Spring has definitely Sprung!

Faber & Faber, 9780571337804

Hayley, the Hairy Horse” by Gavin Puckett and Tor Freeman is a delightful story for younger readers in which a horse is kidnapped for her tail hair, because it is perfect for violin strings.  It is colourfully illustrated and has plenty of laughs to keep a young reader totally engrossed in the story

ZaZaKids & Troika, 9781909991897

Spot Guevara: Hero Dog” by Zaro Weil and Katy Riddell is set in New York City and is the story of a young puppy, Spot, who has been separated from his mother and siblings.This follows his adventures as he tries to find them, in what is a very big City.  There are ups and downs, heroes and villains  and above all there is the indomitable spirit of the young puppy.  It was a truly uplifting story with a happy ending, but with potential for more adventures.

Nosy Crow, 9781788004695

Clifftoppers: the Arrowhead Moor Adventure” by Fleur Hitchcock  can only be described as a ripping yarn as the young heroes find themselves trying to stop a jewellery robbery.  This definitely harks back to stories that many of us remember from our youth; although I must have been one of a small number of children who did not read Enid Blyton, because she was not stocked by our local library service.

Nosy Crow, 9781788000413

“We Won an Island” by Charlotte Lo is another story that harks back to a more laid back past, although there is plenty of action and adventure in this story.  When the children win a competition to gain an island it is very timely as their parents are about to be thrown out of their flat, due to non payment of their rent.  However life on a Scottish island has its challenges, not least having enough money to live on and the children come up with some exciting and very  interesting plans to try and make a success of their new life.

Faber & Faber, 9780571346301

“The Secret Starling” by Judith Eagle follows the adventures of the young heroine Clara after she is abandoned by her Uncle (and Guardian).  With the help of a young boy, Peter, she heads off to London to try and find out how her mother died and where her unknown father might be.  This is a lovely middle grade story with a fascinating twist at the end.

Little Tiger, 9781788950329

“The Golden Butterfly” by Sharon Gosling has a real sense of theatre about it, Victorian Theatre to be precise.  When her grandfather the Magnificent Marko dies his funeral is interrupted by a stage magician called Thursby who is searching for a magic trick called ‘The Golden Butterfly’. Luciana  and her best friend Charley decide to go to London to try and solve the mystery of this trick.  This is a wonderfully atmospheric story, with a real message about women being equal and the struggle that they have often had to be accepted.

David Fickling, 9781788450218

“Dragon Daughter” by Liz Flanagan is a real treat for those who love fantasy and dragons in particular.  When Milla witnesses a murder she also saves a small bag that appears to contain four eggs, only these turn out to be very special indeed.  How Milla and her friends bond with the four baby dragons and save them from the plotting of the ruling Duke makes for a truly exciting and magical story.  It is definitely a story to savour and recommend.

Bloomsbury Education, 9781472955999

“Golden Horsemen of Baghdad” by Saviour Pirotta is set in medieval Baghdad;  a complete change from the ancient Greek setting that the author is so well known for.  The young hero Jabir has to help his family survive after the death of his father, but their landlord is determined to throw them out of their home.  Can Jabir use his skill as a carver in order to make money and save his family, or will the evil landlord succeed?  This is a super story that introduces children to a culture that they might not be truly aware of.

“POG” by Padraig Kenny is a magical stand-alone story about two children (and their father)who move to their mother’s childhood home after her death.  They are struggling to come to terms with their grief and find that the appearance of a small very hairy individual might help them.  There is a very subtle underlying theme which has the story coming somewhat ‘full circle’.  It is an extremely thought provoking read.

Chicken House, 9781910655986

“A Witch Come True” by James Nicol is the final ? instalment of this magical series for young people.  Arianwyn has been taken to their hearts, so there will be great rejoicing that things seem to have worked out in the end.  However our heroine has to undergo even more tribulations in this final book before we can say that all is well.  This series is hopefully going to become a classic and I am delighted by the hint from the publisher that more adventures could be possible.

Chicken House, 9781911077008

“Against all Gods” by Maz Evans is the final book in this series featuring the Greek Gods.  Elliot is still trying to get his mother back from Hades and prevent his home being bought by the evil Patricia Porshley-Plum.  Everything seems to be going wrong and even the gods seem lost about what to do.  The book had me veering between laughter and tears, in the same way that a roller-coaster goes up and down, but it was worth all of the emotion.  What a brilliant series in the way it combines the serious and the silly.

Macmillan, 9781509871223

“Kat Wolfe Investigates” by Lauren St John and Beidi Guo is the story of a young girl  who moves to a small seaside village in Dorset when her mother takes up the role of local vet.  She starts animal sitting as a way to earn pocket money, but doesn’t expect to find that there are mysterious goings on in the local area.  Before long Kat finds herself caught up with possible spies, the army and the British secret service.  It is a great adventure for those who love mysteries.

OUP, 9780192771568

“The House of Light” by Julia Green is set in a dystopian culture that feels as if it is on the Scottish coast or Islands.  The people are tightly controlled by officials and armed police and there appears to have been a major ecological disaster in the past.  Bonnie’s mother had left several years before, in an attempt to find a better place, leaving her daughter with her Granda.  When a boy called Ish has his boat beached near her home it brings the idea of leaving closer to being possible.  This is a story to make you think about the world we are creating and what the future could mean for our grandchildren.  Yet another superb story from a wonderful writer.

