Thursday, 29 August 2019

ReaditDaddy's Chapter Book Roundup - August 2019

Welcome, welcome to our August Chapter Book Roundup. Yes I know the summer holidays are almost over, and you're probably thinking about starting back at school (arrgh!) or starting school for the first time (eeeeeek!) but our book sack is filled to the brim today, so let's delve in and see what chapter-laden treats are in store.

First up is "Moonstruck: Poems about our Moon", a new poetry compilation from Roger Stevens, with illustrations by Ed Boxall.

This glorious collection contains new poems about our moon from up-and-coming poets, and also contains some fabulous classics from the likes of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Emily Bronte, proving that the moon has long been a divine source of inspiration for poets and creatives throughout the generations.

New poems from  Roger Stevens, Brian Moses, Valerie Bloom, Mandy Coe, Grace Nichols, Liz Brownlee, James Carter, Jay Hulme, Tony Mitton, Sue Hardy-Dawson and Rachel Rooney are the core part of this glorious book, and there's truly something for everyone in this brilliant piece of work, curated by Roger.

"Moonstruck" curated and edited by Roger Stevens and illustrated by Ed Boxall is out now, published by Otter-Barry Books.

More hilarious fun next from awesome author David Solomons and his new book "My Cousin is a Time Traveller".

Meet Luke, a young ordinary lad with a rather extraordinary cousin - who just happens to be able to travel in time.

She's awesome, amazing and has a keen brain - but has a message for humanity, or at least Luke anyway. Machines in the future have become far too intelligent, and have taken over the world! YIPES! It's up to Luke to fill in the gap left by Zack, who has recently sworn off all his superpowers to become a normal teenage nerd.

Can Luke help his cousin to quell the rise of the machines? Hugely original and entertaining, with lots of laughs along the way, this is an epoch-jumping adventure in the making.

"My Cousin is a Time Traveller" by David Solomons is out now, published by Nosy Crow.

Next, another rather amazing compilation - not of poetry this time, but of short stories written by some of our favourite middle grade and YA authors of the moment.

"Return to Wonderland" is a glorious celebration of the bookworld and works of one Lewis Carroll, and his most amazing creation Alice - and her adventures in Wonderland.

Now, modern authors have used Lewis' original works as divine inspiration for a huge collection of tales, each one building on that world and its amazing characters.

Choose from tales from the likes of Peter Bunzl, Pamela Butchart, Maz Evans, Swapna Haddow, Patrice Lawrence, Chris Smith, Robin Stevens, Lauren St John, Lisa Thompson, Piers Torday and Amy Wilson (phew!) - One heck of a roster, I'm sure you'll agree!

Tumble down the rabbit hole again to find out what happens in Wonderland without Alice there. Is the Queen of Hearts still ruling with an iron fist? Does the Mad Hatter still have to go to tea? And will Tweedledum and Tweedledee ever resolve their argument?

More than 150 years since Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was first published by Macmillan, revisit Carroll's amazing cast of characters – including the Queen of Hearts, the Mock Turtle, the Dormouse, the Cheshire Cat and Alice's Sister in these brand-new stories, that will bring a new generation of readers to Wonderland.

"Return to Wonderland" by various authors, is out now, published by Macmillan Childrens Books. 

Time for a slice of septuagenerian silliness now from a completely crazy grandma.

"Grandma Dangerous and the Toe of Treachery" is the third book in a completely madcap series from Kita Mitchell and Nathan Reed.

Ollie's grandma really is completely crackers, and danger is her middle name (not really, it's actually Maude!) and together with her hapless hound Piper, it's time to embark on an adventure to the sultry deserts of Egypt, where there's a grand mystery to solve. A mystery involving bandages, balloons and a manky Mummy toe (methinks the author must've seen the Mummy's toe at the Pitt Rivers museum near us!)

Fans of David Walliams will love this brilliant mix of mirth, mystery and mayhem, courtesy of the diminutive titular little old lady with a taste for excitement and adventure.

"Grandma Dangerous and the Toe of Treachery" by Kita Mitchell and Nathan Reed is out now, published by Orchard Books. 

Next up is the latest in a fabulous and successful sparkly series with everyone's favourite mythical beasts playing a huge part in the "Unicorn Academy" adventures.

"Matilda and Pearl" by Julie Sykes and Lucy Truman is the latest book in the series.

Imagine a school where you meet your own unicorn and have amazing adventures together!

That's what happens for the girls at Unicorn Academy on beautiful Unicorn Island.

Matilda and Pearl are having a fantastic time at Unicorn Academy. They both have big imaginations and are great at telling stories. They're the perfect partners.

