NEW TITLES

The following selection of stories have been chosen by teachers and librarians to appeal to KS2 children, ages 7-11.

ISBN 9781408838914

KNIGHTLEY & SON, a father and son detective duo, are trying to solve the mystery of a book that drives its readers to commit crimes, while also trying to discover who is behind a sinister but mysterious organisation called the Combination, which seems to be engaged in any number of criminal activities - including this latest puzzle about the book. Much of the footwork on the case is being done by Knightley Junior - 13-year old Darkus - as his father moves in and out of a strange coma. As Darkus finds his feet on the case, he also turns out to be rather good at detective work. While Darkus' focus is very much on his father and their joint investigation, in the background we learn that he is from a broken home and that he struggles to get on with his step-dad. Darkus, who dresses, as all good detectives should, in tweed and is overwhelmingly polite, is the complete opposite of his step father. This very real setting makes Darkus even more appealing as a character. There are echoes of Sherlock Holmes in the story, including Darkus's skillful detective work but also in the story's setting of the dark and foggy streets of London. The twists and turns of the plot, the ever-present danger and the appearance of some wonderfully eccentric characters make this story very appealing to young readers, especially to those who love a good detective tale. 336 pages / Ages 10+

Ellie and the Sea Monster
Vivian French

Barrington Stoke Ltd

ISBN 9781781122709

Directions to Other Earth are very similar to those for Neverland, but Other Earth has two moons and one is about to set. Ellie is a determined princess and decides she will make it to the Hill of Promises to see it set and get her wish. Early on in her journey, she meets an ugly sea monster that claims to be a bewitched handsome prince and his boasting, lying and complaining certainly point that way. In this story, all the traditions of handsome princes, quests, transforming spells and happy endings are adhered to, but Ellie is a self-sufficient princess and although she and the prince come to like each other, there is no walking off into the sunset or down the aisle. Ellie has her happy ending and the prince becomes a less selfish and rude person. Designed in a 'dyslexia friendly' format from Barrington Stokes, this is a story that everyone will enjoy, with sympathetic illustrations and an especially gloopy sea monster. 52 pages / Ages 6-7+ / Reviewed by Caroline Downie, librarian

Ellie and the Sea Monster
Choosing Crumble
Michael Rosen

Andersen Press Ltd

ISBN 9781849395281

Michael Rosen has written a story that twists the usual convention of choosing a new pet. Instead of the humans assessing the dog, the dog (Crumble) interviews them! A humorous book with an important message; that being a pet owner is a big responsibility. Told in a lighthearted way, this would be a great read aloud book. Choosing Crumble is brought alive by Tony Ross's brilliant illustrations. Crumble is very expressive: from posing in the mirror to pulling his forlorn face. With KS2 it would be interesting to discuss the story purely with the illustrations. What story do they tell? Could you create a story using the illustrations alone? How do the text and illustrations work together? This would be ideal for the reluctant reader, as the illustrations make the text less daunting. It would appeal to both sexes. It is also ideal to use as a short class read with KS1 and KS2 because of the humour. KS1 could also join in with the actions from the text, such as chewing a bone and growling at the same time! 80 Pages / Ages 6-7+ / Reviewed by Sophie Castle, librarian

Choosing Crumble
Jemmy Button
Alix Barzelay

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781848776159

This picture book (now available in paperback) is based on the true story of Jemmy Button, a boy who was taken from the island of Terra del Fuego in the 1800's and brought to England to be 'transformed into an English gentleman'. Some years later, he was returned to the island (Charles Darwin was on the same ship) in the hope he would 'spread civilisation' among the native tribe, but Jemmy (true name Orundellico) quickly returned to the life he had known before. In the picture book, the ending sees Jemmy returning to his homeland, watching the stars and whispering 'goodnight' to the land across the ocean. This picture book-telling of his story - which is explained in the end papers - beautifully encapsulates what it might have been like for Jemmy, as a child, seeing cities, hearing orchestras and meeting royalty both for the first time and as an outsider. Each beautifully-presented spread shows Jemmy surrounded by repeated images of houses, windows and people, contrasting with the freedom and colours he had grown up with. As well as using this with older KS1 children to explore ideas of identity and belonging, Jemmy's story is a perfect starting point to reflect on what children from other cultures might feel about finding themselves in this country. It could be used in work with KS2 children to explore these ideas, leading on to discussions about what children from other countries might find difficult, amazing or unusual about living in the UK, or how they themselves might adapt to life in other countries and cultures. Picture book / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Jemmy Button
The Adventures of Shola
Bernardo Atxaga

