Thursday, 30 March 2017

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book Roundup - March 2017

Good Gravy! How on earth did we get to March already? Are you girding your loins for a ton of easter eggs in the coming months? Have you eaten your own weight in pancakes? Well that just won't do - because we need to get through a TON of books starting with the sprightly knightly antics of Elys Dolan.

Or more accurately, "Knighthood for Beginniners" which is a completely bonkers look at what it takes to be a knight in shining armour. Or in this case, green scales!

High in the mountains are the Dragon Caves, and inside the deepest, darkest dragon cave, lives the most terrible dragon. And his name is Dave.

Dave's terrible (as in rubbish) at all dragony things. So when he finds a book called Knighthood for Beginners he decides to learn how to be a knight instead.

Dave sets out on a quest with his trusty steed, Albrecht the goat (all the best horses were taken), to be brave, chivalrous, and knightly in all ways. He'll be up against Sir Gnasty, who scoffs at the idea of a very small, strangely green knight and has an absolutely massive sword.

Most definitely right up your alley if you're into all things chivalrous and dragonly, "Knighthood for Beginners" by Elys Dolan is out  on 2nd June 2017, published by Oxford Children's Books / OUP.

Phew after all that gadding about, is it time for a swift snooze? Nope, we still have more books so what's next, book-serf?

"Uncle Shawn and Bill and the almost entirely unplanned adventure" is whackiness a-go-go from the minds of A.L. Kennedy and the illustrative uber-skills of Gemma Correll (whom I have a gigantic crush on but don't tell her for goodness sake!)

It's the tale of one Badger Bill who has got himself into a slight spot of bother (understatement of the century). You see he's been kidnapped by two nasty sisters who are about to make him fight a boxing match against three even nastier dogs. What sort of monsters ARE these girls anyway, horrid wretches!

It gets worse - the four most depressed llamas in the history of llamadom need rescuing too. They are about to be turned into llama pies. Lovely hairy tasty llama pies (I mean who doesn't love those, right?)

But never fear - Uncle Shawn is here! He loves rescuing things. He has a rescuing plan, which involves dancing, and a mole, and an electric fence. What could possibly go wrong? Well, just about everything because Uncle Shawn is a bit of a dafty.

Will our haphazard gallant hero really save the day, or are the animals toast! Find out in this hilarious and brilliantly illustrated tale. 

"Uncle Shawn and Bill and the almost entirely unplanned adventure" by A.L. Kennedy and Gemma Correll is out now, published by Walker Books. 

OK no more badger baiting, what's next in our pile, pray tell?

Well this next one is sort of badger-related too, so just a quick reminder about one we've covered previously in our roundups...

"The New Adventures of Mr Toad - A Race for Toad Hall" by Tom Moorhouse and Holly Swain is a brand spanking new series of adventures starring everyone's favourite automobile-obsessed amphibian. Mr Toad, from "The Wind in the Willows". 

There's a whole new generation of characters including Teejay (which stands for Toad Junior), Mo and Ratty. While exploring the ruined grounds of Toad Hall, all three fall into a mysterious tunnel. Inside they discover something . . . or should that be someone in the ice house. 

It turns out to be Mr Toad himself and the children have found him in the nick of time. Wildwood Industrious (the shady operation run by the descendants of the Stoats and Weasels) is on the brink claiming legal ownership of Toad Hall! Can the gallant heroes stop Wildwood before it's too late? 

With outrageous antics from Mr Toad, action-packed adventure from the start, and stylish two-colour illustrations from Holly Swain that capture all the comedy, this is a truly brilliant new treatment of Kenneth Grahame's fabulous timeless characters and stories. 

"The New Adventures of Mr Toad - A Race for Toad Hall" by Tom Moorhouse and Holly Swain is out now, published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books. 

Now for something completely different...there's electricity in the air!

New from appropriately named Ali Sparkes is "Thunderstruck" which poses a very interesting question. What if your new best friend was a ghost?
Getting struck by lightning whilst huddling under a tree isn't exactly the way Alisha and Theo would have chosen to get out of sports day . . . 
Surviving the strike makes them see life differently. It also makes them notice Doug and Lizzie. Struck by lightning under that same tree on the common in 1975, the two teenagers have been hanging out there ever since. 

Doug and Lizzie are funny, clever, brave - and quite happy about making friends with a pair of ten-year-olds. OK, fair point, they are dead, and Doug's trousers are worryingly flared. But you can't have everything. 

