NEW TITLES

Moving from sophisticated picture books to fiction for ages 10+, this month's selection of KS2 books will suit a wide range of tastes. Some will be ideal for sharing in class, others for broadening the fiction available to children as individual readers.

Levi Pinfold

ISBN 9781783700554

From the award-winning illustrator, Levi Pinfold, comes a modern fable about natures power, Greenling. Previous credits include Django and Black Dog. 'Mr and Mrs Barleycorn live a quiet life, alone and quite forgotten by the world. But something is growing on Barleycorn land. Something that Mr Barleycorn decides it would be best to take. And, with this, for better or worse, he brings the outside, inside'. This is a truly enchanting tale, Templar publishing use the term 'ensorcelling', meaning enchanting or to fascinate, and I think this is a great description. Greenling definitely requires reading more than once. The illustrations alone are so detailed that they draw the reader in and will keep you going back to spot more detail. Although a picture book, this could easily be used across the entire Primary range, depending on the focus. Greenling provides a variety of opportunities for discussion and debate on morality and the consequences of choices we make. As the story progresses the world beyond that of the Barleycorn's life begins to feel the impact of their choices and we are told of the world's reaction, which again provides an interesting discussion point, as you look into whether the response is justified or not. We also see Mrs Barleycorn move from a negative response, to one where she comes to Greenling's defence. There is then a sense of Greenling appreciating the support and as such there appears to be a positive response. Even though we know the premise of this story, there is still plenty of opportunity for individual interpretation of the story and its message, enabling an entire other level of interaction with the text and illustration. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Jennifer Niblett.

Would You Rather: Dine with a Dung Beetle or Lunch with a Maggot?
Camilla de le Bedoyere

QED Publishing

ISBN 9781784931933

This fantastic book is full of marvellous mini-beast facts all presented to young readers through thought provoking questions such as 'Would you rather have a queen bee for a mum, a water bug for a dad, a stick insect for a brother or a millipede for a sister?' Great for starting a discussion, this book is amusing, revolting but mostly captivating - the illustrations are entertaining. Cartoon bugs living different scenarios with a little boy - I've learnt facts from this book, as well as seriously considered the pro's of being a dung beetle.... Fantastic for Key Stage One children looking at 'Mini-beasts', this book could also provide a good discussing point for older children developing their verbal reasoning skills. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Lizi Coombs, teacher

Would You Rather: Dine with a Dung Beetle or Lunch with a Maggot?
The Five Misfits
Beatrice Alemagna

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847806376

Five misfits - one holey, one folded in half like a concertina, one feeble and sleepy, one upside-down, and one described as a total catastrophe - are perfectly content living in their lopsided house. The five have never amounted to much in life, nor do they feel like doing anything. Then one day the Perfect One arrives, sporting luminous pink pantaloons and fluorescent hair. He informs the happy-go-lucky bunch that their lives are totally worthless. Initially dejected and depressed, each character uses their own special talent to turn the criticism on its head. This is a quirky and allegorical tale, filled with humorous and poignant moments brought to life by contemporary artwork from a multi award-winning picture book creator. The mixed media illustration cleverly reflects each character's personality and can be used to introduce children to different styles. Children and adults alike will find fun in the weird and wonderful characters and may even relate to one or more of the misfits. The subtle and subversive humour may not immediately appeal to every reader, but this book certainly warrants re-reading and discussion so that it may be fully appreciated. Though this picture book may at first seem a little odd, this is in keeping with the moral and message. It promotes inclusion and celebrates individuality with wit and savvy. It is also about finding the positives despite one's flaws. When the Perfect One insists that the misfits must always have 'a purpose, a plan, an idea!', readers are encouraged to consider the benefits and limitations to this. The neon pink endpapers are striking, and could generate interesting comments around why the illustrator has chosen this colour. This picturebook could be read with children in KS1 or KS2; it would be interesting to hear how children of different ages respond to it. Picture book / 40 pages / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Kerenza Gosh, lecturer.

