NEW TITLES

Ranging from young fiction to more sophisticated reads for children in upper KS2, this is a broad selection of titles which all have something to offer growing readers - and for teachers and parents, we also glance at coding and Chaucer's Canterbury Tales retellings.

Thunderbot's Day of Doom
Alan MacDonald

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN 9781408825266

This is the forth book in the 'Superhero School' Series. Superheroes in training - Stan, Minnie, Miles and Pudding the Wonderdog are again put to the test, when disgruntled local weather man Dennis Trigg highjacks the winning weather robot from the school science fair. High jinks ensue in this fast paced meteorological tale. The students have to battle through tornadoes, blizzards and the odd crash landing in the school compost heap whilst Thunderbot holds Britain's Summer to ransom! The adventure culminates on the doorstep of Buckingham Palace where, despite the difficulties of parking the school mini bus, 'Mighty High's' students are victorious. The story is interspersed with excerpts from 'The Pocket Guide for Superheroes' which adds an interesting break in the flow of the plot and added enlightenment on everything you might need to know to save the world. Well-imagined whole page illustrations throughout the book make the story even more enjoyable. This is a great series for emerging independent readers, especially those with a fascination with all things 'super'! 146 pages (with illustrations) / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Emily Beale, librarian.

Thunderbot's Day of Doom
Rise of the Slippery Sea Monster
Gareth P. Jones

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781847156648

The fourth book in the Steampunk Pirate series tells the story of role reversal for the crew of the Leaky Battery. Still wanted by their owner, the King of England, they find themselves the targets of piracy when their own stolen gold is stolen from them. Captain Clockheart, Lexi, Gadge and cabin boy/girl Pendel at first suspect one of their own - First Mate Mainspring. After a dubious trial, the proposed punishment is to be marooned on a desert island. The Steampunk Pirates learn they are not the only ones to have lost their recent treasure haul, when the dread captain Inkybeard arrives on the scene with his new cabin boy Kidd. When Kidd suggests that the stolen treasure is linked to the Slippery Sea Monster the Pirates are convinced that they should follow the monster to its underwater lair to take back what is rightfully theirs. Unbeknown to them, cabin boy Kidd has masterminded an elaborate plot to recover his father's lost fortune. In the end, the crew of the Leaky Battery triumph, recover their treasure and then some, and learn that freedom is more important then gold and jewels; and most importantly - you can't trust a pirate! With more twists then the storyline of a Star Wars movie, and hilarious, fast-paced dialogue from well-constructed characters, the forth book in the Steampunk Pirates series is hard to put down. Recommended for anyone who enjoys a fast paced pirate tale, or a book with gadgets (especially of the steam powered variety). 160 pages, illustrated / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Emily Beale.

Rise of the Slippery Sea Monster
Dr Dominic Walliman, Ben Newman

ISBN 9781909263079

My son and I loved this book and the accompanying app! We received the app first, my six-year-old dived straight in and started his first space mission. The app seemed easy to use and visually appealing. It taught us both a lot about our solar system. The competitive element of the app really motivated my son to read and absorb the information given; he soon learnt that you couldn't be successful just guessing the answers! The book arrived a bit later and was immediately snatched out of my hands by my son and devoured on the sofa. The beautiful illustrations really helped explain the concepts being discussed and greatly add to the book. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book and app to other children and would probably suggest it's suitable from Key Stage 2 due to some technical scientific vocab but there is no reason why younger readers couldn't enjoy it if supported by an adult. A real must-have for any budding space explorer or astrophysicist! 64 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Jo Cummins, literacy manager.

