Thursday, 28 January 2016

Our first Chapter Book Roundup for 2016 - Here's January's selection of gorgeous Chapter books to tempt and tantalise!

Welcome back to our Chapter Book Roundups and in 2016 we'll be mixing these articles with some proper chapter book reviews. As Charlotte gets older, we're tending to cover more and more 'proper books' (as she calls them) so look out for our full reviews of titles coming soon.

In the meantime let's take a look at what's been on our reading piles over the last month, starting with a real classic that I've always (secretly) hoped Charlotte would one day read under her own steam.

Frances Hodgson Burnett's "The Secret Garden" is available in a gorgeous leatherbound edition from Barnes and Noble publishing. This new version, edited by Charles Robinson, tells the story of Mary Lennox who is sent away to live with her mysterious and quite grumpy old uncle on a sprawling estate. One day Mary finds a walled off garden and wonders what's behind the tangle of ivy and thorns. Befriending a local boy, the two explore the ruins of the garden together, vowing to restore it to its original beauty - and that's just the start of Mary's adventures!

I wondered if Charlotte would take to this, as it's obviously a lot different to the sort of chapter books she usually likes to read, but she took to it like a duck to water - testament to how gripping the story is and why it's deservedly such a well loved classic that many modern authors list it as one of their favourite books.

"The Secret Garden" is available from Barnes and Noble Publishing, released on 21st October 2015.

Something a little more regal now...

Aby King's awesome new book series has a poochy superstar as its main character, the mischievous royal dog Lupo is now the star of "Lupo and the Thief at the Tower of London" by Aby King with illustrations by Sam Usher.

Lupo may be a bit of a scamp but when there's a right royal mystery afoot, and the crown jewels are in danger of being nabbed, Lupo and his best friend Kitty can't wait to solve the mystery.

Perfect for younger readers who love exciting mystery stories (and also can't resist a waggy dog tail), "Lupo and the Thief at the Tower of London" is released on 14th January 2016, the third book in the series published by Hodder Children's Books and joining "Lupo and the Curse at Buckingham Palace" and "Lupo and the Secret of Windsor Castle" which were published in 2015.

Time for another sequel, and this time with a distinctly darker tinge...

Tatum Flynn's awesome series "The D'Evil Diaries" continues with book two, "Hell's Belles" featuring the story of Jinx who is joined by a new best friend, Tommy - who erroneously ends up on the wrong side of the mortal coil after trying to feed her evil stepfather to a circus lion (hey, it's an easy mistake to make, right?)

Jinx and Tommy might have taken on more than they bargained with as their adventures in the underworld unfold. A perfect middle grade book for children who love books by Eoin Colfer and Rick Riordan and are on the hunt for something exciting, new and original to add to their reading stacks.

"The D'Evil Diaries Book 2 - Hell's Bells" is released on 14th January 2016.

More? You want more. Oh you lot, you're insatiable. So what else is on our chapter book stack this month....?

How about a preview of an upcoming book that's likely to make you sigh "Awwww!" and "Dawwww!" an awful lot.

"Poppy's Place - The Home Made Cat Cafe" by Katrina Charman hits on the trend of 'Cat Cafes' - a concept that practically blew Charlotte's mind. "You mean there are cafes in Japan where you can go and cuddle kittens? WHY DON'T WE HAVE THOSE HERE?"

It's a good question and we were given the chance to read the first couple of chapters of Katrina's new book which Charlotte practically hugged the print off. You'll have to wait until 10th March for the full version but if the preview pages are anything to go by, with awesome illustrations by Lucy Truman to compliment Katrina's engaging story - you're going to be in moggy heaven in the spring.

A totally adorable tale in the making, we can't wait to read a proper copy. Coming in March from Stripes Publishing.

Hmmm I think we can squeeze a couple more books in, what do you think?

The "SuperFairies" stories from Janey Louise Jones and Jennie Poh have just been released by Curious Fox, perfect for your dainty little fairies at home who are beginning to demand a bit more substance from their stories. Perfectly formatted for younger readers able to handle more text-heavy stuff (such as Charlotte), they're a sheer delight as we see the fairies of Peaseblossom Wood take care of animals, and keep them out of danger.

Shown is "Basil the Bear Cub" who is a rather mischievous little fellow who needs some help and guidance, and to be steered away from danger by the Superfairies when he plays a little too close to the river one day.

"Dancer the Wild Pony" is also now available, the story of Dancer - a skittish pony preparing for the Summer Fair. Don't run away Dancer!

It's a great little range, voraciously consumed by Charlotte in one delicious sitting so watch out for them, available now from Curious Fox.

We feel like spoiling you this month as it's our first chapter book roundup of the year, so more please!

A boy detective with an eye for spooky goings on, meet Jonny Jakes - star of Malcolm Judge's new children's book "The Hamburgers of Doom".

Young Jonny is as sharp as a tack and in this hugely funny story tinged with mystery and suspense, Jonny wonders why his teachers are acting so suspiciously under the direction of the new school head teacher. Dishing out free sweets to children? Stuffing them full of delicious hamburgers? Jonny smells a rat (hopefully not in the burgers) and thus uncovers a huge school-wide conspiracy that threatens to drag everyone in. What the hootin' heck is going on?

Fans of Frank Cotterell Boyce and Tom McLaughlin are sure to love Malcolm Judge's humorous take on schoo life as our subversive hero digs in and solves this most peculiar case. "Jonny Jakes Investigates: The Hamburgers of Doom" is out now from Curious Fox.

Last one, but it's a real doozy...!

Really excited about this one because I've really hoped a children's author would come up with a dazzling and immersive time travel tale like this. Bea Davenport's stunning "The Serpent House" is the story of Annie, a servant girl at the spooky Hexer Hall.

By accident, Annie discovers that she can travel back in time, back to when the house was a leper hospital run by a nefarious doctor. Annie isn't keen on her new 'gift' but Lady Hexer, her mistress, demands that Annie makes the journey back in time again to steal the doctor's journal, the key to unlocking alchemical secrets that could truly change the world.

Right from the start the book is hugely atmospheric, deliciously dark and involving. It's probably best suited to children slightly older than Charlotte (9 upwards) but it's intelligently written and truly stunning stuff.

"The Serpent House" is out now from Curious Fox Books.

Phew, that's about all we've got time for - tune in next month, and we'll bring you even more gorgeous chapter books in February!