NEW TITLES

To follow are some of the highlights of the books publishing this month for readers aged 11+ to 15+ and covering a wide range of genres from fantasy to real life and historical fiction.

ISBN 9781447231486

Scavenger is the new series from bestselling author and illustrator duo Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell - creators of the Edge Chronicles. The first book, Scavenger: Zoid, takes us into space with a group of humans who left Earth one thousand years previously to search for a new planet. They live on the Biosphere - a vast spaceship the size of a city - but the robots or 'zoids' that were originally designed to look after them have rebelled and now hunt them down.... The Biosphere has become a battle ground where humans are fighting a losing battle of survival..... Scavenger: Zoid is a page-turning adventure story and readers don't need to be sci-fi or fantasy fans to enjoy it. The story is set in a distinctive landscape that is peopled by amazing and unexpected creatures, beautifully brought to life through Chris Riddell's black and white illustrations, and poses an interesting question of how far can machines can become 'human'. By the end of the first book, we have only started to glimpse what is at the heart of the Biosphere that has caused the robots to rebel - so book 2 is eagerly awaited! 272 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

The Ruby Airship
Sharon Gosling

Curious Fox

ISBN 9781782020721

The Ruby Airship - the follow-up to The Diamond Thief - is a story of daring-do, brilliant escapades and audacious plots. Rémy, a trapeze artist and reformed jewel thief, is performing at a theatre in Victorian London when she sets off for France to find her old circus friends. There, however, she is unwittingly embroiled in a plan to kidnap a French heiress. Adventures and danger follow with dastardly villains, evil robots and fabulous machinery each taking centre stage. The plot follows both Rémy and her policeman admirer, Thaddeus, as they battle the evil plans of an unseen villain, ending with an epic, sweeping finalé. As their adventures progress, we also learn much about Victorian London and conditions then especially for those living in the East End, as well as what life might have been like for performers and circuses of the time in Europe. The Ruby Airship is a well-paced and engaging historical fantasy story with plenty of plot twists and tension and we look forward to hearing more about Rémy's adventures in due course. 350 pages / Ages ten years plus / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

The Ruby Airship
The Everest Files
Matt Dickinson

Vertebrate Publishing

ISBN 9781906148928

Ryan, a gap year student, is delivering medical supplies to a remote village in the Himalayas when he stumbles upon a mystery. He meets Shreeya, a young Sherpa girlwhose boyfriend Kami was employed on an Everest expedition but who never returned; all she has is reports that he is neither alive nor dead. Ryan sensing adventure agrees to investigate. Kami's story unfolds throughout the book. His desperate determination to get out of a childhood marriage so that he can marry Shreeya leads him up the deadly slopes of Everest. Brennan, the leader of the expedition, is a popular politician in the presidential race hoping that standing on the top of the world will give him the edge in the elections. As the group climbs higher they suffer a series of setbacks, near misses and tragedies. The stresses and tensions increasewith the altitude and Brennan becomes increasingly paranoid to an extent that threatens the group. I found myself willing the expedition to succeed and return safely. Matt Dickinson describes the landscape and its gruelling challenges with a conviction that only someone who has climbed Everest could achieve; he includes small details such as the effect of altitude sickness on clear decision making which made me completely believe in the story.Recommended for anyone with a thirst for adventure and to those who like to explore other cultures. 308 pages / age 12+ / Reviewed by Melanie Chadwick, school librarian

The Everest Files
Buffalo Soldier
Tanya Landman

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406314595

Apache was the Shadowing group's favourite book of the 2008 Carnegie shortlist and I am sure many of the fans of that stunning book will be as eager as me to rediscover that era of American history at the hands of an author who can bring it to life so vividly and so convincingly. I was fascinated to read Tanya’s description of what brought her to write about this period: http://www.ink-slingers.co.uk/post/79252145599/tanya-landman-on-her-inspirations-behind-buffalo. I, too, had my views of American history permanently coloured by the film Little Big Man and by Alex Haley's Roots, but until reading this I had not really connected the two. Shame on me! This tells the story of a girl who moves from a slave to eventual freedom via the American Civil War and active service in one of the black regiments of the American Army, nicknamed the 'Buffalo Soldiers'. This is a story which would be deemed completely incredible if it were not based upon the true story of Catherine Williams who enlisted and served as a man, William Cather. This is an incredibly powerful novel which does not flinch from the brutality and horror of the period and that is absolutely as it should be. It would be an insult to the memory of all those who suffered and died to pretend it was anything but appalling. But there is not a single gratuitous sentence and there is also hope and beauty, humour and indomitable human spirit. The narrative voice never falters and the reading experience is completely immersive and unforgettable. Valuable lessons of history are taken to heart and live with you when you experience them through fiction, as is proved by the impact of Little Big Man and Roots upon the author and upon me and countless others I suspect. Apache and now the intense and superbly well written Buffalo Soldier will have the same effect upon today's teenagers. 368 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Joy Court, librarian

