Thursday, 28 November 2019

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book Roundup - November 2019

Welcome, welcome to our last Chapter Book Roundup of 2019! December is traditionally our month for bringing you the very best Christmas books but we're not quite there yet, so let's see if we can find a ton of amazing books that might sneak their way into your christmas stockings at some point.

You might actually ladder them with our first book choice, the brilliant followup to "Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus" - Now we're on "Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus" by Dusti Bowling.

Meet Aven, no ordinary girl - and just as Aven starts to feel comfortable in Stagecoach Pass, with her friends and schoolmates accustomed to her lack of armage, everything changes once again.

She s about to begin high school - a huge place filled with 2,300 new kids to stare at her, and no matter how much Aven tries to play it cool, nothing prepares her for the reality.

In a year filled with confusion, humiliation, fears, loss, and just maybe love, can Aven manage to stay true to herself?

A superb book offering a tweenager's eye view of the world, arriving with perfect timing just as C enters senior school herself.

"Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus" by Dusti Bowling is out now, published by Sterling Books. 

For our next book, everyone knows "The Fonz" is cool, right? But did you know Henry Winkler is a successful children's author as well as Emmy-winning actor? No? Well you do now, and along with Lin Oliver his latest book series is here!

"Alien Superstar" tells the story of a super-cool alien called Buddy Burger (you probably couldn't pronounce his real name so don't even try). No one is shocked by the six-eyed alien strolling around the Universal Studios back lot.

The tourists just think Buddy is part of the show. It doesn’t take long for Buddy to land a role on a popular TV show, playing (of course) an alien. He becomes an overnight heartthrob and is suddenly faced with legions of adoring fans, rides in glamorous limos, and appearances at “all-the-shrimp-you-can-eat” red carpet parties.

But can Buddy maintain his secret identity while in the spotlight?

A fun and fabulous story urging kids never to judge a book (or an alien) by its cover. "Alien Superstar" by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver is out now, published by Amulet Books. 

Our next book is filled with glorious Nordic atmosphere, a distinctly different take on the usual 'teen upheaval' tale, but one that's filled with glorious characterisations and a storyline that most tweenagers will definitely identify with.

In "A Postcard to Ollis" by Ingunn Thon and Nora Brech, Ollis' life is less than perfect.

She's got a new baby brother and, even worse, her mum's neat-freak boyfriend has moved in.

Fortunately Ollis has always got her best friend Gro who lives right next door and they know each other inside out. 

Or do they? 

Ollis hasn't always been completely honest with Gro and when they find a postcard in a mysterious yellow mailbox in the forest, Ollis lie grows even bigger. 

What does Ollis know about the postcard that Gro doesn't?

Brilliantly written with enough neat twists to keep you guessing about its enigmatic central character, this is really fresh and fantastic stuff. 

"A Postcard to Ollis" by Ingunn Thon and Nora Brech is out now, published by Wacky Bee Books. 

Stunning stuff next, from an author-illustrator who has been such a hugely important person in C's reading journey, here turning her hand deftly to brilliant middle grade stuff for emerging solo readers. 

"Hubert Horatio: How to Raise your Grown-Ups" by Lauren Child once again visits the quirky world of Hubert Horatio Bartle Bobton-Trent, back in this hilarious and gloriously illustrated book for ages six and up from the superstar creator of Clarice Bean and Charlie and Lola.

“These stories are about the days when the Bobton-Trents had it cushy, very cushy indeed.”

The Bobton-Trent seniors certainly know how to make the most of their extravagant wealth – socialising, doing things, buying things and generally being more than a little bit … irresponsible!

Luckily for them, their son Hubert Horatio is an exceptionally intelligent, talented and sensible child.

Unluckily for Hubert, this tends to mean that a lot of his spare time is spent steering his rather unruly set of grown-ups out of trouble!

Full of giggles and Lauren's trademark quirky characters, it's an absolute treat!

"Hubert Horatio: How to raise your grown ups" by Lauren Child is out now, published by HarperCollins Children's Books. 

We love any books that celebrate awesome grandparents, and "Granny Magic" by Elka Evals and Teemu Juhani does just that!

Will's awesome granny used to bake amazing cakes and knitted itchy jumpers. Just like any other granny, right? At least that's what Will thought. But when she passed away, Will discovered that this shy retiring old lady was far more than she seemed. Her craft group was a front for a mighty set of magical octagenarians who once again must answer the call as dodgy Jasper Fitchet moves in to their village and dark magic begins to unravel in Knittington. 

