Thursday, 25 May 2017

ReaditDaddy's Chapter Book Roundup - May 2017

Wow, it's been a busy month on the chapter book front and we're playing catchup with a brace of titles designed to tempt and tantalise. We're kicking off with a book that really deserves even more trumpeting about, and one that's been virtually glued to Charlotte's hands since I picked it up for her.

"Who Let the Gods Out" by Maz Evans is the story of young Elliot. Elliot's mum is too ill to work, and their home is under threat But one day a shooting star crashes to earth and changes Elliot's life forever.

The star is Virgo - a young Zodiac goddess on a mission. Befriending Elliot, the pair unwittingly release the fiendish Thanatos, a wicked death daemon imprisoned beneath Stonehenge.

There's no way Virgo and Elliot can defeat this all-powerful demonic deity on their own, they must turn to the old Olympian gods for help. The only problem is that after centuries of cushy retirement on earth,  Zeus and his crew might not be up to the task of saving the world!

It's a riotous, fun and original book that dips into Greek myth and legend in a fantastic contemporary way, with truckloads of character appeal leaving us wanting a sequel as soon as possible (c'mon Maz!)

"Who Let the Gods Out" by Maz Evans is out now, published by Chicken House Books. 

Next, the return of a series that I've been completely consumed by and have only just got round to catching up on.

Jonathan Stroud's super-fantastic supernatural thriller "Lockwood and Co" is now up to book four, but I started off my reading month catching up with Book 3 - "The Hollow Boy".

Lockwood & Co. might be the smallest (some might say most shambollic) Psychic Detection Agency in London. But its three agents - Lockwood, Lucy and George - are exceptional talents who know how to get results.

When an outbreak of ghostly phenomena grows to terrifying levels in Chelsea, Scotland Yard is left baffled.

Even more baffling is that Lockwood & Co appear to have been excluded from the huge team of Agents investigating the Chelsea Outbreak. 

Surely this is the perfect chance for them to show once and for all that they're actually the best in town? Well, that's if they can put aside their personal differences for long enough to march into action with their rapiers, salt and iron. 

It's another cracking book in the series that harks back to the sort of awesome ghostly stuff I read as a kid (you remember those brilliant ghost story anthologies by the likes of Methuen etc that always had terrifying covers!). 

I also caught up with book four...

"The Creeping Shadow" picks up directly after the cataclysmic events in "The Hollow Boy. Lockwood and Co is no longer the team it once was. Ace supernatural investigator Lucy has left  to make her own mark on the ghostly world as a freelance operative. She is hiring herself out to other agencies – agencies that might value her ever-improving skills.

But now Lockwood needs her help. But first he might have to swallow his pride.

Penelope Fittes, leader of the well-renowned Fittes Agency wants Lockwood & Co. – and only them – to locate and remove the ‘Source’ for the legendary Brixton Cannibal.

It’s a tough assignment. Made worse by the tensions between Lucy and the other agents – even the skull is treating her like a jilted lover!

What will it take to reunite the team? Black marketeers, an informant ghost, a Spirit Cape that transports the wearer, and mysteries involving their closest rivals may just do the trick.

But not all is at it seems. And it’s not long before a shocking revelation rocks Lockwood & Co. to its very core . . .

As you'd expect, this book closes leaving you absolutely ravenous for more. It's fair to say that there are few supernatural / ghostly series around at the moment for middle grade / YA audiences that are as accomplished, polished and downright scary as this. If you've yet to catch the wave of Lockwood-mania, it's time to climb on board this ghost train!

"The Hollow Boy" and "The Creeping Shadow" (books 3 and 4 in the Lockwood and Co series) are out now, published by Corgi Children's Books - and don't miss Books 1 and 2 ("The Screaming Staircase" and "The Whispering Skull") and definitely do NOT miss the final chapter, "The Empty Grave" which will be coming up in September. 

Phew! After all those scares, a change of pace I think!

Bloomsbury's excellent middle grade education series continues with another fantastic book from Tony Bradman.

"Revolt Against the Romains" takes us back in history to the time of the all-conquering Roman Army, as it spread across the globe.

Told from the perspective of a young soldier in the Roman Army, poised on the brink of the invasion of Britannia, it's a fictional take on one character's experiences as the army prepares for war.

The Britons are war-painted savages in the Roman Army's eyes. Marcus, the soldier in question, is drawn directly into the conflict between both sides as he meets a warrior chief while on the way to meet his father.

The meeting does not end in death, but changes Marcus' point of view forever.

We love this series, and we particularly love the idea of plucking points in history and weaving them into scintillating and exciting stories. It's a fantastic range that's going to be a huge hit with fans of folk like Caroline Lawrence, or who are studying Roman Britain at school.

"Revolt Against the Romans" by Tony Bradman is out now, published by Bloomsbury Education. 

Next up - time for a quick visit to the big apple along with a mythical chum...

"Unicorn in New York: Louie Makes a Splash" by Rachel Hamilton and Oscar Armellen is the fourth in Rachel's fantastic series, mixing up real-world locations and photos with a hugely entertaining story.

Louie is a Unicorn with big ambitions who has come to the city that never sleeps in search of stardom.

Fetching up at the New York School for the Performing Arts, Louie intends to make his debut in fine style. But when Miranda the Mermaid takes the starring role in a new production, will Louie end up on the sidelines, or can Louie remind Miranda what friends are for and that sometimes you need a little help from them along the way too!

