Wednesday, 30 November 2016

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book Roundup - November 2016

Welcome, welcome to November's awesome chapter book roundup and we've got a bumper bagful of truly awesome books to share with you, perfect for stuffing in stockings before next month's festive craziness! Let's get straight on with 'em!

First we're back with a fantastic series from author Andy Seed and his hilarious horror creation Prankenstein. In "Prankenstein on Tour", Soapy Thompson's dad wins a world cruise for a family of five and Soapy convinces his parents that best friends, Arvo and Loogi should come along to stop him going mad with boredom.

As they cruise past the East coast of Africa there is a great commotion in the dead of night and Soapy discovers that pirates have boarded the ship and taken two hostages - his parents - and are demanding a MEEELION quid in cash for their safe return.

Obviously Soapy doesn't have that sort of spare cash in his piggy bank so there's only one thing for it - Soapy knows that his only hope is to unleash Prankenstein, his prank-crazed alter-ego. Can he save the day, save mum and dad, and thwart the nasty piratical meanies? Something tells us he's going to need a mess of help!

The series is brilliantly original, inventive and hilarious and if you've been clinging to the edge of your seat waiting for Prankenstein Book 3, wait no more.

"Prankenstein on Tour" is out now, published by Fat Fox Books. 

Next up, we're deliriously excited - Caroline Lawrence has a new book out and that can only mean one thing...

"The Roman Quests: The Archers of Isca" is the second book in Caroline's new fantastic "Roman Quests" series. No one writes about the Romans like Caroline. She's not only a brilliant writer but one heck of an authority on Roman history and that's a period of history we just can't get enough of.

In "The Archers of Isca" we follow the path of a young soldier, joining the Roman Army at the tender age of 15.

Fronto craves to find his place in the world, and showing a natural aptitude for the bow, he soon finds that life as a roman archer is far more palatable than being a slave.

But when Fronto's younger sister Ursula is captured by a terrifying Druid called Snakebeard, he must make an impossible decision. Desert the Roman Army, face certain execution and rescue his sister, or stay put. What would you do?

Once again this is utterly spellbinding and immersive stuff from Caroline. We have loved her "Roman Mysteries" series very much and "The Roman Quests" is just as compelling and brilliant. 

"The Roman Quests (Book 2): The Archers of Isca" is out now, published by Orion Children's Books. 

Next out of our book sack for November, Book 5 in Lauren St John's amazing "White Giraffe" series...

"Operation Rhino" once again follows the series' theme of building amazing stories around our most endangered species. 

When Sawubona's white rhinos are attacked, the poachers leave devastation in their wake - and also leave behind a terrified calf.

Determined to help, Martine and Ben agree to take the rhino baby to a sanctuary near the Golden Gate Highlands National Park.

But the sanctuary is hiding a precious secret - one that must be guarded from the poachers at all costs. When the secret gets out, Martine and Ben find themselves in the fight of their lives to save one of the rarest animals on earth. But who can they trust?

This is a gripping, heartwarming and magical tale that animal-loving children will adore. The White Rhino is one of the animals on the 'critical list' of highly endangered species, and this story of hope and preservation is a really brilliant read and had Charlotte utterly hooked (and determined to read the rest of the equally brilliant series). 

"Operation Rhino" is out now, published by Orion Children's Books

Digging deep into our review pile once more, time for some fun!

Book 2 of "The League of Unexceptional Children" is out now, written by Gitty Daneshvari. "Get Smart-Ish" follows on from the brilliant first book, with twelve-year-olds Jonathan and Shelley just recruited to join the League of Unexceptional Children. 

This covert spy network is comprised solely of kids who are so average and nondescript that they are utterly forgettable, and who makes a better spy than a kid no one remembers?

To everyone's surprise, Jonathan and Shelley saved the day in Book 1, and as a result they have been loaned to MI5: the United Kingdom's leading spy organization. 

The kids' mission is to recapture a missing vial of LIQ-15, a virus that makes people lose IQ points. Relying on only their complete lack of skill, Jonathan and Shelley must once again stop an evil plan in its tracks.

In a sequel that gives readers more of the spy tricks and adventure they love but that can stand on its own as a complete mystery, Get Smart-ish is a laugh-out-loud story starring two exceptionally unexceptional characters that kids will easily identify with (and laugh along with). 

