Archives for category: For 9 – 12 Years

Published by Orion Books

This reminds me a little of Welcome to Nowhere (Elizabeth Laird’s book on the Syrian refugee crisis); this though is a tale of Tibet, of bravery, adventure, secrets, mountains, danger, and two extraordinary yaks. It is another story about man’s inhumanity to man – but it is also a tale of hope. Tash and Sam attempt to travel to India from Tibet by yak, hoping to meet the Dalai Lama and perhaps make some contribution to change.

The chapters are small, no more than a few pages, with beautifully decorated leaves in between. Simply and clearly written it is a powerful novel.

I now want to visit Tibet, the mountains and perhaps to be introduced to a yak or a dri…I suspect they are rather special creatures.

 

Published by Puffin Books.

Some of you may have read The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd, some years ago. This volume continues the adventures of Ted Spark – just three months after he solved the mystery of what happened to Salim, his cousin who, (if you didn’t guess, or know) disappeared off the London Eye. This is Ted’s second mystery – set around the theft of a picture from the Guggenheim museum in New York.

I have dipped into The London Eye Mystery, but haven’t yet managed to read it; it sells itself by word of mouth, and I do like to encourage new good books. I have read enough though to be happy to include it in my piles, with the notation that though not read by me yet, I believe it to be good. I will be reading it very soon; I loved The Guggenheim Mystery – its brilliant and extremely well written.

Ted Sparks is rather a unique character – and having a trip to New York to see Salim should be a holiday to remember, but not for his aunt being arrested for theft….

Robin Stevens is the author of the Wells and Wong detective novels.  There are six so far, and are very distinctive cover wise, with very bright covers. I have read the first in the series (I have too many books to read to try them all) – and wrote a post about it some time ago. This is very different – set mainly in New York, and is a brilliant bit of deduction.

So, for all those potential Poirots, Christies, Holmeses, Chestertons e.t.c that are out there – do read the Wells and Wong books, but start with The London Eye Mystery (Siobhan Dowd), then this and then disappear into Murder Most Unladylike. They will keep you out of mischief for some time to come!

Do remember, though, to read as wide a range of authors as possible – it is very easy to just follow one; only to miss out on new potentially superb authors. Its important for your health to eat a wide ranging diet, the same is true for reading – your English will improve if you read many different authors…(they use different words, and their use of language is different)…. It makes reading more interesting and food, quite extraordinary…

The titles in the Wells & Wong series so far run to six:

Murder Most UnladylikeArsenic for Tea, First Class Murder, Jolly Foul Play, Mistletoe and Murder and Cream Buns and Crime.

There are also two mini volumes: The Case of the Blue Violet and The Case of the Deepdean Vampire.

 

Published by Macmillan Children’s Books.

I recently organised a school event for Elizabeth Laird and at the end one of the boys asked Elizabeth Laird which was her favourite book, that she had written. It was obviously a very difficult question; her reply much the same as many parents’ – she loves them all, however, she did go on to say that the character Ben, in the story, was based around her younger brother, and so perhaps, if pushed this is her favourite.

This is the story of Anna’s family – her Mum, Dad, little sister, Katy and their new baby brother Ben. It is a tale of growing up, of accepting responsibilities, of acknowledging who you are, and who other people are too – along with realising that love comes in many forms and ways. It is a story of a family dealing with someone special, who though severely disabled, has a massive impact on the family.  Sometimes in a good way, and at other times taking all the attention.

The preface explains just a little about Elizabeth’s relationship with her brother Alistair – the positives and the negatives. Superb.

 

Published by Faber & Faber

This is Emma Carroll’s latest novel. It is set in the Second World War and encompasses the blitz, refugees, and evacuation – friendship, bravery and a little bit of luck – well more than a little. It will become a classic – there’s mystery and danger from the first page – it is a real page turner – a book that details the sense, and atmosphere of a very dark time in our history.

This is the first book of Emma Carroll’s that I have read – which is slightly embarrassing; five others are listed in the front, and her seventh book – The Lost Boy is being advertised in the back. Well written, edgy and engrossing. Superb.

