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A Confusion of Princes

When Niccolò Machiavelli wrote The Prince, he provided a few dozen rulers of Italian city-states with a ruthless guide to being the most cunning and successful of them all. Little did he imagine a vast galactic empire with millions of princes all setting out to murder one another! Garth Nix has provided an inspired setting to…

A Midsummer Tights Dream

Louise Rennison is one of my favourite authors; her ability to get into the teenage mindset perfectly amazes me. Being a teenager and a massive fan of her Confessions of Georgia Nicholson series, I had to try out Tallulah Casey’s misadventures of boy snogging. In her previous misadventures Tallulah meets a charming group of friends and foes…

A Tragic Kind of Wonderful

Since being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Mel has learned to compartmentalise both her life and her emotions in order to gain a sense of control. Still mourning the loss of her larger-than-life older brother Nolan, whose absence is felt like a constant gaping hole in her life, Mel is also struggling to move on from…

All Rights Reserved

The premise of this futuristic novel initially seems so bonkers that one is inclined to laugh in response. Not that there’s anything cheerful going on. Imagine a world in which free speech is, in a literal, monetary sense, prohibited, so that each word a person utters is subject to copyright that has to be paid…

Allegiant: Divergent, Book 3

Allegiant is the thrilling final part of the best-selling Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth. In the aftermath of the big reveal regarding the truth of the origins of the city, chaos reigns and the group of faction-less led by Evelyn Eaton take control and force people to give up their former factions. Does this mean…

An Elephant in the Garden

The prolific Michael Morpurgo is well known for his animal stories, and for tales dealing with conflicts ranging from Afghanistan to the aftermath of the Rwandan civil war. Following earlier books such asWar Horse and The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, his latest again combines these two strands of his career. The story this time…

Ash Mistry and the City of Death

This is the second of Ash Mistry’s adventures and the story picks up where book one left off. On top of Ash being in love with the girl next door and having to deal with being the living weapon of death goddess Kali, it now seems that the evil Lord Savage is up to his…

Bad Nana: Older Not Wiser

7¾-year-old Jeanie is a quiet girl who finds being naughty ‘quite exhausting’. Luckily, Bad Nana more than makes up for this. She’s unlike Jeanie’s other grandmothers with her black dress, pointy black shoes and gigantic earrings ‘for a little bit of sparkle’. With no super powers other than maybe her ginormous handbag filled with rubber…

Bears

Twenty-seven words, including the title, create a crazy world of bears. First published in 1948, Ruth Krauss’s poem is illustrated with Maurice Sendak’s famous combination of cartoon and menace. The words and images become increasingly surreal, from bears ‘on the stairs’ to ‘collecting fares’, and include the sort of joyful, creative grammar a 3-year-old child…

Blown Away

Rob Biddulph’s stunning debut Blown Away is funny, visually appealing and great to read aloud. For new readers, there are very few words to trip over, and for adults, the book thoroughly entertains yet flows wonderfully well; two extremely important attributes if it’s to be read over and over again, which this book undoubtedly will…

Boy Underwater

Boy Underwater is a beautiful novel brimming with heart, humour and poignancy. Easily enjoyed by a broad spectrum of ages, the journey of Cymbeline Igloo (yes, that’s really his name) as he attempts to uncover the mystery of why his mother never took him swimming proves itself a deeply moving portrait of a fractured family.…

Burning Secrets

There is nothing better fitted to delight the reader than change of circumstances and varieties of fortune, according to Cicero. Burning Secrets certainly creates such changes for teenage Daniel, his sister Louie, and their mother when they take the ferry to the isolated island of Wragge to find peace in the wake of some devastating…

Carrier of the Mark

Leigh Fallon’s debut centres around Boston girl, Megan, who has just moved to Kinsale.  She falls for the mysterious Adam DeRís, but not by chance.  Megan’s new boyfriend is part of an ancient order which dates back to the Tuatha De Danann, and he has an elemental superpower – the ability to control water.   Unbeknownst…

Carve the Mark

Veronica Roth is perhaps one of the better known writers of Young Adult dystopian fiction. Divergent was made into a film and Roth has a certain multimedia or crossover appeal. In this her latest novel, she stretches her oeuvre to include science fiction, setting this book in a different galaxy with two main planets peopled…

Casper Candlewacks in Death by Pigeon

Casper Candlewacks has the misfortune of being the only bright boy in Corne-on-the-Kobb, a village of several hundred idiots. He’s surrounded by characters with silly names doing silly things, and because his blurb says Death by Pigeon is ‘a funny adventure that really is very funny’, Casper’s a young man under tremendous pressure to make…

Casper Candlewacks: Attack of the Brainiacs!