But something sinister is going on at school - although only Theo and Alisha seem to be able to see it. What can it mean when ragged faceless entities keep staring in through the windows? Not all ghosts are friendly like Doug and Lizzie . . . but are these phantoms really the harbingers of doom for all the kids at Beechwood Junior? 

A fun and fast-paced ghostly mystery with lightning strikes, floating phantoms, and four fantastic friends just trying to get on with their everyday lives . . . or deaths . . . 

From the prize-winning author of Frozen in Time, the Shapeshifter series, this latest title from Ali has the same fantastic frisson (and some great moments of 'folk out of time' humour in there too). 

"Thunderstruck" by Ali Sparkes is out now, published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books. 

Uh oh, Gravity goes "Urrrrrrrrrrp!" in our next book...

Danny Wallace is back with another fantastic adventure for Hamish in "Hamish and the Gravityburp" with fab art and cover by Jamie Littler.

Don't sit too comfortably, because this book could signal THE END OF THE UNIVERSE AS WE KNOW IT!

When Hamish arrives home to find his mum and his brother lying flat on their backs ON THE CEILING, he knows there’s something seriously wrong (again) in the town of Starkley. What is the strange burping noise he keeps hearing? Why are weird seeds suddenly falling from the sky? And should he be worried about the odd woman with a cone around her neck? (Naw, what's so weird about any of that? It's all in a day's work for Hamish!)

All Hamish and his gang the PDF can be sure of is that an adventure is coming. And that means two things:

1) You have to be prepared
2) You have to prepare a sandwich

This is the sort of book that gave Charlotte a serious case of the giggles (when she should have actually been getting some much needed sleep we could STILL hear her chortling away). Pretty high endorsement from a fussy madam. Though we still have never to this day worked out why Danny Wallace gave us all such icy stares across the floor of a crowded Wagamamas once (it's true, he DID!)

"Hamish and the Gravityburp" by Danny Wallace and Jamie Littler is out now, published by Simon and Schuster Children's Books.

Next, a book series based around one of our complete obsessions...

Lego of course, and in conjunction with Scholastic there are stacks of brilliant new Lego adventures coming out in book form, covering most of the current ranges.

New out are the "Knights Academy" books, based on the Nexo Knights toy range. Max Brallier's "The Forbidden Power" tells the story of Fletcher Bowman. He's an orphan from the countryside who's just arrived at the prestigious Knights Academy, where he doesn't know anyone or anything about being a knight.

Lucky for Fletcher he quickly makes one friend - the excitable Izzy Richmond. But when Fletcher and Izzy venture off-campus, they awaken a long-sleeping threat to Knighton that threatens to destroy the kingdom.

They'll have to work together to defeat the threat -and avoid their principal's wrath- in the start of an action-packed, epic middle grade series that will delight both seasoned fans and readers new to the world of Lego Nexo Knights.

"Knights Academy: The Forbidden Power" by Max Brallier is out now, published by Scholastic.

Next up, two of our absolute book HEROES are back with a new adventure for their fabulous mighty girl creation...

Cerrie Burnell and Laura Ellen Anderson are back for a third adventure, in "Harper and the Night Forest".

It's the most wonderful and imaginative tale but this time with a slightly darker tone. Harper and her friends get to visit the City of Singing Clocks right by the mysterious Night Forest. 

It is rumoured that a magical Ice Raven whose song can melt hardened hearts lives amongst the ebony trees. 

With the children's help The Wild Conductor plans to capture the mythical bird and create the greatest orchestra ever known. 

But Harper soon needs to decide who actually needs their help the most - Will the Wild Conductor ever win his place back in the fantastical musical circus?

We love the breathlessly mesmerising atmosphere of the Harper books, dazzlingly imaginative and beautifully written by Cerrie and full of wondrous illustrations by uber-talented Laura. Don't miss out on your third slice of amazing adventures, courtesy of Harper!

"Harper and the Night Forest" by Cerrie Burnell and Laura Ellen Anderson is out now, published by Scholastic. 

Do you like big books (and you cannot lie?) - Well then you're going to love this stunner!

"Goodly and Grave in a Bad Case of Kidnap" by Justine Windsor (with illustrations and cover by Becka Moor) is a big weighty mystery that's so twisty and turny, you could probably use it as a corkscrew (though we'd rather you read it instead).