"The League of Unexceptional Children: Get Smart-ish" is out now, published by Little, Brown. 

Let's have another dig down into our book sack...for something a little darker!

Book 2 in the "Soul Hunter" series by Alex Marlowe sees the fantasy and frights continue in "The Last Immortal". 

Picking up where the first book leaves off on a cliff hanger, Luke is now a member of The Immortals - a superhuman imbued with amazing abilities and a vast array of amazing gadgetry to defeat evil with.

Alas for Luke, immortality doesn't make him indestructible. When corpses turn up in London's backstreets, the crime-fighting Immortals descends into a dark adventure. testing Luke and the others to their limits as they track an ancient evil to the swamps of Louisiana. 

There they will battle their greatest foe yet: Draka, the Soul Hunter.

The book comes with an awesome comic strip setting the scene, tucked inside the covers...

Alex Marlowe's "Soul Hunter - The Last Immortal" is perfect for fans of fantasy and mystery. The book is out now, published by Little, Brown. 

OK skip down a few lines...

A little further...

Further still...

You know you can do it...come on, carry on...

OK you're here. What's next? Well let's have something completely contrasting from our last book choice!

Well, it's no surprise to find that the latest book in the "Secret Princesses" series - "The Snowflake Sisters" was a big hit, with character names like Charlotte and Mia. 

Charlotte loves stuff like this, so join in with the fun as trainee Secret Princesses Charlotte and Mia must grant the Christmas wish of two sisters, Holly and Ivy. 

But will horrid Princess Poison ruin their family Christmas?

A sparkly seasonal spectacular, with a lovely wintry feel, "The Snowflake Sisters" is perfect for girls and boys who love a bit of glitzy christmas fun.

A perfect stocking filler in fact and there are two tales in one, so plenty to keep you busy till boxing day. 

"Secret Princesses: The Snowflake Sisters" by Rosie Banks is out now, published by Orchard Books. 

More you say? And why not...

Something a little different now from Holly Webb, hugely prolific and talented author whose animal stories have been part of Charlotte's reading journey since forever. 

In "The Maskmaker's Daughter" Holly takes a decidedly different tack in this tale of a young girl called Colette. She lives with her mother, making beautiful dresses for the rich women of Venice. 

Colette has never known her father, and her mother won't speak of him - but Colette's embroidery moves and dances, and she's sure that there's magic in her blood. Does it come from her father? Her mother? What is the secret!

Soon enough Colette discovers the truth: her father is a famous maskmaker and a powerful magician. But when he's ordered to create a mask that will bend others to its will, the magic becomes too strong for him to resist. 

Can Colette, with the help of a talking alley cat called Max, save him?

Dark, mysterious and magical with more than a touch of The Brothers Grimm about it, this is Holly at her storytelling best. 

"The Maskmaker's Daughter" is out now, published by Orchard Books. 

Room for one more, from a legendary children's storyteller no less. 

You have undoubtedly heard about Enid Blyton's "Famous Five" and "Secret Seven" but have you ever heard of "The Find-Outers"? This book series for younger children was first published all the way back in 1943 and has now been reprinted with all new covers, and still the amazingly gripping and suspenseful set of stories Enid originally wrote - presented here in their original form. 

Someone has set fire to Mr Hick's cottage, but who could it be? Fatty, Larry, Daisy, Pip, Bets and Buster the dog have their very first case to solve. 

But it's not easy being detectives with policeman Mr Goon telling them to "clear orf". 

The Find-Outers are determined - they have to solve the mystery before Mr Goon does!

The first book in the series is full of thrills, chases and all the staples that made Enid Blyton such a well-loved author.

"The Find Outers: The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage" is out now, published by Hodder Children's Books. 

Abi Elphinstone is a bit of a hero of ours, and she's the curator of a fantastic wintry seasonal collection that's sure to warm the cockles of your heart...

"Winter Magic" collects together an absolutely astonishing array of authors, in a magical and enchanting story anthology that will keep your children entertained all the way to Christmas and beyond. 

Gorgeous and magical short stories are included, from acclaimed children’s writers such as Michelle Magorian, Berlie Doherty, Lauren St John and Katherine Woodfine.

Dreamsnatcher’s Abi Elphinstone heads up this gorgeous collection of wintery stories, featuring snow queens, frost fairs, snow dragons and pied pipers. 

