Wednesday 31 August 2016

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book Roundup - August 2016

It feels weird typing about the end of the school summer holidays. At the start it felt like they'd stretch on forever but here we are nearing our favourite season (Autumn). But belay that, let's enjoy the last of the summer sunshine and of course a stack of brilliant brilliant books!

And here's a sunny fellah to kick off our August chapter book roundup. None other than "Captain Firebeard's School for Pirates" by Chae Strathie with illustrations by Anna Chernyshova.

A dream come true for us, an actual Pirate School that teaches its swashbuckling students all the important life skills they'll need to become a booty-hunting scourge of the seven seas.

The captain teaches plank-walking, sword fighting and of course the art of constructing a treasure map in this rollicking rip-roaring adventure specially for young chapter readers. It's a riot!

"Captain Firebeard's School for Pirates" is out now from Scholastic Publishing. Yarrr!

What be next? Er, I mean "What's up next?" (Sorry, it's difficult to shake that pirate twang sometimes!)

Blog favourite Holly Webb is back with a new animal series. "Furry Friends" kicks off with "Sophie's Squeaky Surprise".

Sophie is moving to a new school in a new country and isn't sure what she'll find. Soon she makes a vivacious new friend in the shape of a tutu-wearing macaroon-scoffing Guinea Pig named Josephine who introduces Sophie to all the amazing friends and places that are in her new neighbourhood.

Perfectly pitched again for early chapter readers, Holly's new series is funny and cute, and is sure to strike a chord with animal loving kids everywhere, particularly if they've got pet guinea pigs at home.

"Sophie's Squeaky Surprise (Furry Friends Book 1)" is out now from Scholastic Publishing.

We're sticking with animals for a moment, our favourite type of animal in fact in the sequel to a book that blew our socks off earlier this year. Hooray!

"Poppy's Place - Trouble at the Cat Cafe" is the second in the "Poppy's Place" series by Katrina Charman and Lucy Truman. Isla has finally managed to talk mum into setting up a cat cafe! This means that Isla gets to keep Poppy and Roo, the two rescue cats they adopted in the first book "The Home Made Cat Cafe".

But setting up a cafe takes a lot of work, and cats aren't exactly renowned for being a lot of help when it comes to painting and decorating (and they can't even make a mean espresso, I mean what's that about!)

As the huge list of jobs-to-do gets longer and longer, can the family rally together and make Isla's dream come true?

Funny, heartwarming and one of Charlotte's favourite books of the summer. Check out our review of "The Home Made Cat Cafe" to catch up with this fantastic series!

"Trouble at the Cat Cafe" is out now from Stripes Publishing.

Where to next, guv?

Time for a fantastic adventure and the first book in a new series that's absolutely going to amaze, entertain and make you love it to little bits...

"Ned's Circus of Marvels" by Justin Fisher is the first book in the "Neds Circus of Marvels" series. Introducing our hero Ned Waddlesworth who is a boy who, on turning 13 years old, discovers that the world is a far more magical place than he ever imagined.

All the fantasy stories and tales he's read turn out to be based on fact, and soon Ned is caught up in a grand adventure alongside a robot mouse, a girl witch and a flying circus par excellence ready to save the world from a whole horde of evil monsters and miscreants.

The story barely pauses to catch its breath as we're whisked along at breakneck pace without so much as a safety net. Justin's writing is both whimsical but page-turningly exciting as the book ends on such a cliffhanger you'll be BEGGING Justin to get cracking on Book 2 (which I'm assured he is in between frantic bouts of coffee drinking and sword swallowing).

"Ned's Circus of Marvels" was released on 30th June from HarperCollins Children's Books.

Good lord. We almost need a lie down after all that excitement but there's no letup. The next book is just my cup of tea. Dark, mysterious, dystopian and completely and utterly compelling...!

Caighlan Smith's "Children of Icarus" could well be the perfect replacement for those of you suffering from Hunger Games withdrawal.

In this darkly dystopian fantasy novel for older children, Clara has grown up with only one wish in life. To enter the mysterious labyrinth and prove her worth in the most dangerous and daunting challenge possible.

When she is chosen, she is ready to give it her all - but so is the girl who has dog-tailed her for her entire life. Together the two must enter the deadly maze and face challenges that will push them to the very limits, both physically and mentally.

Caighlan has designed an astonishingly scary and fascinating book world in this novel. Dipping into her background studying Greek mythology, this story feels so cinematic and impactive in the images it'll draw up in your mind that you'll start casting characters in your head for the movie (which, if there's any justice, will happen one day because this book is almost screaming out to be turned into a celluloid success!)

