Monday, 30 October 2017

Reviews Extra Autumn/Winter 2017

Picture Books for young children

Rockabye Pirate
Written by Timothy Knapman
Illustrated by Ada Grey
Bloomsbury   £6.99
ISBN: 978-1408849392

When night falls it is time for all sleepy little pirates to go to bed, for loot-filled lullabies and dreams of buried treasure. Mummy Pirate rounds up all those fearsome seafarers as they tie up their ships for the night, have their supper and a bath, cuddle up for a story and then snuggle under their Jolly Roger duvets. With its gentle rhymes and entertaining pictures in subdued colours this is a lovely bedtime story for all young buccaneers.
Jayne Gould

 The Nut Stayed Shut
Written and illustrated by Mike Henson
Templar   £6.99
ISBN: 978-1783706938
Have you ever had a nut you couldn’t crack? Rodney, the champion ‘kung fu’ style nut-cracker, clearly has never met such a stubborn nut before. He tries everything - from hammers to rhinoceros poo, an elephant, and even TNT - but nothing works. His fury is reflected in the text and the illustrations, and he eventually is forced to give up his efforts. However, it seems that if you wait long enough, the nut will crack by itself. The bold illustrations in this picture book reflect Rodney’s frustration at the nut’s refusal to crack. Young children will enjoy the story but be warned - with repeated efforts to bash the nut with the increasingly crazy tools Rodney tries to use, this is more likely to provoke rowdy play than encourage conversation, questions or quietness. Adults are advised not to save this one for bedtime!
Liz Dubber

 Sir Ned and the Nasties
Written by Brett McKee
Illustrated by David McKee
Andersen   £11.99
ISBN: 978-1783445349

This rhyming tale has an unusual twist as the brave knight, Sir Ned, heads to the woods to vanquish the Nasties who are making the King ill with their terrible noise, and frightening the villagers too. Ned is offered some unexpected help on the way from a witch, a wolf and a troll, but soon learns who to trust when they reach the Nasties’ hidden cave. Warm, rich illustrations accompany the amusing, often laugh-out-loud, story which celebrates how noise can be turned into lovely, powerful sound and the ending is delightfully unexpected.
Louise Stothard

Titles for readers Moving On from Primary to High School

The Adventures of Hermes, God of Thieves
Written by Murielle Szac
Translated by Mika Provata-Carlone
Pushkin   £7.99
ISBN: 978-1782691303

Hermes, son of Zeus and Maia, is born walking, talking and questioning the world. As he explores Olympus, home of the ancient Greek gods, his adventures reveal their nature and lives. He learns of the powers of Zeus, the nature of his brother Apollo and how to survive in Olympus. We learn how each god came into being, the loves, jealousies and powers they possess and how Hermes needs to tread carefully to avoid their anger and be useful to them. Writing of exceptional clarity and quality explores the stories of Pandora, Prometheus, Persephone, Jason, Medea and all those vaguely remembered characters, both memorably and startlingly. Written in short, clearly headed chapters, these strange and wonderful tales will resonate with Harry Potter and other fantasy fans who wonder, “What was a centaur?” Extraordinary stories from a publisher offering the best of children’s writing from a range of cultures.
Tina Massey

How to Stage a Catastrophe
Written by Rebecca Donnelly
Curious Fox   £6.99
ISBN: 978-1782025986

This entertaining story is about a group of friends who desperately want to save their ramshackle theatre from closing down. Sidney Camazzola has ambitions to be the director of the Juicebox Children’s Theatre when he grows up, but the on-going financial crisis it is in, means it could be gone long before then. Working together with his best friend Folly, an aspiring businessman, as well as members of his family and other friends involved with the theatre, they come up with a plan to save the Juicebox. But, as any director can tell you, not everything happens according to the script. Despite on-stage disasters, misunderstandings and a possible crime being committed, Sidney’s enthusiasm remains undiminished as he takes the reader through three acts and an intermission.
Jayne Gould

Titles for Young Teenage Readers

Written by Anthony McGowan
Barrington Stoke   £7.99
ISBN: 978-1781127230

The first chapter is told from the perspective of the young rook. He is flying free with his friends until caught and hurt by a sparrow hawk. Kenny, who has special needs, rescues ‘Rookee’ and despite the scepticism of his brother, Nicky, is determined to keep the young bird alive. Nicky has greater things to worry about - bullying at school, low self-esteem and a burgeoning crush on a girl. Rook is the last in the trilogy from Anthony McGowan, following Brock and Pike. Each story deals with the difficulties and problems that Nicky and Kenny have to face as teenagers growing up in a confusing world. As with all Barrington Stoke books these three short novels are written on cream paper, with clear typeface and short chapters. The stories are unusual, full of feeling and the characters will resonate with the reader.
Ingrid Fox

