Thursday, 31 January 2019

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book Roundup: January 2019

Welcome, welcome to our first Chapter Book roundup of 2019. We've been collecting together the very best chapter books to share with you for our first roundup of this year, and we've got some absolute corkers, so strap yourselves in, and let's get right to it.

First up is "A Pinch of Magic" by Michelle Harrison, the best-selling author of the fabulous "Thirteen Treasures" trilogy.

The story is woven around three sisters stricken by a family curse, and an overpowering air of misfortune that they cannot shake.

However, three magical objects may hold the key to lifting the curse - and so the quest begins for the three sisters to seek out these artefacts and hopefully change their fortunes forever.

Though their quest is not without danger, the originator of the curse will not rest until the family dies out - so it's not only a race against time, but against a hidden foe.

Darkly tinged but absolutely amazing, this is truly atmospheric writing from Michelle, and utterly essential if your kids love deep-woven middle grade fantasy with a real touch of class.

"A Pinch of Magic" by Michelle Harrison is out in February 2019, published by Simon and Schuster. 

In total contrast now is the fantastic "Charlie Changes into a Chicken" by Sam Copeland, with cover and internal illustrations from Sarah Horne.

Charlie McGuffin would love to be the kind of kid whose glass is always half full, but in reality he's a bit of a worrier.

Charlie worries about everything, including:

· His brother (who is in hospital)

· Their very panicked parents

· Unwanted attention from the school bully

· The fact that he's started turning into animals!

Yep that's right, Charlie has the weird ability to assume the form of other animals - which sounds really cool, until you turn into a pigeon in the middle of your school play. Eeeeek!

With the help of his three best friends, Charlie needs to find a way of dealing with his crazy new power - and fast - before interested parties whisk him away to be dissected.

"Charlie Changes into a Chicken" by Sam Copeland and Sarah Horne is in February 2019, published by Puffin.

And now for something completely different! How about a superb supernatural YA novel with truly original characters.

In "Out of Salem" by Hal Schrieve meet Genderqueer fourteen-year-old Z Chilworth, who has to adjust quickly to a whole new status as a zombie after waking from death from a car crash that killed their parents and sisters.

Always a talented witch, Z now can barely perform magic and is rapidly decaying. Faced with rejection from their remaining family members and old friends, Z moves in with Mrs. Dunnigan, an elderly witch and befriends Aysel, a loud would-be-goth classmate who is, like Z, a loner.

As Z struggles to find a way to repair the broken magical seal holding their body together, Aysel fears that her classmates will discover her status as an unregistered werewolf. When a local psychiatrist is murdered by what seems to be werewolves, the town of Salem, Oregon, becomes even more hostile to 'monsters,' and Z and Aysel are driven together in an attempt to survive a place where most people wish that neither of them existed.

Wrought with complex and compelling originality, this is more than just a 'monster of the week' novel, it's a superbly dark slice of self-aware and tantalisingly characterful horror.

"Out of Salem" by Hal Schrieve is out in March 2019, published by Seven Stories Press. 

Also from Seven Stories is a new print of an essential modern analysis of Greek culture in "The Siege and Fall of Troy" by Robert Graves.

For centuries, the ancient world was electrified by the story of the ten-year war that brought down the ancient city of Troy and destroyed the lives of countless Greek and Trojan warriors. In the modern world, according to Robert Graves, "English literature, to be properly understood, calls for as close a knowledge of the Trojan War as of the Bible." Here are ambition, greed, cruelty, suffering, madness, treachery, jealousy, pride, and foolishness in abundance, a tale of woe that brings the ancient world into a modern context.

The ancient city of Troy was sacked sometime early in the twelfth century BC; The Iliad and The Odyssey were composed some four or five centuries later. But there were many other accounts besides Homer's, and Graves uses them all. His writing style is sleek, action- driven, and to the point.

Reading like a real-life "Game of Thrones" at times, this is absolutely fascinating stuff. 

"The Siege and Fall of Troy" by Robert Graves is out now, published by Seven Stories Press. 

We both fell completely head over heels in love with this next one. "Alienated: Grounded at Groom Lake" by Jeff Norton dips into conspiracy theories and alien shenanigans in a suitably cool and modern way. 

Think your school is strange? Feel like you don't quite fit in?

