NEW TITLES

This month's selection of books for readers aged 7-11 years, highlighted by our teacher and librarian reviewers, includes some great adventure stories, but there is also humour, mystery, fantasy - and a welcome focus on reading itself.

The Bookshop Girl
Sylvia Bishop

Scholastic

ISBN 9781407159690

Property Jones got her name after being left in a bookshop when she was five years old and being put in the lost property cupboard by Michael Jones, the son of the shop owner. When nobody came to claim her, and being too small and confused to remember her name, Property just stayed. Now aged eleven, she loves living in the bookshop with Michael and his mother, Netty, even though she is hiding a huge secret - Property Jones can't read! The Joneses just assumed she could and now pretending to be able to read has become second nature to Property. Their lives change when they win a competition to own the world's best bookshop, Montgomery's Emporium of Reading Delights. This is magical place filled with room after room of books and a very bad-tempered cat. But something strange is going on. Why was Mr Montgomery so eager to give up his empire? And who is the mysterious grey man lurking in the shop? Despite her lack of reading skills, Property is able to use her courage and quick wits to help discover the reality and prevent a major fraud from taking place. A fast moving and entertaining adventure, with a likeable heroine, with the author's love of books and reading permeating the story. 176 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, school librarian.

The Bookshop Girl
The Covers Of My Book Are Too Far Apart: (And Other Grumbles)
Vivian French

Barrington Stoke Ltd

ISBN 9781781126028

Vivian French has created another super book about the commonly mentioned issues when asking children to read. All the usual excuses about not reading are addressed in this book with lots of real reasons why they are not true. I love how each page of the book begins with a statement grumble from a child about why they can't or don't like reading. It is then followed by a diverse rage of responses from all sorts of people contradicting the idea. Responses come from old, young, animal, superhero, and many diverse groups throughout society. I think this book is a must for every school library and could be used as a great stimulus to promote good reading behaviours across the school. It could be used with parents, too, as sometimes it can be difficult to engage parents with reading. Sharing this book with parents and children together could be very powerful and create lots of different stimuli to engage children with reading. I would like to use the statements in the book with children in school and see what suggestions they come up with to counter that opinion and put a positive spin on reading. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to parents, teacher and children alike. Picture book / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Marie Berry, teacher.

The Covers Of My Book Are Too Far Apart: (And Other Grumbles)
The Adventures of Miss Petitfour
Anne Michaels

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN 9781408868058

Miss Petifour (now available in paperback) is an eccentric singleton who lives with her many cats. She enjoys baking and making things and often takes flight (with her feline friends in tow) to collect whatever her whims suggest she needs. With a supporting cast of townsfolk - and a slightly lovelorn, sports car driving Mr Coneybeare - this is a beautiful and gentle collection of short, interwoven stories. The book itself looks gorgeous, with the stunning illustrations by Emma Block adding to the overall rather nostalgic and innocent feel that the main protagonist brings. The tales of Miss Petitfour, her cats and the many characters of the town are both easy to read and amusing. However, it is the language that really draws me into these tales. Michaels' use of a poetic and descriptive style of prose is truly beautiful. Furthermore, the words highlighted in red and blue will be hugely useful to teachers trying to approach the grammar elements of the new English curriculum. There are some incredibly well-crafted examples of fronted adverbials, synonyms and alternative conjunctions as well as discussions (in the thoughts of Miss Petitfour and the author) about the beauty of words. This is a great book if you are interested in the craft of language, or just want to read something where the plots are heart-warming and simple. There's a real feel good factor about these stories and it is a refreshing change that there are no baddies, vampires or shocks. Indeed, there is a little part of me that would like to be Miss Petitfour! 132 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Mikeala Morgans, teacher.

The Adventures of Miss Petitfour
Lesser Spotted Animals

David Fickling Books

ISBN 9781910989562

While there are many books about endangered species, what makes this new book by Horrible Histories illustrator Martin Brown stand out is that these are the 'brilliant beasts you never knew you needed to know about'. And the humour - there are some lovely, funny moments throughout the book, lightening what is otherwise a serious subject. This is a book to dip into - don't expect to find zebras or pandas, do expect the 'dagger-toothed flower bat', the 'lesser fairy armadillo' and the 'zorilla' among others. These endangered animals come from all corners of the world and each spread is dedicated to a different one. Alongside a depiction of the creatures is text explaining why it is special and why endangered, as well as a fact box telling us its size, habitate and status - together with a final fact that brings in the funny or remarkable things that are so often what children will remember! There is lots of humour in the illustrations, too; check out the long-tailed dunnart that is crunching on a mouse paw or the sleek southern right whale dolphin. This is the kind of book that will have children returning again and again - there are so many interesting facts and touches of humour that will appeal to them. Definitely one for the class or school library! 54 pages / Ages 7-11 years / Reviewed by Alice Green.

