Thursday, 28 February 2019

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book Roundup - February 2019

Welcome, welcome to another fantastic Chapter Book Roundup with some of our favourite reads of February.

We're kicking off with a truly awesome slice of fantasy for middle graders in the form of "The Little Grey Girl" - the second volume in the awesome Wild Magic Trilogy by Celine Kiernan.

Described as Ireland's answer to J.K. Rowling (which isn't a comparison to be sniffed at), "The Little Grey Girl" is the story of witches and forbidden magic from a beloved and award-winning Irish writer.

The story opens as the queen and her raggedy witches have fled, but the kingdom is not yet healed.

The castle is haunted by memories of its brutal past. The ghosts are angry, and one of them in particular possesses a magic which may be too much for even Mup and Mam to handle. Step forward The Little Grey Girl, with her own mastery of magic still yet to be determined, with a dark secret linked to an ancient legend.

It's tightly written, richly immersive fantasy that will draw you in.

"The Little Grey Girl (Wild Magic Trilogy Book 2)" by Celine Kiernan (with cover and art by Jess Courntney-Tickle) is out now, published by Walker Books

Time for something a little more light-hearted now. "Hotel Flamingo" is the awesome new holiday destination from Alex Milway but don't wait till the long hot summer to read this one, it's out now and the perfect antidote to cold grey wintry days.

When young Anna inherits a dilapidated once-grand hotel from her Great Aunt Mathilde, she's determined to restore it to its former glory.

But this is no ordinary hotel - all of her staff and guests are animals! 

Anna soon rises to the challenge. Whether it's a flamingo, a penguin or a hippo knocking at the door, Anna is ready to welcome them all - with the help of her trusty sidekicks T Bear the doorman, Squeak the friendly elevator mouse, and Lemmy the lemur receptionist!

As she soon finds out, though, running an animal hotel is no easy task. Can Anna make Hotel Flamingo a success once more?

It's the sort of place you'll just love to check in with, and hopefully this will be the first in a series, as we just can't wait to get back to "Hotel Flamingo" by Alex Milway, out now and published by Piccadilly Press. 

More mystery and suspense now with a deliciously dark middle grade adventure. 

"The Tunnels Below" by Nadine Wild-Palmer is a truly impressive debut for a new author who looks set to wow the world with her first book. 

On her twelfth birthday Cecilia goes out with her parents and sister to celebrate with a visit to a museum.

On their way Cecilia drops the marble that her sister gave her as a present, and running to pick it up she is taken away on an empty underground train into a dark and deep tunnel! EEK!

The fun family outing becomes a much more serious mission when Cecilia finds that she and her marble have a very important role to play in freeing the inhabitants of the tunnels from the tyrannical rule of the Corvus.

A truly inventive, clever and magical story about the power of friendship and the importance of self-belief, with a really amazing atmosphere that will keep you gripped with every page turn. Just how we love our books!

"The Tunnels Below" by Nadine Wild-Palmer is out now, published by Pushkin Press. 

Next, a tale of cats with superpowers!? Count us in! This brand-new series is every young animal lover's dream come true.

"Super Cats" by Gwyneth Rees and Becka Moor is the story of young Tagg the kitten who discovers that his parents have superpowers, changing his life forever. And just to think, all this time he thought he was an ordinary cat.

Suddenly a whole new world opens up before his eyes. His mum has the most extraordinary claws. His dad is super strong. What will Tagg's power be? He can't wait to find out!

But cats are disappearing from the streets - cats rumoured to have special abilities of their own. And when a new cat arrives in town, things aren't quite what they seem. 

Nemesissy is a sleek lilac Siamese with the power to hypnotise humans. Unfortunately for Nemesissy she messes with the wrong cats when she targets Tagg and his new friend, Sugarfoot - they may be kittens, but they are SUPER, and it's time for a right royal rumble!

A superbly paced super-feline treat! "Super Cats" by Gwyneth Rees and Becka Moor is released on the 4th April 2019, published by Bloomsbury. 

Dog lovers needn't feel left out this month either, with the arrival of "Storm Hound" by Claire Fayers. 

