Author/Illustrator – Marcus Sedgwick
Age – 8+ Graphic Novel
Scarlett Hart was born to be a monster hunter, just like her dead parents. Now living with the family butler, Napolean and the housekeeper, she is carrying on the tradition of monster hunting.
Napolen is no ordinary butler and neither is the housekeeper, assisting Scarlett in killing monsters to claim the rewards posted for their demise. But Scarlett is officially too young to be a monster hunter, even if she could fence at 6, is clever and fearless. Count Stankovic is also a hunter, and will do anything for reward money. He is determined to catch and photograph Scarlett as she hunts, so she will be arrested and no longer any competition.
But that’s not all he’s up to. Why is there an increase in monsters lately? Has he teamed up with someone even worse than him, able to summon monsters from another realm?
This graphic novel is full of action from the first page! Scarlett is feisty, funny and brave, and The Count is a perfect nemesis. Loved it!
(Graphic Novel, Courage, Orphan, Monsters, Betrayal, Humour, Funny)
Author – Will Mabbitt
Age – 7+
The most exciting thing Jake Green was supposed to be doing was attending a school camp. But when a ghost unexpectedly hands him a strange package, life becomes far more exciting than he thinks he can handle.
Curiosity overwhelms him and he opens the package – which is the worst possible thing he could have done. A secret organisation called The Embassy of the Dead has now issued a Death Order against him, unleashing one of the worst Grim Reapers. Oh yes, there’s more than one, and they love following through with a Death Order!
Jake never knew he was a ‘sensitive’ – someone who can see and hear ghosts. But soon, they are the only ones who can help him avoid the reaper, get the package back to the Embassy and keep it away from a creature wanting to take over the Land of the Living.
The first in a series, this was a fast-paced, funny story about a boy getting caught up with ghosts of every kind and their ruling organisation that has more paperwork than a tax department; all while trying to pretend to his parents that he is at a school camp. Looking forward to more in the series!
(Series, Secret, Ghost, Friendship, Funny, Humour)
Author – Jackie Merchant
Age – 8+
Harry wasn’t happy about moving away from all her friends, pony club and all the memories she had made with her older sister Sissy before her illness. The one thing that eases the move (besides being closer to her loving grandparents), is the promise of a horse of her very own.
Little do her parents know, but Sissy has come with them, even if only in spirit. Harry has been to therapy about ‘hearing voices’ so now she keeps Sissy a secret. After all, if she was just imagining her older, bossy, strong sister’s voice, wouldn’t she make her less annoying?
When an impressive Appaloosa called Marksman is offered to her in her new town, Harry isn’t sure she can handle such a big horse. But with Sissy’s constant pushing, and her grandparent’s support, maybe it is something she can achieve for herself. If only Mum didn’t regret the promise made in the first place.
This story isn’t just about horses, pony club, friendship and family. Harry’s family is still dealing with their grief at the loss of Sissy, but all in their own way. A boy called Billy from school has his own problems, and Harry has to find her own courage (without Sissy) to hold onto what she loves.
(Animals, Horses, Pony Club, Gymkhana, Friendship, Fitting in, Moving)
Author – Michael Morpurgo
Illustrator – Michael Foreman
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)
Author – Adriana Mather
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)
Author / Illustrator – Pam Smy
Age – 10+
Thornhill is an eerie tale told in two ways:
One story is set in 1982 and told in text by a girl called Mary Baines. She lives in Thornhill with other foster kids (all girls) and keeps to herself after being bullied terribly by one of the other girls. The bullying intensifies and she can’t take it anymore. She plans her revenge. But when things don’t go to plan, she has another solution.
The other story is set in 2017 and told in pictures about a girl called Ella moving into a new house. She is alone a lot as her father often works late, and she’s intrigued by the big old house over the back fence – the derelict and abandoned Thornhill Institute for girls. When she sees another girl over there she goes to investigate, exploring the grounds and then the house.
The more she discovers the more she wants to know – will the girl be her friend?
Two girls – two stories, woven into each other. This was an intriguing way to tell a story about loneliness, bullying, revenge and friendship. The final pictures were a great twist!
(Girls, Foster kids, Eerie, Intriguing, Orphanage, Loneliness, Bullying, Bully, Friendship, Foster care, Mystery)
Author – Helen Peters
Age – 10+
Evie is not happy. Her Mum has remarried and gone off on honeymoon, leaving Evie to stay with a godmother she has never met. The room she is shown on the first night looks just like any other room – except for a message scratched into the glass of the window.
Her godmother tells her of a tale told about her room. The message is said to be left by a girl over 200 hundred years before, after being locked in there by her own father.
Evie soon learns more about this girl first hand – waking up in 1814 in the same house, wearing maid’s clothing. Life is very different in 1814 and she has to learn her dawn to dusk duties very quickly or be fired and forced to leave the house. But how would she get home again?
The more she learns about the house and its occupants, she soon meets the girl who scratched the message in the window. Evie knows she has to warn her about her father before it is too late – hoping this righting of a terrible wrong will return her to her own time.
Another great read by Helen Peters – connecting our time with the past in a unique way.
(History, Historical, Godmother, Courage, 1814, Time Travel)