NEW TITLES

From books for developing readers to story that explore much deeper issues for children, this month's range of KS2 fiction covers a wide range of abilities. It's good to see the return of characters including Daisy, Ottoline and Norm, as well as powerful young fiction from Piers Torday, Moira Young and Jacqueline Wilson.

Daisy and the Trouble with Vampires
Kes Gray

Red Fox

ISBN 9781782956082

Daisy is not sure whether to look forward to Halloween or not. Her mum refuses to celebrate the event and Jack Beechwhistle is filling her head with allsorts of scary stories about werewolves, ghosts and vampires. When Daisy's neighbour volunteers to take her 'trick or treating' there are plenty of surprises in store and just how many of Jack's stories are true? Fans of Daisy will enjoy this new story with it's familiar format of lively illustrations and text. Enjoyable and entertaining for confident young readers. 320 pages / Ages 6+ / Reviewed by Dorne Fraser, librarian.

Daisy and the Trouble with Vampires
Ottoline and the Purple Fox
Chris Riddell

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781447277927

Ottoline Brown and her companion, Mr Munroe, are having a dinner party and all their old friends, plus some new ones, are coming. While Ottoline's parents away on their mission as Roving Collectors, she stays at home, taking care of all the unusual and rare objects that they send back. This is a big task, but she has help from all sorts of people who come to Apartment 243 every day, from the meal delivery service to the clothes folding company and the door handle shiners. As well as looking after the collection, Ottoline and Mr Munroe, who is small, hairy and from a bog in Norway, have all sorts of adventures together around the city. A chance meeting with the mysterious Purple Fox sees them embark on an urban safari, learning all about the animals that live nearby. As they journey, they come across anonymous love poems stuck to lampposts across the city. Can they discover who the melancholy poet is and help mend their broken heart? With the return of Ottoline after five years, fans, and those new to the series, will enjoy this quirky, imaginative tale of fun and friendship. Chris Riddell's distinctive style includes lots of visual jokes, puns and references for readers to pick up. The black and white line illustrations are enlivened with purple highlights in a small format hardback which has great shelf appeal. Ottoline, and Chris Riddell's other creation, Goth Girl, are very popular [certainly in my school!], with readers of around eight years upwards. Entertaining and humorous, they are books in which the pictures are integral to the text, in a sophisticated read. 192 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, librarian.

Ottoline and the Purple Fox
The Fox and the Ghost King
Michael Morpurgo

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780008215774

When Leicester City Football Club miraculously won the Premier League, who better to write about it than an author who takes his inspiration from real events, Michael Morpurgo? Add the fact that Richard III's bones had previously been found in Leicester - and finally given a proper burial - and that the Leicester City FC are called the Foxes - and you have a story! But only the accomplished pen of Morpurgo could weave this into something quite so magical and mysterious, as the story moves between football, wild foxes and a king's ghost. The story is told by a young fox whose father takes him to watch a football match played by Leicester City. Their disappointment at their team's continual losses is transformed when the ghost of King Richard III - whose bones the foxes help the excavators to find - in return promises them victory for their favourite football team. The relationship between the young cub and his father is well portrayed, and every young football fan will empathise with their desire to see their team win. The illustrations by Michael Foreman also help to bring the story to life. This would be a lovely book to read aloud to a class, and the story might even help encourage children to write their own ghost-inspired miracle! 143 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Diana Page.

The Fox and the Ghost King
The World of Norm: May Be Recycled: Book 11
Jonathan Meres

Orchard Books

ISBN 9781408344842

Norm is once again having a hard time at home - life is just never fair - and things get worse when his too-perfect cousins come to visit and the entire family decides to go vegetarian. This is the eleventh book in the World of Norm series and its popularity comes down to the very realistic family situation it portrays, and the fact that Norm sounds - well, very normal. He argues with his parents, has problems to face with his friends, and is totally driven by what he wants. Although in May Be Recycled, there is the sense that Norm is starting, at age nearly 13, to grow up and to have some sense of empathy for the rest of his family. The books are also very easy to read, with cartoon-style illustrations and short chunks of text. A great series to encourage both reluctant and confident young readers. 250 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by Jane Brook.

The World of Norm: May Be Recycled: Book 11
Clover Moon
Jacqueline Wilson

Doubleday Children's Books

ISBN 9780857532732

Clover Moon takes us back to the Victorian era of Hetty Feather but with a determined and sympathetic new character, Clover Moon. Fans of Hetty Feather will recognise some of this world, and will be delighted to see Hetty make a surprise appearance during the story! Clover grows up in an impoverished family and with a bullying stepmother. When things come to a head, Clover decides she will be better off on her own so runs away, finding her way to an institution for unwanted children run by philanthropist and children's author Sarah Smith, a real person who wrote under the name of Hesba Stretton. At the home, Clover has other battles to face with some of the children but also discovers a life where there are three meals a day, clean clothes and soft beds - as well as school lessons. However, her peace is short lived when her step mother arrives to claim her. Will Clover be forced to return with her, or can she find a safe, new home? Jacqueline Wilson is adept at historical fiction and her skill is in bringing to life a period that is so far in the past for children; the detail in what the children would have eaten and worn, how they lived and the grinding poverty they faces. Putting it in the past makes the hardships more bearable to read about, but that doesn't mean the world Wilson portrays seems any less vibrant. There are some wonderful characters - the overbearing stepmother, overwhelmed by children; the wonderfully kind doll maker; the author, Sarah Smith, each of whom adds layers to the novel. And Clover is a wonderfully determined and rounded character - I can't wait to find out what she gets up to next; and there will be a sequel, although told from the point of view of another character. 400 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Alison Knight.