The Five Misfits
Woolly Mammoth
Mick Manning

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847806642

From The Natural History Museum, this book presents facts about Woolly Mammoths, hand in hand with playful rhyming verses that bring the animal to life. The verse on each page, uses descriptive language to inform the reader about the lifestyle and gives a personality to the Woolly Mammoth. These ideas are then explained from a factual point of view in columns down the side - enabling children to see the truth behind the whimsical language. The verses develop into the relationship between Humans (of the Ice Age) and the Woolly Mammoths - the story draws to a close with the suggestion that one day they'll be gone without a trace - a sentiment supported by the facts behind this on the same page. An interesting way to discuss the impact of our actions as humans on the environment and animals around us - perhaps a good link to looking at some of the endangered species today.This book would be good to link into topics on Ice Age, Endangered animals and both descriptive or non-fiction writing. Some of the vocabulary is of a higher level, and that is why I've said this book is for 9+ year olds, but higher ability 7/8 year olds, or those reading with an adult, could also probably access the book well. 32 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Lizi Coombs, teacher.

Woolly Mammoth
Vivian French, David Melling

ISBN 9781444922288

This is the second in a series of books about Sam J. Butterbiggins and his quest to become a knight. Sam lives with his Aunt, Uncle and Cousin in Mothsdale Castle, a place which doubles as 'Luxury Holiday Accommodation for Dragons, Griffins and Other Regal Beasts', and, in the first book, he discovered a secret parchment with directions on how to become a knight and managed to perform his first daring deed. Now, what he needs more than anything is a trusty snow-white steed on which to ride to his various quests, but the question is, how does he go about getting one? The instructions that appear magically on his parchment make no sense at all, besides which he and Prunella have been detailed to return Horace the warthog to his owner. The road to returning Horace unexpectedly provides many adventures, involving a country fair, an unhappy walking tree called Hazel and a pair of farm carts. Needless to say, by the end of the book, Sam has returned Horace, found a home for Hazel, solved the cabbages and milk crisis and shown kindness and understanding to a small boy - in short, he has done a number of Noble Deeds and in heart-warming fashion, receives his just reward. Generously illustrated and full of unusual but lovable characters, this book would suit independent young readers who will quickly find themselves keen to follow Sam's adventures as he strives to become a Knight. 103 pages / Ages 7-11 / Reviewed by June Hughes, school librarian.

Creature Teacher Goes Wild
Sam Watkins

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192742674

Mr Hyde is a teacher with a difference. When he gets excited, he turns into a wild uncontrollable creature that leaps about and causes all manner of mayhem. He cannot stop himself from becoming Creature Teacher so Jake, Nora and their classmates have taken it upon themselves to protect him from the Headteacher, Mrs Blunt, and the very annoying Amelia, who always seems to be spying on them. In this, the second book of the series, Jake and his classmates have been taken on a trip to 'Wacky Wilf's Wild Adventure Park', the latest venture of the eccentric and unseen billionaire, Wilfred Waldo Wellington Junior and, in a place full of excitement, they struggle to keep tabs on Mr Hyde who they fear will be unable to resist turning into Creature Teacher and getting into enormous trouble. They chase after him through the Alien Zone, the Zombie Zone and the Flower Power Fairy Zone, all the while being followed by Amelia, who suspects something is going on but does not know quite what. The book will appeal to confident young readers who will enjoy the plentiful illustrations and the wacky adventures. The ending, where the adventure park's creator is revealed and Mrs Blunt gets her comeuppance, will appeal to children's sense of justice as well as their sense of fun. 177 pages / Ages 7-11 / Reviewed by June Hughes, school librarian

Creature Teacher Goes Wild
Claire Barker

ISBN 9781409580379

Claire Barker's warm, quirky story for readers aged eight years plus, takes us into the world of the Peppers and their rambling, dilapidated family home, Starcross. It begins with the loss of a much-loved family pet, Knitbone Pepper, who finds himself not in heaven but somewhere altogether more familiar - back at his old home, Starcross, but as a 'ghost'. While his owners can't see him, a band of former pets from Starcross can, and together the loyal ghosts - who call themselves 'Beloveds' - set about helping to save Starcross from an unscrupulous council worker who wants to take the estate for herself. While the story deals with something many children experience, the loss of a much-loved family pet, and sadness this brings, it does so with a light touch and plenty of heart and humour. The book is also beautifully packaged with illustrations throughout by Ross Collins. 256 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Pamela Butchart

