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Chris Higgins: Trouble at School
Published by Bloomsbury 11th January 2018
It's Bella's first day at her new school and, lucky for her, she's already got a best friend who will be in the same class - Magda! Bella is determined to make a good impression, but with Magda around, things don't always go according to plan. By the time she arrives, she's already drenched in yoghurt and marmalade, and things are about to get much, much worse. With laugh-out-loud funny writing by Chris Higgins with delightful illustrations by the award-winning Emily MacKenzie, this series is perfect for fans of Kes Gray's Daisy books and the classic My Naughty Little Sister.
Draws on a long tradition of great children's stories about starting school - I was reminded of Anthony Buckeridge's Jennings and Enid Blyton's The Naughtiest Girl... super fun!
Mary Watson: The Wren Hunt
Published by Bloomsbury 8th February 2018
Every year on St Stephen's Day, Wren Silke is chased through the forest in a warped version of a childhood game. Her pursuers are judges - a group of powerful and frightening boys who know nothing of her true identity. If they knew she was an augur - their sworn enemy - the game would be up. This year, the tension between judges and augurs is at breaking point. Wren's survival, and that of her family, depends on her becoming a spy in the midst of these boys she fears most and using her talent, her magic, to steal from them the only thing that can restore her family's former power for good. But Wren's talent comes with a price. The more she uses it, the more she loses her grip on reality and soon she's questioning everything she's ever known about her family, about augurs and judges, and about the dangerous tattooed stranger who most definitely is not on her side ... Part thriller, part love story, this captivating debut novel about a girl caught in a battle between two ancient magics will appeal to readers of Frances Hardinge and Alice Broadway
This book is the ideal introduction to fantasy for young adult readers. The tension builds rapidly into a strong adventure with Wren an ideal main character, one with which you can readily identify. Superbly entertaining.
Robin Benway: Far From The Tree
Published by Simon and Schuster 8th February 2018
'Sometimes, family hurts each other. But after that’s done you bandage each other up, and you move on. Together. So you can go and think that you’re some lone wolf, but you’re not. You’ve got us now, like it or not, and we’ve got you.' When 16 year-old Grace gives up her baby for adoption, she decides that the time has come to find out more about her own biological mother. Although her biological mum proves elusive, her search leads her to two half-siblings she never knew existed. Maya, 15, has been adopted by wealthy parents and seems to have the picture-perfect family – that is, if you look past her alcoholic mother and the fact that Maya stands out like a sore thumb. Older brother Joaquin hasn’t been so lucky. At 18, he’s shuffled between foster home after foster home, always careful never to get attached to anyone or anything, because it always gets taken away. When these three siblings come together, they find in themselves the place they can belong, while the secrets they guard threaten to explode... For fans of John Green, Rainbow Rowell and Nicola Yoon, Far From the Tree is a raw, compelling, and ultimately uplifting story of what it means to be family.
Many modern children's writers are now tackling family issues - they have to be handled really well, really sensitively to work - this is not a sitcom, but a look at what real life is like for a huge number of children in slightly disfunctional families. Robin's book really works!
Padraig Kenny: Tin
Published by Chicken House 1st February 2018
Christopher is 'Proper': a real boy with a real soul, orphaned in a fire. He works for an engineer, a maker of the eccentric, loyal and totally individual mechanicals who are Christopher's best friends. But after a devastating accident, a secret is revealed and Christopher's world is changed for ever ... What follows is a remarkable adventure, as Christopher discovers who he really is, and what it means to be human.
This is entertaining on so many levels it's sometimes difficult to realise you're reading a children's book. Absolutely brilliant!
Renée Watson: Piecing Me Together
Published by Bloomsbury 8th February 2018
Acclaimed author Renee Watson offers a powerful story about a girl striving for success in a world that too often seems like it's trying to break her. Jade believes she must get out of her poor neighborhood if she's ever going to succeed. Her mother tells her to take advantage of every opportunity that comes her way. And Jade has: every day she rides the bus away from her friends and to the private school where she feels like an outsider, but where she has plenty of opportunities. But some opportunities she doesn't really welcome, like an invitation to join Women to Women, a mentorship program for "at-risk" girls. Just because her mentor is black and graduated from the same high school doesn't mean she understands where Jade is coming from. She's tired of being singled out as someone who needs help, someone people want to fix. Jade wants to speak, to create, to express her joys and sorrows, her pain and her hope. Maybe there are some things she could show other women about understanding the world and finding ways to be real, to make a difference.
Another brilliant look at modern family life from Jade's point of view - I'm convinced we wouldn't have all of these stories being written if it were not for the nature of the current government!