Tons of fun and we really liked the idea of showing off a bit of the real city, "Louie Makes a Splash" is out now, published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books. 

Phew, I think we've definitely got time for a few more. What's next in our grab bag?

Anything new from Elys Dolan is always met with huge excitement, so we really couldn't be happier to see "Knighthood for Beginners", a brilliantly funny new chapter book from such a huge talent in children's publishing.

Meet Dave, possibly the world's most terrible dragon. Not "Terrible" in the sense of striking fear into the hearts of every noble knight, just really absolutely rubbish at all things dragoney (is that a word? It is now!)

Dave gives up on the whole Dragon idea and finds a book on becoming a Knight instead. This seems a much easier prospect, until Sir Gnasty shows up and tries to put the kybosh on Dave's dreams of chivalry and bravery.

Can Dave be a better Knight than a dragon? And will he have what it takes to teach Sir Gnasty a valuable lesson in underestimating short green scaly knights-in-training?

A riotous romp from Elys, brilliantly paced and pitched for kids just making the break from picture books into proper chapter stuff - packed with tons of entertaining illustrations too. 

"Knighthood for Beginners" by Elys Dolan is out now, published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books. 

Cor, this next book takes me back! I remember when Charlotte was completely obsessed with a certain witch and her fab moggy...

"Winnie and Wilbur: Disgusting Dinners and Other Stories" is a fantastic new three-in-one chapter book from Laura Wood with brilliant illustrations as ever by Korky Paul. 

We loved the Winnie the Witch picture books back in the very early days of this blog (and they're still brilliant now, track them down!) but this is the first time we've had the chance to catch up with Winnie's middle grade age adventures. 

In "Disgusting Dinners" you can treat yourself to a bumper helping of three brilliant Winnie the Witch stories, once again aided by her faithful moggy and friend Wilbur the Cat. 

What's Winnie up to this time? Amongst other things she decides to pitch in at a local school serving up dinner. Can Winnie's concoctions possibly be any worse than Turkey Drummers? I doubt it, but there's also a fancy dress fun run and some serious road safety for Winnie to contend with too. With tons of fun, magic and brilliant characters, the Winnie and Wilbur books are once again perfect for kids taking their first solo reading steps with chapter book titles. 

"Winnie and Wilbur: Disgusting Dinners and Other Stories" is out now, published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books. 

Tons more fun from a comedian now really making inroads into children's publishing, this next book is awesome in every sense of the word!

"Animalcolm" by David Baddiel introduces us to a boy who absolutely HATES animals. 

Malcolm's family absolutely love them though. Their house is full of pets - and animals take priority over stuff that really matters, like the new Laptop Malcolm had his heart set on for his birthday.

The only bright spot on the horizon is the Year Six school trip, which Malcolm never thought his parents would pay for. When he finds out that the trip is to a farm, Malcolm once again feels like the world's unluckiest boy.

Over the next days however, Malcolm changes. He learns a lot about animals. More, in many ways, than he would like. He learns what it’s really like to be an animal. A whole series of animals, in fact…

It does make him think differently. And speak differently. And eat differently. And, um, smell differently. But will he end up the same as before? Will Malcolm learn to love animals if he becomes more than one?

With tons of fantastic illustrations by uber-talented Jim Field (including the glorious eye-catching cover), "AniMalcolm" by David Baddiel is out now, published by HarperCollins Children's Books.

Phew, room for a couple more? How about something based on an awesome mighty girls cartoon series? Oh you bet we're up for that...

"The Powerpuff Girls: Brain Freeze" is the first in a series of books from Orchard Publishing based on the hit Cartoon Network animated series.
Meet Blossom, Buttercup and Bubbles and see what happens when they find out that the Towsnville Ice Cream Parlour is holding a contest to create a new flavour. They're determined to enter, but they each have very different ideas about what the flavour should be. 

Blossom wants a classic vanilla with rainbow sprinkles, Bubbles wants triple-fudge-extra-chocolate-oozy-caramel-delight and Buttercup wants ... pizza flavour (yep, she sounds exactly like Charlotte! Pretty sure she'd go for Pizza and Ice Cream at the same time!)

As the girls use their superpowers to deliver their ice cream around Townsville, things get a little messy. Meanwhile Mojo Jojo has got a dastardly plan to bring a hoarde of monsters on a day trip to Townsville - to destoy the Powerpuff Girls once and for all! Mwa ha ha!

This is book one in an eventual series, perfect for fans of the awesome show. 

"The Powerpuff Girls: Brain Freeze" is out now, published by Orchard Publishing. 

Last but not least, the latest in a growing series of brill books for girls...

The "Rainbow Magic" series from Daisy Meadows shows no signs of slowing down and the latest title in the series from Orchard Books is "Tiana the Toy Fairy"

Tied in with the "Toys and Me" YouTube sensation, join Kirsty and Rachel for another adventure with Tiana the Toy Fairy!

When Jack Frost steals Tiana's magical candy key, the magical Land of Sweets is under threat.

Can the three friends get it back before Fairyland turns sour?

These are great little books for emerging solo readers, fun and varied in content and theme. You can find out more about the whole Rainbow Magic series on the Hachette / Orchard Books Website.

"Tiana the Toy Fairy: The Land of Sweets" by Daisy Meadows is out now, published by Orchard.