NEW TITLES

This month's selection includes the first books in great new series including Jessica Ennis-Hill's story about magic - and running - in Evie's Magic Bracelet, and a new detective story in Goodly and Grave, as well as stories about family and belonging that young readers will love.

The New Adventures of Mr Toad: A Race for Toad Hall
Tom Moorhouse

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192746733

The New Adventures of Mr Toad bring Kenneth Grahame's irrepressible Mr Toad from The Wind in the Willows back to life in an adventure that has bags of charm and car-fulls of adventure.... Whether or not children have read the original stories on which this new series is based, this story about friendship and hoping for the best will win them over - together with Holly Swain's excellent illustrations. When Mo, Ratty and Teejay (ancestors of the original friends) discover the old ice house of Toad Hall, they get an unexpected surprise - Toad, now defrosted after 100 years frozen in ice. Naturally, Toad wants to move back into his old house, Toad Hall, but the weasels have other plans for his property and Toad and his new friends will have to come up with an unlikely plan to win it back... Toad's irrepressible character shines through the story and the wonderfully expressive illustrations. These, together with the careful layout and design, make it a perfect independent read for children still growing in confidence, although it would be a wonderful story to share aloud to a class, especially if children know the original story. While the original text is aimed at older readers than this story, I still think this classic has been successfully revisited and brought bang up to date - I can't wait to see what Toad gets up to next.... 160 pages / Ages 6/7+ / Reviewed by Alison Gray.

The New Adventures of Mr Toad: A Race for Toad Hall
The Cherry Pie Princess
Vivian French

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406368970

Princess Peony is the youngest of the royal family, with six older sisters, who as all good princesses should, only care about things like pretty dresses and shoes. Peony would rather be finding out and doing practical things, something their strict governess, Miss Beef, with her well-ordered timetable, definitely does not encourage. One of their activities is to visit the library, but not to read or borrow a book, that is beneath them, but just because Miss Beef thinks it a good idea. The only princess remotely interested is Peony, who asks if they have a book about cooking. Unfortunately, under an edict known as Required Behaviour, the librarian is not supposed to speak to royalty and answering leads to his arrest. Peony is unaware of this and despatches a page boy to borrow one for her. A Thousand Simple Recipes for Pies, Puddings and Pastries becomes her sole reading over the next few years and Peony makes wonderful cherry pies, her father's favourite. However, when he learns that she has been in the kitchens, she is instantly banned from setting foot there again. A growing realisation that her father might be a tyrant, with his nasty habit of throwing people in dungeons, comes to a head during the preparations for the christening party for the new baby prince, when he absolutely refuses to invite the wicked hag. This can mean only one thing...trouble! It is up to Peony to save the day, with the help of the still imprisoned librarian, a failed jester who is his cell mate, and a talking cat. Vivian French uses fairy tale conventions to weave a delightful, entertaining magical tale with a resourceful heroine. This is perfectly pitched for readers of 7+, with black and white line illustrations. 192 pages / Ages 7-10 years / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, school librarian.

The Cherry Pie Princess
Evie's Magic Bracelet: The Silver Unicorn: Book 1
Jessica Ennis-Hill

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444934397

Evie's Magic Bracelet is a new series from Olympic medalist Jessica Ennis-Hill, co-written by Ellen Caldecott, about a Year 6 girl, Evie, who is anxious about starting at a new school. On the day she starts the school, Evie is sent a magical gift by her Jamaican grandmother, a special bracelet, that helps Evie to see magic and to understand what animals are saying. Her new magical gift of being able to talk to animals is one that many children of this age would love to imagine having - although Evie also finds there are downsides, like being able to see the naughty little sprites that torment some of the animals. Evie has another, more natural, talent which is that she can run and her sense of joy and achievment in being able to run well is one of the strengths of the story. When Evie takes part in the school's 'Paper Chase' through the local park, she can use her new gift to help a rather special animal, and to help her new friends. This is a warm story about friendship and using one's talents that children aged 7+ will enjoy. The black and white illustrations by Erica-Jane Waters will also encourage readers to dip into the story. 130 pages / Ages 6/7+ / Reviewed by Emma Hunt.

Evie's Magic Bracelet: The Silver Unicorn: Book 1
Agatha Christie
Isabel Sanchez Vegara

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847809599

I love the Little People, Big Dreams series from Frances Lincoln and the latest two books - about Agatha Christie and Marie Curie - are especially inspiring. Each of the books shows us how a child follows their dream. Here, we read about Agatha making up her own endings for stories her mother read to her, and falling asleep while reading, before she begins her travels around the world, inventing characters like Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot. It's a wonderful introduction to the detective genre. The book about Marie Curie - who loved learning as a child and went on to discover radium and polonium - comes on the 150th anniversary of her birth. Each of the books follows the lives of these extraordinary women through beautifully illustrated spreads with limited text, which encapsulates what made these people extraordinary. This is a great series to have in the library, for children aged five to eight years. 32 pages / Ages 5-8 years / Reviewed by Emma Hunt.

