NEW TITLES

There are some terrific books for this age range this month, with fans of Sibeal Pounder, Jonathan Meres and Cornelia Funke in for a treat - as well as the return of favourites including The Demon Headmaster and Alex Rider!

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
King Coo
Adam Stower

David Fickling Books

ISBN 9781910200605

Bullies in stories need to get their just desserts and in this story Monty, Bertie and Gertie are certainly the recipients of theirs. Adam Stower's fast paced story illustrated by the author, is full of innovative ideas and some very clever drawings of King Coo's inventions. Ben Pole, usually known as Bean Pole, is bullied at school and is hoping to get away without encountering Monty and his friends until the end of term, only a few days away. But this is not to be and escaping from them he falls into a whole and ends up in the kingdom of King Coo, who is actually a girl with a long beard! At this stage the reader has to just sit back and enjoy the ride and laugh at the way in which the pair get their own back on the bullies. The Map of King Coo's Trap Alley on pages 92-3, which shows the Drop'n Plop Bridge, and the Flusher give the flavour of the story well. There is a plot of sorts in which Monty thinks he will capture Ben and gain a huge reward along with the Mayor but Ben and King Coo outwit this very cleverly and King Coo turns up sans beard at this point which is quite a shock. It isn't really explained why she has a beard but I am not sure it really matters! This is a small book to handle with drawings on every page, sometimes across two pages, and will delight particularly boys partly because of the toilet humour, but also because of the message that bullies don't win. 175 pages / Ages 7/8+ / Reviewed by Janet Fisher, school librarian.

King Coo
The Demon Headmaster: Total Control
Gillian Cross

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192745743

The demon headmaster is back! Gillian Cross's best known character features in a brand new story set in a different school with different characters. Lizzie and Tyler have been in America and on returning to Hazelbrook Academy for the new term, something feels very different. There's an eerie sense of calm and everyone seems preternaturally talented all of a sudden. New boy Ethan - who hates sport - is now the star of the football team, Angelika has become a future entrepreneur and former bully, Blake, is a reformed character. Disturbed by events around them, Lizzie and Tyler try to discover the source of the changes and soon realise that it is all linked to the sinister new headmaster. Determined to stop his evil plans they join forces with Ethan and Angelika and form a plan to disrupt a very important visit. The new book follows the tone of the others in the series and is a great, fun read with just enough menace to keep keen readers entertained. The writing's spot-on, as ever, and the story bounds along at decent pace. There are also a few neat touches like the drones around the school which help to connect the demon headmaster to a new generation of readers. All in all, another hypnotic read! 174 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by Clare Wilkins, school librarian.

The Demon Headmaster: Total Control
Bad Mermaids
Sibeal Pounder

Bloomsbury Childrens Books

ISBN 9781408877128

Sibeal Pounder's Witch Wars series gathered a lot of fans and I'm sure that her new series, Bad Mermaids, will be just as eagerly followed by these readers. After all, it has the same magical ingredients of a fresh, new world to dive into (this time it's mermaids!), some really funny and warm characters and a great adventure to carry it all along. And it also looks good - brilliant illustrations by Jason Cockcroft, as well as clues, letters and newspaper cuttings throughout the layout. Yes, this is a super stylish package! The story follows twin mermaids Zelda and Mimi and their best buddy Beattie - and not forgetting the talking seahorse, Steve. When the group return to their homes in mermaid Lagoon, they discover that bad mermaids are now in charge, but who is behind the strange goings-on - mermaids being forced to make and wear shell tops; strange piranha image on their nails; and real piranhas keeping watch on them all...? And what has it got to do with the famous Ruster Shells? Zelda, Beattie and Mimi are soon following the clues and trying to solve who is responsible for the changes, and figuring out what they can do to stop them. Finding out about the other regions of the Lagoon - like the edgy Hammerhead Heights, or the stylish Lobstertown, together with the shark cafe, Jawella, are among the highlights. It's a great mystery with lots of fun moments, and I'm sure readers aged 8+ will love it. 272 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by Elen Grace.

