Thursday, 25 January 2018

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book Roundup - January 2018

Our very first Chapter Book Roundup of 2018 and we're back with a superb selection of new and upcoming books to tempt you in with.

Starting off with a young lady who is busily creating some of the most astonishing and amazing book worlds to play in.

Abi Elphinstone's "Skysong" is actually released today (hooray!) and if you love books filled with magic, mystery and suspense then this is really going to be your cup of Darjeeling.

In the snowy kingdom of Erkenwald, whales glide between icebergs, wolves hunt on the tundra and polar bears roam the glaciers. But the people of this land aren’t so easy to find. Because Erkenwald is ruled by the cruel Ice Queen and the tribes must stay hidden; if they are caught in the open they risk capture and imprisonment by the evil sorceress.

The story begins with Eska, a girl who breaks free from a cursed music box, and Flint, a boy whose inventions could change the fate of Erkenwald forever

Eska and Flint are fated to embark on a perilous quest, as they journey to the Never Cliffs and beyond in search of an ancient, almost forgotten, song with the power to free the kingdom from the Ice Queen's terrible rule.

Abi's beautiful and imaginative prose takes you on a fantastic roller-coaster ride between moments of glorious descriptive worlds, and sheer page-turning suspense. 

"Skysong" by Abi Elphinstone is out today, published by Simon and Schuster Children's Books. 

Next up, a hugely fun series that mixes Shakespeare and Star Wars with much hilarity...

"William Shakespeare's The Force Doth Awaken (Star Wars Part the Seventh) is Ian Doescher's latest brilliant mashup, tackling the events of the seventh Star Wars movie.

As the noble Resistance clashes with the vile First Order, Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron, Kylo Ren, and BB-8 are pulled into a galaxy-wide drama in iambic pentameter. 

Star Wars fans and Shakespeare enthusiasts alike will enjoy the authentic meter, the reimagined movie scenes and dialog, woodcut-style illustrations, and beautifully tucked-in references to have fans of the movie series giggling with glee. 

Chewbacca speaks (We always wondered what he'd be like delivering the infamous "Now" speech!) 

Supreme Leader Snoke gives a soliloquy! 

And the romance of Han Solo and Leia Organa takes a tragic turn that Shakespeare would most definitely approve of. 

Fun, funny, and true to the spirit of Lucas films. The story may take place in a galaxy far, far away, but you ll be convinced it was written by the Bard.

"Star Wars: The Force Doth Awaken" by Ian Doescher is out now, published by Quirk Books. 

Next, we have another delicious slice of detective work from one Howard Wallace P.I

"Shadow of a Pug" by Casey Lyall once again immerses the reader in a fantastic mystery, but could this be Howard's toughest case yet? 

It's been a few months since school detectives Howard and his erstwhile partner Ivy Mason had a really juicy case.

So when Marvin hires them to prove his nephew didn't pug-nap the school mascot, Spartacus, they're fired up... until they find out Marvin's nephew is none other than snack-stealing, bike-mocking bully Carl Dean! Calamities! Their sworn enemy, but even so, it's a case that needs to be solved. 

Howard and Ivy will have to suck up their prejudices and play nice with Carl, they'll have to dodge a scrappy reporter who may or may not be working against them and come face-to-face with Howard's REAL worst enemy, Miles Fletcher. 

Howard's still getting used to having a friend; can he deal with all these complications and still be there for Ivy when her life is turned upside down?

This is pacey stuff, and though we've seen so many 'kid detective' novels, this really has just the right tone and atmosphere to appeal to would-be gumshoes everywhere. 

"Howard Wallace P.I: Shadow of a Pug" by Casey Lyall is out now, published by Sterling. 

A most awesome rodent now, as we catch up with a book series for younger readers that's really cheesy, but in a good way!

"Geronimo Stilton: Fangs and Feasts in Transratania" is a spooky outing for our fromage-loving hero as he decides to catch up with his long lost cousin Trap. 

After a mysterious phone call, Geronimo sets off for Ratoff in spooky Transratania.

