Thursday, 28 September 2017

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book Roundup - September 2017

Welcome, welcome to our September Chapter Book Roundup. By now most of you will be back at school (boo hiss!) and the long summer days are starting to change as our favourite season Autumn is ushered in. We've got some great books to tuck yourselves up with, so let's get started right away.

First is a new tale from Gill Lewis, author of "Sky Hawk" and recent fave "A Story Like the Wind"

"Sky Dancer" is the story of young Joe. He has always loved the moorlands above his home: the wildness, the freedom, the peace.

But when Joe's father dies, everything changes and the moors are no longer a place of refuge, more a place of darkness and gloom, foreboding and grief.

Now the whole community is divided over the fate of the hen harriers that nest up there in the heather - and Joe is stuck right in the middle, with a choice to make, and a huge secret to keep.

Joe can't do what's right for everyone. But can he find the strength to fight for what he really believes in?

With wonderful reminders for me of books like "Tarka the Otter" and "Kes", Gill has wrought a beautiful tale of loss, expectation, and change - with an important and thought-provoking environmental message.

Definitely one for bird and animal lovers, "Sky Dancer" by Gill Lewis is out on October 1st, published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books.

We just couldn't wait to dive into our next book. Maz Evans' utterly fantastic follow-up to "Who Let the Gods Out" is now with us, and you know what? It's "Simply the Quest!"

(We mean best! Best!)

Rejoining young protagonist Elliot Hooper, we pick up the story directly from the first book and Elliot's troubles are far from over.

Mum is still ill, in fact her health is getting worse. Elliot's grades are also tanking at school as other distractions firmly get in the way of any dwindling academic leanings he had. Oh, and there's that tiny matter of a bunch of crazy Greek gods who have taken up residence in Elliot's house. Most distracting of all is teen goddess Virgo, who has 99 problems of her own (and Elliot isn't one).

As if all that wasn't enough to be dealing with,  death-daemon Thanatos and his scary mum are also at large. More immortal allies and enemies emerge as Elliot's story continues. Can Virgo and Elliot learn how to be heroes?

Our description might not make this sound like the funniest book ever written, but once again Maz's amazingly fine tuned humour bursts out from every page with enough moments to make you grin like an idiot and perhaps mumble 'ew, gross' quite a lot at the same time. Utterly perfect!

"Simply the Quest" by Maz Evans is out now, published by Chicken House Books. 

Next, a girl full of joie de vivre, and something of a YouTube Superstar. Let's meet Mango!

"Mango Delight" is the stunning debut from author Fracaswell Hyman, with brilliant cover and illustrations from Frank Morrison.

Mango Delight Fuller is one lucky girl.

When she gets the lead in the school musical and becomes a YouTube success, she attracts the attentions of the school's queen bee, Hailey Jo. 

But when conflicts with Hailey arise, Mango finds herself having to make tough choices about the kind of friend she wants to have...and wants to be.

Absolutely full of the sort of things most middle graders will be able to identify with, and for me a story that was quite reminiscent of teen dark horror "Heathers" (without the dark horror, obviously!) this is a fabulous book full of moral decisions, friendship issues and cliques with more than a few twists up its sleeve. Mango is definitely one of the freshest characters in children's middle grade books for a long time, so this one is sure to be a huge success. 

"Mango Delight" by Fracaswell Hyman and Frank Morrison is out now, published by Sterling Children's Books.

Uh oh, wrap your neck up in a big thick scarf before we dive into this next one...

We're very happy to catch up with Little Tiger / Stripes' new chapter books and here's "Vlad, The World's Worst Vampire" by Anna Wilson and Kathryn Durst, ready to suck your blood this Autumn.

Vlad has a lot to live up to. He's the youngest member of the infamous Impaler family (lovely!) but Vlad is, for want of a better word, a bit of a wimp. He's scared of just about everything including the dark. Not great for a budding Vampire really!

Vlad sometimes feels a bit neglected and pushed out by his family, but having just that one awesome friend would make all the difference. Perhaps there's one to be found at...HUMAN SCHOOL!

