NEW TITLES

Stories about hauntings, zombies and horror are some of the stand-out books reviewed this month, together with environmental adventures and action-packed journeys for readers aged 8-11 years.

Fierce, Fearless and Free: Girls in myths and legends from around the world
Lari Don

Bloomsbury Education

ISBN 9781472967138

Fierce, Fearless and Free is the exciting new book by Lari Don. This inclusive collection of traditional tales from around the world features amazing women and their gifts. The empowering tales feature myths and legends from Scotland to the distant shores of the Solomon Islands. To select a few, the heroic characters in these stories defeat monsters, take on battles with Mother Nature and out-smart witches. Each tale takes us on a captivating adventure that shows the heroines strengths and how they overcome the most troublesome situations. What I find amazing about each of these tales, is that the endings are different from what you would expect from a traditional tale about girls. The heroines do not find love and live happily ever after; most are accepted for who they are, but still carry on with their arduous lives, learning from their mistakes and showing the ability to solve problems. This book would make a wonderful contribution to the curriculum. The story about Inanna - The Goddess of War and Love - would be a brilliant story to use along side Misty Mountain or I am Warrior. It has a brilliant underlying theme of strength and commitment and shows the characters determination to succeed against one of Mother Nature's most unforgiving natural beauties. The story Medea and the Metal Man would be a good alternative tale for those teaching Mighty Metals, but also could be used when teaching about Greek Mythology as this tale is a new revelation that supports legends about Jason and the Argonauts. There are some many wonderful tales that you could use to support the curriculum in Lower and Upper Key Stage 2. Furthermore, Lari Don has given details about the origins from where the stories originated, which is useful if you wanted to delve further into the tale. I would highly recommend that this book be used to highlight the plight of heroic girls from the past and endeavor to retell their stories that have been in existence for thousands of years. 154 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Hayley Summerfield, teacher

Fierce, Fearless and Free: Girls in myths and legends from around the world
PESTS: Book 1
Emer Stamp

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444949629

A fun and charming story of an adventurous mouse called Stix. He's the tiny size of an egg cup and his life revolves around sneaking out from his home (in a kitchen, behind a washing machine)at night with his beloved Grandma. Together they scurry for food but security conscious Grandma insists on strict rules to ensure they are never spotted by humans; a trace equals a trap. Young Stix's curious mind and secret outings to practise his acrobatic skills, however, lead him straight into trouble and straight into the path of cunning, mean, sly rat Maximus. Maximus' cavalier biscuit crumb spraying antics in Stix's kitchen lets the humans know they aren't alone and Stix and Grandma's lives are put at risk as Nuke A Pest are summoned! Forced to flee, Stix finds surprise friendship and education in the Peewit Educatorium for Serious Terrible Scoundrels (PESTS) in the basement . There he meets some fabulously named creatures ( Dug the mole, Underlay the carpet beetle ) and their pigeon professor Dr Krapotkin, who all show Stix that being a pest with PEST can be harmless fun and not all living in fear. This is a funny, fast-paced story of animal antics. There's plenty of toilet/poo jokes to please the younger reader, although the poo proves central to the plot here with an evil cockroach Prof Armageddon on a mission to destroy the humans homes. Stix makes a lovely sweet, eager hero who grows in confidence and leads his little gang of cheeky creature classmates to the rescue. Lovely illustrations throughout the book bring the cast of characters to life. PESTS will most definitely be coming out in our school when this book appears! 192 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Jenny Caddick, HLTA