“Casper is the only non-idiot in Corne-on-the-Kobb, and that’s why he’s interesting”. Ivan Brett has taken the idea of the village idiot and turned it on its head. Poor Casper lives in a village of idiots, and as the only sensible lad around whenever there is a mystery to be solved it’s down to him…

Catch Your Death: Ruby Redfort, Book 3

Ruby Redfort, a child genius and code-cracking agent for the mysterious Spectrum, is not content with juggling her cryptography and her day to day activities as a normal thirteen-year-old. She wants to be a field agent but she’s finding the outdoor survival training a challenge. Not only is she failing for the first time in…

Come Clean

When Justine finds herself locked up in an institution as part of a programme to help her get clean, even though she is not a drug user or a heavy drinker, she finds herself in a living hell where nobody cares about her, nobody believes her and her worst nightmares come true. She tells her…

Completely Crazy Poems

John Foster has always had impeccable taste in poetry. In these two little volumes of crazy and scary poems, we not only get the benefit of an imaginative selection but we also have the added bonus of some of his own creations being included. Here we find inspired groupings of poems in intriguing categories such…

Curse of Kings (The Trials of Oland Born, Book 1)

Curse of Kings has an atmospheric start with a prologue that introduces the main antagonist and heralds the start of an oppressive era for the Kingdom of Decresian. The fantasy storyline is familiar. The protagonist, Oland Born, is given a quest to save the kingdom from the corrupt Villius Ren and travels through unknown country to…

Dancing Jax

When thieves break into the abandoned house of occultist and author Austerly Fellows, they discover crates of books, the similarly named Dancing Jacks of the title, which seem to take possession of whoever reads them. As the population of the town gradually succumb to the book’s evil influence, local teacher Martin Baxter must discover the…

Darkmouth: Chaos Descends

Full of danger, intrigue but also lots of humour, Chaos Descends is the third part of Shane Hegarty’s thrilling Darkmouth series. Ten months after almost destroying both Darkmouth and the Infected Side in order to rescue his dad, Finn is getting ready to take part in his completion ceremony, and become a real Legend Hunter,…

Department 19 Battle Lines

Following the dramatic attack that concluded The Rising, Department 19 is in disarray and has barely had time to regroup before they must face a new and even more insidious threat as the damaged and highly-dangerous inmates of the world’s most secure detention facilities are transformed into vampires and unleashed on an unsuspecting world. All the…

Department 19: The Rising

The second volume in Will Hill’s series about Department 19, the covert government department tasked with defending society against supernatural attacks, The Rising picks up after the terrifying attack on Lindisfarne that ended book one.  Jamie, Larissa and Kate are struggling to come to terms with the consequences of this battle, consequences that will have…

Divergent

The future of YA fiction is dystopian. But following in the shadow of the epic, controversial and downright fantastic Hunger Games, how can you tell a cheap knock- off from the real thing? Fear not. This popular sub-genre includes the likes of Allie Condie’s excellent debut, Matched, and I’m here to tell you that things…

Earwig and the Witch

This posthumously published novella by Diana Wynne Jones is typical of her late style and a poignant reminder of what we have lost. Written in brisk, no-nonsense prose, it tells the story of young Earwig, an orphan with a giantsized ego living contentedly in an orphanage where she always gets her own way.  Kidnapped by a middle-aged witch looking for an extra…

Flawed

Celia Ahern’s departure into the world of YA fiction is a coming-of-age story with a difference. Set in a country not dissimilar to our own, Flawed is a hard look at a twisted society ruled by fear, abuse of power and where the need for ‘perfection’ is valued above humanity. But what exactly is ‘perfection’…

