NEW TITLES

We have some fabulous fiction publishing this month, ranging from fantasy and ghosts - perfect for Halloween - to animals and family relationships. We have also included some great non-fiction titles, in the run-up to Non-Fiction Month in November.

SuperHuman Encyclopedia
DK

DK Children

ISBN 9781409356981

This is an inviting reference tool for children aged 7 upwards and a refreshing text to encourage us to turn pages rather than manoeuvre a mouse/keyboard. The book is organised into eight main sections which explain/explore our bodies. Children will find appeal in the colourful illustrations, photos and diagrams which clearly support the text. Facts will intrigue all throughout with the factfiles which provide detailed information. This is easy to locate and to read. Statistics add further information. A glossary is included to define the unfamiliar vocabulary which has been included to fully inform. In all, a very comprehensive reference tool with something for all. 208 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Tracy Hart

SuperHuman Encyclopedia

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781447271031

Mountwood School for Ghosts, conceived from an original idea by Eva Ibbotson, has been written by her oldest son, Toby Ibbotson, and there is plenty within its pages to remind us of Eva's humour, shrewdness, warmth and authorial skills. Mountwood School for Ghosts is set up by three 'Great Hagges' (these are no ordinary 'hags') to train ghosts in terrifying haunting techniques and to do away with the prevailing trend for 'chummy spectres' and 'gooey teenage vampires'. As the ghosts begin to show their true haunting abilities, they are asked to step in to help save a human friend's neighbourhood from the over-zealous redevelopment plans of the no-good head of planning, Jack Bluffit. The Great Hagges decide it will be a useful project for their student ghosts and they set to work - but this turns out to be no job for innocent ghouls and their very existence is threatened. There is plenty of adventure and jeopardy in this story for young readers aged eight years plus, but also lots of humour and some quite delicious and distinctive characters to enjoy. The environmental and community themes, to save a neighbourhood from redevelopment, base the fantasy elements in a very realistic setting. We also loved how the two communities - one ghostly, the other the embattled local community - have been drawn with a warmth and a shrewd recognition of human traits and needs. This is a great adventure story, beautifully written, and we can't wait to see what comes from Toby Ibbotson next! You can read a full interview with Toby in our Author Interviews section. 253 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Animalium
Jenny Broom

Big Picture Press

ISBN 9781783700608

The concept of this book is delicious - a 'virtual museum' where you can discover more than 160 animal specimens in its pages. Wander the galleries and find a curated collection on every page...gorgeously illustrated and bringing to mind the early illustrated books on natural history, so beloved by the Victorians. Animalium begins with the 'Tree of Life' which 'encompasses all of the animals on the planet and shows how each genus is related' and how they have each evolved from the other over millions of years. Then we can explore each group in turn - invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, as well as a variety of habitats such as Rainforests, Coral Reefs, Woodlands and Arctic Tundra. Alongside this overview, we are invited to find out about distinct creatures in detail, like the elephant, penguin and crocodile. While the illustrations are the main draw, the text brings it all together with bite-size pieces of information as well as a useful overview of each group. It is a lovely book to 'dip into', just as you would in a museum, choosing the exhibits you wanted to find out more about. Its size, almost A3, makes it perfect for sharing with groups or using in displays. And it is certainly one that children from 8-11 years - and many adults - will enjoy exploring. 95 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Animalium
Boy in a Tutu
Kate Scott

Piccadilly Press

ISBN 9781848123755

Spies in Disguise: Boy in a Tutu by Kate Scott The eagerly awaited sequel to 'Spies in Disguise: Boy in Tights', the plot will stand alone for readers new to the characters. Joe, whose parents are spies, has been forced to live in disguise- as a girl -and only his friend Sam knows the truth. In this instalment, Joe and Sam attend an intensive course of ballet lessons as a cover for investigating suspicious goings-on in the local sports centre. Thus follows lots of tutu-related humour to keeps the reader amused, while they follow the plot of the investigation. Gadgets and gizmos abound, and mysteries and false leads develop throughout, providing satisfying challenge as the reader tries to work it out. In this book, the friendship between Joe and Sam is explored further as their different approaches to the job in hand cause tension to develop between them and threaten their friendship. An enjoyable read for boys and girls of 7+. 'Boy in Heels' coming soon! 192 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Lucy Russell, teacher

Boy in a Tutu
Seriously Silly: Scary Fairy Tales: Cinderella at the Vampire Ball
Laurence Anholt

Orchard Books

ISBN 9781408329535

One of six titles in the series of seriously silly, hilarious twists on favourite fairy tales this story recounts Cinderella going to the ball and escaping at Midnight. The twist is that Cinderella is not the timid shy girl chosen by the prince to be his bride, but a feisty heroine, unafraid of zombies, bats and vampires, out to have fun at an evening dance. The only thing Cinderella is afraid of is of getting married, so on the stroke of midnight she makes her escape. The loss of a shoe is still in the story, although it is still attached to its leg, and this time an ugly sister wins the hand of the Prince. For newly confident readers, this book will be familiar enough for them to read and follow the story, yet surprising enough to discover something new. There is lots of word play and the jokes can only be described as silly, but for the intended age range it's ideal. The detail in the line drawings of Robins allows the child to linger over the story and discover more jokes. It's Ella's Father who looks scared when they first visit their new family while Ella continues eating undisturbed. Once read, children will want to read the others in the series, thus practicing their new skills and enjoying the entertainment. 48 pages / Age 6-9 years / Reviewed by Dawn Woods, librarian

