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All reviews tagged with Bloomsbury

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(oliver)

This minimalist board book introduces us to ‘Oliver’ the egg. Oliver appears to be limited by the possibilities of life as an egg. He can roll from side to side and stand on his head, but that is about it. Yet, by the end of the book, Oliver has transformed into a little yellow chick,…

A Beautiful Lie

‘A story has to settle on you long after the teller has finished. Then, as if a key has been turned in a lock, the door is opened and all that you’ve learnt is before you.’ And there is much to be learned in this book, a first novel that opens many doors on the…

A Boy Called MOUSE

As a baby Mouse is left in the care of his Nanny when his parents go off adventuring. However, neither his grandfather nor uncle are happy about this and become increasingly malevolent towards the child. Nanny senses this and removes him secretly to her home place, a farm, where he lives happily. Unfortunately, Uncle Scrope…

A Court of Thorns and Roses

Inspired by Faerie lore and Beauty and the Beast, A Court of Thorns and Roses marries magic, conspiracy and romance. Stricken by a cruel winter, 19-year-old Feyre is hunting for her family when she slays a strange wolf in the woods. When a beast-like creature comes to claim retribution for its life, Feyre is dragged…

A Gathering Light

There’s nothing like a murder on the first page of a novel to grab your attention, and Jennifer Donnelly’s A Gathering Light, is definitely a challenging and absorbing read. The story of two young lives brought together by tragic circumstances, it is a truly moving portrayal of life on the east coast of America in…

A Sound Like Someone Trying Not to Make a Sound

Bestselling writer John Irving’s first book for children gets straight to the heart of children’s night-time fears. When Tom wakes to a sound in the middle of the night, he and his father set off to investigate. The vividly described noises ‘… like someone pulling the nails out of the floorboards under the bed ……

Alfie in the Bath

Alfie in the Bath is the second picturebook in a series by Debi Gliori. Here we meet the adventurous young rabbit with a vivid imagination in his bath-tub which, of course, is the ocean with a plethora of sea creatures. Alfie gets to ‘snick sneck’ with the crabs and ‘glub glub’ with the octopus, and…

All of This is True

Penny, Miri and Soleil are obsessed with the novel Undertow by Fatima Ro. They worship it, they worship her. When they meet Fatima at a signing, she wants to be friends with them and the girls can’t believe their luck. But how much of their friendship is authentic, and how much is an author fishing…

Anyone But Ivy Pocket

Anyone But Ivy Pocket introduces you to the most unlikely and memorable protagonists, a twelve year old maid called Ivy Pocket. As the title suggests she comes across as being a most undesirable individual, but we mustn't judge a book by its cover no matter how tempting it may be. Krisp offers you an insight…

Apes to Zebras: An A-Z of Shape Poems

Don’t miss this book of shape or ‘concrete’ animal poems by this accomplished triumvirate of children’s poets. It is a wonderfully inventive A-Z, both restrained and lively, where every letter has at least one animal ‘shape’ poem. Some make exuberant use of type to draw the animal using the words of the poem, either following…

Apocalypse Bow Wow

Stay cool dude, the world as we know it is over and everyone has gone to join the choir invisible. All except for two simple-minded dogs. Who will feed and water Brownie and Apollo? In a dog eat dog world it’s time to leave the sofa and find a way to survive.   Presented in…

Archie’s Holiday

It is always a pleasure to come across a well-designed book such asArchie’s Holiday. The short-cut landscape format is neat and fits with the activities of Archie, a well-tailored canine (dog seems much too ordinary for Archie), as he prepared for his seaside holiday. Gordon’s lightly sketched pen and watercolour images airily disposed over the…

Avery McShane

Imagine you’re a nine year old boy. Now imagine an American, oil-drilling, ex-pat community in the middle of the Venezuelan jungle. Enter Avery McShane, his best friends – Todd and Billy, and his dog, Mati. They call themselves the Machacas, have a secret hideout, and for fun, go on banana-stealing missions to the local plantation. …

Breaking

Charlotte is a student at a prestigious boarding school who has recently lost her two best friends in tragic circumstances. Pushed hard by her driven mother to succeed and excel, Charlotte feels ordinary and very much the outsider in comparison to the academic and sporting elite she is forced to compete against each day. When…