And Then We Ran
Written by Katy Cannon
Stripes   £7.99
ISBN: 978-1847157997

Megan and Elliott have been best friends most of their lives but the death of Megan’s sister, in a reckless accident that rocked their small seaside community, has created a gulf between them. Now, they are both trying to escape the weight of this history and the shadows cast by their families. When Meg realises that an inheritance, held in trust for her, can be claimed early if she marries, a crazy plan is born – elopement to Gretna Green. Her proposal to Elliott is business-like - a marriage of convenience. But life has very few clean, simple decisions, as Megan and Elliott are about to discover, on a journey that is not purely geographical. A really engaging, romantic story that also explores the teenage struggle for freedom, identity and belonging.
Yvonne Coppard

The Guggenheim Mystery
Written by Robin Stevens
Puffin   £9.99
ISBN: 978-0141377025

Based on an idea by Siobhan Dowd, this sequel to her The London Eye Mystery has been carefully and skilfully created by Robin Stevens. It continues the adventures of Ted Spark and his sister, Kat, when they visit their cousin, Salim, who has moved to New York with his mum. Robin Stevens is a successful, award-winning mystery writer and she uses her expertise to take on the legacy and challenge of the late Siobhan Dowd and the three words of the title she left behind. Aunt Gloria has a new job as curator of the Guggenheim Museum and, on the day the youngsters visit, a famous painting is stolen. There are no obvious clues, and the police are puzzled. Ted has what he calls, “a funny brain which works on a different operating system to other people’s”, and he is good at noticing things and seeing patterns and connections. Robin Stevens has sensitively recreated the various individual aspects of Siobhan Dowd’s attractive characters and captured the atmosphere and excitement of New York very successfully.
Louise Stothard

Titles for More Mature Young Adults

The Red Abbey Chronicles: Maresi
Written by Maria Turtschaninoff
Translated by A.A. Prime
Pushkin   £7.99
ISBN: 978-1782690924

This haunting story is a compelling read and resonates long after the last page has been read. Maresi’s family send her to live with the sisterhood at The Red Abbey, on a remote island populated by women. Each has their role to play, but the delights and rewards of learning are far more important to Maresi. The descriptions of life on the island, harvesting mussels, dyeing fabric, and the daily rituals are detailed, and the characters of the sisters and novices varied and attractive. Several are seeking refuge and when the mysterious, silent and scarred Jai joins them, Maresi knows she has a harsh story she is not telling. Jai gradually settles into the rhythm of life at the abbey, but the threat to them all is not far away. When tragedy strikes, the women use all their resourcefulness and strength to save their family. But it is Maresi’s determination to take all she has learnt at the abbey back to her homeland that is remarkable, and will be the source of a new story.
Louise Stothard

Information Titles

Where Will I Live?
Written by Rosemary McCarney
New Internationalist   £9.99
ISBN: 978-1772600285
A timely antidote to our hate-filled tabloids, reminding young readers that the ‘swarms’ and ‘cockroaches’ they may have seen in their family newspapers and on TV are actually real people, just like them. This book will help to realise that they are fleeing from terrifying events and circumstances that we in the West can barely imagine. One large picture per page and simple text make this book an accessible, easy read. One hopes it will inspire empathy, and possibly a desire to help, in its young readers. (6+)
Paul Dowswell

Crazy about Cats
Written and illustrated by Owen Davey
Flying Eye   £12.99
ISBN: 978-1911171164

The third title in a series by this talented author/illustrator, following Mad about Monkeys, and Smart about Sharks, is just packed full of valuable information about big cats. Unusually for a non-fiction title, there are no photographs in this book, instead pages are filled with dynamic illustrations which are slick, with clean lines and a feel of mid-century style about them. The genius here is that despite the intense stylization, the illustrations remain true to the natural form and features of the animals and landscapes depicted in the book. The book is beautifully produced on thick matt paper, making the whole piece a work of art. The text features general topics expected by a reader such as camouflage, adaptations and feeding, as well as introducing the reader to less well-known species and exploring the relationship between big cats and humans. There is some technical and scientific language used which, along with the level of detail, makes this a book for young confident readers. (8+)
 Lucy Russell

