I’ve said many times I love the variety of middle grade fiction – and this week is no different! Heroes and heroines growing up in various guises, lands near and far, these three books will enthrall middles grade readers and remind them they can all face their fears whether it be accepting yourself as you are, meeting your Maasai family or capturing treacherous princesses!
Giant by Kate Scott
“I’m Anzo. In case you don’t know, in ancient German Anzo means ‘giant’. The problem is, I am definitely not a giant. Things need to change. And that means growing taller. Because if I can grow as tall as the rest of my family. I might feel more like one of them. Extra ordinary. Not ordinary.”
Anzo is very small. So small in fact people often mistake him for a Tadpole (Year 1) and he’s a Frog (Year 6) and they also call him ‘Peanut’ but that’s not the worst of it. He also has to put up with being tormented by the class bully and being ignored by his perpetually busy parents. It sounds like a rather sad story, but Giant is far from it. We meet Anzo just as his brilliantly bossy best friend Elise is taking action to help him grow, through positive mental attitude training – and it works! However, Anzo finds that what he always wanted is not exactly what he always wanted.
Told with warm-hearted humour and touching insight, we discover Anzo is on the road to growing up in more ways than one. I loved his character and that his interest in comics and illustration is what keeps him going and ultimately helps him find himself. Anzo’s parents and uncles, who are all building a restaurant business together, were frankly quite irritating – and quite bonkers – which made you root for Anzo all the more! The scenes with Miss Bentley, one of his teachers, had me laughing so much I had to stop reading (I was on a packed train receiving very strange looks from fellow commuters!) Kate Scott has a knack for make tricky situations funny in exactly the right way and writing characters you care about and can relate too. After all, we all want to be ‘noticed’ by the people we love and the best way to do this is by being ourselves. Featuring quirky illustrations by Alex Gunn, Giant is simply a great story.
Find out more at www.piccadillypress.co.uk
Follow Kate Scott @KateScottWriter
With thanks to Kate Scott for sending me this book to review.
Warrior Boy by Virginia Clay
London schoolboy Ben is heading for Kenya to meet his Maasai family. But how is an outsider like him going to fit in? When he meets his cousin Kip, he discovers they share more than he thought – if only Ben can keep up . . .Together, the boys must survive the African savannah: hunt for food, defend elephants from poachers – and even face the king of the beasts. Does Ben have what it takes to be a twenty-first-century warrior?
When Ben finds himself winging his way to Africa in half term, its more than just a short holiday – it’s a journey of discovery. Having never known his father who died before he was born, Ben has never met his father’s family who are members of the Maasai tribe. He joins his documentary film-maker mother on a trip to Kenya, marking the start of an ancient ritual where boy must become man and where he must overcome his worst fears. Full of wonderful detail of the African savannah and a narrative that has a bit of everything – adventure, heartache, thrills, mystery- this is one of my favourite stories of the year. The unique and stunning setting; seeing Ben embrace his Maasai heritage and the race against time to uncover a poaching ring all serve to create a thrilling plot. Warrior Boy is a real pager turner with themes of resilience, overcoming and bravery – a fantastic middle grade read with gorgeous cover art by Kerry Hyndman. It was shortlisted for the Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition and is Virginia Clay’s debut novel, inspired by her time living and working in Kenya teaching English to Maasai children.
Find out more at www.chickenhousebooks.com/authors/virginia-clay/
Follow Virginia Clay @VClayAuthor
With thanks to Chicken House for sending me this book to review.
Seeker of the Crown by Ruth Lauren
Can Valor restore the rightful ruler to the throne? Valor thought her troubles were over. She free her sister from prison, proved her innocence and reunited their family. But the treacherous Princess Anastasia is still missing and after the crown. And just as Valor is tasked with a dangerous secret mission to find her, Queen Ana vanishes without a trace. To prevent a war and to keep traitors from the throne, Valor needs to user her wits and the help of her friends to discover the secrets of icy Demidova before its too late.
A thrilling adventure, this is the second book in the Prisoner of Ice and Snow series. If you haven’t read the first book, find out more in my review here. In Seeker of the Crown, it’s just one month after the dazzling rescue of Sasha by her twin sister, Valor. But things in Demidova go from bad to worse as the treacherous Anastasia will stop at nothing to get the throne – even kidnapping her own mother! Valor, her sister and her friends must use all their ingenuity to counteract the evil plot that has infected the entire Royal Family. With thrills a-plenty, edge-of-your seat action, this non-stop adventure takes you right to the heart of the snow swept landscape and the political treason that seems unstoppable. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the cast of characters again and was hooked on the twists and turns throughout. With the door left open for another book, the Seeker of the Crown is equally as good as the first book and Valor continues to shine as a worthy heroine.
Find out more www.ruthlauren.com
Follow Ruth Lauren @Ruth__Lauren
With thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me this book to review