Seriously Silly: Scary Fairy Tales: Cinderella at the Vampire Ball
Build a Robot
Steve Parker

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781783701254

This beautifully-presented box includes a book about robots - brimming with some surprising facts about the world of robots - and a slide-out box containing three motors along with pre-cut card pieces ready to build three distinct robots that can walk, wiggle or wave. The book describes what robots can already do, in the home or at work, and also explores how robots are helping us explore space, improve our medical progress and help us avoid different kinds of danger. Then it invites you to make your own robots with very clear instructions to help children put the robots together, wind them up and watch them go. It is ideal material for any children interested in robots and building things and can make a fun and interactive addition to robotic displays for the classroom. 30 pages plus materials / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Build a Robot
Buckle and Squash and the Monstrous Moat-Dragon
Sarah Courtauld

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781447255550

Meet Eliza, a hard-working, plucky young girl, who dreams of battling giants, travelling to far off lands and solving mysteries. Meet her sister, Lavender, who longs to be a princess and marry a handsome prince. And meet Gertrude the goat, who is....just a goat....but who makes a lot of appearances in this zany romp through the forests and castles of a time long long ago. When Lavender decides the only way to meet a true prince is to put herself in the path of danger and be rescued, trouble is sure to follow. What she doesn't realise is that the handsome prince she comes across is actually the evil villain Mordmont who has kidnapped her, thinking she is a true princess and hoping for a large ransom to fill his empty coffers. Of course all fairy tales have a happy ending, but readers will enjoy the 'journey' to the conclusion. Packed with laugh-out-loud humour and crazy details, some of which may be a little sophisticated for younger readers, Lavender and Eliza gambol through the story to a convincing ending, leaving readers hungry for their next adventure. Black and white illustrations on many pages add humour with variations in text and layout providing variety too. The book length (192 pages) and style of humour makes it ideal for boys and girls of 8+; reading aloud may better deliver some of the humour to a younger age group. 192 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by Lucy Russell, teacher

Buckle and Squash and the Monstrous Moat-Dragon
The Rising
Tom Moorhouse

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192734822

This is a beautiful book, from the arresting cover with the owl's talons homing in on the voles beneath, to the story inside peopled with very black drawings by Simon Mendez. It is obvious that a great deal of thought has gone into the making of this book, which make it a joy to handle. The story inside does not disappoint. It follows on from The River Singers, but does stand alone, and the references to the first story are slipped in so that the reader has the information easily and digestibly. The story tells of the siblings Kale and his sister, Strife, water voles living with their mother Aven. All around them in the Wetted Land, the water is rising because of the incessant rain. Then comes the arrival of their uncle Sylvan who tells their mother and Fodur, the rat, that Sinethis, the Great River, is calling to him but what she is saying he does not know. Unbeknown to the adults, Kale and Strife are listening and this news awakens a calling in Kale. He sets off, followed in desperation by Strife because she does not want to be left out, whom he will not tell where he is going and why. The young voles are followed by Sylvan and Fodur and encounter Sinethis whose levels are rising and flooding the land. Their journey is fraught with danger from all around, but then Sylvan meets Fern his sister again whom he thought dead. In a moving piece Fodur confronts three weasels who kill him, but not before he has enabled Strife to escape, and the small group left make their way back to the Wetted Land and home, uncertain of what they might find because of the rising water. These small creatures are beautifully characterised; Kale the quiet one who lets his actions speak for him, Strife the one who never stops talking, Fodur the Rat scarred by previous experiences who finds his moment of great courage, and Sylvan, the big brother whose encounter with the sister he thought lost is touchingly told. Tom Moorhouse has created a whole world for his animal characters, whom one can see reflected in the human world, but the animals do not lose their identity as animals, particularly as so many details of their life are clearly described. Each page has the lovely drawings by Simon Mendez which add immeasurably to the story, and help to make it accessible to this audience of eight years plus, for whom very few books are written in this genre and with real depth. It is interesting to note how many of the really great children's books involve a journey and this is no exception, in this case a journey of great danger for the water voles which they undertake with courage and some fear. 256 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by Janet Fisher