The School of Music
Written by Meurig and Rachel Bowen
Illustrated by Daniel Frost
Wide Eyed   £14.99
ISBN: 978-1847808608

In just 40 lessons, this ambitious and comprehensive book goes from discussing types of music - from A Capella to zydeco - to composing and sharing music with others. With a faculty of expert musicians to guide and teach the reader, Term 1 explores types of music and how they’re made, including lots of non-Western instruments and styles, while Term 2 teaches the building blocks of music from rhythm, notes and harmony to musical notation and direction. Finally, Term 3 helps readers think about creating music in different ways, from creating a kitchen orchestra to learning and performing with different instruments. Sounds daunting, but each lesson is bite-sized, colourfully illustrated and includes an easy to perform activity to further understanding. Some lessons come with online musical resources. The School of Music is a valuable resource for children learning to sing or play an instrument. For children who don’t think they are musical, the authors leave the reader in no doubt that anyone can create music - it just takes patience and practice. 9+
Benjamin Scott

The Teenage Guide to Friends
Written by Nicola Morgan
Walker   £7.99
ISBN: 978-1406369779

Fans of The Teenage Guide to Stress and Blame My Brain will welcome this latest title from Nicola Morgan. As with her previous books, this one addresses the teenage reader in a warm, wise and direct tone. The purpose of the book is to reassure young people that any difficulties they are experiencing in the area of friendship are not abnormal and will not last for ever, whilst also giving them practical suggestions for how to improve their situation. Nicola Morgan also explores specific topics such as online friendships, negative or toxic friendships and how to manage peer pressure. The emphasis is always on good information, balanced advice and reassurance. By explaining some different personality types and considering the kinds of things that might be preoccupying others, she is both encouraging the reader to reflect upon their own personality traits as well as think about how others might be feeling. There is an excellent Further Reading section at the end of the book that encourages readers to extend their reading and learning, and notes the importance of being discerning about sources and having a balanced approach to online research. Highly recommended. (13+)
Annalise Taylor

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Another 12 great reviews! See issue 65 for over 100 more :)

Picture Books for young children

Solomon and Mortimer
Written and illustrated by Catherine Rayner
Macmillan   £6.99
ISBN: 978-1509830459
Solomon and Mortimer are two bored crocodiles. They decide it would be fun to play a trick on Hippo, while he is wallowing in the water. They will surprise him, make him jump and create a big splash in the water to make them laugh. But they find that Hippo is smart and neatly turns the tables on them making everyone laugh. Another joyful picture book form this well-loved Kate Greenaway medal-winning author/illustrator. As always, the story is great and the illustrations work so perfectly with the text, offering additional dimensions and humour seen only through the pictures.
Annie Everall

Captain McGrew Wants You for His Crew!
Written by Mark Sperring
Illustrated by Ed Eaves
Bloomsbury   £6.99
ISBN: 978-1408871034
Do you think a pirate’s life is for you? Yes, then set sail with Captain McGrew. But, maybe you’ll find pirating isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Told in humorous verse with engaging illustrations to match, Captain McGrew’s greedy, demanding ways make for a lively and entertaining read. As the story develops, it soon becomes apparent that working for him will not be all sun, sea and piracy. In fact, piracy may in fact be a lot of hard work. Mark Sperring and Ed Eaves have teamed up to create a fun story with a surprising conclusion. Best polish up those pirate accents!
Rebecca Watts

My Donkey Benjamin
Written by Hans Limmer
Illustrated by Lennart Osbeck
Translated by Elke Wakefield
ISBN: 978-1925228489
My Pig Paulina
Written by Hans Limmer
Illustrated by David Crossley
Translated by Elke Wakefield
ISBN: 978-1925228496
Scribe UK   £10.99 each
These two charming books show how a family, living in a Mediterranean island village, find and then adopt two lost farm creatures, a baby donkey and a baby pig.  The story of how each is discovered is described in simple text on each page, and is illustrated by delightful black and white photographs. The donkey is discovered on the beach by toddler, Susi, and her father. Photographs document how they bring the donkey home and how Susi befriends and feeds him until they become firm friends and playmates. The second book tells a similar story about a pig, found a few years later, this time by Susi’s younger sister, Angelika, by this time herself a toddler.  The piglet is wandering near the village tied up in a sack, and Angelika brings him home and cares for him until his owner finds him and wants him back to take to the butcher. She runs away with the pig to a nearby cave, and, fortunately, by the time they are found, the pig has been reprieved. Two delightful stories about young children’s relationships with animals.  The village setting will be very unfamiliar to most children and illustrate a way of life now even rarer than when these were first published. Nevertheless, both stories would make good read-alouds for young children and parents.
Liz Dubber