 

Published by Canongate

I haven’t finished this one yet – and must admit to being attracted to the book first, because of its cover. I do read a lot of ‘children’s books’ – and mostly ignore the dust jackets and covers, as often they have very little to do with the content. A good book can have an appalling cover; and the reverse, sadly is also true. This one though I picked up initially as it had a sticker on it saying it glows in the dark, which I suppose does indicate that stickers work…(though do see below). The dust jacket does glow in the dark – they haven’t given the boards the same treatment – but as far as that goes, it does. That is not the reason to buy this book.

This is book one of the Worldquake Books  – a new trilogy to rival Harry Potter, yes, to rival Harry Potter. It is a story about a library, another world, and books – books that can pull characters through into another world all together.

It is very clever – and without doubt a series that should be given more publicity than it has so far.

Effie Truelove goes to a school with a rather wonderful name: the Tusitala School for the Gifted, Troubled and Strange along with her friends, Maximilian, Wolf, Lexy and Raven – and the name of the school is reflected in her and her friends’ characters.  Effie inherits her grandfather’s library along with other gifts, but these are not handed down to her as they should be.  A book collector manages to get his hands on them – and that is just the start.

There are some wonderful vignettes in the book – one of the princesses, who has managed not to be eaten by the dragon…has a t-shirt with the statement ‘Badass Gristle’ on it – which I thought was a lovely touch –

This is a trilogy not to be missed…

Harry Potter has taken the world – there are numerous spin-offs from the original 7 volumes – the Red Nose & Beedle the Bard books, the 8 films, the books of the films, wands, time-turners, snitches, hats, cloaks, owls, board games, jewellery, maps, watches, snow globes, nodding headed manikins, events around the books, (at least on a six month cycle), notebooks, badges, a new film about one of the characters, a play, and the scripts from the new film and the play, toys – the list is never ending…but, fundamentally there were seven, just 7 books. Everything else hangs from those.

This trilogy could rival those books – without a doubt. They won’t have the paraphernalia attached to them or the fans yet, but hopefully they will in time.

If you don’t want to visit another Potter Event, or to have another edition of the same books you already have, and are perhaps, dare I say this, a little Potter-weary, whether temporarily or otherwise, you might do worse than to pick up this small volume and begin to follow Effie’s adventures.   If you are still enjoying Potter-mania – all to the good – you will without any doubt at all enjoy this new trilogy as well – buy it and read it.

My only slight reservations about this book are that the illustration on the dust jacket (that one that glows in the dark) – shows a girl in silhouette – who looks a little older than I feel is right and someone has decided to put a pink sticker on my dust jacket that states – This Book Glows in the Dark.

I  hate stickers on books -whether booksellers’ or publishers’.  With all the will in the world, they invariably can’t be removed easily – and are a distraction from the design of the books if left in place or worse, leave a mess behind if removed. A bookmark with a note stating that the dust jacket is a special edition and glows – or a note to the booksellers to make us aware, would have been better…but that is one of those bug-bears of my life… I have to admit, the sticker did bring my attention to the book – but mainly because it was there – I’d have much preferred a nicely designed bookmark…

Volume 2 The Chosen Ones is due out in April 2018, and volume 3, Keepers in April 2019 – keep an eye out, but be aware it may be that the titles change & / the publications dates shift…it does happen…

 

Published by Chicken House

This is the second book written by Kiran Hargrave – the first The Girl of Ink and Stars has just won the Waterstones Book Prize for 2017 – it was good, but not as good as this.

Ami lives on an island with her sick mother. She does most things for her as her condition worsens, however, life is good – the island is beautiful, there is fresh water, fruit, butterflies and they are together. When Ami is taken from her island to an orphanage as a result of a directive, she worries about her mother, but soon finds herself also worrying about the other children. They also have been taken from their parent’s and families to protect them; as their beautiful home is designated as a leper colony.

Moving, and rather beautiful this is the story of love, friendship, bravery and ultimately people. It is a much better book than The Girl of Ink and Stars – though that one shouldn’t be missed either. It is just that this one has much more depth.

Enjoy both – they are not connected (apart from being written by the same author), so it is no matter in which order you read them.

 

Published by Chicken House

I’m not sure I believe in Bigfoot. I’d like to believe that there are places still out there that no one reaches, where such entities might still survive. I sometimes feel we are all pervading as a species, and that this isn’t a good thing at all.