Pushkin Children's Books

ISBN 9781782690092

The stories in this book were originally written in Basque and then translated by the author into Spanish. This translation (from the Spanish version) is published by Pushkin Children's Books, who are doing so much to bring books written in other languages to the attention of children in this country. The book is a visual treat. It is printed on off-white paper, which makes the text easier to read for many young readers, and it has delightful colour illustrations on practically every page. It is the perfect book to share with a reader who may not be quite ready to read a book of this length on their own. Shola is a dog who can talk and read, as well as all the things that dogs normally do. This, however, is not unusual for the animals in this book. They can all talk; to each other, to different species and to humans. The humans act as if this is perfectly normal and engage their dogs in sensible conversation, and, in one of the four stories that comprise this book, Shola is enlisted by Grogo to discover the reason behind the strange behaviour of his friend's dog. Shola is a dog with a great imagination. She convinces herself in one story that she is actually a lion, in another that she is a fearless hunter and in the final story that she likes being 'discombobulated' - a word she does not understand but likes the sound of. The humour in the stories is from the mismatch between Shola's view of herself and reality. In her heart, she is ready to take on the wild boar, all the way to the point where she actually faces one! All in all, this is a great book to read out loud. The sentences flow beautifully though the vocabulary might stretch the average eight year old. Adults and children alike will applaud Shola's enthusiastic approach to life and will enjoy the scrapes that ensue. 216 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by June Hughes, school librarian

The Adventures of Shola
The Good Little Devil and Other Tales
Pierre Gripari

Pushkin Children's Books

ISBN 9781782690085

This is another in Pushkin Children's Books collection of books translated into English, bringing the best in children's books written in other languages to an English speaking audience. The Good Little Devil and Other Tales is a collection of thirteen short stories, originally written in French, which will appeal to anyone with a well-developed sense of the absurd. The Good Little Devil of the title is a disappointment to his parents. He goes to school, does his homework and spends his spare time in useful pursuits - not at all the behaviour they expect of a young devil! Eventually he meets the most unlikely person to converse with a devil and finds a home in a very strange place. The other tales are wild and wacky, involving kings, witches, animals and even vegetables that have strange and bewildering adventures. There is the tale of a romance between a pair of shoes and the story of the potato with lofty ambitions to become a French fry which has a happy ending. There is a very interesting afterword from the author, where he talks about his love for writing stories which are completely unrealistic and impossible but which still somehow contain a grain of wisdom. He talks of how he came to write these tales based on ideas given to him by children in storytelling sessions and there is indeed that childlike sense of anything being possible running through these stories. To the adult reader, these tales might become whimsical and tiresome but, shared with a child who still has that sense that vegetables may just have a secret emotional life, these stories will be enjoyable and great fun. 292 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by June Hughes, school librarian

The Good Little Devil and Other Tales

ISBN 9780857079381

My dictionary defines Dork as 'a stupid or contemptible person'. Nikki Maxwell, the dork of this series, is neither stupid nor contemptible. She's a tween trying to navigate the world of friends, bullies, school, embarrassment and boys and she makes a drama out of everything; pretty typical of the majority of young girls I know. In Holiday Heartbreak, the school valentine's dance provides all the angst. Nikki wants to ask Brandon to the dance but the evil Mackenzie is determined he'll go with with her and is prepared to play dirty to get him. With some nasty texts and photos spread round school, with many tears and arguments and supported by her best friends, Nikki eventually gets her man and is crowned the Sweetheart Princess to boot. Its characters and storyline will be instantly recognised by the intended audience, and with the diary style and many pictures this is a package that will appeal to girl 'tweens' from age 8 and is still attractive to reluctant readers up to age 13. 340pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by Melanie Chadwick, school librarian.