Grab yourself a huge mug of hot chocolate, wrap yourself in your favourite slanket or snuggly onesie and dive into this glorious wintry classic in the making. 

A compendium of cool and an unmissable, enchanting treat of a collection, do not miss "Winter Magic" - out now and published by Simon and Schuster. 

Next up, we have a special abridged "Junior" version of a fantastic best seller. 

"Able Seacat Simon" by Lynne Barrett-Lee is an adaptation of Lynne's 'grown up' novel, a story with huge child appeal and one that's sure to be a hit with fans of Michael Morpurgo. 

Inspired by real events, "Able Seacat Simon" is the tale of an orphaned kitten, discovered in the Hong Kong docks in 1948 by a British sailor.

Smuggled onto HMS Amethyst and named 'Simon' by his new friends, the little cat quickly gets used to life on the seas and appoints himself chief rat-catcher.

When tragedy strikes, Seacat Simon keeps spirits up - but it's a long and dangerous journey back to England for the heroic kitten and his crewmates . . .

It's a scintillating page-turner with a ton of 'aww' moments, and we'd warn to you keep a box of tissues handy - you may need them!

"Able Seacat Simon" by Lynne Barrett-Lee is out now, published by Simon and Schuster Children's Books. 

Next, a real treat and one of the most attractive books we've seen in a very long time...

"The Secret Horses of Briar Hill" by Megan Shepherd with illustrations by (gasp!) Levi Pinfold is an astonishingly moving, immersive and atmospheric story.

It's December 1941 and as war rages across Europe and beyond, a young girl called Emmaline has been evacuated away from the bombs to Briar Hill Hospital in Shropshire. 

Emmaline takes a while to get used to her new surroundings but when she discovers an astonishing secret almost too magical to comprihend, she must keep it. It's a secret not to be shared, not to be told to anyone, even her friend Anna. 

But Emmaline shares her secret with us, the reader. There are winged horses that live in the mirrors of Briar Hill and Emmaline finds that she can move between our world and theirs with ease. 

Exquisitely illustrated by Levi Pinfold (author and illustrator of the truly stunning "Black Dog" and winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal), The Secret Horses of Briar Hill is a book that will live on in the memory long after you've tucked away that last page. 

"The Secret Horses of Briar Hill" by Megan Shepherd and Levi Pinfold is out now, published by Walker Books. 

Now something for the cricket-mad little person in your life, and the perfect book to engage reluctant readers...

The "Glory Gardens Cricket Club" series by Bob Cattell is a long-running series of novels with plenty of cricket action and engaging characters for kids to identify with.

In "Return to Glory" the team are in Australia, facing the challenge thrown down by their arch rivals, Woolagong CC.

The tour gets off to a testing (I like what you did there) start and, as Christmas approaches, captain Hooker Knight is battling to motivate his players for the vital ‘Ashes’ game.

Will Glory Gardens return to England humbled or triumphant?

A great series for cricket-mad girls and boys. Though Cricket is really not 'our thing' it's certain to win over fans of the sport.

"Glory Gardens Cricket Club: Return to Glory" is out now, published by Charlcombe Books. 

Room for one more? G'wan then...!

Now this is very much our cup of tea! A brilliant book celebrating some of the most amazing though not necessarily well known women who have made history...

In "Wonder Women" by Sam Maggs with illustrations by Sophia Foster-Dimino, you'll learn about women who have made their mark in science and research, in politics, in espionage and in exploration.

For example thre's the story of Allied spy Noor Inayat Khan, a Muslim woman whom the Nazis considered highly dangerous? 

Learn about German painter and entomologist Maria Sibylla Merian, who planned and embarked on the world s first scientific expedition? 

How about Huang Daopo, the inventor who fled an abusive child marriage only to revolutionize textile production in China? 

Women have always been able to change the world, even when they didn't always get the credit they rightly deserved. 

In Wonder Women, author Sam Maggs introduces you to pioneering female scientists, engineers, mathematicians, adventurers, and inventors each profile a study in passion, smarts, and stick-to-itiveness, complete with portraits by Google doodler Sophia Foster-Dimino, an extensive bibliography, and a guide to present-day women-centric STEM organizations.

"Wonder Women" is out now, published by Quirk Books. 

That just about wraps up November. Tune in next month when we do a slightly earlier Chapter Book Roundup before things go completely crazy for Christmas!