Max & the Millions

Author – Ross Montgomery
Age – 8+

Max doesn’t enjoy being the only orphan at St Goliath’s Boarding school. That and his hearing aids make him different to his classmates. The only person who he feels at ease with is Mr Darrow, the school caretaker. They both love modelling, but Mr Darrow has taken his a huge step further – he has tiny people in his models, and they are alive!

Mr Darrow has gone missing, and Max follows the instructions he was given if that ever happened. Max is shocked and awed by what he finds in Mr Darrow’s room, but in the caretaker’s abscence, his model people have built their own world, at war with itself.

After all his kindness, Max feels he owes Mr Darrow. Can he save the tiny people from war? Can he find out what happened to Mr Darrow? And most of all, can he keep Mr Pitt, the evil headmaster away from Mr Darrow’s room while he does it?

This story was funny, fantasy and full-on action. Fleas, friendship and a gaggle of five-year olds pumped up on birthday candy make this even funnier. The two worlds are connected by Max and a brave prince just trying to save his people. Great read!

(Friendship, Family, Miniature people, War, Secret)

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Lucky Button

Author – Michael Morpurgo

36584192Illustrator – Michael Foreman

Age 7+

Jonah has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders at home and is bullied at school. This school used to be The Foundling Hospital – a place children were taken to save them from the 18th century streets of London.

Jonah loves music, and humming the songs his mum used to play on her piano always lifts his spirits. But one day after more bullying, he hides in the school chapel. He finds a small gold button on the chapel floor then hears beautiful music coming from the organ. He is entranced.

Out of nowhere, an ghostly old man approaches him. At first Jonah is petrified but soon realises the man means him no trouble. All he wants to do is tell Jonah about the Lucky Button he has found, where it came from, and how important it is.

Another gentle tale of family, and friendship from this popular author. Among the colour and black & white illustrations scattered through the text, the reader will meet Mozart as a boy and learn about Handel too.

(Family, School, Bullying, Music, History)

Pirate Blunderbeard (1)

Author – Amy SparkesPirate Blunderbeard

Illustrations – Ben Cort

Age – 5+

Blunderbeard is the worst pirate ever! His big brother Blackbeard enjoys rubbing it in every chance he gets. Blunderbeard is scared of fish, bites his nails, enjoys baking cupcakes and has a terrible sense of direction.

His pirate mum is embarrassed by her youngest son and signs him up for the POTY Award (Pirate of the Year), to try and make him become a better pirate. He is doomed!

He does his best with his trusty sidekick Boris the chicken at his side (the parrots were all gone when he went to the pet shop), and between the two of them and Blunderbeard’s crazy inventions, maybe, just maybe he can survive the trials to live another day.

(Pirate, Bully, Sibling, Family, Humour, Series)

Nevermoor

Author – Jessica TownsendNevermoor 1

Age – 9+

Morrigan Crow has always been told that she is cursed and she won’t live past her 12th birthday. She is blamed for everything from the weather, to a school fire, to the gardener’s heart attack. Of course, none of it was true.

Little does Morrigan know that her entire life is about to change, where she will be a treasured member of a household, a valued friend of other children and a gigantic speaking cat!

She is taken to Nevermoor (a secret magical city by a stranger who tells her she can be one of the privileged of the Wundrous Society. All she has to do is pass four trials they will give her. Although thought to be cursed, Morrigan has led a sheltered wealthy life, and she can’t imagine passing any challenges thrown her way. But the alternative is too awful to contemplate.

Full of magic, strange and wunderful characters, this just may be a ‘Harry Potter’ for a new generation of readers. It has its own ‘Voldemort’, ‘Malfoy’ and the world-building is gloriously imaginative.

(Magic, Tasks, Challenges, Friendship, Nemesis, Bully, Curse, Series)

 

 

The Chocolate War

Author – Robert Cormier

Age – 15+

Archie Costello is an enigmatic, handsome, popular senior at Trinity College, a private Catholic Boys School. He is also cunning, devious, narcissistic and the leader of a group of boys calling themselves The Vigils.

Everyone, including the Brothers (teachers) knows they exist within the school, and that they control by fear. Archie doesn’t condone violence, but controls by psychological means, getting students to play pranks on others and the teachers.

Brother Leon who is in charge of the school in the sick Principal’s absence, has asked for the ínfluence’ of the Vigils in the school’s Chocolate Selling project. All is good until someone says no – to both The Vigils and Brother Leon.

This boy will have to be made an example of….

This book won several wards and was also banned because of its content. It is a no-punches pulled account of life within a teen boy’s school – bullying, control, power, unwritten rules and standing up for yourself. A classic.

(School, Power, Growing up, Bullying, Power-play, Catholic, American Football)

 

How to Hang a Witch

Author – Adriana Mather37819386

Age – 13+

Sam (Samantha) and her step-mum Vivian have moved to her dead grandmother’s house in Salem, a small town where Sam’s dad grew up. She is instantly disliked at her new high school and she knows why. Her ancestor Cotton Mather was largely responsible for the Witch Trials in Salem centuries before.

‘The Descendants’ (a group of 5 teens always dressed in black, and true descendants of the so-called witches that died) are scathing of Sam and make life difficult. If it wasn’t for the neighbours, handsome Jaxon who sticks up for her and his mum; Sam would be just like she’s always been – friendless and feared.

People around Sam often end up hurt and she’s felt cursed since small. When this ‘curse’ follows her to Salem, it becomes much more serious. Is it all her fault? Where did this curse come from? Can she defeat it?

How to Hang a Witch is not only a fantastic read, it makes the reader aware of how close the 17th century witch trials were compared to the cyber-bullying of today. The phrase ‘Witch Hunt’ is applied to people in all sorts of conflict and this novel makes it clear why.

The other fascinating fact is the author is a descendant of Cotton Mather herself. Salem is a real town in America and she wanted to know more about both the Witch Trials and her own family history. Loved it!

(History, Witches, Ghost, Spell, Curse, High School, Popularity, Romance)

Zach King – My Magical Life

Author – Zach King35069280

Illustrator – Beverly Arce

Age – 7+

Zach is home schooled as he is part of a magical family. But when his magic still hasn’t arrived at the age of 11, his parents believe he has beeen ‘skipped’ and the best thing for him is to go to middle school and learn to be ‘normal’ like other non-magical kids.

His first day at Horace Greeley Middle School finds him inside a vending machine in nothing but his boxers. But how did it happen? When an online video of ‘the trick’ goes viral, his new friend Aaron is keen to know how he did it, and for him to do more tricks like that. That’s not his only problem – the coolest kid in school has decided to make him look a fool – as often as possible.

When Zach does finally find his magic, it’s way cooler than he ever dreamed, but how does he hide the truth from his new friends when they are keen to see more of his ‘tricks’ online?

Zach soon finds a way, but has to face the bully, his parents and an alligator!

This is the 1st in a new series, made up of both text and full page, full colour illustrations. Set mostly in Horace Greeley Middle School, it’s a fun read.

(School, Bully, Friendship, Magic, Secret, Series, YouTube, Popularity)