Frankie Foster Fizzypop

Frankie Foster is a lovable and often infuriating ten year old girl who loves to help people. But Frankie’s help should come with a health warning, as her meddling causes chaos and lots of bad tempers.   Ure has an intuitive ability to recreate the inner workings of a ten year old girl; her home…

Frankie Foster Pick ‘n’ Mix

Frankie Foster is delighted when Mum agrees to host a friend’s daughter for four weeks. Ever keen to help, Frankie is undaunted by the news that thirteen year old Emelia has learning difficulties and behaves more like an eight year-old. Emelia’s exuberant arrival heralds a challenging month for Frankie as she faces the frustrations and…

Goodbye Mog

Death is not a common theme in fiction for very young children, other than in a number of well-intentioned publications that set out to explain and possibly offer comfort to children who have been bereaved. However, a few books do offer something beyond the somewhat hushed or robustly matter-of-fact/this-can-happen-to-anyone tone of the above. For instance,…

GRRRRR!

Snappy dialogue and rhythmic rhyme propel us through this witty tale of competition, thievery and redemption. Fred is an achievement-driven workaholic and Boris is a lonely bear who makes poor choices. They complete to be the Best Bear in the Wood, discovering along the way that true happiness is to be found in relationships rather…

House of Secrets

Following an alarming incident at his workplace, surgeon Dr. Walker loses his job, leaving his family penniless and homeless in San Francisco. Buying the only habitable home that they can afford, the Walkers move into the intriguing Kristoff House, built by adventure novelist Denver Kristoff. But heir to the estate Dahlia Kristoff, is not happy…

How To Rob A Bank

Dylan is a 15-year-old with a problem; he appears to have burnt down his friend Beth’s house. He thinks (quite naturally) that he’s spoilt his chances with her and plans to rob a bank to reimburse her (as you do). The fire, however, proves to be merely the first incident in an accident-prone narrative that…

I, Houdini

Houdini is first and foremost an escapologist but also a philosopher, an able athlete and something of a Casanova in this fantastic animal adventure, first published in 1978 and now reissued as part of HarperCollins’ First Modern Classics series. This surprisingly eloquent, ‘self-educated’ hamster expertly gets himself out of domestic captivity and into all sorts…

Imaginary Fred

Imaginary Fred is a truly magical collaboration between illustration superstar Oliver Jeffers and Laureate na nÓg Eoin Colfer which is guaranteed to delight! Life isn’t easy for imaginary friends and Fred works hard to earn his place in the heart of each and every child he loves, but soon finds himself forgotten and alone again.…

Insurgent

Insurgent is the second instalment in the highly successful Divergent trilogy. The story follows Tris's journey as she deals with the aftermath of the destruction of her family and home by a war that continues to rage around her. She now has to find the courage to live and to fight in order to stop the…

Interworld

Joey Harker has just discovered he has the ability to move between dimensions. It’s known as ‘Walking’, and when Joey does it for the first time, by accident, he attracts the attention of two warring empires, one ruled by the power of magic, the other by technology. Between these two empires stands Interworld, an organization…

Invisible Fiends: The Crowmaster

Kyle’s mother packs him off to the countryside to help him regain a bit of sanity after the traumas experienced in the first two books in this series. Having endured an eventful train journey, Kyle finds himself in a lonely cottage in the hills with his mother’s eccentric cousin, Marion. It’s just the kind of…

Jimmy Coates: Killer

An 11-year-old boy, Jimmy Coates, finds his whole world disintegrating as a mysterious cabal seeks to kidnap him from his home. To his horror he discovers that the trauma of his ordeal has awakened an array of superhuman powers seemingly intended to equip him to act as an ultimate killing machine. With the help of…

Kingdom of the Wicked

Skulduggery Pleasant is back, with his not-so-sidekick-sidekick Valkyrie Cain. Magic has become a disease. Every day, mortals are starting to have powers that no sorcerer has reached before. Old friends return to backstab, a Grand Mage doesn’t bother to read the manual, headless zombies search for new bodies, true names are found and enemies believed…