Can Will and his gran's old craft group tie Fitchet in knots? 

With the help of her old motorbike and a flock of magical sheep, they might just do it ... so long as they don't drop a stitch.

We both loved this one, mostly because Granny Magic reminded us of our (late) Great Grandma who also could knit and bake up a storm, and once rode a Norton 500, terrorising the locale where we grew up!

"Granny Magic" by Elka Evalds and Teemu Juhani is out now, published by Chicken House Books. 

Time for high adventure in the snowy wastes of Siberia now, in the truly stunning "Nevertell" by Katharine Orton. 

Born in a Soviet prison camp, Lina has never seen the world outside until the night she escapes with her best friend, Bogdan.

The snowy wastes are no place for two young children, who soon find themselves relentlessly pursued by a pack of wolves. But these are no ordinary wolves - they belong to a dark sorceress who will stop at nothing to destroy them, and prevent them from fulfilling their destiny as the true saviours of the land. 

Woven with the sort of brilliant and mysterious expertise that we seek out in our fantasy novels, this is perfect for wintry evenings tucked up snug with a cup of cocoa as the blisteringly paced adventure unfolds for Lina and Bogdan. 

"Nevertell" by Katharine Orton is out now, published by Walker Books. 

Time for something brilliantly inspirational for mighty girls, the sort of book we love!

"Folk Tales for Bold Girls" by Fiona Collins and Ed Fisher delves into the oral history of countries around the world to show that many cultures embrace strong female protagonists in their traditional stories.

If you think that legends are just about princes rescuing princesses (and not the other way round) then this book's definitely for you!

Here you can read the story of Vasilisa, who wasn't afraid of the deep dark forest; Mollie Whuppie, who knew how to trick a giant; Tipingi, who was able to call on her friends to help her get out of trouble; Seren, who used her love of singing to help others; and many more fearless female characters in inspirational and exciting stories.

Fiona has chosen the best of the old tales from all around the world and reworked them into new and exciting versions to be enjoyed by everyone, accompanied by magical illustrations by talented artist Ed Fisher.

"Folk Tales for Bold Girls" by Fiona Collins and Ed Fisher is out now, published by The History Press. 

Next, we've reviewed many, many versions of Lewis Carroll's classic "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" ranging from the sublime to the standard, but we've never encountered an edition as gorgeous as this. 

"Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass" by Lewis Caroll, with brilliant illustrations and paper engineering by awesome art collective MinaLima really is the most collectable and scintillating version we've seen to date. 

Combining the classic story of Alice and her bizarre trip underground to a fantastic and surreal land ruled over by a harsh queen, each and every aspect of both stories is brought to stunning life in new and innovative ways. 

Reinvented on one volume by the talented design firm MinaLima, whose stunning drawings of some of Western literature's most famous characters will delight and enthrall, In addition, they have created interactive features exclusive to this edition. Definitely destined to become a keepsake for folk to pass down through the generations, "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass" by Lewis Carroll and MinaLima is out now, published by 360 / Harper Design.

 The Game's Afoot in an all new adventure for a fabulous kid detective next. 

In "The Artie Conan Doyle Mysteries: The Scarlet Phantom" by Robert J. Harris, Artie and his best friend Ham are investigating the strange case of the Scarlet Phantom, a jewel thief who seems to walk through walls and disappear at will. 

But there's a rival detective on the case, a paranormal investigator who claims that only he can capture this phantom thief. 

With the help of their new friend, girl scientist Peril Abernethy, Artie and Ham follow a trail of baffling clues and impossible dangers, but can they catch the Phantom before the invisible fiend pulls off the greatest robbery in history? 

Robert brings the young Conan Doyle to life in the third instalment of this ingenious detective series full of twists, turns and clever reveals, shot through with a fantastic buzz of excitement and adventure set against the amazing backdrop of Edinburgh. 

"The Artie Conan Doyle Mysteries: The Scarlet Phantom" by Robert J. Harris is out now, published by Floris Kelpies. 

Looking ahead for our last two chapter books covered in our 2019 roundups, let's gaze into our crystal ball for two books we've seen early copies of, and are bowled over by. 

"Mickey and the Animal Spies" by Anne Miller and blog fave Becka Moor is coming next February from OUP. 

Mickey is the type of kid who's always on the lookout for a code to crack, she loves to keep her brain constantly working and busy.

