NEW TITLES

Time machines, pirates and magic are all explored in this month's selection of titles for readers aged 7-11 years, reviewed by teachers and school librarians.

Books! Books! Books!: Explore Inside the Greatest Library on Earth
Mick Manning

Otter-Barry Books Ltd

ISBN 9781910959985

This inspiring book introduces the reader to The British Library and to some of the greatest treasures kept there. It's a fabulous celebration of libraries and their importance. Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom are well known for their skill at presenting information and illustration in a way which captures the interest whilst feeding the intellect and Books! Books! Books! is no exception. They have selected a range of literary gems from the wealth housed in the British Museum, starting with the St Cuthbert Gospel. Famous works of literature - the writings of the Brontes, Conan Doyle, Lewis Carroll and Dickens - are explored alongside the Magna Carta, Lady Jane Grey's prayer book, music by Handel and the first ever copy of the Times newspaper. Photographs, drawings and collage using 'pages' from some of the works combine to create the perfect backdrop to the concise text.There is something to interest everyone here- each page could be the starting point for further research or the inspiration for a trip to see the real thing! A fascinating and beautiful book in its own right, Books! Books! Books! is also a brilliant introduction to the wonders of The British Library. 48 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

Books! Books! Books!: Explore Inside the Greatest Library on Earth
Ella Queen of Jazz
Helen Hancocks

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847809186

Ella is an up and coming jazz singer who is struggling to hit the right notes with everyone in her career. Ella is refused the opportunity to sing at one of the biggest joints in town because she and her band of fellas are black. Hearing of this new and amazing talent a very special lady gets in contact and strikes an unmissable deal with the club. A new friendship is made between two iconic ladies and the story continues to share some of their greatest achievements together. This is a great non-fiction resource looking at people in the past without delving too deep into topics/facts about these key characters beyond academically acceptable at a primary stage, given that this book is a picture book. We loved seeing that this book was about real people especially the real-life photos on the back page. I felt just as immersed as the children with this book as I too had never heard of this tale of friendship between two such amazing artists. I would use this text to talk about influential people (modern day celebrities, sports champions etc.). What it means to be influential and the affects they can have on others both good and bad. This could take shape as a topic for discussion in PSHE or in the form of a persuasive writing stimulus. Children could think about their own influential person and the persuasive tact they would use. Great links can also be made with UNICEF convention for the rights of the child, looking at rights respecting articles around equality and respecting the rights of others. There are lots of new cultural vocabulary/sayings ('joint in town', 'hit the big time', 'on her way up', 'folks' etc.) in this book that the children could also explore. Picture book / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by Nikki Stiles, teacher.

Ella Queen of Jazz
Town Is by the Sea
Joanne Schwartz

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406377385

This is a stunning picture book that explores the life of a boy in a mining town. He grows up in the town but next to the sea, which takes all his attention and delivers us, the reader, some beautiful spreads. These pages of space and freedom are contrasted with the oppressive black pages where we see the boy's father, working at the coal face, facing danger. Through successive pages contrasting the freedom of the boy with the miner, working underground, a brief narrative of his day at work develops. There are so many visual clues to explore here in the contrast of the two settings, what might happen to the father, and also in the pacing of the story. Children could develop their own narrative, with their day at school interwoven with an adult's day at work - or write a diary of the boy's day, including the boy's thoughts on what it might be like for his father working in he mine underground. Picture book / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Emma Chance.

Town Is by the Sea
My Amazing Body Machine: A colourful visual guide to how your body works
Robert Winston