Last Stand of Dead Men (Skulduggery Pleasant)

War has finally come. But it's not a war between good and evil – it's a war between Sanctuaries. For too long now, the Irish Sanctuary has teetered on the brink of world-ending disaster, and the other Sanctuaries around the world have had enough. Allies turn to enemies, friends turn to foes, and Skulduggery and…

Lemonade Sky

Ruby is used to her mother’s huge mood swings, from dark days where she doesn’t get out of bed, to hyperactive happy days when everything is bright. But when Ruby and her sisters wake up one morning to find their mother has gone, the only clue is a confused message on the answering machine about…

Loser

I loved both Maniac Magee and Stargirl, and was delighted when I saw this new book by Jerry Spinelli in the bundle of books for review. I have a particular interest in books which look at marginalised children. Experience has taught me that authors tend to handle this topic really well or really badly. Spinelli’s…

Lost and Found

‘Once there was a boy and one day he found a penguin at his door.’ So begins a wonderful story of friendship, kindness and loyalty for the chatty, helpful boy and his sad silent companion, the penguin. The boy decides the penguin must be lost and there is only one thing to do. He takes…

Marshall Armstrong is New to Our School

Irish-born author/illustrator David Mackintosh’s debut picture book,Marshall Armstrong is New to Our School is a tour de force of originality and good design, with a strong, universal story about a boy who is proud to be different. Marshall Armstrong is different in every way. The young narrator explains why: ‘His freckles look like birdseed on…

Max and the Won’t Go to Bed Show

Max the Magnificent is putting on a show – the 'putting off bedtime for as long as possible' show. He makes milk and cookies disappear, he teaches his 'savage' dog, Brian, to sit, he disappears into the bathroom where he cleans his teeth, he rescues his favourite toy raccoon out of the toybox, he asks…

Monster and Chips

As most readers can attest, everyone loves chips. People from all nations cherish the humble spud. The author, however, turns our attention to monsters. Do they hanker for a hot, crispy, golden chip? Do they crave floury, flakey frites with sides of ketchup, cheese and curry? Joe, our protagonist, may never have pondered such theories…

My Brother’s Book

The death of Maurice Sendak in 2012 removed from our midst one of the key figures in contemporary children's literature. As the creator of a number of strikingly inventive and frequently controversial picturebooks – we are this year celebrating the 50th anniversary of the publication of Where the Wild Things Are – he came to occupy a…

Nobody Real

Marcie and Thor Baker are firm friends, but very different people. For one thing, Marcie lives in the real world and Thor is her imaginary friend. It’s the summer after her final exams and Marcie has some big decisions to make, and despite being sent away six years ago, her old pal Thor is back.…

Ocean of Blood

I'll be honest from the outset, I'd never read anything by Darren Shan and had no desire to.  And so it was with a heavy heart that I delved into the pages of Ocean of Blood, forced upon me as it was by one particularly cruel editor. “Too much gore”, I pleaded. “Not enough knee-trembling, earth-shattering romance”,…

Partials

With the glut of dystopian/post-apocalyptic YA novels published in the last few years, it’s getting harder for stories to maintain originality in a crowded market. Partials has many now-familiar elements of the genre: dark setting; potentially slippery politicians; feisty female heroine and her love interest; and of course the Other Guy, adding romantic tension to the quest…

Ruby Redfort: Feel the Fear

Ruby Redfort is a super smart, super brave, thirteen-year-old superspy. In Lauren Child’s fourth installment, Ruby must track down an invisible foe, but ‘How do you catch a thief that isn’t there?’ And Ruby’s been having trouble in the observation department. Missing those warning signs could get her killed. Feel the Fear is exciting and…

Seriously Scary Poems

John Foster has always had impeccable taste in poetry. In these two little volumes of crazy and scary poems, we not only get the benefit of an imaginative selection but we also have the added bonus of some of his own creations being included. Here we find inspired groupings of poems in intriguing categories such…

Skinny Melon and Me

Cherry hates her Mum’s new husband, the ridiculously named Roland Butter, and uses her diary to vent her feelings. She nicknames him Slimey and resents his attempts to win her over. Interspersed throughout the book are the coded messages that he draws for her in a seemingly doomed endeavour to make friendly overtures. The picture…