Taut, dark, quite scary in places but always utterly addictive. "Children of Icarus" was released on 14th July 2016 from Curious Fox.

Ooh here's an interesting book that absolutely gripped Charlotte - by one of our picture book heroes no less...

Neal Layton might be more familiar to our readers for his awesome illustrations for authors such as Cressida Cowell and for his own picture book creations, but here's Neal's first young reader title on a subject that's very much buzzing with us at the moment.

If your kids have been avidly following the exploits of Tim Peake aboard the ISS (as we have!) then they're going to love "The Invincible Tony Spears", the story of a young lad who is coping with the massive change of a new school and new home. When Tony discovers a hidden red button that transforms his kitchen into a spaceship named "The Invincible", Tony achieves his dream of travelling the cosmos. Of course, 'normal life' has a habit of interfering with the best laid plans of boy space adventurers. Will Tony be able to simultaneously save the galaxy AND get ready for school sports day?

An awesome read from start to finish with tons of funny illustrations from Neal. We're hoping this is just the start of a series of adventures for Tony!

"The Invincible Tony Spears" is out now from Hodder Children's Books.

Next, something that ties neatly in another great passion of ours - videogames!

Brian Hastings is a videogames developer working for one of the most accomplished teams in the business. Insomniac Games, developer of the awesome Ratchet and Clank games have put together a new game called "Song of the Deep" (which, by the way, looks utterly STUNNING) and alongside the game is a brilliant novella digging deeper into the story of Merryn, the girl who is on a quest to find her father, lost in the murky depths of the ocean.

Merryn''s story takes her on an epic adventure facing many foes and adversities as she takes her (adorable little) minisub down into the inky blackness, marvelling at the amazing sights and fighting off many perils as she explores, unlocking clues and mysteries her father once spoke of in lullabies.

As you'd expect from Brian, the story is moving and deep and fits beautifully as a backstory to the game. Merryn is definitely the sort of character we can wholly get behind, being a tough and determined little girl who loves her dad. No wonder Charlotte ate this one up!

"Song of the Deep" is released in Hardback on 4th August with paperback to follow in November, from Sterling Publishing.

Sci-fi for kids is always of huge interest to us so here's a fantastic new novel from best-selling author Tom (Origami Yoda) Angleberger and Paul Dellinger.

"Fuzzy" is the story of a rather special robot, part of a school integration programme for newly emerging AI.

Befriended by Maxine (Max) Zealster, Fuzzy finds life in 6th Grade anything but simple. Vanguard 1 Middle School is a tough place to survive even when you're NOT a robot, so Fuzzy will need all the help he can get.

A funny and exciting story, absolutely chock full of originality and fantastic moments, "Fuzzy" is definitely a sharp and witty read.

"Fuzzy" is out now from Abrams and Chronicle Books.

My goodness, our book bag is brimming this month so if you want more you'd better stay put...

This one isn't out until next month but it's been an utterly gripping read from the first page to the last so we really wanted to squeeze it into our August roundup...

Malcolm McNeill's "The Beginning Woods" starts off with a terrifying mystery. People keep vanishing into thin air. No word of warning, no cries of despair, just piles of clothes left behind and no clues as to what's happened.

The mystery can only be solved by a child who is desperate to find out what happened to his parents. Max must dig deep into the very fibre of his being to unpick the complicated strands of these mysterious disappearances. But first he must learn to enter an entirely different realm, a mysterious place known as "The Beginning Woods" where magic and terror await.

Malcolm has created a story world that is dark, scary but utterly addictive. A fabulous novel that fuses magic and mystery leaving you almost fearful of every page turn, but WOW what a book!

"The Beginning Woods" is out on September 1st from Pushkin Press. 

We're almost at the bottom of our bag but we can't resist talking about a book series that Charlotte completely adores. Though the paperback isn't published until late October you can nip out and grab the hardback NOW...

Rachel Renee Russell's "Dork Diaries" series has been a massive, massive hit with Charlotte and the latest book in the series "Dork Diaries: Puppy Love" sees Nikki in one heck of a sticky situation this time round.

Brandon (huge crush) finds that the dog shelter that he volunteers at is too full to take on a new litter of adorable puppies. Nikki rather thoughtfully offers to help, but have you ever tried to hide 7 playful noisy (and at times very stinky) puppies from your dog-hating mom? Worse, what happens when you need to go to school?

