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1066 And Before That

Early history gets an airing in this poetry collection – co-written by Brian Moses and Roger Stevens – which is divided up into five sections, beginning at the Stone Age, ending with the eponymous battle of Hastings, and taking in Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome along the way. In fact, there is precious little that…

A Face Like Glass

'One dark season, Grandible became certain that there was something living in his domain within the Cheese Tunnels.’ So begins Frances Hardinge’s latest fantasy/adventure novel, and this first sentence sets the tone for the rest of the book: intriguing, funny, and slightly offbeat. The novel is set in the underground city of Caverna, a closed…

A first Poetry Book

This bumper anthology from Macmillan contains well over 200 poems from 'the very best poets around', and, with its title, big print and cover festooned with chicks and a bunny rabbit, seems at first glance to be aimed at young children. It's divided up into topics such as 'Food', 'Pets', 'Space' and so on, which…

A Game of Ghouls: The Phenomenals

This is the second book about the four Phenomenals (Citrine, Folly, Vincent and Jonah), a dysfunctional quartet made up of a lock-picker, a seeker, a rich girl and a thug. To the law-abiding citizens of Degringolade, the four are undesirables who should be thrown in the city jail. The local newspaper has even offered a…

A Laureate’s Choice – 101 Poems for Children Chosen

U.K. Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy chooses her favourite classic and modern poems for children. A wide-ranging selection includes poems the poet adored in her own childhood like ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’, ‘Jabberwocky’ and ‘There Was a Naughty Boy’ as well as such modern stalwarts as Charles Causley, Ted Hughes and Adrian Mitchell. Irish…

A Nest Full of Stars

Admirers of James Berry’s poetry will find that this new collection continues to fulfil the aspirations voiced in the title poem of his first book, When I Dance, published some fourteen years ago: ‘I’m costumed in a rainbow… And I celebrate all rhythms.’ Here, the rainbow world is as bright and sparkling as ever and…

Abandon

Abandon is the first in Meg Cabot’s similarly titled new dark fantasy romance series. The plot centres on a young girl named Pierce, struggling to return to normal life after a near-death experience. This is somewhat hindered by the presence of someone she met while down there. Abandon is a new direction for Cabot; it…

Across the Nightingale Floor

This is billed as a crossover novel, but I can’t see any reason to regard it as a ‘young adult’ novel at all – though that is not to say that young adults would not enjoy it. It’s a pacy, racy, well-plotted story, stuffed with the sorts of motifs you’d expect of a tale set…

Alienography 2: Tips for Tiny Tyrants

This is the follow-up title to Alienography: Or How to Spot an Alien Invasion. In the first book, a parody of a fictional work of non-fiction, Riddell directed his attention to aliens and robots. This time, he’s targeted the iconic evil-genius-with-a-giant-head for his lampooning. There are plenty of franchises up for ridicule, with Battlestar Galactica, Babylon 5 and Star…

Aunt Amelia

When Mum and Dad head off on a short break, Aunt Amelia is drafted in to look after the children. But who wants to be looked after by boring old Aunt Amelia? By the end of this simple but delightful picturebook from new talent Rebecca Cobb, everyone will! Cobb’s illustrations feel both traditional and fresh…

Bear and Hare Go Fishing

This is the first in a new series by Emily Gravett, one of the best and most versatile picturebook artists working today. It is aimed at very young children, and undoubtedly will delight their older friends too in a delightful book just made for sharing.   Through the large hole on the cover – small…

Bloodstone

Bloodstone is the sequel to Allan Borough’s Ironheart, which introduces the characters of India Bentley and Verity Brown, tech-hunters in a post-apocalyptic world. Knowledge of the first book is really essential to get full enjoyment from this story, as new comers will find it hard to grasp what exactly has occurred leading up to the…

