NEW TITLES

Many of the books in this month's selection are already receiving a lot of attention, including Clare Furniss's How Not to Disappear and Twenty Questions for Gloria by Martyn Bedford. The Young Adult market is thriving and it's great to see such a wide selection of strong titles available to teenaged readers.

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.

K-9
Rohan Gavin

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN 9781408867631

The second in the Knightley and Sons series. A teenage detective, Darkus Knightley, has to help his father solve the mystery of werewolf-like beasts roaming modern day London with the help of his new partner, a dog. The story opens with a fantastic description of one of the ferocious beasts and takes us racing around the city trying to discover the truth about those creatures before the next full moon. Definitely a book for older primary school readers and young adults as it contains some descriptions or events which may frighten younger readers. Some sections of dialogue are written in Scottish dialect, providing challenge for confident readers. I would recommend these for young fans of Sherlock and mystery/ detective stories in general. 320 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Jo Cummins, teacher.

K-9
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
Twenty Questions for Gloria
Martyn Bedford

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406363531

Twenty Questions for Gloria: Two go missing. One comes back. Which already invites a couple of questions: who goes missing? Why does one come back? and for that matter which one comes back?This is a story about Gloria; tired of her ordinary life, starting to question the point of it all, the endless monotony of school and the tedium of existence. Cue mysterious boy. He enters her classroom and acts in a way she wishes she could. Unbound by convention, unconcerned by opinions of others. He's everything her life isn't, he breezes in with no explanation and breezes out - and the seeds of their friendship are sown. By the time she learns the truth about him, Gloria is a long way from home. The story starts in a police interview and flips between the interview and the events leading up to it. The narration is clever, holding back just enough at each turn to maintain the intrigue. It's a well-told, enjoyable story with rounded characters that I really want a happy ending for - and will gladly recommend! The proof copy had a guide of 12+ which I'd agree with. I struggle to place it in a genre, the blurb calls it a psychological thriller... 304 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Catherine Purcell, librarian.

Twenty Questions for Gloria
Clare Furniss

ISBN 9781471120305

Hatti's best friends are away for the summer, having a great time, leaving her with her chaotic family life, her job at the 'Happy Diner' - and the discovery that she is pregnant. Things are further complicated by a phone call introducing her to a relative she knew nothing about - her great aunt, Gloria - a wonderfully irreverent and quirky old lady. But Gloria is losing her memory. The two women set off together to confront the secrets from Gloria's past on a trip that helps them both. This is a very powerful and moving story. Clare Furniss has an amazing ability to create and develop very real, yet highly individual characters and to sustain them throughout the book, allowing the reader to feel attached and engaged to each one. Hattie's family is chaotic and crazy, but full of love. The twins are fantastic - Alice is an absolute monster! - and Carl, her mother's partner (desperate to be her husband!), develops as Hattie's understanding of him grows. The reader learns about Kat and Reuben, Hattie's friends, mainly through her eyes as they are both off doing their thing for the summer and again, as Hattie reflects and matures, so our understanding of them does too. Even very minor characters, like Peggy come alive! However, it is Gloria who stays with you long after you have finished the book. Her story, her strength, the secrets that are uncovered, the relationship that develops between her and Hattie - leave you with much to think about and reflect on. You said it was memories, and without those we're nobody. But maybe that's not right. It's not memories. It's what we feel and what other people feel about us. A beautiful and very special book- one that I will read again and again. 406 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

The Crossover
Kwame Alexander

Andersen Press Ltd

ISBN 9781783443673

Crossover is a breath-taking book, with far reaching appeal. Issues of friendship, growing up, brotherhood, the realisation that parents aren't infallible are meticulously handled, all against a strong basketball backdrop that gives the novel a glorious beat and rhythm. Written in free verse, the style is original and hooks instantly. Reading more like an extended rap song than traditional poetry, this is a book with masses of 'boy appeal'. Even the typography is inventive and impressive! If you're looking to engage reluctant readers, this is the book for you. If you're looking to engage students with poetry, this is the book for you. If you're looking for a damn good read that will rip you apart and make you remember just how powerful books can be, this is most definitely the book for you. 240 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Amy McKay, school librarian.

The Crossover
Anna and the Swallow Man
Gavriel Savit

The Bodley Head Ltd

ISBN 9781782300526

Anna is only seven years old when she is left by her father in the care of a friend. Due to events beyond his control, it soon becomes apparent that her father will never return and these are dangerous times; soldiers are on every corner and Anna is abandoned by the friend to fend for herself. Desperate and alone she follows a strange man who can speak several languages and talk to birds. The Swallow Man is a master of assessing situations and people; together they transverse the country surviving by living off the land and people where they can, whilst the horrors of war rage all around. This is a beautifully written book, almost like a fairy-tale. The Swallow Man uses analogies to teach Anna as she grows up. The German and Russian soldiers are wolves and bears, whilst stealing, lying and defence are all part of another language - Road. I had to pause or close the book several times and didn't really want the story to end. As it is the reader is left to find their own ending, something I usually hate and that was my initial reaction. I think, however, on reflection, the author has chosen the best possible ending and my only complaint would be the use of two swear words. This may sound silly but the story is so lyrical throughout that I think he could have managed to find other words to portray this particular character in the way he wanted to the audience. Highly recommended. 240 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Lorraine Ansell, school librarian.