ISBN 9780857634818

This is the second book about life at Wigglesbottom Primary school. Three chapters of madness designed to appeal directly to primary age children. These children are faced with really dangerous situations which demand action on their part, but not necessarily the reaction their teachers would expect. The stories read as if a child is telling them - with exaggeration, becoming more and more extreme. The school swimming pool has sharks, piranhas and then jellyfish lurking in wait for unsuspecting pupils. A dog's bone was really a dinosaur's remains and during PE, the parachute made students invisible. All of which will prompt young readers to read on or make for a great story read to them before bedtime without frightening them or keeping them awake at night. There are a suitable number of diverse names and nationalities, including children with glasses, although no token wheelchair, so an inclusive primary school with stories about life as experienced by any primary age child, with no preachy 'message' - just fun. The huge colourful shark, smiling with huge teeth, on the front cover will attract many readers. The illustrations inside are shaded rather than in colour, although this does not detract from the stories, the pages good quality paper giving value for money. This book will be enjoyed by young readers starting to read for themselves, whether they are age 7 or a more reluctant reader at 11. 112 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Dawn Woods, librarian

ISBN 9780192734570

We've come to expect much from the distinctive and warm collaborations by author / illustrator duo Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre who have already produced gems like Oliver and the Seawigs and Space Cakes. Their latest collaboration, Pugs of the Frozen North, has all the quirkiness you'd want, along with the super-cuteness of 66 pugs! In the story, a young boy Shen finds himself stranded in the snowy north with 66 pugs to look after. A local girl, Sika, comes to help, and together they find themselves setting off in a sleg pulled by 66 pugs - in a race to find the Snowfather's Palace! The Race to the Top of the World comes only once in a lifetime; the spectacular prize is the chance to ask the Snowfather for your heart's desire. There are many dangers to face along the way, not least some very hungry yetis, snow trolls and the occasional sea monster - and not forgetting fellow competitors, some of whom will stop at nothing to win! This book is both a feast for the eyes and the story will feed any child's adventurous spirit. The race keeps up the pace of the story although there are enough stop-offs along the way to allow us to get to know the characters better. As well as adventure, there is lots of humour like the '50 kinds of snow' (snow-noodles anyone?) and in the villains' comeuppance (look out for the shrinksnow!). And within these cold snowy landscapes, there is bags of warmth as the individual competitors start to work together to finish their journey to the Top of the World. A hugely satisfying read, with so much to enjoy in the illustrations; ideal for readers aged eight years plus. 215 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

The Cake the Wolf and the Witch
Maudie Smith

Orion Children's Books

ISBN 9781444015607

This is a wonderfully mixed-up fairy tale in which our reluctant hero Max and his two new step siblings set out on a quest to restore order and happy endings to the Land of Ever After. Max has been a bit of a recluse since his mother died in a climbing accident. He is anxious and prefers to be safe at home. But when his father remarries, Max and his new siblings are catapulted into a make believe world. They meet all the familiar storybook characters, including a wolf that is not quite who he seems, Snow White and eight dwarves, Red Riding Hood, Ranpunzel and the gingerbread man who help them along the way. Lord Malberry, the magical protector of Land of Ever After, has mysteriously disappeared and their world is slowly dying. Evil witch Babs Haggard has stolen all the magic and she wants to erase every happy ending that ever existed. Max is filled with dread when he is chosen to go on a mission to Beyond to fight the evil witch. He is not brave, what qualities does he have that make him special? How do you go about defeating a witch armed with only a marble net, four sweets in shiny wrappers and a white wax crayon? Max's quest leads them through strange lands, treacherous country over Harsh Mountain, a Shining Pathway to a maze and a seemingly insurmountable castle. As with all quests, Max learns a lot about himself and his companions along the way. Situations test their courage and determination and not to give up. Max realises that he does have special skills and qualities and he no longer wants to be alone. He wants to win, and to return home to begin a brand new story of his own with his new family. 192 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Caroline Gosden, librarian.

The Cake the Wolf and the Witch
Elspeth Hart and the Perilous Voyage
Sarah Forbes

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781847156082

Cinderella-like, Elspeth is forced to spend her days cleaning up at the Pandora Pants School for Show-offs where she lives with her disgusting aunt, Miss Crabb, the Chief Cook at the school. Usually on the receiving end of Tatiana Firensky's spite, she has one friend in the world, a secret friend, Rory Snitter. However, when some of Elspeth's memories of her life with her parents start to come back, she begins to suspect that Miss Crabb is up to something and things start to get interesting! (192 pages / 9+ readers). In the follow-up book, Elspeth Hart and the Perilous Voyage (224 pages / 9+ readers), having escaped the School for Show Offs and the clutches of Miss Crabb, Elspeth, with the secret recipe, heads for her home. There she finds her parents have had an anonymous phone call, telling them Elspeth is abroad, so they have gone to find her. When Elspeth realises her former captors have escaped justice, have ransacked her home and stolen the recipe, she is determined to retrieve her property and put them behind bars again. This leads her to stowing away on a cruise ship, accompanied by Rory and his pet lizard, Lazlo, to track them down. Will she triumph again? A very engaging heroine, Elspeth is determined to save her family's recipe and to find her parents. Both of these books move along at a pleasing pace and the two link very well with the adventure continuing seamlessly from one to the next. Very Dahl-like in the humour, the villains are disgusting in appearance, behaviour and deed, making Elspeth's good qualities shine through all the more. In places, the author talks directly to the 'dear reader' in a chatty style which works well. The illustrations are a delight and really add to the story. The pages are edged with a hazy grey effect which frames the text. At the back of the book is the recipe for the 'Extra-Special Sticky Toffee Sauce' which (in the interests of research of course!) has been tested and it is yummy! I look forward to reading the next adventure of this plucky heroine! Reviewed by: Sue Wilsher

