Angel Creek
Sally Rippin

Egmont Books Ltd

ISBN 9781405262088

Aimed at readers aged 8+, Angel Creek is a magical story that is at the same time firmly rooted in the Australian landscape in which it is set. Angel Creek is reminiscent of a younger Skellig, with ideas around life and death, symbolic natural messengers and an exchange between the human and other worlds. The story is focused on Jelly who is trying to adapt to the family's new house on the other side of town. One day she and her cousins discover something in the creek. At first they think it is a bird but they soon realise it is a kind of baby angel whose wing has been broken. The angel will only be handled by Jelly but as family illness, accidents and local bullies add to Jelly's strains, she comes to realise that the angel, now recovered, needs to be returned to where it belongs. The 'angel', with its bad breath and feral habits, is depicted as belonging as much to nature as to something more spiritual and through it, Rippin explores much more complex ideas of life and death, our consciousness and how we perceive ourselves and our world, and family relations. It's a beautifully-written and enticing story that brings a magical touch to the everyday world. Ages 9+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone / 160 pages

Angel Creek

ISBN 9780192733207

A new Geraldine McCaughrean novel is always a real treat. You never know what to expect when you open the pages since she writes unique, standalone books on a plethora of different subjects, times and themes. All you can be sure of is that you will never be bored. Her sentences just leap off the page and into your heart. This story is set in a faded seaside town, hilariously called Seashaw and our heroine is the delightful Gracie. She loves Seashaw, her happiest times were on holidays there and she is delighted that she has persuaded her ex-actor parents to try to restore the beautiful old theatre. She is even more delighted when she discovers that the theatre is home to a motley crew of ghosts and that she can not only see them, she can talk to them too!. This is most disconcerting to the ghosts who enjoyed their quiet refuge, making their own entertainment each evening. But this will not do for Gracie - she wants to hear their stories, how they lived and more importantly how they died and came to be here and so do we! Each vignette is so vividly told and brings to life a different aspect of the town’s history. But there is, of course, much more to this story than entertainment, there is real drama, pathos and mystery too. A seedy benefactor who intends to burn down the theatre and claim the insurance, the race to save the building from collapse and the truth behind Gracie’s ability to see the ghosts. We are told that the author is donating part of the proceeds from this book to the Theatre Royal, Margate and it is delightful to discover just how many of these stories have a foothold in real history. This hugely enjoyable tale should have families flocking there to rediscover the joys of a traditional British seaside holiday evoked so brilliantly yet again by an author who never disappoints! Ages 9+ / 272 pages / Reviewed by Joy Court, SLS Librarian.

The Fairy Detective Agency: Three Pickled Herrings
Sally Gardner

Orion Children's Books

ISBN 9781444003734

Three Pickled Herrings is a follow-up to Sally Gardner's brilliant Operation Bunny, and is as equally enticing, magical and quirky. Emily Vole, who inherited a shop at the tender age of nine, has set up a business called the Fairy Detective Agency. To date, business has been slow, but then a spate of alarming and bizarre incidents - including a man being fired up into the air like a rocket - bring new customers to their door. Characters in this series include a human-like cat called Fidget, an 11 year old grumpy fairy (Buster) and assorted other fairies who are trying to live like modern people - wings can be rather burden-some in those situations... Gardner has an eye for the absurd and an ability to bring together a variety of characters and situations and to make them all chime as a perfect whole. It's wonderful to see writing this strong for the younger reader. Ages 7+ / 182 pages / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

The Fairy Detective Agency: Three Pickled Herrings
East of the Sun, West of the Moon
Jackie Morris

