NEW TITLES

There is a thrilling range of fiction for ages 7-11 years publishing this month, from pirate stories to dragons and high tech adventures.

The Jolley-Rogers and the Cave of Doom
Jonny Duddle

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781848772410

Piratical fun in huge amounts for all land-lubbers out there! The story starts with the Jolley-Rogers deciding to swap a day on their pirate ship for a day at the beach. It's soon clear that this will not be a day of sandcastles and ice creams, but instead a high adventure filled with gold treasure, ships in bottles and sea hags! Each member of the family enters a dark, gloomy cave in turn, but on finding the treasure it holds inside, is seemingly put under a curse and unable to move. Bones, the family's faithful dog, saves the day by enlisting the story's heroine Matilda to rescue them all. The hilariously revolting Sea Hags will delight every reader with their antics. After the initial meeting of the witches, the reader might feel that very bad things are going to happen to the pirates - especially when they are described as being on the menu! These slug gateau eating, rhyming couplet speaking, collectors of all pirate paraphernalia turn out to be delightfully funny Sea Hags! Very soon, Matilda is taking them into town on the local bus and helping them to trade in gold doubloons in order to get a bank account. The book is enhanced by appealing illustrations on virtually every page, which include the Sea Hags's rhymes in speech bubbles. The narrative language used is of a high quality, thus providing a super model for young story writers. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and feel it would have wide-range appeal. After the extremely popular The Pirates Next Door, Jonny Duddle has produced another entertaining, dare I say, swashbuckling read! 160 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Emma Small, teacher.

The Jolley-Rogers and the Cave of Doom
Attack of the Giant Sea Spiders
Gareth P. Jones

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781847155993

Ahoy, shipmates! Once again we set sail with those swashbuckling steam-power ragamuffins. All aboard for another rip-roaring adventure! The Steampunk Pirates once again live up to their names and their chosen profession. Pirates by their definition are not the most well-behaved group, and the Steampunk bunch can't seem to stop getting into trouble, but those they are up against are much more dastardly, so the Pirates are still the good guys of the story Mr Jones has once again written a riveting story that educates and entertains. Each character has their own clear voice (and some very strange habits: keeping a squid on your head?!?!?), so it's easy to pick out a favourite. This book follows on from the first, so it could be a bit confusing if read out of order. From the ending, it's clear that there are going to be more to come, so isn't really for those who don't like reading books in a series. Oh, and if a fear of spiders puts you off, don't worry; it all comes good in the end! I would give this book a glittery 4 out of 5 golden doubloons and I would recommend it to children aged 7 to 9. 160 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Hayley Nicholson, librarian.

Attack of the Giant Sea Spiders
Knight in Training: Dragons Can't Swim: Book 1
Vivian French

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444922271

Sam J. Butterbiggins has been sent to live with his Aunt Eglantine, Uncle Archibald and Cousin Prunella in Mothsdale Castle while his parents are away on important business. Sam has a secret ambition - he wants to be a knight and do all kinds of daring deeds but, unfortunately, he does not know how to go about it. Luckily for him, Mothsdale Castle doubles as 'Luxury Holiday Accommodation for Dragons, Griffins and Other Regal Beasts' and so he meets Godfrey, a dragon in distress and gets to perform his first daring deed. This is the first in a series of books about Sam and his quest to become a knight and we are introduced to the residents of Mothscale Castle and to Godfrey, who, one fine morning, in a bid to get away from Prunella, finds himself stuck down a well. Prunella is desperate to rescue Godfrey before her mother notices there is a problem and enlists the help of the reluctant Sam. In the course of retrieving Godfrey from the well, Sam is amazed and delighted to find a parchment with instructions on how to become a knight and sets about his training forthwith. This is an entertaining read, full of illustrations and a sneak peek of the second book in the series to whet the appetite of those who have read and enjoyed this one. Confident young readers should have no trouble with the vocabulary and it is also ideal for reading aloud to children, giving plenty of opportunities to exercise skills in funny voices for the various characters. 103 pages / Ages 7-11 / Reviewed by June Hughes, school librarian

