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This comic picture book cleverly demonstrates the dangers of being swayed by popular opinion. New boy Peter is quickly branded the baddest boy in school and it does indeed seem that he’s given to doing naughty things. So when the school’s pet rat goes missing from his cage, everyone assumes Peter is responsible. Only one person knows the truth, and that Peter’s bad behaviour is not what it seems either. The book explores the dynamics of any classroom while also showing us that strange or different doesn’t equal bad and that categorising people on assumptions is never a good idea. Peter is a very charming little character, with his cape, fangs and lacy collar, and the story is beautifully told by its mystery narrator. Original, memorable, and lots of fun.
Merfolk of the World | We are all fascinated by mermaids – whether it’s the story of The Little Mermaid, or the idea of mysterious creatures luring sailors into danger. This beautifully illustrated book introduces readers to mermaids from all around the world – not just the UK and Europe but across the Americas, Australia and Asia too; it seems that people everywhere have always been entranced by the idea of human creatures living in the sea or deep lakes. Many of these mermaids are beautiful, some are helpful and kind, others anything but. The stories will catch the imagination, and this is a book to pore over and return to again and again.
Larabelle Fox is an orphan, a tosher who searches the sewers for any ‘treasure’ she can find, in the sewer system under Kings Haven. She is ranged against rival toshing gangs who want to rob her, as well as the powerful King’s Witch who wants to revive the Evernight in a bid to gain total power for herself. Unbeknownst to Lara she has found exactly what the King’s Witch and her awesomely scary djinn Shadow Jack are looking for – a box, long lost in the sewers. Can Lara discover what she can do with the box and its contents before the world succumbs to the evil of the Evernight? This is a wild magical delight of a story. The bad guys are wickedly bad and seemingly undefeatable, whilst Lara and her friend Joe Littlefoot seem small and powerless. But they have quick wits and goodness on their side, as well as the witches, though it will mainly be down to Lara that a defence is put up to the Evernight.This is the sort of book that will create a buzz of enjoyment, the fantasy world is well built, believable, cinematic and child friendly. The magic is fun, the friendship believable, the story is refreshing, and the feisty heroine is a delight to follow. I shall look forward to more books in this series.
This follow up to the hugely popular Official Handbook of the Magical Unicorn Society will entrance fans of the original and new readers alike. It is again written by the mysterious Selwyn E Phipps, president of the Magical Unicorn Society, and tells eight separate stories, each one featuring a different unicorn. There are Water Moon Unicorns, Storm Chasers, Ice Wanderers and of course the Golden Unicorn. Each story is full of magic and mystery and is preceded by a short profile of the unicorn it features while the pages are full of delicate, atmospheric colour illustrations. It all makes for a beautiful book which really will send shivers of delight through anyone who dreams of one day, somewhere, somehow, seeing a unicorn.
Shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2020 | Life or death battles against terrifying monsters, an orphan’s desperate search for home and family, escapes in the nick of time, a snowy other-world setting, a crew of lovable outsiders, and big questions about right and wrong – Frostheart has them all! The Branford Boase judges said : ‘kids will gobble this up’; ‘great world-building and I loved the characters and their relationships to one another’; ‘a fresh and very different fantasy adventure’.
We all love strange stories and bizarre, unexplained events: do aliens exist? Are ghosts real? Is the Bermuda Triangle really a thing? Was there actually a curse on Tutankhamun’s tomb? This book examines these four questions, plus another six equally mesmerising, but challenges readers to use logic, intelligence and the facts to determine the truth. Author Kathryn Hulick presents thoroughly researched accounts, packed with information because, as she empahises, evidence is the most important thing. She ensures that the sources are reliable and then encourages readers while keeping an open mind to consider everything really carefully. It makes for a great read, especially when some of those mysteries – the Kraken – turn out to be strange but true. A book that glories in mystery, but also the power of science and human intelligence.
