NEW TITLES

The books in this selection range from picture books and young, illustrated fiction through to titles for confident readers in upper KS2.

What's So Special About Shakespeare?
Michael Rosen

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406367416

'Watching Shakespeare's plays is like being invited into a house full of amazing rooms...' In this book, Michael Rosen sets out to answer many questions about the life and times of the amazing William Shakespeare. Perfect for dipping into or for reading cover to cover, this is a lively and accessible introduction to the drama, life and legacy of the great man. An excellent book for using in the classroom, 'What's So Special...' includes a detailed timeline at the back which includes many world events alongside those of Shakespeare's life and events in England. This offers many opportunities for further research into many areas which children might not otherwise find out about. Each chapter is fairly short and sprinkled with illustrations and cartoons, creating a light-hearted, humorous tone. There are also various quotes from the plays where appropriate to the text. A great introduction to Shakespeare, packed full of facts, presented in an appealing way - this is a perfect addition to any school library or class book corner! 160 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

What's So Special About Shakespeare?
Footpath Flowers
Jon Arno Lawson

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406365672

Footpath Flowers (now available in paperback) is delicate, beautiful and carries a poignant message. Through its exquisite ink and watercolour illustrations, Footpath Flowers tells the story of a young girl and her distracted father. As they walk home, through the bustling city, she finds beauty in the most unlikely of places, gathering the flowers that have grown through the gaps and cracks in their grey concrete surroundings. All the while, her father is oblivious to the little treasures his daughter gathers and does not notice as she shares the flowers with the animals and people she meets. With each little gesture of kindness, whether it is noticed or ignored, the world around her is transformed. Footpath Flowers is a testament to the joy and innocence of childhood, a time when magic can be found where you would least expect it. Wordless pictures are an invaluable resource for the home and classrooms, and this one is a particular gem as it can be enjoyed and used with children of all ages but most importantly, in depth discussions can take place without the need to be able to decode any text - perfect for older readers who may have excellent comprehension and reasoning skills but a lower reading age. Through discussion of the illustrations, comprehension and inference skills can be practised and children can be encouraged to ask questions: How do they know? Why do they think that? Children would benefit from discussing the messages Footpath Flowers carries - that even the smallest gesture of kindness is mutually beneficial - and linking them to their own experiences. The beautiful illustrations, and careful study of the artist's use of colour, create an excellent canvas for descriptive writing and children could use carefully selected language to describe contrasting scenes, focusing on building atmosphere with their chose vocabulary. This could develop into a written narrative of all or part of the story. Footpath Flowers is a real treasure and belongs in every school library and classroom. Picture Book /Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Torie Walton, teacher

Footpath Flowers
Knitbone Pepper and the Last Circus Tiger
Claire Barker

Usborne Publishing Ltd

ISBN 9781409580386

The inhabitants of Starcross Hall are all really quite unusual. It's a place where normal house rules simply don't apply. It's where generations of beloved Pepper ghost pets, a goose, monkey, hamster, amongst others, play hide and seek. Winnie, the youngest Pepper is the only living person who can see them and is an honorary member of the Spirits of Starcross, as the owner of Knitbone and his beloved. Knitbone Pepper is a dead special ghost dog, he's the ghost pet that all the others look up to. When Lord Starcross has a dream, he decides 'hats are where it's at' so the family hat collection should be expanded and opened to the public, nothing can stop him. At the last minute, the Beloved Pet ghosts have to step in and create order out of the Pepper chaos, setting up all the displays so that the collection can open. Winnie and the Spirits of Starcross are essential in making a success out of the exhibition, getting free advertising and making their ghostly presence felt to amuse the public. Just when you think all is well, the circus arrives and Knitbone senses something strange. Roojoo is the last circus tiger and he is lonely. The story races on with the National Hat Museum of India arranging a loan of the Eye of Mumbai, a jewel thief and the spirits trying to find the last page of the Good Ghost Guide in order to reunite with his Beloved before time runs out. Claire Barker's characters are warm and full of life, she has included lots of fun and frolicks throughout the story to keep the momentum going. I loved the interaction between the spirits and the Security Guards, but the description of Magpie McCracken's attempt to retrieve the Eye of Mumbai was hilarious. Ross Collins' beautiful drawn little vignettes add humour and even more personality to the characters, bringing the story and the individuals to life. 256 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Kerra Dagley, school librarian.