Fourteen-year-old Sherman Capote is an Air Force brat used to moving schools. But he's never been to a place like Groom Lake High, the high school for aliens at Area 51. It's a totally alien environment filled with cliques and bullies, but he makes friends with a gang of galactic misfits: Octo, a quick-witted Ventitent (a twenty-tentacled "octopus"), Houston, a moody robot, Sonya, a rebellious lizard, and Juliet, an omnipotent goddess. But when the school bully, Ned, initiates a War of the Worlds, Sherman and his new friends must set aside homework, first crushes and high school proms to save the world.

It's like no other school you've ever seen and if like us you're into all things UFO and alien-based, you're going to absolutely love this one. 

"Alienated: Grounded at Groom Lake" by Jeff Norton is out now, published by Awesome Reads. 

As it's still cold and wintry outside, we think this book is perfect for this time of year.

Anne Booth's fabulous "Magical Kingdom of Birds: The Ice Swans" with illustrations from Rosie Butcher is the perfect read to snuggle up somewhere warm with.

"The Ice Swans" continues this fabulous series that began when Maya received a special colouring book - The Magical Kingdom of Birds. Every time she opens the book she is transported to a beautiful realm filled with magnificent birds and their fairy friends. 

But the Kingdom is in trouble, wicked Lord Astor has frozen the Diamond Lake and turned its beautiful swans into ice statues. 

Can Maya, with the help of her friends Willow and Patch, break the enchantment and save the day?

With lots of interesting facts about the birds that inspired the series, this is a really magical book series to collect and keep. 

"Magical Kingdom of Birds: The Ice Swans" by Anne Booth and Rosie Butcher is out now, published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books. 

Next it's "Veronica Twitch, the Fabulous Witch in Double Bubble girl-band trouble" by Erica-Jane Waters.

Veronica is truly fabulous, darling! She works for Twitch Magazine and is ridiculously excited as she gets her first assignment: To write a feature on the most exciting band in Witch City, Double-Bubble. 

Things take a mysterious turn when Double-Bubble are kidnapped! Calamities!

Could Belinda Bullfrog from Twitch's rival magazing Nosy Toad be behind it all? 

Veronica and her friends must piece together the mystery of the missing girl band, rescue them and get Twitch Magazine's article back on track before it's too late!

A spooky read with tons of fun, "Veronica Twitch the Fabulous Witch in Double Bubble Girl Band Trouble" by Erica-Jane Waters is out now, published by Wacky Bee. 

Time to wrap up our January Chapter Book Roundup with a fabulous new book from Karen McCombie. 

"Little Bird Flies is the story of Bridie, a little girl who lives on the remote Scottish island of Torrnish, the youngest of three sisters.

Although she loves her island, with its wild seas and big skies, she guiltily nurses a secret dream of flight - to America and the freedom of the New World. 

But her family are struggling under the spiteful oppression of the new Laird, and it seems that even some of the Laird's own household are desperate to leave. 

When the Laird's full cruelty becomes apparent, there's no more time for daydreams as Bridie needs to help the people she loves escape to safety - but not aboard a plane, instead a clanky old steamship that might just be their one way ticket to a new life. 

The first in a gripping, dramatic new series from much-loved author, Karen McCombie, filled with delicious highland atmosphere and tons of adventure for boys and girls. 

"Little Bird Flies" by Karen McCombie is out now, published by Nosy Crow. 

New books from Gill Lewis always cause a kerfuffle at home, she's extremely popular with little miss. So here's a real treat coming up in February.

"The Closest Thing to Flying" by Gill Lewis starts in the present-day world of a little girl called Semira.

Life is in upheaval. Semira doesn't know where to call home. She and her mother came to England when she was four years old, brought across the desert and the sea by a man who has complete control.

Always moving on, always afraid of being caught, she longs for freedom.

Running parallel to Semira's tale is a story that begins in 1891 with another young girl named Hen.

She knows exactly where to call home. Her stifling mother makes sure of that. But her Aunt Kitty is opening her eyes to a whole new world. A world of animal rights, and votes for women, and riding bicycles!

Trapped in a life of behaving like a lady, she longs for freedom.

The two separate worlds intertwine when Semira discovers Hen's diary and finds the inspiration to be brave, to fight for her place in the world, and maybe even to uncover the secrets of her own past.