PESTS: Book 1
Professor Astro Cat's Deep-Sea Voyage
Ben Newman

Flying Eye Books

ISBN 9781912497126

Professor Astro Cat's Deep-Sea Voyage is a journey through all levels of the ocean from the surface to the deepest trenches. Clearly organised into interesting double page spreads that follow on from each other, this is a highly factual and informative book with superb graphics. Each spread, from the endpapers to the tiniest detail on a page, is highly visual. The illustrations and diagrams support the text well and ensure that this book is accessible for children of all reading abilities. Small fact boxes share facts about different animals that live in the oceans. Excellent and clear diagrams like the 'food web' allow readers to learn new facts and delight in the knowledge as well as use this as a basis for further research. The information presented in this text is accessible for KS2 children. The rich text draws the reader in and allows them to become an expert in under-the-sea knowledge with not a mermaid in sight! The reader learns about animals, fish, plants, rocks and the bedrock of the Earth throughout the text and some of the complex scientific concepts are presented in a friendly but not patronising way. This is a text to enjoy at leisure and to dip in and out of, however, it equally has a place as a research text for a project or science unit. The content is both scientific and geographical and is highly interesting. A must for any primary school library and any child's bookshelf. 64 pages / Ages 7-11 years / Reviewed by Bryony Davies, school librarian

Professor Astro Cat's Deep-Sea Voyage
How to Make a Better World: For Every Kid Who Wants to Make a Difference
Keilly Swift

DK Children

ISBN 9780241412206

How to Make a Better World by Keilly Swift is aimed at 7-9 year-olds and is a large hardback book filled with bright colourful pages. The attractive presentation make it inviting and I know that children will enjoy dipping into it and learning more about the world around them and how to help. The book is organised into four sections: You, Community, Humanity and Environment. These are easy to work through and could be used as stand alone sections if a child shows interest in one specific area. The author specifically starts with a book about becoming your best self before helping others. This section offers good links to the new PSHE guidance around keeping healthy and offers lots of ideas around kindness and managing feelings and emotions. The other three sections introduce famous people and protest movements that have helped make a difference. These introductions are brief and could prompt further research and discussion. Practical tips and ideas encourage children to think about starting small in their own community before thinking about the world around them. The presentation of the book is attractive with clear illustrations and diagrams helping to aid understanding of each page. Several pages require the reader to rotate book to add further interest. A great text that would be a highly interesting addition to any bookshelf or library. Although aimed at age 7-9, children in Keystage 1 would also be able to access this text and it would make an excellent introduction to an environmentalism topic or PSHE lesson about feelings. 96 pages / Ages 7-9 years / Reviewed by Bryony Davies, school librarian

How to Make a Better World: For Every Kid Who Wants to Make a Difference
Skeleton Keys: The Haunting of Luna Moon
Guy Bass

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781788951043

Skeleton Keys: The Haunting of Luna Moon is the second book in the series featuring the brilliant creation, Skeleton Keys, a 'dashing, key-fingered skeleton, with a thousand adventures under his belt and a thousand more to come!' (even if he does say so himself). Mr Keys used to be an IF (Imaginary Friend) until, one day, he became 'unimaginary'. He now travels the world (and beyond), assisting children who are having, shall we say, 'difficulties' with their IFs. While the first book in the series (Skeleton Keys: The Unimaginary Friend) was set in the modern day, this new book has a wonderfully gothic, haunted house vibe, with echoes of the Addams Family mixed with a country house murder-mystery (think Skeleton Keys as a supernatural Poirot). In this instance, the child in trouble is Luna Moon. Luna has no IF of her own but is, she believes, being haunted by her dead grandfather's, the egg-shaped magical monstrosity Mr Malarkey. Not long after Old Man Moon's funeral, Luna's Aunt Summer suddenly goes missing, but only Luna believes that she has become trapped in a painting rather than just wandered off somewhere. The rest of the family (relentlessly cheerful, big huggers) are in denial that anything is the matter. From here on out, the deliciously spooky sequences and ghastly goings-on rapidly multiply, including, but not limited to, time travel, alternate universes, and VERY aggressive suits of armour. On top of all this, we are treated to not one but two huge plot twists, neither of which I (as a slightly jaded, adult reader) saw coming. If all this sounds a bit scary and complex for the recommended 7+ readership, never fear - the nail-biting thrills are deftly balanced with humour, and Guy Bass keeps a tight rein on his convoluted plot. Every time the tension threatens to become a bit too much, Mr Keys breaks the 4th wall to talk to the reader and make us laugh. The Haunting of Luna Moon builds on the superb achievement of the first book and leaves me wanting much more - Skeleton Keys deserves to become a very long running series, that will be adored by children and adults alike. 256 pages / Ages 7-9 years / Reviewed by Carol Carter, school librarian