November 2019 Book of the Month | Prepare to explore ten of the most haunted places on Earth in this striking book, and then to learn their secrets ingeniously with the help of coloured lenses. With the naked eye, the huge colour illustrations are just a jumble of lines; enticing, but baffling. View the same pages through one of three different coloured lenses, and suddenly a whole new vista springs into life. The red lens shows the people who inhabited these special places (ranging from Bran Castle, Romania to San Juan Chamula Cemetery, Mexico), the green lens shows us the place and its surroundings in detail, while best of all the blue lens magics up the ghostly and supernatural beings that haunt it. Short, sharp snippets of information accompanying vignettes on the following page tell us more about our discoveries. It’s a treat to explore, deliciously spooky and the illustrations are super stylish.
April 2019 Book of the Month | Lauren St John knows just how to create the perfect children’s adventure stories. Her junior detectives Kat Wolfe and Harper Lamb return for a second outing in this new book, another enthralling adventure that combines crumbling cliff edges, dinosaur bones, an A list celebrity who isn’t what she seems and, of course, lots of glorious animals. As they investigate a suspicious death, Kat and Harper face real dangers, but quick-thinking and teamwork, not to mention a bit of luck, see them through. There’s an important eco-message contained in the adventure too and this is exactly the kind of book to encourage children’s interest in the environment and their world as the pages keep turning. Thoroughly recommended.
Sisters Imogen and Isabel Greenberg make brilliant use of the comic book/graphic novel format to tell stories of Athena, probably the most appealing of all the Greek goddesses, weaving different myths into one coherent adventure. It starts as Athena springs from Zeus's head fully armed and 'ready to do battle in the world'; next is the story of her relationship with Athens and, more crucially, rivalry with Poseidon, then interventions in human lives with Perseus and Arachne (the latter a good learning experience for the goddess), before the lead up to the Trojan war and finally the wanderings of Odysseus. The stories are unbeatable and text and illustrations do them full justice. A terrific introduction to the world of Greek mythology and a great bit of storytelling.
Scottish islands have provided the background for some great adventures recently, from Geraldine McCaughrean's Carnegie winner Where the World Ends to Julia Green's To the Edge of the World and Kerr Thomson's The Sound of Whales. Barbara Henderson takes readers to just such a remote island and stages a tense and exciting confrontation between humanity - represented by the narrator, Em, her family and others involved in the creation of a new luxury hotel - and nature, represented by the island's furred and feathered inhabitants. There's a very good sense of the wild and scary power of the natural world, and it puts human behaviour in the spotlight too. Em is a strong central character, a good companion for readers throughout her intriguing, often scary adventure.
Stylish and artfully designed, this book is jam-packed with enough information on the Greek gods and heroes to satisfy even the most inquisitive reader. Forty different characters, from Gaia, Cronus and Zeus to Electra, Achilles and Odysseus, are featured on double page spreads; boxes of text tell their stories with impressive brevity, while extra gobbets of information are conveyed via shorter text boxes or in captions that accompany the stylised, colour illustrations. It’s a book that encourages browsing, while simultaneously making clear the timeline and interconnectedness of the various gods and heroes. This is the latest in an eye-catching and effect series.
March 2018 Book of the Month | Myth Match is more than a wonderful guide to mythical creatures, because there are different ways to read this handsomely illustrated book. You can carefully flip up the divided pages to study the array of fantastic beasts presented: a dragon, the aboriginal Goorialla, the Manx Arkan Sonney, all are depicted in fascinating full-colour detail and in close-up. But flip the pages again – left hand and right hand sides – to create your own army of extraordinary creatures: the half page format allows you to mix the creatures together, e.g. giving heads that breathe fire chicken’s feet and the tail of a squirrel. The mind-boggling permutations are almost endless. Each new creation is guaranteed to look strange but beautiful thanks to the gorgeous artwork. A great way to learn about mythical creatures, from all cultures, and fun too.