So it's her lucky day when she spots a strange poster on the bus home from school written completely in code. 

Within the strange jumble of letters is a curious message, one that leads to an exciting adventure-with diamond thieves, dognappers, and an extraordinary group of animal spies! 

Written with the genius touch of including real coded messages, can you crack the codes before Mickey does?

Such a fantastic idea, and one we're hoping to see turning into a successful series in 2020. "Mickey and the Animal Spies" by Anne Miller and Becka Moor is out on 6th February 2020 published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books. 

...and coming from Nosy Crow in January...

"The Girl Who Stole an Elephant" by Nizrana Farook once again features a strong female protagonist who's not afraid to speak up and make her voice - and her actions - loud and proud. 

Young Chaya is a no-nonsense, outspoken hero. She leads her friends and a gorgeous elephant on a noisy, fraught, joyous adventure through the jungle where revolution is stirring and leeches lurk.

Will stealing the queen's jewels be the beginning or the end of everything for the intrepid gang? 

Chaya is the sort of character we just can't get enough of and despite her diminutive size, she's not afraid to make a stand for what she believes in - and finds hidden strength with her newfound elephant friend.

"The Girl Who Stole an Elephant" by Nizrana Farook is out on 9th January 2020, published by Nosy Crow. 

With our next book, you had us at "Deep in the forest, magic is waiting". The sort of hook line that instantly makes us sit up and pay attention, and with "Shadows of Winterspell" by Amy Wilson, that attention is well deserved as this is a scintillating slice of middle grade magic indeed!

Stella has been living behind the magic of the forest for most of her life. 

Lonely, she enrolls at the local school, and as she begins to make friends, she discovers that she is even more different than she thought. 

But as autumn turns to magical winter, Stella realizes that uncovering her own family secret is the only way to release the forest from the grip of a dark and old magic.

A wintery magical adventure from the critically-acclaimed Amy Wilson, author of A Girl Called Owl. "Shadows of Winterspell" is out now, published by Macmillan Children's Books. 

The next book in our pile is an amazingly original slice of awesomeness with a really unique 'layout' as the story of an unlikely friendship unfolds. 

"In the Key of Code" by Aimee Lucido is an original, inventive and heart-warming novel from an exciting debut author about a lonely new girl and an unlikely friendship formed in a school code club.

When twelve-year-old Emmy's musical family moves to California so her dad can take a job with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Emmy has never felt more out of tune. 

But when she ends up in a school computer science club, she finds that she can understand code through a language she is familiar with: music. 

Slowly, Emmy makes friends with Abigail and the two girls start to discover their voices through the programming language of Java.

Extraordinarily crafted, the novel begins to incorporate Java's syntax and concepts as Emmy, and ultimately the reader, learns to think in code. By the end, Emmy doesn't feel like a wrong note, but like a musician in the world's most beautiful symphony.

Fantastic for mighty girls who love coding and music (a bit like C, then!), "In the Key of Code" by Aimee Lucido really is one not to be missed. Out now from Walker Books

Our final book for our 2019 Chapter Book Roundups returns to the fantastic, spooky and exciting series from the late John Bellairs, picked up by Brad Strickland to win over a whole new audience. 

"The Doom of the Haunted Opera" comes from the same series as "The House With a Clock in its Walls" and is every bit as nailbitingly tense and dramatic, perfect for kids who love stuff like "Goosebumps" or "A Series of Unfortunate Events". 

When Lewis and Rose Rita explore an abandoned theatre, they discover an unpublished opera score entitled 'The Day of Doom'. Ignoring a strange omen, they show it to their music teacher, who heralds 'The Day of Doom' a masterpiece. Little do they know that the eerie Henry Vanderhelm, the composer's grandson, arrives with a plan to awaken the dead and enslave the world!

Soon, all the adults are enamoured - and enspelled - by Henry Vanderhelm. A mysterious fog descends upon New Zebedee and everyone is trapped inside it. It is up to Lewis and Rose Rita to stop the dead coming back to life.

Brilliant stuff with Brad picking up the awesome legacy of John's spooky storytelling perfectly. "The Doom of the Haunted Opera" by John Bellairs and Brad Strickland, with a cover by Nathan Collins, is out now, published by Piccadilly Press. 

And that's all she wrote for 2019's chapter book roundups. Please do stay tuned for the rest of our blog posts for November, and of course our Booky Advent Calendar through December, and our end-of-the-year blowout celebrating the best books and publishers, and hopefully stick with us in 2020!