NEW TITLES

This month we are spoiled with the range and quality of books being published for this heartland of children's reading; this is the time when you can convince them of the pleasures of reading! The books are aimed at confident readers aged seven years plus and, as well as individual readers, many would make great stories to share with your class and to discuss the issues raised, such as Roddy Doyle's Brilliant or Gill Lewis's Scarlet Ibis.

Aliens Stink!
Steve Cole

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9780857078728

Tim Gooseheart is a jumble sale clothed, eco-house living, bullied schoolboy with an earth-loving mad scientist for a father. His life has never been ordinary: his dad claims Tim was left on the doorstep by aliens! However, not even the onset of strange smells, and a mysterious overnight remedy to pollution, can prepare him for the strange journey of global and personal discovery he is about to embark upon. Tim soon comes to realise that scientific intelligence is not all that is needed to save Earth from domination by over-sized alien babies (although a highly intelligent goldfish and a child-like alien help!). Steve Cole, of Astrosaurs fame, writes in first person as Tim, using an informal spoken style that will appeal to his target age group. Interspersed with the text are Jim Field's detailed and amusing illustrations - these are given as information to the reader from Tim's point of view and include speech bubbles, scientific-style drawings, and cartoon strips as well as a space themed page border throughout. Cole expertly develops the key characters' personal understanding of each other. Indeed, this is as much a book about the feelings of children discovering themselves and accepting the differences of others as it is a whacky adventure - full of twists and turns - about rescuing Earth. I really liked the exploration of children being perhaps cleverer than adults. Intertwined with the fast paced, brilliantly crafted narrative is a subtle message about what humans have done to our planet and what we could do to redeem ourselves. This book is extremely funny, but also heart-warming, and will appeal to boys and girls alike: it is well worth a read. 292 pages / Ages 8-12 years / Reviewed by Mikeala Morgans, teacher

Aliens Stink!
How Harry Riddles Made a Mega-Amazing Zombie Movie (Shoutykid, Book 1)
Simon Mayle

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780007531882

Shouty Kid by Simon Mayle is a laugh-out-loud read. 10 year old Harry is on a mission to rescue his family from impending financial ruin, after the failure of his dad's film writing career. Harry plans to write and produce his own zombie movie, Eat the Parents. Meanwhile, he is desperate to impress new girl at school Jessica and gets involved in the school play, promising to invite "family friend" Sam Mendes to watch the production. However, several people are out to make life difficult for Harry, including his school nemesis Ed Bigstock, also an admirer of Jessica's, not to mention his annoying older sister Charlotte and her smelly musician boyfriend. The whole story is cleverly told through Harry's emails, texts and letters to various family members and some very famous people (including the Queen) who he contacts for advice and outrageous pleas along the way. Both girls and boys will love the story and there is definitely something for everyone, with letters to One Direction’s Harry Styles, begging him to take his sister on tour with him, and details of his gaming success on the Xbox. This is a perfect read for 9-11 year olds, who will love Harry and tales of his escapades. I would definitely recommend it to the boys in my class who are looking to extend their reading experience, away from their current favourite authors. This is presented as a meaty read but the format of the story makes it manageable for most readers of this age. In class, I would use it as an example of how to manage different narrative structures. Children in year 5 and 6 could experiment by writing their own stories told entirely through emails, text messages and online chats, which would definitely motivate some of the more reluctant writers in my class to get writing! 5 out of 5, I look forward to more of the Shouty Kid's tales! 400 pages / Ages 9-11 years / Reviewed by Elizabeth Harris, teacher

How Harry Riddles Made a Mega-Amazing Zombie Movie (Shoutykid, Book 1)
One Wish
Michelle Harrison

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471121654

Nichelle Harrison, who wrote the hugely popular 13 Treasures series, has returned to the world she created for the trilogy with a prequel. Tanya has always been able to see into other worlds but regards her gift of second sight as more of a curse because not all faeries are the kind you'd want to meet.... and she soon comes up against more faery trouble in this story. In One Wish, set a year before 13 Treasures begins, Tanya and her mother are on holiday following her parents' divorce. She meets a boy, Ratty, and his father who share the ability to see faeries but their gift has brought them into mortal danger. When Ratty is kidnapped and his father turned into a toad, it is up to Tanya - with the help of the 'toad' and Ratty's faery friend, Turpin - to help rescue Ratty and to stop his talents being used for a dark purpose. The story, aimed at readers aged 10+, is younger than the later 13 Treasures story and there is plenty to keep the reader hooked in the overlapping of human and faery worlds, including a wishing tree, some dark elemental forces and a powerful magician who is up to no good. It's also a great way to introduce new readers to the 13 Treasures trilogy. 352 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

