Wednesday, 29 June 2016

ReaditDaddy's Chapter Book Roundup - June 2016

Welcome to Flaming June's chapter book roundup with another delicious and diverse selection of chapter books to win you over on lazy summer days sitting under your favourite tree, basking in the shade and reading a superb story.

We'll kick off with a book that celebrates our wild spaces and details what happens when a gang of kids realise that theirs is under threat.

In "The Wilderness War" by Julia Green (out now from Oxford University Press) we meet Noah and his friends who spend long idyllic summer days making dens, camping under the stars and toasting marshmallows on camp fires.

Unfortunately "The Wilderness" has been sold off to developers, and the dens torn down to make way for houses. But Noah and pals are determined to fight for their green space, can a gang of kids really make a difference?

We loved this book - mainly because green issues are something that we've always been keen to get Charlotte interested in. Thankfully she was utterly hooked and actually couldn't wait to tuck up in bed reading this every night, so a thorough and resounding thumbs up from her. I remember her loving OUP's awesome "Biff, Chip and Kipper" story called "Save Pudding Wood" which went along similar lines (albeit in a far simpler and less richly involving way) so it was obvious Julia's book was going to strike a chord.

"The Wilderness War" was released on June 1st by OUP.

A new book in Alex Milway's awesome "Pigsticks and Harold" series is our next candidate...

In "Pigsticks and Harold and the Pirate Treasure" you can expect plenty of peg-legged punnery and hilarity as Pigsticks (the pig) and Harold (the, er, well we think he's a Hamster but Charlotte swears blind he's a beaver who lost his tail) embark on a nautical adventure full of mysterious maps, creaking ships and of course a goodly dose of pirate booty.

Pigsticks (the rash one who always engages limbs before brain) and Harold (the quiet brainy one) have run into Pigsticks' arch enemy Sir Percival Snout, who claims that Tuptown is his - and it's time to bring in a wrecking ball to flatten the place and build it to his own designs.

Pigsticks' grandfather was a pirate, and his lost treasure has never been found. Can the dynamic duo retrieve the stash of gold and buy off Sir Percival before Tuptown is turned into an ugly block of flats?

Chock full of knockabout humour, perfect for kids getting their teeth into more wordy books than their usual picture book diet, this is a fabulous story series that will win just about everyone over.

"Pigsticks and Harold and the Pirate Treasure" is out now from Walker Books.

From pigs and hamsters to some seriously superb superheroes...

Floris Books have a knack for publishing fantastic and original books, and Paul Bristow's epic "The Superpower Project", mashing together mech-based mayhem with an unlikely duo of would-be superheroes.

An ancient and mystical force is under threat from a nefarious industrialist and his army of transforming robots, cunningly disguised as modern art installations. Megan and Cam are tasked with saving the world, staying in school AND also racking up some vital training with a rather grouchy were-tiger. Thankfully they've at least got some extra help from a clanky steampunk robot designed by none other than James Watt!

Hugely original, buzzingly energetic from page to page and cracking along at the sort of pace that will leave you gasping for more at the cataclysmic climax, "The Superpower Project" is definitely one to watch.

"The Superpower Project" was released by Kelpies / Floris Books on Feb 18th 2016.

More, more you say? Well who are we to deny you BRILLIANT BOOKS. How about a chapter book for middle graders that combines a bucketload of sass with...Yoga. Yep you heard us right...

Meet "Cici Reno #MiddleSchoolMatchmaker" in this fantastic and brilliantly observed new book from Kristina Springer. Cici is the queen of sass and she's also a bit of a Cyrano De Bergerac if truth be known. Her BFF is shy and retiring but has a huge crush on someone with absolutely no idea how to make the first move.

It's up to Cici to inject the situation with some seriously cool philosophy and plenty of flexible yoga-skilling into the bargain.

I don't think I've ever actually come across a book that heads out with every chapter with a rather hilariously described yoga move. If you can do some of these while reading the book at the same time (presumably with your feet or nose) then you're a superhero par excellence.

Funny, cool and deliciously fourth-wall-breaking in places, this is one of the freshest MG books we've seen in a long time and Charlotte absolutely lapped it up! Hopefully there'll be more from Cici soon.