Taking his pet bat Flit along for company, Vlad begins Big School and is instantly faced with a challenge. How on earth do you keep being a Vampire a secret? Moreover, how do you keep school a secret from your platelet-swilling family?

This is a hilarious vampire romp from Anna and Kathryn, tons of fun for kids who love stuff like Dork Diaries or Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

"Vlad: The World's Worst Vampire" is out now, published by Stripes Publishing. 

Sticking with the supernatural, let's catch up with a rather pongy old witch...

Children's classic "The Pongwiffy Stories Book 1: A Witch of Dirty Habits and The Goblins Revenge" by Kaye Umansky is back for a timely reprint with an all-new (and VERY un-witch-like pink cover and awesome illustrations from Katy Riddell). 

Originally published back in the early 90's, Kaye's spooky series was hugely popular, so it's great to see it make a comeback in fab new clothes. 

Pongwiffy has just moved into a new cave, and it's dirty, smelly and damp - in other words it's perfect for a witch like Pongwiffy!

All desirable residences come with problems though, and in this case it's the neighbours - a horde of noisy Goblins.

These irritating idiots drive poor Pongwiffy to distraction until she can bear it no more. Enlisting the help of her best friend, Witch Sharkadder, she's soon on the hunt to find somewhere else to live. 

That's when the problems really start!

In the second story in this fab first book, the Goblins are back and up to their usual tricks! But this time Pongwiffy also has to deal with a badly behaved broom, a bonfire disaster and a strange genie....

Tons of fun, humour, witchiness and some great little illustrations from Katy Riddell, this one was spot on for Charlotte and is sure to win over a whole new generation of fans. "The Pongwiffy Stories" by Kaye Umansky and Katy Riddell is out now from Simon and Schuster Children's Books. 

Sticking with Kaye, let's talk about her fantastic new witchy series too...

"Witch for a Week" introduces Elsie Pickles, who truly believes she has what it takes to be "Witch for a Week". However, the witch she's understudying isn't quite what Elsie was expecting. Magenta is superior and aloof, and pretty much ditches her new charge with just a scruffy dog companion and a squawking talking raven who is a bit of a know-it-all. She's also left with a book called "Everything you Need to Know" - but can Elsie somehow achieve her heart's desire and achieve grand witchiness?

If there's one thing Kaye knows how to write it's a fabulous hubbling bubbling tale. Check out "Witch for a Week" by Kaye Umansky with illustrations by Ashley King when it arrives on the 5th October 2017, well in time for Halloween!

Now, an author illustrator who we utterly ADORE. She's got a fantastic detective series for younger middle grade readers which is now on its fourth book and we think it's absolutely brilliant...!

"Dotty Detective: The Lost Puppy" by Clara Vulliamy catches up with Dot, her best friend Beans, and her dog McClusky - who all love sniffing out a good mystery

It’s the last week of school term and the children are looking forward to the School summer fair. Dotty and best pal Beans will be looking after pet’s corner, starring McClusky and his two canine pals: Geoffrey and the little sausage dog puppy, Chipolata (who, I think it's fair to say, totally stole the show for Charlotte! She ADORES Dachsunds!)

But just days before the fair disaster strikes – Chipolata has gone missing. Spinning sausages, whatever will Dot and Beans do?

Can they solve the mystery of the missing puppy? You bet they'll try their hardest when a lost puppy is involved.

We love everything Clara does, and this is no exception. A brilliant pup-fuelled romp to gladden the heart!

"Dotty Detective: The Lost Puppy" by Clara Vulliamy is out now, published by HarperCollins Children's Books. 

From lost puppies to dastardly murder in the blink of an eye. We're back for more with the fantastic "Goodly and Grave" series, this time with a foul deed indeed.

"Goodly and Grave in a Deadly Case of Murder" by Justine Windsor and Becka Moor catches up with the oddly mismatched but hugely intelligent pair as mysterious thefts are occurring all over the place.

Just when G & G think they know whodunnit their prime suspect turns up – murdered!

Will Lucy be able to track the real villain without putting herself in deadly danger…?

A page-turning mystery with a magical twist, it's deliciously dark stuff that will keep you reading well into the night (but don't have nightmares!)