Lesser Spotted Animals
Hamish and the GravityBurp
Danny Wallace

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471147128

Coming home to find your family lying on their backs on the ceiling is a good clue that things are not as they should be - but Hamish is no stranger to weird and wonderful things happening in Starkley. To the PDF (Pause Defense Force), any strange occurance means one thing - adventure! Strange burping noises, little black 'teardrop'-shaped seeds... it seems that the Superiors - a superior breed of enemy - are to blame for everything that's going on in Starkley and Hamish and his gang need to save the world again! Full of humour and action, this is a story which will engage and amuse even the most reluctant reader. Although part of a series, Hamish and the Gravity Burp can be read as a stand alone. The text is full of jokes and comical characters like Madame Cous Cous and her amazing selection of sweets! The whole book is visually appealing with clever use of varied fonts to enhance the story and the illustrations which are fabulous and plentiful, with added treats like the decorated page edges and the flicka-book illustrations at the bottom of each page! 272 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

Hamish and the GravityBurp
Giant
Kate Scott

Piccadilly Press

ISBN 9781848125643

Eleven year old Anzo has a problem; he is short, very short, which makes it difficult to be noticed in an extraordinary, noisy family who are all unusually tall. At school he is teased and even the teacher thinks it is a good idea to cast Anzo as all of the seven dwarves in the school play. If only he could just grow a bit taller Anzo feels that all his problems would be solved. His family would start to pay attention to him and he could tell them that he loves to draw cartoons and that he has won a prize to attend a comic book convention. With the help of his best friend Elise, a 'wanna be' therapist, and her 'power of positive thought' he finds he can and does grow taller, but it isn't the instant solution he was hoping for. In fact, it just swops one set of problems for another. He is still teased at school, now for being too tall, and his family are still too busy to really notice him. He still does not know where he fits in but with persuasion from Elise, Anzo gets up the courage to follow his dream to attend the convention and begins to find his place in the world. This is a wonderful, warm and funny story about growing up and learning to believe in yourself. The characters are well drawn, particularly super-organised Elise with her post-it notes and wonderful words of wisdom. Anzo's narration is engaging and he is funny and likeable. It would appeal to readers who enjoyed Kate Dicamillo's Flora and Ulysses or A F Harrold's Fizzlebert Stump series. 192 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by Caroline Gosden, school librarian.

Giant
Emerald Secret
Susan Moore

Nosy Crow Ltd

ISBN 9780857638267

Emerald Secret, the follow-up to Crimson Poison, can be read as a stand-alone adventure but will also be enjoyed by children who liked Crimson Poison. In the latest story, kickass heroine Nat Walker - together with her awesome dragon robot Fizz (it'll be every child's dream to have a Fizz in their life...) move to London to start boarding school, as directed in her late parents' will. But this is a London with a difference since the series is set slightly in the future. While you may recognise some of the city's landmarks, the Sliderboards. Grooveriders and beetlebots technology will be less familiar - as will the latest (Victorian) fashions. Nat finds herself navigating other people's demand of her, including the unlikeable Baroness Shiversand, while also coping with the loss of her guardian, Jamuka. Then Nat discovers what they really want - a mysterious, ancient sword that her parents have hidden so as not to have it fall into the wrong hands.... This is a fast-paced adventure story that has plenty of heart. Readers will be rooting for Nat as she navigates a new city - and unknown villains - with many a wrong turning along the way.... 232 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Sandra Hill.

