NEW TITLES

From stories about orphans to tiny, powerful machines, this month's selection of reviews highlights some appealing stories for children that are packed with adventure.

Where the Bugaboo Lives
Sean Taylor

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406324143

For children at the upper end of KS1 and into KS2, Where the Bugaboo Lives is an exuberant and exciting 'choose your own adventure' style of picture book that pits two young siblings against a varied and nicely-imagined range of dangers, from crocodile ogres to a gigantic spider, a hobgoblin, a ghost disco and even the 'Freakyflibbertigibbets House of Fun'! When Floyd asks his sister Ruby why they can't go down in the valley, she says, "If I tell you, YOU MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO GO TO SLEEP EVER AGAIN!" The valley is filled with scary things - but the Bugaboo is the scariest of all.... And so the next day, when Floyd's ball runs away into the valley, the children's adventure begins. Turning the pages, the reader is offered a range of options for the children to take next - leading them further and further into danger, although they (mostly) find ingenious solutions to help themselves get out - and into the next spot of bother. As well as a lovely individual read, this is a great book to share with the class, getting the children to vote for each choice and seeing where the pages lead them. It is a wonderful introduction for this style of storytelling that could encourage children to go on and explore some of the fiction series of 'choose your own adventure' available. You could also create your own alternative adventures as a class, or with children working in small groups. I love Neal Layton's slightly sketchy, comic-style illustrations that I am sure would also help inspire children to illustrate their own alternate adventure story. 56 pages / Ages 6-10 years / Reviewed by Jane Swift, librarian.

Where the Bugaboo Lives
Whistling in the Dark
Shirley Hughes

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406360295

I agree wholeheartedly with all of the quotes and commendations on the book jacket, this IS a wonderful book from 'one of our greatest writers and illustrators'. Shirley Hughes 'handles emotion without sentimentality' and I defy you not to enjoy it! In her foreword, Shirley remembers that 'wartime, when it was not frightening, could be very boring'. In a recent interview she again stressed that "there was a lot of time to fill". But while Whistling In The Dark does tackle the ordinary minutiae of war time life near Liverpool during the air raids, there is nothing boring about it. Shirley's writing style encapsulates the time beautifully; the rationing, the black market, the absent husbands and boyfriends, the air raids, unexploded bombs. In addition there's the normality of it, Joan and her best friend Doreen going to the cinema, standing up to the school bully, Joan's sister Audrey going to dances and worrying about nylon stockings, befriending the new girl at school. In among all this, however, there are dramas unfolding: the face at Joan's window, the deserter, and the suspicious vans down by the old mill. This makes a fabulous yr 5/6 class read and would accompany any topic work on world war 2 although school work aside, this would be enjoyed by (and should be enjoyed by!) those aged 9+.

Whistling in the Dark

ISBN 9780750290401

This is part of the expanding series 'Fact Cat' from Wayland which includes historical events, countries, space and the UK. Although this title contains only 24 pages, a contents, index, glossary and a five question quiz is included. Each double page background is in a bold colour with a large photograph or drawing on each page and a maximum of 3 sentences. A cartoon Fact Cat appears on each double page with an interesting snippet of information. The book is very visual and contains enough reading to spark an interest to research further but not too much to discourage a reluctant reader. The reader is encouraged to answer a short question on each page which requires research outside the book. Young independent readers will be satisfied with the introduction to the subject. 24 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Jennifer Hambleton, librarian

ISBN 9781406291957

This is one title from the series How to Draw DC Comics Superheroes. Each double page spread has a background biography of the superhero with a coloured drawing and 5 black and white illustrations. Each illustration shows progression from a stickman outline to a fully formed cartoon superhero. For the more adventurous artist the final 4 pages show how to draw a montage of superheroes from other books in the series. With the announcement of Chris Riddell as Children's Laureate and his aim to promote drawing (and School Libraries) this series would be a great addition to the school library. However, before purchasing them for our library it was prudent to make sure that the instructions were clear enough even for those without artistic talent. Surprisingly, even after only a few minutes a likeness to 'Nightwing' was produced. Think I will try 'Wonder Woman' next! This series will be a great addition to the library of any budding artist. Reviewed by: Jennifer Hambleton

Dr. Critchlore's School for Minions: Book 1
Sheila Grau

Harry N. Abrams, Inc.

