New reviews: three great additions to your bookshelf!

IMG-3344This week I have enjoyed reading these three great middle grade reads featuring time travel, magic and funny moments galore!  A Chase in Time by Sally Nichols is a time slip novel with great characters and a fast paced plot.  A Tangle of Magic by Valija Zinck is a wonderful adventure with a brave heroine and Just Jack by Kate Scott features a lovely young chap trying to fit in.  All three books would make great additions to your bookshelf, whether at home or in school.

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A Chase in Time by Sally Nicholls

Alex Pilgrim is always up for adventure, so he’s super- pleased when he and his sister Ruby, fall through their aunt’s mirror into 1912.  Racing around in a scarily dangerous car, being permanently grubby and even catching a criminal or two is great fun! Now they just need to find a way home….

A thoroughly enjoyable time-slip adventure, A Chase in Time is a great read with a good mix of humour, excitement and danger. Spending a school holiday at their aunt’s family home, which is full of wonderful heirlooms from around the world, Alex and Ruby discover the mirror that has stood in the hall for years is a time portal. A dramatic start to the story means that Alex and Ruby must get to grips with time travel and solve the mystery of the missing Newberry Cup –  which will not only help their family in 1912 but will also save their aunt’s magnificent home in their own time! Full of historical detail and some wonderful, humourous observations about how different life was in 1912, there are moments of poignant reflection as Alex and Ruby realise that in a few short years the first world war will begin.  The lovely cast of characters have very English eccentricities, enlivening the engaging plot. I particularly enjoyed the romance between Alex and Ruby’s distant relatives Atherton and Miss Flynn.  Add to this some fantastic illustrations you have all the ingredients for a great read!

With thanks to Nosy Crow for sending me this book to review.

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A Tangle of Magic by Valija Zinck

Penelope has always been…well….different. For one thing, she has grey hair, even though she’s only ten.  But when she wakes up to find her hair has turned the brightest, wildest, most BRILLIANT shade of red, she realises magic has entered her life. Strange and amazing things start to happen. Could it all have something to do with her father, who disappeared years ago? Penelope won’t stop until she finds the tangled, magical truth about who she really is….

A Tangle of Magic is a quirky, magical and inventive tale with gorgeous cover art. Stories about magic are great fun, especially when they centre on the discovery of hidden magical powers and this story is no exception! It features a determined and feisty heroine Penelope, who knows she’s different. Living with her Mum and Grandma and Coco the cat, she couldn’t possibly have realised just how different until her hair turns red, marking the beginning of an extraordinary adventure.  Hearing others thoughts before they say them, having conversations with the road (yes, the road!) and even learning to fly, Penelope discovers she’s got magical blood. Her mother had always hidden this from her, hoping to keep her safe, but she finally tells Penelope her father had magical powers. Helped by her Grandma giving her a secret book of spells and one of her best friends unwittingly giving her clues to her father’s whereabouts, Penelope sets out to discover not just the truth about her father, but the truth about herself too.  With some exciting plots twists and gentle humour, Penelope makes a charming heroine who you are rooting for throughout.  Themes of friendship and family bring together an engaging narrative that middle grade readers will enjoy.

With thanks to Chicken House for sending me this book to review.

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Just Jack by Kate Scott

Jack knows all about trying to fit in. Since Dad left, Jack and his Mum have moved house five times.  But it’s hard work pretending to be someone he isn’t and Jack misses having a friend.  Until Tyler comes along, Tyler is clever, funny and inventive. And he might help Jack figure out how to be…Just Jack.

Jack is about to start School Six and with his Sherlock Code at the ready, he is determined to fit in but not stand out.  Surrounded by unpacking and mess at home with his Mum, Jack sets his sights on making sure he doesn’t get too close to anyone just in case they have to move again.  However, Jack hasn’t banked on the appearance of full-of-life Tyler bounding into the classroom, who he realises could be his ideal friend.  Told with sensitivity and humour, the story explores how Jack deals with making new friends, confronting the pain of his parents divorce and finally being true to himself.  He is an instantly lovable chap and you can’t help but be moved by his observations and the situation he finds himself in.  Many young readers will identify with the difficulties of friendship and family described and the cast of characters who bring the story to life. A perfect balance of humour and heart, Just Jack is a truly enjoyable and moving read, with great illustrations by Alex Gunn.

With thanks to Kate Scott for sending me this book to review. Just Jack is published by Piccadilly Press.