Skulduggery Pleasant: Bedlam

Skeleton detective Skulduggery Pleasant and his increasingly badass partner Valkyrie Cain are back for another truly blockbusting adventure. Bedlam spans almost six hundred pages, and it’s no wonder: this book packs in a huge amount of story and almost as much chaos as its namesake. There are multiple point-of-view characters criss-crossing continents and universes, to…

Skulduggery Pleasant: Resurrection

‘If I can get hurt, and I’m sure you know how wonderful I am, then anyone can get hurt’. As a paid-up member of the walking—if skeletal–dead, Skulduggery Pleasant should be no stranger to getting hurt. But even though he made it through the nine books in Part One of this series more-or-less intact, the…

Sleep No More

Charlotte Westing is a high school girl with a secret. It is one she has to hide from everyone in her life. Only Sierra, her aunt, is aware of Charlotte’s powers as she too is an oracle. Charlotte’s powers as an oracle allow her to see glimpses of the future but she has been taught all of her…

Slide

Jill Hathaway’s debut is the story of Vee, a girl who everyone thinks has narcolepsy. The truth is that every time she passes out she sees through other people’s eyes. When a cheerleader’s dead body is found everyone presumes she committed suicide, but Vee knows that it was murder, and she needs to solve the…

Standing in for Lincoln Green

As the old saying goes: If you want something done right, do it yourself… While drinking sarsaparilla and timing handstands is great fun, Lincoln Green soon discovers that the other things that MUST BE DONE are not being done…and it’s ALL BECAUSE OF YOU KNOW WHO. David Mackintosh provides readers with another superb story of…

Stick Dog

The title of the first chapter of Stick Dog is: ‘I can’t draw, okay?’ This sets the tone of the book, both in terms of the direct addressing of the reader (reminiscent of diary-style books currently popular with this age-group), and the proliferation of so-called ‘bad’ drawings throughout. In fact, this is not the narrator…

Stick Dog Wants a Hot Dog

With a rectangular body, triangles for ears and circles for eyes and nose, Stick Dog is more a heap of geometry than a hound. But author and illustrator Tom Watson is up front about his artistic talent: ‘I stink at drawing.’ Once that’s out of the way, young readers can settle down and enjoy the…

Supercat Vs The Chip Thief

James’s cat Tiger is fat, lazy and boring. If only the tabby was a little more like his namesake, the comicbook hero Tigerman! Well James’s wish comes true because when Tiger accidentally swallows a chunk of a toxic sock, he is transformed into Supercat, a super-powered feline who can talk, fight, leap and is –…

Take Your Last Breath (Ruby Redfort, 2)

Twinford city has recently witnessed some fishy goings on and Ruby, along with other Spectrum agents, is determined to get to the bottom of these strange happenings, even if it means diving to the bottom of the sea. However, Ruby can only hold her breath for 61 seconds and with rumours of sharks and pirates…

The 13th Horseman

In his latest novel, The 13th Horseman, Barry Hutchison has created a wildly imaginative yarn which tackles heavy subjects with a razor sharp wit. Aimed at the 11+ age range, The 13th Horsemantells the story of Drake Finn, a boy who unwittingly finds himself recruited by the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. His new job? To become their fourth…

The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips

This story begins with 12-yearold Michael describing his close relationship with his Grandma Lily and his concern at her vanishing after the funeral of his Grandpa. Grandma sends Michael a diary of her childhood by way of explaining her current disappearance. As the reader along with Michael begins to read the diary account of a…

The Bell Between Worlds (The Mirror Chronicles)

The Mirror Chronicles is Johnstone’s début book and will be part of an upcoming trilogy. The novel tells the story of Sylas Tate, who greatly resembles a Harry Potter kind of figure, and lives a lonely existence with absentee parents. The tolling of a giant bell summons him into another world, the ‘Other.’  Again, similar to…

The Book of Doom (Afterworlds)