This though is a rather fun volume. Lemonade has moved recently to Willow Creek after her mother has died. The place is very different from home and she’s not sure that she will stay, if given the chance to return home. She meets though a rather earnest young naturalist / explorer, who is fascinated by all things Bigfoot and has set up his own detective agency to investigate any sightings…. This is funny, hopeful and really a rather lovely book – full of hope, acceptance and to be frank bravery.

Just remember – should you ever see Bigfoot, the first thing to do is to take a photograph.

It was a wonderful read – and I loved the cover too!

 

Published by Walker Books

This is a wonderful science fiction volume, set initially in Norway and then in London. It is the story of William Wenton a boy fascinated by all things to do with codes. It doesn’t matter in what form – they just draw him to them, and he enjoys pitting his wits against those who think they can out-wit him. His parents moved to Norway with him when his grandfather disappeared, some eight years before the book really begins. At the same time, everything about him was changed. Even his name. The book begins with a mystery and then spirals down into something quite extraordinary. It contains everything you might want in adventure, including sentient doors…

I had hoped that Bobbie Peers would be willing and able to come and be an author for one of my school events I hold each year. Sadly, this was not to be. He lives inconveniently in Norway (a place I have always wanted to visit), & it is too far to expect an author to travel. Further Waterstones won’t contribute in any practical way travel expenses of that calibre. Which is a pity – this is an excellent book and I would have loved to have included Bobbie in our yearly celebrations.

If you would like to read something engrossing and enticing, this is for you.

 

Published by Chicken House

There are not many books where you can visit the skeleton of one of the main characters in a museum. This is the story of Maharajah who walked from Edinburgh to Manchester in 1872 and whose remains are to be found in Manchester Museum.

This fictional account of a true story relates the adventures of a young boy who becomes involved in a wager which has far reaching consequences for this urchin of the streets. It is a story of friendship, rivalry, bravery, and a tale of treachery too.

This is the story of an Indian Elephant – the elephant whose remains are in the museum. The story relates the story of an African pachyderm – but otherwise, in all essentials, the story is a true one. Jane Kerr has just added quantity of good quality adventure into the mix.

This is a wonderful book – sensitively and well written – a must buy. Then we must all travel up to Manchester to visit the original Maharajah.

NB. Just a small note – the wonderful elephant illustrated on the cover was done by Chris Wormell – a superb artist who has ‘done’ many other books too – and this one is one of his best… See also George and the Dragon / Two Frogs….to name just two beautiful picture books written & illustrated by him.

Published by Usborne

I am regularly asked to find scary books for young gentlemen who visit the store. This can be a difficult request to fulfil. Many of the young adult books are certainly not suitable for 9 – 12 years, whether because of language, plot or because they are fundamentally not just not appropriate.

This has a wonderfully creepy and scary cover with a young Victorian girl and boy, a mummified cat (part unwrapped) and of course a depiction of a mummy leaning over the title towards them.

The book is set in that ‘wonderful’ period when the Victorians were returning home from their travels with Egyptian artefacts, which they then either kept in their private museums. The Egyptian mummies suffered further indignities, not to say sacrilege. It became the fashion to hold events where the bodies were unwrapped in front of guests who came to see the performance.   The idea that an Egyptian from Ancient Egypt might object to this – seems to have been ignored. I have often thought that they would have preferred to have been left in the sands…but there you go.

Andrew Beasley has taken this idea and developed the story from that – and it’s a very good, beautifully scary volume – with a little more edge than is usual.

There were one or two wonderful vignettes one relates to a ruffian named Tosher, who’s method of keeping body and soul together is by masquerading as a lady selling beauty products. When our hero starts to ask him some questions, there is this rather wonderful passage:

Tosher shrugged his broad shoulders and reached down into the front of his dress. He pulled out an apple, leaving his chest oddly lopsided. He took a bite. “Want one?” he asked. “I’ve got a spare.”

The heroine, a youngster who has had polio and moves around mainly with a wheel chair is feisty and a brilliant. She has been educated as a young lady. His education has come from the back streets.

I am pleased to note an advertisement for S.C.R.E.A.M. The Carnival of Monsters in the back of the book, which is also due to be published, if it hasn’t already – I am certain a brilliant companion volume to this.

Adam Beasley also wrote the Ben Kingdom Trilogy, (The Battles of Ben Kingdom: The Claws of Evil, The Feast of Ravens and The City of Fear) also set in Victorian times – which I thought were brilliant. He is obviously an author to watch and to follow.