NEW TITLES

The key word for this month's selection of books for children aged eight to 11 years is 'adventure' - although there is plenty of humour in the mix, too! A number of these are the first in fabulous new series.

Spynosaur
Guy Bass

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781847157164

From a land before time comes a hero for today! In attempting to thwart evil criminal mastermind Ergo Ego, super spy Agent Gambit's brainwaves were stolen. Luckily the spy-entists of Department 6 were able to retrieve them and transfer them to the body of a dinosaur, creating the first ever Super Secret Agent Dinosaur. Together with his daughter Amber, this prehistoric hero protects the world from villainy. His code name is Spynosaur. In a fast and furious adventure, Spynosaur and Amber, accompanied by trusty sidekick Danger Monkey, are again battling their nemesis, Ergo Ego. Determined to join P.O.I.S.O.N [Persons of Infamy, Spite and Occasional Notoriousness] he is out to impress the law-breaking members with his diabolical new super weapon. Despite throwing all his resources at them, including ninja snowmen, killer robots and mind control, he cannot outwit the combined might of Spynosaur and Amber. Humour, daredevil exploits, hair raising danger and comic strip flashbacks combine in a high octane read which will appeal to thrill seeking readers of 7+. 208 pages / Ages 7-10 years / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, school librarian.

Spynosaur
David Roberts, Lynn Roberts

ISBN 9781843652915

Set in the 1950s, Annabel - lover of science fiction - is living under an evil spell. Cursed on her first birthday by a spiteful witch to prick her finger on a needle and die, Annabel lives with her two aunts, who have done their best to lessen the spell. Despite their care, she does prick her finger on her 16th birthday - will she be saved in time? This is a re-telling of Sleeping Beauty with an interesting twist. The needle Annabel pricks her finger on is that of a turn table; the rose bush is her aunt, Rosalind; she sleeps for a thousand years. Her saviour is a young girl called Zoe who uses the library to research the history of the giant rose tree. The illustrations in this book are wonderful. Colour is used to amazing effect as green washes those around Morwenna (the evil witch) as she curses the baby; rings of colour surround the baby as the years she'll be safe encircle her; the briars come alive from Rosalind's dress as she transforms to a rose tree, keeping her precious niece safe. Each picture contains details and clues, making them a delight to explore. Sleeping Beauty: A Mid-Century Fairy Tale offers a new look at one of our favourite tales, making it a great addition to school / class libraries as well as a lovely book for sharing. Picture book / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

Claude: Lights! Camera! Action!
Alex T. Smith

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444919608

Another fantastic serving of that lovable, funny dog - Claude, and now available in paperback. This time, Claude and his trusty friend Mr Bobblysock find themselves on the set of a film! After causing a few...problems... they then find themselves starring in the film too! I've read many 'Claude' books, and have a collection in my class library that are always in demand. The books are pretty much graphic novels; every page has fantastic illustrations of funny characters with hilarious names - like Mr Lovelybuns! The book is short but sweet with an easy to follow plot line. A great book for reluctant readers (without looking like an 'easy' book!), none of the pages are overloaded with text and quite often the text is laid out in different ways. It's an entertaining book with lots of chances to giggle at the funny details. This book is suitable for both boys and girls and is a fantastic tool to help expand children's vocabulary. 96 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Lizi Coombs, teacher

Claude: Lights! Camera! Action!
Princess Smartypants and the Missing Princes
Babette Cole

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444929782

I remember reading Princess Smartypants growing up and finding it hysterical, and this new addition to the Princess Smartypants collection definitely did not disappoint. Set in Totaloonia, Princess Smartypants needs to find the missing Princes of her dear friends Snow White, Cinderella and Rapunzel before their engagement party. With the help of her trusty best friend Eric the Annihilator - a giant - she goes on her mission to outwit the very naughty Araminta Allspell who has tricked the Princes and got them lost! It is down to Princess Smartypants to find the Princes and make sure all her friends are engaged - no pressure! The story would be great for children 7+ to read independently as well as being read to. It is packed full of humour and wit and was a real joy to read. This would be great for mixed-up fairy tales and comparing the stories of the traditional tales in the classroom. After 30 years Princess Smartypants is back in a big way! 130 pages / Ages 7+ ages / Reviewed by Lauren Maidman, teacher.