Skeleton Keys: The Haunting of Luna Moon
Demelza and the Spectre Detectors
Holly Rivers

Chicken House Ltd

ISBN 9781912626038

Demelza and the Spectre Detectors is an exciting and spooky middle grade adventure about Demelza Clock, a junior scientist with many madcap inventions under her belt who discovers she is a Spectre Detector: she can summon ghosts. This kicks off a well plotted mystery with more than a few twists to the tale, and a cast of well rounded characters who you want to spend more time with. The setting of Little Penhallow is timeless (no modern technology) without being old fashioned, and gives the story an otherworldly feel. Holly Rivers' writing is suitably spooky and witty (I enjoyed looking out for the supporting characters' names...), and also unexpectedly moving. I would recommend this book to children aged 9+ who enjoy mysteries and ghost stories. It could also be useful in the classroom for creative writing to show how to plan and write twists. It would also be a good starting point for discussions about death and moving on. I look forward to reading more of Demelza's adventures! 336 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by Alice Fanning, school librarian

Demelza and the Spectre Detectors
The Highland Falcon Thief
MG Leonard, Sam Sedgman

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781529013061

I thoroughly enjoyed going on a fact-finding adventure aboard The Highway Falcon, a locomotive on its final voyage. Hal, who reluctantly joins his travel-writer uncle, finds more than he anticipated when he is thrown into the role of unveiling a jewel thief. Brimming with twists and turns, this engaging book will entice and captivate all. I especially loved learning how a locomotive operates through the narrative of two children and feel this is a great way to increase children's general knowledge of times gone by. I would recommend this book to adventure and detective lovers: reveal clues as you read to help you unscramble the mystery but will you solve it before they reach the end of the line? Reviewed by Kelly Buxton / 256 pages / 9-11 Years

The Highland Falcon Thief
Talking to the Moon
S. E. Durrant

Nosy Crow Ltd

ISBN 9781788004701

Iris is living with her grandmother, Mimi, to escape the chaos of life at home, the damp and black mould creeping across her bedroom walls and the antics of the two-year-old twins. Mimi's house is not far from her own home, but life there is completely different from home. Mimi used to be a photographer so her house contains many boxes of pictures and one photo which catches Iris's attention of a girl called Coral who looks like Iris. Mimi's memory is fading and as her behaviour becomes more bizarre, this picture becomes the focus of a mystery. Who was Coral and what happened to her? Beautifully told, Talking to the Moon is a sensitive story about dementia. Mimi has always been a live-wire, an eccentric, but as her behaviour becomes increasingly odd, adding strawberry jam to scrambled eggs and tying ribbons to her fingers to remind her of things, Iris struggles to hide this from everyone else. The relationship between the two is wonderful. Mimi tries to help Iris with her worries and encourage her to make friends, but unwittingly adds to her concerns. There is much love in this story, which makes for many poignant moments. There is a compelling element of mystery running through the story as well as Iris strives to uncover the story of Coral and find out who she was, leading to a very satisfying and emotional conclusion. Perfect for developing empathy and understanding, Talking to the Moon is another excellent story from SE Durrant whose previous books, Running On Empty and Little Bits of Sky are also essential reading. An emotional read with humorous touches, this is a story about family relationships, love and loss. 224 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher

Talking to the Moon
Crater Lake
Jennifer Killick

Firefly Press Ltd

ISBN 9781913102203

A perfect middle-grade horror featuring zombie teachers, bug-eyed students and a school trip like no other! Lance and his friends are headed for Crater Lake, a supposedly new and innovative activity centre. With his nemesis Ms Hoche in charge and annoying Head Boy Trent for company, Lance feels that the trip might be a series of unpleasant surprises; but nothing can prepare the students of Montmorency High for the horrors of what lies ahead. Planning a midnight feast, Lance sneaks out to meet his friends only to find all his fellow students locked-in their rooms. Events take a sinister turn when he realises that some of them have developed terrifying zombie-like mannerisms. Realising that the change must have occurred when they were asleep, Lance and his friends Kat, Chets and Mak must find a way to reverse the process...and stay awake. Jennifer Killick's latest book is full of sharp and contemporary dialogue that should have wide appeal and the clever activity centre setting allows for all sorts of parentless adventure. It's a winning combination of horror and humour with a strong emphasis on loyalty, friendship and teamwork. A wonderfully sinister read! 242 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Clare Wilkins, school librarian

Crater Lake
The Threads of Magic
Alison Croggon

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406384741

Pip is a young boy who makes his living by pick-pocketing and thieving, so that he and his older sister, El, can survive. One day he pickpockets the wrong man and finds himself thrust in to a dark and dangerous world full of assassins and witches! There are a range of characters in this book, who all develop in their unique way throughout the story. These characters vary from the sweet and innocent El, through to the dark-minded Spectres. The world that these characters inhabit is brilliantly written and comes to life around them. The book is quite dark in places, but has a strong message of courage and friendship as well. Reviewed by Andrew Mullen / 384 pages / ages 9 - 12

The Threads of Magic
Lost
Ele Fountain

Pushkin Children's Books

ISBN 9781782692553

Lost is a gripping adventure story that I could not put down. Lola and Amit live a comfortable life with their father until one day their father doesn't return from work and life as they know it unravels. This story demonstrates how close we could be to homelessness. In Lola and Amit's story, nobody blinks an eyelid when they join the 'street rats'. Homeless children are commonplace and treated appallingly by the guards and police; the adults who should be there to help and assist them. Lola is a resourceful survivor but when she loses her brother Amit, she feels that she has nothing and no one. She has lost all the things that she cares about but she has not lost hope. She is determined to find the two people that she loves most in the world in their vast city, even though this seems like such an impossible task. The railway station soon becomes like home to her and she gravitates towards it. Can the street rat Rafi help reunite her with her brother? Can they work their way out of extreme poverty together? I would highly recommend this book to children aged 9+. Lost would be perfect for readers who enjoyed 'The Boy at the Back of the Class' and fans of Elizabeth Laird or Sarah Crossan. Lost is a great story with a main character that you can really get behind and root for. This is a beautifully written book that highlights the plight of homelessness and poverty. Lost is a window into the reality of the way that some children live today. 256 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Claie Bossons, school librarian

Lost
Cloudburst: A Jack Courtney Adventure
Wilbur Smith

Piccadilly Press

ISBN 9781848128538

Cloudburst, co-written by Chris Waking, is the start of Wilbur Smith's first series for children and what an epic adventure it is. Join 14-year-old Jack, the youngest member of the Courtney family. Jack has lived in the UK his whole life but this summer accompanies his parents, who are travelling to the Democratic Republic of the Congo for an environmental conference, joined by his friends Amelia and Xander. That is only where the adventure begins for Jack. When his parents go missing, nobody seems to have any answers. Jack is certain it has something to do with the nearby tantalum mines but he needs proof. Jack needs to keep his wits about him as he embarks on this dangerous quest to save his parents - and his own life, too. Cloudburst is filled with so many twists and turns it will keep the reader guessing at each stage. Fans of Enid Blyton and Willard Price will enjoy Cloudburst, which takes these classics, injecting them with a modern influence, reinvigorating the genre. Themes of love, friendship and understanding are interwoven throughout the story. Many readers will resonate with the complex storyline of contrasting characters. The antagonist - Caleb, Jack's cousin - undergoes a rebirth following a dark twist no one will see coming. Cloudburst lends itself well to geography lessons and environmental issues, predominantly global warning. Alongside links to unpicking and constructing adventure stories, it also has a PSHE undertone with the compassionate and level-headed protagonist Jack. Sidekick Amelia, with her innately photogenic and black and white view of the world, will resonate with many. Can the unique blend of personalities work together to save Jack's parents? 320 pages / Ages 9-13 years / Reviewed by Kelly Loiuse Buxton, teacher