 

Book of the Month: Seaglass by Eloise Williams

book of the monthIt’s been so hot this summer that having a ghost story to read exploring the windswept Welsh coast was the perfect way to cool down and provide some eerie chills! I really enjoyed Eloise William’s last novel Gaslight so was delighted to receive a copy of her new book Seaglass to review.

With another gorgeous cover, this story is equally compelling and is our new Book of the Month!

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Seaglass by Eloise Williams

Lark struggles when her family and their friends go on holiday for the autumn half term. Her mother is ill, her little sister has stopped speaking and she has fallen out with her best friend.  Is a girl in a green dress following her in the fog? Or is her sister playing tricks on her? When a local woman tells her ‘the girl’ comes to take sisters, Lark is the only one who can save her family.  

Lark is angry. Angry that she’s cooped up in a car heading for a holiday which she is certain will be rubbish; angry that her little sister won’t speak anymore; angry that her mother is dying but no-one will talk about it.  She’s a thirteen-year-old full of attitude, torn between hiding her unhappiness to protect her family and shouting at anyone and anything in her way!  The holiday only gets marginally better when the others show-up – family and friends whom she has grown up with including her best friend Gwenni and her beloved eccentric grandma Mam-gu.  Alongside the family turbulence, it becomes frighteningly clear that there is a strange ghost girl roaming the woods near the holiday park and even more strange is that her little sister Snow, who doesn’t talk to anyone, seems to be communicating with her.  Add to this warnings from local residents, a night time boat ride, mysterious weather and an old ruin and you have all the ingredients for an eerie ghost story. What is the link between the strange girl and the collection of seaglass Lark and her sister have gathered?  Why does her sister draw so many pictures of the girl in the green dress?  And how can Lark save her family and herself from impending disaster?!

Seaglass is a great read, full of atmospheric descriptions of the Welsh coast and a collection of quirky characters you love – and some that you don’t!  Lark is a feisty girl struggling to come to terms with herself and her inability to control her temper but desperate to help her family.  Her determination to find out about the mysterious girl in the woods is admirable – she even uses the local library to help her! The references to Welsh history and family times gone by give a lovely depth to the whole story and Lark’s love of nature is a really nice addition to her character.  Lark’s friends and family come in all shapes and size, but their differences don’t come between them in the end because it’s family and friendship that matter. The truth about her mother’s illness is revealed and Lark has to face her fears, weaving a moving emotional showdown into the narrative. There are some very creepy moments; just enough to give you several chills and a seriously creepy doll I’d rather not think about now – but then I am a bit of a wimp about things like that!!

Seaglass is a wonderfully atmospheric, perfectly paced ghost story combined with a narrative about family and a really positive emphasis on the importance of being truthful with the ones you love. Publishing on 12th September from Firefly Press, Seaglass is definitely a book to add to your reading list – you won’t be disappointed!

Find out more at www.eloisewilliams.com

With thanks to Eloise and Firefly Press for sending me this book to review!

New reviews: Brilliant Barrington Stoke books!

I have long been a fan of Barrington Stoke who publish super-readable books for children and young people. Each book has brilliant features which make them more accessible particularly to children with dyslexia or visual stress. In both my working and home life I’m well aware of the challenges being a reluctant or struggling reader presents, so it’s great to have something to offer those might who need a more accessible read. Bringing together award winning authors and illustrators, Barrington Stoke publish a whole range of brilliant stories and the three I’ve read recently are no exception.

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McTavish Goes Wild by Meg Rosoff, illustrated by Grace Easton tells the story of the Peachey family and their delightful rescue dog McTavish. A wonderful spin on who is rescuing who, McTavish knows what’s best for the family and exactly where they should take their summer holiday. Like any family, each member has his or her preference but McTavish with brilliant doggy intelligence leads them on a fantastic journey of discovery through the countryside. This really is a delightful tale; I had a smile on my face the whole way through. Wonderfully observed and with lovely quirky illustrations, we see the Peachey family face the annual dilemma of how to keep everyone happy on holiday.  Thankfully McTavish is on hand to help. I would love a dog like him to solve family disputes and remind everyone what’s important!  This is the second book to feature McTavish and is aimed at children aged 8-12 years.

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Hari and his Electric Feet by Alexander McCall Smith, illustrated by Sam Usher is a magical story aimed at 8-12 year olds, featuring Hari and his unique dancing talent. Discovering he can dance is one thing but when Hari and his good friend Mr Ram realise just how infectious it is, a wonderful adventure ensues. From the local street sellers to the farm animals to fighting politicians, everyone comes under Hari’s spell with lively illustrations capturing the movement. I love the idea of dance bringing such joy to people so much so that it even helps bring about world peace! Hari is a gorgeous character and you almost want to join in with his electric feet. If only world politics were that simple….