Buffalo Soldier
The Private Blog of Joe Cowley
Ben Davis

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192736758

Marketed at older fans of Wimpy Kid, comedian Ben Davis's debut novel is bound to find its place among teen readers. The 'blog' takes a familiar diary format, illustrated with cartoons and photographs, in which we hear of the ups and downs of Joe Cowley's life as the boy who has thrown up on a girl and who is frequently set-upon by a gang of bullies. Things take a turn for the worse (if that's possible) for Joe when he discovers that his mum is to marry the father of the school bully, Gav, and that this will make Gav both his step-brother and his room mate. Despite all his problems, Joe's biggest preoccupation when the novel opens is to find a way to kiss a girl - something that, he hopes, will remove his pariah status and make him 'cool'. Naturally, he falls for the wrong girl but as the novel progresses, he meets someone he really likes and he develops a much better understanding of what a relationship actually means. While there is some swearing in the book and Joe isn't always politically correct, his preoccupations with friendships, their band, school work and family make this a book that will speak to its teenaged readership, particularly boys, and the book's layout with illustrations, notes and varied fonts also support the more reluctant reader. 352 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

The Private Blog of Joe Cowley
Valentine Joe
Rebecca Stevens

Chicken House Ltd

ISBN 9781909489608

John McCrae's famous poem 'In Flanders Fields' written in Essex Farm in 1915 prefaces this story of a real boy soldier, Valentine Joe Strudwick, killed on 14th January 1916. Rebecca Stevens has taken her own family connection with the Great War and woven it into Valentine Joe's story. In this story, Rose goes to Ypres with her grandfather who wants to find the grave of his father's brother, Uncle George, who did not return from the trenches. Rose has recently lost her father and trying to comes to term with her bereavement. She does this by sending her father text messages to try and keep him alive. At the station in Ypres they encounter a small dog who follows them to the hotel and, while finding Uncle George's grave, they find the grave of Valentine Joe Strudwick who was only 15 when he died. On a walk after supper Rose finds herself back in an Ypres very different from the pretty town she had seen only a few hours before and this is the first of a time-slip, back to Valentine Joe's days in the trenches. Oddly only he can see her so she is able to follow him along with the dog they call Tommy. Rose sees Joe after he has been gassed and seen his friends killed, and is on his way back to UK. Rose hopes she can prevent him returning to be killed but that is not possible. However, in following him, she finds that the past cannot be changed but that it is possible to live with it. This is a deceptively slight book and could have been a much longer and deeper story. Rebecca Stevens has chosen to make it perhaps more accessible to younger readers, say 11 up, and although there is death, of course and the sights and sounds of war, there is also warmth and love and hope. Rose and her grandfather, linked by her father and their relationship to him, are real and credible characters and the people of Ypres with their Last Post played every night at the Menem Gate are some of the heroes of this book. 154 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Janet Fisher, librarian consultant

Valentine Joe
The Year of The Rat
Clare Furniss

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471120275

Pearl is 15 years old and when we first meet her she is worrying over the length of her skirt. Sounds like a typical teenager so far I can hear you thinking but pearl is worried because her skirt might just be too short for the funeral she is on her way to. The funeral, it transpires, of her mum. It is March. Flash back a few days or weeks, we aren't quite sure how long, and we hear Pearl telling us about the last time she saw her mum, attempting to bake a cake with the enormous bump of her unborn baby causing just a little stress. As we soon learn the unborn baby is the cause of mum's death, quite how we don't learn but what we do begin to comprehend very quickly is that Peal can't cope with the death of her mum and she can only blame the baby, The Rat. A story then begins to unfold, told month by month over the course of a year, of a very confused, angry and mixed- teenager who can't express her feelings in words to her father, her closest friend or anyone, not even her dead mother, everything is bottled up resulting in just a few explosive moments, explosive enough that Pearl very nearly ruins her life ... yet this is not a story of despair, rather it is a bitter-sweet, honest and heartbreaking story of love, loss and humour. Pearl has erected so many barriers around her that it seems impossible anyone will be able to break through, as a reader my heart went out for her, but I also wanted to shout at her, to shake her, to make her see how very wrong she was. This is an important book for teens, for anyone who has suffered a loss and for anyone who loves a good honest story. Its themes are difficult but they are addressed head-on, tugging at the heart strings and proving that no matter what, the world is not a hopeless place but one in which we need to find a balance between love and loss, friendship and understanding. An important and particularly moving story from a fabulous new talent. Reviewed by Louise Ellis-Barrett, librarian

The Year of The Rat