Storm of Odin is the youngest stormhound of the Wild Hunt that haunts lightning-filled skies.

He has longed for the time when he will be able to join his brothers and sisters but on his very first hunt he finds he can't keep up and falls to earth, landing on the A40 just outside Abergavenny.

Enter twelve-year-old Jessica Price, who finds and adopts a cute puppy from an animal rescue centre. And suddenly, a number of strange people seem very interested in her and her new pet, Storm. 

People who seem to know a lot about magic . . .

An ancient myth, a dose of magic and a little girl who has the most difficult quest of all - to work out just who she can trust, this is a perfectly pitched middle grader for kids who love stuff like "Who Let the Gods Out" and also like a bit of Norse-style mythology to boot!

"Storm Hound" by Claire Fayers is out now, published by Pan Macmillan. 

Next up we're bringing you a delicious collection of gorgeous chapter book and middle grade fiction, kicking off with another fantastic collection of classic stories from Kaye Umansky, with illustrations by Katy Riddell.

"Even More Pongwiffy Stories" once again collects three brilliant adventures featuring Kaye's hapless but utterly adorable witch.

The three classics featured are "Pongwiffy and the Pantomime", "The Spellovision Song Contest" and "Back on Track"

Pongwiffy and the rest of the witches need to earn some money, and fast! But every idea they come up with to raise funds seems so BORING ... until Pongwiffy suggests they put on a pantomime and sell tickets. Get ready for some theatrical chaos with the witches of Witchway Wood...

In the second story, all the witches are transfixed by spellovision and no one wants to do anything fun anymore. Until Pongwiffy decides to launch a song contest to liven things up!

Finally, Pongwiffy decides that being a witch of dirty habits is holding her back. It's time to get healthy, but can a witch who prefers sludge to sprouts really get back on track? Definitely one to identify with as we still seem to be polishing off Christmas goodies that are somehow STILL hanging around!

"Even More Pongwiffy Stories" by Kaye Umansky and Katy Riddell is out now, published by Simon and Schuster Children's Books. 

The next book is an absolute corker, definitely not to be missed!

"The Cosmic Atlas of Alfie Fleet" joins a stout and brave little fellah who roams the galaxy in search of the most incredible sights in the universe. 

From giant sand lobsters on planet Maureen and the Twang Bears of Mumsy, to the eerie (yet oddly quite boring) brains in jars on Brains-in-Jars World - there's something for everyone. 

If danger's your thing you won't want to miss Outlandish, with its gold-hoarding dragon, take-your-life-in-your-hands cuisine, and welcoming locals who'll fire lightning bolts at you. 

C was absolutely hooked on this book from the get-go, loving the crazy and creative mix of science fiction, and truly bizarre creatures. Superb descriptive and immersive storytelling from Martin fused with scritchy-scratchy but gorgeous art from Chris. It's a winner! Hopefully one day we'll have a better pic of the cover to stick in here!

"The Cosmic Atlas of Alfie Fleet" by Martin Howard and Chris Mould is out on 7th March 2019, published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books. 

Something a little more light hearted now, and the latest in Laura James' awesome snub-nosed series. "Pirate Pug" by Laura James with illustrations by Eglantine Ceulemans finds our heroic puggy pal heading for the high seas. 

As Pug and Lady Miranda head off to the seaside, Pug is dreaming of naps under the beach umbrella, but when a little mishap means he has to wear an eyepatch, things quickly get a lot less snoozy!

Soon Pirate Pug and his ragtag crew of friends find themselves on the trail of buried treasure. They have to reach the island where X marks the spot before the other pirates beat them to it. There's just one problem - Pug is scared of water!

The fourth book in the series, this is brilliant stuff for wee middle graders who want something fantastic to start off their solo reading journeys, with tons of fun and giggles with a charismatic and imaginative doggy character. 

"Pirate Pug: The Dog Who Rocked the Boat" by Laura James and Eglantine Ceulemans is out now, published by Bloomsbury Children's Books. 