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Mariella Queen of the Skies by Eoin Colfer, illustrated by Katy Halford tells the brilliant adventures of nine year old Mariella and her quest to escape bedtime. Full of inspired ideas and inventions she won’t rest till she has conquered sleep. Mariella discovers how to fly away from night time and spends her time visiting far off places and thinking of fabulous inventions. But it’s only when her ideas run out she realises that sleep is more important than she thought! Taking the familiar battle of avoiding bedtime, this story captures the imagination and wins hearts with a magnificent heroine in Mariella. And also reminds us sleep is essential no matter how smart you are and how many ideas you have! Featuring lovely colourful illustrations, this is one of the Little Gems series aimed at children aged 5-8 years.

Whether you’re looking for an accessible read or just a great story these books are a must-have addition to every bookshelf and library.

With thanks to Barrington Stoke for sending me these wonderful books to review. 

 

New reviews: a big blog catch-up

Books julyIt’s been a quiet time on the blog recently due to an enforced period of rest after unexpected illness.  At times I didn’t even have the energy to read a book let alone write a review;  I must have been ill!  Thankfully I’m on the mend and have since been reading lots of books – the perfect distraction, entertainment and comforting pastime when you’re in recovery! I’ve made a small dent in my TBR pile, caught up with Tom Fletcher’s Book Club, and discovered some great new books.

So in no particular order here’s a snapshot of what I’ve read over the last few weeks (more to come in future posts). Middle grade to YA, these six books would be great to add to your summer reading list!

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Walls by Emma Fischel

Meet Ned Harrison Arkle-Smith – he’s grumpy, bossy, and exasperating, but you can’t help liking him. Oh, and he’s just discovered he can walk through walls . . . Ned’s world is collapsing. His parents have split up, his best friend is behaving strangely, he has an awful new neighbour, and Snapper is making his life a misery. In fact NOBODY is behaving the way Ned wants.  And then there’s the wall. Right down the middle of Ivy Lodge and cutting up Ned’s life. A big brick reminder of all that’s going wrong in his life. Until, that is, the night when Ned discovers he has an astonishing new skill . .

Walls is a funny and original story with a theme that will be familiar to many, and an unforgettable hero who quite often gets it wrong.   Ned can’t cope with his parents divorce and his behaviour starts to impact on everything he does – but he can’t see that he’s in the wrong. And when he’s presented with the ‘gift’ of being able to walk through walls try as he might to use his new power for good, Ned just can’t help himself.  Exasperating everyone around him, it takes a dangerous situation for Ned to accept the things he can’t change and find the real hero inside himself.  Full of humour and heart, Walls is a great middle-grade read, generating huge empathy with an enjoyable cast of supporting characters. A well-paced narrative with lots of humour will keep you hooked and despite his troubles, you can’t help but root for Ned to find his way. A thoroughly enjoyable read.

With thanks to Oxford University Press for a proof copy of this book. Find out more at www.emmafischel.com.

 

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Hope by Rhian Ivory

It’s the summer between school and sixth-from. When Hope doesn’t get into drama college and her friends do, her plans fall apart.  She’s struggling with anger, grief for her father and a sense that her own body is against her. A chance meeting on a ferry gives her someone to talk to. But is she brave enough to ask for help? Can she find her plan B?

This is a great YA story with so much for readers to relate to. How many times have you made plans for your life only to find life itself has other ideas? It’s a really hard lesson to learn and Hope is in the throes of this dealing with the death of her father and an unsuccessful drama school audition.  She’s also coping with undiagnosed PMDD, a horrible condition girls suffer from causing extreme mood swings, irritability, depression and other symptoms the week before menstruation. The fallout of all these events impacts on her relationships, particularly with her best friend, Callie.

Ironically given her name, Hope feels anything but, and you can feel the emotional turmoil throughout the narrative. A new friend gives her an outlet for her frustration, but even this causes problems. Hope is forced to face her troubles whilst working with her mother at the hospital as part of the Singing Medicine team and the arrival of her Italian grandfather gives her renewed optimism. I loved the portrayal of their relationship showing how we all need someone to believe in us. Hope finds her voice in more ways than one– to seek help with her condition and to secure a new path for herself. This is an important novel, shining a light on a horrible health issue and showing that life doesn’t always go the way you want, but there is indeed always hope.