The follow-up to Hutchison’s hugely popular and award winningThe 13th Horseman, this second instalment in the Afterworldsseries is a standalone novel with a whole new cast of characters. The hero here is fifteen-year-old thief Zac, who has been recruited by heaven to recover the most important object in the universe – The Book of Everything. Paired…

The Crayons’ Christmas

Duncan and his Crayons are preparing for the festive season, writing cards, decorating the house and receiving gifts and messages from distant Crayon relatives. This is a unique book, filled with folded letters, postcards, games, press-out ornaments and even a pop-up. There is a lot here that will delight children (and adults), using Oliver Jeffers…

The Crocodile Under the Bed

This new picturebook by Judith Kerr, creator of the beloved Mog books and the classic The Tiger Who Came to Tea, has an old-fashioned look and feel. The cover depicts a child and a crocodile dancing in a garden, against a white background, with simple title design. Inside a drawing of a monkey and child leads…

The Dance of the Dinosaurs

Two children wake up frightened by a noisy storm and are led out of the house by their cat on an adventure where they discover that storms are caused by dinosaurs dancing. The story is told in rhyming couplets and rattles along in a pleasantly jaunty manner, as we would expect from this author/illustrator duo.…

The Day the Crayons Came Home

Following the success of the acclaimed The Day the Crayons Quit, Daywalt and Jeffers are back together in this much-anticipated and utterly brilliant sequel. Having convinced a colourful collection of strained crayons not to quit, Duncan is surprised to receive a whole bunch of postcards from crayons wishing to be rescued. Left behind, eaten, sat…

The Day The Crayons Quit

When Duncan opens his crayon box, wanting to colour, he finds no crayons… only letters, all of which say the same thin:; "We quit!” The crayons are all at odds with each other and are refusing to colour anymore. They have been treated unfairly! (Well, not green… green has no complaints.)  Black is only ever…

The Double Life of Cassiel Roadnight

An exciting new thriller from this now well-established author, this is one book that had me staying up late, turning the pages. Valentine sets up a great premise in the opportunity that presents for Chap Hathaway, a troubled and homeless 16-year-old, when he finds himself handed a ready-made loving family searching desperately for their missing…

The Flask

The Flask is a sensitive novel, dealing with the themes of grief and belief. Protagonist Jess is coping with the death of her great aunt and anxious about the imminent birth of her half-brothers when she finds an old fashioned corked flask, which appears to have special powers. Jess goes on a journey, exploring various nations…

The Frank Show

When I received David Mackintosh’s The Frank Show in the post, I was so excited I danced around the kitchen. I adore his previous book, Marshall Armstrong is New to Our School, and this book is even better. From the stunning slipcover and endpapers to the book itself (all designed by Mackintosh), it’s a stellar piece of work. The…

The Great Granny Gang

Seven grannies, the youngest is eighty-two, leap from their granny van. Each has a different skill, ranging from chimney or car fixing, to road mending to lion taming, with a few others in between. What they have in common is dauntlessness, and an enviable agility that would be remarkable even in their great-grandchildren. So, when…

The Hueys: What’s The Opposite

The 4th and latest instalment of The Hueys series sees them exploring the ideas of opposites in their characteristically charming way. Although they start out trying to understand the basics like ‘yes’ and no’, they quickly move on to more creative examples through imaginative and humorous situations. The overarching play of opposites satisfyingly marks the…

The Magnificent 12: The Call

At first, The Call seems like yet another in that long line of clichéd stories where the main character, Mack MacAvoy, discovers he’s the only one that can save the world from the greatest evil it has ever faced and must enlist 12 others to help him in his quest. Where this differs from the…

The Maleficent Seven

“I’m not evil. But Tanith is. You kind of forget that sometimes, but she is. She’s evil…” This novella set in the world of the Suklduggery Pleasant series is based around Tanith Low, once an ally now an enemy. Tanith is now a host to a remnant. She’s something else entirely, more than evil, especially…

The Name of the Star

When American teenager Rory moves to a London boarding school, she plans to have a slightly more normal life. Unfortunately, she arrives on the same day as a murder mimicking the “Jack the Ripper” crimes. As she learns to deal with her senior year in England, more murders take place, set in the same locations…