Young Knights 2: Pendragon
Julia Golding

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192732231

Dragons, magic, time travel and a seemingly impossible task - these are the ingredients of this, the second book in Julia Golding's series, Young Knights, where Rick and Roxy try to find the only man who can help them in their struggle against King Oberon and his attempt to enslave the entire human race. But tracking down Arthur is easier said than done. Though many of the characters were introduced in the first book, there is generally enough background given in this second book about events and characters to enable the reader to follow the plot. However, reading the first in the series may make it easier to get to grips with the various groups of Fey, pixies and human changelings and how they relate to each other. There is a lot of humour in this book when the characters find themselves in the 'wrong' world and continue to act as they normally would. Cobweb and Archer, children of King Oberon, cause havoc on a train journey , aided and abetted by their pony. The pixies, however, fit in perfectly with the pandemonium that is the Notting Hill Carnival, though Roxy questions the wisdom of letting them loose. At the heart of this story is the friendship between Rick and Roxy and their loyalty to the other victims of Oberon's cruelty. Their quest leads them through dangers and peril but of course, truth and justice triumph, even if only for the short term. The book ends with a sneak preview of the next book in the series and sets the characters up for another set of adventures. 309 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by June Hughes, librarian

Young Knights 2: Pendragon
My Brother's Shadow
Tom Avery

Andersen Press Ltd

ISBN 9781849397827

My Brother's Shadow is a thoughtful, beautifully-illustrated book and brings to mind similarities with A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. Instead of a tree, this time the main character Kaia has a boy appear at her school who helps her learn to cope with life after the death of her older brother. The book brilliantly explores the feelings of grief and isolation after the death of a loved one. It covers the many ways in which a grieving person is affected and can affect others, this is shown through the relationships with her mother, teacher and friends. Speaking from experience I think the author has understood the expectations of others and the nature of grief and its journey. I was slightly disappointed with the ending as it seemed rushed but perhaps that is because I didn't want it to come to an end. I would highly recommend this book and would like to see it go on to win an award. 208 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Lorraine Ansell, librarian

My Brother's Shadow

ISBN 9781848531239

I loved this book from the opening sentence - 'Grandpa stopped speaking the day he killed my brother, John'. Few books bring you to the brink of tears before you've finished the first page as this one did. Jewel grows up in a household torn by tragedy. Her mother, father and grandfather are laden with grief, guilt and anger. Jewel's life changes irrevocably when she meets a boy in her tree also named John. They become great friends, each finding in the other someone with whom they can share their thoughts, fears and aspirations and feel free. John however is not welcomed by her family. Jewel tries hard to make her family happy, navigating the world of spirits, secrets and blame at home while also learning to trust and expressing her own true character with John. The story of the family tragedy slowly unfolds throughout the book as we learn more about what each character thinks happened that day and their responses to it. John and another near tragedy combine to bring about change and reconciliation to Jewel's family and his own. Jewel tells her story with a clear and honest voice which makes the reader love her, John and all those in her broken family and makes this a very special book. It is very uplifting, positive and hopeful despite being full of pain and heartache. It is such a powerful book, and could be used as a springboard for discussions on many topics; bereavement, forgiveness, love, friendship, empathy, guilt and even the nature of God. Anyone above the age of about 13 must read it. It's my book of the year. 408 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Melanie Chadwick, school librarian

The Boy on the Porch
Sharon Creech

Andersen Press Ltd

ISBN 9781849397728

As with The Great Unexpected, Sharon Creech again presents us with a mysterious young boy who brings about great change to the people he meets. In this case a young childless couple find a young boy, about six years old, asleep on their rural porch one morning. He cannot speak, but there is a note which reads 'Pleese taik kair of Jacob. He is a god good boy. Wil be bak wen we can'. The couple take him in, care for him, try to discover his origins and try to do the right thing. All the time they are growing more attached to the boy with his strange affinity with animals and his artistic and musical ability. He can convey all manner of emotions and feelings with looks and gestures. Without words they communicate very well and their life is transformed in the most delightful way. Indeed the couple's anxiety grows that Jacob will one day be taken away from them and inevitably this is what happens. Yet Marta and John have been permanently changed by the boy and in their despair are very open to the suggestion that they could open their home and their hearts to other children who need just the sort of loving care that they can provide. They become the warm and stable environment for a succession of young waifs and strays. Sharon Creech writes with beautiful economy and her stories successfully inhabit that hinterland between real life and other-worldliness. The time and place in which her stories are set are often ambiguous and I think this is entirely deliberate. Her stories as a consequence often read like a fable and, like the best of those, have something fundamental to say about love, relationships and families and as such can be read and enjoyed by all ages. 160 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Joy Court, librarian

The Boy on the Porch