With thanks to Firefly Press for sending me this book to review. Follow Rhian on twitter: @Rhian_Ivory

 

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The Weight of A Thousand Feathers by Brian Conaghan

Bobby Seed has questions. What’s another word for ‘thesaurus’? How can I tell Bel I want her as my girl friend, not my girlfriend? How much pain is Mum in today? Has she taken her pills? And sometimes, secretly, why us? Bobby’s little brother Danny has questions too. Will Bobby let him have Rice Krispies for dinner? And can he stay up late on the computer? And why won’t Mum’s stupid illness just GO AWAY? But it’s Mum’s question for Bobby that could turn everything on its head. It’s the Big One. The Unthinkable One.  If Bobby agrees, he won’t just be soothing her pain. He’ll be helping to end it. Would he? Could he?

Described as a “bold questioning exploration of the lengths we’ll go to for the people we love” this is a brilliantly titled and equally brilliantly written novel.  Bobby is not your average teen; he doesn’t life the live he wants to live, he lives the life he has to live. But he does so with grit and determination, fiercely protective of the ones he loves.  His brother has learning needs and his mother spends most of her days in bed suffering from chronic multiple sclerosis.  Bobby’s relationship with both is beautifully portrayed showing the constant struggle between wanting to do the right thing and wanting not to have to be responsible all the time.  Bobby’s only outlet is his poetry; a hidden pleasure or perhaps a necessity through which he can express his feelings. His only help is his best friend Bel, a welcome carer-come-takeaway-night-buddy.  That is until he starts attending a support group, where he meets an array of young people in a similar situation to himself including the handsome and mysterious Lou.  The story unfolds with a narrative full of heart-rending emotion, touches of humour throughout, teen angst, romance and inevitably grief.  The reality described is harsh but truthful and the empathy you feel for Bobby in this impossible situation is overwhelming. Impossible questions don’t have possible answers and this gripping novel explores this theme in a way that stays with you long after the final page.

With thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me this book to review. Follow Brian on twitter: @BrianConaghan

Heart-of-Resistance

The Heart of Resistance by Sarah Tate

When a bomb destroys her London home, Agnes is left without parents or a guardian. But she can’t bear to live in a children’s home in the country. She needs to find her grandparents in France – a France occupied by the Nazis. Smuggled across the Channel, by chance she meets a Resistance group whose leader promises to help her in her quest. In turn, Agnes’s quick thinking saves both their skins. Left in the care of shepherds in the mountains, Agnes’s adventure is only just beginning – can she make it through to the end?

A wartime novel told with heart and full of adventure The Heart of Resistance weaves a tale of struggling against the odds to find the ones you love. Agnes has already suffered the loss of her parents and has grown up in the care of her maternal grandmother, who is killed during a bombing raid on London. Determined not to end up in an orphanage Agnes does the unthinkable and heads into the heart of occupied France to find her paternal grandparents.  Using skills she learnt playing on the blitzed streets of London, Agnes’ survival instincts kick in. Facing all manner of threats from hunger and starvation to German soldiers, she finds herself helping the resistance who in return promise to see her safely to the South of France. There is something mysterious in the face of the resistance leader, but Agnes can only think of getting to her family.  Just when she thinks she is safe, Agnes is captured and has to use all her wits to escape.  An exciting suspense-filled plot, The Heart of Resistance brings to life the danger of wartime, life in occupied France and the constant threat faced by all. It would make a great middle-grade historical classroom read.

With thanks to Ragged Bears for sending me this book to review.

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Alex Sparrow and the Furry Fury By Jennifer Killick

Catching the school’s runaway guinea pigs is not giving Alex job satisfaction, but how can he find a bigger test for his and Jess’s awkward superpowers? Jess is more worried about the bullied new boy, whose Mum runs the animal sanctuary. She volunteers at the sanctuary, but soon realises that something is very wrong; the animals are terrified. People report strange events: things missing, property destroyed, and the local squirrels have turned mean. The police have no suspects. It looks more and more like a job for Agent Alex…

Alex Sparrow is back and from the first page you’ll have a smile on your face!  Alex’s superhero antics haven’t abated and Jess still finds them totally exasperating.  However, bickering aside, they make a great duo and very quickly they find themselves in the midst of another bizarre adventure. This time they’re doing battle with a very mysterious villain, ninja squirrels and really quite frightening foxes to name a few.  Alex is convinced it’s something to do with the new boy from the animal sanctuary, Jess has fallen for the animal sanctuary assistant much to Alex’s disgust, but they both agree that there is definitely an unnatural force playing havoc with local wildlife.  It’s up to them to get to the bottom of things using their slightly unusual superpowers and of course the talents of Bob the goldfish to help. Alex’s determination increases when he realises his precious hedgehog Mr Prickles, a sanctuary resident, is in danger. Using all their ingenuity, from ear farts to animal conversations, Alex and Jess prove their superhero worth by the bucket load. Quirky characters, bags of humour and some excellent plot twists make this fantastic middle-grade adventure spring off the page.  You won’t fail to enjoy it!