ISBN 9781419713705

Runt Higgins is a 12 year orphan, who has lived at The School for Minnions since being abandoned by his family of werewolves. The school provides minions, loyal servants and followers, to Evil Overlords throughout the Greater Porvian Continent. Now in his third year, Runt is desperate to move from his Human Minion dormitory to the Monster Minion dormitory and aspires to train as a Junior Henchman. When strange things begin to happen, such as Ogre-men being defeated by Girl Explorers, the reputation of the school is at risk and it may be forced to shut down. Runt believes that the incidents are connected and decides to investigate. The book teems with ogres, imps, vampires and zombies but the underlying theme is friendship, being helpful and standing up for what is right. The illustrations compliment the text although it would have been nice to see more. I really like the map at the beginning showing the different buildings of the school and the surrounding area. Instead of a list of characters we are given two pages of character illustrations - a Hall of Fame or maybe that should read Infamy. One slight criticism about this debut book - it had a noticeable American bias but hopefully readers will know that Girl Explorers are equivalent to Girl Guides. 288 pages / Age 9+ / Reviewed by Jennifer Hambleton, librarian

Dr. Critchlore's School for Minions: Book 1
I Never Liked Wednesdays
Roger McGough

Barrington Stoke Ltd

ISBN 9781781124628

Midge and his friend 'Thingy' knew that when they left school they would be sailors; the problem was that they were only ten now and leaving school seemed a long way away. After a particularly troublesome Wednesday they decide they cannot wait any longer and run away to sea. What happens next involves punishment, sisters and a huge misunderstanding. Set in the late 1960's, the illustrations compliment the text showing the fashion of the times and rekindling memories of fish and chips eaten straight from the newspaper. The story is narrated by 'Thingy'. We are never told his real name but the book reads like an auto-biography and you can hear Roger's voice throughout the text. This is a humorous story with a moral, great for reading aloud and engaging reluctant readers. Also suitable for boys with older sisters. This was originally published in 1986 as Stowaways and has been re-published in the Barrington Stoke series 4U2read. 48 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Jennifer Hambleton, librarian

I Never Liked Wednesdays
Jonny Jakes Investigates the Hamburgers of Doom
Malcolm Judge

Curious Fox

ISBN 9781782023234

Jonny Jakes is the alias of the undercover reporter on the school newspaper The Woodford Word; which is, in the words of the head teacher 'scurrilous, misleading and unsuitable for young minds'. Jonny aims to tell the truth as he sees it - usually with wise cracking headlines and an unerring flair for digging up what really should remain hidden. When a new head teacher is appointed, Jonny decides to investigate him: all three legs, five eyes and purple head of him! Written as a diary chronicling events between Monday 15th October and Tuesday 19th November this story runs along at a cracking pace. The text is double spaced with a clear font and off white paper. The illustrations are small but compliment the storyline perfectly. However, it is the humorous headlines from The Woodford Word which help to bring Jonny's character to life. The Demon Headmaster meets The Wimpy Kid in the first book in a new series for age 9 and above readers who would love to outsmart their own head teacher. 240 pages / Age 9+ / Reviewed by Jennifer Hambleton, librarian. Reviewed by: Jennifer Hambleton

Jonny Jakes Investigates the Hamburgers of Doom
The Crow Talker (Ferals, Book 1)
Jacob Grey

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780007578528

'The night belonged to him' are the opening words to this dark and unusual story. Caw was thrown out of a window by his parents eight years ago when he was only five. He was saved by crows and has lived a lonely existence, with only the crows for company, in an abandoned park ever since. Caw remembers little about that night, but recently he has been troubled by nightmares. Who visited his parents as the crows carried him away? Who is the man in black with the spider ring? One night Caw witnesses the escape of three prisoners and intervenes to save the life of the Prison Warden and his daughter, Lydia. As Caw and Lydia become friends, Caw realises that his gift of communication and control over the crows is growing, and that he is not alone. He meets other Ferals, people who can control different animals, and they join forces to stop the escaped prisoners bringing their evil master 'The Spinning Man' back from the dead. Ideal for readers who like suspense, fantasy and a little bit of horror. Caw is a believable character, resourceful, loyal, impetuous and stubborn. There are several twists to the story and enough lose ends to continue the story in a promised sequel. Jacob Grey has created a dark desolate world for fans of Darren Shan and Harry Potter. 285 pages / Ages 10-14 / Reviewed by Jennifer Hambleton, librarian

The Crow Talker (Ferals, Book 1)
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.