The garlic-fuelled town holds many mysteries, not least the residents of Ratoff Castle - who are the subject of many local myths and legends. 

Maybe it's the way they sleep during the day, maybe it's the blood-red drink they have with every meal, but there's something not quite right about them for sure, and Geronimo Stilton is determined to find out just what that something is!

Who are these mice? And will Geronimo manage to survive the night without waking up with a very sore neck? 

This is brilliant fun, reminiscent of classic children's novel "The Rats of Nimh" but with enough class and character of its own to mark it as something rather special. 

"Geronimo Stilton: Fangs and Feasts in Transratania" by Geronimo Stilton, Matt Wolf and Emiliano Campedelli is out now, published by Sweet Cherry Publishing. 

More of Tony Bradman's fascinating history series next, time to visit our Norse forefathers...

In "Attack of the Vikings" it's a quest for fortune and glory for Finn, a would-be viking warrior. Finn wants to seek adventure and excitement in far-off lands, not become chieftan of a farming village like his father.

But then, when his father has been summoned away to another island, Finn is left in charge, and danger strikes.

With the village under siege and only Finn and his friends to protect it, can he save the day and learn what it really means to have the blood of a Viking?

Fast-paced with a close eye on detail and historical accuracy, which have always been the hallmarks of Tony's novels, this is a really riveting and riotous read full of superbly uplifting and heroic moments of ace storytelling.

"Attack of the Vikings" by Tony Bradman is out now, published by Featherstone. 

Sticking with historical adventures for a moment, and another book hero of ours.

Saviour Pirotta's awesome Ancient Greek mystery series continues on from "Attack of the Cyclops" with an all new adventure, with illustrations by Freya Hartas.

In "Secret of the Oracle" you'll find a fabulously immersive mix of Sherlock Holmes and ancient Greece.

This exciting adventure will have readers gripped from start to finish as we catch up with Scribe Nico and his friend Thrax, back for another adventure that will truly test their mettle.

Their master has brought them to Delphi, to seek guidance from the great oracle. But between the majestic hills of the sacred city, a sinister plot has been formed, and a farmer's daughter has gone missing.

Can Nico and Thrax solve the clues, save the girl and learn the secret of the oracle? This dramatic and mysterious tale is packed with wonderful characters and insight into the daily life of the ancient Greeks, a required topic in the KS2 History curriculum.

Perfect for fans of the Roman Mysteries, or anyone interested in ancient Greece.

"Secret of the Oracle" by Saviour Pirotta is out now, published by Featherstone. 

Moving, ahem, swiftly on from highbrow history to something bubbling below the waistline now (phrrrt), it's a superb new comedy from ace author Jo Nesbo.

"Doctor Proctor's Fart Powder: The Great Gold Robbery" is perfect for those of us who love a good old fashioned rumbling belly laugh or two.

When a Russian billionaire robs the Norwegian Gold Reserve and melts the last remaining gold bar into the Premier Soccer League trophy, it's up to Doctor Proctor, Nilly and Lisa to get the trophy and save Norway.

But with a failed break-in attempt into the billionaire's subterranean gold-melting lab and the Norwegian Gold Reserve Inspection only three days away, the only way to retrieve the trophy is to win it back. 

Hoping to prevent national panic and uproar, Nilly and Lisa join the Rotten Ham soccer team and use the Fartonaut Powder, along with a handful of Doctor Proctor's other wacky inventions, to try and lead the hopeless underdog team to victory before time runs out.

It's a giggle a minute, utterly chaotic and fantastically funny, a superb story from one of the funniest writers on the planet. 

"Doctor Proctor's Fart Powder: The Great Gold Robbery" by Jo Nesbo is out now, published by Simon and Schuster Children's Books. 

Book 2 in the fantastic "Night Zoo Keeper" series now, Joshua Davidson's second book "The Giraffes of Whispering Wood" catches up with young Will - who steps through a mysterious portal at the zoo and is transported into the World of the Night Zoo, thrust into an incredible adventure. 