Cloudburst: A Jack Courtney Adventure
Orla and the Serpent's Curse
C. J. Haslam

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406388480

When Orla Perry arrives at their holiday cottage in Cornwall, she immediately loves the 'oldy worldy' feel that it had about it. Racing through the rooms with her brothers, bagging the best bedroom, she has high hopes of a summer spent exploring. It is whilst out and about with her dog Dave (the self-appointed guardian of the family) that she starts to realise that things are not quite as they seem. The lack of birds, or any wildlife, creates a nagging feeling that all is not right here. The discovery of a strange object hanging in the branches of a fallen tree causes the start of strange dreams and visions. The meeting of the girl Raven - another thread to follow. As Orla began to dig deeper into the tragic history of the area, she becomes unwittingly embroiled in an adventure of mystical proportions. With only her gut instinct to go on, she finds herself the keeper of secrets and the soldier of truth. But was it chance or fate that had brought her and her family here, to this cottage, at this time? C J Haslam weaves a magical tale of intrigue and sorcery in this fast-paced, twisting adventure that hurtles the reader into a mystical world of witchcraft. Linking past and present in a seamless shift allows the reader to straddle and be bewitched by parallel times that ensnare and mystify. The combination of historical context and imagination mesh to create a wonderful story that is difficult to put down. I would recommend this for 9+ readers with an interest in adventure and sorcery. The novel has clear links to family relationships, expectation, fairness, strength of character, friendship, belief and historical references to witchcraft. 304 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Donna Burkert, teacher

Orla and the Serpent's Curse
DustRoad
Tom Huddleston

Nosy Crow Ltd

ISBN 9781788006484

DustRoad, the sequel to FloodWorld, begins with Kara joining up with a group of outlaws who want to destroy the Mariners (a community of people who live on the surface of the ever rising sea). The characters move between the Dust Road (the dusty, red, barren road through the country) and the watery flooded world of the Mariners. It is a fast paced, adventure story with a mix of characters and locations from the previous book, as well as new ones being introduced as the story progresses. The action moves from London to the USA with the common theme of world-wide weather extremes. It has a dystopian feel to it, and it doesn't take a lot of imagination to see this world as our possible future due to climate change. There are many characters from the last book including John Cortez, who is attempting to play a major role in shaping the future of this world, despite being imprisoned at the end of Flood World. He is unwittingly helped by his daughter, Cane, using a high tech file sharing technique. There is an adrenaline-filled scene as Joe and Nate manage to escape in a plane they have stolen, despite the fact they don't know how to fly. They manage to figure it out, just in time to stop the plane plummeting into the bottom of the Grand Canyon! There are some fantastic characters in this book both familiar and new ones, such as The Five, a sinister group of five identical men. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to my year 7s, but think it would be loved by years 5 and 6 equally. 256 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Amanda Westland, school librarian

