NEW TITLES

There is magic and mayhem in this month's selection of books for readers aged 7-11 years - as well books that take us back in time and those that explore our not-so-everyday world.

The Wizards of Once: Book 1
Cressida Cowell

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444936704

Once there was a boy who had been brought up as a Wizard, believing that all Warriors are bad. However, Xar (the wizard) had no magic - and would do anything to get some. Once there was a girl who was a warrior - people who believed that ALL magic was bad and should be destroyed. However, Wish (the warrior) owned a magical object that she really didn't want to give up - and she wasn't a very good warrior. Once there was a book which was full of fantasy, adventure and humour! Thrown together by chance, Wish and Xar are each misfits in their own worlds. Xar is taunted for his lack of magical ability; Wish constantly fails to live up to her mother's high expectations of perfection. Through knowing each other, these two very different characters - Xar is arrogant and self-centred wheras Wish is loyal and caring - learn so much about themselves, forming an unusual alliance and friendship. Cressida Cowell creates a fantastic world populated with fabulous characters and creatures. The narrator's voice is witty and engaging, interjecting comments and observations - and keeping the reader guessing which character they might be! The story is full of sketchy drawings by Cressida Cowell, liberally illustrating the story and adding to the humour. The Wizards of Once is a series set to be just as wonderful and popular as her earlier How to Train Your Dragon series. 384 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

The Wizards of Once: Book 1
Spy Toys: Out of Control!
Mark Powers

Bloomsbury Childrens Books

ISBN 9781408870884

The secret code that controls every toy's mind had been stolen and it is up to the three spy toys to find player one and retrieve the code before everything goes wrong. This is a humourous novel full of funny characters who are mostly personified toys. The plot is fast moving and not too predictable, it makes you laugh and would appeal to both boys and girls who enjoy humour that's cheeky and full of life. The story is of medium length and easy to follow, however it uses quite high level vocabulary in parts and I think that this story needs to be read by an established child reader, with plenty of experiences that would help them to understand parts of the story, or to be shared between and adult and a child, where an adult could explain some of the trickier clauses or narrative techniques. This would be a great story to read to reluctant readers in a classroom setting, as it is fast paced and beefy enough to get your teeth into. Throughout the books are some illustrations that children would enjoy looking at, finding hidden details and seeing the humourous characters. 208 pages / Ages 7-9 years / Reviewed by Lizi Coombs, teacher.

Spy Toys: Out of Control!
You Can't Make Me Go To Witch School!
Em Lynas

Nosy Crow Ltd

ISBN 9781788000130

Daisy Wart does not want to go to Witch School and thinks she is not really a witch at all, that the whole thing is a big mistake and she is really an actress. She is however, sent to Witch School with very little chance of escape, particularly to get out in time for her Shakespearean performance in a couple of nights time. There are the usual group of fellow pupil witches and teacher witches and in many ways this story follows a very familiar path, though one with a humorous twist. This book is the start of a series of stories - set in Witch School - as Daisy discovers her true destiny and life at a rather unusual school. This is an easy and enjoyable read, the 232 pages interspersed with great illustrations by Jamie Littler. These illustrations are full of charm and wit and serve the story well, particularly the small draping of cobwebs and other slightly magical bits on page corners as well as the pictures of the characters themselves. There are echoes of The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy, as well as other school for Witches books, but this is an original tale. The climax might be a little too scary for the fainthearted, but the book opens some interesting ideas, such as the nature of friendship, rebellion and conformity as well as standing up to bullying behaviour. This book would be especially good for comparing books on a similar theme, but also for discussions on when it is right to break the rules, and whether the rules are fit for purpose in the first place. 232 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by Jacqueline Harris, school librarian.

