Author – Rodman Philbrick
Age – 9+
It all begins with a letter – written in, could it be…blood? When Arthur Bash is shown this letter by oddball, sticky-up haired, orphaned, brainiac, weirdo Darius Drake, he’s not sure whether he wants anything to do with it. Arthur might look big and scary and mean, but it’s all just for show.
Arthur is available for hire to anyone at school. If you want anyone to leave you alone, or you want to scare someone, Arthur is your man, well at least, 12 year old boy. Payment is in chocolate bars.
With three Snickers bars up for grabs, Arthur says yes to helping Darius figure out who sent the mysterious letter. But there is so much more to be discovered, and a mystery that deepens the more they dig.
A spooky house. A disfigured man. A convicted felon. A pretty step-sister. A man who looks like a movie star. And a very famous lost diamond necklace. Were three Snickers bars worth it?
(Mystery, Friendship, Blended Family, Secret, Bully, Humour, Funny, Crime)
Author/Illustrator – Alex T Smith
Age – 6+
Mr Penguin has just set up an Adventure/Mystery Agency and advertised it in the local newspaper. On his first day he is keen to get started on solving mysteries and going on adventures! But his phone doesn’t ring. He’d paid a lot of money to set up his Adventure Agency, and if he didn’t get a job soon, he would have to go home to the Frozen South, leaving behind crabsticks and his favourite sandwiches (fish fingers of course).
Just as he’s really beginning to worry – the phone nearly rings right off his desk. There is a mystery at the local museum. Boudicca Bones needs his help URGENTLY to find hidden treasure within the museum.
Mr Penguin is very excited, but soon is wondering whether this whole adventuring thing was a good idea after all? With an X marks the spot, pitch-black passages, and a kung-fu expert spider side-kick named Colin, Mr Penguin’s courage, smarts and rumbling stomach are put to the test as he investigates.
The intricate pencil illustrations add to the fun format of white, orange and black pages of this new series. Mr Penguin is trying to do his best, and is lucky his spider side-kick is along for the adventure. This slapstick action mystery is a little Indiana Jones and a lot funny. Would make a great read-aloud/bedtime story.
(Funny, Humour, Friends, Adventure, Baddies, Villains, Mystery, Secret tunnels, Museum, Slapstick, Series)
Author – Allison Rushby
Age – 10+
Immy has moved from Sydney Australia, to a small village in the UK. It’s a new start for them after something happened at her father’s work.
After seeing a few houses with a rental agent, they choose a cute little cottage with a large tree in the back lawn. But this isn’t just any tree.
The agent tells them of the tree’s history. A history where two girls who lived in the cottage mysteriously vanished on the eve of their 11th birthday. The entire village blames the tree. But that’s ridiculous – isn’t it?
Immy tries to make friends but the tree’s history affects everyone around her – even Jean, the kind old lady who lives next door. She says her best friend Elizabeth was one of the girls who disappeared many years before.
Immy has been hearing a creepy rhyme being sung – even when there is no-one nearby. Could there be some truth in the legend? While she keeps her fears to herself, she is also dealing with her dad’s depression, and the feeling that the tree is watching her and mirroring her feelings. She is determined to learn the truth – which means staying home on the eve of her 11th birthday…..
I loved this story! It was sad and beautiful, and intriguing and creepy. I couldn’t read the last few pages fast enough. I closed the book with a tear in my eye and a smile on my face. Fans of Emma Carroll will love it too.
(Mystery, School, Magic, Secrets, Friends, Depression, Nature)
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 – Tom Pollock
Age – 14+
Pete has terrible anxiety. He has mechanisms to help him deal with it, taught to him by his scientist mum. One of these is using maths, numbers, probability, etc to help determine the likelihood of something happening and find some level of calm.
But he’s still anxious about an upcoming award ceremony recognising his mother’s work. There will be so many people and just about anything triggers his crushing panic attacks.
Bel is Pete’s twin sister – older ‘but only by eight minutes’ reminds Pete constantly. Bel is his comforter, protector and pusher of boundaries – trying to help him overcome normal everyday things that terrify him.
Just before their mother’s ceremony, hell breaks loose. He is in the custody of armed, professionals, Bel is missing and their mum has been stabbed and is being raced to hospital – or is she?
This story is a lie – that’s the premise – and the reason I was torn this way and that throughout the story. It tipped me forward and back, through time, thoughts and an endless stream of lies to the last page. Who is telling the truth? Who can Pete trust? Each betrayal shocked me as Pete discovered them. A densely packed read. A page turner from the very first page. Brilliant!
(Twins, Science, Maths, Fears, Anxiety, Panic attacks, Action, Betrayal, Trust, Lies)
Author – Geoffrey Girard
Age – 14+
Katie Wallace’s dad isn’t much of a dad these days. As she has grown she has watched him get high, drunk and unconscious. When official looking people arrive on her doorstep she’s not surprised.
But it’s not what she expected. Her dad has been hospitalised for random threats against the vice president and he’s telling lies about the government. She is swept quickly into foster care.
When she finally gets to see her dad he is heavily drugged in a guarded hospital room. But he fights through his haze to tell her something. Something she never expected and cannot ignore. This is where her fight to free her father begins.
This novel has received some negative feedback because of its main topic – 9/11 conspiracy theories. The people who believe these theories and/or others call themselves Truthers. I for one, much enjoyed the story and the way it was written. Although in third person I was reading other character’s point of view without knowing who they were yet. Very intriguing! The author specifically states he means no disrespect to anyone with this novel and I appreciated that. I liked the characters who drew me in and had me wondering who telling the truth. Great read.
(Twin Towers, Conspiracy, 9/11, Lies, Truth, Mental Illness, PTSD, Soldier, Government, Mystery, Murder, Family, Trust)
Author – Melissa Albert
Age – 13+
Alice and her mum have always been on the move. Bad luck seems to plague them wherever they try to settle, and it’s only now that Alice is 17 that she realises there is something eerie about their particular bad luck.
Alice’s grandmother was famous for a book she wrote of very dark fairytales. This book is now impossible to find so she never got to read it. She’d hoped her entire childhood that she would meet her grandmother but it never happened. Her mother was adamant about never returning to The Hazel Wood where her mother lived.
Alice’s mum marries and they seem finally settled – until her mum vanishes. Was she kidnapped? Did she run away from an unhappy marriage? The strange things that have happened through her life manifest into even stranger creatures and events and the only person she can turn to is a boy from her school. Finch is ridiculously wealthy and also a huge fan of her grandmother’s tales.
After avoiding fans for years, Alice has no option but to ask for Finch’s help. He knows the tales inside out and she finds she is connected to one in particular. Despite a warning to the contrary, Alice knows she has to find and then search the elusive Hazel Wood if she is ever to see her mother again.
The writing is superb, the intrigue all encompassing, and the place Alice finds herself in – VERY Alice in Wonderland – but even weirder!