DustRoad
Wink
Rob Harrell

Hot Key Books

ISBN 9781471409141

Ross Maloy wants nothing more than to be normal - to hang out with his friends and play computer games. But his world is rocked when he wakes one morning with a massively swollen eye, which turns out to be an incredibly rare form a cancer. Wink follows Ross's journey from diagnosis through to completion of his radiation therapy, taking in giant lasers, best friends, sight loss, worst friends, scars, fights, cowboy hats, crushes, eye patches, bullying, memes, hair loss, school talent shows, eye gunk, punk music and comic strips (Ross is also a talented artist, and the book is peppered with his illustrations, as well as full page comic strips following the adventures of Batpig). Ross's story was inspired by the author's own experiences with the same rare cancer (although Harrell was an adult when he went through it), which lends the novel a believability that really comes through in the writing. I loved Ross's relationship with music - I really related to his musical awakening, both from a listening and playing perspective - having music as a channel for Ross to vent his anger really resonated with me. I also appreciated Ross's relationship with his best friend Abby - there are not enough platonic male/female friendships in upper middle grade/high school fiction. The book's illustrations (drawn by Harrell in character as Ross) are fun and occasionally a little gross (deep fried eyeball, anyone?) without being gratuitous, and they add a level of much needed (occasionally rather black) humour to the book. My one issue with the book was the way the narrative jumped back and forward in time - I found myself losing track of where in the story I was. It was not a major issue, but it did take me out of the story a few times. I can see this appealing to a wide range of students - those who like the humour and illustrated style of the Wimpy Kid books, to those who enjoy emotionally rich stories. 315 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Dan Katz, school librarian

Wink
Evernight
Ross MacKenzie

Andersen Press Ltd

ISBN 9781783448319

The Silver King rules the sprawling city of King's Haven. With the aid of his Chief Witch, Mrs Hester, and an army of enslaved white witches, the Silver King's considerable power permeates the city. But a troubling phenomenon is disturbing the king - white witches are being enticed away by the hated and exiled Hags; rebels, who seek out those whose souls have not been stolen by the evil Mrs Hester. As the Hags grow in power, the Chief Witch seeks ever more desperate ways of controlling them and with a Djinni now under her command, she seeks a permanent and deadly solution. Meanwhile, beneath the streets, 'tosher' Larabelle Fox continues her daily hunt for treasure in the murky and dangerous sewers. She and her friend Joe barely eke out a living but a chance find changes everything and when Mrs Hester finds out, Larabelle's life is soon in danger. I loved so many of the ideas in this book and what could have been a complicated and convoluted backstory is neatly explained in a single chapter. It's a thrilling page-turner brought alive by some wonderfully Dickensian characters. However, there are some very violent and genuinely frightening scenes in this book and whilst I was hooked I would be careful when recommending this to some younger readers. Hugely entertaining and nicely set-up for a sequel but nervous readers, beware! 352 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Clare Wilkins, school librarian

Evernight
That Time I Got Kidnapped
Tom Mitchell

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780008292263

An absolutely hilarious, fast-paced story from Tom Mitchell about 14-year-old Jacob who has won a once in a lifetime opportunity to appear in a Marvel movie! He missed his flight in Chicago and ends up on a rip roaring adventure when he meets a girl called Jennifer who is on the run from a mysterious man called 'the Cowboy' who has been sent to bring her home by her grandmother. This story is full of capers and disasters as they make their way across the states. It's a great mixture of witty dialogue and slightly slapstick comedy, yet never strays from being believable and realistic. This a real page turner and every moment is utterly enjoyable! Jacob is easy to identity with and has a wonderful dry sense of humour at times.This book is sure to be a hit with that difficult to please teen boy market! This would be an ideal class read from Y6 onwards as it has plenty of action and comedy to keep everyone entertained. 320 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Jess Locke, school librarian