Bad Mermaids
The World of Norm: Must End Soon: Book 12
Jonathan Meres

Orchard Books

ISBN 9781408346037

The world bewilders Norm, who always feels he draws the short straw. Why is everything so unfair? And in this, the last World of Norm story, Norm is more bewildered than ever as he approaches his teenaged years. As usual, his day begins badly and soon threatens to get worse, when his parents ask him to look after his younger brothers. Why, Norm wonders, should he have to stay at home and look after them, when what he really wanted to do was to be out on his bike? Family relationships are gently and humorously explored, including Norm's relationship with his canny younger brother - who soon sees through Norm's excuses - and a kindly grandfather who gently steers him in the right direction. The Norm books stand out in that the series looks at the everyday of family life with warmth and humour, through the eyes of a very ordinary boy. This series has won lots of fans and I am sure they will enjoy Norm's last outing. 288 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Elen Grace

The World of Norm: Must End Soon: Book 12
Lost Magic: The Very Best of Brian Moses
Brian Moses

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781509838769

Brian Moses sees this compilation of his work as 'signposts along the road .... travelled' as a poet. Tackling the habitually asked question, 'What's your favourite poem?', he has assembled his own favourites in this rich celebration of his work over the last twenty years. There is so much to enjoy! Here are the opening lines of the title poem (p.108): 'Today I found some lost magic - / a twisty-twirly horn / of a unicorn lying at my feet.' It is a touching and simply written poem but with powerful resonances for today's uneasy world: 'the edge of the world was miles away, / there was nothing to fear./ And none of the unicorns we know ever / changed into dangerous strangers./' Characteristic of Moses' work are the humorous and rhythmic poems that lend themselves so well to performance: 'The SSSSSnake Hotel' (p.4), (to which you can return! p. 24). I particularly like 'Walking with my Iguana' (p.11) written for two voices. For sheer lighthearted nonsense turn to the 'Improbable or Impossible?' section. Here you'll find spider swallowing (p.80), fish ventriloquism (p.82) and what happens if you try to take a lobster through security (p.84). Don't even ask! As Moses says in the short, child-friendly introduction, there are also poems that are 'more thoughtful, because poetry shouldn't just make us smile or laugh - it should make us think and wonder'. 'Last time' (p.57) with its environmental theme, certainly provides food for thought. A section titled 'What do you do now you've been to the moon?' is typical Moses with its combination of humour ('Aliens stole my underpants', p.34) with thought provoking content. ('Space Dog'; p.30)/ If I had to choose a favourite poem, it would be 'Only a Wardrobe'. (p.119): 'In the end, it was, unfortunately, / only a wardrobe, / although hopes had been raised / that it could have been / an alternative route to Narnia.' For the children in this poem (Sharon, Tracey, Gavin and Isaac), there is only a disappointing empty space (They'd hoped for snow, a few flakes / at least to show they were on the right track'). With its empowering intertextuality, it taps into children's love of secret places. I would read this alongside Mirsolav Holub's powerful 'Go and open the Door' to offer children powerful ideas and models for their own writing. 224 pages / Ages 9-12 years / Reviewed by Alison Kelly, consultant.

Lost Magic: The Very Best of Brian Moses
Running on the Roof of the World
Jess Butterworth