Meet Lucy Goodly, newly appointed as the new boot girl at Grave Hall, working for the cold, aloof Lord Grave. He's a curmudgeonly old stinker but always has an eye for a mystery. 

Lucy swiftly settles into her new home but soon notices strange things are afoot.  The staff are very weird and secretive, and there's definitely something fishy going on - and it's not just Mrs Crawley’s experimental anchovy omelettes. There are moving statues, magical books and Lord Grave has a deep dark secret that pique's Lucy's curiosity until she's determined to find out what he's hiding. 

Meanwhile, all over the country, children are vanishing. Could the mystery of the missing children be linked to the strange goings-on? at Grave Hall? Lucy is on the case!

We love a victorian mystery or two and this is a brilliant book that will keep you guessing right up until the very last page. "Goodly and Grave in a Bad Case of Kidnap" by Justine Windsor and Becka Moor is out now, published by HarperCollins Children's Books. 

We're going even further back in history for our next book...

"Mark of the Cyclops - An Ancient Greek Mystery" by Saviour Pirotta and Freya Hartas delves into a case of injustice, and an uncanny talent for detection as we join young Nico on the hunt for the real culprit guilty of breaking a valuable wedding vase. Nico's new friend Thrax has a strange knack of figuring things out.  

Thrax's special skills might just come in useful as the mystery deepens. Can the boys prove that slave girl Gaia is innocent, and discover what the sinister mark of the cyclops really means?

Join Nico and Thrax for a mysterious adventure set in ancient Greece that really had us gripped with some fantastic use of factual settings mixed in with the fictional tale. 

This is new in Bloomsbury's education range, and we're hoping to see even more books along similar lines as "Mark of the Cyclops" is utterly involving and immersive. 

"Mark of the Cyclops" by Saviour Pirotta and Freya Hartas is out now, published by Bloomsbury Educational Books. 

A fantastic book series continues with the second "Beetle" title from M.G Leonard...

"Beetle Queen" is the followup to the smasheroo "Beetle Boy" and M.G Leonard is on cracking form.

Cruel beetle fashionista, Lucretia Cutter (who is like a cross between Cruella DeVille and either Aunt Sponge or Aunt Spiker), is at large with her yellow ladybird spies. 

Darkus, Virginia and Bertolt are once again on the trail of the despicable queen, discovering her latest nefarious plan and are hot on the trail of her misdeeds.

But the three friends are in trouble. BIG trouble. Darkus' dad has forbidden them to get involved - and Lucretia's disgusting crooks, Humphrey and Pickering, are out of prison and ready to leap to their boss's aid. 

There is one good piece of news. Novak, Lucretia's daughter - who also just happens to be a Hollywood actress, might be able to help Darkus, Virginia and Bertolt but never underestimate the evil Lucretia's nastiness. 

Hugely original and imaginative, "Beetle Queen" is destined to be a huge smash like "Beetle Boy". If you're into quirky mysteries and really utterly nasty baddies, this is going to win you over!

"Beetle Queen" by M.G Leonard is out on 6th April 2017, published by Chicken House Books so you've not got long to wait!

Let's squeeze one more in - a fabulous friend of the blog has a new set of mighty girl books ready for your delectation if you fancy something sparkly and magical.

Paula Harrison's new "Tiara Friends" series features a pair of almost identical girls - with completely different lives. Millie and Jess might look like twins but Millie is a princess, and Jess works 'downstairs' as a chambermaid.

Because they look so alike, they often swap dresses - and then the real fun begins.

But when a crown goes missing, can Millie and Jess solve the mystery before the ne-er do well gets away with the goodies?

It's a great new series from Paula, Author of the fabulous "Rescue Princess" books.

Two books are initially being released on 6th April 2017 so look out for "The Case of the Stolen Crown" and also "The Secret of the Silk Dress" (shown below) as both arrive on the same day.

They're great books, full of interesting twists and turns, and where there's a mystery to be solved you can bet Millie and Jess won't be far behind.

Paula Harrison's writing really draws you into the worlds of her characters, so girls in particular are sure to love a story where the girls get to solve the mysteries.

Don't miss out on this new series next month!

That's about all we've got time for in this month's roundup. Stay tuned in April when we'll be diving into the post bag once more, bringing you the best and brightest from our chapter book pile!