NEW TITLES

Adventure, exploration and the past all feature in this month's reviews for 7-11 year olds with Michael Morpurgo, Elizabeth Laird, Christopher Edge and Liz Kessler among the authors featured.

Song of the Dolphin Boy
Elizabeth Laird

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781509828234

Finn lives in the little Scottish fishing village of Stromhead. His life is not an easy one. His mother is dead and his father is consumed by grief, allowing the family home to fall into disarray and Finn to be neglected, often adopting the role of carer himself. He is no happier in school: the other children see him as odd and treat him like an outsider. Things change when one day, Finn finds himself in the sea - and discovers that he can swim. Here he feels he belongs and connects with the dolphins, feeling at home in a way he never has before. As his friendship with the other children develops, Finn fights to save the dolphins and other sea creatures from plastic pollution. Elizabeth Laird manages to take highly topical and important issues and weave them effortlessly into compelling and thought-provoking stories. Song of the Dolphin Boy is first and foremost a story about Finn, an unhappy little boy, his feelings as an'outsider' and of loss - both of his mother and of the man is father used to be. The environmental theme of the story comes through his eyes and his experiences, making it easy to empathise with both Finn and the dolphins, clearly showing the dangers marine life is exposed to through human carelessness. Full of well-developed characters and vivid descriptions, the story mingles a twist on Scottish folklore with that of an 'outsider' searching for his place in the world 224 pages/ Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher

Song of the Dolphin Boy
Emily Windsnap and the Falls of Forgotten Island: Book 7
Liz Kessler

Orion Children's Books

ISBN 9781510102323

This is the 7th instalment in the Emily Windsnap adventures written by Liz Kessler. Emily Windsnap is an ordinary girl on land, but in water she is mermaid, which normally gets her into all kind of trouble! Emily, her family, best friend Shona and her boyfriend Aaron decide to go on holiday to Majesty Island to relax and spend time together. When on a boat tour to Forgotten Island, Emily is sure she saw something in the falls, which leads her to another new adventure and finding a forgotten world. It is up to Emily and her friends and a giant to save the island and all those who surround it from being wiped out by an Earthquake and Tsunami; the only problem is Emily needs to save her friendships first! This is a warm-hearted and adventure-packed book, with plot twists and turns in every chapter. The story deals with friendship issues, forgiveness, as well as family and is a lovely reminder to accept people for who they are. It was a great read and I would thoroughly recommend it. 296 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by Lauren Maidman, teacher

Emily Windsnap and the Falls of Forgotten Island: Book 7
Wonders of the World's Museums: Discover 50 amazing exhibits!
Molly Oldfield

Wren & Rook

ISBN 9781526360281

I enjoyed sharing this book of 50 wonders from 43 museums with my class of 8/9 year-olds. The contents are presented by each of the 'wonders' and the museum in which they can be found. The introduction by Molly Oldfield started with her first memory of being in a museum and being awestruck. I think this book does something similar without physically going to each of the museums mentioned. She describes it as a 'treasure map' and yes museums are full of the treasures, stories from the past and clues for us to discover. I really love the mix of illustrations and photographs of various artifacts. I am already planning how to use this book as a starting point to several history topics, in particular a topic about the Vikings and one about Ancient Egypt. My class gave the book a 5-star rating as I have because this book is a treasure. It is a book that you could get lost in just like the best museums! 64 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by Keranjit Kaur, teacher.

Wonders of the World's Museums: Discover 50 amazing exhibits!
Destination: Space
Christoph Englert

Wide Eyed Editions

ISBN 9781847808240

This is a beautifully vivid book, full of stunning illustrations and jam-packed with facts. Although a non-fiction book, it has the initial feel of a very high-quality picture book due to the bright colours and Tom Colhosy Cole's bold and beautiful illustrations. Covering topics such as black holes, the Milky Way, Gravity and stars the book contains very accessible explanations of complex scientific subjects. As an added extra there is a large double-sided poster at the end of the book that would be perfect for a classroom. Destination: Space is an extremely high-calibre product that's an entertaining and informative read for all ages. My only gripe would be that some of the text is a little small but saying that, larger text may have impacted on the pictures and therefore the overall feel of the book so it is perhaps worth bearing! Part of a dazzling new series that I shall look forward to discovering. 40 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by Clare Wilkins, school librarian.

