girls just starting to read on their own - the amusing black and white illustrations are a great asset to the story. Light-hearted, an easy and very enjoyable read. It's hard to avoid mention of the GBBO when reviewing a book about baking and this will be perfect for any young fan of the series.

The Secret Dinosaur: Giants Awake (The Dinotek Adventures) by N S Blackman

These are not dinosaurs of the past - they are very much dinosaurs of today. Just as awe-inspiring, Dinoteks are life sized animals and metal machines combined. Marlin is befriended by them and they and together they have exciting adventures. In this story, they must escape from hunting humans who believe these animals are a menace to be destroyed. SF and dinosaurs - what a great way to encourage reading, especially for boys. Imaginative and full of action, and with illustrations to make it all come alive. The superb illustrations are in full colour in a new edition, available from high street bookshops - 9780992752538. This adds a special new dimension to the book, making it even more enjoyable. Find out more at

The Eye of the Falcon (Gods and Warriors Book 3) by Michelle Paver

The third in the series finds Hylas on the plague ridden island of Keftiu. The fury of the gods means the island is in the grip of the coldest winter ever known and the sun is obscured by ash from the eruption of the enormous volcano. A hostile reception means his quest to find his companion Pirra and the lion cub Havoc seems doomed. While Hylas fears the worst about his former companions, Havoc wonders if humans have abandoned him. Myths and ancient history are brought to life in this atmospheric and tense narrative that will grip the reader. Michelle Paver has a real gift for writing about animals and she writes brilliantly about Havoc the lion cub.

Damsel Disaster! (Knightmare) by Peter Bently

Silliness abounds in this third story about Cedric Thatchbottom who is training as a squire to Sir Percival the Proud. A wealthy princess is visiting the kingdom in search of a husband and Cedric must help Sir Percival see off the other suitors. Poor Cedric always gets the blame when things go wrong - and they go very wrong in the last page of this hilarious book. With plenty of amusing illustrations, packed with puns, with men in dresses, bare bottoms and lots more to appeal to the young, this is a great series to encourage reluctant readers to enjoy books.

The Forever Whale by Sarah Lean

Hannah’s grandad loves telling stories from his past, but there’s one that he can’t remember… one that Hannah knows is important. When a whale appears off the coast, clues to Grandad’s secret begin to surface. Hannah is determined to solve the mystery but, as she gets closer to the truth, Grandad’s story is more extraordinary than she imagined. The compelling writing has the reader up and down on a rollercoaster of emotions while the sensitive handling of Alzheimer's shows the devastating effects it has on all the family.

Pets from Space 1: Splash Landing by Jan Burchett

Watch out for the Pets from Space! When Tom spots something in the garden pond, little does he know that it will turn out to be an alien - an alien who wants to disguise himself as an animal but gets hilariously confused. Things get even more fun when Fizz the alien accompanies Tom to school and Toppo another alien joins in ! The hilarity continues in Pets from Space 2: Cosmic Claws. when two more Satniks turn up and try to disguise themselves as pets. Each story is illustrated in black and white throughout by Alex Paterson.

The Case of the Spilled Ink (Maisie Hitchins) by Holly Webb

 Maisie Hitchins is a young detective in Victorian London. When Maisie's best friend, Alice, disappears from boarding school, who better to solve the mystery than Maisie? The only clue is an inkwell spilled across Alice's desk, and a trail of suspicious paw prints. Will Maisie be able to find her friend before she ends up in real danger? These light-hearted books with their feisty heroine have an unusual setting for the age group but it works really well, making these books a bit different - in a good way.

Count Milkula: A Tale of Milk and Monsters by Robin Price

 I loved the Spartapuss books, so it's great to see a book by this author for younger readers as they will enjoy the humour and language. It's all change for Lemmy's when a new baby brother comes on the scene. But Gran knows how to make him feel better with a bedtime story - the tale of Count Milkula, a selfish, noisy, milk-crazed creature from the monotonous mountains of Mamsylvania. Lemmy finds out that, like baby brothers, Mampires can't do anything for themselves and that's why they need looking after. Wonderful illustrations by Woodrow Phoenix set the story off excellently.

Bramble and the Treasure Hunt (Railway Rabbits - book 8) by Georgie Adams

The Longears family are forever busy - in and out of scrapes, making new friends and performing daring rescues. But danger lurks when the rabbits stray from home ... even in wintertime when Bramble is on a very special treasure hunt. I can't resist comparisons to Alison Uttley, even down to the cover design, but with more humour and adventure - perfect for today's readers. Delicate illustrations by Anna Currey are the perfect foil to the story.

Scoobydoo & the Groovy Ghost (Scoobydoo Mysteries) by James Gelsey

When the Palace Theatre is haunted by the sounds of mysterious guitar playing, Scooby-Doo and the gang begin searching for clues in order to solve the case. Children will enjoy following the story and trying to unravel the clues for themselves. It's a fairly short easy read and it's good to see colour illustrations in a book for those just starting to read chapter books.

Superstar! (Angela Nicely) by Alan MacDonald

When children are just starting to enjoy reading books on their own, it's good to get them engrossed in a series and Angela Nicely is a great series. Three short stories in chapters give children just the right amount of reading to be satisfying but not daunting and Angela's lively and humorous adventures will keep them engrossed. Angela Nicely may look sweet and innocent, but whether she's learning a new skill for the school talent contest, getting lost on a nature walk, or squaring up to the boys on the football pitch, she's determined to stand out from the crowd!

The Diary of Dennis the Menace: Rollercoaster Riot, Book 3 by Steven Butler

Dennis the Menace may not seem the most likely person to write a diary but he does so to great effect! The lively presentation is just what you'd expect - full of doodles and drawings it should inspire children to keep their own diaries. There's an exciting time ahead - the world's biggest rollercoaster is opening in Beanoland - and there's a competition to be first to ride on it. But Dennis is off on his own rollercoaster ride in this hilarious book.

Paddington Helps Out by Michael Bond

"Paddington" and "help" are perhaps not words that go together, but 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 Takes the Test, the bear is very disappointed to find he has won, not a Rolls Royce but a bookmark But then he finds himself taking a test to drive an unusual vehicle... it could only happen to Paddington!

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.

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