NEW TITLES

Series like Alex T Smith's Foxy Tales and the Shouty Kid are great for building confidence as children progress from early readers to more complex stories. We also highlight some strong new fiction for confident readers.

Foxy Tales: The Great Jail Break: Book 3
Alex T Smith

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444909333

I was excited to pick this up; I'm familiar with Alex T Smith, having seen him whilst doing my teacher training - I enjoy his Claude series, and so do my current class of year 3s! The story itself is entertaining. The characters, Foxy Dubois and Alphonso the Alligator, are well introduced and supported by a range of entertaining others, Eric-the-Evil, Warden Gordon... this book certainly aims to make children laugh. The story is relatively short but not repetitive as the main characters find themselves in Jail and needing to escape! Their escapades are funny and light hearted, the relationship between the witty fox, and the not-so-witty alligator who keeps threatening to eat her, is one that will captivate children! This book is on its way to becoming a graphic novel, the illustrations are key to the story, not there to support. In fact, I can't really pinpoint any two pages as looking the same; the layout changes, type faces, size of text, background and pictures. It's aesthetically a really interesting book to read. No page has a great amount of text on it, and I think this would please reluctant readers, or those who are a little less confident, but want to read paperbacks. I've recommended this book for those 7+, but think that older primary children would also enjoy it. Some of the vocabulary is adventurous, using higher level words that children may not otherwise come across. Overall, I'd recommend sharing this book with reluctant readers; it's accessible and short, but doesn't look like a 'baby book'. Children must have a good sense of humour to fully appreciate this novel, but I can't wait to share it with my class!! 176 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Lizi Coombs, teacher.

Foxy Tales: The Great Jail Break: Book 3
How Harry Riddles Mega-Massively Broke the School (Shoutykid, Book 2)
Simon Mayle

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780007531899

10 year old Harry Riddles (the shouty kid) has the same appeal as Greg Heffley (the wimpy kid) as he suffers similar knocks that all children will immediately recognise. Harry has a refreshingly positive attitude and the tone of the book was very upbeat. He has the advantage of being Cornish, unlike the Wimpy Kid where children sometimes struggle understanding the American terms. The story tells us how Harry deals with life-changing events in his family, digs himself into big trouble at school and how he finds a way to climb out of it and become the school hero into the bargain. The simple style is spot on; the story is told entirely through Harry's emails, texts, online chat and letters, giving it the immediacy which kids love. The text is in a large easy-to-read font and is liberally sprinkled with Nikalas Catlow's silly cartoon drawings so children will pick this up without feeling daunted. This is the second in the Shouty Kid series, but it also works well as a stand-alone book. The Shouty Kid will surely be a hit with fellow 10 year olds and the humour and pace will make it appealing to older reluctant and struggling readers of KS3. 332 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Melanie Chadwick

How Harry Riddles Mega-Massively Broke the School (Shoutykid, Book 2)
The Big Wish
Brandon Robshaw

Chicken House Ltd

ISBN 9781908435897

When Sam gets a million wishes, he is filled with excitement and his world changes instantly for the better, or so he thinks. Instant cup of tea in bed, cancelling school, making his parents successful at work, finding love and happiness for his older sister, ridding his younger brother of nits, what could possibly go wrong? However, as Sam tries to use up his million wishes, he begins to find that having the world at your fingertips is not quite as good as it seems. As Sam reflects on his dissatisfaction, ("every wish I make makes the world seem a bit more unreal and pointless") he decides to wish big for the good of humanity, or so he thinks, until Sam realises he has some learning about consequences to do. But all's well that ends well and Sam and his friend Evan come up with a perfect solution, and after all, wishes can be unwished! Entertaining and cheery reading for 8-10 year old boys and girls. 160 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by Lucy Russell, teacher.

