The following selection of titles highlights the range and quality of fiction available for readers aged seven / eight years to 11+, including stories focusing on 'real life' as well as sci-fi, fantasy, detective and adventure stories.

Sam Swann's Movie Mysteries: Tomb of Doom!!!
Tanya Landman

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406330878

Sam's dad - a 'Special Effects Make-up Supremo' - is off to film in Egypt. Before joining him on location, Sam encounters a 'Sinister Stranger' whilst on a fact finding mission to The British Museum. Once in Egypt, Sam befriends the demanding child star Tinkerbelle Cherry. Her mysterious illness leads them to discover the 'Sinister Stranger' and Anubis, the ghostly guard dog of Tutankhamun's tomb, seems to be following them. This is a brilliant book; I was not at all surprised to discover the author is a mother of boys as it is definitely geared towards them. Although it is a chapter book, it also includes elements of graphic novels, information texts and play scripts. Each chapter is named after a real film which the main character - Sam - has given a rating (the ratings are listed at the front of the book). The appendix at the end gives a brief synopsis of each of them. Indeed, every aspect of the book, including the 'credits' on the back cover, are in the style of a film; these are lovely, subtle details. The book is written in first person present tense and includes some fascinating factoids about real films. It reads like pattern of speech, making it very accessible for emergent and struggling readers. The illustrations (by Daniel Hunt) are doodle like and very much in the style you would imagine Sam to draw. Although this book easy to read, it is also a brilliant mystery story - it took me quite a while to work it out! There is a fantastic twist near the end and, although it is clear something is afoot, I only realised what it was moments before reading it. My 7 year old son (an avid reader and rather eccentric film buff) thought this was a fantastic book; that is praise indeed! 169 pages / Ages 7-11 / Reviewed by Mikeala Morgans, teacher.

Sam Swann's Movie Mysteries: Tomb of Doom!!!
Up For The Cup
Simon Bartram

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781783700189

Simon Bartram distinctive style works brilliantly in this football setting and football-loving fans will thoroughly enjoy his warm look the at sport through the ups and downs of the 'Seaburn City' football team (loosely based on Bartram's favourite Sunderland team). As it says on the cover, this is: 'A Story for Complete and Utter Football Nutters'! A young fan, Charlie Horsewill, is thrilled when his favourite team, Seaburn City, finally reaches the Cup Final and this highly illustrated story is his account of the events leading up to that match. Seaburn City is in with a chance thanks to its striker Julio Poom. But Julio is highly superstitious and he needs a plate of tinned spaghetti spelling out the message 'Today Julio, you will shine like a star' before each match. When the tinned spaghetti letters are sabotaged, it looks like Seaburn City will be overcome - but a last-minute discovery by Charlie saves the day. Adults as well as youngsters may recognise a few faces and names from the real world but what really makes this book work are the 'football facts' that decorate the pages - all made up but with a vague ring of truth about them - as well as the 'crowd scenes' that Bartram excels at and which really bring over the excitement and anticipation of the football season and which give plenty of detail to explore. Definitely one for the library shelves as the World Cup looms.... 32 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Up For The Cup
Circus of Thieves and the Raffle of Doom
William Sutcliffe

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471120237

William Sutcliffe's first story for younger readers (which follows his first young adult novel, The Wall, last year) takes us on joyful journey into the heart of a circus where we meet all manner of strange and unexpected characters. The author has said that the story and the manner in which it is told was inspired by reading the Mr Gum books to his son and the style of storytelling reflects that and will be loved by older Mr Gum fans, as well as readers who enjoy humour and adventure. Hannah and her very intelligent dog Fizzer are thrilled to see the circus arrive in their small village and she quickly befriends one of the performers, a boy called Billy Shank who rides a camel called Narcissus. But not all is as well as it seems and when Hannah uncovers a plot by the evil ringmaster Armitage Shank to steal from the villagers, she enlists Billy's help to stop him. There is much to love in the story, from the warmly drawn characters to the slapstick humour and wordplay that twists through nearly every sentence. The author is ever-present giving us gentle nudges towards uncovering the plot or explaining words like 'Uglily' ('Uglily isn't a word. You know that. I know that. Let's just move on.') This voice, along with the lively illustrations by David Tazzyman, will ensure the most reluctant of readers is carried through the pages. It will also be a great class read-aloud. Ages 8+ / 212 pages / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Circus of Thieves and the Raffle of Doom
Hubble Bubble: The Pesky Pirate Prank
Tracey Corderoy