Elspeth Hart and the Perilous Voyage
Cressida Cowell

ISBN 9781444916584

How to Fight a Dragon's Fury, the magnificent finale to the epic adventures of the young Viking hero Hiccup and his dragon, Toothless, comes packed with fire, dragons and peril! Readers who have followed the How to Train Your Dragon series over the last decade have seen Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third complete each of his impossible tasks during which he has found the ten Lost Things hidden by Grimbeard the Ghastly a century before. Hiccup's hardest quest, however, is to come. In this final adventure, Hiccup must be crowned the true King of the Wilderwest if he is to prevent a devastating battle between humans and dragon, but enemies in the shape of the Witch and Alvin the Treacherous, as well as the implacable enmity of Dragon Furious, stand in the way of a happy ending. And what will become of the dragons, if we now live in a world where they no longer exist? In this final story, Cowell brings Hiccup's quest to become a king to an end, deftly answering all the remaining questions that the books have raised and drawing Hiccup's epic quest to a conclusion that befits the hero he has become. This is a series that really does deserve proper exploration and, if children have enjoyed the film but not read the books, do encourage them to do so. As good as the films are, the books have a depth, a humour and a warmth that only good literature can deliver. I have come across many teachers who now share book one, How to Train Your Dragon, with their class and who have been inspired by the text to develop activities around dragons and Vikings. What a wonderful way to explore these worlds. Unlike other series, the books also maintain their core readership of children aged 9+, rather than moving up the age range, so children can follow the series straight through. Enjoy! 496 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

The Girl Who Rode the Wind
Stacy Gregg

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780008124304

The Girl Who Rode the Wind by Stacy Gregg - a new addition to the pony genre - has something for everyone and is an action-packed story of adventure. Girls and boys will be fascinated by tales of Lola's journey to Italy where she finds herself competing in the dangerous ancient Palio race, following in the steps of her beloved grandmother, Nonna. Daredevil Lola's story starts in New York at her family's racing track. After an incident with the school bully, she finds herself with an unexpectedly long summer on her hands. She accompanies Nonna to her native Italy and discovers far more than she expected about her Grandmother's past and her family's heritage. Here the story delves into tales of Italy during WWII: freedom fighters, Il Duce and the fate of Nonna's family are all beautifully told. Their visit changes both of their lives; Lola embarks on an adventure with Nico, an Anglo-Arab racehorse, that she forms a lasting bond with and Nonna is finally able to lay some ghosts, that have haunted her since she left Italy in 1945, to rest. The historical element to this story gives it an extra dimension and readers will enjoy this aspect of Nonna's tale, discovering how her family were affected by the war. Lola is an excellent character; her bravery, courage and impulsive nature make her loveable. Her struggle to fit in at school will strike a chord with some readers. She is even more likeable as she matures and discovers her true talent. The relationship she develops with Nico and the new friends she makes add to her tale and are a nice contrast to the fast and adrenaline-inducing descriptions of the Palio race. 329 pages / Age range 9+ / Reviewed by Elizabeth Harris, teacher.

The Girl Who Rode the Wind
Circus Mirandus
Cassie Beasley

Chicken House Ltd

ISBN 9781910002575

Micah's Grandfather, Ephraim, tells him stories about the magical place of Circus Mirandus and how it changed his life as boy. Now Micah's Grandfather is sick and with not long left, it is Micah's job to help find Circus Mirandus, to see if the magic is real and can help his Grandfather. Although there is the problem of his tyrant of an Aunt, Gertrudis, Michah also has the help of his new friend Jenny. It is up to the pair of them to hunt down the circus and the illusive Lightbender to help his Grandfather by retrieving his Grandfather's 'miracle', which he has saved since a young boy. I loved this book and the way in which the story unfolds chapter by chapter. I was hooked and had to keep reading to find out what happens to Micah and his Grandfather. After reading the book I wanted Circus Mirandus to be real, as the book makes you want to believe in its magical world. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, which is Cassie Beasley's debut, and I am looking forward to seeing what she writes next. 293 Pages/ Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Lauren Maidman.

