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Everything that is wonderful about Christmas (and some things that aren’t!) is thrillingly spun about in this deliciously magical and madcap adventure. Homeless Blanche has never had any real Christmas but when the mysterious Rinki gives her a magical bauble and some mince pies on Christmas Day everything changes. Rinki and Blanche are firm friends forever and together they are about to rewrite the Santa story. Santa Claus, elf magic, delicious Christmas food and drink, and a wonderful sleigh ride are all thrown into the mix as a very merry Christmas for all – except the sinister Mr Krampus – follows.
Extinct is the spectacular full colour book series from leading evolutionary biologist and broadcaster Professor Ben Garrod. In his trademark lively and accessible style, Garrod makes top level science accessible to everyone as he explores the story of life on earth and the forces that have brought about the extinction and near-extinction of eight iconic species. The protégé of Dr Jane Goodall and David Attenborough’s co-presenter on Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur, Garrod kicks off the series with three books focusing on the landscape of a mass extinction and an animal that we have lost in each. Meticulously researched full colour illustrations by top palaeoartist Gabriel Ugueto further reveal everything we never knew about extinction.
Set in ancient Rome, during the terrifying rule of Caligula in fact, Annelise Gray’s book is a mix of history, adventure and horses – a winning combination! Dido’s father trains riders and horses for the famous, and frequently deadly Circus Maximus chariot races. She dreams of being a charioteer too but that’s not allowed, and she’s stuck watching the boys compete. When her father is murdered, Dido has to flee Rome, leaving behind her beautiful horse Porcellus. But Fate will bring the two of them together again, and sees Dido compete in the Circus after all. The story of Dido, Porcellus and their fellow riders and horses makes for thrilling reading. Gray transports the reader to Rome in a hoofbeat, places, people and the dangerous times vividly brought to life. Caligula plays a part in the book, and he’s not the only real person to do so – watch out for Cassius Chaerea too – but Dido is the star, as she makes her way in Rome’s macho world, determined to set her own path and avenge her father. A superb historical adventure story. If Dido’s story sets readers looking for more classical adventures, as it undoubtedly will, point them to Caroline Lawrence’s Roman Mysteries, Rosemary Sutcliff’s Eagle of the Ninth Chronicles and Philip Womack’s The Arrow of Apollo.
Kids are always being told that if they ‘dream their dreams’ one day those dreams will come true. ‘Living the dream’ is a very different experience for 11-going-on-12-year-old Malky in Ross Welford’s absorbing, vastly entertaining novel. Blackmailed into a bungled burglary, Malky becomes owner of a set of Dreaminators, mysterious machines that make dream worlds real and give the dreamer powers to control them. At first, Malky and his co-dreamer, little brother Seb, enjoy their night-time adventures, especially those in a Stone Age world closely based on Seb’s favourite storybook where they make friends, go hunting, and Seb has high hopes of riding a mammoth. If it seems too good to be true, of course it is, and as Malky’s ability to control what’s happening in his dreams weakens, everything – awake or asleep – starts to go wrong. When Seb is taken prisoner in a dream and falls into a life-threatening coma in real life, Malky has to face up to his responsibilities, not to mention the fears and anger his dreams have disguised, in one last terrifying dream. At least he has new friends there to help. The story is cleverly told and plotted, moving back and forward in time, from dream to reality, with Doctor Who ease. It’s full of humour too, e.g. a wonderful scene in the school canteen in which Malky does all the things he’s always dreamed of doing, not realising he’s actually awake. Core too are the really big things in life – friendship, love, family, learning about yourself and understanding others. It’s a book that delights in the fact that the inside of our head is bigger far than the outside. Readers who enjoy Welford’s excellent books will also race through Christopher Edge’s out-of-this world adventures.
Alston is a debut author who looked in vain for a hero or heroine who looked like him in fantasy novels – and this delivers and so much more too. Amari is a child who attends a posh school on a scholarship – but really finds it hard to fit in and avoid the bullies. Her mother is a hard-working health worker, and her brother Quinton is missing – his disappearance seems be the root of Amari’s difficulties. As the holidays approach Amari receives an invitation via a mysterious messenger to be considered for something (at this stage unexplained) – by attending an interview. From here on the story becomes a hugely imaginative, funny and compelling adventure. Magic and mystery flow thick and fast from this point on – as Amari takes her chances to prove herself and to start finding out what happened to her brother. The story takes you through the development of some close and lasting friendships, against some awful magical bullies and monsters, to an exciting and nail-biting adventurous conclusion, though it leaves a possible opening for more books about Amari in future. A wonderful fun adventure addition to every child's bookshelf and any school library looking for more representation across all it’s genres.