One Wish
Ogres Don't Dance
Kirsty McKay

Andersen Press Ltd

ISBN 9781849397155

Imagine a giant, green creature with sharp, pointy teeth who enjoys snacking on humans. So far, then, just your ordinary run of the mill ogre. Ogden, however, undergoes a life changing experience when he hears music and observes humans dancing. Instantly, he is overtaken with a desire to learn how to dance but, unfortunately, his habit of eating humans ensures there are no volunteers for the task. And then he meets Willow; in her pyjamas, up a tree and none too pleased at the racket Ogden is making. They strike a bargain – she will teach him to dance if he promises not to eat any more humans. But will Ogden manage to keep his promise? Can Willow teach someone with two left feet to dance the light fantastic? Will there be trouble in the village? The answer is yes to all three questions. It is hard enough for Ogden to convince the villagers he is a changed character and only wants to dance in a dress of cherry red sparkles but the actions of the Fleshfeasting Fluffy Grocklers put him and Willow in a very precarious position and it is up to Aunt Fenella to save the day. Children will enjoy this story of the most unlikely ballroom dancer ever (or Boogieman!) and will root for Ogden and Willow in the dancing competition. The black and white illustrations are great fun, especially of Ogden in his finery and the book will appeal to children who like their heroines brave and feisty, willing to rise to a challenge, and their monsters able to resist eating people. 144 pages / Ages 7 – 9 / Reviewed by June Hughes, school librarian

Ogres Don't Dance
Superhero School: The Revenge of the Green Meanie
Alan MacDonald

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN 9781408825235

Dirty Bertie fans are going to be in heaven: Alan MacDonald's new Superhero series unites the naughtiness of Bertie with every child's hidden desire: to be big, powerful and to save the day, in short, to be a superhero. Stan Button dreams of being Dangerboy, the child equivalent of Superman, complete with supernatural skills, superhuman strength and super-duper cape. Then one day a mysterious letter arrives, inviting the unlikely looking Stan for an interview at the superhero training school, Mighty High. To his amazement, the boy buffoon is offered a place - starting immediately. Forget boring Maths and tedious Literacy: these are dangerous lessons in heroic feats of extraordinary brilliance. Soon Stan and his new superhero fans are preparing for the greatest challenge of their young lives: how to defeat the evil Green Meanie whose plans for world domination include a wicked army of supervillains... The graphic comic style pages have immediate appeal, and will entice any child whose fluency in English is not yet established; Superhero School is less demanding than the hugely poplular Wimpy Kid books and potentially more enjoyable for the same reason. They should particularly appeal to anyone aged 7-9 with a sense of humour. This is the first in a new Superhero series by Alan Macdonald whose Dirty Bertie books are every bit of a children's 'must' as Horrid Henry. Nigel Barnes' black and white illustrations are as witty as you would expect from the acclaimed illustrator of Yuck! Hans Zipzer, Undead Ed, and Mitchell Symons Gross Fact series. 176 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Charlotte Eilenberg, librarian

Superhero School: The Revenge of the Green Meanie
Wild Moose Chase
Siobhan Rowden

Scholastic

ISBN 9781407138732

Siobhan Rowden has been likened to Roald Dahl for her writing. Her two previous books, The Curse of the Bogle's Beard and The Revenge of the Ballybogs, both get you laughing and 'eeugh-ing' in turn. This book certainly continues along the same vein with a crazy plot, larger than life characters and twists in every chapter. We are introduced to twins, Bert and Camilla Curd, as they tear across a field pursued by a very scary, shrieking, old woman, Primula Mold. These children, a typical brother and sister if you ask me, seem to find it necessary compete with each other in everything they do, no matter what their Grandfather tells them, they just can't help it. In an attempt to save their grandfather's dairy farm from being sold to their mouldy, blue cheese making, neighbour, they find themselves joining a competition to provide the Queen with her favourite cheese of all time, Moose cheese. Although they know that the competition will bring great riches and glory to the winning Cheese maker they don't seem to realise quite how dangerous making moose cheese might be. On the first step of their great adventure to gather the necessary ingredients for the famous Moose cheese, the children stow away on a hot air balloon with the Queen's personal Cheesemaker, Mr Gordon Zola, who as well as taking to the Queen on his mobile just so happens to talk to his moustache, named Monty. The race to make cheese continues across Europe, Russia, Mongolia and Kazakhstan with outlandish and determined competitors from all over Britain, including their dreaded neighbour Miss Primula Mold, trying to beat them to the Queen. The twins end up crashing a hot air balloon crash, jumping on board a moving train, flying through the air and down a raging river on a bouncy castle and competing in a yak race but will Burt and Cam ever be able to work together? Fantastic slapstick humour which appeals to all young children (and 'young at heart' adults!), as well as a believable brother /sister relationship with amazing adventures across the world, this book can't fail to keep you turning the pages to find out who will emerge victorious. 288 pages / Ages 7-10 years / Reviewed by Kerra Dagley, librarian