DK Children

ISBN 9780241283806

This exciting guide to the human body is beautifully presented and fully of fascinating facts! Divided into clear sections, each dealing with a different topic - e.g. Heart and Blood, Waterworks - this is such an easy to navigate, clearly laid out book. Each of the nine key chapters is sub-divided, offering thorough coverage of each part of the body and its function. This is a very visual book, using wonderful papercraft art work alongside photographs to clearly illustrate each idea. Supported by clear labels, concise text and fun facts - there are 100,000km of blood vessels in your body, enough to stretch around the world twice! A macrophage can eat about 200 bacteria before it dies. Sneezes blast air out of the nose at speeds of up to 160 km/h - there is so much to discover and understand on each page. Whilst each page is full, it is clearly laid out, making it very easy to follow, entertaining without being distracting. A detailed glossary explains the scientific vocabulary and there is a giant 'Body Machine' poster included in a pocket at the back, offering a quick reference source whilst reading. A valuable addition to both school and home libraries, this is an excellent book, perfect for discovering more about the body - and why it is so important to look after it! 128 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

My Amazing Body Machine: A colourful visual guide to how your body works
How to be a Tiger: Poems
George Szirtes

Otter-Barry Books Ltd

ISBN 9781910959206

Possibly better known as a translator of poetry, fiction and drama and as a poet for adults, George Szirtes was the worthy 2013 winner of the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education's Poetry Prize so the stakes are set high for his new collection. It does not disappoint. The title poem (heralded so well by Ellie Jenkin's cover illustration), calls out for children to engage physically: 'The scary tiger roars and roars, / it slinks through shadows on all fours / .... / Pretend this is the forest floor. / Pad, tiger, pad! Now children, ROAR!' (p.32). Equally satisfying is the rhythmic, nonsensical 'The Bear in the Bathroom' (p.34). It also includes direct enticements to the children: 'Let's pad quietly, pad-pad-pad... Let's play it safe. Let's hide in the shower'. There are poems here that could inspire the children's own writing. Take 'Moon Music' (p.19, with its steady repetition of 'is the moon' ('The song that the stars like to sing / is the moon.') Also rich in potential as a model, is a quartet of poems celebrate the different seasons: In the Park: Autumn / Winter / Spring / Summer (p.58 - 61). There are poems that play with language and poems about language. In the first category, 'Swing' (p. 14) playfully echoes the motion of a swing through layout and rhyme: The thing / about a swing / is the wing / and spring / of it as you cling... Flying on words' (p.47) directly addresses the child reader: 'As you grow taller / Your sentences grow and grow, / You're no longer satisfied with want, again, and no./' Towards the end of the anthology there's a section given over to poems that draw from traditional narratives. 'Rumpelstiltskin' (p.72) offers a list of Rumpeltstiltskin's brothers ('Dumplingstiltskin' etc). There is plenty of scope here for the children's own invented names. A rather protracted retelling of 'The Emperor's New Clothes' (p.74) is counterpointed by the pithy 'Sleeping Beauty' (p.81) 'Sleeping Beauty / (what a cutie!) / slept for a very long time / (far too long for this rhyme.) / Then came a prince. She's been awake since.' Fairy tale conventions are manipulated delightfully in 'The Princess and the Bad King' (p.68). Thoughtful and thought provoking, this anthology will be a welcome addition to any classroom's poetry collection. 96 pages / Ages 6+ / Reviewed by Alison Kelly, teaching consultant.

How to be a Tiger: Poems
Evie's Magic Bracelet: The Enchanted Puppy: Book 2
Jessica Ennis-Hill

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444934403

Athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill has combined with author Elen Caldecott to write a series of seven books aimed at newly confident readers. In book 1 we meet Evie who has just moved to a new house with her family. Grandma Iris, who lives in Jamaica, has sent Evie a present of a bracelet for her first day at her new school which Evie slips on before Mum notices. Playing with it at playtime, Evie discovers she can understand seagulls calling to one another. Later in the day she listens to a horse complaining about being hurt. Evie quickly links this new power to her new bracelet. Evie has made friends with Ryan and Isabelle because she excels at sport, which is only to be expected from Jessica Ennis-Hill. Evie lets her new friends into the secret of her magic bracelet and together they chase sprites away from the horse and a unicorn. In book 2 Evie finds the magic can get her into trouble, as well as her friends, although she manages to make Ryan's wish for his own puppy come true. These two books promise a series of stories that would suit fans of Rainbow Magic, featuring children who are well meaning, but far from perfect, resulting in characters that will attract adventure. Evie hasn't completely sussed the magic, so is not totally in control, but that is the attraction of the books. Accompanying Grandma Iris' presents are riddles which Evie has to decipher as well as the reader. A quiz and wordsearch at the end of the books add to the activities to attract the reader. The illustrations are black and white drawings, but little clues of Grandma Iris living in Jamaica and Evie's curly hair, shows that Evie comes from a family with a white Mum and a black Dad, but nowhere is this made an issue of in the stories. The animals are illustrated which will please many readers, and the magic is illustrated with sparkles and stars in each chapter heading. With magic, animals and children on adventures, this series is bound to attract a large fan base of young readers. 144 pages / Ages 7-9 years / Reviewed by Dawn Woods, school librarian.