"Goodly and Grave in a Deadly Case of Murder" by Justine Windsor (with fantastic illustrations throughout by one of our fave artists ever, the supremely talented Becka Moor who REALLY SHOULD HAVE GOT A COVER CREDIT, C'MON!!!) is out now, published by HarperCollins Children's Books. 

Something rather special next...a fabulous inclusive tale of friendship transcending different cultures and languages...

Cas Lester's fabulous "Do You Speak Chocolate" sees the start of a new school year with new girl Nadima. Nadima does not speak any English, but Jaz quickly finds a way to develop a bond with Nadima -  by offering her a chocolate bar.

Nadima grins and offers back some Turkish Delight, the ice is broken, and a special friendship begins.

Jaz is outgoing, rebellious, gumptious and a little bit bolshy - but it doesn't stop her from finding it hard that she doesn't have a best friend at school any more. Not since Lily went off with Kara ... She's not one to get down about things, though - and things start to look up when Nadima comes into their classroom.

Before long the girls are firm friends, even when Nadima, recently arrived from Syria, can't speak much English. The path of true friendship doesn't run smooth, though ... Jaz, ever the entrepreneur, cooks up a plan to sell Turkish Delight at school, with disastrous results. A drama project with Nadima about family history proves impossible to manage. And Charity Challenge Week puts the icing on the cake as Jaz puts every foot wrong possible.

Can she find a way to put things right, and restore the wonderful and unique friendship that she has with Nadima?

Glorious, touching and compelling, this topical tale is beautifully written and definitely proves that the language of chocolate is near universal.

"Do You Speak Chocolate" by Cas Lester is out now, published by Piccadilly Press. 

Definitely one to tickle your fancy if you're a budding scientist next...

"Al's Awesome Science - Egg-Speriments" is book one in a new and innovative science story series from Jane Clarke, with illustrations by James Brown.

Al's wacky experiments have the most unexpected and messy consequences in this new science-based adventure series. 

Al is experimenting to invent a time machine which would also be really useful to get him out of trouble! 

As a young scientist who never gives up Al is surprised to find out that his 'egg-speriments' can lead to very sticky situations!

Full of real-world science spliced deliciously with fiction, this is an engaging new series for middle graders everywhere.

"Al's Awesome Science: Egg-speriments" by Jane Clarke and James Brown is out now, published by Five Quills. 

More dazzling detective stuff now, the fifth in the brilliant Laura Marlin Mysteries series from Lauren St John...

"The Secret of Supernatural Creek" catches up with eleven-year-old ace detective Laura Marlin, who is back for her next exciting adventure.

With her arch-nemesis, Mr A, safely behind bars, Laura Marlin can't wait to relax on a school trip to Australia.

But hours after arriving, the appearance of a threatening supernatural message makes her fear for her safety.

As the group tours the Northern wilderness, mysteries and near-disasters haunt them, but only Laura believes they're connected.

Can she figure out what's realand what's an illusion ... before it's too late?

Brilliantly paced stuff for children who love stuff like Nancy Drew or Enid Blyton mysteries, this is a corking good read.

"The Secret of Supernatural Creek (Laura Marlin Mystery Book 5)" by Lauren St John is out now, published by Orion Children's Books. 

One last book to squeeze in before we go, and we've left our favourite till last.

"Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend is an utterly mesmerising new series, perfect for fans of Harry Potter or Neil Gaiman, with that same frisson of magic and energy running through the story like a bolt of lightning.

Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day for any child to be born, she's blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks--and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday.

But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.

It's then that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city's most prestigious organization: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart--an extraordinary talent that Morrigan insists she does not have. To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests--or she'll have to leave the city to confront her deadly fate.

This is the sort of world-building we love to see in children's middle grade books, the sort of book world you just can't help but love enveloping yourself in. 

"Nevermoor: The Trials Of Morrigan Crow" by Jessica Townsend is out on 12th October 2017, published by Orion Children's Books. 

Another stunning roundup of chapter books, we think you'll agree. Tune in next month when we'll be gearing up for Halloween with all sorts of amazing chapter book goodies and maybe a few bumps in the night to boot!