This is a beautifully woven tale tiptoeing between Hen's diary and Semira's present-day angst filled life but one where characters generations apart can find common ground in standing up for the things they believe in. Things that are important to us all.

"The Closest Thing to Flying" by Gill Lewis is out on 7th February 2019, published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books. 

Pirates! Yes indeed, they're a book trend that really never seems to go away - but here's a fun tale of a distinctly different type of buccaneer.

"Captain Cat" by Sue Mongredien and Kate Pankhurst is the hilarious tale of a young moggy named Patch.

She is a ship's cat who lives aboard The Golden Earring. Along with her friends, Cutlass the parrot and Monty the monkey, Patch frequently gets the pirate crew out of trouble – although they never realize quite how much she does to save their skins.

In their first adventure, the pirate crew discover a treasure map and set out to find where X marks the spot. But little do they know that the treasure is cursed and it's up to Captain Cat to stop them, before it's too late!

Fizzing with energy and superbly paced, this is a great little book for early chapter readers filled with giggles and laughs.

"Captain Cat and the Treasure Map" by Sue Mongredien and Kate Pankhurst is out on 7th February, published by Pan Macmillan. 

We're swimming under the sea now rather than sailing on top, with a new book from fabulous Cerrie Burnell, who has wowed us with her picture books previously, and is making her way into middle grade with "The Girl with the Shark's Teeth".

The story begins with Minnow, a girl who is different from the others in her town and there's plenty to set her apart: the blossom of pale scars which lie beneath Minnow's delicate ears, the fact that she has an affinity with the water which leaves people speechless, and that once - she is sure - in deep, deep water, her body began to glow like a sunken star. 

When her mum gets into trouble and is taken from their boat in the dead of night, Minnow is alone with one instruction: sail to Reykjavik to find your grandmother, she will keep you safe. 

Minnow has never sailed on her own before, but the call of the deep is a call she's been waiting to answer her whole young life - and so her journey begins. 

Perhaps a girl who is lost on land can be found in the Wild Deep.

Filled with magic and wonder, Cerrie's writing draws you into Minnow's amazing mystical world, and a quest fraught with danger - but also with a life-affirming message about the journeys we all take in order to 'find ourselves' sometimes. 

Beautiful stuff! "The Girl with the Shark's Teeth" by Cerrie Burnell is out now, published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books. 

Next, the latest book in a favourite and hugely popular middle grade series as once again we enter the world of The Night Zookeeper. 

"Night Zookeeper: The Penguins of Igloo City" by Joshua Davidson and Buzz Burman finds young Will once again transported into the world of the Night Zoo. 

This time Will is thrust into an incredible adventure, and is joined by his friends, Sam and Riya. 

Will journeys through a new portal and arrives within the high walls of Igloo City. It is a strange place where the animals follow strict rules put in place by their leader, Circles the owl. 

Circles is determined to stamp out any rule breakers and wants Will to track down a group of rebels, but is it the right thing to do? 

The safety of Igloo City depends on Will choosing the right side - will he follow Circles' orders, or break free from her rules and join the rebels?

Brilliant storytelling with fab illustrations once again from Buzz, this is a great title for kids beginning their solo reading journeys. 

"Night Zookeeper: The Penguins of Igloo City" by Joshua Davidson and Buzz Burman is out now, published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books. 

Finally here's a nice slice of geeky action from Nosy Crow. "When Good Geeks Go Bad" by Catherine Wilkins has just been released and should be bang on the nail for kids who feel like their parents are trying to RULE / RUIN EVERYTHING!

When Ella's dad refuses to let her have cool school shoes or stay up later than 9:30, Ella decides to take things into her own hands. 

Being good and doing as she's told hasn't got her anywhere, so why not try being bad for a while? 

It certainly looks a lot more fun and what's a few detentions here and there? 

But going bad is a slippery slope and soon things are starting to spiral out of control. 

Can Ella get things back on track? Or is she going to end up with egg on her face? 

Catherine has perfectly captured that tween angsty uproariousness in her new novel, perfect for C's age group when tiny acts of rebellion are part and parcel of everyday life. Who says parents know best, after all?

"When Good Geeks Go Bad" by Catherine Wilkins is out now, published by Nosy Crow. 

We'll be back again in February with another bumper bookbag full of awesome chapter books. See you then!

(all books kindly supplied for review).