Evie's Magic Bracelet: The Enchanted Puppy: Book 2
Tilly and the Time Machine
Adrian Edmondson

Puffin

ISBN 9780141372457

Children are fascinated by time machines, so a novel about such adventures, will be popular. Written by a celebrity comedian, children might recognise the name, but certainly their parents will. This may be one of the growing celebrity books, more easily published because of the author's name, but it holds its own and is obviously Adrian Edmondson's humour. This debut for both author and illustrator, tells the story of Tilly, whose inventor father succeeds in making his time machine work. However, there are still some glitches to iron out and Tilly needs to find her Dad - lost in time, to do this. Along the way she visits Nelson during the Battle of Trafalgar, the World Cup Final of 1966 and Victorian Britain, after a spell as a chimney sweep when she meets Queen Victoria. The humour is introduced via silly snippets children will love and can relate to. Mistaking Lord Nelson for a pirate because of his eye patch and trapping two burglars trying to steal the time machine are scenarios that come straight from the minds of eight year olds. However, there is also a serious side to the story as Tilly and her Dad are grieving her Mum, but being careful around one another rather than confronting the issue. Only once they talk can they start to realise that they need to move forward and not live in the past. Thus this book works as a cathartic catalyst to prompt that discussion around death. Interactive pages at the end of the book ask children what they would put into a time capsule, where they would visit in a time machine, what dates are important to them. This is a book which would work well in a group to start a dialogue as well as a solo read for a child dealing with a bereavement or as just a humorous read for eight year olds. 244 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by Dawn Woods, school librarian.

Tilly and the Time Machine
The Boy Who Went Magic
A. P. Winter

Chicken House Ltd

ISBN 9781910655092

A P Winter's debut novel is a charming and fantastical tale about long-hidden magic and the extraordinary adventure that unfolds when a naive schoolboy unleashes its extraordinary powers. Bert's hum-drum existence spins dangerously out-of-control when a school trip to a new museum opens a doorway to another world. Intrigued by the magical artefacts on display, Bert touches an ancient mirror and finds himself transported to a parallel universe. After becoming entangled with the'The Professor', Goodrich Roberts (a pirate intent on looting certain artefacts) and having a vision of the sinister Prince Voss, a confused and jittery Bert returns to school only to find another adversary waiting Cassius is a Quaestor, a Government agent appointed to investigate the strange events at the museum. When Prince Voss appears Bert is surer than ever that he will be carted off to prison or worse. Whilst deliberating his own precarious situation he realises that there is some long-standing quarrel between the Prince and the Quaestor. Although not fully understanding what has gone on he hears enough to work out that the Prince is furious at the Royals loss of power and that Cassius is equally determined that the Government not the Royals are the true lawmakers in Penvellyn. As Bert learns more about his mysterious past and becomes further embroiled in the tale of the abandoned magical land of Ferenor he finds some surprising allies and a new enthusiasm for adventure. This book plays on the idea that magic is distrusted and forbidden. This is an idea that has been used before but the story fizzes along at a decent pace and in Bert we have an amiable and intriguing hero. There are also some neat touches of humour (particularly from Bert's friend Norton) and some lovely turns of phrase. An enchanting whirlwind of a read. Pages: 277 / Ages: 8+ / Reviewed by Clare Wilkins, school librarian.

