Thursday, 27 February 2020

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book Roundup - February 2020

February is fab-uary for children's middle grade and YA books, with a whole truckload of amazing releases hitting our letterbox this month and next. So let's dig in and take a closer look.

We're kicking off this month's roundup with the sequel to one of our fave middle grade books of last year.

"Planet Omar: Unexpected Super Spy" by Zanib Mian and Nasaya Mafaridik picks up from "Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet" and we're also very pleased to hear that a third book is on the way. YAY!

This time Omar and his pals are all of a tizzy, thinking up crazy and bizarre ways to scrape together enough pocket money to be able to afford a whole mess of Nerf Blasters for a truly epic battle.

The only problem is that something else is distracting Omar from his visions of mass destruction via the medium of plastic darts. His mosque is in serious financial trouble, and soon the pals realise that they might be better off raising money for the mosque instead. 

So what ideas do they come up with? Chores? Who wants to do chores! Bleehhhh! Making cookies? Slightly more preferable but can any of them cook?
Holding a talent contest? Perfect! So they throw all their efforts into setting up a fantastic talent show - only for their hard earned cash to go missing. Can Omar and his friends turn detective and track down the missing dosh before the Mosque closes down for good? 

Full of brilliant humour, tons of twists and a fab detective romp, perfect for kids who love books like Wimpy Kid and Tom Gates. 

"Planet Omar: Unexpected Super Spy" by Zanib Mian and Nasaya Mafaridik is out now, published by Hodder Children's Books. 

One of our favourite children's authors has once again come up trumps with her fabulous new book series completely winning us over, and a new book arriving just in time for our roundup. 

"Kitty and the Sky Garden Adventure" by Paula Harrison and Jenny Lovlie picks up the action with a fab mighty girl feline-powered superhero finding her feet as a new force for good, following in the footsteps of her equally super mum.  

Kitty and her cat crew Pumpkin and Pixie discover a secret rooftop garden tucked in amongst the chimneys and tiles. It's the most adorable place, but soon word gets round that it's a great place to hang out - and not all visitors keep it nice and neat and tidy, in fact some really don't treat it with respect at all. 

Kitty feels guilty and decides that it's up to her and her feline pals to do something about the mess and restore the garden to its former glory, perhaps winning some new friends in the process and helping those nasty miscreants to change their ways. 

This series is absolutely perfect for emerging solo readers who are building up their reading confidence with longer books but still want some fabulous illustrations to look at - and both Paula's brilliant and easy-to-digest writing style and Jenny's truly lovely (pun intended) artistic style make this a standout amongst early middle grade adventures. 

"Kitty and the Sky Garden Adventure" by Paula Harrison and Jenny Lovlie is out now, published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books. 

Awesome children's TV presenter turned equally awesome children's author Cerrie Burnell once again dazzles us with her glorious and atmospheric stories in "The Ice Bear Miracle" new out this month. 

Somewhere in the deep and frozen north is a mysterious island surrounded entirely by ice.

The inhabitants love their snowstorm isle-with its scattered wooden cottages, its small patches of forest, and its single mountain peak. Most of all they love the magnificent ice bears that roam the streets, giving the island its name-The Isle of Bears.

Life with bears is dangerous, as Marv Jackson knows-the large crescent moon shaped scar on his face acts as a constant reminder of the night he survived a bear attack. But something tells him the legendary tale of that night, isn't quite the full story, and that the truth lies with a mysterious skating girl and her magnificent polar bear.
If your children have been thrilled by the amazing Panserborn in "His Dark Materials" they're absolutely going to love this wintry tale with a dash of nordic charm and a fantastic message about friendship and looking after the things you love the most. Cerrie is firmly establishing herself as a brilliant author who knows how to weave together the most amazing bookscapes, and stories that stay in the mind long after you've turned the last page. 

"The Ice Bear Miracle" by Cerrie Burnell is out now, published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books. 

Fizzingly funny stuff next from an awesome author and illustrator team. "Beatrix the Bold and the Balloon of Doom" by Simon Mockler and Cherie Zamazing is filled with ticklish giggles tucked into a brilliant fantasy story filled with witches, crazy contraptions and very strange folk indeed. 