Once again ace dork Nikki finds herself completely out of her dork-depth and there's still the business of the school's obsession with Mackenzie (ARRRGH) to contend with. Life as a dork is never easy! Nor is puppy love of any kind!

Fabulously funny, and a huge hit with Charlotte. Get up to speed with Nikki and all things Dork. "Dork Diaries - Puppy Love" is out now in Hardback and 28th October in Paperback, from Simon and Schuster Children's Books.

Now here's a lady who recently guested on the blog, and wrote up a heck of a storm about her childhood holiday memories....

Candy Harper is one VERY funny lady (and you can go and read her guest post for us for the "Holiday Ha Ha Ha" Blog Tour here if you don't believe us!) Her "Strawberry Sisters" series popped into our book bag this month and we've both been laughing like drains (and 'awwing' a lot) at "Especially Amelia" and "Perfectly Ella".

In "Especially Amelia", Little Lucy has a scheme to get popular, but if you want to keep all your hair, you’d better not ask what it is.

Chloe’s facing the fight of her life and this time she can’t win it with her fists.

Ella would just like everyone to stop shouting so she can do her homework.

Then there’s Amelia. The moody big sister. Except Amelia’s decided to ditch the sulks and the sarcastic remarks. But that’s not so easy when your best friend is keeping secrets, your mum won’t even let you babysit and you’re terrified to do a solo in the school concert.

Amidst all the chaos, is Amelia ready to grow up and grab the spotlight?

In "Perfectly Ella" you'll meet the Strawberry Sisters. 

Oldest sister Amelia wants to be Left Alone to have deep thoughts, so she's grown a fringe to hide under.

Second up is Chloe who's sport-crazy and in training to be a wrestling star (this week anyway). 

Littlest sister Lucy is the cute one who's training an army of earwigs.

Then there's Ella. The middle one who's still trying to work out what makes her 'perfectly Ella' and how to stand out in a house full of big personalities.

And now there's a new Strawberry Sister. Baby Kirsti who lives with Dad and his Finnish girlfriend.

Along with her sisters and one very tired Mum who's struggling to keep it all together, Ella's small home is crammed with almost-finished homework, nearly-clean jumpers and a vampire bunny called Buttercup. 

With so much going on, life can sometimes feel totally crazy but the Strawberry sisters have a secret weapon against the craziness of the world they live in. Each other!

Candy's characters are somehow simultaneously larger than life, but you'll instantly 'know' an Ella or an Amelia, a Lucy or a Chloe when you read through these and laugh (and cry) along with their stories. Beautifully well observed, sharp, funny and bittersweet, very much the stuff that Charlotte craves at the moment so a huge huge hit for us!

"Perfectly Ella" and "Especially Amelia" are out now from Simon and Schuster Children's Books. 

Cor, have we really got room for any more? We can't miss out two new series from talented author Catherine Coe...

"The Owls of Blossom Wood" introduces us to the magical woodlands that transform Katie, Eva and Alex from young girls into magical owls!

Excited at their new-found abilities, the girls (or should we say owls!) are called upon by the animals of Blossom Wood to help save the magical Moon Chestnut Tree.

You'll soon discover that this is just the start of their adventures, as you'll also be able to enjoy six books in the "Owls of Blossom Wood" series. Check them out on Catherine's awesome website...!

In fact, I don't know how she does it but Catherine has also come  up with even more adventures in Blossom Wood, this time with our most favourite mythical creatures...!

"The Unicorns of Blossom Wood" features cousins Cora, Isabelle and Lei. The daring trio discover magical hoofprints on the ground, and before long they're also whisked off to Blossom Wood - not as girls but as Unicorns! (I think Charlotte was practically beside herself with glee at the idea of magically transforming into an owl or a unicorn but given the VERY TOUGH CHOICE of choosing just one, she opted for Unicorn!)

Once again the three enjoy many adventures, and the books feature awesome games and quizzes. Absolutely perfect, in fact we just don't know how Catherine does it, she's created such a brilliant set of adventures that are exciting and magical in equal measure.

With illustrations by Andrew Farley (covers) and Rene Kurilla (inside illustrations), these books are sure to be a huge hit if Charlotte's reaction is anything to go by.

Find out more about the Blossom Wood books on the website linked above. "The Owls of Blossom Wood" books are available now, with "The Unicorns of Blossom Wood" books arriving on September 1st 2016, published by Scholastic. 

Awesome stuff, I think we've magiced our book bag from full to empty. Tune in when we dive back into the book pile in September for another awesome book roundup!