Breathe

Breathe is the first novel in a trilogy set in a plant-deprived dystopian world where one of our most basic needs – oxygen – has become commodified. Citizens live within the Pod, where the air is breathable, but not equally distributed; the rich, or ‘Premiums’, can buy enough oxygen to live normally, whereas the poor ‘Auxiliaries’…

Burn Mark

Burn Mark, set in an alternative London, where the witch hunt never ended, is Powell's début novel. Powell creates a world with a very delicate social structure in which both witches and non-witches alike must live. Glory Starling Wilde is from a long line of witches, with ties to more than one powerful coven (similar to a modern…

Chocolate SOS

The sixth of Sue Limb’s books featuring Jess Jordan, Chocolate SOS reads well as a stand-alone as much part of the series. Existing readers will be glad to see more of the already-established characters and new readers will enjoy meeting them. In the wake of a dinner-dance disaster, Jess has dumped her boyfriend Fred, expecting…

Cinnamon

This story brings us on a journey to a land far, far away to meet Cinnamon, a beautiful, blind and isolated princess who does not speak. After a series of unsuccessful attempts by people engaged by her parents to help Cinnamon talk, a scary yet majestic tiger appears to try his hand in the matter.  This…

Class Six and the Eel of Fortune

‘Magical’, ‘giggle-inducing’ and ‘charming’ are a few words that came to mind when I read Class Six and the Eel of Fortune by Sally Prue. This book encompasses all the fun of a classroom with a magical twist and a hint of mischief all wrapped into one. It is all about helping Class Six’s favourite…

Clover Twig and the Perilous Path

Meet, once again, Clover Twig, housekeeper for Mrs Eckles, a somewhat grumpy and unpredictable witch. In her second adventure while in the employ of Mrs Eckles, we journey with Clover as she deals with the malevolent nature of some of the characters that she comes into contact with. Clover is warned that the Perilous Path…

Dawn Undercover

Dawn Undercover, the second novel from newcomer Anna Dale, is a promising idea that never quite delivers. Self-effacing but observant Dawn Buckle is recruited by secret organisation P.S.S.T. (Pursuit of Scheming Spies and Traitors) to track down Top Spy turned Traitor, Murdo Meek. The premise: that Dawn’s very ordinariness and forgetableness make her the ideal…

Doctor Monkey: An Astonishing Story of Wheezes and Sneezes

Doctor Monkey is the first in the series of Monkey and Robot books written and illustrated by husband and wife team, Felix Hayes and Hannah Broadway. Monkey and Robot are two lovingly created characters, mischievous and wise, full of life and fun. Any young reader will identify with the story of Monkey, who thoroughly enjoys his…

Dragon Loves Penguin

Gliori's new book is a celebration of difference and a heart-warming story about adoption. Much of the visual narrative is played out on a white background – a personal favourite as it allows the reader space to project their own thoughts but also focuses the eye on the characters. The illustrations are hand executed in what looks to be charcoal…

Eleven Eleven

At around 5 am on the eleventh of November 1918 it was decided to call an end to what would become known as World War I. This news should have brought instant relief if not joy to those still fighting at the front. However, the vagaries of war meant that hostilities would not officially cease…

Even My Ears are Smiling

Weighing in at 121 pages and 86 poems, this new book from Rosen is not so much a collection as a poetry bonanza. Quentin Blake has illustrated previous collections, including the similarly titled Bananas In My Ears. On this occasion Babette Cole does the honours…in a style reminiscent of Quentin Blake. In fact, isn’t that…

Everest: The Remarkable Story of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay

There is so much to recommend in this account of how a beekeeper and a former yak herder became the first people to stand on the roof of the world. It is of course an excellent read for any child with a sense of adventure. But it is about much more than the race to…

Facts!

