Monday, 29 June 2015

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book Roundup June 2015: "Dragons, Stardust, Ravens and Skulls!"

"How to Train your Dragon (HTTYD Book 1) by Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III (and Cressida Cowell, of course!)(Hodder Children's Books)

Our Chapter Book roundups seem to come around so quickly and this month we've a treat in store. Re-covered versions of the fabulous "How to Train your Dragon" series by megastar Cressida Cowell. Charlotte has been badgering me to try and grab a couple of copies of these books and Hodder were fantastic, sending us this first book and an illustrated guide.

For all the flashy action-fuelled teen-angsty stuff that kids will know from the Dreamworks "How to Train your Dragon" movies, with their tousle-haired but handsome Hiccup riding his trusty steed Toothless, we hugely prefer Cressida's books - shoving aside all that glitzy nonsense for good old-fashioned adventure and some quite near the knuckle humour at times.

In this first book, Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III lets us in on his trade secrets, of how he became a notorious dragon whisperer and how the folk of the Isles of Berk took to the skies on their dragon steeds. With the last novel in the series arriving later this year, there's no better time to go right back to the original (first published all the way back in 2003) and soak up Cressida's fabulous characters, atmospheric Viking settings and a whole ton of dragon-chasing fun.

"How to Train your Dragon (Book 1)" is available from Hodder Children's books.

More off the wall humour now...step inside a very prestigious seat of learning...

"Stardust Academy" by Siobhan Rowden (Scholastic)

Fame is everything in our next book, "Stardust Academy" by Siobhan Rowden. Luvvies left and right star in this humorous tale of a young dapper whippersnapper who accidentally wins a place at the titular stage school. Young Vip definitely DOES NOT want to be famous, but surrounded by wannabe actors, singers and dancers and under the steely gaze of headmistress Fenella Stardust, can he possibly resist the lure of the spotlights, the smell of the crowd and the roar of the greasepaint?

Siobhan's humorous slapstick comedy is a must for any kids who rather fancy the idea of stumbling onto the stage of "Britain's Got Talent" (and hopefully mooning at Amanda flipping wossherface's rictus grin!)

"Stardust Academy" is out now from Scholastic.

Skulls next then? How's yer bony bonce?

"Skullduggery Pleasant (Book 9): The Dying of the Light" by Derek Landy (HarperCollins Children's Books)

Oh BOY have we got some catching up to do, since this is the 9th and final book in Derek Landy's fantastic spooky best-selling series. "Skullduggery Pleasant: The Dying of the Light" brings this whopping story to a close.

As Valkyrie, Darquesse and Stephanie face a final showdown, the end is near.

The War of the Sanctuaries has been won, but it was not without its casualties. Following the loss of Valkyrie Cain, Skulduggery Pleasant must use any and all means to track down and stop Darquesse before she turns the world into a charred, lifeless cinder.

And so he draws together a team of soldiers, monster hunters, killers, criminals… and Valkyrie’s own murderous reflection.

The war may be over, but the final battle is about to begin. There will be shocks, heart-wrenching moments and a finale that will (quite possibly literally) blow your tiny little mind.

If you've not caught any of Derek Landy's exquisitely dark and exciting series, now's definitely the right time!

"Skullduggery Pleasant (Book 9): The Dying of the Light" is out now from HarperCollins Children's books.

Last but by no means least, a series I loved as a child comes back for a whole new generation of book lovers...

Arabel's Raven by Joan Aitken, Illustrated by Quentin Blake (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

Arabel and her cheeky raven Mortimer, created by Joan Aitken with fantastic illustrations by Quentin Blake, actually arrived way back in 1972 but the stories are as fab and funny as ever, and though Joan Aitken passed away in 2002, she stands to become something of a book legend all over again with children who may not have heard of her before (quick, someone get them a copy of "The Wolves of Willoughby Chase - STAT!")

Arabel is a fairly ordinary everyday little girl who happens to have a pet raven called Mortimer (we're never actually sure who owns who here, by the way). Arabel's adventures with Mortimer definitely AREN'T everyday however, and the quick witted girl and her clever bird are never far from trouble it seems.

I always remember these books being brilliant (and always seemed to remember them being rather too popular in our school library, all our copies were practically falling to bits) so it was ace to catch up with the books all over again.

Fans of Roald Dahl and David Walliams are in for a madcap treat with the newly reissued Arabel and Mortimer stories so don't miss the very first book, "Arabel's Raven" once again out in Paperback from Frances Lincoln Children's Books.

(As a bonus treat, check out this fantastic Jackanory clip of "Mortimer's Portrait on Glass" read by the awesome Roy Kinnear -

Phew! We need a lie down and a cup of tea after that little lot. Join us again in July for even more Chapter Book greatness!