First Steps in reading for young children

Babar’s Guide to Paris
Written and illustrated by Laurent de Brunhoff
Abrams   £11.99
ISBN: 978-1419722899
Babar, the elephant, has a daughter called Isabelle and she is going to Paris. As it is his favourite city, one he has visited many times, he tells her about some of the places to visit and how to make the most of the experience. From drinking coffee at a pavement cafĂ©, to what to wear and taking the Metro to see the sights, the essence of Parisian life is captured in this genial guidebook for young travellers. Families planning a visit could use this as a starting point of what to expect, though I suspect the streets and public spaces are today a little more crowded than depicted here. A good companion to other books such as Salvatore Robbino’s A Walk in Paris. Laurent de Brunhoff continues to build on his father’s work by creating new adventures for the much-loved Babar, using the same distinctive style and palette.
Jayne Gould

Titles for the young child just beginning to Read Alone

All About Ella
Written by Sally Nicholls
Illustrated by Hannah Coulson
Barrington Stoke   £6.99
ISBN: 978-1781125335
Ella’s teacher has been reading the poem Monday’s Child is Fair of Face to the class. Ella wants to know what day of the week she was born on, so that she will know what kind of child she is. But Ella’s older brother is very sick and her family’s attention is focused on him. No-one seems to know what day she was born on and Ella is feeling that no-one cares about her. However, through the course of a week, she comes to learn more about herself and to understand that there is more to a person than just the day of the week they were born on. Another title in the Barrington Stoke Little Gems series. These titles are all of a very high standard and written by some of the best authors writing for children today. This one explores family relationships in a way that gets its message across to a young reader very well. The books in this series, and indeed all those on Barrington Stokes’ list as a whole, are designed to be dyslexia-friendly and to encourage children to discover the joys of reading.
Annie Everall

Titles for readers Moving On from Primary to High School

Written by Mary Hoffman
Barrington Stoke   £6.99
ISBN: 978-1781125656
The story is set in Pisa, 1299. Netta’s father is a successful architect, commissioned to identify why Pisa’s famous tower is leaning and how it can be corrected. Netta is his only surviving child. She has inherited his passion for architecture, and his talents, but in thirteenth century male-dominated Italy being a girl is enough to seal her expected destiny. The mystery of ‘The Leaning Tower’ and Netta’s determination to persuade her father to take her talents seriously combine to weave a pacey, informative tale. Mary Hoffman’s love of Italy and her trademark commitment to female characters, especially who neither submit nor surrender, shine through.
Yvonne Coppard

Titles for Young Teenage Readers

The Last Thing You Said
Written by Sara Biren
Abrams   £10.99
ISBN: 978-1419723049
Set in a small town in the USA, this is a story of the impact of a death on the lives of people within that community. Lucy and Trixie have been best friends from a very young age. Lucy has also been in love with Trixie’s brother, Ben, for as long as she can remember and his feelings for her are mutual although neither has talked to each other about this. But then, last summer, their lives changed in an instant. Trixie and Lucy’s brother go swimming while Ben and Lucy are flirting with each other, and about to shyly admit their feelings for one another, when tragedy strikes. Trixie has a heart attack and she dies in the water. Following her death, his pain and grief causes Ben to verbally lash out at Lucy and fracture their friendship and burgeoning relationship. As the one year anniversary of her death approaches, both are still in love with each other but have drifted apart to protect themselves from the pain and grief they are still feeling. A well-written story which explores the pain of grief and loss and the power of first love. Gently told, characters develop realistically and are well rounded. The description is excellent, capturing the feel and sense of a tightly knit family within a small-town community.
Annie Everall