Following the success of Tracey Turner’s previous releases (How to Make a Human out of Soup, How Can a Pigeon Be a War Hero?, to name but a few), she has produced yet another wonderfully fascinating book of facts. This time, there is one for every day of the year! From astronomy to zoology, ancient…

Faerie Wars

These wars take place in richly imaginative worlds teeming with characters of amazing variety. These range from humans to demons to faeries of the night to those of the light, all interacting with other strange beings like a translucent cat and an orange dwarf. It is a gripping adventure story with many strands; almost too…

Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World

This book is empowering and adorable. The appropriately named Pankhurst (who is, actually, a descendent of Emmeline Pankhurst) takes us through simple biographies of exceptional women, both known and relatively unknown, and celebrates their achievements in arts, science, activism, altruism, espionage and feminism. Jane Austen, Gertrude Ederle, Coco Chanel, Frida Kahlo, Marie Curie, Mary Anning,…

Feather Wars

Feather Wars is set in the early years of World War II. It is unusual in that its setting is rural England where the war seems remote and offers little opportunity for the usual blitz and bomb shelters scenes. The writer skilfully intertwines the story of the war in France and a different sort of…

Fire Spell

Foggy Victorian London; a rich girl with a distant family; two poor orphans with no family at all; and a blousy, but kindly landlady with a disreputable stepson and an advanced taste for gin. Fire Spell lines up all the ingredients for a classic Dickensian stew, but then throws a few unexpected elements into the mix –…

Fortunately the Milk

Gaiman’s latest book is an entertaining story about a Dad who goes to the grocery store to buy some milk and has an absurd adventure on his return trip. There is a time-traveling dinosaur, some umpires, a couple intelligent ponies and of course pirates.  Gaiman is known for his intriguing plots and great storytelling and…

Frankenstella and the Video Shop Monster

This is a simple tale of child-empowerment: when the monster in the video shop eats her mother, Stella turns into a bigger monster herself, chases it through the town, thumps it until it burps up her mother, and chases it out to sea. There is some uncertainty both in the words and in the illustrations,…

Freddie Mole Lion Tamer

Roll up, roll up for a beautifully told circus story by bestselling author of The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series, Alexander McCall Smith. As you might guess from the title, young Freddie Mole who is not yet 10 years old becomes a lion tamer extraordinaire, but before he reaches this high point, Freddie must first…

Fuzzy Mud

Not many writers could make mud exciting. But nor could many wow the world with a tale about holes in a dried-up lake. Louis Sachar’s latest unsettling fiction explores the even more unsettling fact of overpopulation. Through deceptively simple storytelling, Fuzzy Mud leaves the reader to wrestle with Hobson’s choice between risky science and global…

Fyre

Fyre is the seventh and final book in the Septimus Heap series, following Septimus Heap in his journey from apprentice to one day becoming an ExtraOrdinary Wizard. If you have not read any of the previous books, Fyre gives enough information for new readers to easily follow the main plot, but longterm readers will fully appreciate the level of detail and the backstories…

Gathering Blue

An interesting story set in the distant future. Lois Lowry has created a complete and convincing society with great skill. It is a fascinating, non-technological society, primitive in its day-to-day workings and yet complex in structure and customs. Kira, the protagonist, has an outstanding, indeed magical, talent with a needle and is taken to Council…

Gingerbread

Cyd Charisse is the daughter from hell, who is carrying around an awful secret within herself. Sixteen, with raging hormones and a uniquely solipsistic view of world, she makes life unbearable not only for herself but for those around her who try hard to keep loving her. Although she has never known her biological father,…

Gossip Girl

Should literature be an axe to break the frozen sea within us, a path to lead us out of the forest – or should it simply reflect modern life without comment? Should literature have a ‘should’ at all? Answer on one side of the paper only. The teenage books under review reflect the worst of…

Greta Zargo and the Death Robots from Outer Space

Meet Greta Zargo, an 11-year-old ace reporter, and protagonist in AF Harrold’s hilarious new novel, Greta Zargo and the Death Robots From Outer Space. Using subversive humour, this fast-paced novel is truly entertaining for children and adults alike with a host of characters including Mr Teachbadly, Mrs Wedlock, and a vegetarian squirrel with a nut…

Harold and the Duck

This is the story of Harold, the farm dog, and his unhappy and fraught relationship with the new kid on the block – or rather the new duck in the kitchen. An abandoned egg, hatched in the warming oven of the Aga, turns into Duck, who proceeds to make Harold’s life a misery, taking over…

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

I will go out on a limb here, and suggest that it’s not the story, in this case, that requires a review. And so I will move directly on to the product itself. The job of illustrating Harry Potter would be, in equal parts, a dream and a nightmare for most artists. None would turn…

Havenfall

Maddie Morrow travels to visit her uncle at the Inn at Havenfall, in a small town in the Rocky Mountains. However, this is no ordinary inn. Beneath it lie hidden gateways between the Ancient Realms, some long sealed for the protection of the other worlds. When a body is discovered during a meeting to celebrate…

