NEW TITLES

There are some great individual readers publishing this month, including some enticing new series, as well as some useful non-fiction titles.

The Deadly 7
Garth Jennings

ISBN 9781447251712

This book by film director Garth Jennings, the first in a series, has a huge amount of appeal - it's funny, warm and jam-packed with enough adventure to keep most children aged nine years plus on the edge of their seats! Nelson is helping his uncle fix a leak in St Paul's Cathedral in London when he falls onto a machine created by Christopher Wren and his 'seven sins' are accidentally extracted from his body. Now presenting as some rather endearing monsters, Nelson's 'sins' set about helping the boy to find his missing sister who disappeared during a school trip. There follows a race to the other side of the world, South America, and we get to meet a huge variety of characters on the way, and uncover Nelson's very unusual family history. It's great fun - I can't wait to find out what Nelson and his little monsters get up to next! You can read a full interview with the author here: http://www.readingzone.com/index.php?zone=sz&page=interview&authorid=62197f4a02cabe0cb90a93178c90ecc4 352 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

The Deadly 7
The Leaky Battery Sets Sail
Gareth P. Jones

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781847155931

Shiver m' timbers! This was a good book! For those not in the know, Steampunk in a new type of fiction that puts a science fiction twist on Georgian/Victorian history. The twist is that there is crazy technology all powered by steam engines. In the case of this book: steam-powered robots who become pirates. This is the first in a new series from establish author Gareth P. Jones and it is a stonking good start. The action starts right on page one and the simple little blurbs that start each chapter are a great way of teasing the reader in. The list of main characters at the front of the book mean that there is no story wasted on explaining who each character is - we just dive right in and head for adventure! I'm not going to tell you the plot, as I want you to read the book, but I will warn you that is it a proper pirate story: there are cutlasses and cannonballs, mischief and mutiny, parrots and plank walking and, most importantly, heaps and heaps of gold!! What is really cleaver about this book, though, is the amount of things you will learn, without evening knowing that you are being taught. 160 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Hayley Nicholson, librarian

The Leaky Battery Sets Sail
Roman Fort
Mick Manning

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847806253

Frances Lincoln's 'Fly on the Wall' series - the Viking Longboat has also just been republished - is a really useful resource for introducing children aged 8+ to what life might have been like if you lived at these times. Each book is told using lively, colourful sketches accompanied by notes explaining what we are looking at which really bring the history to life. They are laid out a little like a scrapbook of facts, so they are ideal for more reluctant as well as confident readers. Roman Fort features a fort like the ones that existed at Hadrian's Wall and at other parts of the Roman empire. We find out how large they were, what life was like as a soldier and a civilian, with glimpses into everyday life including going to the toilet, having a bath, what people wore and what children played with. Look out next month, February, for two more in the series republishing - Pharaoh's Egypt and Greek Hero.

Roman Fort
Computer Coding for Kids: A Unique Step-by-Step Visual Guide, from Binary Code to Building Games
Carol Vorderman

DK Children

ISBN 9781409347019

The new computing curriculum in primary schools now covers coding, writing the step-by --step instructions that tell the computer what to do. This book provides a comprehensive guide to getting started, with a number of projects that will help children build their skills. Everything is clearly explained, with pixellated graphic characters leading the reader through the book. Two programs, Scratch and Python, are introduced and their features demonstrated; the book should be used alongside the computer to gain the most from it. Later chapters give some background to computers themselves and also look at the applications of programming in the real world. This is a good introduction for children of 9+ to use themselves, and for parents and teachers to either work though alongside their children or who feel they may need some extra help on their own! 224 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Jane Gould, librarian.

Computer Coding for Kids: A Unique Step-by-Step Visual Guide, from Binary Code to Building Games
The Winter Wolf
Holly Webb

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781847154521

A gentle, reassuring story tells of Amelia, who has been frightened by a large dog in the park and finds to her horror that when her family arrive to spend Christmas with their cousins, they have a large dog. To keep away from the dog and cousin Tom, Amelia hides herself away and explores the house, discovering a diary in the attic. Through this diary she goes back in time to 1873, when a pioneering family in Wisconsin hear of a wolf prowling around a neighbour's small holding, at the beginning of a bad winter. The writer of the diary was Noah Allen, a famous painter, who was Amelia's great-great-great-grandfather. Noah tells in the diary of meeting a wolf cub who is obviously missing his mother and undertakes to hide and feed the cub until he can reunite him with his mother. Amelia finds herself in Noah's barn after falling asleep while reading the diary and, after Noah finds her some suitable clothes, he takes her to meet the cub. The pair is responsible for reuniting the cub and his mother and Amelia manages to find her way back to the present and finds that the large dog is not so frightening after all. The story is told both in the present and from entries from the diary, and illustrated with black and white wash pictures spread through the text. Amelia's fear of dogs feels right after such an experience which some children may well encounter, and the resolving of that fear rings true. Amelia is a resourceful girl and her actions when finding herself alone with the cub in a blizzard is credible and full of character. Noah is grieving for his sister Grace who has recently died and it her clothes that he finds for Amelia to wear (as she can't wear trousers in his view.) Both children are strong characters and although survival in the extreme cold of a mid-west winter is down-played, this story could well lead children to read of Laura Ingalls Wilder's experiences told in her books. This story will appeal particlarly to girls of 9+ since the cover shows a girl cuddling a sweet looking wolf cub, but it is deeper than this suggests, with its time slip and resolution of Amelia's fears, and the portrayal of winter for a pioneering family. 192 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by Janet Fisher, librarian