You Can't Make Me Go To Witch School!
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
National Trust: The Secret Diary of Jane Pinny, Victorian House Maid
Philip Ardagh

Nosy Crow Ltd

ISBN 9780857639035

The Secret Diary series from Nosy Crow delves into specific periods in history to show what life would have been like at the time for young people honing their crafts and skills, whether as a young page learning to be a knight in The Secret Diary of John Drawbridge: Medieval Knight in Training, or as a girl entering the service of a grand Victorian country house in this book, The Secret Diary of Jane Pinny, a Victorian housemaid. Each of the books has a mystery at its heart; in this, a precious necklace goes missing and it's up to the maid to solve the mystery. Jane Pinny's character shines through her account of her days; her fears before her job interview, her excitement when the staff are photographed, and her awed wonder at the sheer number of staff who work in the house. Footnotes provide, for the readers who want them, more factual information that fleshes out Jane's comments and observations. The illustrations by Jamie Littler also add to the humour and make the pages look even more enticing to young readers aged eight years upwards. An excellent series that will help develop work in the classroom around the Victorian era and Medieval castles and forts. Highly recommended. 192 pages / Ages 8-10 years / Reviewed by Ellen King.

National Trust: The Secret Diary of Jane Pinny, Victorian House Maid
Nevermoor: Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow Book 1
Jessica Townsend

Orion Children's Books

ISBN 9781510104112

As a school librarian I am fortunate to read some wonderful children's books, and there are some very special books to be read. And then there are those rare and precious gems; the ones that hold you captive in your bed for most of a Saturday because you can't even contemplate putting them down, and all the while you are adding to your mental list of pupils that you know will be as gripped as you are. Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow is one such book. As a Cursed Child born on Eventide, the unluckiest day of the year, Morrigan Crow has always known that she would die on her eleventh birthday. She has spent her entire life being blamed by all and sundry as the cause for just about every disaster and minor mishap in the vicinity. Simmering with resentment, she is forced to spend her days drafting letters of apology, peppered with crossings-out that will have you laughing out loud. Then, when all seems lost, Morrigan is swept away to Nevermoor by Captain Jupiter North where she takes up residence in the Deucalion Hotel. Morrigan is to compete for entry into the revered Wundrous Society and Jupiter is her patron. If she fails, a terrible fate awaits her. Nevermoor is charming. A whimsically magical place where glass chandeliers grow from the ceiling, an umbrella is a means of rail transport and giant, sarcastic cats work as hotel housekeeping managers. The dashing and somewhat mysterious Jupiter North is a very engaging character. I noted some echoes of Willy Wonka, and yet he is a far more sympathetic character. Morrigan herself, feisty and loyal with an icy sense of humour, makes a tremendous heroine and I fell swiftly under her spell. I understand that Book 2 is well on the way which is a great relief as I don't know how long I can wait to find out what happens next. 371 pages / Age 9+ / Reviewed by Emily Marcuccilli, School Librarian

Nevermoor: Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow Book 1
Class Six and the Eel of Fortune
Sally Prue

Featherstone

ISBN 9781472939418

More magic and mayhem in this second instalment of Class Six from Sally Prue. After a failed attempt to hide their magic from the snooping Mrs Knowall (would be new Chair of the school governors with super sensitive nostrils), and their teacher Miss Broom swept away back to training college, class six are despondent but have not given up on preparing for the school fate. Where there's magic there's a way! With lean tarts (generally making you thin), fortune telling eels and sea serpent rides among the fetes attractions, will class six succeed in hiding their magic from Mrs Knowall, or will all the fun be taken out of the fair? What will happen to Miss Broom, and will Mrs Knowall take over the school? This is a really enjoyable fast paced story with great characters, situations, magic and mayhem. Children will love the idea of a class where magic is the top of the curriculum, and there are plenty of references to magical beasts and stories (with Jack in the class only one thing is coming down the beanstalk) to lead to further discussion around the story. Scottish teachers may need to explain the school governor and district school inspector system to their class to help their understanding of the story. But other than that, a most enjoyable read which will be enjoyed by children 8-11 years old, and a great choice to read aloud! 128 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by Stephen Leitch.