Anna and the Swallow Man
The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl
Melissa Keil

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781847156839

It is that long, luxurious summer after high school is finished for ever and before the rest of your life starts. Alba lives in Eden Valley, a small no-place of a town where nothing ever happens, and is using the summer to hang out with her friends, draw awesome Cinnamon Girl cartoons and avoid thinking of what to do next. All changes when the End of the World is announced on youtube, and Eden Valley is named as the only safe place to be. Suddenly everyone is moving to Eden Valley, and Alba's life is changed dramatically. Daniel, Alba's childhood friend, returns to the town after years playing a screen heartthrob in a soap and starts to make romantic advances. Her best friend since forever, Grady, suddenly starts acting weird. Her mother's cafe is swamped by hippies and other colourful characters that've descended on the town. I loved the mixture of the approaching apocalypse and the approach of Alba's future in which everything is uncertain except the fact that her friends would all be moving away. So her world is ending one way or another and she's finding it difficult to cope with and, given the array of amazing friends she has, I'm not surprised. Melissa Keil has found a funny and novel way of approaching the coming of age book. Teen girls will love it. 369 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Melanie Chadwick, school librarian.

The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl
Wild Lily
K. M. Peyton

David Fickling Books

ISBN 9781910200506

I have a confession to make; I've never read a book by K M Peyton. Not being a fan of stories involving horses, which many of them are, I just have never chosen to read one. I am very glad that now I have. Wild Lily is a sweeping drama that spans a lifetime and you can't help but fall in love with the heroine, Lily. She is a young girl born into a life of hard work and essentially poverty, but she never complains. Lily is in love the rich boy next door, Antony, who happens to live in the big mansion house where her father works in the grounds and her love for Antony remains steadfast throughout, despite his disregard and lack of care toward her. Whilst they are friends of sorts, Antony relies on Lily a little too heavily but she is happy to oblige, helping him with everything from learning to fly a plane and parachute jumps to organising a party while his father is abroad. Antony lives with his father, a disinterested man absorbed in business and his sister, Helen, who is beautiful, but blind and deaf. On the face of it, the family are very wealthy and Antony attends Eton. Other characters include Antony's school 'chums', friends of convenience perhaps at first, some of whom show their true worth as the story progresses with tragedy and misfortune striking twice in succession. The story also features some of the locals, who provide a further glimpse into the life of a village in the 1920s and how the rich folk who live in the big house could have such an impact on everyone, for good and for bad. Lily brings the whole cast together, with her hopes for the future, her uncompromising spirit and her desire to remain true to her feelings for Antony, and also to look after her younger brother and ageing father. You're never quite sure whether true happiness will evade Lily and whether Antony will one day realise her true worth. Wild Lily full of excitement, humour, adventure, mystery, bereavement, friendship and above all, hope. It is an old-fashioned story, written without the need for bells and whistle, magic or monsters and not a dystopian world in sight, which frankly I found refreshing in a climate where so many young people's books aim to be more weird and wacky than the last one. And I absolutely loved the ending of this story, which shows so wonderfully how it feels to be alive! Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Victoria Dilly

Wild Lily
Zeroes
Scott Westerfeld

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471124891

The superhero story is one that has been told many times, and the heroes, or Zeroes, of this book are nothing new to the genre. What is new though is how this group of teenage misfits respond to having such powers. The fact that they call themselves Zeroes doesn't just refer to the fact that they were all born in 2000: in some way, each of them is a social zero, often caused by the very power that gives them the potential of being a hero. Written in the third person, each chapter alternates between the different characters - with their Zero name heading the chapter. The descriptions of how their powers influence how they perceived the world, and how they actually used those powers, made each voice very distinct, especially so with Crash and Mob. You find your view of each character changing slightly, depending on whose viewpoint you are reading. The events of the book are just that little bit impossible (which is expected with a superhero story), but the switch in lead characters makes it so much more believable as you can understand why each person took the steps that they did. Most of the characters have known each other for a while before the events of the book, but Westerfeld doesn't waste time with back story. He dives straight into the action and fills in the gaps as the story progresses. This is cleverly and subtly done, so you are not left wondering. There is no wasted space in this book: down time for one character is action-central for another. The finale is literally explosive. I really enjoyed Zeroes and think there is real potential for a great series The characters are flawed and human, just with powers. If superheroes really did appear, I bet they would be just like the Zeroes. I would give this book 5 out of 5 and I would recommend it to teenagers aged 14 and upwards (some elements are not suitable for younger teens). 560 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Hayley Nicholson, librarian.

Zeroes