The Boy Who Went Magic
The Boy, the Bird and the Coffin Maker
Matilda Woods

Scholastic

ISBN 9781407178691

This is a beautifully-written novel that can take you from sadness to wonder in a sentence or two; that demands re-reading and savouring of certain passages; and that will have you racing through others to find out what happens next. The Boy, the Bird and the Coffin Maker is set in the small fishing town of Allora, where magic seems to be in the air. When Alberto loses his family to a sickness, he changes his occupation from carpenter to coffin maker, and begins to waits for his own death. It takes a lost and frightened boy, Tito Bonito, to bring Alberto back to life, and it is the fairy story they read together that eventually brings them a 'happy ever after'. The setting, with the colourful houses and flying fish, is magical, and the little town is peopled by characters that could have stepped out of a fairytale - the gossiping sisters, the greedy mayor, and the bright, colourful bird Fia who befriends Tito. This is a wonderful book to explore as a class read and to inspire children's creative writing, especially around scene-setting - perhaps creating their own 'Allora' - and characterisation, with the wonderfully idiosyncratic towns people. There are also opportunities for map-making and discussing what elements in the story remind them of fairy tales they have read. A fabulous story for adults as well as children aged 9+. 224 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Diane Chance.

The Boy, the Bird and the Coffin Maker
Bigfoot, Tobin & Me
Melissa Savage

Chicken House Ltd

ISBN 9781911077183

After her mother's death, a distraught Lemonade Liberty Witt is sent to live with her grandfather in the rural backwater of Willow Creek. And after the thriving metropolitan bustle of San Francisco she finds her new, reduced circumstances somewhat difficult to adjust to. Befriended by the annoying and quirky Tobin, founder of Bigfoot Detectives Inc., Lemonade (Lem) is quickly recruited to his one-man (one-boy!) Bigfoot investigating operation. She soon realises that Tobin is utterly obsessed with finding the legendary beast and although sceptical she finds herself becoming Tobin's indispensable assistant. After several wrong leads, hoax calls and suspicious daily sightings they soon find themselves on the trail on something big - could it really be Bigfoot? As Lem starts to adapt to her new circumstances, bonds form with her new 'family' - Tobin, her grandfather, the kindly Mrs Dickerson and the well-meaning and warm-hearted residents of Willow Creek. Torn between her city life and her new rural idyll, Lem has some difficult decisions to make. This is a lovely, big-hearted read. It explores some familiar themes of family, love and loss but in an entirely original package. Lem is a sassy lead character and Tobin provides an engagingly innocent foil for her streetwise nature. A charming and poignant blend of mystery, humour and adventure. 310 Pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Clare Wilkins, school librarian.

Bigfoot, Tobin & Me
Journey to Dragon Island
Claire Fayers

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781447290629

The second foray into the world of the Accidental Pirates is another rollicking sea-soaked adventure. Searching for the infamous Dragon Island and a family for newly-hatched dragon Boswell, the crew of the Onion encounter a myriad of magical and perilous hazards. Arriving on Apcaron they are captured by hostile islanders and the Onion's captain Cassie desperately tries to think of a way out. Gradually they discover more about the island - the floating castle, Orion's Keep, the smouldering volcano Marfak's Peak and the strange mix of fear and magic that binds them to the together. For friends Peter, Tom and Brine and the assorted crew of the Onion, it's another fantastical and fearsome adventure. Packed with a bewildering range of monsters - from super-sized sea spiders to slimy flesh entangling vines - and cleverly-plotted to build to a satisfying conclusion, this is another fun read for young adventurers. There's plenty of magic, mystery and adventure but, as with the first book in the series, it's really the characters that are key - the enigmatic Peter, the sparky Brine - on a quest to find her parents and her past - and the seemingly fearless captain, Cassie. Together they form a formidable and highly-entertaining bunch. I look forward to book three! 297 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Clare Wilkins, school librarian.