Agatha Christie
Goodly and Grave in A Bad Case of Kidnap (Goodly and Grave, Book 1)
Justine Windsor

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780008183530

A wonderfully crafted mystery story from Justine. Lucy Goodly is a very likeable gambling girl who often wins lots of money for her family. Little does she know, she is being watched. Lord Grave offers to play her at poker but something odd happens. His card changes places with hers so he wins instead of her. Lucy's punishment is to leave her family and live with Lord Grave. Should she trust him? Who is the mysterious Lady Red? Lucy is a delightfully charming character, who has plenty of inquisitive thoughts to make her relatable for the children reading the book. The book moves quickly and may appear slightly random at times but it is certainly a mystery story to get stuck into and I have got to say, it contained some unexpected twists. Namely, the use of magic from many of the characters is a good development. I would use the book with children to explore charming characters but also how Justine uses suspense throughout the book, especially at the end of each chapter. She implicitly makes you want to read on. A wonderful new book. 320 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Sam Holmes, teacher.

Goodly and Grave in A Bad Case of Kidnap (Goodly and Grave, Book 1)
Evie's Ghost
Helen Peters

Nosy Crow Ltd

ISBN 9780857638427

A fantastic choice for readers 9+ already fans of Helen Peters or trying for the first time. From the first paragraph, you find yourself rocketed into a fast paced, atmospheric, exciting time-slip adventure. It is jam-packed full of mystery, suspense, action and historical content smoothly slipping from 1814 Charlbury House owned by the Fane family, and the 21st century living arrangements of Evie and her family. All the characters, readers will find easy to identify with. Evie's transition between the two worlds is smooth and effortless, never detracting, only adding to the continual enjoyment as the story evolves and hurtles towards its climax. The characters are believable and vividly brought to life. As Evie's adventures progress, you are left feeling happy, sad and anxious, but well informed about life in a country house in 1814 below and above stairs. The social standing, conditions of servants, the aristocracy, education and the plight of chimney sweeps are all highlighted. Evie is unhappy being sent to stay with her godmother, Anna, who she barely remembers whilst her mother jets away on honeymoon. What fun can she expect from a house in the middle of nowhere with limited technology? But how wrong can she be.... Life becomes more interesting on her first night when Evie is woken by a figure at her bedroom window and strange frightening sounds. Running from the room, Evie finds herself in 1814 as a housemaid in old Charlbury House. She quickly gets entangled in the lives of Polly, Alice, Sophia, Robbie and Jacob, and the lives of those above and below stairs. Evie has to learn fast or her secret will be discovered. As the adventure unfolds, she encounters friendship, suspicion, jealously and injustice in the world from the past. Can she influence and change events, securing a better future for her new friends and acquaintances? Evie decides she must give it her best shot and just maybe the past can influence future events too. 304 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Linda George, school librarian.

Evie's Ghost
Lesser Spotted Animals

David Fickling Books

ISBN 9781910989562

While there are many books about endangered species, what makes Lesser Spotted Animals (now available in paperback) by Horrible Histories illustrator Martin Brown stand out is that these are the 'brilliant beasts you never knew you needed to know about'. And the humour - there are some lovely, funny moments throughout the book, lightening what is otherwise a serious subject. This is a book to dip into - don't expect to find zebras or pandas, do expect the 'dagger-toothed flower bat', the 'lesser fairy armadillo' and the 'zorilla' among others. These endangered animals come from all corners of the world and each spread is dedicated to a different one. Alongside a depiction of the creatures is text explaining why it is special and why endangered, as well as a fact box telling us its size, habitate and status - together with a final fact that brings in the funny or remarkable things that are so often what children will remember! There is lots of humour in the illustrations, too; check out the long-tailed dunnart that is crunching on a mouse paw or the sleek southern right whale dolphin. This is the kind of book that will have children returning again and again - there are so many interesting facts and touches of humour that will appeal to them. Definitely one for the class or school library! 54 pages / Ages 7-11 years / Reviewed by Alice Green.