Clover Moon
There May Be a Castle
Piers Torday

Quercus Children's Books

ISBN 9781848668621

Piers Torday's new stand-alone novel, There May be a Castle, is very different from his award-winning trilogy, The Last Wild, but also deals with significant issues - life, death and our fear of death - and like The Last Wild is many-layered and beautifully written. There May be a Castle follows 11-year-old Mouse, a dreamer who finds it hard to connect with reality. But his powerful imagination stands him in good stead when he has to go and seek help for his family, after an accident in the snow. It is from this quest that the title is drawn - 'There may be a castle,' he is promised by the friends accompanying him on the quest - a horse called Nonky and a dinosaur called Trex, both drawn from his favourite toys. The castle, he knows, is important - could it help save his family? But there is always a villain on a quest and in this story, it is the formidable Pink Knight who breathes death and destruction. Gradually, the journey unfolds and Mouse's determination to finish, to find the castle that will save his family, brings him closer to the Pink Knight. This is a powerful and wonderfully-imagined story that shows the power of a child's imagination; the way love can overcome fear; and how we are all writing our own stories in each day we live. Older children will be able to uncover what lies behind the imaginative world that Mouse conjures; younger readers will enjoy the quest. All will be drawn in to Mouse's brave endeavours, no more so than in the ending. Highly recommended for mature readers aged nine years plus. 320 pages / Ages 9/10+ / Reviewed by Emily Faber.

There May Be a Castle
The Road To Ever After
Moira Young

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781509832583

Davy David is a homeless 12-year-old who spends his time in the library with friends, or making beautiful artworks of angels in the dust around town. When a stray dog called George befriends him near to Christmas time, things begin to change for Davy; the swirling winds bring with them a down turn in his fortunes. An evil gang master is on Davy's tail in a bid to drive him out of town; Parson Fall is determined to rid the town of Davy's angels, and the library has closed. In an attempt to endear himself to the town boys, Davy ends up in the derelict town museum where he meets the eccentric and indomitable Miss Flint; she asks him to drive her on a final journey to her childhood home. There follows the beautiful story of a poignant and incredibly unusual road trip. The language used in this novel is absolutely beautiful and is an excellent example of how to use personification to paint a picture in the reader's mind. It would be a very good text to use when teaching children how to use language for narrative description. The story regularly references It's a Wonderful Life and also bears resemblance to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and also Driving Miss Daisy. However, it is very cleverly written in its own right and it may take a while for young readers to work out what is happening to Miss Flint. This book sent me on a roller coaster of emotions. Despite shedding tears, I found it to be full of hope as well as being very beautiful and poignant. This is a must read for adults, let alone children! 227 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Mikeala Morgans, teacher.

The Road To Ever After
The Bet
David Grant

Featherstone

ISBN 9781472910660

Wanting to go on the snowboarding trip, but not able to afford it, Ed, Zac, Becca and Kat decide to try to earn the money. This leads to a bet between them to see whether the boys or the girls will earn the most - and the trouble begins! With achievable chapters and illustrations throughout, The Bet is a funny, appealing read. Sections of the story are laid out as texts between the children which move the story on and make the characters seem more real. The conflict between the children is well managed and neither side is innocent in the dirty tricks campaign! With a quiz at the end to 'test your knowledge' and suggestions for further activities, the story has extension work built in! Printed in dyslexia-friendly font on tinted paper, this offers a fun read for everyone to enjoy. 72 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

The Bet
AJ Wood and Mike Jolley

ISBN 9781847807519

This is a gorgeous book, perfect for browsing, and I can see it being a magnet for children in the library - especially those who prefer non fiction and reading chunks of text over fiction chapters. The book is colour coded into three main areas: Habitats, Species & Adaptations and is full of interesting facts about different habitats and the creatures you'll find there. On the section about Honeybees, I found out that the food that is given to a honeybee lava and the size of its cell will determine what rank it will become; on other pages, that beaver houses are so strong that not even bears can break into them; and that owl eggs are almost round in shape. Children love details like these and there is plenty to keep them occupied. But it's the illustrations that really stand out in this book; each page is carefully laid out and the stylish illustrations bring the sections to life. Illustrations are so important in attracting children to books and these do the job beautifully. But adults will enjoy these pages just as much! 112 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Alison Hopper.

Sea Wolf
Kathryn White

Featherstone

ISBN 9781472924889

Since their dad left, Maya's little brother, Ethan, has been telling tall tales to anyone who will listen. After a row about one of these lies, Ethan runs off to prove he can kayak to Black Rock, a dangerous journey. Maya knows she must try to save him. Sea Wolf is a short, achievable story, but one which is packed full of action and adventure. Aimed at engaging those who find reading more challenging, it certainly delivers on interest and plot, keeping the reader wondering to the end. The story offers possibilities for discussing sibling tensions, how different people react to situations (in this case a parent leaving) and the consequences of acting rashly, making it excellent for guided reading as well as independent. The 'Bonus Bits' section at the back of the book contains a mini-glossary, information about the author, a section on rescue dogs and ideas for activities based on the book. Printed in dyslexia-friendly font on tinted paper, this is an achievable, satisfying read for everyone. 64 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

Sea Wolf