books monthly   june 2018 - children's books

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Mike Unwin & Jenni Desmond: Migration

Published by Bloomsbury 24th May 2018


Animals of all shapes and sizes make epic journeys across our planet, through harsh weather, avoiding hungry predators, in their efforts to survive. Travel around the globe with some of the world's most incredible animals and discover their unique migration stories. Follow the emperor penguin through snow, ice and bitter temperatures; watch as the great white shark swims 10,000 km in search of seals; track huge herds of elephants, on their yearly hunt for water and be amazed at the millions of red crabs, migrating across Christmas Island. With stunning colour illustrations, uncover the astonishing migrations of 20 creatures, in this truly inspiring narrative. Written by Mike Unwin, a UK Travel Writer of the Year, and illustrated by Jenni Desmond, winner of the New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book, prepare yourself for a journey like no other. Follow the amazing migrations of these 20 creatures: Arctic tern, barn swallow, bar-headed goose, ruby-throated hummingbird, osprey, wandering albatross, whooping crane, emperor penguin, African elephant, blue wildebeest, caribou, straw-coloured fruit bat, humpback whale, green turtle, Southern pilchard, salmon, great white shark, monarch butterfly, globe skimmer dragonfly, Christmas Island red crab


Brilliant introduction to the subject of animal migrations - superb illustrations and commentary...




Book of the month - Winnie The Pooh's 50 Things To Do Before You're 5 and three quarters

Published by Egmont 3rd May 2018


Have you ever made mud pies? Or a secret den? Winnie-the-Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore and their friends have come up with 50 outdoor activities they think everyone should enjoy before their 6th birthday. With helpful hints and spaces for your records and photographs, this book is the perfect introduction to the wonders of the outdoors and a helpful guide for parents. It's packed with ideas to keep little ones busy at weekends and during school holidays. Activities range from spotting animal babies to making your own tree monster so that, whatever the weather, children can enjoy the magic of playing outdoors.


The beauty of this superb little book is that it recaptures the spirit of the 1950s and the things we did to amuse ourselves before the advent of the internet. Beautifully illustrated with some of the original Shepard illustrations, the activities are wide-ranging and fun, and guaranteed to occupy the minds and bodies of youngsters without recourse to technology. Superb!


Lauren St John: Kay Wolfe Investigates

Published by Pan Macmillan 17th May 2018


Kat Wolfe loves her new home in idyllic Bluebell Bay, especially as it comes with a resident wildcat. But when she starts pet-sitting for pocket money, she finds that beneath the town's perfect surface lie some dark and dangerous secrets... After a pet owner vanishes from his clifftop mansion, Kat turns to her new friend, Harper Lamb, for help. What began as mystery-solving holiday fun quickly turns deadly for Wolfe and Lamb. Can they count on their unruly animals to save their lives? Kat Wolfe Investigates is the first in a compelling middle-grade mystery series from bestselling author Lauren St John.


Brilliant adventure story featuring Kat Wolfe - this could have been written by Enid Blyton or Malcolm Saville...



Laura Sebastian: Ash Princess

Published by Pan Macmillan 14th June 2018


Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Queen of Flame and Fury, was murdered before her eyes. Ten years later, Theo has learned to survive under the relentless abuse of the Kaiser and his court as the ridiculed Ash Princess. When the Kaiser forces her to execute her last hope of rescue, Theo can't ignore her feelings and memories any longer. She vows revenge, throwing herself into a plot to seduce and murder the Kaiser's warrior son with the help of a group of magically gifted and volatile rebels. But Theo doesn't expect to develop feelings for the Prinz. Forced to make impossible choices and unable to trust even those who are on her side, Theo will have to decide how far she's willing to go to save her people and how much of herself she's willing to sacrifice to become Queen. From author Laura Sebastian comes Ash Princess, a nail-biting YA fantasy debut full of daring and vengeance.


YA fantasy in the right hands can introduce young people to the brilliant worldsof adult fantasy, and Ash Princess is most definitely in the right hands!