While camping in the woods, Matilda, Pearl and their friends discover that magic is draining from the oldest tree on the island. They're sure someone is up to no good but they'll have to think fast to stop them!

Huge mighty girl appeal for this one, another brilliant entry in the hugely successful Unicorn Academy series.

"Unicorn Academy: Matilda and Pearl" by Julie Sykes and Lucy Truman is out now, published by Nosy Crow. 

A scintillating eco-thriller next, with "Where the River Runs Gold" by Sita Brahmachari.

Set against the backdrop of a world where dwindling natural resources are severely under threat, and the insect population has been decimated, the tale of Shifa and her brother Themba unfolds.

The siblings live in Kairos City with their father, Nabil. The city is a sprawl, with the lauded few living in luxury in amazing apartments downtown, while the rest huddle together in stinking crowded compounds, most drafted in to working for the indidious "Freedom Fields" - a globe-spanning organisation who will look after you as a worker - for a price. Your entire life. 

Shifa and Themba work as poorly paid labour on crop farms, pollinating crops by hand so that the entire nation can eat. The farm Shifa and Themba are sent to is hard and cruel. Themba won't survive there and Shifa comes up with a plan to break them out. But they have no idea where they are - their only guide is a map drawn from the ramblings of a stranger (a map you'll find at the start of this stunning book, and boy do we ever love books that start off with a map!)

The journey ahead is fraught with danger, but Shifa is strong and knows to listen to her instincts - to let love guide them home. The freedom of a nation depends on it. 

At once thought-provoking and utterly timely, this has 'win' written all over it. 

"Where the River Runs Gold" by Sita Brahmachari is out now, published by Orion Children's Books. 

Next up, something for lovers of "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" and "Tom Gates" - A new hero beckons, in the shape of Omar. 

In "Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet" by Zanib Mian and Nasaya Mafaridik you'll find out exactly why Omar always seems to have trouble following him around like a faithful puppy. 

Omar's parents have just moved house, and moved him to a new school. Familiar Middle Grade territory so far, but Omar at least has Eid to look forward to with all its feasting, presents and happiness. Assuming of course that Omar can avoid the class bully first. 

Can Omar stay in his mum and dad's good books long enough to get exactly what he wants for Eid?

A fabulous middle grade story full of awesome cultural references that's perfect for kids who want to find out what life is like as a young Muslim, filled with a quirky mix of imagination and humour. 

"Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet" by Zanib Mian and Nasaya Mafaridik is out now, published by Hodder Children's Books. 

Something thoroughly original next, and a setting and theme that reminded me of my favourite type of stories from childhood. 

In "Swimming against the Storm" by Jess Butterworth you'll meet sisters Eliza and Avery, who have lived their entire lives in a small fishing village on the coast of Louisiana, growing up alongside turtles, pelicans and porpoises. 

But now, with sea levels rising, their home is at risk of being swept away.

Determined to save the land, Eliza and her younger sister Avery secretly go searching in the swamp for the dangerous, wolf-like loup-garou. If they can prove this legendary creature exists, they're sure that the government will have to protect its habitat - and their community.

But there's one problem: the loup-garou has never been seen before. And with a tropical storm approaching and the sisters deep, deep in the swampland, soon it's not just their home at risk, but their lives as well. 

A truly brilliant eco-adventure with a touch of mystery and magic about it, as atmospheric and absorbing as it sounds. 

"Swimming Against the Storm" by Jess Butterworth is out now, published by Orion Children's Books. 

Fun for emergent solo readers next, with a cool pair of characters on their debut caper. 

"Agent Weasel and the Fiendish Fox Gang" by Nick East begins with sheer and utter chaos. 

Strange things are happening in the United Woodlands. Rabbit warrens have been peppered with itching powder. Squirrels' nuts are missing (owch!) 

Even Badger's bottom has been shaved (what? NOOOO!) All the clues point to the Fiendish Fox Gang.

It's time to call Agent Weasel, woodland super-spy. But before they can even finish their stakeout picnic, Weasel and his trusty dormouse friend Doorkins are captured by the villainous Vixen von Fluff.

Can our heroes escape? Can peace be made in the United Woodlands? Will they get afternoon tea and biscuits? Does Agent Weasel have a clue what's going on?

A brilliant mix of hilarity and great illustrations in a spy caper with a difference. Fab stuff!

"Agent Weasel and the Fiendish Fox Gang" by Nick East is out now, published by Hodder Children's Books. 

Corking YA stuff now for older kids, let's meet Dinah!!

In her first YA novel, Costa-shortlisted Kit de Waal responds to classic Moby Dick by tearing the power away from obsessive Captain Ahab and giving it to a teenage girl.

