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The books in this section range from around 400 AD and include the Viking invasions, up to 1066 and The Norman Conquest, which marked the end of the Anglo-Saxon period.
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July 2020 Book of the Month | Set in the author’s native Wales during the dark days of the fifth century, Ellen Caldecott’s The Short Knife is an energetic, edge-of-your-seat page-turner with present-day resonance as 21st-century Britain - island of migrants - faces the challenge of forging an identity independent of continental Europe. With the Romans compelled to leave Britain after 400 years, the island is on the brink of collapse. Amidst this uncertainty and the chaos of Saxon invasion, thirteen-year-old Mai is cared for by her dad and sister (she lost her mam when she was three), and wrestling with her “anger at the people free to flee into the hills. Anger at all the world and everyone in it. I want to open my mouth and let the fire out, burn it all into blackness.” When Saxon warriors turn up at their farm, the family is forced to flee to the dangerous hills themselves. Mai must cross the threshold from childhood to adulthood if she’s to survive in a hostile world in which speaking in her mother tongue might turn out to be fatal. The cinematic scene-setting, first person narrative, and succinct, magnetically lyrical style make for a thrilling experience that will hook the most reluctant of readers. Recommended for fans of Caroline Lawrence and Damian Dibben’s The History Keepers series, this offers enlightening insights into British history with fresh flair, and through the eyes of a compelling main character.
February 2020 Book of the Month | Charlie Tanner’s dog Jasper thinks he’s descended from Viking dogs and is determined to find out more. This sparks a series of very funny letters from Charlie to the curator at the local Viking museum, in which Charlie poses questions from Jasper. In fact, questions and answers tell us lots about Viking life and the unusual and ingenious presentation makes it all extremely readable and accessible. A great way to learn about the Vikings. Jasper has explored space for readers too, and it looks he has more adventures to come, which is good news.
Lincoln ‘Big Nate’ Peirce’s new book is a brilliantly funny story of knights, troubadours, wizards and derring-do, all played out via a snappy mix of text and illustrations. Max is a troubadour in training with Uncle Budrick. Max however really doesn’t want to be a troubadour, but a knight. A series of mishaps lead the two to Byjovia, where Uncle Budrick is imprisoned by wicked King Gastley. With the support of a gang of young friends, aka the Midknights, is this Max’s chance to be a hero? The adventures come thick, fast and very funny and there are surprises in every chapter. Readers who like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Captain Underpants or the 13-Storey Treehouse series will lap this up, but it’s hard to see anyone not enjoying these hilarious adventures.
July 2018 Debut of the Month | One of our 2018 Books of the Year | Historian Janina Ramirez’s TV programmes are as inspiring as they are informative. Her passion for Viking history comes through loud and clear in this story for young readers, which is also inspiring, and a great crime mystery too. Young Alva lives with her mother, uncle, baby brother and pet wolf Fenrir in the Viking settlement Kilsgard. Her father is away ‘a-Viking’ and much missed. The peace of their community is disturbed by the arrival of an English monk. He says he’s on the trail of treasure – certain to catch Viking attention – but has been attacked, a companion kidnapped. Alva is determined to investigate and soon on the trail, at first independently, then as semi-official assistant to her investigator uncle. The mystery comes closer to home still when the two discover secret messages from Alva’s father amongst the clues. Readers will pick up a real sense of Viking life as they compulsively turn the pages of this gripping adventure and Alva is a great new character in children’s books. Readers who can’t wait for the next book in the series will enjoy Caroline Lawrence’s historical crime series The Pinkerton Mysteries or the Artie Conan Doyle series by Robert J. Harris.
Seth’s not like other boys, he can see people from the past wherever he goes. The installation of new floodlights at his football team Halifax Town’s ground seems to reanimate a violent episode from local history, something that threatens everyone. When his mum talks to Seth about his father, who could also see ghosts, Seth finds the courage to do what has to be done. It’s a thrilling story, one that shows how the past still informs everything we do, as well as demonstrating that there’s a superhero in each of us. Number three in a series, it can be read as a stand-alone and, in Barrington Stoke style, has been written so that all readers can enjoy it.
Interest Age 5-8 | When Norman the Norman from Normandy’s dad, Great Big Norman, is killed in a fight (with ten Bretons from Brittany), Norman swears to visit every one of this dad’s three graves (long story) to pay his respects. He sets off with this dad’s HUGE sword on his not-very-wild boar Truffle and, without meaning to, indeed often without even noticing, avenges his father’s death. If that sounds quite bloodthirsty, it sort of is, but more than that, in the hands of this gifted comedy partnership, it’s just very, very funny. Part of Barrington Stoke’s excellent Little Gems series, this packs more laughs and entertainment into its short extent than books three times the length. High quality cream paper and a special easy to read font ensure a smooth read for all.
King Vortigern thinks he's so clever but his servant Mervyn knows he is playing a dangerous game. Can Mervyn keep the King safe from the invading Saxons, Pictish raiders, and a beautiful Saxon princess? Join master storyteller Terry Deary for a trip back in time to Saxon times and an exciting adventure. Book band: Grey Ideal for ages: 8+
An action-packed Anglo-Saxon tale of one boy's journey to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The story of one Anglo-Saxon boy's journey to the Battle of Hastings in 1066: Key Stage 2 History brought to life as battle-packed adventure. 1065: Magnus is the son of Harold Godwinson, lord of the Southern Saxons and ruthlessly ambitious claimant to the throne of England. Overnight, Magnus finds himself cast centre-stage in the blood-soaked family feud that led to one of history's most famous battles. This is the family tragedy behind 1066: live it with Magnus, as the wolves of history close in on his Anglo-Saxon boyhood.