Journey to Dragon Island
A Song for Will: The Lost Gardeners of Heligan
Hilary Robinson

Strauss House Productions

ISBN 9780957124530

Too young to sign up for war, Alfie is disappointed and frustrated by the fact that he will be left behind at Helligan where he is an errand boy and works in the kitchen garden. His feelings, however, soon begin to change as the letters he receives from those who have gone to fight show a very different picture of war than he imagined. This is one of those very special books which can be enjoyed on so many levels. Based on historical evidence taken from the local press, military records and the archives at Helligan, 'A Song for Will' breathes life into the personal stories of those affected by the First World War. It is a beautifully imagined work, deeply moving and full of poignance. Told in letters between Alfie and Fred, the stonemason, the story contrasts the worries and fears of those who were left at home with those fighting. Both viewpoints are handled with great sensitivity and the story is perfectly pitched for being explored by children, offering much to discuss and explore between the written lines. Heartbreaking in places, the story is beautifully handled with every character skilfully developed and engaging. Alongside the wonderful text are Martin Impey's outstanding illustrations. Each spread is a work of art and reflects the changes to the land that the war brought, both in Cornwall and abroad. The book concludes with a gallery of 'the lost' and 'the returned', keeping in the reader's mind the truth behind this story and how it came to be told. 'A Song for Will and the Lost Gardeners of Heligan' is a must read for everyone. 64 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

A Song for Will: The Lost Gardeners of Heligan
100 Steps for Science: Why It Works and How It Happened
Lisa Jane Gillespie

Wide Eyed Editions

ISBN 9781847808431

This book, written by Lisa Jane Gillespie and illustrated by Yukai Du, is a lovely addition to a non-fiction collection. It covers 100 different things that made science the way we know it today, from counting and the abacus to how fibre optics work. The aim is not to explain a particular thing, but to look at how science has got to the point it has. Consequently, it covers the development of the wheel, medicine, light, sound waves, and lots of others things that have played a role in scientific progress. Due to the nature of covering so many topics they are not covered in detail, but are dealt with accurately. The subjects chosen are interesting, and detailed without getting bogged down in information. The style of the illustrations really adds a sense of fun and friendliness, while the pictures also add useful information and are accurate. There are 10 chapters which look at a range of different subject areas, and each chapter looks at 10 different entries within it, ranging from computers to environmentalism. The range of subjects is good and no background information is assumed, but it still manages to deal with incredibly complicated ideas (like the Big Bang Theory). The muted colours mean that while the pages are alluring the writing is still easy to read, and it's not the assault on the senses that some non-fiction books can be. When reading non-fiction books I always keep half an eye out looking at the representation of women and whether it's a whole world view of a subject, or an anglicised history. This book really does cover the subjects from a world-wide perspective - with ideas being started from the earliest beginnings (I hadn't realised the Babylonians counted in 60s which is why we use this method for time), and women, too, are present - it was nice to see the work of Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins referenced as being a pre-cursor to Crick and Watson's discovery of DNA, for example. A lovely non-fiction book, full of well explained facts and ideas, laid out in an engaging and accessible way. 64 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Alison Tarrant, school librarian.

100 Steps for Science: Why It Works and How It Happened
Never Say Die
Anthony Horowitz

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406377057

Alex Rider is back (publishing in June) in another action-packed, gadget- filled adventure. Living in America with Sabina and her family since the events of the last book, Alex has the chance of a new settled life. However, still haunted by the death of Jack Starbright, the closest thing to family he has, Alex cannot settle and an email suddenly fills him with the hope that there might have been a mistake. This is enough to set him off on his adventures again - this time on a very personal mission to seek the truth about Jack. From the first page, this book pulls you headlong into Alex's world. His quest takes him from America back to Egypt to the south of France and back to England as he searches for clues about where Jack might be. As ever, he finds himself up against some super villains and has to escape from some sticky situations, but he's ready for anything and always rises to the occasion. It is very hard to review a book like this without giving away all the action. Suffice it to say, fans of Alex Rider will not be disappointed! 368 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

Never Say Die