Emerald Secret
The Gold Thief (Ned's Circus of Marvels, Book 2)
Justin Fisher

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780008124557

After the world-building and challenges in the first book, Ned's Circus of Marvels, the action in The Gold Thief quickly moves into a full-on adventure with incredible gold heists, airborne battles and a plot so evil that the future of the world is threatened. Into this mix we also have some red herrings, some characters who might or might not be trustworthy, and a breakdown in communications between Ned and Lucy, the two main characters who are meant to be saving the world.... The book opens with news that the world's gold reserves are being stolen - but no one knows who by, nor how the tonnes of gold are simply disappearing. At the same time, Ned and his parents are attacked and separated, with Ned finding his way back to the Circus of Marvels to begin a search for them. The two threads - the missing gold and Ned's missing parents - are brought together in complex but rewarding plot that climaxes with a stunning battle in the skies when the Darkening King threatens to return to Earth. As well as the action, the characters are well drawn including the tough but kindly leader of the circus crew, Benissimo, and of course Ned's reluctant defenders, Gorrn and the robot mouse, Whiskers. But the main battle is taking place in Ned, a boy who is growing into the skills he must have as an Engineer - when all he really wants is to have a quiet life with both his parents. It will be up to Ned, and Lucy the Medic, to save the world in the developing confrontation between good and evil. But for that, we will have to wait for Book 3 and I for one can't wait to read it! This adventure will have lots of appeal to confident readers, both boys and girls, who enjoy getting their teeth into a substantial plot with loads of action. 432 pages / Ages 9-12 years / Reviewed by Susan Hiller.

The Gold Thief (Ned's Circus of Marvels, Book 2)
The Lights Under the Lake (Scarlet and Ivy, Book 4)
Sophie Cleverly

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780008218331

This is the fourth adventure in the Scarlet and Ivy series. It's summer and as another new term begins at Rookwood School, a school trip is announced to Shady Pines Hotel on the shores of Lake Seren. Of course Scarlet and Ivy are desperate to sign up, and together with friends Ariadne and Rose they look forward to a few days away from lessons and exploring nature. But the old atmospheric hotel and the waters of the deep lake hide dark secrets and mysterious events start to occur almost as soon as they arrive. Strange objects appear in the hotel, scaring the owners, rooms are ransacked and precious things disappear. A seemingly pleasant couple arrive soon after the girls and offer to organise activities. Very strange things are happening and there might be more than one mystery for the girls to unravel this time. The location of the hotel, a village with the church and graveyard flooded to create the reservoir, the surrounding s of the dark woods and sudden thunder storms all help to build the atmosphere and tension as the story builds to a climax. Local villagers who still resent the loss of their village, hotel residents and even some of the other girls add to the number of suspects. Prefects Elsie and Cassandra are truly bossy and spiteful, adding to the drama and rivalry among the girls and Miss Bowler is wonderful as the archetypal sports teacher, with her loud, blustering and no-nonsense attitude. This is yet another exciting and fast paced mystery for the fearless, resourceful twins and their friends to solve before disaster happens. Can they yet again save the day and make sure that everyone returns to Rookwood School all in one piece? This series is perfect for fans of A Murder Most Unladylike series by Robin Stevens. 304 pages / Ages 9-12 years / Reviewed by Caroline Gosden, school librarian.

The Lights Under the Lake (Scarlet and Ivy, Book 4)
Beetle Queen
M. G. Leonard

Chicken House Ltd

ISBN 9781910002773

I moved straight on to reading Beetle Queen having read the first in this planned trilogy, Beetle Boy. At the end of the first book the reader gets a glimpse of what Lucretia Cutter really is (and I won't disclose this!). She is designing and making dresses for actresses nominated for awards in the Film Festival in Holloywood, but they are dresses with a difference, being made of beetles! Her own dress is a masterpiece I have to say. But Darkus, Virginia and Bertolt are still on her trail, although Darkus's father is not pleased about this and seems to have plans of his own. He disappears again and Uncle Max enables the children to follow Lucretia to Hollywood to try to unmask her. Novak, her 'daughter', who believes Darkus has been killed, finds he is alive and is crucial to the plot to stop Lucretia. In a somewhat manic denouement at the Festival where Lucretia's world-shattering plot is uncovered, the scene is set for the third book. The three resourceful children aided by it has to say very helpful adults in the form of Uncle Max and Bertolt's rather vapid, star struck mother, are strong characters and it is their friendship and understanding of each other which is developed further in this sequel. Various characters appear on the way, including Dr. Yuki Ishikawa. It is rather essential to have read the first book to follow things, as although not all the background is explained. The scenes at The Film Festival are obviously based on the Oscar's and the final scenes seem to have been written with a film script in mind, being very fast paced and full of action and descriptions. This is a hugely enjoyable read, quite unique in having beetles at its centre with real personalities, matched to the children they pair with, and Lucretia's aim of taking over the world by using the beetles to destroy crops, has a big environmental message for young people. I hope the third volume won't be long! 352 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Janet Fisher

Beetle Queen
Sky Thieves
Dan Walker, Jr.

