There are some fabulous new stories being published for children aged 9+ covering a range of themes including warfare, families and friendships - but we can also enjoy a dollop of magic and mayhem!

Uprooted - A Canadian War Story
Lynne Reid Banks

HarperCollins Children's Books

ISBN 9780007589432

Lynne Reid Banks is well-known and loved for her many children’s books, including The Indian in the Cupboard but this new book is based very much on her own experiences during the Second World War. Uprooted tells the story of Lindy, who is ten at the start of the book, her mother and her cousin Cameron. To keep them safe from the bombing, they are sent over the sea to Canada to be ’war guests’ of a distant relative and the book follows them as they settle in to their new life. Lindy, while worried for her father at home in England, finds new challenges, adventure and friends in Canada. Cameron, meanwhile, is wracked with homesickness and can find very little to be happy about. The tension between missing their old lives and family and embracing new experiences is very well expressed in the differing attitudes of Lindy and Cameron, who fall out on more than one occasion over this. The book also deals with the difficulties that Lindy’s mother experiences as she tries to protect her charges and give them a good life in Canada. Her loneliness , fear and isolation are well drawn and Lindy particularly is able to see that life can be difficult for adults as well. The tensions in the first house they stay at build up slowly and then explode in a very dramatic way, leaving Lindy, her mother and Cameron in a very precarious position. This book, while taking the common theme of war time evacuees, adds a new dimension with the vast distance involved and drives home the words that Lindy’s father says to her before she leaves; ‘After that, you’ll have to depend on other people. Strangers.’ 335 pages / Ages 9 upwards / Reviewed by June Hughes, school librarian

Uprooted - A Canadian War Story
Emma Fischel

Nosy Crow Ltd

ISBN 9780857634177

Flo has a problem grandmother who does not seem to want to live in the modern age and has a habit of arriving on her broomstick and causing havoc. Flo's very modern mother, the a high-flying magazine editor of Hocus Pocus, has offered her mother all mod cons including a spellstick - but to no avail. Grandma arrives on her broomstick having been thrown out of her house and sets up home with Flo, her sister Hetty and mum, but she is determined they will listen to her story of the ghouls and how they are going to take over Haggspit. Gradually Flo begins to realise that Grandma is right and picks the right place for an ambush, her sister Hetty's prom! This is a clever story which has moved witches into the 21st century. Flo’s friends are not interested in forest pixies or indeed ghouls, but in attracting boys; Mum is too involved in her business to see how much Flo is hurting from the loss of her Father to a ghoul and a rocket. Witches travel in skyriders along Skyways, and witchteens worry about doing their witchcitizen homework. Only Flo with her interest in forest pixies and nibbets manage to beat the ghouls, and prove Grandma right in the end and leading nicely up to a sequel. The production of this book makes it look for a younger audience than will get the most out of it, those who will get the clever modern take on witches, the updating of travel etc. Girls from 9 upwards will like the purple pages and the many drawings, but many a ten to eleven year old will truly get the joke. A word of warning – the ghoul is absolutely foul looking! 264 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Janet Fisher, librarian

Compton Valance: The Most Powerful Boy in the Universe
Matt Brown

Usborne Publishing Ltd

ISBN 9781409567776

Compton Valance and his custard-loving best friend Bryan's attempt to break the 1983 world record of how long you can leave a sandwich to its own devices, gives them far more than they bargained for. Firstly they manage to accidentally knock out their dreaded teacher, Mr Strickland, before more excitingly embarking on a time-travel adventure that will change their lives forever. Compton's rather average life becomes unbelievably exciting as he realises the full potential of his time-machine. However as him and Bryan quickly learn, the path of time-travel does not always run smoothly. Compton must recognise that his time-travelling adventures have life-changing repercussions for his up-tight father and also their friendship. Compton's older brother Bravo is the villain of the story and you think he isn't at all interested in their escapades; his role in the story appears to be being a general nuisance, providing bullying remarks or ear grabs. However it seems Compton and Bryan have underestimated Bravo and the next story in the series (due October) follows Compton and Bryan as they try to stop Bravo stealing their time-machine. I can't wait! A time-travel story would not be complete without someone from the future, meet the incompetent Samuel Nathanial Daniels. His silver suit and three sizes too small bowler hat, attract attention but he proves useful to Compton and Bryan as he endeavours to teach them the rules of time travel. A brilliant independent read. 318 pages seems ambitious, but the format is interesting with illustrations, varied fonts and sizes and notes to the reader. I will definitely be recommending this to my new class in September. I wouldn't use it as a class text, as I don't think reading it aloud would do it justice. There's too much for the reader to enjoy on each page. 5 out of 5. Perfect for 9+ years old. 318 pages. Reviewed by Elizabeth Harris

Compton Valance: The Most Powerful Boy in the Universe
Listen to the Moon
Michael Morpurgo


