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In a nutshell: thoughtful story of a little girl and her family, touched with magic The day her mum goes off to hospital to have her new baby brother is the day Ginny finds a very unusual egg in the hen house. It’s not a hen’s egg, it’s a dragon’s egg, and soon Ginny is step-mum to a baby dragon. The dragon might not be like the hens, or like Ginny either, but she loves it and wants to do her best to look after it. When her mum finds it difficult to bond with the new baby, who has Down’s syndrome, Ginny understands, and the little dragon can help. It’s a story full of warmth and insight, and readers will love the idea of adopting a dragon and understand how protective Ginny feels towards her little brother too. ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: super-readable story | robot rumpus at high school | Uh-oh, things are not running smoothly in the Hayes-Rodriguez household, which is highly unusual, because Mum, a robot scientist, has invented a host of machines to ensure it does. Something has upset the robots, and suddenly it’s chaos. With Mum busy on something else, it’s up to Sammy and his little sister Maddie to work out what’s gone wrong. It’s James Patterson’s mission to get and keep kids turning pages, and he’s a master of the art. Sammy’s wise-cracking narration hooks readers from the first, the action is pretty well non-stop, and the cartoon illustrations come thick and fast too; yet there’s still space for feelings and emotions too. Other authors creating addictive and irresistible page-turners for young readers include Steve Cole, Liz Pichon and Jim Smith. ~ Andrea Reece
The Notion Potion is the hilarious third book in the Moone Boy series, based on the Sky TV series from dream team Chris O'Dowd and Nick Vincent Murphy In a nutshell: surreal and hilarious knockabout comedy Martin Moone and his IF (imaginary friend) Sean Murphy are back in another fine example of surreal yet totally satisfying storytelling. Martin is preparing for E.O.P.S. (End Of Primary School) and is suddenly conscious that he hasn’t achieved anything to put him on the school’s Winners’ Wall. Could the Invention Convention science competition change that? Sean is at his side as ever and ready to help, though he’s somewhat distracted by his new pet, a birthday present from Martin, Wilbert the Wonkey (half donkey, half werewolf and supposedly an IF’s Best Friend). Readers genuinely won’t know what’s going to happen next, and the copious footnotes provide as many laughs as the bizarre cast of characters and the ludicrous situations that Martin and Sean find themselves in. Inspired nuttiness! Andrea Reece
November 2018 Book of the Month | Wonder was a sensation when it was first published in 2012, and the story of Auggie and his fight to be accepted as a normal boy has now hit the big screen in a movie starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Jacob Tremblay, Daveed Diggs, and Mandy Patinkin. This is a special film tie-in edition. Frank, powerful, warm and often heart-breaking, Wonder is a book you'll read in one sitting, pass on to others, and remember long after the final page. This is a wonderful debut from a storyteller with a great future if this book is anything to go by and her characters are intensely likeable.
October 2017 Debut of the Month In a nutshell: boy discovers his magical powers at school This funny, action-packed story will satisfy readers with a taste for magic, school capers and the absurd. Everyone in Zach’s family can do magic, except him. When he reaches the age of 11, still magic free, his parents give up and send him to his local school. Amongst the usual ups and downs of school – making friends, running up against the bullies, developing a massive crush on a fellow classmate – Zach discovers his magic, via of all things a pair of old baseball caps. Playing around with his new skill makes him something of a YouTube star, but attracts the attention of mean girl Trisha too. Neatly told with some of the zaniest scenes brought to life through cartoon strip illustration, this will be a real hit with young readers. ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: half-vampire, half-fairy, Isadora makes a new friend Lively, told in short chapters and filled with illustrations this appealing series is perfect for newly independent readers. They’ll certainly be very taken with the eponymous Isadora: daughter of a vampire dad and fairy mum her heritage means she’s a bit of both, as reflected in the books’ pink and black colour scheme. In this adventure her class goes on a school trip to a local castle. Isadora and her dad discover a lonely little ghost and hope he’ll make new friends among Isadora’s classmates. But when the other children see him, they immediately run away in fear. It’s only when Isadora helps them see Oscar as another playfellow rather than as a ghost that they realise how much they like him. Fun and original, with an important message deftly delivered.
