NEW TITLES

Arthur and the Mystery of the Egg
Johanne Mercier

Phoenix Yard Books

ISBN 9781907912160

This new series from publisher Phoenix Yard introduces Arthur, who is seven, and the slightly madcap schemes he finds himself involved with. They are entertaining, family-based stories for early readers.In this story, Arthur finds an egg which his family is convinced solves the problem of 'which came first, the chicken or the egg'? Before he knows it, Arthur is surrounded by a media circus and a world-renowned scientist. Naturally, it all goes wrong but Arthur remains the most sensible one of them all. Arthur and the Earthworms - when Arthur decides to take on a new job selling earthworms - has also just been published. Ages 7+ / 48 pages / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Arthur and the Mystery of the Egg
Monster and Chips (Monster and Chips, Book 1)
David O'Connell

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780007497133

Readers growing in confidence will enjoy this story of monsters, bullies and monster recipes - ever tried 'flattened frog fritters, sea snail in snotted cream sauce or slug and chips'? Joe accidentally lands himself a job in a 'monster cafe' - which is run by monsters and where the clients are monsters. So follows a series of adventures involving food inspectors, a milkshake beast and a tree with eyes. The story is inventive and funny with a range of appealing characters (and monsters). Ages 7+ / 192 pages / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Monster and Chips (Monster and Chips, Book 1)
Llama Drama (Awesome Animals)
Rose Impey

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780007494781

Llama Drama is one of the latest titles in the popular 'Awesome Animals' series, described by the publisher as 'awesome adventures with the wildest wildlife', featuring settings as diverse as the Kalahari Desert and the Wild West. Written by top children’s authors 'Awesome Animals' is made up of several mini-series - Meerkat Madness, Penguin Pandemonium, Panda Panic, Raccoon Rampage, Koala Calamity and Otter Chaos. And now Llama Drama. So if children enjoy this book there are plenty more to go. Populated by characters that leap (as llamas do) off the page, this zany, gentle suspense story is a perfect vehicle for Rose Impey's trademark wit and humour, and she must have had great fun with the rhyming and alliteration opportunities! The curtain opens onto a farm in Texas, where we meet Farmer Palmer's young llamas - Leo (boaster), Lamar (poseur), Latisha (bossy), Liberty (escapologist) and Lewie. Against all the odds Loopy Lewie, the showtime supremo, the drama llama, is chosen to be the new Guard Llama, protector of the sheep from the dastardly Captain Cornelius Columbus Coyote. How he does this is a lesson in playing to your strengths and believing in yourself. With nine chapters, each approx 20 pages, this is a book - and series - for readers gaining in confidence, ready to tackle more substantial chapter books. Ali Pye's quirky cartoon drawings add to this book's charm. Perhaps this story does not possess a particularly fast-moving plot, but this did not dim the fun of the story or the pleasure of the language, and 'Llama Drama' could be a good resource for teachers wanting to encourage children to have fun with wordplay. Ages 8+ / 192 pages / Reviewed by Christine Fitt: Children’s Reading Enthuser

Llama Drama (Awesome Animals)

ISBN 9781444004793

Move over Pippi Longstocking, Ruby Rogers and Clarice Bean, meet Opal Moonbaby. Opal is in fact an alien from the planet, Carnelia, who has arrived on earth with her special companion Widget on a mission. Part of this mission is to make a friend. Martha is hurting; her best friend has abandoned her for the new girl, Colette. Colette is a bully. These are all conventional tropes within stories aimed at this age group. However, Maudie Smith has created a character with sufficient originality to stand out; Opal is a lively character whose eccentricities will endear her to readers as will Widget, her alien companion. This falls very much into the type of story that Nesbitt made so much her own - Five Children and It, The Treasure Seekers - where everyday life is touched by the extraordinary with results ranging from the embarrassing to the inspiring. It allows the author to introduce familiar problems without becoming too heavy and to bring humour to everyday situations; Opal Moonbaby is a very credible addition to the genre. Written in an contemporary and accessible style with plenty of dialogue, the action moves along briskly to create a satisfyingly sustained reading experience and will be enjoyed by young readers at that crossover from KS1 to KS2 and up. The good news is that Opal will be appearing in future adventures. Ages 8-10 years / 202 pages / Reviewed by Ferelith Hordon, Librarian.

Binny for Short

ISBN 9781444900545

Hilary McKay excels at exploring familial relationships and settings and, as we have come to expect from her work, Binny for Short is a sensitive, funny and perceptive look at how children find their place within their family and the forces that help shape their identity. In this story, Binny and her two siblings experience their father's death, as well as their grandmother's demise. Most painful for Binny, however, is the despatching of her beloved dog by her aunt to another owner. Her family have miscalculated as Binny's stubbornness means she refuses to accept the loss of her dog and it is her continued attempts to find out what happened to him that, eventually, both helps save her life and restores her perspective on the father she has lost. As well as a story about love, loss and identity, Binny for Short is a great adventure story as the family explores its new seaside home and the siblings develop new friendships. Funny, moving and beautifully delivered. Ages 9+. 304 pages. Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Binny for Short
Crown of Dreams
Katherine Roberts

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781848778528

Crown of Dreams is the third in a series of stories based loosely on the Arthurian myths, in which King Arthur's daughter, Rhianna Pendragon, sets out on a quest to find four objects - the Lance of Truth, Excalibur, the Crown of Dreams and, in the fourth and last book, the Grail, in order to bring Arthur back to life. Author Katherine Roberts is an Arthurian enthusiast and she has expertly introduced some of the key elements of the myths into these stories. These include the villains, Mordred (firmly under his mum's thumb), and places such as Camelot and Avalon. The young heroine is, however, pleasingly robust unlike a true Medieval princess, the time when the novel is set. In the Crown of Dreams, Rhianna faces dragons, magic, rock falls and of course Mordred in the pursuit of her latest quest, to find the Crown of Dreams. This is a well-paced, atmospheric adventure story with plenty of great characters to enjoy. Ages 9+ / 452 pages / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Crown of Dreams

ISBN 9781780878287

Occasionally you will come across a book that feels so fresh and completely new that you know this has to be the debut of a major new talent and The Last Wild is just one of those rewarding reading experiences. Within a couple of pages I was completely hooked by Kester, the 12 year old narrator and totally immersed in his dystopian world where he is incarcerated in Spectrum Hall Academy for Challenging Children. This is a terrible future where all the animals and plants are dead and mankind is forced to eat chemical gloop manufactured by a sinister agency that now has ultimate power. These are genuine thought provoking environmental and political themes, which mature readers will pick up on, but more importantly there are fantastic magical elements, humour and page turning action written in a simple direct and very accessible style. Although Kester has been mute since the death of his mother he discovers he can communicate with animals, in particular The General, the bossy cockroach who masterminds Kester's jailbreak. The animal survivors believe Kester is the 'one' who can save them. He has to find his father and then his scientist father can find the cure to the dreaded red eye virus and so the quest begins. The characters, both animal and human and the relationships which develop are as much strength of this book as the hugely imaginative and well realised setting. I was so glad I started it on a long train journey and had no disturbances as I raced to the conclusion and I can imagine many young readers under the bedcovers trying to do the very same thing!