Take the Key and Lock Her Up
Written by Ally Carter
Orchard   £6.99
ISBN: 978-1408334409
“When the screams come, I can’t be sure that I’m not dreaming.” Ally Carter certainly knows how to start a story, and her fiercely independent, indomitable, if troubled, hero Grace will appeal to lots of teens seeking a role model as well as providing a thoroughly good read. In this third of the Embassy Row series, Grace uncovers much about her birth and the family secrets which will put her in opposition to a powerful secret society and threaten her life. She must move rapidly to protect her brother and her family from a state whose existence is threatened by them, which believes that their deaths will preserve the status quo and even peace in Europe. Grace makes rapid decisions, even when they are wrong, takes no nonsense from anyone and strikes out for what she believes in, supported by a group of friends and a love interest, Alexei. (He says and does little, but is, obviously, gorgeous.) There are many twists and turns to the story, together with engaging characters and a political surprise to explain past mysteries. A satisfying conclusion to the trilogy, warmly recommended for young adults.
Tina Massey

Titles for More Mature Young Adults

The Edge of Everything
Written by Jeff Giles
Bloomsbury   £7.99
ISBN: 978-1408869079
This intriguing novel is a mixture of fantasy, adventure, mystery and romance, with attractive characters and a haunting, evocative landscape. During a blizzard at their remote home in the mountains of Montana, Zoe is left with her demanding, but endearing, younger brother. Against her mother’s instructions, she allows Jonah to play outside with the dogs despite the freezing temperatures. When Zoe realises that Jonah has disappeared, and goes to search for him, she discovers there are even worse dangers in the snow and ice awaiting them. The descriptions of the storm and its repercussions are raw, as is the cruelty of the man hiding in the storm. When help comes, their rescuer is beyond Zoe’s imagining and has a tough story of his own to tell. The search for the truth about the underlying mystery of the death of Zoe’s father whilst caving becomes the catalyst for the seemingly improbable romance between Zoe and the mysterious X. This is the first in a series so there is more to come in this fantasy story as the reader becomes involved in the various characters and the mystery of X’s background. Whilst harsh at times and certainly a story for older readers, both Zoe and X find compassion, love and support in the most unlikely places.
Louise Stothard

Information Titles

Our Special World: My Friends
Written by Liz Lennon
Franklin Watts   £10.99
ISBN 978-1445148991
This is a wonderfully inclusive depiction of children and their friends. It looks at making friends, feelings, having fun together and sharing. It also asks questions throughout, giving the child an opportunity to think about their own behaviour and attitudes. The photos are clear and up-to-date being multicultural and inclusive throughout. The text gives lots of simple advice for children, to both reassure them and also help them enhance their own experiences of friendship. This title is perfect for sharing with younger children who are having to deal with making friends for the first time. (3 to 5 yrs)
Nicole Jordan

Mad About Art
Written by Judith Heneghan
Wayland   £8.99
ISBN: 978-0750294539
This title is the perfect addition to the bookshelves of any art lover. With comprehensive advice and top tips on technique from real experts, this is sure to help budding artists improve their art skills. The text covers still life, light and shade, perspective, drawing people and using colour, along with information on different art movements such as Surrealism. There is a quiz at the end to check learning and a good glossary to help the reader clarify some of the more difficult terms. The presentation is clear, colourful and bright, with excellent illustrations and photographs. (8 to 11 yrs)
Nicole Jordan

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Picture Books for young children

Prince of Pants
Written by Alan MacDonald
Illustrated by Sarah McIntyre
Scholastic £6.99
ISBN: 978-1407158440

Prince Pip has a drawerful of underpants. He loves them all and each day must decide which pair to wear. On his birthday, the decision seems even harder, because when he goes to the drawer, it is completely empty. Crisis! Pip races around the castle asking everyone he meets if they have seen his pants, but no-one has seen them. Pip is not having a good birthday at all. As he wanders back to his room, he opens a door and the mystery is solved. He has found all his pants, plus a lovely surprise. This is a lovely, very brightly illustrated story. The text is lively and spaced out around the pages. There is a plot that will appeal to young readers and a very satisfactory ending.
Pat Thompson

Super Stan
Written by Matt Robertson
Orchard £6.99
ISBN: 978-1408337295

Having a younger sibling can be a little difficult sometimes, but for Jack it is even more so. His little brother is a superhero and everyone thinks Super Stan is amazing! He can run faster, throw further, jump higher and fly. Whenever Jack does something, Stan does it better and Jack is getting a little fed up. Even his birthday trip to the zoo is overshadowed by Stan, until something happens and only a big brother can help. Sharp-eyed young readers will spot the problem and perhaps offer their own thoughts on how Stan’s beloved teddy can be rescued. Lively, expressive pictures convey the humour and action of the story, whilst also capturing Jack’s feelings about his brother’s actions. With their roles reversed, the issues are resolved and the pair become super brothers. It can also provide an opportunity to talk about relationships and feelings about brothers and sisters, as well as being great fun.
Jayne Gould