Bestowed with a Zookeeper's uniform and a magical teleporting torch, he's tasked with protecting the Zoo's inhabitants from the evil Lord of Nulth, and his army of robotic spiders, the Voids. 

In this, the first of many adventures, Will is introduced to the Zoo's friendlier creatures - the glowing Night Butterflies, Bumbling Bees, and he even makes friends with a spying giraffe called Sam. 

But Will faces his first real test when the Voids attack, does he really have what it takes to be the Night Zookeeper and save his new friends? 

From the creators of, a website that makes learning fun, inspires creativity, and engages children with a magical story, this is a stunning book series for lower middle grade readers with a really fantastic feel to them. Superb cover illustrations by Buzz Burman really give the series an attractive look too. 

"Night Zoo Keeper: The Giraffes of Whispering Wood" by Joshua Davidson is out now, published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books. 

We've got quite a few books to get through for our brand spanking new year so let's look ahead to March and the arrival of S.E Durrant's next awesome story, with cover art by Rob Biddulph...

"Running on Empty" introduces AJ - a fairly ordinary kid who loves his Grandfather very much.

Grandad has always been the one to keep his unusual family together, so when he dies things start to unravel at the edges.

AJ is worried about his parents but they don't really seem to notice. In order to deal with his grief and to keep his anxiety at bay, AJ does what he and his grandfather did best: running.

Round and round the Olympic Park, aiming for the nationals, running to escape, AJ only seems to be heading ever closer to disaster.

It's a hugely uplifting story full of hope and a strong character piece for AJ who must overcome the odds to succeed and follow his true passion in life.

Thoroughly thought-provoking, particularly for kids who love their sports and activities and perhaps find that sometimes real life has a habit of interrupting their flow.

"Running on Empty" by S.E Durrant with cover by Rob Biddulph is out on March 1st, published by Nosy Crow. 

More from Nosy Crow now, and the hotly anticipated new book from a master of middle grade...

Christopher Edge's "The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day" (with cover illustration by Matt Saunders) starts off by asking a curious question. How do you know you really exist?

It's Maisie's birthday and she can't wait to open her presents. She's hoping for the things she needs to build her own nuclear reactor (as most kids do, right?)

But she wakes to an empty house and outside the front door is nothing but a terrifying, all-consuming blackness. Trapped in an ever-shifting reality, Maisie knows that she will have to use the laws of the universe and the love of her family to survive.

And even that might not be enough...

This is truly a mind-bending mystery for anyone who's ever asked questions.

From the author of The Many Worlds of Albie Bright and The Jamie Drake Equation, "The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day" by Christopher Edge is sure to be a massive sensation and build on Christopher's fantastic reputation for engaging and intelligent story telling for kids C's age.

"The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day" by Christopher Edge and Matt Saunders is out now, published by Nosy Crow. 

Only recently we were bemoaning the serious lack of pony-based stories, and so we're delighted to discover the "A Pony called Secret" series from Olivia Tuffin and Nosy Crow.

In "A Pony Called Secret: A New Beginning" we once again catch up with pony-loving Alice.

She absolutely adores Secret, her spirited young pony, but she's worried she'll never be able to ride him!

Training Secret is proving harder than Alice thought possible, but then she meets free-spirited Finn.

He is a fearless rider, and has an amazing way with horses. But Finn is quite moody, and Alice doesn't know if they can ever be friends...

Can Alice create the perfect partnership with Secret? Or does she need Finn's help?

One thing's for certain - there's a long way to go before Alice's showjumping dreams can become a reality!

A perfect pony story from the author of the much-loved The Palomino Pony series, "A Pony Called Secret: A New Beginning" is out now, published by Nosy Crow.

Switching from ponies to something entirely less palatable now, but a cracking story kicking off what we hope is going to be a hugely successful series.

Kim Harrington's "App of the Living Dead (Gamer Squad)" stories build on kids' love of technology, oh and squishy horror characters with an appetite for brains.