Destination: Space
Life on Earth: Space: With 100 Questions and 70 Lift-flaps!
Heather Alexander

Wide Eyed Editions

ISBN 9781786030566

If you have a budding young scientist at home then this most definitely is the book for you. At first glance one might be forgiven for thinking that this is a book meant for a much younger child or early reader. It's board book style and simple pictures are more commonly found in simple first picture books; aimed at young readers who have yet to gain the fine motor skills or dexterity for turning pages with care. This is most certainly not the case, this book would effectively benefit children in KS2, 8+ years. Part of the Life on Earth Series; Space, written by Heather Alexander, is crammed full of interesting facts about space. Each page or double page spread covers a particular aspect of Space including; The Sun, The Moon, Ways to explore space, Space travel and beyond the solar system. Questions are asked and answered clearly and concisely using language suitable for a primary age child without confusing or complicating their understanding. Questions such as 'What are Solar and Lunar Eclipses?', 'Is it possible to see the black hole?' and 'What does the Moon smell of?' are posed on small illustrated flaps, which when lifted reveal the answer.& This would be a great book to share either as a group of young scientists or as a parent and child. The opportunity to pose a question and discuss the answer first, before it is revealed, is just like a mini quiz in itself, where the answer can only be read once the flap is lifted. Many of the commonly asked questions such as 'How long does it take for the Moon to Orbit the Earth?' are answered in this book, there are also some rather more obscure questions such as 'What happens to an Astronaut's eyeballs in Space?' too. Unlike most regular non-fiction books, this book does not have a content or index page and I feel is aimed more at an interested, enthusiast at home rather than a classroom research text. However I am certain that if found on a bookshelf in school it would most certainly be well read. Its 'lift the flap' format will allow those readers who may perhaps still lack the stamina to read through a regular book to focus on individual questions and answers without having to read through large 'chunks' of text. I really enjoyed this book and learnt some interesting things about Space and while I am certain no end of primary age children would eagerly pore over its pages of interesting facts, its design would make its durability within a classroom or multi-user environment limited. However, this would make the ideal book gift for an inquisitive young mind. 16 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by Sam Phillips, teacher.

Life on Earth: Space: With 100 Questions and 70 Lift-flaps!
Corpse Talk - Ground-Breaking Women
Adam Murphy

David Fickling Books

ISBN 9781910989609

History is full of incredible stories about amazing people, many of whom have been women. However, many of these incredible life stories have been forgotten, along with the heroic deeds that were ground-breaking in their day. The best way to unearth these histories is to speak to the individuals themselves, but this seems impossible as these people died hundreds of years ago. 'Corpse Talk' is the comic book chat show that brings the dead interesting and dead famous to life, quite literally. In order to get the real scoop on the lives of the most brilliant individuals in history, host Adam Murphy picks up his shovel and digs up the remains of these individuals and conducts fascinating and hilarious interviews. Corpse Talk: Ground Breaking Women is the female edition of the comic book series. It's a truly horrible take on history, with a female twist. This book features queens and con-artists, saints and suffragettes, philosophers and pirates; A historical timeline from Hatshepsut, the female pharaoh who traded her way into the Egyptian record books, through to Josephine Baker, entertainer, sophisticated high society lady and spy for the French Resistance. There are interviews with Empress Irene, the first women to rule the Roman Empire; Khutulun the Mongolian warrior princess; Pocahontas, the native American who encouraged peace between her people and English settlers; and Harriet Tubman, a guide through the underground railroad. If that's not enough 'girl power', there are also interviews with Granny Nanny, the plantation slavery resistance fighter; Joan of Arc, the valiant visionary who helped the French armies defeat the invading English; and Emily Wilding Davison, the English suffragette who died for her cause. Adam Murphy's interviews, with each brilliant woman from history, uncover highlights from incredible life stories, showcasing great accomplishments and bring to light little know personal historical facts. If the life stories aren't enough, Corpse Talk also explains a whole host of details surrounding the lives of these famous women; Hatshepsut reveals the plans for her temple and Josephine Baker explains how to dance the Charleston; Empress Irene explains how Byzantine Silk was created, Khutulan showcases her best Bokh Wresting Moves and Harriet Tubman walks you through the underground railroad. This is a book jam packed with incredible historical facts and even more amazing life stories. This is forth book in the Corpse Talk series, which unearths dead amazing details from historically famous people throughout history. Some of the interviews from this book have been previously featured in the weekly story comic 'The Phoenix' but his book brings them all together and adds so much more. Due to the humorous nature and engaging comic book style, this book is hard to put down. Perfect for reluctant readers, history buffs and lovers of stories that empower attitudes of independence, confidence, and brilliance among young women. 128 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by Emily Beale, school librarian.