Lesser Spotted Animals
See You in the Cosmos
Jack Cheng

Puffin

ISBN 9780141365602

Uniquely told in a series of recordings, Jack Cheng's beguiling debut novel is a moving and funny story about eleven year-old Alex, his fascination with space and the dysfunctional family that surrounds him. Inspired by his astronomer hero, Carl Sagan, Alex is determined to launch a rocket into space. Echoing Sagan's 'golden record' of recordings from earth for whoever might be out there, Alex creates a very personal 'golden iPod' - a soundtrack of his life on earth. With a dead father, a schizophrenic mother and a mostly-absent brother, Alex and his dog (Carl Sagan!) head unnoticed to SHARF, a rocket festival in New Mexico. Despite the disappointment of a failed rocket launch Alex has an incredible time, learns a few life lessons and makes some wonderful new friends. After an intriguing message reveals there is a man with his father's name and date of birth registered in Las Vegas Alex persuades his new friends to take him there convinced his father is still alive. When this turns out not to be true Alex discovers something far better, a half-sister, Terra, who immediately 'gets' Alex and is won over by his infectious enthusiasm and disarming honesty. The adventure finally ends and with the impromptu road trip over Alex returns home to find his mother hospitalized and an uncertain future ahead. See You in the Cosmos manages to be poignant without being over-sentimental and Alex is utterly endearing - a wonderful narrator and an inspiration for those around him. The supporting cast are well-drawn and worthy of Alex's faith in them. This is a book that is full of optimism and it's an absolute joy to read. 312 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Clare Wilkins, school librarian.

See You in the Cosmos
Just Call Me Spaghetti-Hoop Boy
Lara Williamson

Usborne Publishing Ltd

ISBN 9781474921305

Adam has always known he was adopted and he is generally happy and secure within his family. A school project on family trees, however, niggles away at the little bit of him that feels incomplete and this, coupled with the secret his parents are keeping from the rest of the family, causes him to embark on a search for his birth mother and the answers to his questions. Adam also wants to be a superhero, like in the comics he loves to share with his Dad, because then everyone will love him and everyone will be happy but Adam has some difficult lessons to learn about the things that even superheroes cannot do This, like the author's previous books, is really about families in all their forms and the bonds (not always blood) that tie them together. It examines complex and challenging emotions from the point of view of a child in the midst of a bewildering situation and young readers will come away with the reassurance that they are not 'bad' if they feel anger or fear or other negative emotions. Adam's story does have a happy ending but with that little tinge of something not quite resolved, much like the messiness of real life. All this makes the book sound like a serious read but there is much humour to be found in Max's relationships with his school friends and his teacher and with his sisters and the family's imaginary dog, Sausage-Roll. There is a heart at the centre of this book, and a touch of sentimentality but above all, an honest description of the ups and downs of family life which young readers from traditional as well as non-traditional family units will recognise. 336 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by June Hughes, school librarian

Just Call Me Spaghetti-Hoop Boy
The Jamie Drake Equation
Christopher Edge

Nosy Crow Ltd

ISBN 9780857638403

I came to this book with high expectations as I am a big fan of Christopher Edge, having loved the Twelve Minutes to Midnight series. I was not sure what to expect, and in fact my 10 year old stole the book away and read it before I did. In one sitting! I was surprised by how quickly I was sucked into the story. The text is slightly larger on the page and I got through quite a large chunk very quickly. Having worked in a school and having two school aged children, I found myself easily picturing the scenes as they look place. The story, as well as being engaging, had nice added scientific detail, which I appreciated. The family drama twist to the story came as more of a surprise to me than the space mission plot twist, but that could be because I've watched too much Doctor Who! There was sufficient peril to the story to grip you, but not so much that it would put off younger readers. Although my seven year old would probably not chose to pick up this book to read, I feel sure she would enjoy it, and I could see this being an excellent story to be read aloud in class to children as young as Year 3. The story moves at a good pace, there are interesting and some mysterious characters, and although there is an alien in the plot, somehow it does not feel too far fetched! I'm not quite sure how. In fact I found the alien a more believable character than the Grandad! Chrisopher Edge has worked as a teacher and some of the references in his book make his teaching experience clear. There are lots of things that could be taken from the story that are staples of the classroom - designing your own alien etc. I can see how it would be easy to link the book to a space theme / topic in primary school but the family element also adds a nice PHSE twist to it. 208 pages / Ages 9-12 years / Reviewed by Alison Urquhart

The Jamie Drake Equation
Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World
Rachel Ignotofsky

Wren & Rook

ISBN 9781526360519

As its title explains, this book delves into history to remind us of the women who have helped change the world - and what a necessary book it is, you realise, as you flick through the pages. If like me, you don't know much about Lise Meitner (who discovered nuclear fission - Otto Hahn got the prizes), Annie Easley (her work on batteries laid the foundation for today's hybrid cars) or Sau Lan Wu (one of the most important particle physicists in her field), then you need to read this. These are inspiring women and their stories are told simply but well on a single page, with an illustration, so it's a lovely book to simply browse. The stories hint at the problems these women had to overcome to excel in their fields - Florence Bascom, a geologist and educator in the US, had to take her university classes behind a screen in order to get her PhD in 1893 (so as not to 'distract' her male classmates); Rachel Carson's work in biology was slandered by chemical companies when she found that DDT was poisoning birds and livestock; female scientists like Rosalyn Yalow, a medical physicist who discovered a way to measure hormones, often had to work with a male colleague to get their work recognised. These women come from all over the world and this is a wonderful celebration of their work - and a reminder to all of today's young women that they are equal partners in creating the world's future. Every library needs a copy of this! 128 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Emily Smith.

Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World