Nosy Crow Ltd

ISBN 9780857632241

Pandora has a very special granny. Pandora's granny is ... shh, whisper this ... A WITCH! This means that she is a lot of fun but she can be a lot of trouble too as Pandora is about to find out. Granny is an exciting person to be around for with her you never quite know what might happen next, she just has to wave her wand and hey presto something magical will happen so imagine her chagrain when she is banned by her own daughter from doing any magic. Why? Because her daughter is embarrassed! Pandora and granny however have other ideas and the stories that ensue as a result are not only brilliantly written and perfect for reading aloud (if you can manage it between giggles) they are also great for emerging readers. As granny and Pandora visit Creakington Hall in their first story we are taken with them, through words and the brilliantly imaginative pictures created by Joe Berger, into a treasure hunt with a difference! Next we find out exactly what happens when more than one granny tries to use magic to win the Great Granny Bake Off and finally, for this volume at least, we meet a very big and hungry rabbit! Also look out for the latest set of stories, Hubble Bubble: The Pesky Pirate Prank, in which Granny decides to liven things up during the school play and turns Noah's Ark into Noah's Pirate Ship, before making it rain in the school hall! When Pandora's parents decide to build a new bedroom for her over the garage, Granny decides to lend a hand. Why build a boring extension when you can build a fairytale castle? These are fun-filled books that each include three imaginative and very funny stories that will entertain readers time and again. Reviewed by Louise Ellis-Barrett, librarian.

Hubble Bubble: The Pesky Pirate Prank
Life Stinks!
Peter Bently

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781847154330

'Life Stinks' is the first in a new series for this popular author and introduces us to Cedric Thatchbottom, squire to Sir Percy the Proud. Cedric undertakes all Sir Percy's menial tasks on the understanding that, one day, Sir Percy will train him in the arts of the knight. Unfortunately, Sir Percy is not the brave, upstarting knight that Cedric thinks he is and this is the story of Sir Percy's attempts to avoid a joust with his arch enemy, Sir Roland the Rotten. Cedric cannot believe that the Sir Percy of song and legend is not relishing the prospect of a joust with Sir Roland but it slowly dawns on him that Sir Percy will do anything and everything to get out of facing Sir Roland in mortal combat. In fact, what actually happens is Sir Percy gets Cedric to do anything and everything to get him out of this joust! Carrying out Sir Percy's plan means that Cedric and his pal, Patchcoat the Jester, have to somehow get in to Blackstone Fort, the heavily guarded home of Sir Roland. How they do this is hinted at in the book's title and the humour relies heavily on toilet references, which children of a certain age will appreciate. The book is liberally dotted with black and white illustrations and there is a lot of dialogue which helps to convey to the reader the true character of Sir Percy and the desire of Cedric to one day be a knight, no matter what he has to go through. The book ends with the first chapter of the next in the series where Sir Percy's lack of accuracy with an arrow gets him into trouble with the King's herald. 168 pages / ages 7 - 9 / Reviewed by June Hughes, school librarian

Life Stinks!
Marooned in Manhattan
Sheila Agnew

O'Brien Press Ltd

ISBN 9781847175588

It's good to see new writers like Sheila Agnew emerging for those voracious girl readers aged nine to 11 who are likely to be fans already of authors like Jacqueline Wilson and Cathy Cassidy. Marooned in Manhattan is an engaging, well-paced novel about a girl confronting bereavement while also finding ways to cope with her new life in a different country. When 12-year-old Evie's mother dies, Evie has to leave Ireland for Manhattan to live with her uncle - who she has never met before - and, by the end of that summer, has to decide whether she wants to remain with her uncle (despite his hostile girlfriend's ploys to remove her) or to return to Ireland. As the summer passes and she makes new friends, confronts bullies and grows closer to her uncle, Evie finally also begins to come to terms with her mother's loss. The novel, narrated by Evie, is by turns sad and funny with Agnew's sharp perceptions and dry humour keeping sentiment firmly at bay. This is a warm, well-written story and we're looking forward to seeing what Evie gets up to next. 224 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Marooned in Manhattan
Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures
Kate DiCamillo

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406354560

A chance encounter with a vacuum cleaner and a squirrel lead to an exciting adventure for Flora. She discovers the most unlikely superhero –to rival even the Great Incandesto whose comic gives her pleasure amongst the dysfunction of her home life. Ulysses shows Flora that she doesn’t always have to be a cynic and friendships can develop in the most unlikely circumstances. This highly unusual book, which has just won the US Newbery Award, is an eclectic mix of narrative, cartoon strip and sketches. It uses a humorous, off beat storyline to explore the emotions of love, hurt, loss, loneliness and friendship in a gentle but thought provoking manner. I feel sure that many young readers will be able to identify with Flora and her developing relationship with Ulysses the super hero squirrel. However, this is not merely a tale of one girl and her squirrel; it is also an honest look at the relationships between humans. This text is packed with fantastic opportunities for lively debate in PHSE lessons. This book is laugh out loud funny and yet also very poignant. It is written in an informal style with Flora’s voice coming through very strongly; this will appeal to children. The supporting characters are all fairly whacky in their own ways, from a romance writing mother to a sad and lonely father to the neighbour with a love for poetry and her voluntarily blind nephew! DiCamillo expertly weaves a story that brings these characters, a range of layouts and different writings styles together effortlessly. Despite the fact that this book is well over 200 pages long, I finished it in one night as I could not put it down. Although definitely a book for children in Year 5 and 6 upwards, it will appeal to a very wide audience of both boys and girls. I highly recommend reading it! 232 Pages / Age range 9+ / Reviewed by Mikeala Morgans

Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures
The Ruby Airship
Sharon Gosling

Curious Fox

ISBN 9781782020721

The Ruby Airship - the follow-up to The Diamond Thief - is a story of daring-do, brilliant escapades and audacious plots. Rémy, a trapeze artist and reformed jewel thief, is performing at a theatre in Victorian London when she sets off for France to find her old circus friends. There, however, she is unwittingly embroiled in a plan to kidnap a French heiress. Adventures and danger follow with dastardly villains, evil robots and fabulous machinery each taking centre stage. The plot follows both Rémy and her policeman admirer, Thaddeus, as they battle the evil plans of an unseen villain, ending with an epic, sweeping finalé. As their adventures progress, we also learn much about Victorian London and conditions then especially for those living in the East End, as well as what life might have been like for performers and circuses of the time in Europe. The Ruby Airship is a well-paced and engaging historical fantasy story with plenty of plot twists and tension and we look forward to hearing more about Rémy's adventures in due course. 350 pages / Ages ten years plus / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

The Ruby Airship

ISBN 9781447231486

Scavenger is the new series from bestselling author and illustrator duo Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell - creators of the Edge Chronicles. The first book, Scavenger: Zoid, takes us into space with a group of humans who left Earth one thousand years previously to search for a new planet. They live on the Biosphere - a vast spaceship the size of a city - but the robots or 'zoids' that were originally designed to look after them have rebelled and now hunt them down.... The Biosphere has become a battle ground where humans are fighting a losing battle of survival..... Scavenger: Zoid is a page-turning adventure story and readers don't need to be sci-fi or fantasy fans to enjoy it. The story is set in a distinctive landscape that is peopled by amazing and unexpected creatures, beautifully brought to life through Chris Riddell's black and white illustrations, and poses an interesting question of how far can machines can become 'human'. By the end of the first book, we have only started to glimpse what is at the heart of the Biosphere that has caused the robots to rebel - so book 2 is eagerly awaited! 272 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Anne Booth

ISBN 9781846471810

Although the protagonists in this story are teenagers, the narrator, Jessie, is a girl that many teachers will recognise and one which primary age readers will really relate to. She is young for her age, unassuming, quiet, moving in the shadows of bolder characters and most certainly not part of the 'in' crowd. As a narrator she is completely convincing and we are very quickly completely engrossed in her problems. She has all the usual anxieties about her looks and confidence and the boy she is attracted to, but there is the beautiful cousin who seems to have turned against her and the worries about her beloved Grandmother's illness. But it is not just the people who seem so true to life, the community they live in and the tensions that have arisen there are absolutely rooted, unfortunately, in the present. So Jessie's Dad has been forced to take work abroad after they lost his business, their house and had to move into rented accommodation. There are many migrant workers arriving and facing resentment and suspicion, even from Jessie, who listens and believes the gossip. There is a mystery to be solved in this book, the reason for the grandmother's illness and the lovely white German shepherd puppy is at the heart of it. Working on a school project on reminiscence and family history brings Jessie's shocking family history to light and en route, the reader is given an unforgettable glimpse into the Holocaust. But what makes this book so outstanding is the very subtle way in which it encourages children to make connections, to see that what happened in Nazi Germany and to children growing up believing the stories they are told could so easily be replicated in our time. Jessie's best friend Kate happens to need a wheelchair but she is a strong and vibrant character, looked up to by everyone and when they realise what her fate would have been, and this is when sadly commonplace incidents of racism and bullying take on a whole new significance for Jessie and for the reader. I particularly love the motif of the fairytale which is another homework project and which cleverly underlines the theme of the power of the stories we hear. This quietly powerful book is simply told and very accessible and one which will provoke lots of thought and discussion. History teachers everywhere will rejoice at its demonstration of just why we must learn from history. Reviewed by Joy Court, librarian

The First World War 1914 - 1918
John Malam

Carlton Kids

ISBN 9781783120215

If you're looking for a simple but thorough outline of WW1 to use with children aged nine years plus, then this book from publisher Carlton Kids - in association with Imperial War Museums - fits the bill. It is also very well produced using photography from the time as the backdrop for each spread, as well as maps, diagrams and drawn illustrations of weaponry, uniforms etc. Having studied WW1 some years ago, I found it an incredibly useful resource for reminding myself of the main events that lead up to the break out of war and the subsequent involvement of countries from across Europe. Each spread focuses on a particular aspect of the war - Gearing Up for War, The Peace is Shattered and Europe Goes to War at the start, followed by the main battles and strategies, but there is also a wider look at the war, such as War in the Air, The First Tanks, Women at War and Animals at War. The book doesn't flinch from the horrors of the WW1 in which it is estimated that some 20m people lost their lives, but nor is this the focus of the book which aims to help explain why such a devastating war took place, its impact on the Europe of the time, and why we should remember it today. 64 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

The First  World War 1914 - 1918