Circus Mirandus
Gorilla Dawn
Gill Lewis

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192739179

Another amazing social and environmental piece from Gill Lewis, set deep in the African jungle, we are caught in the midst of war, murder, gorilla trading and environmental destruction in the name of progress. Powerful and thought-provoking from the start, I read it straight through to the end, unable to put it down. Imara is the Spirit guide for the Black Mamba and his band of rebel soldiers, she believes that she has the devil inside her and that he talks to her, directing her actions. Everyone else believes that to look into her eyes is to see their own death. The rebel soldiers bring death and destruction in their wake, stealing children, food and supplies as they travel to find coltan, a dull, grey stone, crucial to the production of computers and mobile phones all over the world. Bobo is the son of a ranger whose duty it is to protect the gorillas in the mountains. When the mzungus (whites) come to trade with the rebels, they bring guns and ask for a gorilla baby to be found for them. Killing the Silverback and stealing the gorilla from its mother, the rebels carry the baby away from all it has ever known, in much the same way as they take boys from their villages and train them to be soldiers. Imara is expected to keep the gorilla alive and, with the help of Saka, Frog and Bobo, she discovers that friendship and love are not weaknesses. We learn that although the country seems steeped in corruption, smuggling and murder, good finds a way through in the guise of the rangers, the Halfway House, the United Nations. We each have a choice; with each dawn we need to ask ourselves, what is our part in this? How are we to use this day to make the next one a better world Reviewed by: Kerra Dagley

Gorilla Dawn
A Magical Venice story: The Water Horse: Book 1
Holly Webb

Orchard Books

ISBN 9781408327623

There will not be many young readers who have not encountered the books of Holly Webb at some time or another so this first book in a new series will find a ready audience. Set in Venice at some indeterminate time, the book introduces us to Princess Olivia as she makes a momentous discovery while attending a masked ball and, for the first time, questions the world around her, the people in it and, indeed, her own life. Her father, the Duke, is ailing and Venice itself is threatened by the waters that surround it. Lady Sofia, sister to the Duke, and her son, Zuan, try to use the situation to wrest power away from the Duke and his rightful heir, Olivia. Into this mix of intrigue and complicated family relationships, Webb introduces the magical forces which preserve Venice against the force of the water. We meet Lucian, the Water Horse, invisible for so many years as the magic powers of the people waned, who is overjoyed to find that Olivia can see and hear him, and not just Olivia, but an entire group of beggar children. The scene is thus set for a confrontation between the forces of good, led by Olivia and Lucian, and the forces of evil, led by Lady Sofia and Zuan. This book will appeal to confident, independent readers, looking for a story with a strong plot and a sense of adventure. The character of Olivia is well drawn and the changes in her relationship with her servant, Etta, echo the changes in her life and in the city itself. The book concludes with a sneak preview of the next book in the series which will encourage readers who enjoyed this book to seek it out. 250 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by June Hughes, school librarian

A Magical Venice story: The Water Horse: Book 1
Lockdown
Peter Jay Black

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN 9781408851470

Fans of series including Alex Rider and TimeRiders will thoroughly enjoy these fast-paced, gadget-laden stories in which a group of highly talented and motivated teenagers - the 'Urban Outlaws' of the piece - grapple with computer viruses, shadowy mentors and some very bad guys. Lockdown is the third book in the series and although you won't need to have read the first two books to enjoy this one, it would help to place all the villains of the piece. In the first book, the Urban Outlaws managed to over-ride a computer virus to get a powerful computer going - but now that same virus has been stolen by Hector, who plans to use it to hack the secrets of the world. In a journey that takes them to the States, the Urban Outlaws have two missions to complete against the clock - and as they do so, their enemies are closing in. The fast pace of these books makes them ideal for reluctant as well as eager readers, and both girls and boys. The fact that the characters rely on their own skills to complete their missions - whether that's using physical parkour skills or finding their way around electronics - also makes these aspirational. Highly recommended for readers aged 10+ through to early secondary years. 320 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Lockdown