The Wizards of Once

Author/Illustrator – Cressida Cowell34455798

Age – 8+

Xar is selfish, impulsive and full of himself. After all, he is the son of Encanzo, the King Enchantor. But he is the youngest son, and his magic hasn’t come in yet, causing him embarrasment and worry.

Wish is the daughter of Queen Sychorax, the most evil queen in the Warrior Empire. Wish is also impulsive, daring, and rebellious, but also caring and kind.

They are taught from birth that the other is a foe, an enemy, one to be slain if need be. But these two venture out into the darkness on the same night, breaking the strict rules of their forts. Wish is looking for her friend, a magical spoon that has run away. Xar is hoping to catch a witch. Everyone knows witches are extinct, but Xar believes if he can catch one and harness its magic, he will finally make his father proud of him and quieten his older brother’s taunts.

But there is something else out in the darkness. Something wild and evil, which throws them together into a uneasy pact to help the other. Not only do they have to face their angry parents, the something’s power has been growing their whole lives and they have unwittingly unleashed it.

Told directly to the reader, this is an exciting story about a prince and a princess unlike any other. Xar is a weedy, annoying brat and Wish has a limp and an eye patch. But both have loyal sidekicks who will defend them to the death. Xar’s magical creatures are funny and fantastical and Wish’s assistant bodyguard is new at the job and trying to be brave. Full of mystical pencil sketching illustrations, this was a great read with an unanswered question at the end – who is narrating the story?

(Courage, Bravery, Wizards, Witches, Magic, Warrior, Friends, Magical Creatures, Series, Scary, Humour)

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The Wonderling

Author/Illustrator – Mira BartokThe Wonderling (HB)

Age – 10+

Arthur lives a troubled life in an Orphanage called ‘The Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures.’ These creatures are groundlings (mixed-up animals) like Arthur (a foxling who walks on two legs and with only one ear).

Arthur tries to avoid the bullies and Miss Carbunkle who believes groundlings only exist to serve and suffer. But there is a light in Arthur’s life – a new friend called Trinket, who shares her songs and stories with Arthur, igniting hope in his heart for something different outside the Home’s damp, grey walls.

They are soon on an adventure, as Arthur seeks his destiny with only an address stolen from Miss Carbunkle’s filing cabinet. Along the way, he meets many other groundlings of every mix, shape and size and is taken in when he reaches the city, by a rat called Quintus. Quintus is very much like Fagan in Oliver Twist, teaching, feeding, and sheltering Arthur in return for stealing.

But this is a very different world from Oliver Twist, with the High Hats (Humans) just as tough as Miss Carbunkle – who has her own evil plans in mind. Can Arthur and Trinket stop her and her evil manticore from ruining the world forever?

The Wonderling’s world is a little steampunk, a little fantasy, a little Cruella Deville and as Arthur finally discovers within himself, a lot wonderful. Beautifully told with rich description and multiple sub-plots afoot. And as the reader will discover in the gorgeous illustrations – Arthur’s best friend Trinket is not only an amazing inventor but a Kiwi Bird!

(Steampunk, Destiny, Journey, Quest, Creatures, World building, Fantasy, Orphan, Kiwi, Friendship, Courage, Bravery, Crime)

Aliens vs Bad Guys – The Bad Guys (6)

Author / Illustrator – Aaron BlabeyAlien vs Bad Guys (The Bad Guys #6)

Age – 6+

They’re back in a new adventure! These bad guys are now The Good Guys Club – and they’ve just saved the world from the evil Dr Rupert Marmalade. The world is celebrating!

Meanwhile, in deep space….
These good guys are hiding from an alien with multiple bums. Legs has found a way to escape, but then he’s taken by the alien! Snake is keen to leave NOW, but the others won’t leave Legs behind. One by one they are taken by the alien, leaving Snake all alone.

Will he save his own skin and leave, or will he finally understand what Wolf has been trying to tell him. Be a Good Guy for a change!

Another hilarious book in this series, with a few hints of an ALIEN movie we might know.