Boy 2 Girl

Both title and cover of Terence Blacker’s novel propose a compelling and challenging subject. When Sam Lopez’s mother dies, he is sent from America to London to live with his sister’s family. Sam and his cousin Matthew conspire with their male friends to outwit their enemies, ‘the Bitches’, and in a successful attempt to infiltrate…

Brilliant

A Black Dog, depression, hangs over Dublin as recession bites – and only children can stop it. Uncle Ben has just lost his job and his house, and has moved in with Gloria and Raymonds’ parents. The children love Uncle Ben, and decide to help him to get rid of the Black Dog and recover…

Call Down Thunder

Reve is a thirteen-year-old Latin American boy living in a sleepy fishing village. His father is dead and his mother abandoned him and his sister Mi that night. Mi, sixteen, suffers from mysterious fits and is regarded with suspicion on account of her unusual red hair, her apparent ability to see and hear things and…

Captain

One of many books published this year to coincide with the centenary of the First World War, Captain explores friendship in extreme circumstances. Billy, a fifteen-year-old who has lied about his age in order to enlist in the British army, is sent immediately to the Middle East, where he forms a close friendship with a…

Cats Ahoy!

A trawler, groaning with haddock, is expected to dock at dawn. How can Alfonso the cat resist? It¹s too good an opportunity to miss, and with a level of organisation and efficiency that wouldn¹t be amiss in the Admiral of the Fleet, he leads a band of local cats into piracy, lured by the prospect…

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the fabulous flying car created by Ian Fleming, is back in its first ever sequel. Writing a sequel is difficult; writing the sequel to one of the most popular stories of the twentieth century is even more difficult. Yet Frank Cottrell Boyce has made it seem effortless, weaving a story that…

Coming to England

In Coming to England Floella Benjamin recounts the emigration of her family from the idyllic island of Trinidad to England. The book chronicles her life in Trinidad where she was born and lived until the age of 11. Benjamin gives a utopian glimpse into the beautiful family house, the wonderfully fragrant markets, the school and…

Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Put Astronauts on the Moon

Before Katherine Johnson inspired the hit film ‘Hidden Figures’, before she won the Presidential Medal of Freedom for smashing through sex and race barriers to play a critical role in one of her country’s proudest achievements, and before she was so respected as a human computer that astronauts requested her by name to double check…

Cuckoo Song

After an accident, eleven-year-old Tris wakes up to discover that something is not quite right. She’s constantly hungry, she cries cobwebs and her little sister is scared of her. She soon realises that she is not really herself, and she must solve the mystery of an evil architect and a long-lost brother to try to save herself and…

Enchantée

Gita Trelease’s début novel, Enchantée, transports the reader to the world of pre-revolutionary France, where uncertainty and possibility linger in the air, and the lives of the people are about to be changed forever. Camille Durbonne, an orphan at the age of seventeen, struggles to care for her siblings and tries as hard as she…

Floored

In this creative collaboration, six wildly different teens become unlikely friends after destiny brings them together one day in an elevator and a certain incident cements their fates as forever-entwined. It would take a hard-core fan to pick out which successful YA author wrote each of the main characters, whether it’s Kaitlyn the witty but…

Giants of the Sun

This collection of short stories contains the work of some of Ireland’s foremost writers for children, Maeve Friel, Larry O’Loughlin, Siobhán Parkinson and Marilyn Taylor among others. Amid the adventure, historical and humorous genres represented there are three outstanding contributions which elevate this otherwise undistinguished volume. Both Carlo Gébler’s story ‘Our Dogs’ and Mark O’Sullivan’s…

Glow

Two ships, the Empyrean and the New Horizon, have been launched to find New Earth. The New Horizon has been years ahead of the Empyrean, so the Empyrean is naturally surprised and curious when the New Horizon appears beside it–until the New Horizon attacks, killing almost all the adults and kidnapping the girls. Glow is…

Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse

Lavishly jacketed with a blinged-out silver skull pattern and shades of deep purple and black, Goth Girl appeals to the contemporary Goth look, whilst romping with abandon through the stock figures of Gothic Romance and horror writing from the 18th and 19th centuries. Readers in search of terse, neat plotting will be disappointed: Ada Goth’s mission to…

Grisly Tales from Tumblewater

Grisly tales from Tumblewater is a collection of stories, tied together with an overarching metanarrative. The setting is a darkly comic town, at an undetermined, Victorian-esque point in history. The misery of the inhabitants’ lives is only lightened by the telling of horrific tales, which function as an acknowledged type of group catharsis. The main…

Grrr! Dinos, Dragons and Other Beastie Poems

This collection, with its exciting, vertiginous cover, is the fruit of a writing team of two poets, both of whom claim a special interest in dinosaurs. (Mostly their poems alternate, although on one or two they collaborate.) As the title suggests, however, the poems’ scope, blending the real and the mythical, covers a variety of…

Hello, Sailor

Matt, a lighthouse keeper, pines for the return of his dear friend, Sailor. To the neglect of his friends, he keeps vigil for Sailor. ‘I’ll come back for you,’ Sailor had said when he left. ‘Then we’ll sail around the world together, just you and me’. His friends advise him to forget about Sailor but…

I am an Artist

If you are a parent who hates a mess then this book is definitely not for you. But if you are a parent who nurtures and celebrates creativity – whose walls and fridge are a gallery, or even a canvas, for the masterpieces of your tiny genius – then you’ll love this book, although you…

Into the Jungle

Into the Jungle by Katherine Rundell is a collection of short stories that serves as a companion to Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book. Mowgli’s ravenous appetite for stories takes him all over the jungle, seeking out his animal friends who relay to him tales from their past. One thing that is immediately apparent is the volume’s…

Ironheart

In dramatic circumstances, a girl is pulled from her gruelling life to join an explorer and an ancient killer android (now reformed) on a journey that will take them across the world. On the hunt for treasure in a wild, post-apocalyptic landscape traversed by huge mobile mining rigs, they get tangled up with a con…

It Came From Outer Space!

Filled with an abundance of creepy creatures, slimy aliens, and robot armies, It Came From Outer Space! zooms from one wacky poem to another. As can be guessed from the title, the collection focuses on themes of aliens, astronauts and space. It is a fun and inventive collection and Cookson and Harmer seem to revel in concocting…

Kat Wolfe Investigates

Kat Wolfe Investigates is a book about a pre-teen girl who moves to Bluebell Bay with her veterinary-surgeon mother following an attempted robbery on their London home. Dr Wolfe’s new job on England’s Jurassic Coast comes with one condition: they must live in the same cottage as an unfriendly Savannah cat who belonged to the…

Knife Edge (Young Sherlock Holmes 6)

This is an action packed adventure that should have broad appeal. This book is set in the time of the original Sherlock Homes and opens with Sherlock disembarking from a ship in Galway. He had been kidnapped two years earlier by an organisation called Paradol Chamber. He hopes to find his way back to his home…

Life on a Famine Ship

This book is written in a diary format. It poses as the written account of a 9-year-old boy’s experience prior to and during the Great Irish Famine. The diary entries are written in short paragraphs which are dated and have captions. This allows for the progression of multiple crop failures and their consequences to be…

Little Brown Bushrat

This bright, inviting hardback is heralded as the first picturebook from the winner of the Macmillan prize for illustration 2000. It takes the form of a fable whereby the little bushrat learns that he too has a talent or skill that sets him apart from his peers. While the other animals in the Australian bush…

Little Mouse’s Big Book of Beasts

Little Mouse is a character readers may recognize from another of Emily Gravett’s excellent books, The Big Book of Fears. As one can deduce from the title, Little Mouse is a tremulous, nervous rodent, and his adventures continue in&nbsnbsp;Little Mouse’s Big Book of Beasts. From sharks to boa constrictors, this is a collection of short poems…