Corpse Talk - Ground-Breaking Women
Lyttle Lies: The Stinky Truth
Joe Berger

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471146268

Sam in Lyttle Lies is a small boy who tells BIG lies and the funny storylines, comic illustrations and short bursts of text make it ideal for reluctant readers as well as children developing in confidence as readers. In this second story in the series, The Stinky Truth, Sam is forced to tell the truth for the entire holidays in order to be able to go and see his favourite movie. Sam rises to the challenge - but the book plays on Sam's insistence on telling the truth all the time; the little white lies that normally smooth the way within family life are 'lies', according to Sam, and this leads to hilarious situations with Sam's family taking the brunt of his truth-telling. Disappearing dolls, pickled radishes, annoying cats, jazz and zumba-ing mums all feature in this story so there is lots of fun along the way as well as a very warm look at family life. The use of comic strips and cartoon as well as short, well-spaced text to tell the story all add to the book's appeal; I hope that there will be more in the series. 240 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by Ellen King

Lyttle Lies: The Stinky Truth
The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day
Christopher Edge

Nosy Crow Ltd

ISBN 9781788000291

On the morning of 'academically gifted' Maisie Day's 10th birthday her world(s) change forever. She discovers her whole family gone and the entire world outside her front door has disappeared into total blackness. Or has it? It seems life may be made of more than one reality. This is such a clever and thought-provoking story that layers science and the laws of quantum physics with the very human and emotional story of a frightened young girl. The relationship and sibling rivalry between (clever beyond her years) Maisie and her resentful older sister are a key and relatable thread in the story as Maisie catapults from reality to differing reality. Christopher Edge interweaves his quantum physics explanations so naturally within the story, through Maisie's voice, that they never feel forced or beyond the reader. Certainly, I did sometimes need to pause and re-read at points but this felt like part of the flow of responding to the book rather than this stopping me from enjoying it. The description of the blackness that gradually devours Maisie's home are skillfully written so you can visualize the horrifying emptiness Maisie is existing in. She is wonderfully written as both a scientist trying to make logical sense of what is happening, and as a frightened 10 year old alone and desperately needing her family. The chapter openings and endings are cleverly written to leave the reader in suspense at which reality Maisie will be in at every turn. The last chapters, as the story of Maisie and her sister finally unfolds, genuinely had my heart in my mouth, a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. As well as ever-growing questions about infinite lives and parallel universes that I never knew I had! So much so that I immediately picked up another of Christopher Edge`s books to read. 176 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Jennifer Caddick

The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day
The Buried Crown
Ally Sherrick

Chicken House Ltd

ISBN 9781910655320

This book is non-stop action and adventure, a cleverly constructed blend of historical drama with a touch of magic thrown in for good measure. It is set during World War II and Londoner George Penny is living as an evacuee in the countryside. Featuring Nazi villains, Kindertransport and Anglo-Saxon mythology, this story takes a breathless pace, full of exciting twists and turns. This is the sort of rip-roaring story I loved to read as a child. The combination of some really villainous baddies and two historical periods make this a 'can't put down' sort of book; certainly, I nearly missed my stop whilst reading it on a train! The story was originally inspired by the author's own father who was an evacuee, as well as Hitler's treasure hunters and the treasure hoard found at Sutton Hoo. I find this sort of combination quite irresistible and I can see this book really appealing to boys as well as girls. The story does not shy away from some more difficult issues, such as death and loss, the Holocaust and ill treatment of children. Despite this, it is never too gory or scary and even the magic becomes believable in this context. In fact, the only bits that I found slightly jarring were where real historical figures from World War II, were introduced. Odd that the real people should be the least believable in what is a most fantastical story! As the Anglo Saxons are part of the History National Curriculum, this book would be great to have in a classroom whilst this topic is being taught. Its publication also coincides with 100th anniversary of the RAF, another strand in the story, and the 80th anniversary of the Kindertransport. It would also fit very nicely into a discussion about British values and how History impacts on the present. Best of all, this is a book to be read simply for pleasure, an edge of your seat kind of story, where you simply have to find out what is going to happen next! 320 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Jacqueline Harris, teacher.