The Rising
The Hero Pup
Megan Rix

Puffin

ISBN 9780141351926

A mournful golden Labrador looks out from the cover of this, the fifth story in Megan Rix's stories about dogs in various situations. In the background a boy plays with a dog in the snow under a street lamp. The illustrator of this cover has read the book, not always the case! and the dog has a black ear just like Patch the puppy in the story. Joe, who is eleven, has lost his father who was presumably a soldier in Afghanistan, although it is not said as such, but unbeknown to him his parents had already discussed having a puppy to train as a Helper Dog. These dogs are trained to help people with disabilities of one kind or another with their daily lives. (The organisation does exist although under a different name in this country.) Joe's mother contacts the Helper Dogs organisation and they visit a lady in the next street who has puppies, one of which will be lent to Joe to train. This concentration really helps Joe over the summer holidays as he is dreading going back to school and telling everyone about his father. Joe and Patch play and train together and there is much detail of how to train a pup. When he goes back to school, life is easier as Patch accompanies him sometimes and his fellow pupils' attention is thus diverted away from his bereavement. But Christmas looms and Joe knows that if Patch passes his final assessment then they will be parted. Patch goes to a soldier who has lost his legs and who has been reading the diary that Joe kept for him, and although Joe is sad he knows it is the right thing. The devastation of such a bereavement in the life of a child of eleven is rather glossed over and even Joe's mother is carrying on much as normal, but there is no doubt that having an animal at such a time is a real help and the book does convey this, as well as the amount of work having a puppy will be. Joe's worry about his friends knowing about his father's death, and his perceived inability to deal with that focus is dealt with well, as is the situation of the seemingly grumpy old man next door worried about the dog getting into his garden turned around by Patch's rescue of him when he falls. The main question arising from this story is that if Joe's parents thought it such a good idea to have a Helper puppy to train why not go the whole hog and let Joe have a puppy he could keep and therefore not go through another loss? This however would not have allowed Megan Rix to explain all about Helper Dogs! It is a pity that the device of the death of a parent has been used in what would be a lovely story about training puppies with lots of details about how to do this, as there are children of eight and up for whom this story would be very readable and appeal to their love of animals, but would find such a loss hard to read about. 320 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Janet Fisher, librarian

The Hero Pup
The Imaginary
A. F. Harrold

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN 9781408852460

Rudger is Amanda's imaginary friend. She can see him because she has a good imagination. They become inseparable. To Rudger, Amanda 'made the world sparkle'. For Amanda, she had a friend who liked the same things as she did. Her Mother accepted the friendship and laid an extra place at the table and ensured she included Rudger in what the family was doing. But someone was out to take away Rudger in the most sinister way. Neither the two children, nor Amanda's Mother saw the danger immediately. By the time they realised what was happening, Amanda had been taken into hospital, separating her from Rudger and was unable to protect him. But while he experienced his own adventures alone, he saw the dangers of those without imaginations and lost souls waiting for their 'owners' to reclaim them. This is a story of love, loss and imagination brought to life by Emily Gravett's illustrations. Gravett has used black and white drawings, colouring the illustrations when Imagination is strongest. The adventures of Amanda and Rudger show a lampshade which becomes an exotic tree, a filing cabinet which transforms into a chest of stolen pirate treasure. There is also a Youtube clip of Emily Gravett illustrating the imagined girl available. I felt myself transported into Amanda's world of make believe. Her morals are the honourable ones, not those of her less imaginative friend. The story starts with Christina Rossetti's poem Remember. Reading the blurb, the information on A.F.Harrold states he is a poet, and all becomes clear. This is a poetic story. It reminds us not to forget our childhood, and Amanda is lucky enough to have a parent who hasn't. This is a book best shared in a reading group which would generate great discussion, or as a bedtime story read to a child with reassurance on hand, acknowledging that many children have imaginary friends and probably some adults still wish they did! 221 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Dawn Woods

The Imaginary

ISBN 9781780622149

When she was eight Malala Yousafzai wished she had a magic pencil like the boy in her favourite TV show, so that she could use it to make life better for people. By the end of the book she realises that she doesn't need a pencil, all she needs is herself, 'one child, one teacher, one pen, and one book can change the world' (speech to the UN, 2013) Engaging from the start, this is the story of Malala, an ordinary child in a family where education for all, not just boys, is important. By the end of the book, she is as she says still her, but someone with a message that she has to impart to the world, telling President Obama that America should spend less money on weapons and more on education for instance. A inpirational story, 'Malala, The Girl Who Stood up for Eduaction and Changed the World' was written with children's writer Patricia McCormick and would interest pupils from Y5 upwards. 256 pages / ages 10+ / Reviewed by Lynn Roulstone, librarian

Binny for Short: Book 1
Hilary McKay

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444915433

Hilary McKay excels at exploring familial relationships and settings and, as we have come to expect from her work, Binny for Short (now available in paperback) is a sensitive, funny and perceptive look at how children find their place within their family and the forces that help shape their identity. In this story, Binny and her two siblings experience their father's death, as well as their grandmother's demise. Most painful for Binny, however, is the despatching of her beloved dog by her aunt to another owner. Her family have miscalculated as Binny's stubbornness means she refuses to accept the loss of her dog and it is her continued attempts to find out what happened to him that, eventually, both helps save her life and restores her perspective on the father she has lost. As well as a story about love, loss and identity, Binny for Short is a great adventure story as the family explores its new seaside home and the siblings develop new friendships. Funny, moving and beautifully delivered. Ages 9+. 304 pages. Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Binny for Short: Book 1