First Steps in reading for young children

Footpath Flowers
Written by JonArno Lawson
Illustrated by Sydney Smith
Walker £6.99
ISBN: 978-1406365672

It is a delight to come across a picture book without words, which is so successful. The illustrations are initially limited to shades of black and grey with a splash of red of the little girl’s coat but steadily grow in colour as she collects the wild flowers she discovers on her walk through the city with her distracted father. There are full-page spreads alongside blocks of movement as the story walks through the pages. The cityscape is cleverly portrayed from the youngster’s viewpoint as she collects bright flowers along the way, together with other splashes of colour in an otherwise drab landscape. The skilful lines portray emotion from sadness to delight as they near home. As they walk, the little girl shares the flowers she collects and spreads the joy of the treasures she has found. This is such a clever and effective picture book with so much to explore and enjoy.
Louise Stothard

Titles for the young child just beginning to Read Alone

Yours Sincerely, Giraffe Written by Megumi Iwasa
Illustrated by Jun Takabatake
Gecko £6.99
ISBN: 978-1927271872

Giraffe is really, really bored. To alleviate this boredom, he decides to write a letter and to have it delivered to the first person over the horizon. So, begins a lovely exchange between Giraffe and Penguin, two very different animals who have never met, much less know what the other looks like. The characters are instantly loveable, and the simple illustrations are a gorgeous accompaniment to this tale of friendship, understanding and being different. Already a hit in its native Japan, Yours Sincerely, Giraffe is a quirky, warmly funny read that will delight readers growing in confidence, though it is likely they will want to share Giraffe’s adventures with others, rather than reading alone.
Rebecca Watts

Titles for the Confident Reader in Primary School

The Wild Swans
Written by Hans Christian Anderson
Translated by Misha Hoekstra
Illustrated by Helen Crawford-White
Pushkin £6.99
ISBN: 978-1782691228

One of Hans Christian Andersen’s less well-known tales has been stylishly presented in a slim volume, also containing the short story The Nightingale. The Wild Swans is a sombre tale of a princess whose eleven brothers have been turned into swans by a wicked stepmother. Elisa will not rest until she can undo the curse that has been placed upon them. The story proceeds at a fast pace, and is happily resolved after pain, trial, risk and mystery have played their part. As she strives to release her brothers from their tragic circumstances, we are given a window into Elisa’s mind - her sadness and her struggles. Beautiful whole page black-and-white illustrations appear throughout the book and there is also a separate story colouring book available. The translated text reads smoothly, and is suitable for a young confident reader.
Lucy Russell

The Great Fire Dogs
Written by Megan Rix
Puffin £5.99
ISBN: 978-0141365268

The story starts when George, an apprentice in the kitchen of Charles II’s palace, comes across a puppy who has escaped from the market on the frozen river Thames. George reckons he could grow into a perfect turnspit dog, and takes him back to the palace. It is 1666 and London is slowly recovering from the terrible plague of the year before. The little dog soon settles in and becomes firm friends with the king’s own lapdog, a King Charles Spaniel called Tiger Lily. As we follow George’s life in the kitchen, and his visits through London to his grandmother and thirteen-year-old sister, Annie, we gain a convincing insight into the hurly-burly of the busy city, and a strong sense of what it must have been like to live at that time. Later, the two dogs go missing in the city, and the Great Fire breaks out. They have a terrifying time trying to escape the inferno before being reunited with George. This is both a charming animal adventure and an exciting well-paced story with plenty of historical content. A delightful read which could be enjoyed again and again.
Liz Dubber

Titles for readers Moving On from Primary to High School

The Power of Dark
Written by Robin Jarvis
Egmont £6.99
ISBN: 978-1405280235

Set in Whitby, this is a tale of revenge for an act that took place centuries previously. The two warring spirits from the past begin to take over the lives of the two children who are the hero and heroine of the story. One of the spirits is determined to destroy the town in revenge for what happened all that time ago. The story encompasses not only the two children and their malign spirits, but strange elf-like creatures who live in caves under the sea, as well as the resident Whitby witch. From the very first page, the story moves along at an incredible speed - the pace never slackening until the outcome of the feud and the desire for revenge is finally settled. This excellent book has a good story that is well told as well as a host of odd, and some frightening, characters. An exciting story with a very unexpected ending.
Pat Thompson