Princess Smartypants and the Missing Princes
The Catacombs of Chaos A Lottie Lipton Adventure
Dan Metcalf

Bloomsbury Educational

ISBN 9781472927552

The Catacombes of Chaos and The Eagle of Rome are the latest Lottie Lipton adventures. In The Eagle of Rome, Lady Viola - treasure hunter and celebrity - is on the hunt for The Eagle of the Ninth Legion and is visiting the British Museum to begin her research. Lottie is initially impressed by Lady Viola but is quickly disappointed when she realises how obnoxious she really is. Can Lottie with the help of Uncle Bert, a curator at the museum, and Reg, the museum's caretaker, locate the Eagle before the vile Lady Viola? In The Catacombs of Chaos, the British Museum's future is under threat and Sir Trevelyan Taylor is at a loss as to how to save the museum. Lottie overhears the conversation and even though she isn't Sir Trevelyan's biggest fan she cannot risk losing her home so she vows to help. By accident, Lottie, Uncle Bert and Reg discover, discover a catacomb underneath the museum. Will the catacomb present a way of saving the museum after all? I think this series is fantastic. The books are perfect for children who are new to free readers and there are so many features that will make this an exciting read. Frequent interactive elements, including puzzles and codebreakers, will entertain readers and mean that as a home reader, parents can still be involved in lots of discussions around the book. It is broken into manageable chapters and includes a handy glossary and 'Did you know?' section. I love the fact the books are set in the British Museum and the historical setting might encourage independent research. I will definitely be recommending these to Year 3 and 4. A definite for the library: I am a huge fan! The Catacombs of Chaos - 76 pages / The Eagle of Rome - 73 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Elizabeth Harris, teacher.

The Catacombs of Chaos A Lottie Lipton Adventure
The Dragon's Hoard: Stories from the Viking Sagas
Lari Don

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847806819

The Dragon's Hoard is an interesting collection of retold Viking fables. Lari Don is a Scottish story teller who regularly visits schools to retell these stories. He has shortened the stories and written down for easy reading aloud. The stories are beautifully illustrated by Cate James. The introductory section gives useful background to the retellings and there is also further information given on each story at the end of the book. Some of the stories follow the traditional violent Viking stories of battles and revenges while others are more about magic, history and legend. For instance The Bear in Chains is a touching story which raises issues linked to animal treatment. Sailing to America, which is from The Greenlander saga, is most interesting as it tells of how the Vikings sailed to America 500 years before Columbus arrived there. The stories, with careful selection, could be shared with pupils from Year 2 to Year 6 as they are short and written to be read aloud. 64 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Fiona Collins, consultant.

The Dragon's Hoard: Stories from the Viking Sagas
The Racehorse Who Wouldn't Gallop
Clare Balding

Puffin

ISBN 9780141362908

This is a lovely family (and horsey!) adventure story with bags of heart from Olympics presenter Clare Balding. Ten year old Charlie Bass is desperate to own a horse so when she accidentally buys a race horse at an auction, she's thrilled - but her bid also adds to the mounting bills faced by her farming family. Undeterred, Charlie sets about training the horse, Noble Warrior, for the Derby Day race but discovers that the horse won't go anywhere without Percy his pony friend. But Charlie is nothing if not determined and with the eventual help of her brothers, friends and family, she makes it to Derby Day. What I liked about this story is Charlie's determination and how we see her patient persistence pay off. She isn't put off by her teasing brothers or the many obstacles she faces along the way. The story is easy to read and, while there are a lot of horse facts and information, there is plenty for all children to enjoy - not just the pony-mad ones! 256 pags / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by Helen Green.