Knitbone Pepper and the Last Circus Tiger
Captain Pug
Laura James

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN 9781408866368

Pug is going on a seafaring adventure. He's had jam tarts for breakfast. He' wearing a smart sailor suit. There's just one problem... Pug is afraid of water! Pug is the adored, pampered pet of the equally pampered Lady Miranda. When housekeeper Wendy announces that, today, Lady Miranda, is attending a birthday party at the boating lake, she immediately finds Pug a sailor suit to wear and declares him to be Captain Pug. As Pug would prefer to stay on dry land eating jam tarts, he is not too sure about this adventure. And an adventure it turns out to be, as due to a series of mishaps, mostly involving food, Pug finds himself sailing aboard a variety of vessels, with Lady Miranda in pursuit to try and rescue him. This is the first title in a planned series, with Cowboy Pug due early next year. There are a burgeoning number of colour illustrated stories for newly confident readers, which help to bridge the gap from picture books to longer novels and Captain Pug is a welcome addition to the shelves. Funny and exciting, it will appeal to young dog lovers of 7+. 128 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, librarian.

Captain Pug
World's Greatest Liar: 2016
Barry Hutchison

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781847156730

Dylan Malone aka Beaky, could possibly be the world's greatest liar. Whether he's leading expeditions to the north pole, boasting of his psychic abilities, boxing swans in the park or dodging deadly deceases - Beaky will have a creative answer for everything. However, when extended family members come to stay for the weekend Beaky's antics go too far. During a failed family outing, Beaky and his sister Jodie find themselves at Madame Shirley's Marvellous Emporium of Peculiarities. Amongst the oddities of the emporium is a 'Truth Telling Machine' and at her wits end, Jodie persuades him to give it a try. Much to everyone's astonishment, Beaky emerges from the machine unable to tell a lie. When even the threat of sharing an awful picture of Beaky via social media isn't enough to force a lie out of him, Jodie is convinced too. Creative chaos ensues, as Beaky's truth telling causes big problems. He just can't help himself! If only he could just keep his mouth shut; it looks like the family secrets won't stay secrets for much longer. Recommended for anyone who isn't offended by toilet humour and the banter of modern day families, this book is a real giggle. It would be fun to explore some of the lies told by Beaky and whether readers can be even more creative? For example, what would Beaky say about not handing in his homework on time? It would also be interesting to investigate other literary fibbers, most notably the wonderful Pinocchio - readers might notice that both Beaky and Pinocchio have rather large noses in common! Beaky's lies, whilst very creative, aren't very convincing - not to his family and friends anyway! It would be a challenge to create more convincing tall stories and to share them along side true stories them with the intention of calling out the bluff! 192 pages / Ages 7/8+ / Reviewed by Emily Beale, school librarian.

World's Greatest Liar: 2016
Smart About Sharks
Owen Davey

Flying Eye Books

ISBN 9781909263918

Did you know that sharks can be found swimming in every ocean on the planet? Sharks are some of the most successful underwater hunters on Earth but there is so much more to learn about these amazing fish. Owen Davey's latest book Smart About Sharks explores so much about what makes a shark, a shark. Over the last 200 million years they have evolved to become the perfect predators, adapting to their environments and passing these characteristics from generation to generation, making them the kings of the seas. This incredible book has something for every shark/marine enthusiast to sink their teeth into. Whether it's finding about the variety of sharks - the fastest, the highest jumper, the laziest - or simply learning about how social they are, this book is full of the most amazing fishy facts. Take a look at the average size of different species compared to each other and get to know both the smallest and the largest varieties of shark. With so many weird and wonderful shark families you will be amazed by the Goblin Shark, the Tropical Sawshark and even the Pyjama Shark! Davey closes the book with a fascinating look at shark mythology. Many cultures around the world respect the shark, especially those that swim in surrounding waters, so it is natural that many legends and traditional tales feature these amazing creatures. Discover Mana the Aboriginal shark that created the rivers of Australia, Ka-moho-ali'i the Hawaiian fish god and Dakuwaqa the Fijian half-man, half-shark god who is afraid of the giant octopus goddess. Owen Davey's unique style and restricted colour palette of pink, turquoise & lemon make this book a visual feast. The design is clean and uncluttered but full of artistic charm. Each page balances the authoritative feel of a 1950's style text book with a colourful and engaging picture book simply begging to be enjoyed. Recommended to fans of Mad About Monkeys and the other recent publications from Flying Eye. This book is as much a work of art as it is a fact file of amazing information about the wonderful world of sharks.