Bex, Charlie and their friends have already saved their town from monsters and aliens - and they've learned their lesson about apps from Veratrum Games Corp (who make even the most evil gadget corporation on the planet look like cute puppies in comparison). 

So when the company releases their newest title, a zombie game, the friends band together and refuse to play, even though it looks like the coolest game ever and everyone in town is completely hooked on it. 

Then, when a flu works its way through school, turning students and teachers into walkers of the undead, Bex, Charlie and a few others are immune because they were the only ones who didn't play the game. 

But now they have to learn it fast to save their friends and neighbours - and stop Veratrum from unleashing more of their deadly games!

This is fast paced and action packed stuff that'll delight gamers and app fans alike. 

"Gamer Squad: App of the Living Dead" by Kim Harrington is out now, published by Chronicle Books. 

Next, we're fashionably late to the party for this one, but better late than never. We've finally figured out just why everyone's in love with Tom Gates...!

Liz Pichon's awesome "Tom Gates Epic Adventure (kind of)" is the latest fantastic instalment of the hugely successful and well received series.

Once again, "Tom Gates" establishes Liz as a total MEGASTAR of an author. 

Told in 'Tom's' trademark style with a ton of squiggly drawings illustrating throughout, we'll find out what it's like to have two sets of grandparents at last, and how cool it is when you're suddenly the unwitting centre of attention.

C is now completely hooked, so I think we'll be hunting out the rest of these.

Perfect for middle graders who love zaniness, acute observations about how daft adults can actually be (most of the time in fact), and of course a nerd hero that could even out-wimp Wimpy Kid.

"Tom Gates Epic Adventure (kind of)" by Liz Pichon is out now, published by Scholastic. 

From one totally epic adventure to another, a true pole-spanning quest that's full of breathtaking excitement and action.

"Brightstorm" by Vashti Hardy tells the story of twins Arthur and Maudie, who receive word in Lontown that their famous explorer father has died in a failed attempt to reach South Polaris.

Not only that, but he has been accused of trying to steal fuel from his competitors before he died!

The twins don't believe the news, and they answer an ad to help crew a new exploration attempt in the hope of learning the truth and salvaging their family's reputation.

As the winged ship Aurora sets sail, the twins must keep their wits about them and prove themselves worthy of the rest of the crew.

But will Arthur and Maudie find the answers they seek? Will they even survive their hazardous journey on a quest to uncover the truth about their late father?

There's no doubt about it, this is going to be one of those books that literally rips the breath from your lungs.

Vashti's writing is taut, exciting and hugely visual as you soon find yourself enveloped in an amazing bookworld.

"Brightstorm" by Vashti Hardy is out on 1st March 2018, published by Scholastic.

Last but by no means least, don't be fooled by his twitchy nose, his little white puff of a tail and his cute whiskers....

"Wed Wabbit" by Lissa Evans reveals the dark side of a seemingly harmless cuddly toy. We meet Fidge who finds life upturned at the tender age of nearly eleven. 

Hurled into a strange world, Fidge has three companions: two are unbelievably weird and the third is Fidge's truly awful cousin Graham. 

Fidge will have to solve a series of nearly impossible clues, deal with a cruel dictator and three thousand Wimbley Woos (yes, you read that sentence correctly). 

And the whole situation - the whole, entire thing - is apparently Fidge's fault. 

Wed Wabbit is an adventure story about friendship, danger and the terror of never being able to get back home again. And it's funny. It's seriously funny. Despite all the warnings, you'll really never regret taking this particular bunny home. 

"Wed Wabbit" by Lissa Evans is out now, published by David Fickling Books. 

More mystery next, in a deliciously dark tale of detective deviousness!

"Rose Raventhorpe Investigates" by Janine Beacham is the stunning third book in a fantastic series that laces dark detective mystery around a fabulous alt-reality world set in and around York (or rather Yorke as it's known in these stories).

This time the city is under siege from a terrifying supernatural hound known only as the Barghest. There's been a murder, and once again Rose, Orpheus and the secret society of Butlers must dig into a foul twisted plot that is darkly enticing and hugely dangerous. Could this be Rose's final case?