Long Lost

One in the Shock Shop series of ‘short, illustrated, scary books for younger readers’ by writers such as KM Peyton, Jenny Nimmo and Susan Price, this is the story of long-lost relatives who make contact with George Bassett’s family when they receive a considerable inheritance. Sir Gilbert Bassett-Milne and his family are welcoming and unpretentious,…

Lost Worlds

Callum Challenger has a bit of an obsession with finding 'missing links', species never discovered by man that could hold the potential to help mankind with secrets to the missteps in our DNA locked within theirs. When he spots a picture of a half man/ half ape snapped somewhere in the jungles of Georgia he…

Millions

Damian places great trust in the interventions of various saints, so when a bag full of thousands of pounds falls out of the sky he isn’t fazed. The money was thrown from a train by a gang of robbers as it was on the way to be pulped just days before the change over to…

Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism

It was the shiny metallic cover which drew me to this. The blurb revealed that Molly is an orphan, living in a grim and cheerless orphanage, Hardwick House, presided over by – yes, you’ve guessed it – an equally grim and unrelentingly cheerless keeper. Do we need another book about orphans who escape from their…

Mr Tiger Goes Wild

Anyone, young or old, who has ever wanted to jump on their bed, eat dinner under the table or paint with their fingers will love this book, its surprising story and host of quirky characters. Mr Tiger Goes Wild explores the feeling of being stuck in a world of rules, where everyone is the same. Peter…

My Grandpa

In telling the tale of a very special relationship, Altés captures our hearts with this moving and poignant picturebook. Her stark verbal text interacts beautifully with the visual text and is told from the perspective of the child. This gives the story innocence and simplicity, which, in turn, captivates the reader.  Altés also touches on…

Nobody, Him and Me

When the miller and his wife recognise the sound of three little mice playing chasing, they decide to employ a cat called ‘Fighter the Biter’ to solve their problem. However, the cunning threesome wind the cat up in knots and enforce an early retirement to Mrs Kindly’s Rest Home for Distressed Cats. Perfect for bedtime…

Notebooks of a Middle School Princess

The Princess Diaries are fifteen years old, and in honour of the birthday, Meg Cabot has penned and illustrated this entry level diary, aimed at new readers, younger sisters of current readers, and even – yes, it’s possible – the children of her original audience. The first entry has diary author, 12-year-old Olivia, being bullied…

One Crow Alone

This prequel to Crockett’s After the Snow imagines Europe in a state of infrastructural and social collapse due to climate change and an energy crisis. As food becomes scarce and governments more corporatized and totalitarian, Polish Magda and Ukrainian Ivan make their way West in a container truck to land in an apocalyptically corrupted and dangerous London.…

Re-Made

Mr Scarrow knows how to ensure a few sleepless nights. This book is not for scaredy-cats like me, but I loved it. The whole idea of an extermination is nothing new in literature but this one is a bit special: a virus is killing all living things with the exception of plants. There is cross…

Recipe for a Story

Recipe For a Story is the latest offering from talented author illustrator Ella Burfoot, whose earlier picture books included Betty and the Yeti, and Darkness Slipped In.  A charming story that compares the creative process of making a story with the artistic skill required to bake a cake, Recipe For a Story certainly has all…

Romans (Tony Robinson’s Weird World of Wonders)

This book, along a volume on the Egyptians, marks the beginning of Tony Robinson’s new series about history for children. The ‘Weird World of Wonders’ features a cast of characters known as the ‘Curiosity Crew’, who hover around the pages of this book offering up comments on the pictures and details given about the Roman…

Rover and the Big Fat Baby

Another adventure from Rover and the Gigglers, this fast-paced story is guaranteed to provide the reader with numerous chuckles. The Big Fat Baby has gone missing, so Rover and his side-kick Messi, have to find her. In the meantime, Rover’s business, providing the Gigglers with poo, has a big order on and that has to…