Smart About Sharks
Binny Bewitched: Book 3
Hilary McKay

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444925432

This is the third in Hilary McKay's series of books chronicling the adventures of Belinda Cornwallis (Binny for short), her flute playing sister Clem, her indescribable brother James and their long-suffering mother. The family are still living in their tiny rented cottage while Pete the builder repairs the roof and all manner of other odd jobs around the house. Money is scarce and Mum has a birthday coming up but, by a stroke of luck, Binny comes across some notes at the cashpoint machine, just waiting for someone to take them home. Binny does so, in a moment of madness thinking of all the things she can do and buy with the money to make her family's life easier. The next morning, however, her conscience has got the better of her and she decides to return the money but, in her desire to keep the money secret the night before, she has hidden it so well that she now cannot find it. Is it somewhere amongst the pile of clutter that seems to follow Binny and her family around or has someone else taken it? Hilary McKay has created a collection of endearing characters in the Cornwallis family and their friends and neighbours, including the strange Miss Piper, a witch (according to Binny) and Pete, the builder who works tirelessly but never seems to ask for payment. The search for the missing money throws up all manner of complications and misunderstandings but, at the heart of the story, is a tale of family and friendship, which confident young readers will enjoy. 304 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by June Hughes, school librarian.

Binny Bewitched: Book 3
Ned's Circus of Marvels (Ned's Circus of Marvels, Book 1)
Justin Fisher

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780008124526

If you have a child looking for a story that includes real life (a family and a gifted child) and magic (a flying circus, magical feats and loads of mythical creatures) then this is the book! Ned grows up as a very ordinary boy apart from the constant moves demanded by his father's work. Then, when he turns 13, Ned discovers that the world isn't as ordinary as he had believed, and nor is his family. With the veil between our world and the dark world of magic threatening to dissolve, it is up to Ned and a girl called Lucy to save it. Ned, it turns out, is an Engineer while Lucy is a Medic, and between them they have the skills to keep the magical creatures - good and bad - behind the veil and so to save the world. That's the story, and it's good, but add to that the details that Justin Fisher provides and it becomes a rich and sparkling treasure trove of magical creatures, talking robotic mice, fearsome nuns and brave circus performers. The characters, like George the gentlemanly talking ape and Kitty the ancient seer who has a soft spot for Hello Kitty accessories, are brilliantly drawn, and there is real sadness and jeopardy in all their lives, which makes you want to believe in this troupe of performers and their ringmaster, the wonderful - but cursed - Benissimo. This is a great adventure story that confident readers will devour! 448 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Dawn Chiver.

Ned's Circus of Marvels (Ned's Circus of Marvels, Book 1)
Six
M. M. Vaughan

Alma Books Ltd

ISBN 9781846883958

There's no surprise that SIX was chosen for The Reading Agency's Big Friendly Read as part of the Summer Reading Challenge 2016, it really is well-deserved. A great middle grade read. It has science fiction, mystery, sinister science projects veiled in secrecy, abduction, ruthless mega corporation and a white pig! Something for everyone, surely! We're introduced to Parker, Emma and their dad, Dr Geoffrey Banks (a molecular biophysicist) as they start afresh in Upstate New York following their mother's death. Having a rough day in his first week at his new school, Parker meets Michael in the technology storeroom. With a mutual interest in computing (Michael's in software and Parker's the hardware) they develop a friendly respect and indeed friendship. In fact when Parker's dad disappears, Parker and Emma turn to Michael for help. This is such an exciting book! I've missed the kind of ruthless James Bond cat-stroking super villain with big ideas of a brave new world order - for those that can pay. The kind of mega corporation entwined in world economies. Though admittedly those are more shadows in the wings, hugging the darkness of the story - which I hope means they build their part in a sequel? (Tell me there's a sequel!). There is a great dynamic between the children as they try and find the scientist Dr Banks mentioned who might be able to help them. 300 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Catherine Purcell, school librarian.

Six
The Other Alice
Michelle Harrison

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471124273

Alice loves to write stories but she always has to finish them. Experience has taught her that, if she leaves a story unfinished, her characters step out of the story and go in search of their own ending. This might prove to be fun and entertaining but what would happen if the character that leapt across into the real world was evil and sought an ending that only meant bad things for the other characters and for the writer herself? This is the premise of Michelle Harrison's latest book, as we follow Midge's search for his older (half) sister, Alice, who has disappeared at the same time as some rather strange people have suddenly turned up. Midge struggles to tell friend from foe as he attempts to use Alice's notebooks to guide him to her before the evil Dolly Weaver finds her and writes her own ending. Along the way, Midge comes across an array of strange characters; Piper, Ramone, Mr Ramblebrook and his Museum of Unfinished Stories, and Gypsy, who is so like Alice in many ways. There is also Tabitha, a tea- drinking, talking black cat, whose introduction initially seemed to jar with the general tone of menace and unease generated by the other characters. Tabitha, however, proves to be a pivotal part of the story in its later stages. This book will appeal to confident young readers with its mix of riddles and fairy tales, magic and stories. Midge's determination to save Alice leads him into great personal peril but his love for his sister keeps him going, no matter how hopeless the situation seems and brings the story to its very dramatic conclusion. 338 pages / ages 10+ / Reviewed by June Hughes, school librarian