Class Six and the Eel of Fortune
Coming to England
Floella Benjamin

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781509835492

Aimed at younger readers and told through the eyes of a child, Benjamin recounts her idyllic Trinidadian childhood, living out her days in blissful ignorance of the challenges that she would later face. With her ample use of sensory language, Benjamin brings to life the British-ruled Trinidad of the '50s, describing everything from the modest family home, the rich Trinidadian cuisine and the bustling marketplaces to the strict school system and exotic wildlife. Her childhood seems almost perfect - perhaps the only negative seems to be the distinct lack of black history in her school history lessons. However, the halcyon days are brought to an abrupt end with the departure of her parents, who travel to London to make a new life, leaving behind Floella and three of her siblings. After fifteen long months, she is finally reunited with her beloved Marmie and Dardie in London, but the reality is far removed from anything she had imagined. The family of eight find themselves living in a cramped, single room in West London. Far worse, however, is the prejudice that Benjamin encounters in her daily life. People stare at her in the street, fellow students laugh at her and taunt her, employing derogatory language. She even faces discrimination from teachers and shop-keepers. On one occasion, upon seeing the Benjamin family leave a church service, attendees exclaim: 'I see that they are letting in that kind now. Is no place sacred?'. The Benjamin family face similar discrimination when the first house that they buy is nearly flooded by neighbours. Perhaps the most harrowing lines in the book are that: 'In the eyes of some people in this world, I was not a person, but a colour...for that day, I lost a certain innocence, and I would never be the same again. I, too would see a person's colour first and wonder whether he or she was going to hate me.' The book, however, ends on a positive note. Taught by her mother from an early age to have pride in herself and her country, Floella rises above the prejudice, flourishing academically and on the sports field. Her story is an inspirational one - about facing challenges in the process of cultural adaptation and more significantly, the difficulties associated with the concept of bi-cultural identity, regarding the assimilation of both cultural contexts and the difficulty of balancing one's identity when influenced by both cultures. The book's underlying message, that courage and hard work can overcome adversity, is an important and timeless one. 144 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Emily Spencer.

Coming to England
The Explorer
Katherine Rundell

Bloomsbury Childrens Books

ISBN 9781408854877

'Like a man-made magic wish, the aeroplane began to rise.' From the moment I read the opening sentence of this book I knew that I would be hooked. In fact, I knew even before that, when I held this book in my hands. It is a thing of beauty, sumptuously illustrated by Hannah Horn with wonderfully rich drawings of the rainforest and the creatures that dwell in it. The reader, along with the four children in the book, crash lands through the rainforest canopy into the Amazon jungle. It is an exciting and thrilling start to a tale that carries the reader along with at an expertly-crafted pace. The descriptions of the 'bite-your-fist beautiful' rainforest are so gloriously vivid that you experience the sights, sounds, smells and even tastes of this new and often hostile environment alongside Fred, Con, Lila and Max as they struggle to survive. The attention to detail is just sublime! Yet this is far more than a deftly-written adventure story, for The Explorer is a book with real spirit and soul. Courage, anger, humour, grief, love, hope, fear, loyalty and steely determination are all to be found within the pages of this book. The author's characterisation is flawless, drawing the reader into this unlikely band of survivors: brave Fred who so needs to find approval from his father; prickly Con who does her best to mask her hurt and loneliness; protective Lila whose quiet sense of determination shines through and gloriously exuberant Max; curious, playful and usually covered in snot. In addition to the important environmental message of this book, The Explorer also has much to say about retaining our sense of wonder at the world, about human relationships and about finding courage in the face of difficult situations. If you haven't read it yet, you are in for a treat! 408 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Emily Marcuccilli, school librarian