Helicopter Man

In Helicopter Man Fenshaw does for schizophrenia what Mark Haddon did for Asperger’s, except that Fenshaw’s main protagonist (Pete, age 12) is not the one suffering from the illness, it’s his dad. But Pete too suffers. He suffers the burden of the responsibility of having to care for his father – ‘It’s tough being your…

Hysteria

Mallory is a very disturbed young lady. Recently cleared of murdering her boyfriend Brian, she is sent away by her parents to private school to escape her past, but a change of scene does not mean a change of reputation…  Hysteria contains some very lyrical passages and is written with a fresh tone. The first line…

I’m a Girl!

The girl in this book is forever being mistaken for a boy. Is it because she is loud and rambunctious, or because she wears shorts and a t-shirt instead of more ‘girlie’ clothes? Or is it because society still sees little boys and girls in terms of traditional gender stereotypes? Our heroine couldn’t care less…

Kidogo

Kidogo, as we are told in a note, means ‘little’ in Kiswahili and this is the name of the smallest Elephant in the herd. Like so many small children, especially younger siblings, Kidogo is frustrated by having to be helped to do things that others can do for themselves. This concept underlies the story in…

Killing Rachel (The Murder Notebooks)

This is the follow up to Dead Time, with two further titles in the pipe line. Rose doesn’t meet her grandmother until her parents are murdered with strong hints that they were mixed up in matters of national security and the Russian Secret Service in the wings. Mary Linton College is the central setting. The baddies,…

Letters to the Lost

Seventeen-year-old Juliet’s photojournalist mother is dead and the only thing that’s helping her cope are the letters she’s been leaving at her grave. When someone writes a reply to one of them, Juliet finds herself sharing her deepest thoughts with a total stranger. Except he isn’t a stranger. Declan Murphy is a fellow student in…

Little Nelly’s Big Book

The knowledge that how we read is as important as what we read is one of the most valuable lessons a child can learn, and Little Nelly's Big Book demonstrates in a hilarious yet extremely simple way the dangers of misreading. Nelly the elephant is convinced that she is a mouse because she has what appears (at…

Love in Revolution

With a war brewing and a Revolutionary Communist Party on the rise, Esteya is left reeling after a chance meeting with Skizi, an outcast girl. Drawn to each other, they seek each other out and a strong, turbulent love blossoms between them. Yet war is an unstoppable force, and soon Esteya's life is torn apart.…

Love, Shelley

An account of a 14-year-old girl’s life in a series of letters to her favourite singer Ziggy. Shelley, the narrator, feels she can be truly honest with her idol. Her letters reveal the neglect and verbal abuse that she and her delicate younger brother, Jake, suffer due to their mother’s alcoholism. School also presents problems…

Magical Mischief

Playful magic, in the form of noxious smells, custard stairs, flying birds and unarranged books, has settled into Mr Hardbattle’s bookshop. Customers no longer come in except Arthur and Miss Quint. Mr Hardbattle sets out to find a new home for the magic – somewhere dark and dusty. He leaves Miss Quint in charge –…

Marsh Road Mysteries: Diamonds and Daggers

Heart-warming and appealing to all ages, award-winning children’s author, Elen Caldecott, delivers through amusing idioms and clever writing a story that is read with a smile in the form of Marsh Road Mysteries: Diamonds and Daggers. Excitement stirs for the residents of Marsh Road as they await the arrival of Hollywood actress, Betty Massimo. Piotr…

Mister Creecher

Mr Creecher is a re-imagining of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein for a younger audience – upper middle-grade, with the exception of a few mild references.  The story tells the tale of street urchin, Billy, who is rescued by a monster, whom he names Mister Creecher.  In payment for the monster’s protection, the street-wise Billy must spy…

Monkey and Robot: Cardboard Robot

I can imagine the Monkey and Robot series of picturebooks, written and illustrated by Felix Hayes and Hannah Broadway, joining the legion of children’s favourites. Cardboard Robot, the second book, has all the good qualities of its predecessor, Doctor Monkey, where we are introduced to this entertaining pair. Robot and Monkey are distinctive characters full…