E J Shaw: In The Shadows
Published by Matador 28th October 2017
Eden Matthews. A girl with talent, looks and ambition. But when one innocent horse ride goes wrong, a new world opens up where she can both see and communicate with the dead.
Still determined to become a prima ballerina, Eden tries to ignore her new and unwanted gifts. But Eden was given these gifts for a reason. And the ones who bestowed them are not about to let her have a normal life.
Eden now has to make a choice. Will she pick her budding career with Dillon, her new dance partner, who has an interest in Eden that goes way beyond professional?
Or will she join a bitter, millennium-old fight between Heaven and Hell? A fight that may very well take her to the steps of Heaven, itself?
Accompanied by a band of rogue ghosts, and with the help of her childhood sweetheart, Finn, she embarks on a journey of mysteries, spiritual awakenings and self-discovery.
S L Browne: Magnus and the Jewelled Book of the Universe
Published by Matador 28th November 2017
In S. L. Browne's debut children s book, a small boy called Magnus is whisked away from a dying overheated Earth by his mentor Marlo, only to discover that he belongs to a tribe of aliens known as the Guardians of the Universe living in a different dimension. Marlo, a very ancient and disgruntled wizard, has failed to stop the evil Murdamond from destroying Earth through his unquenchable desire for shiny and beautiful things.
When Magnus arrives on his home planet, he finds that humans have not yet evolved and that dinosaurs still exist. Marlo tells Magnus that he fears that Murdamond will try to move to this new, healthy planet to steal all of its treasures now that he has ruined the old Earth. Upon their arrival in the Deruweld village, they discover that Murdamond has already arrived and he is holding Magnus parents hostage in the dungeon of his brand new castle.
Magnus realises he has been tasked with a dangerous and urgent problem to solve. He has to save his home planet, rescue his parents and save the Universe from the ghastly Murdamond and his henchmen. He must use all his wisdom and powers, along with his dinosaur friends and the strange Jewelled Book of the Universe that decides life would be more interesting if it transformed into a girl, in order to defeat Murdamond before it is too late.
Magnus and the Jewelled Book of the Universe is the first book in a fantasy trilogy that takes inspiration from Roald Dahl and Dick King Smith. The book contains dinosaurs, space travel and time travel in a humorous and magical story that will appeal to young readers aged 7-11 years. S. L. Browne s debut book also contains an important message about climate change.
Christine Dawe: Stargazey World
Published by Matador 28th November 2017
Stargazey World follows the story of Sheena Robinson, a feisty, complex youngster who often feels guilty about her lack of concentration. At school her work doesn t improve and her chaotic mop of tangled green hair is mocked, but this feisty Scouser has the ready wit and true grit to deal with her bullies.
When Sheena visits Cornwall for her cousin s wedding, she must share a bedroom with the tomboyish Carys. By day everything is normal, but by night the animals on the bedroom wallpaper come to life. The creatures take the girls on adventures around Stargazey World, a strange place mutated by Sheena s imagination and muddled thinking.
As the adventures play out, the girls face a fight against evil and injustice when they are attacked by bizarre beings including Thunder, a deadly leather-clad rockstar and his sister Lightning, a glitzy murderous screwball. They must take on Earthquake, a destructive monster from the deep and Fire, a vibrant and uncontrollable dancer. In each battle, Sheena is helped by a different animal from the wallpaper. First, the chivalrous elephant, Ahem, then Sport the streetwise kangaroo. Help also arrives in the form of Pal the bear, a gentle giant, and the agile and resourceful Chatty the mongoose. Courageously, Sheena, Carys and the heroic animals outwit each threatening hazard.
Christine Dawe s debut children s book is a modern fantasy adventure with flashes of humour. The story encourages readers to have courage in the face of adversity, even when faced with life-threatening jeopardy.
Inspired by the work of David Walliams, Roald Dahl and J. M. Barrie, Stargazey World will appeal to young readers aged 8-11 years who enjoy fantasy and adventure stories.
Jamie Armstrong: Robert Inferno And The Sacred Stones of Ayers Rock
Published by The Book Guild 28th November 2017
This is a story about a boy, Robert Inferno, and his new three friends, who at university, by chance discover they possess elemental powers and come together to try and save the world from an evil tyrant called Territor, bent on seizing power and subjecting the world to his will and destroying those who refuse. The book is based on the four elements - Fire, Water, Air and Earth, and how anyone gaining control of these could rule the world. It is a story of the struggle between good and evil, as four young students at Brisbane University battle the shadowy Territor.
The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its twentieth year on the web, is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by Paul Norman. You can contact me here. If you wish to submit something for publication in the magazine, let me remind you there is no payment as I don't make any money from this publication. If you want to send me something to review, contact me via email and I'll let you know where to send it.