We love the book world here, the pure delight of wrapping a story around yourself like a blanket and being thoroughly gripped and engrossed by a story series that's gone from strength to strength. If you're a fan of stuff like "Murder Most Unladylike" you're going to love this series to bits too.

"Rose Raventhorpe Investigates - Hounds and Hauntings (book 3)" is out now, published by L & B Kids.

Next up, more amazing and original books from Chicken House...

First is "Tin" by Padraig Kenny, with a fantastic cover from Katie Hickey.

Telling the tale of Christopher - Christopher is 'Proper': a real boy with a real soul, orphaned in a fire. 

He works for an engineer, a maker of the eccentric, loyal and totally individual mechanicals who are Christopher's best friends. 

Christopher's whole world changes forever after a devastating accident. What follows is a remarkable adventure, as Christopher discovers who he really is, and what it means to be human.

It's a hugely entertaining and gloriously original story with a real heart as Christopher's epic journey begins. Cannot wait for more from Padraig.

"Tin" by Padraig Kenny (with cover art by Katie Hickey) is out on 1st February 2018, published by Chicken House Books. 

Sticking with Chicken House for a moment, there's also this scintillating thriller just right for the cold weather...

"Below Zero" by Dan Smith introduces Zak, a youngster who is used to the cold...

But when Zak's plane crash-lands on Outpost Zero, a small Antarctic research base in one of the most isolated places on Earth, he discovers a cold, dark nightmare.

His survival instincts will be tested to the maximum as Zak discovers the power's out and the people who normally live on the base have disappeared. 

Worse, as Zak searches for answers, bizarre visions suggest a link to something else - deep beneath the ice - which only he can understand. 

It's a taut wintry thriller, perfect for readers who love a bit of adventure tinged with darkness and chilling tension. 

"Below Zero" by Dan Smith is out now, published by Chicken House Books. 

More amazing detective work next, this time from a housemaid most extraordinaire!

"Nancy Parker's Chilling Conclusions" by Julia Lee is the third and final book in the Nancy Parker series, wrapping up Julia's fabulous housemaid detective stories (something we're just a tad sad about, as they have been truly stunning books). 

Nancy has a new job as a ladies' maid, and is accompanying her new employer on a visit to the grand and mysterious Midwinter Manor. 

The house is full of guests, and with each one eccentric and intriguing in their own way, it's set to be an interesting few days. 

But things turn from interesting to downright deadly when Nancy discovers a dead body in the library. Can Nancy unravel the twisted plot at the heart of this most fiendishly difficult case? 

A funny and energetic middle-grade mystery, narrated part in the third person and part through Nancy's illustrated journal. Perfect for fans of "Murder Most Unladylike", "Nancy Parker's Chilling Conclusions" by Julia Lee is out now, published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books. 

Just time for one more before we wrap things up for our January roundup...

Tom Clempson's fantastic "How To Avoid Certain Death" is a truly original romp, balancing giggles and jump-scares in equal measure! 

Charlie and Sarah are BORED. Bored bored bored bored bored! 

They live in the middle of nowhere with their dull grandparents who refuse to let them do anything exciting. 

But one day, adventure comes knocking when their grandparents are captured by the most terrifying pirate of all time - Vladimir Death Pirate, the most evil buccaneer ever to sail the seven seas. 

Charlie and Sarah launch an immediate rescue mission, setting sail to find their grandparents... in a bathtub of all things. It's not going to be an easy quest but then it'd make for a very short book if it was. This is utterly perfect for fans of MY BROTHER IS A SUPERHERO, a quirky, hilariously funny adventure full of warring pirates, terrifying zombie bunnies and a magical wish-granting island.

"How To Avoid Certain Death" by Tom Clempson is out now, published by Scholastic. 

And that's it for our first Chapter Book Roundup of 2018. Tune in soon for even more amazing chapter book goodness, and of course our regular "Chapter Book of the Week" winners announced every Friday. Keeeeeep reading!

(All chapter books kindly supplied for review).