Author – Marina Cohen
Age – 10+
11 yr old Quinn has had a rough time of it lately, her younger sister’s disappearance turning her world upside down. And Quinn believes it was her fault. To make things worse, her best friend Kara is moving across the country and Quinn misses her already.
Kara’s parents invite Quinn on a road trip with them, so the girls can have time together before their move and on the way across the desert, they stop at a hotel. Inn Between.
Despite the staff being incredibly friendly, Quinn’s feeling of dread hasn’t diminished ever since they took the turnoff to the hotel. When Kara’s parents vanish and then her older brother too, the girls are left to try and figure out why.
What is the strange hum that Quinn can hear? Why is a strange old man following them everywhere? And what grabbed her leg in the swimming pool?
Sometimes sad, sometimes creepy and with a clever conclusion, this story is packed with plot and twists and turns to keep any tween reading. I never expected the ending. Great read.
(Creepy, Eerie, Spooky, Friendship, Guilt, Abduction, Disappearance, Siblings, School)
Author – Chloe Daykin
Age – 10+
Billy has got a lot on his mind – things he’d rather not think about. To escape he likes to swim in the sea not far from his home. Another escape has been David Attenborough videos as Billy is an avid nature lover, fascinated in the quirkyness of animals.
One day while swimming, a mackerel swims up to his face and speaks to him. “Fish Boy,” it says. Billy is shocked and surprised and mystified and when he finally blurts it out to his new friend at school (Patrick), he thinks Patrick will begin treating him like the rest of his classmates – because he’s weird.
But Patrick isn’t like the others. Patrick believes him and encourages him to swim again to see what happens. As his life seems to spiral downwards (school bullying and a sick mum), Billy wants to escape to the sea more and more. But Patrick is looking out for him putting his own life at risk.
This isn’t just another ‘sick parent’ story. It’s so much more than that with a touch of magic and wonder. The voice of Billy is brilliant and believable and his relationship with his father heartwarming.
(Friendship, Illness, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Family, Worry, Bullying, School, Differences)
Author – Huw Powell
Age – 8+
Jake Cutler was just a baby when he was left at a cyber-monk monastery by a strange injured man. The only clue to Jake’s past is an amulet encrusted with 3 crystals which hangs around his neck.
On his 11th birthday, his past finds him in a fiery attack on the monks. He flees to the nearest space port and with the help of an infamous fortune seeker he escapes the planet he grew up on. But little do they know, the cargo ship they’ve hidden on is a pirate ship – the Captain, Granny Leatherhead – an eye-patched, no-nonsense woman, is the leader of the Space Dogs.
Instantly locked up, Jake and his new acquaintances wonder what will happen to them. They are about to embark on the adventure of their lives. Space monsters, black holes, the evil Intergalactic Army and even other pirates are part of their adventure, not to mention a purple skinned alien and their search for a hidden planet with more wealth than all the other planets together!
Fantastic! Pumped with action, adventure, an orphan (or is he?), aliens and a family betrayal, this first book in the Space Jackers series is perfect for thrill seekers.
(Pirates, Space, Aliens, Friendship, Adventure, Action, Humour, Series)
Author – Paul Jennings
Illustrator – Geoff Kelly
Age – 9+
A boy gets up one morning from the floor of his room. His bed was burnt for firewood the night before, just to keep him and his mum warm. The boy has a plan to improve their lives, but first he has to climb a hill on this frosty morning. But on the way up he sees an accident and he is the only one who is there to help.
He tries to sound the alarm but his voice doesn’t work. It hasn’t for some time, and he’s teased about it at school. But he can do something. A dog has been thrown from the vehicle and the boy is determined to save it. But this dog is special and the way out is treacherous. Can he get them to safety and then save the dog from its past?
By the renowned author Paul Jennings, A Different Dog has been written with reluctant readers in mind, but still gives any reader a story about bullying, poverty, courage and survival.
(Animal, Dog, Courage, Poverty, Bullying, Accident, Reluctant Reader)
Author – Bren MacDibble
Age – 10+
Peony lives in a world where bees no longer exist and all pollinating and pest control is done by hand in orchards. She lives with her grandpa and older sister Mags in a tin shed, earning their living by working in the orchard. Peony, and Mags are ‘Pests’, killing pests as they find them. But Peony wants to be a ‘Bee’, climbing the trees and using special sticks to pollinate the flowers. At 9, she is one year too young, but she tries out anyway.
When her mum returns from the city, telling her of money to be made and lovely places to live, Peony doesn’t want to know. Although poor, they are happy in the orchard. But Mum won’t take no for an answer.
The city is like nothing Peony has ever seen, with a toilet inside, water that comes out of the wall, and lovely soft beds. But the work is long and the daughter of the house is incredibly spoiled. An unlikely friendship builds, Peony needing help to get home, and Esmeralda needing courage to leave her grand house.
This is a wonderful story of friendship, determination, and the power of family. Loved it!
(Climate change, Family, Abuse, Courage, Future, Friendship)
Author – Vivian French
Illustrator – Marta Kissi
Age – 7+
Princess Peony is one of 7 princesses in the land of Grating. But Peony, to her governesses horror, is different than her sisters. She would rather read or cook than practice being regal, try on new dresses or think about princes, like her sisters do.
But when she learns a trip to the library years before had ended with her father throwing the elderly librarian in jail – just for answering one of Peony’s questions – she is determined to have him freed.
But the king is busy helping organise his new son’s christening and he won’t listen to her pleads. So Peony sets out to free the librarian herself. But an old hag is coming to the christening, determined to wreak havoc because she wasn’t invited!
Peony is up against black magic, and her father’s temper, but first she has to escape from the dungeon he has locked her in!
This story is a little ‘Rapunzel’ and a lot ‘Sleeping Beauty’, but perfectly good as its own story of a princess who also makes magnificent cherry pies!
(Kindness, Determination, Magic, Fairytale)
Author/Illustrator – Sally Rippen
Age – 7+
Polly just can’t get her spells right. She’s laughed at, at witch school and her only friend is her neighbour Buster. But Buster is a monster and witch-monster friendships are a no-no.
One day on a school trip, her witch class runs into Buster’s monster class. When Polly ignores Buster, his secret is out. He feels things very strongly. When he feels sad he shrinks and looks grey. Polly sees his classmates teasing him and he’s so sad and small. She goes to his rescue and suddenly sparks are flying from her fingers! Can she do spells after all?
This is a story of friendships and popularity (especially at school), and which one is more important. Polly has to make a choice, and she does – but is it the right one?
I really liked this new story from the author of Billie B Brown and Hey Jack. It’s going to be a great series!