August 2017 Debut of the Month Move over Georgia Nicolson. Say goodbye to Geek Girl. Meet Emma Nash. `According to Netflix, this is NOT how my teenage life is supposed to look.' Nursing a broken heart, Emma Nash spends her summer in her room, hiding from the world. Seeing Leon suddenly `in a relationship' on Facebook, however, spurs Emma into action. She vows to use the internet for good (instead of stalking Leon's social media), chronicling her adventures on her new Editing Emma blog. But life online doesn't always run smoothly. From finding her mum's Tinder profile, to getting catfished and accidentally telling the entire world why Leon Naylor is worth no girl's virginity... Surely nothing else could go wrong?!
Scarlett's blog has found success beyond her wildest dreams. A TV show is on the cards and the Secret Cooking Club has several new members. What's more, her mum is getting married, and Scarlett is baking the wedding cake. Everything is perfect ... or is it? Her estranged dad arrives in town unannounced, and Scarlett's friends say fame has gone to her head. As the wedding approaches, she has much more on her mind than the perfect bake ...
Independent Reading Yellow stories are perfect for children aged 4+ who are reading at book band 3 (Yellow) in classroom reading lessons. | Young readers will immediately spot that the new boy is strikingly different since he is bright green! This is amusingly never referred to in the text and we see Ahmed trying his very best to make the new boy feel included. But as the repetitive refrain tells us, Zab was not good at drawing, eating, singing or even sitting. But luckily, he is very good at playing and he helps Ahmed score a great goal and we can see their friendship is secured. As a Reading Champion text carefully levelled for Book Band Yellow 3 this lively story is designed for children working at that level in class to read independently; building their confidence and reading enjoyment. Children will empathise with the experience of being new to school and enjoy imagining how they would feel if an alien joined their class. A lovely Story Trail feature allows the child to retell the story in their own words developing recall and sequencing skills. At the back of the book there are useful guidance notes explaining how parents and carers can make the most of the reading experience with tips on how to support comprehension and some fun extension activities they can try. Yellow Band texts begin to introduce punctuation marks and Zab’s antics give plentiful opportunities for exclamations! Beautifully designed and with vibrant, witty illustrations, this is a fun read that will really engage and encourage beginner readers.
In a nutshell: Rafe Khatchadorian heads down under In this special episode of the hugely popular Middle School series, Rafe Khatchadorian, surely everyone’s favourite reformed troublemaker, has won a special art competition, first prize an all-expenses paid trip to Australia. Rafe isn’t sure he wants to go – he’s worried about snakes, sharks and all those other deadly indigenous creatures – but Australia isn’t ready for Rafe either: by the end of the book he and his mum, who accompanies him, are facing down an angry mob waving pitchforks. Finding out just what leads up to this is very funny indeed and readers will be pleased to hear that Rafe still returns home something of a hero. Kids everywhere will identify with Rafe, and especially those who just can’t help attracting trouble; he’s a very special hero, and Patterson’s narrative technique means the pages turn almost by themselves. ~ Andrea Reece
Surrender yourself to the new hypnotic spell of the Demon Headmaster, with new kids, a new school, and a new thrilling scheme for world domination. Fast paced and action packed adventure, written by the award-winning Gillian Cross. Resistance is not an option. Lovereading Review to follow.
One of the great characters of children’s books, the Demon Headmaster rules his school with his sea-green eyes through which he hypnotises the pupils. When Dinah arrives she sets up SPLAT, a group designed to protect the pupils from the head’s paranormal powers and to break his dictatorship. From the very first day at her new school, Dinah can see that something is horribly wrong. The children are strangely neat and well-behaved and they even work during break. What's going on? How can she find out the truth? And what is the secret of the Headmaster's control? A brilliant spooky series for readers aged eight upwards who relish stories with intriguing plots and sharply contrasting characters.