Orion Children's Books

ISBN 9781510102088

Once in a while I read a book which totally grips me and is so unusual in its setting , and most importantly full of passion, and this book is one such experience. Many young people will not have heard of the struggles in Tibet and of the power of the spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, but this story will lead them to find out more. Tash and her friend Sam live in a village in Tibet where the Chinese have an iron grip on the people. Their leader the Dalai Lama has been in exile in India for many years and mention of his name is forbidden. Tash's father is a member of the resistance and helps to produce an illegal newsletter. When a man sets himself on fire as a protest, the clampdown on the village is immediate and Tash's parents are arrested and taken away. She escapes and decides to travel across the Himalayas to India to seek the help of the Dalai Lama. Sam decides to come along with her and they are lent two yaks, Eve and Bones. The journey is arduous, the weather closes in and there is the ever present danger of capture. There is also the mystery of a letter in code which does seem to be very important and indeed is so. The concept of freedom of thought and deed is so far from the lives of our children but this story reminds them how precious it is and that people are prepared to journey and even die for it. Tash's faith that the Dalai Lama will help her parents to be released is not even shaken when it does not seem possible. The scene where those Tibetans who have arrived in India are greeted by the Bhuddist leader is very moving and beautifully described. The journey across the mountains comforted only by the warm presence of the yaks is powerfully told, and the reader can feel the cold and hunger the young people experienced. There is a realism about the danger and the shooting of Sam, his blood leeching on the white snow, which makes the reader afraid. There are many details of Tibetan life, of the food they eat, the butter tea which does seem difficult to imagine, and the feeling of a nation not giving up, all combine to make this a memorable read. It is, too, a beautifully produced book. Each chapter has black and white patterns which must be Tibetan or Bhuddist but we are not told. There is no map which would have helped place Tash and Sam in the world, and the cover with its child and yak depicted does not hint at the seriousness of this story, but these are small criticisms of a memorable and powerful book. 288 pages / Ages 9-12 years / Reviewed by Janet Fisher, librarian.

Running on the Roof of the World
The Amber Pendant
Imogen White

Usborne Publishing

ISBN 9781474927291

Mysteries abound in this shadowy and dramatic story, in which an orphan girl becomes key to preventing a powerful and unusual pendant from falling into the wrong hands. That orphan is Rose Muddle, who believes she is to become a maid in a well-to-do household but instead finds herself drawn into the dramatic rescue of the amber pendant. The story is set in the Edwardian period, in Hove, and draws on local history in the form of an amber cup in the museum as well as buildings and public amusements from the time to build an atmospheric backdrop to the unfolding adventure. While the story begins with a Dickensian-type setting and characters, it soon moves on to a full-throttle adventure story repleat with shady business deals, shadowy enemies and spidery, supernatural elements. It was good to see that the main character, Rose, doesn't lose her impoverished roots as the story develops, and the friendship between Rose and the more pragmatic Indian boy, Rui, is well developed. This is a great story for children who love adventure, mystery and a frisson of fear! 336 pages / Ages 9-12 years / Reviewed by Elen Grace.

The Amber Pendant
Dragon Rider: The Griffin's Feather
Cornelia Funke

Chicken House Ltd

ISBN 9781911077886

Cornelia Funke's Dragon Rider was first published in German in 1997 with an English translation by Anthea Bell appearing in 2004. Now, almost twenty years later, Funke has written the sequel, again translated into English by Anthea Bell. To celebrate the publication of the sequel, the original tale has also been reissued to acquaint a new audience with the world of dragons and other fabulous creatures. In the first book we meet Ben, a young boy, homeless and friendless until he comes upon Firedrake, the dragon and a very capable squirrel who introduce him to Professor Greenbloom and his family. There is only one place in the world where a dragon can live in safety, The Rim of Heaven, high in the Himalayas, and Ben, Professor Greenbloom and an assortment of fantastical creatures, resolve to take Firedrake there before the evil Nettlebrand can do him harm. In the second book, which is set some two years after the events of the original book, Ben lives with the Greenblooms in Mimameidr, a refuge for all types of mythical and endangered creatures hidden away in the wilderness of Norway. Ben is excited that Firedrake has come to visit them all, from his new home in the Rim of Heaven but word soon reaches them of another animal in danger. The last Pegasus in existence, grief-stricken at the loss of his partner, is being brought to them, along with the eggs containing three new baby Pegasi. Only the sun feather of a griffin can save the lives of the new foals and Ben, Professor Greenbloom and the others set out on a very dangerous mission to find such a thing. Their mission is full of jeopardy, involving a journey to the more remote parts of Indonesia, where they meet yet more fantastical and impossible creatures, not all of whom are helpful. Will they survive and return with the feather in time to save the foals? Reading the first book will give young readers an introduction to the main characters and their relationships and prepare them to follow Ben on his next mission. There are maps and plentiful illustrations and the second book includes a 'Who's Who' of all the characters, human and otherwise. All the chapters in the second book are prefaced by a quote from people as diverse as Sir David Attenborough, Albert Einstein and John Lennon, all in keeping with Funke's forward in which she pleads for protection and preservation of our environment and all its inhabitants. There is much for the young reader to enjoy in this exciting story of a dangerous quest and the relationships between the characters. There is also much to encourage thought and discussion about conservation and the environment. 416 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by June Hughes, school librarian