The Racehorse Who Wouldn't Gallop
Through the Mirror Door
Sarah Baker

Catnip Publishing Ltd

ISBN 9781910611036

Angela is removed from yet another children's home. Although this time it's not for bad behaviour, some relatives have come out of the woodwork and want to take her on a 'trial' summer holiday with the possibility of her being able to live with them at the end of it. Feisty Angela is looking forward to this about as much as a move to another children's home but reluctantly agrees. She doesn't remember her aunt and uncle being there for her after her family died so is naturally suspicious of their motives now. She quickly realises that they share a mutual dislike of one another - how is this holiday going to work! Once in France, Angela meets Armuth and Herman, the owners of the run-down mansion they're staying at; at least she has them to talk to. Whilst she is trying to hide from her obnoxious cousins she finds herself in the mansion's loft and finds a 'mirror door'. The mirror leads her into a hidden room and there she finds a desperately ill boy called Julien. Angela can't work out what is wrong with him and Julien is adamant that she shouldn't come too close. After several visits, Angela realises that the 'mirror door' might not just be transporting her to a different part of the house. With each visit, Angela notices that Julien's condition is deteriorating rapidly. Is there a way that Angela can save him? There are some really excellent twists in this book that would keep readers on their toes and lots of 'what if' moments that children might like to debate, to discuss how those moments shaped the story. Children could replace the mirror door with their own invention; writing about what they would find in the hidden room. Interestingly, it could lead nicely into some work about scientific discoveries that changed the world. 289 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Elizabeth Harris, teacher.

Through the Mirror Door
Voyage to Magical North
Claire Fayers

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781447290605

Plucked from the sea as a baby, Brine Seaborne doesn't know where she came from or quite where she belongs. She has resigned herself to life as the servant of magician Tallis Magnus on the Minutes islands, even though magic makes her sneeze! Brine's friend, Peter, is the magician's apprentice and keeps it secret that she sneaks into the library to read Aldebran Boswell's Book of Scientific Knowledge. One evening, their lives seem set to change forever so Peter and Brine escape from Minutes straight into the hands of the renowned pirate Cassie O'Pia and the crew of the Onion. Therein ensues an often hair raising adventure to the Magical North, where Boswell's book proves more useful than anyone might have imagined. If you like pirates and magic, you will enjoy this book. It is an extremely fast paced novel with a richly painted plot and characters. Cassie and Brine are both strong female lead characters who demonstrate tenacity, strength and independence - great to see in a book aimed at this age group. The novel is a classic combination of good versus evil and is filled with humour and suspense. It would appeal to boys and girls alike. This book is very well written and there is plenty to explore if used as a focus text as part of a thematic curriculum. As an adult reader, you might spot some subtle references to other books read or TV programmes watched! This is an excellent first novel and I am very much looking forward to finding out what happens to Brine, Cassie and the crew of the Onion in the sequel. 338 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Mikeala Morgans, teacher.

Voyage to Magical North
Roman Quests: Escape from Rome: Book 1
Caroline Lawrence

Orion Children's Books

ISBN 9781510100237

Rome, AD 94. Juba must escape with his brother and sisters, and journey to the distant Britannia on the edge of the known world. He must seek a safe haven there, a land of druids and barbarians. When the Emperor's men arrive at midnight, shattering their family forever, Juba is tasked by his mother to keep his siblings, including baby Dora, safe. They flee through the streets of Rome, evading their pursuers, to the port, hoping to find a ship which can give them passage. Having had all their valuables stolen, Juba has to make a heart-rending choice to secure their places aboard; even then, they have to work on the weeks long trading voyage to Londinium. Once there, the adventure is not over as they encounter thieves, dark family secrets and hostile Britons. One person they do have the good fortune to meet is Flavia Gemina, a character from the acclaimed Roman Mysteries series, now married, helping in the governor's office and still a detective! As you would expect in a novel by Caroline Lawrence, whose deep knowledge of the period is evident in her writing, the reader learns a great deal about life in Roman times, both at the heart of the Empire and in Britannia. In chapters headed by one Latin word, which relates to the events described and explained in the glossary at the end, fact is entwined with fiction in a rollercoaster adventure, written in a style which makes it accessible to readers of 7+. Under the new curriculum, the Romans may be studied by Years 3 and 4; this, the first in a new series, would make a good class read aloud for the topic. 240 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, librarian.