The Explorer
The Guggenheim Mystery
Robin Stevens

Puffin

ISBN 9780141377025

In The Guggenheim Mystery, the queen of middle grade whodunits, Robin Stevens, has crafted a fabulous sequel to The London Eye Mystery by the wonderful Siobhan Dowd. The book itself is a thing of beauty, with eye-catching cover art by David Dean and I couldn't wait to dive into this hotly anticipated new title. In this story, Stevens has transported the characters of Ted, Kat and Salim to the bustling streets of New York City. Salim's mother, Gloria, has recently taken up the post of curator at the Guggenheim and their new life in the Big Apple is going well until, during a visit from Ted, Kat and Aunt Faith, a priceless work of art is stolen and Aunt Gloria is the prime suspect. The scene is then set for Ted, Kat and Salim to turn supersleuth and seek out the real thief. Stevens' tight plotting has this story zipping along in a hugely satisfying way. Ted's extraordinary powers of observation are called into play and the narrative is peppered with lists of who might logically have stolen the painting and why. Stevens does a tremendous job of picking up Ted's voice as the narrator of this story. Ted is on the autistic spectrum and we feel Ted's anxiety when confronted by strange new situations but, importantly, Ted's autistic traits are portrayed in a sensitive and positive way: 'This is what makes me special and different, and different is not a bad thing.' Relationships are something of a mystery to Ted, and as well as working to solve the mystery of the art theft, Ted is also learning about friendship and family as the story progresses. I particularly enjoyed Ted's growing appreciation for modern art, which is a field that baffles many of us! The setting of New York, with its roaring traffic, iconic landmarks and frenetic pace is sublime and the Guggenheim itself proves to be a fascinating location for the focus of the mystery. Highly recommended to all mystery fans aged 9+ 291 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Emily Marcuccilli, school librarian

The Guggenheim Mystery
Laura Marlin Mysteries: The Secret of Supernatural Creek: Book 5
Lauren St. John

Orion Children's Books

ISBN 9781510102644

When 11-year-old ace detective Laura Marlin and her classmates are treated to an unexpected visit to Australia, Laura is just as thrilled as the rest of them. But then strange phenomena and odd coincidences start to occur and Laura can't shift the sensation that something isn't right... But with her arch nemesis Mr A safely behind bars, what has she got to worry about...? Laura Marlin faces some real challenges in this story which - as well as being a cracking adventure - explores what friendship and loyalty mean. There is also, as we've come to expect from Lauren St John's books - a strong environmental theme that flavours the entire adventure and which absorbs the reader in the smells, colours and sights of the Australian Outback. As the story progresses, the dangers mount and the difficulties Lauren faces grow but she never really loses sight of what makes a good friend - and her concern for and interaction with the environment add another layer to the story. This is a great addition to the Laura Marlin Mysteries series. 208 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Emma Jones.

Laura Marlin Mysteries: The Secret of Supernatural Creek: Book 5
A Place Called Perfect
Helena Duggan

ISBN 9781474924160

Everything in Perfect is, well, ...perfect. Everybody is kind and friendly, amenities work, buildings are clean and well-maintained and a hazy shimmer seems to gloss everyday life. But the residents of Perfect, the Perfectionists, are all blind. Physically, they all sport glasses provided by the seemingly altruistic Archer brothers, George and Edward. Mentally they have been robbed of their imaginations and now exist in a banal, trance-like state. But Violet Brown is not so easily turned and together with her new friend, Boy, she starts to unravel the sinister secrets of Perfect and neighbouring No Man's Land. Stealthily working to find the motives of the evil Archers, Violet and Boy come across all manner of surprises including supposedly dead citizens and macabre patches of growing eyeballs. Piecing together the sordid tale, Violet, Boy and a growing army of No Man's Landers plot a breath-taking and dangerous rebellion. Far more sinister than its cover might suggest, this is an enthralling read. Violet is a brilliant and lively heroine and Boy, the ultimate urchin hero. There are plenty of well-formed characters and a plot that bubbles and boils to a thrilling climax. Brilliantly set-up for a sequel this is a quirky, creepy and beautifully written book. 364 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Clare Wilkins, school librarian.