Lygia Day Penaflor: All Of This Is True

Published by Bloomsbury 31st May 2018


In this genre-defying page-turner from Lygia Day Peñaflor, four teens befriend their favorite YA novelist, only to find their deepest, darkest secrets in the pages of her next book--with devastating consequences. Miri Tan loved the book Undertow like it was a living being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to hear the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her. Soleil Johnston wanted to be a writer herself one day. When she and her friends started hanging out with her favorite author, Fatima Ro, she couldn't believe their luck--especially when Jonah Nicholls started hanging out with them, too. Penny Panzarella was more than the materialist party girl everyone at the Graham School thought she was--and she was willing to share all her secrets with Fatima Ro to prove it. Jonah Nicholls had more to hide than any of them. And now that Fatima's next book is out in the world, he's the one who is paying the price... Perfect for fans of One of Us Is Lying--and told as a series of interviews, journal entries, and even pages from the book within the book--this gripping story of a fictional scandal will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end.


Lygia takes a long, dark in-depth look at the world of young teens' obsessive behaviour, in this case towards a writer. When they share their innermost secrets with her, things start to go awry. Very good, intense and gripping YA novel.


Perdita & Honor Cargill: It's A Wrap

Published by Simon and Schuster 31st May 2018


Name: Elektra James
Featuring in: upcoming movie RAW - Romeo and Juliet meets Hunger Games meets Planet of the Apesmeets…??  Who knows? It’s complicated.
Relationship Status: Umm…hopeful?
It's a BIG year for Elektra. She’s wrapped her first feature film Raw (even if her character was unexpectedly killed off half-way through filming) and hosted - against the odds - the party of the year (well, until her mum turned up and kicked everyone out) so, things are definitely moving in the right direction. BUT she’s still not sure what’s going on with Archie, her bff Moss’s love life is in shreds and GCSEs are looming. And the COUNTDOWN to Raw’s release is TERRIFYING, not least because it turns out there’s more to promoting a movie than messing around on Insta… #ComingSoon, #ElektraExposed #RawTerror.  Elektra’s road to acting stardom is as rocky as ever…

Full of humour and warmth, this is the perfect series for fans of Holly Smale, Katy Birchill, Beth Garrod and Marianne Levy.


It's not that common for young people to be thrown into stardom at the age at which Elektra is, but it does happen, and the Cargill sisters cast their expert eyes over what might happen when it does. Absolutely brilliant.



Catherine Doyle: The Storm Keeper's Island

Published by Bloomsbury 12th July 2018


When Fionn Boyle sets foot on Arranmore Island, it begins to stir beneath his feet. Once in a generation, the island chooses a new Storm Keeper - someone to wield its power and keep its magic safe from enemies. The time has finally come for Fionn's grandfather, a secretive and eccentric old man, to step down. Soon, a new Keeper will rise. Fionn's ancestral home has been waiting for him. But deep underground, someone else has been waiting, too. As a battle rages, over who will become the island's next champion, a more sinister magic is waking up, intent on rekindling an ancient war.


Another superb young teen fantasy, this time more Earthy than sword and sorcery, but still mesmerising stuff!





Sara Barnard et al: Floored - When Seven Lives Collide

Published by Pan Macmillan 12th May 2018


The Breakfast Club meets One Day in Floored, a unique collaborative novel by seven bestselling and award-winning YA authors: Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne, Tanya Byrne, Non Pratt, Melinda Salisbury, Lisa Williamson and Eleanor Wood. When they got in the lift that morning, they were strangers. Sasha, who is at the UK's biggest TV centre desperately trying to deliver a parcel; Hugo, who knows he's by far the richest - and best-looking - guy in the lift; Velvet, who regrets wearing the world's least comfortable shoes to work experience; Dawson, who isn't the good-looking teen star he was and desperate not to be recognized; Kaitlyn, who's slowly losing her sight but won't admit it, and Joe, who shouldn't be there at all, but who wants to be there the most. And one more person, who will bring them together again on the same day every year...


I'm always a bit wary of books that purport to be written by more than one person, in this case it's seven people, and in this case, somehow it works...