Roman Quests: Escape from Rome: Book 1
Cogheart
Peter Bunzl

Usborne Publishing Ltd

ISBN 9781474915007

Lily's life is turned upside-down when her father, a famous inventor, disappears in most peculiar circumstances. She is pulled out of school to return home, only to find that there are more strange goings-on and disappearances. Lily must escape the clutches of her evil guardian, who is obsessed with locating her father's greatest invention, to conduct her own investigations. Luckily for Lily, local lad Robert has discovered Malkin - Lily's precious mechanimal - who was also her father's companion when he disappeared. Together, they journey to London, hoping that Lily's godfather will be able to help them but there they find more secrets, lies and obstacles. During their investigations they meet the unsavoury Roach and Mould and learn the hard way that these men will stop at nothing to locate the invention. Lily and Robert's new friendship is tested to the limit when tragedy strikes. Cogheart gripped me from the off! It's an excellent read and I was immediately drawn into the intriguing Victorian fantasy world of 'mechs' and 'mechanimals'. It would make an excellent class reader from Year 4 upwards. I can see pupils keenly creating their own mechanimals and zeps with some excellent illustrations to match! Boys and girls will want to follow Lily, Robert and Malkin as their impossible quest unfolds. The vivid action scenes and rich descriptions are excellent examples that could be used during whole class work.

Cogheart
Poetry for Kids: Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson

MoonDance Press

ISBN 9781633221178

American poet Emily Dickinson never knew how popular her poems would become as most of her work was published after her death. Each poem in this collection has been carefully chosen by Susan Snively and illustrated by Christini Davenier. The collection starts with an introduction, setting the poet and her work into context. It offers a clear overview of her life, using quotes from her work and suggesting a website where the reader can find the rest of her writing if interested. At the end of the book, the section entitled 'What Emily Was Thinking' offers additional comment on each poem, encouraging the reader to consider its meaning. Organised into four sections - Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring - each of the poems has a small glossary. This works extremely well, especially as the poems in the collection are short- many only a few lines. 'A word is dead / When it is said / Some say. I say it just / Begins to live / That day. The poems have been chosen very carefully to introduce children (and adults!) to Emily Dickinson's work and the beautiful watercolour illustrations enhance each one. Worked in different styles and dealing with a variety of subjects, there are many poems which could be used in school as well as read and enjoyed anywhere by anyone! As the first in a new series of 'Poetry for Kids', it sets a high standard for those to come - a must collection to entice a new generation of poetry lovers! 48 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

Poetry for Kids: Emily Dickinson
The Dance in the Dark (Scarlet and Ivy, Book 3)
Sophie Cleverly

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780007589227

Scarlet and Ivy return to creepy Rookwood School for a third exciting mystery adventure. This seems like a new beginning, and things are looking rather good as a new term starts with kind Mrs Knight now in charge. There is not a caning in sight and all the teachers seem happier. For the first time school seems simple, no night time excursions, and no mystery to solve. With the announcement of a ballet recital to be performed by the pupils, Scarlet is excited and determined to take the lead role; after all this the chance of fame and fortune dancing on the stage that she has always dreamed of. But it does not take long for a new mystery to develop when the girl's favourite ballet teacher Miss Finch disappears. A strange and glamorous new teacher, Madame Zelda, takes her place and suspicions are aroused. Where did she come from so quickly, is it just a happy coincidence or is there something more sinister afoot? Malicious messages appear on blackboards, poison pen letters arrive, and accidents happen, and it starts to feel that the school is dangerous again after all. But who is trying to sabotage and destroy the school? The girls are once again drawn into trying to discover what is going on and uncovering the culprit before disaster happens. There are also more clues to uncover about the twin's mother, who they have discovered had also been a pupil at Rookwood. Who was she, what was her real name, and did she care about them? This is a wonderful, thrilling adventure where mysteries are resolved, and questions posed in the earlier books are answered, but does this mean that Scarlet's and Ivy's stories are now complete, or will there be new adventures still to come? I hope that we will have more stories about the courageous and resourceful twins to enjoy in the future. 352 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Caroline Gosden.