Knight in Training: Dragons Can't Swim: Book 1
The Beast of Grubbers Nubbin
Guy Bass

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781847156099

This book is the fifth in the Stitch Head series by Guy Bass and will therefore find a ready audience in children already familiar with Stitch Head, Arabella and Professor Erasmus. Those children who have not yet been introduced to the monstrous world of Castle Groteskew will, however, not be at a disadvantage if this is the first Stitch Head book they pick up, as, within a few pages, the reader learns of Stitch Head's unusual origins, meets Arabella and finds out about the one hundred very hungry orphans that they have rescued and it is that hunger for food which precipitates the events of this book. Creature (three legged and one eyed) and Ivo (one armed) do their best to cook something to calm the frantic children but their efforts leave a lot to be desired so, in desperation, Stitch Head and Arabella decide that they must steal the food from the local town but, to their surprise, they discover that there is a monster even more monstrous than themselves, also stealing food from the town and they set out to find this monster and feed their band of orphans. The book is full of illustrations of the orphans and the monsters, all looking fairly scary and there are lots of references to unspeakable concoctions and more than one vomit-related incident. Children will love the monsters who all, despite their unprepossessing appearance, seem to be well-meaning, while the grossness of the humour will appeal to both boys and girls; Creature and Ivo's attempts to take the orphan's minds off their stomachs by staging a circus act is particularly hilarious. 218 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by June Hughes, school librarian

The Beast of Grubbers Nubbin
Dindy and the Elephant
Elizabeth Laird

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781447272403

In her latest story, award-winning author Elizabeth Laird takes us to India in 1947, a turbulent time when Colonial rule is coming to an end. Dindy, whose Scottish father runs a tea garden, has lived all her life in India on the tea garden, or plantation, but has rarely set foot outside the estate's home. One afternoon she risks leaving home with her younger brother, Pog, in search of adventure but when they are snubbed by the local children and terrified by a rogue elephant, Dindy realises that the India she has experienced is very different from the real India. But it is still her home and Dindy is devastated when she learns that her parents are planning to return to Scotland. This beautifully-told story really brings to life colonial India and how the country, at this time, was on the cusp of change. We learn so much through the eyes and ears of children, and what they overhear adults saying to each other. The dual perspectives we get on Dindy's life are also fascinating - the Indian children see her as a pampered princess, but the reality of her life is boredom and neglectful parents. There is much for children to discuss, beginning with how our perceptions of other nationalities are formed and leading on to what Dindy might face when her family return to Scotland. 128 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Anna Steele, librarian

Dindy and the Elephant
Charlie Merrick's Misfits in I'm a Nobody, Get Me Out of Here!
Dave Cousins

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192738233

Having really enjoyed the first Charlie Merrick's Misfits book, Fouls, Friends, and Football, I was pleased to have the opportunity to read the new book, I'm a Nobody, Get Me Out of Here, which takes us away from football and into a survival camp, Camp Wild. Unfortunately for Charlie and his mates, who thought they were going to a week-long football training camp, the coach has made a mistake and they now have to survive a week's survival course, dressed only in their football gear. The tensions rise when Charlie foolishly bets that his team can win (without telling his team mates)! These books are a warm and funny look at friendships. Charlie and his mates aren't the most successful, at anything, but they learn to stick together and pull through. The book is laid out a little like a magazine, with lots of different styles of illustration and easily-digested sections of text. The humour, subject matter and boxed-out facts give these books plenty of boy- as well as girl-appeal and could entice reluctant readers to give the books a go. Highly recommended. 224 pages / Ages 8-11 years / Reviewed by Alice Long.