(Funny, Humour, Action, Courage, Brave, Friendship, Spaceship, Space)

The Ice Sea Pirates

Author – Frida Nilsson34014687

Age – 10+

Siri and her little sister know the legend of the evil Captain Whitehead and his ship the Snow Raven. It’s full of pirates who snatch children to send down Whitehead’s diamonds mines – never to be seen again.

But one day while out searching for berries for their dinner, Miki is snatched away. Siri is bereft, blaming herself, and no-one will help her go after the Snow Raven. She has no idea how, but she is determined to get Miki back, no matter what.

Her quest is full of danger,  facing rowdy pirates, becoming a stowaway, fighting off white wolves and much much more! Making friends and enemies along the way, she discovers there is more to the legend of Whitehead, and he’s even crazier than the stories say.

A full-on story of adventure, hope, determination, cruelty and courage, just like Siri, I wasn’t expecting the ending. Great read!

(Ice, Courage, Sisters, Siblings, Quest, Journey, Pirates, Evil, Wolves, Cruelty, Revenge)

Dino Hunter (1) D-Bot Squad Series

Author – Mac Park35852499

Age – 6+

Hunter Marks had no idea when he dressed as a dino hunter for his school Book Week Parade, that he’d soon be chasing a real dinosaur. The school librarian, (Ms Stegg) guides him towards a computer game that involves building a dinosaur robot that captures dinosaurs.

When he captures the dino on screen in the allotted time, Ms Stegg explains what’s going on. She works for a top secret agency called Dino Corp. They have brought dinosaurs back to life, but some have escaped!

His love of dinosaurs makes him perfect to join the D-Bot Squad, to help Dino Corp capture them again before anyone is in danger!

With 8 books in this series, all ending on a cliffhanger, D-Bot Squad is designed specifically for reluctant readers -“A world kids will love, using words they can read.” Full of B & W illustrations and topics kids will identify with – school, friends, coping with new challenges, and asking for help when you need it. 

(Dinosaurs, Courage, School, Series, Reluctant readers)

 

The Traitor and the Thief (1) The Sin Chronicles

Author – Gareth Ward35296530

Age – 10+

Caught stealing at Coxford’s Corn Market, 14 yr old Sin is hunted across the city. But his street skills can’t evade his pursuers. They want Sin to join their Covert Operations Group (COG) and train to become a spy. Used to his life of crime on the streets he’s not sure of these people, (but he does enjoy a nice warm bed and plenty to eat for a change.)

Wary to begin with, Sin soon makes a friend in Zonda Chubb, and an unlikely alliance with the school bully Velvet Von Darque. But there is an assassin among them, and he’s not sure who he can trust. Is his own life in danger?

A rip-roaring steampunk adventure by the winner of the Storylines Tessa Duder Writing Competition for Young Adults in 2016! With rich writing, well developed characters and awesome world building, The Traitor and the Thief is a fantastic read and not to be missed!

(Series, Friendship, Spy, Assassin, Courage, Conflict, Adventure, Action, Betrayal)

Battle for the Shadow Sword (1)Team Hero Series

Author – Adam BladeBattle for the Shadow Sword (Team Hero #1)

Age – 7+

Jack Beacon is sick of being called Beak the Freak by his classmates because of his weird scaly hands. But this difference and what he can do with them alerts a secret academy to his skills, and he is soon enrolled.

Meeting others with strange powers makes him feel like he belongs somewhere for the first time in his life. But his relief is short-lived as he quickly learns about an evil creature called General Gore and the Noxians. Creatures that were banished after a war with humans 1000 years before.

The Noxians are stirring and Jack and his new friends are called to protect humankind. Is this all for real? He’s only just arrived. How can he help with no training? Jack’s skills are quickly put to the test.

I never read Beast Quest so when I picked up the first book in this new series, I wasn’t sure what to expect. With great friends, gadgets, evil fiends, freaky creatures and another boy who is suspiciously at hateful as Malfoy in HP, this series is going to be epic for reluctant readers or lovers of action!

(Friendship, Monsters, Series, Good vs Evil, School, Rivalry, Belonging, Courage)