Dragon Rider: The Griffin's Feather
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 9+ / Reviewed by Clare Wilkins, school librarian.

The Boy Who Went Magic
Boyband of the Apocalypse
Tom Nicoll

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781847158314

Sam has been persuaded, on the promise of a new phone, to take his younger sister, Lexi, and her friend to a concert by the world's most popular boyband, Apocalips. He is expecting things to be bad, but then he discovers that the four bullying Heatherstone sisters are also at the concert and his reputation will be in tatters on Monday morning when they all go back to school, though he will need to extricate himself from the cupboard they have locked him in first.... That is when things go from bad to really, really bad. From his cupboard, Sam can see and hear events in the band's dressing room and is shocked when the other members of the band gang up on one person and 'dispose' of him, when he expresses a wish to leave the band. What is worse, it becomes clear that they do actually have plans to destroy the world and Sam is the only person who knows. But it is OK; his friend Milo, the only person who believes him, comes up with a plan. Sam will just have to audition as a replacement for the departed Steve. This is a big problem, as he can neither sing nor dance, but wait; it turns out his accountant parents have a more interesting history than he ever suspected and the plan to save the world begins in earnest. This is a very funny read with an exciting, but daft, adventure. Sam is an engaging narrator, well aware of his own shortcomings, and will appeal particularly to young male readers. That is not to say that this is a 'boy' book. All young readers looking for an amusing read will enjoy this book and look forward to the next one. 320 pages / Ages 9-12 years / Reviewed by June Hughes, school librarian.

Boyband of the Apocalypse
Coyote Summer
Mimi Thebo

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192759436

Mimi Thebo's follow-up to Dancing the Bear is another atmospheric tale that cleverly sets coming-of-age dilemmas against the stark and heat-drenched landscape of Kansas. Wayward teen Jules Percy has gone off the rails since failing a ballet audition. In trouble at home and school her despairing, but largely absent, mother sends her to stay with her aunt and uncle in Kansas in an attempt to shock her out of her stubborn stupor. Forced to work on their farm and stripped of the privileges and luxuries of her London life, Jules decides to act the part and count the days until she can see her mother again and escape. But Jules's careful plan is thrown into turmoil when a chance encounter with a coyote changes everything. Transfixed by the animal, which seems to be watching her, she finds herself continuously drawn back to the patch of land it patrols. Eventually, inspired by her new audience, she tentatively begins to dance. Her moves are stilted and rusty, her body unused to the exertion but Jules realises how much she has missed dancing and begins to feel alive again. This is a lovely book and one that will probably find a greater audience amongst girls than boys. Jules has a really authentic teen voice - she's confused, hurt, angry, with others and herself - and the issues she has to deal with are believably portrayed. An excellent read that should appeal to anyone in the 10-14 age group. 276 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Clare Wilkins, school librarian.

Coyote Summer
Never Say Die
Anthony Horowitz

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406377057

Alex Rider is back 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