Beatrix the Bold is a queen. A very bold queen. And she's also only ten years old. But that's never stopped her from doing anything before, and it's not going to stop her now.

She's on the run from the Evil Army AND her evil aunt Esmerelda, but she's getting closer to finding her long-lost parents, whom she hasn't seen since she was a baby. She just has to cross the Sea of Sinking Ships and the Volcanos of Doom to get to them - easy, right? 

But when you're Beatrix the Bold and you've got Oi the boy, Dog the dog and Wilfred the Wise by your side, you can do anything - well, almost anything. 

The story romps along at a grand pace, instantly leaving us wanting more of Beatrix's adventures at the end of the book. A fantastic new voice to rank alongside funny book luminaries such as Roald Dahl, Danny Wallace and David Walliams. 

"Beatrix the Bold and the Balloon of Doom" by Simon Mockler and Cherie Zamazing is out now, published by Piccadilly Press. 

Catching up with the stunning stuff Nosy Crow are coming up with this year, we have been loving "Orion Lost" by Alastair Chisholm - a properly intense and intelligent piece of middle grade sci-fi, hooray!

The transport ship Orion is four months out of Earth when catastrophe strikes - leaving the ship and everyone on board stranded in deep space. 

Suddenly it's up to thirteen-year-old Beth and her friends to navigate through treacherous and uncharted territory to reach safety. 

But a heavily-damaged ship, space pirates, a mysterious alien species, and an artificial intelligence that Beth doesn't know if she can trust means that getting home has never been so difficult... 

Alastair expertly dips into a ton of different science fiction influences and themes but keeps things grounded and approachable for middle-grade readers who will identify with Beth's plight, despite the fantastical setting. We loved the way the story takes a darker turn mid way through, until you're left positively breathless by the amazing way this one wraps up. We will say no more, other than 'go and get a copy of this NOW'. 

"Orion Lost" by Alastair Chisholm is out now, published by Nosy Crow. 

...and continuing with awesome output from the crows nest, and one of our fave booky folk...

Louie Stowell's awesome follow-up to "The Dragon in the Library" sneaked up on us and booped us on the nose, and in "The Monster in the Lake" we're once again back in the awesome company of Kit - a would-be wizard whose magic is more often mischief mismanaged than anything even vaguely mysterious. 

Once again chaos seems to centre around Kit so she sets off with her two best friends - and the local librarian - to get to the bottom of the weird phenomenon that keep kicking off in her local otherwise sleepy town.

Louie expertly weaves a thrilling atmosphere of mystery and suspense, X-Files-Like 'monster of the week' brilliance and of course a believably brilliant lead character into another belter of an adventure for Kit. We're sincerely hoping a third is on the way, the possibilities for Kit are endless! Check out our "Book of the Week" review for Louie's fab 2nd Kit tale elsewhere on this very blog!

"The Monster in the Lake" by Louie Stowell, with illustrations by Davide Ortu is out now, published by Nosy Crow. 

Tailing off our short-but-sweet roundup this month with a book that's little over a week away...

"Eating Chips with Monkey" by Mark Lowery sets out a humours yet bittersweet adventure for its lowly hero Daniel. He's a lad who knows what he likes - and he likes chips, and he also likes his cuddly toy Monkey.

But one terrible November day, the lives of Daniel and his family are changed forever when an accident renders Daniel a shadow of his former self. As Daniel retreats into himself, his family slowly begin to fall apart, without this bright boy at the heart of their lives.

When an impromptu trip to a chip shop seems to briefly engage Daniel with the real world, the family decide to revisit their Chip Shop Championships, on a quest to find the best chip shop in the country.

Along the way, as they attempt to rebuild their family and regain Daniel, they must contend with hungry giraffes, nouveau cuisine, the loss of Monkey, the theft of Grandma - and of course a metric ton of chips, chips, wonderful chips.

This is rather beautifully written stuff, with moments of deadpan humour fused with raw and emotional moments as Daniel struggles to find himself once again, aided by his amazing and loving family (and of course Monkey!)

"Eating Chips with Monkey" by Daniel Lowery is out on 3rd March 2020, published by Piccadilly Press.