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192747013

This is pure pirates-in-the-sky, swashbuckling adventure! Dan Walker's debut novel is the thrilling tale of rebellious tomboy, Zoya, daring sky raids, evil villains and a long-hidden secret. Snatched away from the orphanage she knows as home, Zoya Delarose's world in thrown into turmoil as the kindly orphanage-owner, Mr Wycherley, is killed and sky thieves take her far away into the clouds and onto the deck of the Dragonfly. Although at first unsure who to trust, Zoya soon comes to depend on the enigmatic Captain Vaspine and his charismatic crew of adventurers. Amidst a world of sword fights, lost treasure and terrifying meteor storms Zoya finds new friends and a fearsome enemy, Lendon Kane. As details of Zoya's past slowly emerge and the beloved locket she wears starts to take on a new significance, she realises that her destiny lies among the sky thieves and that she is prepared to fight alongside them, as her parents did. This is an action-packed book, full of daring adventures and colourful characters. Zoya makes a dogged and determined heroine and you quickly find yourself rooting for her and her comrades. There is no shortage of action and it's a thoroughly entertaining and fast-paced read. A highly promising start to what looks to be a thrilling series. 304 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Clare Wilkins, school librarian.

Sky Thieves
Invent it!
Rob Beattie

QED Publishing

ISBN 9781784937867

A lovely book just to dip into with lots of interesting facts about inventions from the past, including some massive failures (helicopter ejector seat / asbestos fire proofing) as well as the successses that have helped shape the world as we know it - from the match to GPS. For all budding inventors (ages 8-11 years), the book takes them through each step of the process of creating their own invention and includes tips on design and manufacture as well as how to patent an invention. I can see this having lots of appeal to children who just like to browse their books - there are lots of snippets of information, nicely designed spreads with drawn and photographic illustrations, and a clear index - but also children who genuinely want to find out how to go about becoming an actual inventor. 64 pages / Ages 8-11 years / Reviewed by Susan Stokes.

Invent it!
Frogkisser!: A Magical Romp of a Fairytale
Garth Nix

Piccadilly Press

ISBN 9781848126015

When Princess Anya hears a louder and longer scream than usual from her older sister Morven, she tries to ignore it. But she knows she'll have to leave the quiet of the library and investigate. Unfortunately, their evil stepstepfather, Duke Rikard, a sorcerer, has turned Denholm, the latest prince wooing Morven, into a frog. Despite Anya rescuing him from the moat, Morven refuses to kiss him to reverse the spell; she has already transferred her affections elsewhere, though this has more to do with sorcery that her fickle nature. Duke Rikard is plotting to rule the kingdom and plans to send Anya on a 'slightly' perilous journey to a far away school. However, Anya has made a sister promise to restore Denholm to human shape and realising that she needs help to save her kingdom from the Duke's clutches, sets out on a Quest. Besides finding the ingredients to make the important Transmogrification Reversal Lip Balm, she needs to raise an army. Which she does, in this wonderfully witty and entertaining reworking of traditional tales from the master of magic, Garth Nix. Included along with talking animals, giants and druids, is an alternative version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, an appearance from Merlin, and witches who could be cooking up trouble. Anya, spirited and resourceful, rises to the challenges that face her with courage, as she gradually realises her true destiny. An absorbing, enthralling romp of a fantasy adventure which I whole-heartedly recommend; hopefully, we won't have to wait too long to find out what happens next for the Frogkisser! 384 pages / Ages 9-12 years / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, school librarian.