That Time I Got Kidnapped
A Year of Nature Poems
Joseph Coelho

Wide Eyed Editions

ISBN 9780711249943

What a treat to receive two new anthologies from the fabulous Joseph Coehlo, both published by Wide Eyed Editions - A Year of Nature Poems, illus Kelly Louise Judd, and Poems Aloud by Joseph Coehlo, illus Daniel Gray-Barnett. First to arrive was A Year of Nature Poems. This slim, pretty volume offers a poem for every month of the year. Each poem is prefaced with a short introduction and is then set across a double page spread and embedded in Kelly Louise Judd's folk art. A strong environmental message permeates the collection. I started with this month's poem: February. Set against soft-hues of a pond set about with green foliage and populated with tadpoles, frogs and darting goldfish, the introduction alerts us to the decline in numbers of amphibians both from disease but also from the impact of 'build and bulldoze' on their habitats. February's poem sings with Coehlo's characteristic lyricism and imagery: frog spawn is described as 'Expectation and hope / balled-up in clear jelly. Frog baby creche./'. I love the symmetry of the 'sunlit forest eyes' in the first verse reflected in the final verse where 'We've diminished their numbers / filled in their forest eyes.' March offers us no fewer than 12 different types of daffodils, each given its own apt line: 'Trumpet - loud enough for eyes to hear them / Triandrus - the three-stamened, Angel's tear/. A richly bluebell carpeted wood studded with yellow accompanies the poem. There are clever juxtapositions: September's poem focuses on the fly agaric toadstool so beloved of folklore but also poisonous. Judd's illustration depicts whimsical fairies sitting atop the familiar red-capped polka dotted toadstools. The poem starts with early encounters: 'You first see them in books / about fairies with lace wings / or in front gardens sat upon by fat gnomes.'/. Years later, ' when you've forgotten about fairy tales and goblins' /you'll meet them again but 'Whatever the lure / Take care!' for those fairy tale characters were seduced 'to sit on their blood-red glow. / Long before the flies visited them / Long before they reeked of dead meat. // This is a challenging collection so suitable for upper KS2. I have slight reservations about the illustrations, lovely as they are, as I hope they will not deter boy readers. Are they at odds with the rather sombre environmental message running through the book or do they serve as a subtle reminder of what we are destroying? Coehlo can offer such a astute lens on urban life so there is also a sense of a missed opportunity here to offer some urban landscapes. It's the contrast between town and country that features in one of Coehlo's new poems in Poems Aloud, a zinging collection of 19 new poems all written with performance in mind. In 'To the Countryside', (p.10) the poem winds its way across a double page spread from the noisy bustle of the city to the quiet of the countryside: 'THE BLEEPING OF THE TRAFFIC / BEEPBEEPBEEP! / Roars in our ears. / ... 'As we play the hum of hushes of / noise no more / noise no more / noise no more / in the countryside.//' The move from noise to quiet is counterpointed in the next poem, 'Turn the Radio up' (p.12) which starts with the 'tiny click of the volume knob' and crescendos to the finale, 'a screeching melody / thumping reverberations./' I love the way there are poems specifically crafted to be read in particular ways. Children are encouraged to slowly plod their way through 'This Bear' (p.16): 'This lumbering bear is old, / This lumbering, bumbling bear / has shuffled over rugged / imagined mountains./ Contrast this with 'Speedy Rocket' (p.15) to be 'read as fast and as clearly as you can. GO!' 'It zips, / it tips, this rocket shakes its hips!/' Coehlo offers performance tips for each poem: for the riddles, the reader is reminded to think of the audience: 'Speak slowly and carefully and repeat your riddle if necessary.' There are poems to whisper and poems that shout (note 'that' not 'to'!): p. 38-39; there are tongue twisters: try 'Red Robots' (p.5) for a challenge. Daniel Gray-Barnett's feisty illustrations add to the appeal and accessibility of the collection. In 'Say how you feel', a range of expressive faces accompany a series of short verses, each focusing on an emotion: 'When I'm sad / it feels like the sky is crashing down, / like the oceans are rising / and the ground is swallowing me up. / All is dark and cold. /' In the end, this is all about the sheer joy and fun to be had when playing with language. In his introduction Coehlo reminds us that there are no rules so 'You can shout a poem intended to be whispered'. This is a book that will sit happily in classrooms from the top of KS1 all the way through to Year 6. Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Alison Kelly, consultant

A Year of Nature Poems