The Dance in the Dark (Scarlet and Ivy, Book 3)
Fenn Halflin and the Fearzero
Francesca Armour-Chelu

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406363128

The first in a new series this book opens with a terrifying storm and a vivid description of a drenched, barren landscape. The Great Rising has resulted in the flooding of the landscape with surviving inhabitants forced to live on what remains of the high ground. Fenn Halflin, rescued as a baby, has grown up in isolation and ignorance with his guardian, the grizzled Halflin who operates the sunkyard for the ruthless Terra Firma and their leader Chilstone. When one of Chilstone's formidable Fearzero ships nears Fenn's remote homeland, Halflin pays for his charge's passage off the island, afraid that Fenn's true identity as leader of the seaborn resistance is about to be revealed. Soon thrown off the relative safety of the ship and abandoned to the nightmare world of the Shanties, Fenn has to learn to fight for survival with only a ragged band of cohorts and his mongoose, Tiki, for company. As Chilstone's army circle menacingly, the refugees are eventually forced to flee the Shanties and Fenn and his friends head back to his homeland only to find Halflin dead. With a growing sense of his own destiny and increasingly aware of the danger his friends are in, Fenn realises he must stop hiding and face the merciless Chilstone alone. I found this gripping reading. The author's description is meticulous and highly evocative, the characters well-formed and the reader quickly understands the dynamics of the story and the competing forces. My only complaint would be that the story feels a little incomplete. This is very much the start of Fenn's story and sets the stage for the sequel, but the ending feels rather flat after the high adventure that has gone before. 297 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Clare Wilkins, school librarian.

Fenn Halflin and the Fearzero
Ned's Circus of Marvels (Ned's Circus of Marvels, Book 1)
Justin Fisher

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780008124526

This is a thrilling and fast-paced magical adventure in a world where everything is definitely not as it seems. The hero, 13-year-old Ned, is just an ordinary boy, just like Harry Potter, until his thirteenth birthday, when a mysterious present and tickets to the circus catapult him into another world where everything he has ever believed is turned on its head. The flying Circus of Marvels is a place where magic and fantasy become reality and he discovers a world of magical creatures, trolls, elves, witches and fairies that can stay hidden from the human world behind a magical veil. But Ned has to work out who to trust in this strange place and there is no one to help him, except Benissimo, the rather severe and stern Ringmaster, some of the circus artistes, Kitty a farseer and witch and George, a giant talking gorilla, who befriends and protects him. The veil is being destroyed by dark forces and Ned now has a dangerous mission to save the world as we know it and prevent some terrifying demons and darklings that have been kept behind the protective Veil from walking the earth freely. They are up against some truly scary bad guys who want the veil to fall. Barbarossa, the pirate king, is a formidable enemy and nemesis who will use unspeakable means to get what he wants. Only Ned and a girl called Lucy have the rare and magical abilities to be able to prevent disaster, but he has to find her first. Ned needs to be so much more than average when his parents and the world on both sides of the veil need him. Will he have the courage and determination that is needed to become extraordinary? This is a wonderful, fast-paced adventure and will appeal to Harry Potter and Percy Jackson fans alike and I hope that there will be further challenges for Ned in the future. 448 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Caroline Gosden, librarian.

Ned's Circus of Marvels (Ned's Circus of Marvels, Book 1)
The Crooked Sixpence
Jennifer Bell

Corgi Childrens

ISBN 9780552572507

Ivy and Sebastian Sparrow's world is turned upside down after their beloved Granma Sylvie is taken into hospital. It all starts with a peculiar visitor who has shrivelled, rotten hands - then feathers, that appear to be sending threatening messages of their own accord! Ivy and Sebastian are transported to Lundinor and learn that everyday objects in fact have undiscovered potential in the 'uncommon' world and are not at all what they seem. You will never look at a toilet brush in the same way again! If the uncommon objects weren't peculiar enough, they then meet Officer Smokehart who quickly becomes their worst enemy; he seems determined to prove their guilt and involvement with the dreaded Dirge. How will Ivy and Sebastian escape this uncommon world that they know nothing of? Can they trust Valian Kaye, who is also trying to escape the grasp of Officer Smokehart or does he have something to hide? What does it all have to do with the accident Grandma Sylvie suffered years ago in which she lost her memory? Children will love this exciting and mysterious tale. I was gripped by how Ivy and Sebastian would meet the Dirge's deadline for information and intrigued to discover their connection to the uncommon world. Vivid and rich descriptions of Lundinor are ideal for class work on settings. Ivy, Sebastian and Valian are all likeable characters; readers will enjoy being part of their exciting mission. Ivy's special gift will endear her to readers. I would recommend it to confident readers age 10+ because of its lengthy 359 pages and Harry Potter fans who are looking for something new! 359 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Elizabeth Harris, teacher.

The Crooked Sixpence