Moonrise

In Staten Island, Joe is a champion athlete, but when word arrives from Texas that a date has been set for the execution of his older brother Ed, the last thing he is going to do is run. Instead, he resolves to face this immense tragedy head-on and travels to a forlorn prison town to…

Mortlock

Separated at birth, twins Josie and Alfie have grown up unknown to each other worlds apart – she as a knife-thrower in a magician’s show and he as an undertaker’s assistant. Thrown together, the twins must decipher hidden clues in a note passed to her by her dying guardian, the Great Cardamom. Mortlock is an…

No Filter

Told from two different points of view, this coming-of-age story about ‘that summer … the one when everything changes’ begins at sixteen-year-old Emerald’s private school in England. Emerald thinks life can’t get any worse than being bullied on social media by so-called friends. But with a shocking discovery at home her world falls apart, and…

No Trouble At All

When two nameless bears visit Grandfather Bear for the night, they behave angelically – or do they? The illustrations in this picturebook tell a completely different story from the words and this will raise a smile from younger children. The text itself is rather pedestrian and old-fashioned: ‘off they trot as good as gold’, ‘When…

Notes from a Liar and Her Dog

The rebellious teenage anti-hero, at odds with the world and confiding his or her secret only to their journal is a familiar figure in young adult literature. From Holden Caulfield via Adrian Mole to the (admittedly subteenage) Tracey Beaker, teenagers have empathised with the fellow suffering of their literary counterparts. In Gennifer Cheldenko’s book the…

Nothing!

‘Lila, what are you doing?’ ‘Nothing’ Mummy and Lila are going to visit Grandpa, but Lila is too busy in her own imaginative world. Whenever Mummy asks her what she is doing, she always says, ‘Nothing!’ Only the reader is allowed into her colourful, crazy, creative world where she is wrestling an octopus, racing along…

Nowhere Near You

Ollie and Moritz might never meet, but their friendship knows no bounds. Their letters carry on as Ollie embarks on his first road trip away from the woods – no easy feat for a boy allergic to electricity – and Moritz decides which new school would best suit an eyeless boy who prefers to be…

Odd and the Frost Giants

Odd might seem like an unusual name, and even though it’s actually quite a lucky one in the Viking village he grew up in, there’s no denying that Odd has taken some of the qualities of his name to heart. After his father dies unexpectedly in a freak ‘pony-overboard’ incident after a raid, Odd becomes…

One

Following in the footsteps of The Weight of Water and Apple and Rain, Sarah Crossan’s latest title for older readers, One, is just as insightful, impactful and inspiring. One follows the journey of conjoined twins Tippi and Grace from the protection of being homeschooled and sheltered by their family to starting out in a new…

One Christmas Wish

This seasonal story finds a lonely child called Theo on Christmas Eve making a wish on a falling star to be ‘un-lonely’. The magic of the wish awakens four old Christmas ornaments – a cheeky rocking horse that incessantly searches for food, a robin that has forgotten how to sing, an angel with worn wings…

Out of the Depths

Cathy MacPhail, the Scottish Jacqueline Wilson, most recent novel Out of the Depths, is set to become a series featuring Tyler Lawless, a girl who sees dead people. Not unexpectedly, this ‘gift’ leads Tyler into trouble with her teachers, her parents and her fellow students, all of whom think she is just looking for attention…

Pigeon English

Stephen Kelman's Man Booker Prize shortlisted novel Pigeon English is told in the infectious voice  of 11-year-old Harri Opoku, who has recently moved to England from Ghana. When a boy his age is stabbed and killed in broad daylight, Harri, who loves detective shows on TV, takes it upon himself to find the killer. Armed with binoculars…

Princesses Are Not Quitters

Have you ever wondered what kind of princess Cinderella became? Would she forget all the laborious tasks that had filled her days, or would she campaign for union rules and servants’ rights? What reminded me of Cinderella was the fine pumpkin resting in the princess’s lap on the imaginative cover of Princesses Are Not Quitters.…

Ravi’s Roar

Ravi is the smallest one in the whole family – even the dog is bigger than him! And being little means that he keeps missing out on things and it begins to make him mad. He gets so angry that he transforms into a tiger and roars! Being a tiger is a lot of fun,…

Resist

Resist is the second of Sarah Crossan’s two dystopian Breathe novels; the books are set in a plant-deprived world where the most basic human need – oxygen – is bought and sold in an unequal society. Breathe introduced us to ‘The Pod’ – a living area where the air is breathable, but not equally distributed – and to our three…