Coding for Beginners Using Scratch
Jonathan Melmoth

Usborne Publishing Ltd

ISBN 9781409599357

Computing and coding are two of the biggest buzzwords in education in recent times, particularly at primary level. Initiatives like the Hour of Code and programs like Scratch offer a simple yet informative and entertaining entry into the world of coding. The book offers a guide to 15 different Scratch activities, starting from the most basic of tasks to activities of increasing complexity. Steps are explained simply and in plain language and blocks of coding are illustrated on each page as an easy to follow guide. Simpler activities are explained in a double page spread. As the activities become more complex, activities are explained over six pages and can sometimes be difficult to follow. Activities can be matched to different targets within the Computing curriculum (but not identified as such in the book - you'll have to do that yourself). All instructions are related to the online version of Scratch; if you have the downloaded version, some of the instructions may have to be adapted. In addition, the book has a guide to saving and sharing on Scratch, an extensive menu listing and explaining every instruction available on the program, and a useful glossary. There is also a link to a website which offers additional support for the activities in the book and a range of other coding resources. Illustrations are simple and of limited appeal to what would appear to be the target audience. However, the ring-bound format is very useful when using the book for reference purposes. Activities and outcomes are enjoyable and satisfying, and lessons learned can be applied to the reader's own projects. This book would be of use to KS2 children, parents who would like to support their children and teachers unfamiliar with Scratch. Some activities could even be used as the basis for lesson plans. 92 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Paul Gormley, teacher.

Coding for Beginners Using Scratch
Hamish and the Neverpeople
Danny Wallace

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471123917

Hamish and his friends are back in action again! Having saved the world once, they now need to face a new threat. Something strange is happening. When the Prime Minister comes to Starkley (one of Britain's most boring towns) to film an episode of Question Me Silly, he suddenly announces to the nation, 'I really like my little blue pants'. Hamish notices a strange blank look in the Prime Minister's eyes and realises something is wrong. It's time for the PDF (Pause Defence Force) to swing into action! This is a very funny, very readable book that will appeal to younger readers looking for a longer read, older readers looking for a quicker read and everybody in between! Full of jokes and word play, the story moves at a pleasing pace and keeps you laughing throughout. What I particularly liked about this book were the characters. Hamish is essentially a very 'normal' little boy- he misses his dad; he has worries; he has good friends. He is a hero because he wants to do the right thing even though it is not easy for him. Alice is an excellent friend, supportive and feisty- and 'always prepared!'. Hamish's family are also appealing personalities - I share many of his mother's worries! (Or so my son would tell you!) & A fun read with plenty of humour and plenty of action - and someone else who struggles to spell tarquise/torkoyz- a sort of aquamarine colour! 368 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

Hamish and the Neverpeople
Confessions of an Imaginary Friend
Michelle Cuevas

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471145506

Everyone - except Fleur - ignores Jacques Papier. He can't help feeling that everyone - except Fleur - hates him. However, Jacques is completely shocked when he finds out that he is not her brother, but Fleur's imaginary friend. This is such a lovely book. Jacques is a very likeable character and it is not immediately obvious that he is the imaginary friend of the title! The chapters are mainly short and easily achievable, making this an accessible read for younger children whilst offering challenge for older readers through some of the themes explored. Full of amusing moments, this book is also touching and emotional in places as Fleur releases Jacques to find out who he really is and he embarks on a voyage of discovery, helping others as he helps himself. The conclusion of the story is just as it should be! An excellent, satisfying read! 176 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

Confessions of an Imaginary Friend
The Imaginary
A. F. Harrold

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN 9781408850169

This fantastical tale 'The Imaginary' by A.F. Harrold (now available in paperback) with sublime illustrations by Emily Gravett is a joy to behold. We are taken into a world of possibilities where the only limits are our imaginations. It tells the story of Amanda and her friend Rudger, there is only one small problem nobody else can see Rudger because he doesn't exist. He is an imaginary friend, but all friendships have their problems don't they? They are enjoying an idyllic summer when a shadow is cast upon them and their innocence is destroyed, when one day the sinister Mr Bunting knocks at the door. He can see Rudger and is on a mission to hunt him down. His problems are only just beginning when he finds himself all alone in the world. How can he survive without Amanda and can he evade the dastardly Mr Bunting? The story deals with the importance of love and friendship, the pain of loss and how the power of imagination and believing even when you can't see may just save your life. This story is full of drama and excitement and contains some eerie and scary moments which certainly had me on the edge of my seat. I wouldn't recommend it for children with a sensitive nature; the mild terror may be upsetting for them. Beautifully and thoughtfully written it truly is a compelling tale which you won't want to put down. AF Harrold has managed to craft a magnificent tale that is incredibly poignant and heart warming. Emily Gravett's illustrations enhance this story; they are stunning and they perfectly capture all the emotions you feel when reading this book of fear, wonder and despair. Overall this book is a gem and I absolutely loved it; perfect for sharing with children or for them to read independently. Ages 9+ / 224 pages / Reviewed by Jo Clarke.