Scavenger 1: Zoid

Set on a gigantic spherical spaceship travelling on a seemingly endless journey from Earth, Scavenger Zoid is the first in a brand new sci-fi series from the creators of the fantastic Edge Chronicles, Muddle Earth and Ottoline books. Following the fight for survival of York, a young scavenger based in one of the few remaining…

Snake Bite

Snake Bite is the fifth book in the Young Sherlock Holmes series. Young Sherlock finds himself on board a ship travelling to China. After a long arduous journey he lands in Shanghai where he meets a young boy named Cameron. They become friends and soon they find themselves caught up in a very sinster plot. Three…

Soldier Dog

Sam Angus’s début novel is likely to be a success, due to its action-packed narrative, the author’s skill in capturing emotion and, perhaps most significantly, because her chosen subject matter – animals in battle – has proved to be popular in children’s literature and film in recent years. Although the title, plot and theme are decidedly…

Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth

Research informs us that visualisation is one of the comprehension strategies used by good readers. Encouraging children to become enthusiastic readers means providing them with text that is imaginative, exciting and descriptive. Cottrell Boyce provides just such a text in this mad-cap story. The scenarios are beyond belief, and yet so skillfuly portrayed that they…

Starcrossed

‘Somehow, she had fallen out of the sky and survived. She really was a monster. A freak.’ Sixteen-year-old Helen Hamilton lives in Nantucket with her father, having been deserted by her mother as a baby. Taller, stronger and (though unaware herself) more beautiful than her peers, Helen has always felt uncomfortable in her skin. Convinced…

Strawgirl

Despite an almost fatally slow start, Straw Girl builds up to a truly exciting adventure with not a little magic fantasy thrown in for good measure. Set in the Scottish Highlands, it tells the story of 11-year-old Molly, her Scottish/Irish mother and her Nigerian Ibo dad as they work on the family farm. Life is…

The Hundred Decker Bus

The bus driver prepares to take the bus on its usual journey. He is somewhat bored with the everyday routine and decides to take a route hitherto unknown to him. The journey continues for one year picking up many passengers. To accommodate all those wishing to travel on the bus a hundred decks are added…

The Ice-Cream Machine

Potts’ ice-cream is not only the most exciting icecream but also the strangest: strawberry with a hint of chilli peppers and cheesy peasmint are just some of the flavours. Add in a goat, an ice-cream van called ‘Macaroni’ with a definite mind of its own, entrepreneurial parents and two children and you have the recipe…

The Language of Flowers

Begonia is the flower of caution.  Lavender mistrust.The Daffodil symbolises new beginnings.Red Roses show us love. For hundreds of years many people across the world have known the language of flowers, a secret dialect that has not filtered down through the masses. In this debut novel expression and emotion are given to us the reader,…

The Mighty Dynamo

Like many boys, Noah dreams of becoming a professional footballer. Nicknamed the Mighty Dynamo, he knows he is good, and winning the school’s world cup with his school team is his chance to get noticed. We quickly learn that, for Noah, playing professional football is more than a boyhood dream, it is his only chance…

The Ogre of Oglefort

Every year the inhabitants of Whipple Road look forward to The Summer Meeting of Unusual Creatures as it gives them a chance to escape their mundane lives and perform their magical skills. However this year, the prophesising Norns unexpectedly turn up and give the unpleasant task of rescuing a princess from an Ogre. And just…

The Paper Dolls

Fearless and fun is the world we initially inhabit in Julia Donaldson's engaging story. With ease and charm these delightful dolls journey through the house and garden out-stripping many of the dangers that threaten to befall them. They jump, dance and sing themselves from adventure to adventure until their charmed existence is shattered by the…

The Phenomenals: A Tangle of Traitors

Welcome to Degringolade, the city of superstition, home of a tar-pit of murderous ghosts and the setting of F.E. Higgins’s new fantasy series The Phenomenals. It is a place worth visiting, but it is not without some rough spots. A fantasy novel in the Steampunk subgenre, The Phenomenalsconcerns four kids from different backgrounds who are entangled in…