"Cici Reno #MiddleSchoolMatchmaker" was released on 7th May by Sterling Publishing

What's left in the book bag superchamps?

Oh boy, this one was greeted with a whoop of delight which slowly turned to a bit of a sad and bittersweet moment as we both realised that this is the last book! Cressida Cowell's utterly brilliant "How to Train your Dragon" series reaches its 12th and final book with "How to Fight a Dragon's Fury" as the chronicles wind down with a truly cataclysmic battle.

This time Hiccup Horrendous Haddock The Third is out to prove he is the rightful heir to the kingdom of The Wilderwest. Unfortunately for Hiccup he stands alone, as the evil and downright stinky Alvin the Treacherous has snatched all of the king's things, proclaiming himself to be the king not Hiccup.

As regular series readers will know, Alvin's evil scheme could see an end to the bond between humans and dragons and in fact the death of dragons entirely. Can Hiccup overcome insurmountable odds to triumph over Alvin and his nefarious Dragon Guardians of Tomorrow?

This book seizes you by the talons and doesn't let go. Exciting, page turning and at times quite heart wrenching stuff. Be prepared for the end when you'll need a new set of nerves and probably quite a few hankies...don't say we didn't warn you!

"How to Train your Dragon: How to Fight a Dragon's Fury" is out now in Hardback and Paperback from Hodder Children's Books.

"Bake Off" is responsible for inspiring a lot of books and here's another corker...

"Billy Bramble and the Great Big Cook Off" by Sally Donovan and Kara McHale features a rather unlikely (and hideously unlucky) hero. Young Billy never seems to be able to do anything right, and in his own words, he's the bad luck champion of the world.

It's not really Billy's fault, it's mostly down to Billy's invisible dog Gobber who seems to choose the most inopportune moments to interfere, cause chaos and upset the applecart (or in this case, the flour bag).

Billy has had enough, it's time to dig in his heels and see what he can do about this miscreant mutt.

Sally has written a rather subtle and beautifully observed book that will instantly make kids who feel that they're somehow less than perfect feel a heck of a lot better about themselves. It's witty, funny and deliriously chaotic so keep an eye out for Billy, he's sure to win your heart!

"Billy Bramble and the Great Big Cook Off" is out now from Jessica Kingsley Publishing

Ding the bell Charlotte, what's up next?

Ooh hello! Nick Sharratt, picture book superstar has come up trumps with his very first chapter book, an amusing and gorgeously illustrated tale. "The Cat and the King" tells the tale of a gentle king and his extremely clever cat (has anyone ever met a daft cat? We haven't!)

The poor king finds himself in a very odd situation after a nasty dragon burns down the royal castle. Now ensconced at Number 37 Castle Close, the king suddenly finds that real life is a bit trickier than he'd imagined. Thankfully the cat is on hand to help out, but when the fire-breathing dragon returns, The Cat and The King must join forces to get rid of their arch enemy once and for all.

Nick's storytelling is brilliantly funny and he's made the transition from picture to chapter books with ease. An absolutely perfect title for younger kids cutting their teeth with their first proper reading books, "The Cat and the King" is out on the First of September from Alison Green Books.

Uh oh, hide your valuables, I don't like the look of the fellas coming up next...

"The Bad Guys" by Aaron Blabey introduces a devilish gang of thoroughly bad eggs. Mr Wolf, Mr Snake, Mr Shark and Mr Piranha have a bit of a bad reputation but they're trying to change all that and become a force for good.

Their first mission, to free 200 dogs from the maximum security dog pound doesn't quite go as swimmingly as expected (imagine drowning in 200 puddles of dog drool for starters!) so the gang must re-evaluate their tactics and even figure out if it's worth changing your spots to become a good guy after all.

Fully and brilliantly illustrated, Aaron's new book series kicks off with this hilarious first story with Book 2 (Mission Unpluckable) also out by the time you read this roundup.

"The Bad Guys Episode 1" was released on 7th April 2016.

Our book bag is almost empty. I did say almost. I've got a feeling there are a few more in there so reach in and dig deep...

One for older kids now from author Chris Russell fusing together YA coolness with boyband fanboism...

In "Songs About a Girl" you'll meet Charlie Bloom, the ordinary everyday girl next door who is quite happy to stay out of the spotlight and nurture her talent as a photographer.