A Place Called Perfect
Overheard in a Tower Block: Poems by
Joseph Coelho

Otter-Barry Books Ltd

ISBN 9781910959589

This powerful collection of poems was published before the catastrophic Grenfell Tower fire and my first reaction to the title and front cover of this book was dismay at the untimely depiction of a black tower block with its illuminated windows. Kate Milner is a talented illustrator but the image (not of Grenfell Tower and created long before the tragedy) invoked painful emotions and more recent images. So I turned first of all to 'Binley House' (p.10), subject of the book's title. Seen through the Grenfell lens, this is a profoundly moving poem and is a tribute to the communities who inhabit tower blocks. After the intense sadness of the opening verse, the progress of the poem to hope and optimism is remarkable: TV aerials like dead branches, / satellite dishes like dead eyes, / rusted, but still they stared. / It was a zombie of a block. ... We fed the block our lives: / the good times, the bad times, / evenings spent with friends who lived / above, below and side by side. Coehlo captures the sounds ('cold whistle of the wind... the block's hiss', 'slam of distant doors'; sights ('bags of clothes from missed fathers'); smells ('smelling the bins') of life in a tower block but also the humanity, the reality: 'Gazing at stars from five storeys up, / smelling the bins from five storeys below. / Overheard arguments. / Overheard laughter. This is a poem about resilience and community and deserves many readings. Mirroring this empathy with the urban environment is 'City Kids' (p.76), an homage to children's alert awareness of their environment: 'Our city children / are its eyes and ears, / its tongue and nostrils, / closer to the ground, / breathing the city, / playing on the front line'. Kate Milner's illustration of children seeming to fly through an urban setting captures the mood of the poem perfectly. Her illustrations are subtle and apt: they reflect and complement Coehlo's words without overwhelming them; they leave imaginative space for the reader's own images. The collection is compelling. We read of family sadness in 'Disappearing Act' (p.54) about an absent father's missing things which the child voice in the poem has listed 'before they were gone for good': 'His shirts no longer trapezed on the line. / His flowers no longer popped up on the window sills. / His photo no longer lit up the wall.' 'A story of a fear' (p.8) is a rich and suggestive poem. Just eight lines long, it conjures up powerful images and ideas: 'A story of a fear / cloaked in a monster's scaly hide. A fable of feelings / bottled up inside. A parable of a princess / and the spell that she could weave A saga of a kingdom, / of a king who had to leave.' As well as standing in its own right, this could be an impetus for the children's own writing as they might devise an illustrated story for each of the scenarios offered. Coehlo uses artful and sparkling word play. Read 'The Duelling Duo' (p.34) which is ostensibly a vivid description of knights duelling but makes such clever use of double meanings and homophones: 'One would hit - one would miss / in the mind-dark night / with its coal-fist mist. / One blade rang on a helmet, / hand tight on a hilt-rung sword, / both proving their mettle / in this mourning morning.' I would never use a poem primarily for spelling purposes but, once read and enjoyed with a class, there is so much here to engage children's interest in words, sounds and word play. Every poem in this anthology gives the reader pause for thought: whether it's an idea to contemplate; an image that lingers or word play that delights, Coelho's touch is totally assured. His voice concludes this review, taken from the wonderful poem 'Books have helped me' (p.55): 'When I thumb through a book Their pages whisper to me That I'll be all right.' 112 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Alison Kelly, teaching consultant.

Overheard in a Tower Block: Poems by
Spectre Collectors: Too Ghoul For School
Barry Hutchison

Nosy Crow Ltd

ISBN 9780857639608

13 year old Denzel can't concentrate on his maths homework - not while there is a terrifying transparent tangle of black tentacles making a mess of his house. Not as much of a mess, however, as the two teenagers who burst through his wall in pursuit of the ghost, recklessly wielding their guns and their magic. When it emerges that Denzel has a unique ability to see ghosts, the two teens take him back to the headquarters of Spectre Collectors, a secret organisation dedicated to protecting humanity from vengeful spirits. Packed with humour, adventure, ghosts, magic and technology, Too Ghoul For School is Men In Black meets Ghostbusters with teens! This book was a lot of fun. The main characters are a likeable and diverse bunch - Denzel is a 13-year-old boy of colour and son to a same-sex couple, Sumera is South Asian. There are some genuine laugh out loud moments (mainly courtesy of Denzel's best friend, Smithy) as well as a few very emotional scenes with Denzel and his parents - expect your tears to be well and truly jerked. The variety of ghosts, poltergeists, ghouls and other spectral beasties in this book is great - and it would be a fun creative writing exercise to get students to come up with their own phantoms for the Spectre Collectors to battle. This book has a very broad appeal - I would not hesitate to recommend it to any student who enjoys a good chuckle with their adventures. 236 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Daniel Katz, school librarian.

