NEW TITLES

Historical fiction, fantasy and adventure are some of the genres in this selection of books chosen for our reviewers for readers aged 7-11 years.

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
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
Children's Discovery Atlas
Anita Ganeri

QED Publishing

ISBN 9781784937805

This atlas's byline is 'Travel the whole world in one book' and that is pretty much what it offers. It's a great way to introduce children aged 7+ to the globe, beginning with a map of the main continents and a useful explanation of biomes, before taking the reader through each major continent. Each spread has a map, detailing the countries in that continent and some 'Fast Facts' about them. It encapsulates regions like Asia and Russia through colourful maps with images about what you might find in that area, for example gold mining, caviar and barley in distinct regions of Russia. The facts that are chosen are selected with the child in mind - for China and its neighbours, we learn about the 'Birds Nest Stadium', Chinese New Year and the Terracotta Army; many things that young children won't be familiar with. It's the kind of book you want to have around for reluctant readers to dip into, just as much as for helping children learn about the world. There are also some activities at the back of the book to see how much the reader has remembered, and an index to help children begin to learn how to use non fiction. 64 pages / Ages 7-10 years / Reviewed by Chris Allen.

Children's Discovery Atlas
My Evil Twin Is a Supervillain: By the winner of the Waterstones Children's Book Prize
David Solomons

Nosy Crow Ltd

ISBN 9780857639561

Luke is the younger brother of Zack, who is a secret superhero, Star Lad. Really, it should have been Luke who had superpowers bestowed upon him, as Zack had no interest or knowledge of comic book heroes, but as Luke had left their treehouse to go the toilet, he missed out. Working together they have already saved the world from evil villains, but now a new enemy has arrived. Travelling from a parallel universe, Stellar is the twin of Luke and he has a mission and plan of his own to undertake. Could this be the end of the world as we know it? Will Luke and Zack be able to thwart the incredibly irritating Stellar? David Solomons has again woven fast moving action, out of this world adventure and laugh out loud humour into a superb follow up to his previous two books featuring Luke and reluctant superhero Zack. With twists and turns through time and space, this is highly recommended for all would be superheroes of 9+. 304 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, librarian.

My Evil Twin Is a Supervillain: By the winner of the Waterstones Children's Book Prize
The Diamond of Drury Lane
Julia Golding

Egmont Books Ltd

ISBN 9781405285308

This is the first in a series of books about Cat Royal, an orphan girl in late 18th century Georgian London - recently relaunched by publisher Egmont. Adopted by Mr Sheridan, owner of the Drury Lane theatre, Cat is a force of nature; forever getting herself into scrapes with her gift for storytelling and her sense of adventure. Naturally inquisitive, she overhears a conversation about a mysterious diamond and is given the task of protecting it from those who seek to steal it. She is joined in her adventures by Pedro, a former slave who joins the theatre as a musician. They mix with street gangs and the aristocracy on their adventures: getting mixed up in an illegal boxing match; forbidden romance; and the hunt for an political cartoonist wanted by the king. As an outsider, she is able to see the injustice in the world around her: the slave trade, and racism shown to Pedro; and the inequalities between lives and opportunities of the rich and poor. Historical fiction can often seem stuffy, but by speaking directly to the reader Cat draws you in to her world and makes the people and her surroundings come to life. Lists of characters, maps, and a glossary all add to the reader's experience. The theatrical setting of the story is also reflected in the way the novel is presented, for instead of chapters the book is divided into Acts and scenes. It is refreshing to find a central female character who can take care of herself and that friendship, not romance, is central to her relationships with male characters. I think it would be perfect for girls and boys aged 8+ who love historical adventures with lots of action and a large dash of humour. 336 pages / Ages 8-12 years / Reviewed by Alison Ustun, school librarian.