The Girl with No Nose
Written by Georgina Byng
Illustrated by Gary Blythe
Barrington Stoke £7.99
ISBN: 978-1781125694

This must be the only story inspired by a Victorian false nose in a London museum. The illustrations by award-winning Gary Blythe avoid peep show freakishness and present instead a beautiful young girl whose lack of a nose is the least of her. At the circus, a kindly clown suggests that she needs something like his red nose, and soon her parents gift her a china nose attached to a pair of spectacles. Despite her difficulties, she accepts others with problems as friends, helping them to see that the qualities they do have are more important than the ones they lack. She finds fun and love in her life just as she shares it with others. A lovely story showing the transformative powers of kindness and empathy. As ever, Barrington Stoke present it in grey scale, double-spaced print on cream paper to help dyslexics and others who need help with reading. Only eighty pages long but designed to be read and reread.
Tina Massey

Titles for Young Teenage Readers

Blade and Bone
Written by Catherine Johnson
Walker £6.99
ISBN: 978-1406341874

In this thrilling new chapter in the life of young surgeon, Ezra McAdam, our hero has left London to meet up with his friend, the feisty Loveday Finch, in Paris. This is not as simple as it sounds as Paris is in the grip of revolution and is a very dangerous place. Ezra and Loveday’s aim is to help the young prince Mahmoud reach safety in Constantinople, but danger is everywhere and it is hard to know who can be trusted. Ezra, who is fascinated by any advances in medicine and surgery, is almost sidetracked by the macabre research being undertaken by Renaud, a French surgeon who is trying to reanimate the bodies that have been to the guillotine, but the safety of Loveday and Mahmoud remain his priority. There is plenty of wonderful historical detail with some quite gruesome information about early surgical practices and research. Although this book is a sequel to Sawbones it can be read and enjoyed as a stand-alone story. It is an exciting adventure, with great characters, taking place in a turbulent time.
Jan Lennon

Information Titles

Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary
Original text by Roald Dahl
Illustrations by Quentin Blake
Compiled by Susan Rennie
OUP £14.99
ISBN: 978-0192736451

This attractive, well set out dictionary is a superb celebration of words, whether familiar or of Roald Dahl’s wonderfully inventive creation. The explanations and definitions are clear and are accompanied by examples of how they are used in Dahl’s texts - adding depth and meaning as well as encouraging the reading of the original stories themselves. This dictionary can be used in several ways - learning the straight forward definitions of meaning, discovering exciting examples of how words can be invented, inspiring the reader to create new words of their own, or just dipping into and enjoying Roald Dahl’s inventive sense of humour. Quentin Blake’s accompanying illustrations provide a dash of humour, colouring and livening up the text.
Louise Stothard

23 Ways to be an Eco Hero
Written by Isabel Thomas
Illustrated by Chris Andrews
QED £8.99
ISBN: 978-1784933418

This hands-on activity book for budding eco-heroes is packed full of exciting ways to help save the world from environmental damage. Each project is classified as to whether it is suitable for indoors or outdoors. Wildlife warriors are invited to plant trees, build ponds and make bird tables. Those without gardens can still take a full part as waste zappers or green machines, by making bins from cardboard and plastic, growing salads and herbs from waste food, or fashioning bags from an old pair of jeans. This is a great book designed to encourage children to reuse and recycle by getting them involved in twenty-three exciting activities. With adult supervision clearly marked and a list of websites to further interest in environmental issues, it is sure to provide hours of fun with a very worthwhile result. (8+)
Richard Monte

What on Earth? Water
ISBN: 978-1784935542
What on Earth? Wind
ISBN: 978-1784935535
Written by Isabel Thomas
Illustrated by Paulina Morgan
QED £8.99 each

Lively, flowing text and colourful illustrations introduce older primary school children to the everyday wonders of wind and water. Water, the book tells us, is the only substance in the world that can be solid, liquid and gas at normal temperatures. Easy-to-follow experiments show you how to make an iceberg, and even a cloud in the glass jar. Essential science subjects are covered too, such as the water cycle and why water is so important to your body. The book about wind tells us from where this natural phenomenon comes, then goes on to look at how mankind has harnessed the wind for sailing ships and in wind turbines, and how we use the wind for sport. It even discusses wind on other planets. Informative and interesting. (9+)
Paul Dowswell