The Imaginary
How to Look for a Lost Dog
Ann M. Martin

Usborne Publishing Ltd

ISBN 9781474906470

Rose, an American girl aged 12 with high-functioning autism, lives with her father and her dog, Rain - so called because they found her a year earlier, wandering in bad weather. A hurricane hits the USA and Rain goes missing. Rose struggles to find Rain but when she does, she is faced with a dilemma - should she trace Rain's original family to return her? She believes in following rules so does the right thing. Alongside the main theme, the story recounts Rose's struggles to fit in with other children who don't understand her preoccupation with rules, prime numbers and homonyms. It is an excellent portrayal of autism but initially a challenging read because of the use of homonyms. At 234 pages, it would be good for readers of 10+ although it is not an easy book to read aloud. 234 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Kathy Slater, librarian.

How to Look for a Lost Dog
Illustrated Canterbury Tales
Geoffrey Chaucer

Usborne Publishing Ltd

ISBN 9781409598312

What a great idea to produce a children's Canterbury Tales. This is a beautifully presented 210 page retelling of this classic English literature. This book is a wonderful first introduction to Chaucer, topped and tailed with a most useful explanatory preface and information about Chaucer the man. It gives us accessible versions of the Prologue and the fifteen widely varying tales. The illustrations are jewel-like with exquisite colours and the text is decorated with delicate curlicues of leaves and flowers - much like a medieval gospel. The dimensions of the book and the padded cover make it very appealing to handle, with a lovely ribbon marker. The narratives capture the energy and colour of the original, and Chaucer's language shines through in all its vigour. All in all, a creditable effort to bring Chaucer to our children but, as a school library book, I would be hesitant to allow free access to students below KS3, given the bawdy, earthy nature of some of the tales. However, younger children would certainly enjoy judiciously selected extracts read aloud and could then have a go at creating a collection of their own tales. This book is a welcome addition to a genre of classics which tends to be dominated by Shakespeare. 216 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Rose Palmer, school librarian.

Illustrated Canterbury Tales
Time Travelling with a Hamster
Ross Welford

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780008156312

When Al Chaudhury discovers his (dead) father's time machine, he is set a challenge which involves going back to the 1980s. He quickly finds himself involved in breaking and entering, setting fire to a school, lying, stealing, and trying not to lose his hamster, Alan Shearer. This is a very clever story, combining lots of science, interesting facts, humour and a very well-plotted story. Full of twists and turns, plenty of adventure and wonderful characters, the book leads to a very satisfying conclusion. Family relationships are at the heart of this story, particularly those between the male figures. Without wishing to give too much away, the relationship between Al and his father is cleverly explored and developed. Al's grandfather, Byron, is a delightful character who adds much humour and love to the story. A challenging read, this will appeal to anyone who likes a read that keeps them on their toes and offers plenty to think about. 400 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

Time Travelling with a Hamster
Rohan Gavin

ISBN 9781408860083

3 of a Kind is the third in the Knightley & Son series by Rohan Gavin, which follow a talented young detective Darkus Knightley and his father as they try to uncover the highly secretive and very deadly Combination, whose influence stretches into multiple areas of life. Although it's a family business, and Darkus is very talented at being a detective, he is also tempted by the idea of being an ordinary teenager living an everyday life - until the family's housekeeper and friend is kidnapped. Then it is a race to find her; Darkus, and is father, will need all their detective skills to save both her, and themselves. This detective series is cleverly written, with lots of tension and just the right amount of humour and while the crime is the main focus, we are also aware of the everyday life of Darkus who, like many young teenagers, experiences difficult family situations, problems relating to his father and the issue of absent parents. The 'third' detective in this '3 of a Kind' is Darkus's stepsister, Tilly, who is a capable and energetic sidekick. With lots of adventure and a strong mystery at its heart, this is a highly enjoyable read. 278 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.