The Diamond of Drury Lane
Aubrey and the Terrible Ladybirds
Horatio Clare

Firefly Press Ltd

ISBN 9781910080504

Aubrey's back, trying to solve problems caused by man's destructive impact on nature. The arrival of some foreign ladybirds in Rushing Woods causes problems with the locals. Soon, harsh words are flying around, questioning where different creatures come from and who 'belongs'. In the meantime, Aubrey, upset by his parents arguing, has used a swallow stone to shrink to the size of an earwig. Able to fly on the back of a swallow and travel through time with the aid of two helpful spiders, Aubrey is taken around the world to witness first hand the issues arising from man's use of pesticides. Charged with making everyone listen and change their ways, Aubrey does his best to rise to the occasion once again. Tackling very real issues, from the impact of parents arguing on children to the very real threat to the world's bee population to issues of racism and the treatment of immigrants, Aubrey and the Ladybirds offers much to think about and discuss. As in Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot, Horatio Clare has a knack of explaining fairly complex issues in a very child-friendly way, making things easier to understand. Through the insects' hostility to the Ladybirds from Bohemia, he shows how quickly emotions can escalate and how unreasonable some can become when they feel threatened or do not understand something. Aubrey's distress and confusion at his parent's arguing is also explored in a sensitive, but honest manner. Although the book has serious subjects at its heart, Horatio Clare still manages to sprinkle magic and humour throughout the story with some wonderful characters and funny situations. Aubrey remains an inquisitive, courageous and loyal little boy in need of friends to support him - which he finds in surprising places! A satisfying second adventure! 256 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

Aubrey and the Terrible Ladybirds
Rowan Oakwing: Night of the Fox: Book 2
E. J. Clarke

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

ISBN 9781510200371

Which child wouldn't like the idea of being transformed into a fairy - with wings?! But these are no Disney beings and these fairies live in a dangerous and divided world. Rowan Oakwing: Night of the Fox is the second book in the series, which launched with Rowan Oakwing - Rowan's first adventure as a fairy. The stories are set in London's parks (there is a useful map at the front of the book) and what drives the adventures is Rowan's search for her mum, who vanished seven years previously and who, it transpires, is now a fairy. Rowan's heartache and desire to bring her family together are behind all her actions. While the books begin slowly and reflectively, they soon launch into fantastic adventures that set the fairies of the rivers and trees against the fairies of the fox. The fairies of the fox are ruled by the evil Vulpes, who is consumed by a desire to become human again so he can seek revenge on humankind; he believes only Rowan can help him return to human form. In Rowan Oakwing: Night of the Fox, Rowan decides to return to the parks to try to find her mother, who is still in fairy form and held prisoner. Her sister, Willow, insists on coming with her and before long, they are both fairies. Together with the help of an assorted group of animals they have stolen from London Zoo, the sisters set off to rescue their mother from the clutches of Vulpes but there are many battles to face and they face deception and defeat during a final showdown in Greenwich Park. Readers should read the first story in the series before this book, because they will need to have the back story. While they are full of adventure, the books also raise questions around parenting and how, despite loving their children, parents don't always make the right decisions for them. I think these would also work well as read-alouds, especially the first book; although the build up to the action is quite slow, the adventures are gripping and thoughtful. What a pity, though, that the books weren't published with illustrations, which would have added so much to the story! 208 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Alice Short.

Rowan Oakwing: Night of the Fox: Book 2
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
Roller Girl
Victoria Jamieson

Puffin

ISBN 9780141378992

This was an NYT bestseller two years ago that is now published into the UK, where it is gathering fans - my daughter among them, who is now asking for more 'comic books' although I'm struggling to find anything quite like this graphic novel. Roller Girl follows two best friends Nicole and Astrid in the summer before they move to middle grade. While Astrid wants her and Nicole to both go roller skating at Derby Camp over the summer, Nicole has signed up for ballet school. When Astrid gets to Derby Camp, she starts to realise that it's hugely demanding and that she's with girls who know what they are doing - while she doesn't. The text and images show all the ups and downs Astrid is going through as she tries to get through those early days, and then shows, through small victories, how she gains in confidence at skating. The story also charts the ups and downs of her friendships, and especially her faltering friendship with Nicole. The story and graphics perfectly capture that time of change when children realise that they, and their friends, are changing and that things will never be quite the same again. Highly recommended for both reluctant and confident readers aged 9+. 240 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Harriet Poole.

Roller Girl
Chase
Linwood Barclay

Orion Children's Books

ISBN 9781510102194

In a top-secret laboratory, a dog is about to be put to sleep. He has failed in his training and will be of no use for the plans the scientists have for him. But Chipper is no ordinary dog, rather a canine spying machine due to the many experiments and implants he has been subject to. And he knows that Simmons has come to kill him, so he makes his escape, despite all the measures in place to prevent him gaining the outside world and freedom. With an implacable agent on his tail, determined to capture him at all costs, Chipper must find a safe hiding place. Returning to the area where he was born, Chipper crosses paths with 12-year-old orphan, Jeff. Desperately missing his parents, his old life and the dog he had to leave behind, Jeff is living with his aunt and working all hours at her lakeside cabin business. Together they face the dangers of trying to outwit the Institute, in an adventure full of secrets, suspense and thrills. Linwood Barclay is the author of a number of acclaimed crime thrillers for adults and this is his first novel for children. Chase will certainly keep readers of 10+ on the edge of their seats! 256 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, librarian.

Chase