The Other Alice
The House on Hummingbird Island
Sam Angus

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781447263036

'The air was soft and still as if once a spell was cast over the house that had forever enchanted it and left it there in shimmering dream-like beauty', this is how Idie rediscovers the house on Hummingbird Island after her twelve year absence. Sent to England to live with her grandfather, the spirited and utterly loveable Idie returns to the West Indies plantation home of her inheritance where she finds a menagerie of local wildlife, tales of ghosts and untold secrets about her mother and the past. Whilst Idie attempts to put together the puzzle of her family's history, she earns the respect of all around her and the friendship of Austin. Surrounding themselves with the animals of the island they build a haven that the dark secrets of the past greedily attempts to destroy. Idie's story spans several years and inevitably the effects of the first world war reach her tiny home. She watches as the men of the island slowly leave to serve and fight along side British comrades with the hope of earning for themselves respect and racial equality. Idie watches helplessly as she witnesses the opposite, discrimination of the worst kind, which effects the people she has grown to love. At the end of the war Idie is faced with a choice - does she return as mistress to her childhood home, or resolutely continue to forge a life in her Caribbean home? At the conclusion of the story, it is her unprejudiced care and consideration for others that proves to be the key that finally unlocks the story of her past and brings about a well earned resolution. Sam Angus's characters jump off of the page, either loveable or loathsome, making this book a throughly enjoyable read. The plot has great pace and the inclusion of letters to and from the characters makes for a well rounded addition to the story. A wonderfully written, poignant tale, so eloquently told about how the past can be healed through the sheer grit of a determined young spirit. Readers will adore Idie and the creative unfolding of this beautiful story. Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Emily Beale, school librarian

The House on Hummingbird Island
Stormwalker
Mike Revell

Quercus Children's Books

ISBN 9781784290696

Twelve year old Owen and his Dad are coming to terms with life a year after the death of Owen's mother. Or rather, they are not - her ashes remain in an urn on the mantelpiece; Owen's Dad, a published author, has not written a word since she died; home life is a disorganised jumble of takeaways and missed parents' evenings. Owen aches to bring back the Dad he knew and, having accidentally stumbled across a leaflet about 'Artistic Healing', suggests that his Dad should go to the meetings. Reluctantly, Dad agrees and comes back fired up to begin writing again and this is when life becomes very strange indeed for Owen. In the middle of the night, Owen wakes to discover he is in another world, far in the future, and his life, and those of his friends, are in danger from the Darkness. Is there a link between the book his Dad is writing and the strange things that are happening to Owen? This is really a book of two stories, deftly combined. One, the serious, realistic one, deals with grief and family relationships following the premature loss of a loved one. The second, the imaginative fantasy set in the future, is an exciting adventure story of danger and betrayal versus loyalty and courage. Both elements are brought together by Owen's realisation that he is a character in his father's book and by his efforts to keep his Dad motivated to finish the story. Competent, assured young readers will identify with Owen, the schoolboy interested in football and being with his friends. They will enjoy the excitement of his adventures in the other world created by his father. They will get an insight into grief, loss and depression but also into hope, the power of love and the strength of family ties. 320 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by June Hughes, school librarian.

Stormwalker
Booked
Kwame Alexander

Andersen Press Ltd

ISBN 9781783444656

Told in poetic form, Booked is about Nick, a keen footballer, who has to deal with bullying, family issues and impressing the girl of his dreams. Supported by his best friend and team rival, Coby and the rapping school librarian, Nick works through his problems. Incredibly readable, Booked is written in achievable poems, offering a very satisfying, well paced story for the most reluctant reader. The author manages to pack in information about words, even using footnotes - I have a touch of 'verbomania' myself! - whilst conveying all the action of a football match on the next page. Perfect for anyone who is looking for something a bit different with strong characters, Booked is an appealing read for reluctant and enthusiastic readers alike. 320 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

Booked