Ruby Holler

‘Tiller wondered what it would be like not to have trees and creeks and barns, and what it would be like never to have been rocked.’ This sentence sums up the life of twins Dallas and Florida in the Boxton Creek Home for Children run by the unpleasant Mr and Mrs Trepid. When they are…

Scariest thing of all

Debi Gliori’s starting point for The Scariest Thing of All was a line left in her head from a previous book, ‘The scariest thing you’ll ever find comes from the deeps inside your mind’*. Pip, a ‘very, very little rabbit’ is scared of almost everything in the wild wood. He carries around an enormous and ever-growing list…

Sektion 20

Set in East Berlin in the early 1970s, this superb novel tells the story of sixteen-year-old Alex and his life on the wrong side of the Berlin wall. Part historical drama, part thriller, it grips the reader immediately and doesn’t let go until long after the final pages have been read. Alex’s life is like…

Self-Destructing Science: Space

Proving that there is an exception to every rule, this book truly can be judged by its cover! As the title suggests, readers can cut, stick, rip, fold and colour their way through this fact-filled activity book about outer space. Even the front page is designed to be cut out and framed! Quirky illustrations in…

Skylark

Karen Gregory’s Skylark is a new take on an old story. The well-worn formula of an unexpected romance between two teenagers from very different worlds is reinterpreted when Joni meets Annabell. Skylark is romantic without veering to the sentimental, a love story between two girls that resists over-emphasising the significance of the same-sex coupling. The…

Snappy Birthday

A tale in rhyme about four children who are invited to a birthday party by a neighbour they’ve never met, Snappy Birthday is a quick-paced read with bright and cheerful illustrations.  The kids dress up in all their finest party gear and, along with their cat, they head off to the party. Shocked, the children…

Stargazing for Beginners

Stargazing for Beginners is the fifth novel by teen fiction author Jenny McLachlan. In her latest work 15-year-old space enthusiast Meg likes her life ordered, in contrast to her free-spirited mother Alice. Things take a chaotic turn when Alice decides to unexpectedly hop a plane to Myanmar on one of her ‘save the world’ missions,…

Stung

Stung is set in a world without bees. The powers that be decided to help the bee population and ended up creating a world in chaos. Our main character, Fiona, has just woken up and her world is not the world she knew. Fiona has missed three years and a horror story. Everything seems to happen to Fiona,…

That’s Not Funny!

We all know one and we all steer clear: the kid who laughs at others’ misfortune. Alfie is one such mini meanie who sniggers when Grandpa puts salt in his tea; chuckles at the postman being chased by a dog, and cackles to see a window cleaner drop a bucket on a tourist’s head. What…

The Adventures of Miss Petitfour

This book brims with delicious fun like a plate of cream cakes on a summer’s day. The five stories inside are packed with an array of confectionary delights that tempt you through each tale. But it’s not the opportunities to sit with an éclair that make this collection so wonderful; it’s actually Miss Petitfour, her…

The Awesome Body Book

Adam Frost has been described as one of the UK’s most exciting new children’ s writers. He is also a worthy winner of the Blue Peter Book Award for best book with facts 2016 for his title The Epic Book of Epicness. When you look at The Awesome Body Book it is not difficult to…

The Dead Men Stood Together

The Dead Men Stood Together is a retelling of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner through the point of view of a lesser secondary character–the ancient mariner's nephew. The unnamed nephew, entranced by his uncle's tales of life on the sea and exploring, joins him on his latest expedition. But soon he sees a darker side to his uncle, whose brash actions turn…

The Dead of Winter

Young Michael Vyner has lost both his parents – his father to war, his mother to illness. As an orphan in the Victorian era, Michael has a grim life ahead of him. Then, out of the blue, Sir Stephen Clarendon – an aristocrat Michael’s father gave his life to save – becomes the boy’s guardian,…

The Demon Collector

‘All saint without, all devil within.’ This traditional proverb takes on a more sinister meaning in the dark underworld of Victorian London, brought to life by Jon Mayhew. Edgy Taylor is a 12-year-old boy forced to walk the streets by his evil master Talon, collecting dog waste for use in a foul-smelling tannery. In this…