The Winter Wolf
Lucky
Chris Hill

Chicken House Ltd

ISBN 9781908435149

The squirrels in this story are not the cute and fluffy kind; they are squirrels at war! The story opens with Lucky and his friends as they prepare to join the Cadet Troop to be trained for the 'Watch and Patrol'. But soon Lucky and his squirrel friends find themselves at the centre of an aggressive plot hatched by the sinister Major Fleet, who has managed to unite the scrappy, underfed and fragmented Northend families to fight for the more fruitful territories of the Cloudfoot squirrels. Lucky and his new friends must use all their cunning and physical skill to defend the Cloudfoot community. These squirrels display and experience bitter rivalry, betrayal, aggression and military tactics, all in the context of a highly structured society, led by 'The Ma' and the 'First Daughters'. Full of military nuances, the squirrel fight scenes are not for the faint hearted; readers will never again see a squirrel as a cute fluffy tailed mammal! With a supporting cast of doggy characters, the anthropomorphic scene is explored from the 'ground view' too, with some interesting viewpoints of the dogs as they relate to the squirrels and other animals. Overall this is an interesting, if unexpected read. The cover design and blurb indicate a slightly tamer type of animal adventure than the reader will find between the covers, and thus is more suitable for the upper end of the Primary age range than those who may be drawn to the title initially. With its exploration of a fictional societal structure this may provide interesting discussions amongst readers. 192 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Lucy Russell, teacher

Lucky
First Light
Rebecca Stead

Andersen Press Ltd

ISBN 9781783441129

This is award winning author Rebecca Stead's third novel. An intoxicating mix of science, fantasy, adventure and personal challenge, readers will not be disappointed by this. Peter accompanies his father on a scientific expedition to Greenland accompanied by Jonas, a research assistant and Peter's mother, who is surrounded by an air of mystery and melancholy. Narrated in alternating chapters is the tale of Thea, whose people have escaped the dangers posed to them by life on the surface and now live under the ice in the lakeside settlement of Gracehope. The two worlds are brilliantly depicted, the contrasts between the real and the fantasy sitting alongside one another, moving gradually closer and drawing the reader in. With the combination of strong-willed Thea and curious Peter, the children's two worlds collide with gripping results. A compelling sequence of events leads to a satisfying conclusion. Thea's world is original and fascinating. As well as the details of scientific developments that have enabled a society to survive under the ice for generations, and the struggles of such a life, the depiction of the social structures and Thea's role within them add depth to the portrayal of the world of Gracehope. Thea herself is a convincing character, whom readers will warm to as she asserts herself to stand up for what she believes is right, at great personal risk. Alongside the absorbing storyline, readers will encounter some serious science and while the application is fiction in this novel, readers will be aware of the reality behind the issues. Published for the UK market, some US terminology remains (an inconsistent use of mother/mom) which may grate slightly. Highly recommended for girls and boys of 10+, this would also make a great text for book groups or guided reading with a breadth of issues, personal, environmental, scientific and literary to stimulate discussion and creativity. 336 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Lucy Russell, teacher

First Light
Kris Humphrey

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781847155962

This is the first in a series that will begin publishing in March. 100 years after banishment an old foe re-emerges; unfortunately, during the intervening years the people of the kingdom have forgotten the reality of it. The King has grown lazy in his rule, techniques of banishment all but lost and the danger has been relegated to folklore and fairytale, nothing more than a story to frighten the children....which is why the villagers are slow to connect the goings on in the forest with the return of the demons. Big mistake! The danger is very real as shapeshifting demons threaten the outlying villages and the palace. The peace is definitely broken, can they be stopped before it's too late? I liked the shift in attitude throughout the story as the Whisperers (the kingdom's protectors) return to a position of respect within the community as they use their ancient knowledge and teachings to help the people. I liked that women had strong roles within the Palace Guard and community and I loved the link with the natural world and the relationship of the animals and Whisperers. For now the battle is won but the war is only just starting. I'm struggling to put this in a genre as there's adventure, fantasy, mystery and friendship all woven in! 224 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Catherine Purcell, librarian