From fossilised feathers to long-necked lookalikes, this ingenious book is packed with so many amazing dinosaur discoveries, you'll soon become a palaeontology pro. Including jaw-dropping research that will debunk many myths about all kinds of prehistoric creatures - you'll never look at a pigeon the same way again!
The inimitable Louis Sachar has done it again in this new Wayside School caper. Sachar totally gets Primary age readers - sees the world through their eyes, speaks to them in a wry voice that rings with understanding and funny details. What’s more, the bitesize chunks of plot (essentially inter-connected vignettes that form a satisfying whole) keep readers hungry for more, while the off-the-wall (yet believable) comic characters are guaranteed to induce gaggles of giggles. As a new year begins, Mrs Jewls’s pupils have a big bunch of stuff on their plates. An Ultimate Test looms ahead of them, while a Cloud of Doom looms overhead, growing bigger and more powerful each day. Back in class, the pupils are tasked with collecting one million nail clippings to get a sense of just how massive one million is, while Mrs Jewls’s paperclip appreciation is taken to crazy heights (“she marvelled at the magnificent metal masterpiece”) when she’s revealed to keep a secret stash of them in a locked room. Then there’s Mrs Surlaw the librarian, who has a GIANT stuffed walrus and arranges books according to their length, and the author’s cameo appearance as Louis the yard teacher (fun fact - the author actually used to be Louis the yard teacher). Perfectly complemented by Aleksei Bitskoff’s wittily detailed illustrations, this is clever, comic joy. You might also love The Worst Class in the World from Joanna Nadin or the Middle School series from James Patterson.
The robot Adam-2 has been locked in the basement of a lost building for over two hundred years - until one day he is discovered by two children, and emerges into a world ruined by a civil war between humans and advanced intelligence. Hunted by both sides, Adam discovers that he holds the key to the war, and the power to end it - to destroy one side and save the other. But which side is right? Surrounded by enemies who want to use him, and allies who mistrust him, Adam must decide who - and what - he really is.
Ever since her mother left a few years ago, Annie has felt like the odd one out in her family. Her dad and brother are practical and organised - they just don't understand the way she thinks, in lines and colour. Everywhere she turns, she feels like an outsider, even at school, so she's been reluctant to get close to anyone. When a Ding-Dong-Ditch attempt goes wrong, Annie finds herself stuck making amends with Gloria, the eccentric elderly lady she disturbed. As she begins to connect with Gloria and her weird little dog, it becomes clear that Gloria won't be able to live on her own for much longer. But it's this brief and important friendship that gives Annie the confidence to let people in, and see how rich life can be when you decide to make your own luck and chart your own path to happiness.
Endling #3: The Only is the third book in an epic middle grade animal fantasy series by Katherine Applegate, Newbery Medal-winning and #1 New York Times bestselling author. Two mighty armies are preparing for war, one led by a murderous great cat and the other by a cruel, power-hungry tyrant. But a third army is quietly growing, an army led by a young girl, an army of peace. Not so long ago Byx, a dairne, was the timid youngest pup in her family. But since her family were all slaughtered by the cruel Murdano, Byx has had to leave her own kind and finds herself at the forefront of a peaceful army, serving her friend and leader, the young Lady of Nedarra. Can the courage and heart of these young friends really stand in the way of two great armies? Can peace prevail over war?
Right from the introduction, which explains that insects are not only the most numerous animals on the planet, out-numbering humans by 1.4 billion to one, but the most important, this excellent information book opens readers’ eyes to the wonders of planet insect. Attractive colour illustrations and diagrams support illuminating text which passes on facts in a way guaranteed to inspire and intrigue young readers as well as to inform them. The section on cockroaches for example, lets us know that while they have a bad reputation for breaking into buildings and spoiling food, they’re also some of the best recyclers in the animal kingdom. The book covers the huge variety of insects that exist, explaining the differences between groups and its author’s fascination with her subject is contagious. A final section encourages children to go out into gardens or parks to observe insects in their natural habitats and, inspired by what they’ve read, lots will be eager to do just that.