The Toucan Brothers

Tor Freeman produces a great comic for children where I cannot help getting constant references to Richard Scarry’s work. Beautifully detailed panels full of well built characters and loads, I mean, loads of things going on for those who like to stop reading to look at all the detail in the pictures (check out, in particular,…

Tony Robinson’s Weird World of Wonder: Egyptians

This ‘Weird World of Wonders’ book opens with all the wonders of the ancient world, and moves on specifically to address the Pyramids of Egypt and Egyptian culture more generally. As with other volumes in this series (the Romans, the British and the Greeks titles are already available; World War II will be published in…

Two Peculiar Pelicans: A Caribbean Story Poem

Two pelicans arrive to find the Sea Gate closed and the dolphin tells them they are late. The pelicans say that they have been building their nest ‘far beyond the Sea’s rim’. The pelicans enjoy living on the land but the dolphin cannot understand how they can bear not to hear ‘the music of the…

Unremembered

A teenaged girl miraculously survives Freedom Airlines Flight 121 crash over the ocean but as she recovers in hospital, it becomes clear to all that she has amnesia and that her family and background may never be found. Her name is not on the flight manifest and nobody can remember her boarding the plane. On the…

Wake Up Do, Lydia Lou!

Little girls are easy to scare….or are they? The ghost in this story is having a lot of trouble waking Lydia Lou, never mind making her scream! Even with the help of a kitten, a cow, an owl, a baby, and a cockerel the ghost’s attempts to rouse Lydia Lou are hopeless, although her teddy…

What’s Up With Jody Barton?

Jody Barton is quiet and a member of the school maths club. Jodie has a twin sister, Jolene, who is fourteen minutes older, chatty and ahead of Jody in everything. At the age of fifteen and eleven months, they both fall for Liam Mackie when he walks in the door of their parents’ café. Jody…

Who Runs the World?

Patrick Ness’s highly acclaimed novel, The Knife of Never Letting Go, features a protagonist raised in an all-male society. With a nod in Ness’s direction, Bergin successfully evokes a world composed of females, where masculinity is associated with destruction, violence and brutality, while what are perceived as the female attributes of openness, peace and caring…

Wilma Tenderfoot and the Case of the Rascal’s Revenge

Wilma Tenderfoot and the Case of the Rascal’s Revenge takes place on Cooper Island, a map of which is provided by Tom Morgan-Jones, whose b/w illustrations both complement the text and hint at imminent plot developments. Fans of the series will know the background to the storyline, but for someone new to Wilma Tenderfoot the first…

Windfall

Alice never believed in luck, however, she does believe in love and she has been in love with her best friend, Teddy, for 3 years. For his eighteenth birthday, she buys him a lottery ticket and overnight he becomes a multimillionaire. In an instant, their world changes. With his newfound wealth, he decides to spend…

Wolf Won’t Bite

Gravett’s picturebook definitely contains a moral: don’t take risks with someone bigger, stronger (and smarter) than you. When three uppity circus pigs capture a wild wolf they think they have him tamed. They can stand him on a stool, dress him in a bow, shoot him into the air, make him jump through hoops and…

Zoe and Beans: Hello Oscar!

Zoe has found a guinea pig at the back of the garden…. and another guinea pig! And a tortoise, and a chameleon that changes colour, and a noisy parrot that only says ‘Hello Oscar!’ no matter how hard Zoe tries to get him to say her name. But where have they all come from? Could…

Zoom Zoom Zoom

Based on a well-known children's song, this wonderful debut is sure to appeal to toddlers everywhere. Flat blocks of colour, reminiscent of Mattisse, 'zoom' across the pages and the result is both enchanting and vibrant. Katherina Manolessou screen prints much of her work, and certainly this book has a beautiful, rich quality, which is rarely…

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