Carolyn Mackler: The Universe Is Expanding and So Am I

Published Bloomsbury 6th September 2018


It's been five months since sixteen-year-old Virginia Shreves thought her life was finally back on course: she has come to terms with who she is both inside and out, and she's even started to rebuild her relationship with her older brother Byron, whose date-rape charge completely shattered everything. But just as she's getting used to the new normal, Virginia's world turns upside down again. Sparks with boyfriend Froggy Welsh the Fourth fade, her best friend Shannon bombshells bad news, and then the police arrest Byron. As Virginia struggles to cope, she meets Sebastian, an artist with his own baggage. The pair make a pact not to share their personal dramas. But secrets have a way of coming out, and theirs have the potential to ruin everything. In this follow-up to the acclaimed The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, Carolyn Mackler brings Virginia's story satisfyingly full circle in a hope-filled tale of forgiveness, love, friendship, and the beauty in life's imperfections.


I get the impression this is a follow-up, but it doesn't matter, it's entirely self-contained, a completely satisfying young people's semi-thriller. Very readable, great characters.


Karen Gregory: Skylarks

Published by Bloomsbury 3rd May 2018


Karen Gregory's heartfelt, thought-provoking second novel about love against the odds is perfect for readers of Lisa Williamson, Sara Barnard and Sarah Crossan. When she was little, Joni used to have dreams that she could fly. But these days her feet are firmly on the ground - they have to be when money's tight and her dad can't work and the whole family has to pull together to keep afloat. Then she meets Annabel. Annabel is everything Joni isn't, and yet there's a spark between them. Though Joni barely believes it at first, she thinks they might be falling in love. But when Annabel's parents find out about the relationship, it's clear they believe there are some differences that are impossible to overcome ...


This title means that we have examples of teen literature in each of the main genres this month, and this one I really loved. Joni is a superb character and her life, ordinary as it might seem, is pulled this way and that as she falls in love. Terrific, I love older teen romances!


Jessica Collett: The Girl In The Abbey

Published by The Book Guild March 2018


Bramlingham Abbey sits alone and isolated, crumbling from neglect, hidden from sight by an ever-expanding jungle of vegetation. Violet Cobb, a fearless girl from the coastal town of Grimsby, is left on the doorstep - moved from her home during Operation Pied Piper, designed to keep the children of England safe during the bombing raids of World War Two. She is a conspicuous `townie' in a quiet village of farmers, far away from her friends and family. Left alone with no one but an extremely elderly caretaker, Violet is left to explore the Abbey by herself. She soon discovers two things; that Bramblingham Abbey is full of secrets, and a strange girl called Sarah that no one else seems to know. Sarah claims to be the granddaughter of Lady Audrey, the mysterious owner of the Abbey - but how can this be? While exploring the Abbey, Violet makes a horrifying discovery which changes her life forever.





David Hills: Hedgehog Queen

Published by The Book Guild 28th April 2018


A heart-warming story of friendship and adventure. Hamish the hedgehog wakes from hibernation and sets out on a mission to find the chosen one and to play, of course. He meets a little boy called Alistair who is fascinated by his sparkly spikes and their friendship leads to a magical adventure.











Nicki Thornton: The Last Chance Hotel

Published by Chicken House 7th June 2018


Seth is the oppressed kitchen boy at the remote Last Chance Hotel, owned by the nasty Bunn family. His only friend is his black cat, Nightshade. But when a strange gathering of magicians arrives for dinner, kindly Dr Thallomius is poisoned by Seth's special dessert. A locked-room murder investigation ensues - and Seth is the main suspect. The funny thing is, he's innocent . can he solve the mystery and clear his name, especially when magic's afoot?



Superior and superlative mystery from Nicki Thornton - takes the genre to a new level - don't miss it!.





The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its twentieth year on the web, is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by Paul Norman. You can contact me here. If you wish to submit something for publication in the magazine, let me remind you there is no payment as I don't make any money from this publication. If you want to send me something to review, contact me via email and I'll let you know where to send it.