Spectre Collectors: Too Ghoul For School
Simply the Quest
Maz Evans

Chicken House Ltd

ISBN 9781910655511

Simply the Quest is Maz Evans's second book in her marvellous middle grade series and follows the success of last year's Who Let the Gods Out. As before, Maz Evans writes with bags of charisma and knows how to engage her readers. 12-year-old Elliott is back at home living with several Greek Gods and the newly mortal Virgo. Pressure is mounting to find the remaining chaos stones before the dreaded Thanatos. This is hero territory and there are adventures to be had! Alongside this, Elliott is caring for his mum who continues to be unwell. We also see the introduction of contact with dad, who has been absent for ten years. When it comes to storytelling, Maz Evans is an expert mixologist. She mingles Ancient Greek Gods with the modern life of a thirteen year old boy; blends brilliantly funny content with sometimes heart-wrenching depth of feeling. Together they make each other even better. I would recommend upper key stage two teachers explore the humour around the Gods in Simply the Quest through art. Art and parody have a long history and there are many examples online of famous artworks that have been given a modern day twist. Looking at classic sculpture of Greek Gods and comparing with Maz Evans's less traditional written descriptions is a great way of developing talk around a class reader. Children could go on to develop modern day versions of the Gods in Simply the Quest or they could create their own. Following a process from discussion to drawing to sculpting of a final piece can then lead into written work, stop frame animation or drama quite easily. Simply the Quest is a great book that opens up many possibilities for its audience. A wonderful and memorable read. 368 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Beccy Judge.

Simply the Quest
The Starman and Me
Sharon Cohen

Quercus Children's Books

ISBN 9781786540089

The Starman and Me was introduced to me as a cross between ET and Stig of the Dump but, whilst there are echoes of both in this story, it is still a very original piece of writing. 12-year-old Kofi finds a strange little being on a local roundabout and after much debate, mostly with himself, he decides to help him. The children in this story have a huge amount of freedom, possibly unimaginable to some children in busy city streets, but this enables them to do what they need to do for the plot to move forward. Parents also loom large in this story and whilst not the main characters, they all play an important role in the plot. The story is tremendously exciting - some of the chase scenes or places where the tension is high mean this is a book that is hard to put down. I could see this making a cracking TV series with cliff edge endings to episodes. This would also be a fantastic book to read aloud to children, apart from the scope for lots of voices, this would be the sort of book a Y5 or 6 class would not want you to stop reading, even if it was home time! The book deals with some very complex issues, such as heavy-handed stepfathers, bullying, evolution and how far science should be taken - all of which would prove great talking points for an interesting 'what-if' scenario, not least whether you would have stepped in to help as Kofi does. This is a book to read with a more mature class who could handle all the issues and certainly not a book you would want to just have on the shelves of a classroom without first reading it yourself. But do read it yourself - it is very pacy and enjoyable. 304 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Jacqueline Harris, school librarian.