The Buried Crown
Flamingo Boy
Michael Morpurgo

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780008134631

This story is set in the wilds of the Camargue during the dark days of the Second World War and it is a tale that held me firmly under its spell throughout. Whilst the narrator is Vincent, a young man who has fallen ill whilst travelling through the spectacular landscape of marshes in Southern France inhabited by flamingos, the tale itself is told by Roma gypsy Kezia who is nursing Vincent back to health in the isolated farmhouse where she lives along with her lifetime friend and companion, Lorenzo. Lorenzo, we learn, is autistic, however what defines him far more than his autism does is his tremendous affinity with living creatures and his ability to both communicate with them and heal them. During long evenings spent by the fire as Vincent recuperates, Kezia transports the reader to the perilous days of Occupation, when members of the Roma community were targeted by both the German occupying forces and by the dreaded Milice. Morpurgo paints a complex picture of war that goes far beyond the simplistic Us and Them perspective. For example, the tall, white-haired German Corporal shows the families of Kezia and Lorenzo great compassion, and through this sensitive portrayal, we learn much about trust, goodness, resilience and humanity that transcend concepts of nationality and race. At the heart of this story is the intricately-carved wooden carousel that is operated by Kezia's family. This carousel is a symbol of hope and of joy. The native population of flamingos too, so loved by Lorenzo, is another key theme of the story. These threads draw the reader deeper into the story and connect us with a unique environment, with the Roma culture and with an episode in history that, in today's divided world, has much to tell us. 288 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Emily Marcuccilli, school librarian

Flamingo Boy
Ella on the Outside
Cath Howe

Nosy Crow Ltd

ISBN 9781788000338

Ella is struggling to settle into a new school, as well as coping with her eczema which she feels marks her out as different, so is delighted when popular Lydia befriends her. But Ella's dad is in prison, which is why her mum moved the family to a new area, and this is a secret that nobody can know. Molly, a quiet girl whom Ella gets to know a little, also has problems at home, as she is caring for her widowed mum, who is clearly not coping, in a house stuffed full of old furniture. Her secrecy is to protect her family from outside interference. Blackmail, secrets, bullying and friendship are the themes of this story. The plot carries the reader along, and the language, while straightforward, really gets us involved with the characters. Ella is a likeable girl, who does something wrong, regrets it and, with the support of her family, manages to put it right. We can understand why she is under the spell of the selfish and manipulative Lydia, while seeing that it will never turn out well. Ella develops as a character, as she gets to know Molly, and her mum also comes to realise what her children are going through. The chapters are interspersed with letters that Ella writes to her father in prison, and these are heartbreaking, especially as, for a long time, no replies come. The book looks at people who are 'outsiders', as Ella is, as well as Molly, and how they cope. By the end, they are true friends, understanding each other and this gives them both confidence. But Ella also realises that being a little on the outside can be a good thing, giving her the chance to stand back and understand what is going on. Ella on the Outside is a sensitive and accessible book, which will get young readers thinking, as well as cheering Ella on as she tries to get things right, and especially when she stands up to the horrible Lydia! 240 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Carol Williams, school librarian.

Ella on the Outside
Jake Atlas and the Hunt for the Feathered God
Rob Lloyd Jones

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406377712

The Atlas family are back in action. Finding themselves on the run after their last escapade, Jake is determined to track down the Snake Lady and stop whatever she is planning next, but ends up trapped into working for her and the People of the Snake. Deep in the jungles of Honduras, the Atlas family must learn to pull together and trust one another if they are to succeed - and survive. Picking up where the first adventure left off, Jake Atlas and the Hunt for the Feathered God is just as fast paced. Gadgets and action abound as Jake narrates this new adventure in his humorous style and explores his doubts about his place in the family and his suitability to be a treasure hunter. Jake's sister, Pandora, also develops in this book, getting involved in the action as well as using her intellect. Both face, and rise to, new challenges, learning more about themselves as they strive to succeed against the evils of the enemy. Great fun, this adventure will leave you wondering where the next adventure from Jake and his treasure hunting family will take you. 352 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

Jake Atlas and the Hunt for the Feathered God
To the Edge of the World
Julia Green