With thanks to Firefly Press for sending me this book to review. Find out more at www.jenniferkillick.com.

 

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It’s a Wrap (Waiting for Callback #3) by Perdita & Honor Cargill

It’s a BIG year for Elektra. She’s wrapped her first feature film Raw (even if her character was unexpectedly killed off half-way through filming) and hosted – against the odds – the party of the year (well, until her mum turned up and kicked everyone out) so, things are definitely moving in the right direction. BUT she’s still not sure what’s going on with Archie, her bff Moss’s love life is in shreds and GCSEs are looming. And the COUNTDOWN to Raw’s release is TERRIFYING, not least because it turns out there’s more to promoting a movie than messing around on Insta… #ComingSoon, #ElektraExposed #RawTerror.  Elektra’s road to acting stardom is as rocky as ever…

It’s the night of Elektra’s 16th birthday party, immediately bringing to life the perils of being sweet sixteen – from romance complications to parents about to arrive home early!  So begins the story, which is brimming with all those teen dilemmas but of course the added issue of being a little bit famous. Elektra is possibly on the brink of super stardom but there could be a major problem with her first feature film, Raw.  Enter the PR gurus to ensure the film’s success, who do their best to train Elektra in how to create a social media profile, with hilarious and cringe-worthy results.

To be honest, trying to sum up this book in a short paragraph is tricky – there’s so much in it!  Great characters, believable relationships, slightly-mad-but-always-there family, love triangles and a cute and clever dog. It’s a great commentary on today’s improbable and fickle world of fame and fortune, very brilliantly demonstrating that it’s family and friends that matter along with lots of laughs.  Elektra makes a truly likeable heroine and shows real grit and determination in the face of social media backlash.  Add to this the glamour of the movies, some fabulously funny lines and a message of being true to yourself, It’s a Wrap will leave a smile on your face.

There are also some fantastic school resources to go with this book prompting discussion of the three titles in this series.  With book club questions, multiple choice quizzes, creative writing ideas and whole host of writing tips, the Waiting for Callback series is a fantastic package for encouraging teens readers to get creative.

 

With thanks to Perdita and Honor Cargill for sending me this book to review Find out more at www.waitingforcallback.com.

 

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Book of the Month: Kat Wolfe Investigates by Lauren St John

book of the monthOur Book of the Month is the first instalment in a fantastic new adventure series by Lauren St John,  the award winning author of The White Giraffe series, Laura Marlin Mysteries and One Dollar Horse series.  Published by Macmillan, it’s a great middle grade read and perfect for budding young detectives and animal lovers!

Kat Wolfe loves her new home in idyllic Bluebell Bay, especially as it comes with a resident wildcat. But when she starts pet-Kat wolfesitting for pocket money, she finds that beneath the town’s perfect surface lie some dark and dangerous secrets . . . After a pet owner vanishes from his clifftop mansion, Kat turns to her new friend, Harper Lamb, for help. What began as mystery-solving holiday fun quickly turns deadly for Wolfe and Lamb. Can they count on their unruly animals to save their lives?

Kat Wolfe Investigates begins with Kat and her mother, Dr Wolfe taking the decision to move from their London home after a break-in.  When they arrive in their new idyllic home on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, it couldn’t be more perfect with a beautiful cottage, busy veterinary surgery for Dr Wolfe to run and a wildcat, Tiny, for Kat to try her cat-whispering talents on. Kat begins to make friends, starting a pet sitting agency and meeting computer-whizz Harper Lamb who is laid up with a broken leg and needs Kat to look after her horse.  The plot thickens and it soon becomes clear all is not as it seems with disappearances, mysterious messages and worrying behaviour all around. Kat and Harper set-up their very own detective agency to get to the bottom of things, little realising the deadly dangerous plot they are about to become embroiled in….