Frogkisser!: A Magical Romp of a Fairytale
Bird Girl
Maudie Smith

Orion Children's Books

ISBN 9781444015621

This book caught me completely off guard as I fell for the old adage about judging a book by its cover. This book has a cover that evokes the Daisy Meadows fairy books or the Gwynth Rees Magic books. However, do no the be fooled. This is not really a book for those readers. Even the illustration of the 'sky spirit' on the back cover does not prepare the reader for some of the scary passages I need the story. The story starts innocuously enough with the tale of a girl off on holiday to visit her Grandma but strange things start to happen. At this point there is little deviation for the story you are expecting, but as the tale unfolds it becomes much darker and some of the passages talking about the monster who features in the book are really quite scary. This is definitely not one for before bed! The book is a bizarre mash up of the usual fairy tale of a girl who wishes she had magical abilities and it all ends happily ever after, and a much darker tale, closer to the original fairy tales, with real danger and peril. In a way I found the juxtaposition of the elements a bit jarring as the overall story was quite innocent and simple but the danger elements were too scary for a reader who would chose a book about a girl who wishes she could fly. There was something about the story telling that did not prepare you for what was to come. I quite enjoyed the book but felt I would struggle to know who to recommend it to as it appeared to be catering to two audiences at once: Those who like an entertaining romp and those who like a good scare. It might perhaps be suitable for those wishing to try out a book with a bit of peril in it but not really wanting to go full horror. There is nothing really frightening in the book but the monster is described in quite a sinister way and come see to get your dreams while you sleep so might not be appropriate for some readers. I feel that a different cover might capture the essence of the story better, allowing readers to know what they are getting in to and maybe opening the book up to a more suitable audience. 208 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Alison Urquhart.

Bird Girl
The Island at the End of Everything
Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Chicken House Ltd

ISBN 9781910002766

Butterflies flutter through the pages of this story set in the Philippines in 1906. The island of Culion is a leper colony but there are children like Amihan born without the disease. She lives with her mother who is very frail and whose nose has almost disappeared because of the leprosy. Along comes Mr. Zamora from the government who announces that all the non-leper children will be removed to an orphanage on an island off the coast of Culion. Mr. Zamora is a lepidopterist and somewhat obsessed with his mission, and with his collection of butterflies. Amihan and the other children sail to the orphanage where she is befriended by Mari with whom she concocts a plan to sail back to Culion to see her mother when she learns is dying. This is the second novel by Kiran Millwood Hargrave; the first The Girl of Ink and Stars has just won the Waterstones Children's Book Prize. It is a lyrically written story about a horrible disease and the stigmatization to which sufferers were exposed at this time and in deed until quite recently. The Princess of Wales brought this to the public's attention before she died of course. But behind the suffering is the emotional story of a girl's love for her mother and the perilous journey she was prepared to make to be with her before she died. It is also the story of Mari, cast out from her family because of a deformed hand, and her determination to help her friend, and also to escape the fate Mr Zamora had planned for her. Zamora is the villain of the story but the nuns who did their best to help Nanay, Amihan's mother, and the children at the orphanage are shown in a much more sympathetic light. The butterflies people the story too, part of Amihan's knowledge of her father, and the symbol of hope for the children and Nanay and appear on many pages, emphasizing their importance in the story. The description of the children walking through the clouds of butterflies is truly beautiful and stays in the memory long after the book is finished. This is a magical story with a hard centre but a satisfying ending. I was lucky enough to read Ms Hargrave's first novel and this is a totally different and unique second novel, showing clearly what a terrific talent she is. 288 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Janet Fisher, librarian.

The Island at the End of Everything
The Secret Keepers
Trenton Lee Stewart

Chicken House Ltd

ISBN 9781911077282

Reuben lives with his mother in New Umbra, a place ruled by the unseen menace known as The Smoke, and his very much seen henchmen, The Directions, who always travel in groups of four and watch everything and everyone. The townspeople live in fear of coming to the attention of The Smoke and know they need to keep on the right side of The Directions to ensure that does not happen. Reuben, a lonely boy with no friends who routinely skips school in favour of exploring the area, knows to steer clear of them but he has an adventurous streak and a curiosity which is bound to lead him into trouble. One day, while on one of his many excursions, he finds something very unusual - a pocket watch with no hands, seemingly useless until Reuben works out that it has the power to make the person holding it invisible for fifteen minutes at a time. The downside is that, whilst the person is invisible, they are also unable to see. Reuben is desperate to find out more about the watch and where it came from, believing there might be a reward for its return which would solve his mother's dire financial situation, but his search for the owner also brings him to the attention of The Smoke and Reuben and his new found friends, descendants of a past owner of the watch, are in grave danger as they battle to prevent The Smoke achieving the ultimate power. This is an exciting story involving many twists and turns, a legend from long ago and a promise kept down through the generations. It is also a very long story - 510 pages in all. It is advertised as suitable for readers of nine and over and indeed there is nothing in the vocabulary, the story line or the concepts that the competent nine year old reader would find overly challenging. The thickness of the book, however, may be off-putting for many readers of this age group. The book, though, is divided into three parts, the first two of about 150 pages each and the third section a little longer at about 200 pages and it might be more manageable for the young reader to consider this as a trilogy contained within one volume and treat it as three books. 510 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by June Hughes, school librarian.

The Secret Keepers