This striking, energetic series of which this is one of the titles, takes a rapid-fire ‘look and learn’ approach to subjects suitable for children aged 8 and over and each title makes the learning experience really fun. With fascinating topics ranging from Dinosaurs to Art, from Myths to Science, each of these books presents a key subject in a fresh and fascinating format. The subjects in each title are explained in 30-second sound-bites, supported by 3-second flash summaries. And if all that isn’t stimulating enough, the 3-minute mini-missions included will further challenge lively young minds. With colourful, original explanatory artwork on every page and text from a range of expert authors, these books are loaded with fun information and fast-track facts.
Prize-winning Neil Gaiman tells a witty and touching story about gods and magic in Viking times. Having run away from home, Odd finds shelter in a little hut in the forest. Here, he meets a bear, a fox and an eagle all of whom seems determined to befriend him. Soon, Odd discovers these are no ordinary animals and that they badly need his help to save the City of Asgard from the Frost Giants who have invaded it. With his cheerful temperament and quick thinking, Odd is just the kind of imaginative hero they need and a wonderful battle for power unfolds. Chris Riddell's enchanting pen and ink illustrations throughout bring the magic to life.
Refreshed, renewed, reloaded! Readers can discover all the foul facts aboutthe Smashing Saxons, including: who got cow pats as Christmas presents, why wearing a pig on your head is lucky and how to make a dead Saxon happy. Refreshed with a fantastic new design, these bestselling titles are sure to be a huge hit with yet another generation of Terry Deary fans. With shiny foil cover
The fantastically brilliant and amazingly adventurous Saga of Erik the Viking by Terry Jones returns in this 30th anniversary edition with an exclusive foreword from Terry who is of course, most famous for his membership of the Monty Python team. It is a wonderful tale, expertly spun, which won the Children’s Book Award back in the 1980s and is fully illustrated throughout in colour by Michael Foreman. As Erik and the crew of the Golden Dragon set sail in search of adventure and to find out where the sun goes at night, little do they know that their courage, skill, strength and stamina will all be tested to the extremes. They must win through against storms, against the dogfighters, against giants and enchantments, face up to spirits and to trolls. Read it to find out whether they achieve their goal...
For some thrilling real life action and adventure, you won’t get much better than Tony Bradman’s Harald Hardnut. The most reluctant reader will devour it quickly. Plenty of fighting and killing and far more interesting and compelling than the way Vikings are taught in the classroom but just as informative. This book is part of Barrington Stoke’s ‘Reality Check’ series of stories that are stranger than fiction and rest assured it’s also a great way to be more informed about science. Perfect for Reluctant Readers as well as keen readers. To view other titles we think are suitable for reluctant readers please click here.
For his third adventure, Tom is off on a Viking longboat. The sea is dangerous and the weather is atrocious. Will Tom be able to survive the extreme cold and reach his goal before the Vikings begin another deadly raid? Join two brave heroes on one incredible treasure hunt through the most exciting moments in history. This is the third book in a new time-travelling series - perfect for fans of Beast Quest. We asked some lucky readers to review the first in the Time Hunters series - Gladiator Clash...click here to see what they thought!
Follow Henry as he tells you all about life in a castle. Learn how to make a bow and arrow, why did knights have coats of arms?, what life was like in the Great Hall as well as life down in the servants’ quarters and in the kitchens. Find out about suits of armour and jousting and what goes on at a banquet. Both the words and pictures in graphic cartoon style, take readers on a great journey into the past. To view all the titles in this brilliant series collaboration between Philip Ardagh and Mike Gordon click here or here to see more of Philip Ardagh's books, including the Grubtown Tales.
Jokes flow thick and fast from this most original and inventive Viking adventure, which launched the career of a Viking with a difference. Hiccup Horrendous Haddock grew up at a time of dragons but he was not always a hero. He had to learn to fight them. To do so he had to pass the Dragon Initiation Programme, an awesome schedule run by Gobber the Belch, idiot in charge of initiation on the Isle of Berk. Hiccup was by no means a natural high achiever when it came to dragon training but after many hilarious mishaps, he soon got the hang of it and was on the way to becoming a Hero. If you would prefer the edition with a film tie-in cover then click here.
One of the best known and best loved stories in mythology, how a small boy pulls the sword from the stone thus proving that he is its rightful keeper and so also the future king has enchanted generations of readers. Helped by the wizard Merlin, the boy becomes King Arthur and round him gathers the Knights of the Round Table, his companions in the quest for the Holy Grail. This retelling brings alive the court of Arthur and the individual characteristics – good and bad – of the knights of his court. In his introduction, David Almond describes how he was spellbound by the book as a child and remains spellbound every time he rereads it. Add on material gives a useful who’s who or Camelot’s characters.
Nothing strikes strength, courage, and valour into the heart like tales of Arthurian legend. Morpurgo does very well again to get that sense of magical mysticism into the story of the Knights of the Round Table. Will be enjoyed particularly by boys and girls will a sense of adventure.