The Den

When Rabbit moves into his new house his mother sends him out (of her way) to find some new friends. The first person he meets is Pig who is unfortunately very unfriendly. So rabbit decides to literally make his own friend by building one out of junk. One by one, all the other characters become…

The Explorer

There are plenty of guts in this adventure, from fish to bird to emotional. A plane crash in the Amazon leaves four children fighting to survive. Their leader is Fred, a wildly courageous budding explorer of the early twentieth century English public school variety. Helped by Lila, the daughter of a zoologist, challenged by disaffected…

The Faeman Quest

The Faeman Quest is the fifth book in Brennan’s ‘Faerie Wars’ series, featuring Blue, Henry, their daughter Mella and Blue’s brother Pyrgus, supported by a host of otherworldly characters. Despite having only read the first book in the series, this story still worked for me. The complex but well-structured plot made it a complete story,…

The Gifted, The Talented and Me

Meet 15-year-old Sam and his family as they uproot from the familiar environs of their home in Stevenage to the bright lights of London, following a rise in the family’s fortunes. This move affects all members of the family and we read how they all try and cope with it in different ways. It causes…

The Good Thieves

From the award-winning author of The Wolf Riders, Rooftoppers and The Explorer comes another incredible and stellar adventure story: The Good Thieves. Katherine Rundell’s latest novel is a riveting caper set against the magnificent backdrop of New York City. The Good Thieves is packed full of exciting elements, including acrobats, animal charmers, pickpockets, dodgy criminals…

The Graveyard Book Vol. 1

After the grisly triple homicide of his entire family, a toddler wanders innocently into the confines of a graveyard, inadvertently escaping the same gruesome fate intended for him. The undead tenants agree to foster the boy, and call him Nobody Owens; raised by ghosts and a guardian who is questionably alive. While there are dangers and adventures a…

The Great Ice-Cream Heist

Since being first published in 2009, Elen Caldecott ‘s books have been shortlitsed for many major awards – amongst them the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize and the Red House Children’s Book Award.  Fellow writer Julia Donaldson has described her work as “funny, poignant and hilarious,” – an accolade indeed for Caldecott who is perhaps best…

The Hunted

This touches an awareness that a story can be ‘your’ story, whatever time or place it is set in. It details the way redemption in a person is the melting away of fears and identifying with other living beings (here a young female fox on the run from hunters becomes the life-companion of a young…

The Joke Machine

Alexander McCall Smith, professor of medical law, began a writing career on the side in 1990 when he entered a competition. One of the categories was for children’s books. He entered; he won, and since then he has written over 50 books which range from children’s fiction to folktales. Best known for the more grown-up…

The Lonely Giraffe

This picturebook is about making friends, communicating and fitting in with the group. The Lonely Giraffe is too tall for easy conversation with the smaller animals and this difference leads him to spend his days on his own, browsing the treetops, unaware that the sudden appearance of his head scares the animals up there, while…

The M Word

Maggie’s mum is having a hard time. Having recently lost her job, she has taken to staying in the house with the curtains closed all day. Maggie feels the weight of her mum’s sadness and is convinced that she can find a way to cheer her mum up. This mission would be easier if Maggie…

The Mystery of Wickworth Manor

At a summer camp, two children, Paige and Curtis, are forced to bond before they start secondary school. Their different backgrounds are the cause of the difficulties they encounter in relating to each other. While Paige has been raised in a more, let’s say, new-age way, Curtis is, at his young age, quite an intellectual.…

The Picture Atlas: An Incredible Journey

Little explorers, ready yourselves for global travels! From the Arctic Circle to Antarctica, through continents, oceans and peoples, this book is a visual feast of maps filled with indigenous flora and fauna. The picture atlas explains not only nuggets of national culture and history, but also species that are particular to an area, which is…

The Restless Girls

This modern retelling of a Grimms’ fairytale will ignite a spark in young feminists. We find twelve girls strong and capable, and although they are underestimated by a father whose main concerns are that of his kingdom, they are inspired and allowed to flourish under his audacious wife, the queen. But tragedy strikes when their…

The Shape of my Heart

Part concept book, part rhyming picturebook, The Shape of my Heart examines shapes, but not in a traditional sense. Instead, it looks at the many shapes that surround us in our environment.  In particular, it highlights the shapes that we can see, feel, hear and taste. Sperring’s rhyming verbal text is very sparse and simple.  However, it…

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