 

This has been just a look at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to new books this spring.  Whilst looking through my collection I found another great selection of books that I have really enjoyed over the winter months.  I hope to be able to bring them to you in the next few weeks, but before then I am off to the Federation of Children’s Book Groups Conference, so there are bound to be even more titles to go on my TBR pile.

The Chickens are hatching

Barry Cunningham

“What on earth is she going on about?  What Chickens?”  Well in the publishing world this can only mean the fantastic Chicken House Books, founded and run by the amazing Barry Cunningham (yes, he did sign up J K Rowling).  Yesterday I had the great pleasure of attending one of their ‘Big Breakfast’ events, where they present authors and books for the coming year.  It was held in central London, in the rather elegant surroundings of Home House (pronounced Hume like the prime minister?) and we were fed with a range of pastries and loads of tea and coffee.

The event started with an introduction to all of the authors and their books, luckily we were given packs with details of these to take home.  Although the emphasis was on the first six months of the year, there were several titles that will be coming out in the autumn.  We were delighted that so many of the authors were able to attend (I think I counted 10 or 11), however several of the American writers were understandably not there.  The highlight of the day was when several of the authors read excerpts from their new works.  They were all consummate performers and a far cry from the old days, when writers often found it difficult to communicate in person.

 

“Alice Jones: the Ghost Light” by Sarah Rubin.  This is the second in the series about a young amateur sleuth called Alice Jones and I must admit to being a fan.  It fits into that group of writers who would be perfectly at home in the “Golden Age” of crime fiction, although these books are set in the current period.  A great series for those who love Robin Stevens and Katherine Woodfine.

“The White Tower” by Cathryn Constable  is a new title by the author of “Wolf Princess”.  It is describes as “Magic realism” by the publicity and is definitely one that is on my TBR list.

“Mafiosa” by Catherine Doyle is aimed at the older teen and is the climax of the “Blood for Blood” trilogy.  Those who enjoyed the preceding  novels “Vendetta” and “Inferno” will no doubt devour this latest offering and also those who like a gritty and powerful take on their thrillers.

“The Secret Keepers” by Trenton Lee Stewart.  this is the start of a new series by the author of “The Mysterious Benedict Society” and it will be loved by those who like their fantasy/mystery to include a little bit of ‘playing with time’.  A watch that can make you invisible for 15 minutes could be very useful, but villains chasing after you are less welcome.  I am really looking forward to reading this in the next few weeks.

Maz Evans and Gemma Fowler

“Who Let the Gods out” by Maz Evans  is a debut novel and features the Gods of Olympus, but not perhaps at their best.  I have been looking forward to this for several months now and have started reading it, so no doubt a fuller comment will be added later.  Since ‘Percy Jackson’ we have seen many authors writing about the various pantheons of gods and I think this may well be up there with the other really good ones.

“The Elephant Thief” by Jane Kerr is due out in March and is a historical novel set in the Victorian period.  When you mix a lonely young urchin with a circus elephant and then send them on a journey it is likely that all kinds of adventures will happen.  This sounds like a book with a warm glow to it.

“Amy Chelsea Stacie Dee” by Mary G Thompson.  This sounds as if it is  not for the faint-hearted but it is sure to find a strong following with those who want a strong story-line and a plot that will take them on a roller-coaster ride.  The age advisory is 14+  for this one

“Moondust” by Gemma Fowler is one of the sci-fi thrillers that seem to be making a splash at the moment.  It is all about mining for a new energy source on the Moon and has strong themes about the environment as well as about the joys and perils of being a teenager.

M G Leonard

“Beetle Queen” by M G Leonard.  this is the second in her “Beetle Boy” series and is due out in April.  I was very  lucky last year and tool the author out to several schools. She was  tremendous  and the original “Beetle Boy” has seen huge success with lots of award nominations.  I can’t wait to read more about the female villain that makes Cruella de Ville look like a cuddly kitten.

“Bigfoot, Tobin and Me” by Melissa Savage.  We are having to wait until May for this story, but from what I have seen, it will be well worth the wait.  Aimed at the 9+ age group it is about dealing with grief, and since the author is a paediatric grief therapist it is safe to assume that she knows her subject. This is one I am really looking forward to.

“The Island at the end of Everything” by Kiran Millwood  Hargrave is a story of a young girl living with her mother on the leper colony of Culion Island.  When all healthy people are evicted from the island, Ami decides to try and return so that she can see her mother before she dies.  I get the feeling that you should not be reading this on public transport due to the “Heartbreaking” parts of the story.

A P Winter and Lisa Drakeford

“The Boy who went Magic” by A P Winter is described in the publicity as “being perfect for fans of Eoin Colfer”.  It is a fantasy, with just a hint of Steam punk (judging by the picture), so I think I am really going to enjoy this one.  It is aimed at what is now called ‘Middle Grade’, so the 10+ age range and will make a great summer read.

Three others that will be coming out later in the year are:

“The Crash” by Lisa Drakeford, which is aimed at the teen market and involves the aftermath of a car smashing in to the sitting room of a house.

“Witch Alone” by James Nicol is the follow up to the very successful “Apprentice Witch”, so this is bound to be another huge hit.

“Secret Cooking Club: Confetti and cake”  by Laurel Remington is the second in this series and I am very hopeful that it will live up to the high standards of the first book.

As you can see, we were spoilt with all the amazing authors and books that were presented at the big breakfast and I am going to have a lot of reading in the coming year.  I hope that you will find some titles that will suit you, or the young people you work with.