When she's asked backstage to take photos of hot boyband sensation Fire&Lights, Charlie's life changes immeasurably and she's thrown headlong into the world of the paparazzi, of creative tension within the band and an inevitable tussle over matters of the heart.

Charlie's inquisitive nature leads her to a dark discovery, a deep secret within the band hidden in plain sight, actually in the lyrics of their songs. How can Charlie live with knowing that the band millions idolise are not at all what they seem?

A fantastic observation of the PR machine in action, the hype and excitement of the music industry and the inevitable heartaches when the perfect polished world peels apart. Tightly and tensely written and sure to be a big hit with 12 yrs and up, "Songs About A Girl" is out on 28th July 2016 from Hodder Children's Books.

Another fantastic YA novel for older kids (with a strong language & content warning, I should add) - particularly fans of grimy and dark conspiracy theory stories...

In "The Hatching" by Ezekiel Boone , a seemingly random series of mysterious events rocks the globe. A group of US tourists and their guide are seemingly devoured by an unknown force deep in the Peruvian jungle, China unleashes a nuclear weapon on itself in a freak nuclear accident and strange seismic readings are registered in other parts of the world. Somehow all these events are connected and time is running out as scientists and politicians struggle to piece together the clues and maintain order as the world goes to hell.

Sweeping and cinematic in its world building, it's no surprise that the book has already been optioned for a movie by Joel Schumacher. "The Hatching" is gripping page-turning stuff, veering from deep dark mystery to political machinations, and written as tightly as an overwound bolt. "The Hatching" arrived on shelves on the 5th July 2016.

Phew! After all that tension we could do with something a lot more lighthearted and summery...!

Enid Blyton's Summer Stories collects together a fabulous sunny collection of her short stories, perfect for lazy reading splayed out on a picnic blanket in your favourite spot beneath some shade (don't forget the sun cream).

Timeless classics all, it's a new collection to compliment the previous anthology (Holiday Stories) and perfect for fans of Enid's fabulous "Famous Five" books and other collections.

"Summer Stories" is released on 28th June 2016 from Hodder Children's Books. Anyone for an ice cold ginger beer?

Don't run off just yet, we're still dipping into our summery book bag and I'm sure we can squeeze in a few more.

So how about more summery goodness, with rib-tickling humour and an enviable collection of authors contributing to an awesome story compilation? See, we told you it was worth sticking around for...

"Holiday Ha Ha Ha!" is a collection of 8 hilarious stories by a hugely talented bunch of authors including Joanna Nadin, Jonathan Meres, Steven Butler and Steve Cole. Perfectly pitched for those beachy reads (though don't get sand in your book, it's almost impossible to get that stuff out!) "Holiday Ha Ha Ha!" is a gigglesome collection covering a completely bonkers set of subjects.

Crazy grannies, terrible car journeys (yep they're usually part of our summer whether we like them or not), and gruesome ghosts all feature amongst the 8 tales of holiday woos and woes.

A perfect collection to work away on in between building sandcastles or wolfing down whelks, or to devour in one huge summery sitting when you find the perfect shady spot to laze in.

"Holiday Ha Ha Ha!" is released on 30th June 2016 from Simon and Schuster Children's Books.

One more, one more, g'wan then...

In Jo Franklin's rib-tickler "Help, I'm an Alien" a boy called Daniel is suffering
from a bit of an identity crisis. Daniel is convinced he's actually not human, but an extra-terrestrial, stolen away from his home planet to live with a fairly weird human family. His sister convinces him that he is indeed an alien. His mum doesn't seem too sure either. Whereas Daniel is tall, gangly with brown hair the rest of his family are blonde, blue eyed and diminutive so is Daniel really a cuckoo in the nest?

A fantastically funny and sharply observed story of family, friendships and that weird feeling that we all get from time to time - that we're different but not always in a good way. I remember being a rather cruel older brother to my little sister, convincing her that I was indeed an alien who had replaced her real brother so this book appealed to me and Charlotte found it furiously funny too!

"Help I'm an alien" by Jo Franklin is out now from Troika Books.

And we're done, really done this time! Phew, that was a big one. Tune in next month when we dip into July's big ol' book bag and see what's tickling our fancy.

See you in July!