ISBN 9780007339631

It is May, 1915, and Alfie and his fisherman father find a girl on one of the uninhabited islands in the Scillies. She is injured, alone and frightened with no memory of how she came to the island, in fact no memory of who she is or where she came from. The only word she utters is Lucy and everyone assumes that is her name. Alfie's parents give 'Lucy' a home and gradually grow to love her but not all the islanders feel the same way; the first world war is underway and there is talk of German spies. This is a beautiful story told through several voices and over a period of time. The characters are rounded and well written and feel like real people. The history of the period is brought to life through the eyes of all the characters and the reader really cares what happens to Alfie, Lucy and their family and friends. It is very much a story about family, family ties, forgiveness and memory. We find out about the sinking of the Lusitania and what that lead to. Absolutely trademark Morpurgo, creating the feeling that he is writing about events and people that he has experienced and knows. Thoroughly enjoyable from beginning to end. 436 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Dorne Fraser

Listen to the Moon
Andrew Beasley

ISBN 9781409570325

The City of Fear is the third in the series of books featuring Ben Kingdom and the Watchers and their battles against the forces of evil and wickedness, known as the Legion. It follows the pattern of the previous books, following the action over a period of five days. Little snippets of background are given for the characters as they appear so that someone who has not read either of the first two books should still be able to follow the plot, though perhaps they would get more out of it if they were better acquainted with the characters; Jago Moon and Josiah, for example, are described only briefly in this book but feature prominently in the first. London in 1892 is a city surrounded by an impenetrable wall, trapping many people on the wrong side with the Legionnaires and their evil partners, the Feathered Men. Queen Victoria is being held hostage and the army cannot attack for fear of provoking Mr Sweet into executing her. Ben and the Watchers, however, are planning Revolution Day when they hope to defeat the forces of evil, free the Queen and return London to its normal bustling self. The Feathered Men, meanwhile, are searching for the Gehenna Key and, with it, the power to unleash untold evil. The story moves along swiftly, from one perilous encounter to the next. Ben, his father and brother, Lucy and Ruby face mortal danger at every turn, not knowing who to trust. A number of the characters helping them were once followers of the Legion but can they be sure that they do not intend to betray them? The final chapter builds to a thrilling climax, leaving the option open for further adventures for Ben and the Watchers in places much further afield than London. 304 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by June Hughes, school librarian

365 Days of Wonder
R. J. Palacio

The Bodley Head Ltd

ISBN 9781782300434

What a clever idea! Teacher Thomas Browne of Beecher Prep Middle School introduces precepts (words to live by) to his students; a new one every month. At the end of the academic year he asks them to gather their own precepts and send them to him; ten years later some students are still sending in wise and inspiring ‘advice’. The theme is one that resonates with young people and all inspire a life of kindness, goodness and strength of character. The author uses the teacher's essay at the beginning of each month to delve back into the ‘Wonder’ story; revealing the motives, thoughts and reflections of the main characters. This adds to the reading experience for 'Wonder' fans and will encourage those who do not know that story to go and read it. This is a book to make your own, dipping in or reading the precept for the day, either way you will be challenged and inspired to live more generously. Girls in particular will warm to the wise sayings - not just the words but the way they are presented and illustrated too. The book is small and chunky and fits neatly in the hand, like a familiar diary or personal notebook. I researched 'Thomas Browne' to check the authenticity of Palacio's introduction and was amazed and delighted to see that the original writer of precepts lived in my home town of Norwich, Norfolk. There is a tribute art work on the square in front of Next which I have walked by many times and not given it any notice. I am definitely going to study it now! 432 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Sue Gillham, librarian

365 Days of Wonder
Close to the Wind
Jon Walter

David Fickling Books

ISBN 9781910200056

Malik and his Grandfather are trying to make it to the refugee ship that promises to take them to safety. Malik’s mother has been left behind but his grandfather constantly reassures him that she will be at the dock. They are robbed by business men that Papa thought were his friends and the diamond that he has hidden in his tooth is stolen. Eventually he signs over his business to get a ticket for Malik on the boat. On the voyage Malik makes friends with two orphan boys and meets the man who stole the diamond and manages to retrieve it. Eventually he reaches safety and is fostered by a woman who herself was a refugee. I had a problem with this book, it had no sense of time and place and it was only when I realised that it was a deliberate devise that I could settle down and concentrate on the characters. Some of the characters are well drawn. For example Steffan is a world weary and cynical orphan who understands the process of grief and recognises it in others. He stays with the spikey Oskar because they are friends and Steffan realises that he needs that friendship. Angelo Vex is the bad guy and is more of a stereotype. Ostentatiously wealthy and yet greedy enough to pull a tooth from a man’s mouth his motives are never explored. Some people will love this book, I enjoyed it but with reservations. 298 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Caroline Downie

Close to the Wind
Destination Earth
Ali Sparkes

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192733443

Lucy is the last remaining alien from her planet who has been travelling through space for ten years to reach Earth. Her race has been wiped out by an enemy alien species capable of multiplying at an incredible rate and unfortunately one has been hibernating on the hull of the ship carrying Lucy to Earth. While Lucy tries to integrate with the local teenagers she realises the danger and has to take action. I found this book slow to begin as we watch while Lucy tries to integrate with the locals having studied human behaviour from television programmes. It is funny at times and as the book progresses it becomes clear how difficult Lucy's life has been alone on a ship whilst growing up with only a hologram for company and tuition. I found the injection of some 80's popular music hilarious and the last few chapters have you on the edge of your seat as Lucy and her friends try to stop the alien enemy. This book will appeal to younger readers and it would certainly encourage me to read another of Ali Sparkes novels as I was pleasantly surprised. Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Lorraine Ansell, librarian

Destination Earth