Wild Moose Chase
Secret Agent Mummy: Book 1
Steve Cole

Red Fox

ISBN 9781849418188

This is the first in a new series for Steve Cole. The aptly named Niall Rivers gets more than he bargained for when he accompanies his mum on a house visit to collect items for the school fete. Amongst the peculiar items they collect from the house's strange owner, Niall discovers a shabtis that makes him feeling decidedly odd. He initially dismisses it but later discovers it will enable him to possess unusual powers. Niall realises that the house is being watched by a suspicious man, who looks to be disguised in bandages. Shortly after obtaining the shabtis there are a series of strange goings-on, including a pyramid, that only Niall can see, popping up in his neighbour's garden and some snooping baboons. His mum and younger sister, the Snitch, are unsympathetic to Niall's concerns over the pyramid's appearance in his garden. However, the pyramid can also be viewed by the bandaged man and he arrives at Niall's door asking questions. Niall learns that he is the suspect of the secret agent mummy or Sam as he calls him. However he quickly ends up helping Sam to catch the real villain: Azmal Sekra, the oldest wizard in the world, and learns more than he wants to about the secret land of Ka Ra and its creatures. I would suggest that this would be perfect for confident free readers in Year 3 and 4. They will love secret agent mummy and his humorous attempts to decipher the complexities of English vocabulary. There is also a rather pampered Egyptian talking cat; readers would be entertained by her demands, as well as the dog Mumbum, Sam's mechanical sidekick. I also like the funny illustrations that break up the body of text and make it more manageable for ambitious younger readers. Also included at the end of the story is a 'Mysteries of Ancient Egypt' section that might encourage children to undertake some independent research of their own. 227 pages / Ages 7-10 years / Reviewed by Elizabeth Harris, teacher

Secret Agent Mummy: Book 1
Araminta Spook: Gargoyle Hall
Angie Sage

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN 9781408851289

Ever wanted to solve a mystery? Look no further: Araminta Spook is an aspiring girl detective who loves bats and vampires and lives in a haunted house. As Chief Detective of Spook's Detective Agency, the feisty Araminta is determined, along with her trusty sidekick, Wanda Wizzard, to solve mysterious Mysteries, and there are plenty of them... Uncle Drac used to spend all day hanging upside down in the bat turret but, since returning from his holidays in Transylvania, he refuses to hang out in his usual place. Why? Mystery number one. Meanwhile, Great Aunt Emilene, wrapped in her scary two headed ferret scarf, has arrived for "as long as it takes". For as long as what takes? Mystery number two. Aunt Tabby is furiously nailing planks to the bat turret door so the "you know what" can't escape. Mystery numbers three and four. But all of these pale into insignificance next to the biggest Mystery of them all: why is Araminta suddenly sent away to boarding school, to Miss Gargoyle's Academy for Girls, where it's not just the ghosts who live in dread? Join the dynamic detective duo, Araminta and Wanda, on their ghost-busting series of adventures, jam-packed with hairy spiders, ghostly knights, batty vampires and some pretty crazy jokes. This is the sixth book in Angie Sage's acclaimed Araminta Spook series. Full of humour and strange reversals of fortune, these eventful stories, beautifully illustrated with John Kelly's inky black drawings, will have primary age readers chuckling with delight. Perfect for years 7 - 11 year olds. 288 pages / Ages 7-11 years / Reviewed by Charlotte Eilenberg, librarian

Araminta Spook: Gargoyle Hall
The Most Powerful Boy in the Universe
Matt Brown

Usborne Publishing Ltd

ISBN 9781409567776

Compton Valance is an ordinary boy, or so he thinks, but he is being watched by the 'Future Perfect Unit' and when he inadvertently turns a mouldy sandwich into a time machine, finds himself more than a little bit of trouble. First he and his friend Bryan manage to foil a burglary attempt on their school, shortly followed by wiping out the dinosaurs by incorrectly following the rules of time travel. Then it turns out that someone is trying to steal the sandwich/time machine and change the world as we know it. It's a wild and madcap plot, with plenty of wacky characters, time travel and multiple storylines. Every page is a visual feast with labels, doodles and a variety of fonts used to strike the reader full in the face. This could not be described as a gentle reflective read, but instead a rollercoaster ride with plenty of revolting humour from Compton and his pals. Should be enjoyed by lots of boys (and girls) of 9+ 272 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Lucy Russell, teacher