The Starman and Me
Chase
Linwood Barclay

Orion Children's Books

ISBN 9781510102194

Linwood Barclay brings his formula for best-selling thrillers to a new audience with Chase, his first book for younger readers. Chipper is no ordinary dog. He has been enhanced - physically and mentally - by the sinister White Coats at The Institute. He was meant to be the ultimate in spy technology, but he can't seem to fully shake off his base canine instincts (MUST. CHASE. SQUIRREL.) This defect has made him a liability to The Institute - and liabilities are dealt with harshly. 12 year old Jeff - recently orphaned after his parents were killed in a plane crash - has gone to live with his aunt at her remote lakeside cabin business, which he is helping her run over the summer holidays. When Chipper escapes and meets Jeff, they find themselves hunted by The Institute's most ruthless operatives who will stop at nothing to get back their prized possession. This book was an easy-to-read, exciting page turner that zipped along at a fair pace. My favourite scenes were the ones where Jeff and Chipper are joined by camp-resident Emily - there is a fun dynamic between the three characters that I missed when she wasn't around. It took me a bit of time to get into the book's style - especially the passages from Chipper's point of view. I initially found the writing a bit too simplistic, but eventually got into the story enough that it no longer bothered me. I also saw the book's 'big reveals' coming a mile off, but younger readers may still be surprised. The book ends on a huge cliffhanger, and you'll have to wait until next summer to find out what happens next! I would recommend this book to reluctant readers, students who love animals, and those who enjoy a fast-paced adventure. I think it would be a good book to read with small groups of reluctant readers - it's style lends itself well to being read aloud. 244 pages / Ages 9-12 years / Reviewed by Daniel Katz, school librarian.

Chase
All The Things That Could Go Wrong
Stewart Foster

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471145421

This book isn't about Dan. And it isn't about Alex. It's a book about bullying and friendship. Dan is angry about his brother and Alex has OCD and worries about everything; Alex is an easy target for Dan. But their mums are friends and they force them to finish off building Dan's raft together - neither of them relish this prospect to begin with, but as they work together, things begin to change. There are often two sides to every story and Stewart Foster tells both equally well in All The Things That Could Go Wrong. Over 61 short chapters, Dan and Alex take it in turns to tell the story from their perspective, giving the reader an inside track into the mind of both a child with OCD and a child who is channelling their feelings about their own difficulties into bullying someone else. Children can often be very black and white about bullying - this book will help teachers and parents explore with children the possible causes of a bully's behaviour. It could also encourage children who are expressing their emotions in a negative way to talk to someone about how they are feeling. The tension between the two boys is held throughout the book, making for an exciting read - children and adults alike will not want to put this book down as they end up rooting both for Dan and Alex. The book would be great to read aloud to the class but individual chapters could be used equally well to link to other texts that focus on similar themes (such as Wonder by RJ Palacio and The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson), particularly the ones which give an insight into why Dan bullies Alex. A thoroughly enjoyable read for readers aged 9-13 who love to read exciting stories about real life issues. 320 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Aidan Severs, teacher.

All The Things That Could Go Wrong
The Boy With One Name
J. R. Wallis

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471157929

Jones is an orphaned 12 year old boy who has been looked after and trained to hunt monsters by his guardian Maitland. Together they are meant to keep their area of the Badlands free of Ogres, Witches and other creatures we believe to be mythological. But Jones doesn't want to be a Badlander, he just wants to be normal. Then Jones meets another orphan, the headstrong and outspoken Ruby who is desperate to be anything but normal. But in trying to prove herself more than just a girl she unleashes more danger into the world. When Maitland dies in a hunt that goes terribly wrong, Jones thinks he can now go back to being normal. But everything is not as it seems and Jones is going to need Ruby's help to clear up their mess before either can work out what their future holds. The Boy With One Name is one of those books that grabs you and doesn't let go until you reach the very last page. A wonderful tale of friendship and bravery with spellbinding supernatural and mythological creatures. I loved that both characters were desperate for a different life, desperate to have the exact opposite of what they have, it gave a great sense of what its like to be that age and that it's normal to feel that way, even in such a different world. Ruby's story was also really current, with her feminist spirit coming through. Wanting to prove that girls CAN do anything! This would be a great book for mythology or along side Anglo-Saxon history as a great light hearted class book along the theme. Recommended age 9+ due to some of the dark and mildly graphic scenes. 342 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Fiona DeeCee

The Boy With One Name