Next, the start of a fabulous new series filled with wonder and magic, witches and rather grumpy moggy sidekicks.

"Starfell: Willow Moss and the Lost Day" by Dominique Valente and Sarah Warburton is book one in this awesome new series that instantly won C over with a ton of atmosphere.

The story of misfit witch Willow Moss unfolds as she holds the fate of the magical world of Starfell in her rather unremarkable hands.

Willow is the youngest and least powerful sister in a family of witches. She has a magical ability for finding lost things – like keys, or socks, or wooden teeth. Though her magic is undoubtedly useful, it’s not exactly exciting or world-changing.

Until, that is, the most powerful witch in the whole of Starfell turns up at her door requesting Willow’s help.

A whole day – last Tuesday to be precise – has gone missing, and the repercussions could be devastating for Willow's world of Starfell.

Can Willow find the missing day and save everything?

With gorgeous illustrations from Sarah Warburton, this is definitely going to be a huge hit with girls and boys aged 8-12 who love a touch of magic in their tales.

"Starfell: Willow Moss and the Lost Day" by Dominique Valente and Sarah Warburton is out now, published by HarperCollins Children's Books. 

We're all of a buzz about this next one, the third in Tony De Saulle's excellent "Bee Boy" series.

In "Bee Boy: Curse of the Vampire Mites" our titular hero once again finds himself immersed in all things buzzy.

Melvin Meadly is half bee, half boy and in his latest adventure the world's bees are in big trouble! 

All over the planet, plagues of bloodsucking vampire mites are infesting hives and wiping out entire colonies!

 Mel must battle to protect his beloved bees from attack, but he has more than just mites to worry about when beekeepers start to mysteriously disappear. There's definitely something rotten going on in and around the hives and Melvin might need every ounce of his bee-like strength to figure this mystery out. 

The third adventure in this action-packed series. Filled with fantastic bee facts, and illustrated in stunning black and yellow and I swear if you hold this book up to your nose and give it a good solid sniff, you'll be able to detect the faint whiff of honey, and the rapidly approaching spring! Hooray!

"Bee Boy: Curse of the Vampire Mites" by Tony De Saulles is out now, published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books"

More from OUP now, and a fantastic atmospheric new adventure from Tim Bowler, with stunning cover art from one of our fave illustrators Tom Clohosy-Cole. 

"River Boy" opens with a family tragedy unfolding. Jess's beloved grandpa is dying, crippled by a debilitating disease. 

He can barely move his hands any more but, stubborn as ever, refuses to stay in hospital.

He's determined to finish his last painting, River Boy, before he goes.

At first Jess can't understand his refusal to let go, but then she too becomes involved in the mysterious painting. And when she meets the river boy himself, she finds she is suddenly caught up in a challenge of her own that she must complete - before it's too late!

It's very easy to see why this one a prestigious Carnegie medal, and this attractive new edition should win over a whole new stack of readers completely drawn into this mysterious and moving tale. 

"River Boy" by Tim Bowler with cover art by Tom Clohosy-Cole is out now, published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books. 

Polishing off this month's chapter book roundup with a truly stunning book we've been itching to get our hands on, and it's every bit as good as we knew it would be. 

"The Kite Rider" by Geraldine McCaughrean is the latest from the amazing double Carnegie medal-winner who draws us into a tale set in Ancient China. 

Young Haoyou knows that his father's spirit lives among the clouds. He also knows that to save his mother from being forced into a new marriage he must now follow in his father's footsteps and take to the skies, riding a kite through the clouds and the spirits of the dead. 

Then the Jade Circus offers him a chance to escape his enemies and travel throughout the empire, and maybe even perform before Kublai Khan himself. 

But is going with the circus really the best option?

Could the circus master be leading him into even greater danger?

Thoroughly original and compelling with such an unusual setting, drawing in influences from ancient Chinese myth and legend and wrapping them around a story with heroism and family love at its heart, spectacular is not the word!

"The Kite Rider" by Geraldine McCaughrean is out now, published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books. 

(All books kindly supplied in exchange for a fair and unbiased review).