Lauren St John’s writing always reminds me of the stories I read when I was young – in particular the Enid Blyton Adventure series and the Nancy Drew Mysteries. This is true of Kat Wolfe Investigates, a story with a great sense of adventure, transporting you to that place of excitement when you can’t wait to find out what happens next!   Kat Wolfe makes a great heroine – persistent, loyal and caring.  Add to this a droll fellow detective in Harper; lots of animal characters from capuchin monkeys to overweight dogs to vicious wildcats; the odd human here and there, and you have a wonderful array of possible heroes and villains! It’s a well-paced plot with some lovely moments where Kat shows her truly caring nature. The mother and daughter bond between Kat and Dr Wolfe is great to read.  There are suitably tense action scenes with an edge-of-your-seat finale and a lovely satisfying ending which leaves the door open for the next adventure. I can’t wait to read it!

Find out more at www.laurenstjohn.com and www.panmacmillan.com

With thanks to Macmillan for a proof copy of this book to review.

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New reviews: five great reads!

I’ve read some fantastic books over the last few weeks.  Here are my highlights of brilliant middle grade and YA reads which are available now, written by brilliant authors who know just how to get children and young people reading whether through fascinating facts, humour and adventure, teen romance or important issues.

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The Secret Diary of Thomas Snoop Tudor Boy Spy by Philip Ardagh and illustrated by Jamie Littler

Thomas Snoop is in training to become a spy. Entrusted with a top secret mission by the mysterious Lord Severn, right-hand man to the Tudor king, Thomas must travel to the magnificent Goldenhilt Hall – in the guise of a servant – in order to uncover traitors plotting against the crown. It will take all Thomas’s wits and cunning to uncover the traitors lurking at Goldenhilt Hall – and he must do so without being discovered himself…

I’ve read and enjoyed the previous books in this series and this new book doesn’t disappoint. With Philip Ardagh’s trademark wit and hilarity, we discover all about Tudor times through the eyes of Thomas Snoop and his diary entries. Mystery abounds as Thomas attempts to complete his mission and uncover the dastardly treacherous villains who threaten to destroy English freedom! I love Jamie Littler’s illustrating style, complimenting the narrative with humorous takes on the larger than life characters.  Historical facts appear throughout the story, making Tudor Boy Spy informative and fun! This great series introduces history in an accessible way, encouraging young readers to think what life might have been like growing up in a different time period – with the added bonus of being really funny!

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New review: The Song from Somewhere Else by A.F. Harrold illustrated by Levi Pinfold

I was delighted to receive the beautiful paperback version of this book holding the wonderfully quirky tale of Frank and Nick and some very strange music.  This is another fantastic story by A.F. Harrold that warms the heart and stirs the imagination, with incredible illustrations by Levi Pinfold.

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The Song from Somewhere Else by A.F .Harrold illustrated by Levi Pinfold

The last person Frank wants to be rescued by is Nick Underbridge. No one likes Nick. He’s big, he’s weird and he smells – or so everyone in Frank’s class thinks.  And yet, there’s something nice about him, and the strange music that plays in his house.  Something that makes Frank feel happy for the first time in forever.  But there’s more to Nick, and to his house, than meets the eye, and soon Frank realises she isn’t the only one keeping secrets. Or the only one who needs help…..

The Song from SomewhereElse is a beautifully written tale about friendship, family and belonging. Frank has suffered at the hands of bullies for as long as she can remember. With a persistently irritating Dad who just doesn’t ‘get’ things and a Mum who is always working, Frank is often on her own trying to avoid the vile Neil Noble and his two cronies, who delight in tormenting her.  One day when the strange and friendless Nick comes to her rescue, a new friendship begins.  This is utterly believable and described with the perfect amount of awkwardness and tentative steps as both Frank and Nick slowly begin to relate to each other. Frank finds herself oddly comforted by Nick and his home, especially when she discovers ethereal music coming from his cellar.  Strange secrets are revealed and while the world around her makes less and less sense, Frank realises she is not the only one who suffers. Her curiosity is palpable and whilst her choices lead to a troubling outcome, you can’t help but empathise with her.

The narrative is gentle but depicts the harsh reality of being bullied and resulting consequences. The beautiful illustrations capture the story’s other-worldliness and the fantasy elements perfectly. I found myself transported into Frank’s adolescent world feeling her worry; her fascination with the music she hears and her constant conscience driving her decisions.   The Song from Somewhere Else weaves a clever plot and at its heart it’s a timeless lyrical story about belonging, friendship and bearing the consequences of our choices.

The Song from Somewhere Else is published by Bloomsbury With thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me this book to review.

Find out more at www.afharroldkids.com and www.levipinfold.com