The Big Wish
Gemini Force I: Black Horizon: Book 1
M. G. Harris

Orion Children's Books

ISBN 9781444014068

It's exciting to see another project from one of the Thunderbirds creators, Gerry Anderson. If, like his earlier projects, you hope to find underwater headquarters, strange sea craft and thrill-seekers, you won't be disappointed and the writer, MG Harris, brings the ideas bang up to date. In the story, Ben Carrington is reeling from the death of his father in a climbing accident when his mother is approached by a wealthy entrepreneur to help in setting up a new, secret rescue agency. With a magnificent underwater HQ, a number of high tech rescue craft and a team of talented and intelligent young people, how could anyone say no? In Black Horizon, Ben and the team test out their mettle, and their vehicles, on an oil spill that was inspired by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. From this point the plot moves quickly and the reader gets to take a closer look at some of those amazing vehicles and to follow Ben in his own search for meaning in his new role. The story has huge boy appeal and its nice to see that, as well as action, Ben has some soul searching to attend to. This is the first in a series that promises to be hugely satisfying. 288 pages / Ages 10/11+ / Reviewed by Alice Mitchall.

Gemini Force I: Black Horizon: Book 1
Anyone But Ivy Pocket
Caleb Krisp

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN 9781408858639

Ivy Pocket is a 12-year-old maid of no importance with a rather lofty opinion of herself. Her habit of speaking her mind, with actions to match, for example dunking the Countess Carbunkle's head in a bowl of fruit punch to relieve her suspected brain fever, means that she does not endear herself to many employers. Abandoned in Paris by the Countess, with no money and no home, the future looks uncertain until Ivy is summoned to the bedside of the Duchess of Trinity. It is her dying wish that Ivy agrees to deliver her most precious possession, the fabled and priceless Clock Diamond, to England. Her instructions are to put it round the neck of Matilda Butterfield, granddaughter of an old, estranged friend, on her 12th birthday. But sinister forces are also after the diamond and Ivy is drawn into a conspiracy of murder and mayhem. Just what is the secret power the diamond possesses? Ivy's feistiness and bravado carries her through an adventure laced with humour and not a little danger. Like many fictional orphans before her, she invents ever more fantastical stories about her past but is quietly desperate to know the truth about her parents. With a supernatural mystery at its heart, this is a story to appeal to fans of Lemony Snicket and Goth Girl. 320 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, librarian.

Anyone But Ivy Pocket
A Dog Called Flow
Pippa Goodhart

Troika Books

ISBN 9781909991163

Shortlisted for the Smarties Prize when it was first published, A Dog Called Flow has been republished by Troika Books. This is a stirring story of bravery, friendship and overcoming obstacles. What a treat in today's market to come across a real meaty old-fashioned adventure story, where relationships are central and the writing is not dumbed down! Oliver's struggles at school have spilled over into the rest of his life - he feels useless and unhappy, and so, despite his parents' refusal to get him a dog, in desperation he takes the initiative and gets one himself - in secret. Soon he realises he cannot manage on his own, and the dog is accepted into the family home. This dog, called Flow, gives Oliver purpose, satisfaction and a new friendship with Craig, another local boy. Together they train the puppies on the fells over the summer, ready to compete in the local show. There then follows a series of events in which Oliver and Flow are tested to their limits, powerfully narrated in a fast paced and gripping section of the story, and leading to self-discoveries of various kinds. The relationships throughout the book are skilfully and realistically portrayed, whether between Oliver and his family, school mates and with Flow himself. The reader gains insight into the ups and downs of living Oliver's life, drawing on a range of emotions and encouraging the reader to keep rooting for him whatever happens. Readers with their own struggles, schoolwork or personal will take comfort from Oliver's story, but the author skilfully gets the balance right - Oliver's dyslexia does not dominate the story: it's part of his life and who he is, but it is not the thing that defines him. Indeed some children may read this book and not even realise what Oliver's struggles are. Goodhart is an accomplished storyteller, revealing Oliver's feelings and motives without gloss or over-dramatisation. Well-paced and descriptive throughout, readers will be able to picture Oliver's world, both place and people. Highly recommended for boys and girls of 9+, (with a word of caution for very sensitive readers that the final third of the book contains high levels of tension and an encounter with an aggressive wild animal). 128 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Lucy Russell, teacher.