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847802941

There are a number of ways in which traditional, or fairy, tales may be used by authors. They can be used as inspiration and completely re-imagined, their themes being the important element for the writer. Both Diana Wynne Jones and Margo Lanagan are exponents of this approach. Or the tale itself will be the material used by the storyteller, who may fill out the narrative with new details and additional storylines, as can be seen in Farjeon's The Silver Curlew , The Seventh Swan by Nicholas Stuart Gray or Robin McKinley's Beauty. This is the route taken by Jackie Morris in her retelling of the magical tale, East of the Sun, West of the Moon. Here very little is changed. We meet the poor family as the great white bear knocks on the door to ask for the hand of the youngest daughter. Her acceptance leads to a life of luxury but of loneliness, until curiosity and disobedience leads to tragedy and she is left abandoned. Then there is her quest as she seeks the castle that lies east of the sun, west of the moon. Arriving there, she must keep her nerve, facing down the Troll Queen with the help of the magical gifts she has been given, and the strength of her love to achieve her happy ending. This one of the great fairy tales that has never been taken over, retaining all its power and mystery. By keeping strictly to the script, Morris ensures that its beauty is untouched. It is not until the end that we are given a name for the heroine; a choice that also enhances the timeless, quality of the narrative. However, she is a very real girl, a refugee, - and her anonymity allows the reader to be her every step of the way. There are other nice touches - as might be expected from Jackie Morris, the bear is a very solid bear, while the mother, the instrument of the betrayal, is seen not as evil but rather as caring. It is only the Trolls who remain indistinct - but then the focus is very much on Berneen, her development and her relationship with the bear-prince. Morris's conclusion may not be traditional but it is satisfying, certainly in the context of today. Traditional tales hold messages for their audience, and this is the author's message. The language is a pleasure to read. But above all there are the illustrations. As might be expected they glow with the artist's trademark colours, vivid, seductive. Highly recommended. Readers might like to try North Child (Patou), a very different approach to this story. Ages 8+ / 176 pages / Reviewed by Ferelith Hordon, librarian

East of the Sun, West of the Moon
Unleashed: Mind Over Matter
Ali Sparkes

ISBN 9780192756077

This is a thoroughly entertaining series from Ali Sparkes, who always manages to keep the pace going through her novels and to introduce plenty of cliff-hangers along the way. The Unleashed books (this is the second in the series) will be enjoyed especially by fans of her award-winning Shapeshifter series, as it develops some of the characters from that earlier series. Both focus on COLAs, or Children Of Limitless Abilities, whose powers include telepathy, telekinesis and speaking to spirits. In Mind over Matter, twins Luke and Gideon (who can move things with their minds) are taking a well-deserved break from their government-sponsored college when things quickly start to deteriorate as one of their minders is killed and Luke kidnapped. The adventure is set on the Isle of Wight and it has touches of an older Enid Blyton about it, with young people having to look to their own devices, sinister villains and the island setting. However, it is also a very modern story that delves into what makes the characters behave the way they do, has very real-world settings, and also introduces a touch of romance. Ages 9+ / 240 pages / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Unleashed: Mind Over Matter

ISBN 9780192733139

This is the final book in this series which follows the fortunes of Kimi, her sister, Hana and their young brother Moriyasu, after the massacre of their parents by their uncle, Lord Yamamoto. Their adventures have taken them from their sheltered upbringing as daughters of a Japanese aristocracy, to highly trained warriors, versed in both the arts of the Samurai and in Ninja skills. As their story reaches its climax in the confrontation between the Shogun and Lord Yamamotu, the action is non-stop and breathless. There are escapes, betrayals, single combat and gruesome battles – described in some detail. This is very much a thrilling adventure in which historical detail is never allowed to get in the way of the action . Kimi and Hana are likeable `heroines and will appeal as proactive girls who show they can hold their own in a masculine world. However, their characters are lightly sketched and there is little opportunity for development as the plot moves swiftly on. The Japanese setting provides an element of fantasy and the exotic, allowing both the samurai and ninja to display almost super-human skill; no magic is involved. A fast moving adventure designed to appeal mainly to girls who want to see themselves as more than mere adjuncts to the action, this will be welcomed by young readers KS2/3 who have discovered the earlier titles, starting with Under the Cherry Blossom I believe this series was originally published as The Warriors Path under the name of Maya Snow. As 'Two sisters, one destiny' it has been relaunched and repackaged. However, the gentle cover illustrations do not give a true impression of the action packed plot and young readers craving this type of adventure may miss out. Ages 10+ / 272 pages / Reviewed by Ferelith Hordon, librarian