The Most Powerful Boy in the Universe

ISBN 9781447248804

The black dog has come to Dublin and is doing its worst on the adults of the city. Money is tight, jobs are in short supply, and Raymond and Gloria can see the effect it is having on their Uncle Ben. They go in search of this mysterious black dog one night and begin a journey that will change their city forever. As the children make their way through the nightscape of the city, they gather an increasing group of other kids, all with the aim of stopping the terrible black dog. The word 'brilliant' of the title is the key to defeating the force of the black dog. As the children come closer to this unknown enemy they encounter his effect, battling cold, tiredness and an overwhelming feeling of uselessness, but together they overcome the black dog and get Dublin's funny bone back. There is magic in this story, and powerful imagery which may help any child dealing with the effect of 'the black dog' on family or friends, and the descriptions of the children facing his effect in the forest are powerful enough for an adult to gain insight into what it may feel like for some who suffer from depression. But this book is not about depression; it's about the power of children to overcome this dark force, with magical talking animals, flying vampires and a lot of will power. Occasional black and white illustrations add humour and interest, although Roddy Doyle's writing will create plenty of pictures in the mind A unique, imaginative story for boys and girls of 10+. Reviewed by Lucy Russell, teacher

ISBN 9780192793553

Gill Lewis is known for powerful books about children and animals. In this book we are introduced to Scarlet and her brother Red, we learn that Red is different and that every evening Scarlet has to tell him his favourite story about the day they’ll fly away to the Caroni Swamp in Trinidad, where thousands of Scarlet Ibis birds fly into the sky. We soon discover that Scarlet has to look after not only her younger brother but also her mum who sleeps most of the time and doesn't like to leave the flat. Together they live in fear of the care worker who appears to be just looking for an excuse to take them away. Red loves birds and collects feathers, keeping them under his bed in a box, he finds looking at them and repeating the names of the birds comforting and it settles him. On the windowsill outside their bedroom is a pigeon's nest and inside the nest is a tiny little rust coloured pigeon chick they name 'Little Red'. A serious fire destroys their flat whilst Scarlet is at school and her brother and mum are taken to hospital. Scarlet is sent to stay with a foster family and when Social Services decide that Scarlet's mother isn't able to continue to take care of her children, Red is sent to live in a special home apparently better suited to his special needs. Scarlet manages to rescue 'Little Red' from the fire damaged flat and soon the chick's survival and the hope of finding her brother become her main objectives in life. Scarlet's foster family are kind and caring making her feel welcome, she starts to feel a sense of belonging both at home and at school which paradoxically lead her to feeling guilty and in turn isolated. All in all, this is a powerful, realistic story which sensitively tackles racism, isolation and mental health issues with believable characters and situations. 224 pages / Ages 9-12 years / Reviewed by Kerra Dagley, school librarian

Ghost Hawk
Susan Cooper

Corgi Childrens

ISBN 9780552568180

Ghost Hawk has been rightly chosen for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2014 short list. It is an intriguing story set in seventeenth century America. Susan Cooper has created a narrative centred on Native Americans and the Pilgrim Fathers; told from their different perspectives. The narrative begins with an eleven year old's journey into manhood. Little Hawk has to endure three months alone in the wilderness. He is a strong character and through his retelling of his adventures, accidents and eventful survival, the reader learns about the customs and ways of the Pokanoket tribe. On his return from the wilderness,the narrative turns towards the Pilgrim Fathers and their contact with the Native America people of New England, including the Pokanoket tribe. This change of direction is achieved through Little Hawk's chance meeting with John Wakeley, a young white boy, and through this meeting their lives become intrinsically entwined. The story follows John Wakeley into manhood and we read about the life of these early settlers, the hardship of the life and the prejudices held against the tribes by some settlers. The inclusion of John Williams, a friend of the Native American tribes, and Yellow Feather, a tribal leader, both based on real people, adds credibility to the narrative; both tried to negotiate peaceful relations between the two groups. This is powerful story which will grab and entertain enthusiastic readers between the ages of ten and twelve. 352 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Fiona Collins, consultant

Ghost Hawk