A Dog Called Flow
Worry Magic
Dawn McNiff

Hot Key Books

ISBN 9781471403712

Courtney is 12 and lives with her parents and her older brother. It is not a happy household; Gran is seriously ill in hospital, money is tight, her parents are constantly rowing, her brother, Kyle, is distant and withdrawn, and, to cap it all, her best friend seems to have found a NEW best friend. Courtney is overwhelmed with worries until the day she finds out that, by worrying herself to the limit, she can magic the rows away. The question is, do the arguments stop because of magic or do they stop because her parents are concerned about her fainting. Courtney is convinced she can change bad situations and resolves to visit her Gran in hospital, worry herself into a state and thereby cure her Gran. Over the course of the book, Courtney and her brother Kyle move from a state of mutual annoyance to a deeper understanding of the effect their Gran's illness and their parents' deteriorating relationship is having on them and find a source of support and solace in each other, something which the adults in the book do not seem able to provide. This would be a good book for a confident reader as it touches on many issues which children may face, such as parental break-ups, serious illness, not getting on with siblings and difficulties with friends. There are moments of humour ( the pig incident for example), but also highly emotional encounters, all related from Courtney's perspective. The ending does not tie up all the threads of the story but it does leave the reader with the optimistic feeling that Courtney (and Kyle) will cope, however things turn out. 244 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by June Hughes, school librarian.

Worry Magic

ISBN 9781783442263

Jamie and Ned are beachcombing twins who like nothing better than an adventure. On finding a mysterious creature (which they name Leonard in homage to their favourite programme), Ned decides they should keep it in the garage; Jamie is less than sure. Grandad's stories about mermaids make Jamie think the creature can perform miracles, but Ned is after just one more adventure (this time of his own). This book, with its references to Star Trek and carefree youthfulness, begins life as an enjoyable adventure about two boys finding a mysterious creature on the beach. However, as it progresses it becomes a much darker and deeper tale of loyalty, bravery, loss and grief. As the reader begins to realise what is happening, it becomes a thought-provoking and sometimes difficult read which culminates in a heart-wrenching conclusion. Avery interweaves several different themes and sub-stories, seamlessly giving the reader something of an insight into 1980's culture and the mythical tales of seafarers. All the while he carefully crafts out the deterioration in health of Ned as well as Jamie's realisations of what is happening and hopes of a miracle from Leonard. Avery's text is beautifully enhanced by the artwork of Kate Grove whose cut-outs and silhouettes give the story even more of a mysterious and haunted feel. The complexity and emotional subject matter of this book makes it suitable for upper KS2 and beyond. It will have a profound effect on its readers, who will more than likely end up (as I did) in tears. But the mark of a good book is not always a happy ending, is it? 231 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Mikeala Morgans, teacher

Dreams of Freedom
Amnesty International

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847804532

Dreams of Freedom is the second Amnesty-insired publication from Frances Lincoln, following We Are All Born Free which explores through pictures the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The latest book is a collection of powerful expressions about freedom from such champions of our freedoms as Nelson Mandela, Anne Frank, the Dalai Lama and Aung San Suu Kyi. Through their words, we explore the preciousness of freedom through such things as equality and self expression, being able to enjoy life and liberty, peace and the freedom to be ourselves. The succinct text for each statement is profound in its brevity and this is an artform that can be explored in its own right. Each statement is delivered in a visual way with distinct illustrations for each quotation, which brings home the individuality of the global messages; we each, all of us, have an interest in protecting our freedoms and those of other people. Upper KS2 children can use Dreams of Freedom to begin exploration and discussion around subjects like equality and home and the many other issues raised, while KS3 students can take this further with research into each of the figures quoted to understand the problems they faced. They can also be encouraged to write and design their own statements for issues that are close to their hearts; while many of the freedoms described are global ones, we can still use them to reflect and challenge ourselves in our day-to-day lives, from the freedom to be ourselves to the freedom to make a difference. 48 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Louise McGahan, teacher.

Dreams of Freedom