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192758453

When it comes to evoking a sense of place Julia Green has done an excellent job in her latest book To The Edge Of The World. The islands and seas of the Outer Hebrides are conjured in the mind of the reader as they read of the journey Jamie and Mara's friendship takes. With the island setting and a dose of sailing jargon, readers of Morpurgo and Ransome will find something they're at home with here. Jamie lives on the island with his family although he misses Dad who works away on the mainland during the week. Mara lives on the island too, but away from other people. Mara's mum is suffering from mental illness (this is hinted at throughout the story) and she too misses her father whom she hasn't heard from in years. An unlikely pair, Jamie and Mara become friends, but always with a difficult, awkward relationship, and embark (accidentally on Jamie's part) on a daring and dangerous adventure. Along with the well-developed settings, the fact that Julia Green tackles real-life issues that many young people face is a strength of this book. Although the story has the reckless voyage to St. Kilda, the Outer Hebrides' furthest islands, and the friendship dimension to commend it, readers might be left wishing for a little more: compared to other similar stories it isn't as well-rounded and has the potential to fall a little flat. Also, the story is narrated by Jamie and as such the writing is clipped: the short sentences characterise a young teenage boy well, but aren't always easy to read. Having said thats, To The Edge Of The World will certainly appeal to readers who love reading about friendship or who particularly enjoy stories about island life and seafaring - certainly those who have been charmed by Morpurgo's tales about the Isles of Scilly. In the classroom, To The Edge Of The World might be used to great effect alongside other similar books, particularly as a source of descriptive passages for children to use as inspiration for their own writing. 240 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Aidan Severs, teacher.

To the Edge of the World
Charlie and Me: 421 Miles From Home
Mark Lowery

Piccadilly Press

ISBN 9781848126220

This is a wonderful book! 13-year-old Martin is on a very special journey, accompanied by his younger brother Charlie. The brothers appear to have run away from their Lancashire home, to see the Dolphin they saw on a family holiday in Cornwall. A journey of 421 miles. The key questions is what significance does this dolphin hold for them? Never mind how they will manage such a trip, both financially and logistically. Of course, there is a backstory which is gradually revealed through the funny, engaging and touching narration of Martin. The final chapter is incredibly sad and some readers will find this upsetting (spoiler). A moving, funny and emotional book. I would recommend this to 10-14 year olds. 259 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Kay Hymas, school librarian.

Charlie and Me: 421 Miles From Home
Ele Fountain

Pushkin Children's Books

ISBN 9781782691976

Shif has a best friend, and lives with his mum and sister. He's really good at maths, loves chess and wants to be an Engineer. He's living an ordinary life until he's followed by soldiers on his way home from the shops. From that moment, his life is changed forever. Before he knows it, Shif is on his own, he's terrified and he doesn't know if he'll ever see his family again. On his incredible journey, Shif will endure unbelievable hardship and encounter people who have nothing but still show him life-changing kindness. Boy 87 is fantastically written and the chapters are short, not one word is wasted in this fast-paced, whirlwind story. The characters are completely believable and it will make you feel like this experience could just happen to anyone. I was enjoying the story so much, I only wish is the book could have been longer. This is a striking book that will stop you in your tracks. It's a terrifying journey, one that we cannot imagine. We take our safety for granted when so many children in the world suffer immeasurably. This is a superb book for anyone who has read and enjoyed Benjamin Zephaniah's Refugee Boy or Judith Kerr's When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. It's essentially a modern story of our times. The hopelessness, and the hope, are what I will take from this book. It made me feel lucky. 224 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Victoria Long, school librarian.

Ghost Boys
Jewell Parker Rhodes

Orion Children's Books

ISBN 9781510104396

This is an extraordinary, hard-hitting story, about a black boy killed by a white policeman in an American city. It is strongly reminiscent of The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, in that the narrator is the dead child. But this book is suitable for children in Year 6 and upwards, though it should be treated with caution and possibly tackled as a whole class as the story is incredibly powerful and heart-breaking and my ten-year-old was extremely sobered after reading it. Technically it is an 'easy read' in that readability is not difficult, with short chapters, but this is very far from being easy to read. 12-year-old Jerome is a 'good' boy. He never gets into trouble, he comes from a loving, close family, does his homework and takes care of his little sister. One day he is shot by a white police officer who mistakes his toy gun for a real one. As a ghost, Jerome starts to realise he is not alone, that there are many, many ghost boys, all killed for being black. Some of these boys are real children; children in this country might not know their names but there is an afterword that gives a bit more information about them, as well as a list of further resources. This is a story about race, timely in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement. It also looks at the impact on the white officer and his family and it makes it clear that no-one is left untouched by these events. Jerome watches as his family fall apart and he is unable to help them. Their grief is simply written but all the more powerful. 'I watch my family crying, talking in whispers... I can't think of anything worse than watching my family hurt.' This is a must-read book, an opportunity to talk about race, as well as an emotional and involving story. 224 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Jennifer Harris, teacher.

Ghost Boys