Dinah's whole world is upside down, dead things and angry men and cuts all over her head that are beginning to sting....

Seventeen-year-old Dinah needs to leave her home, the weird commune where she grew up. She needs a whole new identity, starting with how she looks, starting with shaving off her hair, her 'crowning glory'. She has to do it quickly, because she has to go now.

Dinah was going to go alone and hitch a ride down south. Except, she ends up being persuaded to illegally drive a VW campervan for hundreds of miles, accompanied by a grumpy man with one leg. This wasn't the plan.

But while she's driving, Dinah will be forced to confront everything that led her here, everything that will finally show her which direction to turn...

Sizzlingly original, a brilliant take on the classic story but tweaked and twisted into something thoroughly on-point, this is truly awesome stuff.

"Becoming Dinah" by Kit De Waal is out now, published by Orion Children's Books. 

Last up, and another truly brilliant slice of fantasy from a publisher who really knows how to sign up the most amazing book series. 

Book one of the Shamer Chronicles is "The Shamer's Daughter by Lene Kaaberbol. 

Dina has inherited her mother's gift: she is a Shamer, able to see a person's most guilty secrets just by gazing in their eyes. 

It sounds like the most extraordinary gift, but for Shamers, the gift comes at a price. No one wants to be friends with someone who can look directly into their souls and unearth their deepest darkest secrets. 

When Dina's mother is called to Dunark Castle to uncover the truth about a terrible crime, Dina must come to terms with her power, and quickly or let her mother fall prey to the vicious dragons of Dunark.

A glorious example of sublime world and character building, deftly translated and presented, this is sure to be a huge hit with middle grade / YA kids who like their fantasy complex and intertwining. 

"The Shamer's Daughter" by Lene Kaaberbol is out now, published by Pushkin Children's Books. 

Now for a chapter book version of a seriously brilliant comic series that we absolutely love to bits.

"Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power!" by Mariko Tamaki and Brooklyn Allen catches up with the mighty girls of Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp for Hardcore Lady Types (you can see why they're better known as the Lumberjanes, right?)

The five scouts of Roanoke cabin Jo, April, Molly, Mal, and Ripley (our fave!) love their summers at camp.

They get to hang out with their best friends, earn Lumberjane scout badges, annoy their no-nonsense counselor Jen and go on supernatural adventures.

That last one? A pretty normal occurrence at Miss Quinzella's, where the woods contain endless mysteries.

Today is no exception. When thrill-seeking Molly leads the girls on a hike up the TALLEST mountain they've ever seen, things don t go quite as planned. For one, they didn t expect to trespass into the lands of the ancient Cloud People, and did anyone happen to read those ominous signs some unknown person posted at the bottom of the mountain?

Also, unicorns.

We do absolutely love the graphic novels but these middle grade adventures are a lot of fun too. Start collecting the series starting with "Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power" by Mariko Tamaki and Brooklyn Allen, out now and published by Amulet. 

One final one we're sneaking in, as we do love these publications from The History Press...

"Buckinghamshire Folk Tales" by Terrie Howey delves into our neighbouring county of Buckinghamshire, a county as much steeped in history as the subjects of the other books we've covered on the blog - and of course a country famous for some distinctly dark tales gathered together and curated expertly by the author.

In this county you'll find Roman forts, legends of nefarious highwaymen who patrolled and lay in wait for unsuspecting victims, right up to the modern Buckinghamshire with its motorways and urban myths.

Look out for witches and dragons, mind all those roundabouts (particularly in Milton Keynes, a place where we never seem to go in and come out the same way, no matter how hard we try), and whatever you do – don’t eat the stew!

Find out why in "Buckinghamshire Folk Tales" by Terrie Howey, published by The History Press and out now. 

...and not to be outdone, let's shift counties for the next collection of folk tales from The History Press.

"Dorset Folk Tales for Children" by Tim Laycock, with illustrations by Zoe Barnish is a kid-friendly collection of amazing folk tales collected across one of our favourite counties (and favourite holiday destinations too!)

Dorset is an amazing county of contrasts from amazing forests and rolling hills, down to the rugged coastlines and sandy beaches - all waiting to host tales to tantalize young minds.

Meet an old man of the sea, or read a sizzling adventure centred around an old map.

Or best of all, read the tale of Granny Parsons and the Dorset Dumplings - a giggle-fest perfect as a bed-time story. There are 14 brilliant tales in all, in another winning collection of stories curated by Tim.

"Dorset Folk Tales for Children" by Tim Laycock, with illustrations from Zoe Barnish is available now, published by The History Press. 

(all books kindly supplied for review)