Charlie Merrick's Misfits in I'm a Nobody, Get Me Out of Here!
Jonny Jakes Investigates the Hamburgers of Doom
Malcolm Judge

Curious Fox

ISBN 9781782023234

In this book we discover the world of an ordinary secondary school through the eyes of Jonny Jakes, an undercover reporter for the banned school newspaper The Woodford Word. Jonny's investigations to enlighten the children at his school have led him to report on varied subjects with titles like 'Lardy Hardy Calls for Cream Cake Crackdown', 'Hardy Hardly in Control' and 'How Come Hardy's Hairy' (he's wearing a toupee) his ten pages of 'truth and justice' haven't won him any friends in authority (not surprising as Mr Hardy is the school's Head Teacher!). So when Jonny discovers that the Head is leaving he's eager to get the scoop on who will be replacing him. Little does he realise that the new Head will be 'out of this world', handing out sweets to everyone and offering hamburgers for lunch. With his new allies, he investigates the new Head's strange behaviour and seeks to reveal the truth. Unfortunately, no-one seems to believe his stories and accusations, not even his parents! Not until he joins the school play and explains the whole situation to Miss Briars, the drama teacher. Armed with swords, pikes, smoke bombs and spices, the little group do battle with the Head Teacher, his family and the whole of the school. Who will be triumphant? You'll have to read the book to find out. Malcolm Judge, making his debut as an author, is a drama teacher. He really makes this fast-paced book hilarious to read, his sense of humour shines through in the actions of the main characters and I loved his wacky character profiles (or perhaps you'd call them character assassinations) of teachers and pupils alike. Excellent illustrations by Alan Brown, combined with the easy-to-read handwriting font and the double spaced lines, make the book a lively and fun read. I can't wait to try it out on all my classes, there's something for everyone! 240 pages / Ages 8-11 years / Reviewed by Kerra Dagley, school librarian

Jonny Jakes Investigates the Hamburgers of Doom
John McNally

ISBN 9780007521654

The Forbidden City is the second book in the Infinity Drake series and like the first, has an edge-of-the-seat storyline that takes our 9mm hero, Infinity (Finn for short), into the beating heart of global technologies; the Forbidden City in Hong Kong. In this story, Finn has just days to help prevent the power-hungry Kaparis from taking control of global communications by unleashing a swarm of nano bots worldwide to take over every gadget out there. This is a fast-paced read with echoes of gaming in the settings and the challenges that its young hero faces so it will have plenty of appeal to readers who enjoy action-based adventure stories. Its exploration of nano technology - and what humans may or may not be capable of developing - gives us a glimpse into the magic of science and hopefully will encourage children to explore this subject further. There are a couple of quite grim scenes, driven by the evil Kaparis, which makes it more suitable for mature readers aged 10+ / 11+, but its wide-ranging, fast-paced storyline with plenty of thrills also give it a wide appeal and especially to fans of Alex Rider. 400 pages / Ages 10/11+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Philip Womack

ISBN 9781909991125

The King's Shadow is the second book in The Darkening Path trilogy and you will need to have read the first, The Broken King, to enjoy this one. In The King's Shadow, Simon and Flora have reached the Silver Kingdom, which is ruled by the Broken King, and they know that they must fight and kill the king in order to rescue their siblings and return to their own world. But shadows, dark magic and deception reign in the Broken King's world and it will take all their courage and skills to find their siblings, and their way home. Having watched Simon and Flora battle to enter the land of the Broken King, it was intriguing to enter the Silver Kingdom and I am sure children will enjoy making this transition into this other, atmospherically-described world. Womack is skilled at maintaining the tension throughout this story, partly through the random acts of the mad king and the shape-shifting abilities of some of his subjects. There are some dark scenes, particularly the 'taking aparts' where traitors to the king are literally pulled apart, but there is little detail given and the scenes serve to underline the threat the king poses and to highlight the battle between good and evil. All in all, this is a thrilling, dark and pacey story for readers aged 11 years plus and I look forward to reading the concluding book in the trilogy. 304 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Alice Long.