The Peculiar

Welcome to an alternative steampunk Victorian England populated by faeries and humans living uneasily side by side. The worst possible thing to be is a Peculiar  (a half-human half-faery despised and feared by both) like the unfortunate Bartholomew Kettle. Peculiars are starting to turn up horribly murdered. Reluctant hero Mr Jelliby is trying to find some…

The Ragwitch

It was the impressive Old Kingdom series that made Garth Nix his name as one of the biggest Fantasy writers in recent years. Innovative, and well-told, Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen were greeted with much enthusiasm as a new addition to the relatively recent phenomenon of the ‘cross- over’ genre. The Ragwitch is actually his first…

The Riddles of Epsilon

Jess is no squeaky-clean Blyton heroine – she has been expelled from school for drinking and smoking. She is angry with her Dad for moving them to this remote island with nothing to do. He says it is to get her away from bad influences but she knows it is to get her Mum away…

The Saga of Larten Crepsley: Palace of the Damned

Let’s be quite clear here – as a horror author, part of me wanted to hate this. Darren Shan has been considered the master of children’s and young adult horror for over a decade now, and it’s high time one of us new guys got a chance at the title. But Shan doesn’t seem to…

The Sand Dog

Since Grandfather left, Azi has been watching the sea and waiting for him to come home. Without him, life on their small Mediterranean island can never be the same, and Azi can’t understand why he doesn’t come back. He becomes convinced the sea is sending him signs – a turtle looking for sanctuary, a blue…

The School for Good and Evil

Sophie has wanted to be a princess all her life. That’s how she knows that she is destined to attend the School for Good. To ensure her place, Sophie spends her time doing Good Deeds, such as befriending social outcast Agatha, who everyone believes belongs in the School for Evil. But when the School Master comes…

The Silver Dream

This is very much a sequel to Interworld, so you’ll need to read that one first. When Joey Harker discovers he has the ability to move between dimensions, he is drawn into a cold war between two empires, one ruled by the power of magic, the other by technology. Between them stands Interworld, an organization struggling…

The Tide Knot

The Tide Knot is the middle book of a trilogy by Helen Dunmore. In part one, Ingo, she tells the story of Sapphire (shortened to Sapphy) and Conor growing up in an idyllic Cornish village. One day their seafaring father disappears without a trace and Conor begins to spend more and more time on the…

There’s a Bug on my Arm that Won’t Let Go

A tale of acceptance and letting go, this is the story of a girl and a bug told in the first person. A child is bored and has nobody to play with. An insect lands on her arm and she moves from panic, to annoyance, to acceptance until finally it is time for the bug…

This Moose Belongs to Me

Oliver Jeffers has done it again, thank goodness. This Moose Belongs to Me is absurdly funny and full of warmth and typical Jeffers charm. It's about a boy named Wilfred – an earnest, dickie-bowed type of boy – and his pet moose. Or is it? Ostensibly it's a simple tale of boy-finds-pet, boy-loses-pet, then pet-finds-and-saves-boy. But it…

Up and Down

Up and Down tells of the further adventures of Jeffers’ unnamed boy protagonist and his friend, the penguin, whom readers first met inLost and Found. In this ‘sequel’, the boy and the penguin work together to solve a problem: how to help the penguin fly. While the interrelationship between the verbal and visual texts enchantingly…

What’s Up Mumu?

Mumu is having a bad day, and nothing is going to make her feel any better about it. Her best friend Lox tries everything he can think of to cheer her up but nothing seems to work. It’s only when Lox gets fed-up himself that Mumu realises that friendship works both ways. This bright and…

Where’s Tim’s Ted? It’s Time for Bed!

Everyone can remember the feeling of being a small child and having to sleep over in a grandparent or relative's house – staying in a place that is usually safe and familiar, but which becomes strange and discomforting when the lights turn out. This is where the presence of your favourite teddy is essential; to…

Witch-in-Training: Witch Switch

This is the sixth book of the Witch-in-Training series. Witch Switch is an amusing story full of sudden unexpected surprises and twists. What else could one expect from a learner witch, or indeed a fully trained one! —Jessica is learning how to switch from one shape to another, which is great fun as long as…

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