5+, 7+, Chapter Books, Children's Fiction, Tales Before Bedtime Juniors

Tales Before Bedtime Recommends – Isadora Moon Has a Sleepover by Harriet Muncaster

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Isadora Moon is special

because she is different.

Her mum is a fairy and her dad is a vampire and she is a bit of both.

When Isadora is invited to stay at her friend Zoe’s house she’s excited – she hasn’t been to a sleepover before! There will be midnight feasts, and staying up all night, it’s going to be so much fun!

And while she’s there, Isadora and Zoe are going to work on their cake for a baking competition at school. But will they be able to resist adding a sprinkling of magic to their creation. . . ?

With irresistible pink and black artwork throughout by author/illustrator Harriet Muncaster and a totally unique heroine with an out-of-this-world family, this is a beautiful, charming, and funny series of first chapter books. Perfect for fans of Claude, Dixie O’Day, and Squishy McFluff, Isadora Moon is the ideal choice for readers who want their magic and sparkle with a bit of bite!

This is another delightful Isadora Moon story that is perfect for sharing with your young book lovers or for emerging independent readers to try on their own.  I’ve adored these books right from the very first Isadora Moon Goes To School, not only are they beautifully presented but Isadora is such a sweet little vampire/fairy that you can’t help but fall in love with her.

About the author

Harriet Muncaster

A1v4OWu4yHL._US230_Harriet Muncaster is the author and illustrator of the Isadora Moon series of young reader books, published by Oxford University Press. So far Isadora Moon has been translated into nearly twenty different languages, including Spanish, Italian, Romanian and Japanese, and is available as an audio book.

Harriet has also published picture books with Penguin US, Harper Collins US, and Parragon Publishing. She won the Blue Hen Book Award for her first picture book I am a Witch’s Cat, and was highly commended for the MacMilllan Prize while studying for her second Illustration degree.

Harriet lives with her husband and daughter near some beautiful countryside in Bedfordshire, England.

 

 

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Books that adults should read, Children's Fiction, Christmas 2018, Historical Fiction

Secrets of a Sun King by Emma Carroll

Emma is one of the best authors in historical fiction for children. Her first novel, Frost Hollow Hall, was published in 2013 and she has been inspiring children (and adults) to read ever since. I absolutely adore her books and it makes me incredibly happy that she is such a prolific writer as I am never particularly patient when waiting for the next. Her most recent novel, Secrets of a Sun King, is detailed below but do check out her backlist as they are ALL marvellous.

London, 1922. 

A discovery from ancient Egypt . . .
A cursed package . . .
The untold story of a young pharaoh . . .

When Lilian Kaye finds a parcel on her grandad’s doorstep, she is shocked to see who sent it: a famous Egyptologist, found dead that very morning, according to every newspaper in England!

The mysterious package holds the key to a story . . . about a king whose tomb archaeologists are desperately hunting for.

Lil and her friends must embark on an incredible journey – to return the package to its resting place, to protect those they love, and to break the deadly pharaoh’s curse . . .

Children's Fiction, Christmas 2018

Sky Song by Abi Elphinstone

This year has been a wonderful year for books and there are so many I could recommend. This next title is definitely one of my books of the year. Abi is a master storyteller. Her writing is beautiful and filled with adventure, courage and magic. Sky Song was published back In January but this wintery tale will make the perfect Christmas read.

Once an adventure digs its claws in, there is not an awful lot you can do about it. Especially when magic is involved . . .’
 
In the snowy kingdom of Erkenwald, whales glide between icebergs, wolves hunt on the tundra and polar bears roam the glaciers. But the people of this land aren’t so easy to find – because Erkenwald is ruled by an evil Ice Queen and the tribes must stay hidden or risk becoming her prisoners at Winterfang Palace.

Join Eska, a girl who breaks free from a cursed music box, and Flint, a boy whose inventions could change the fate of Erkenwald forever, as they journey to the Never Cliffs and beyond in search of an ancient, almost forgotten, song with the power to force the Ice Queen back.
 
This is a story about an eagle huntress, an inventor and an organ made of icicles. But it is also a story about belonging, even at the very edges of our world . . .

Children's Fiction, Christmas 2018

Scared To Death by Anthony Horowitz

My next recommendation is a selection of grisly, spine-tingling stories from the marvellous Mr Horowitz.

Short stories are great for dipping into and this selection will be perfect for fans of Anthony Horowitz. The cover declares ‘READ THIS AT YOUR PERIL’ – need I say more. They’ll absolutely love it. 🙂

SOMETIMES YOUR NIGHTMARES BECOME REAL…

This terrifying twisted and wickedly funny collection of spine-tingling short stories is only recommended for the most fearless of readers.

From man-eating massage chairs, to terrifying train rides with the living dead or sinister sat navy’s that direct you to doom, these ten gruesome tales by master storyteller Anthony Horowitz are guaranteed to make your blood curdle.

Blog Tour, Children's Fiction, Christmas 2018

The Night I Met Father Christmas by Ben Miller

Jackson knows all about flying reindeer, he knows about the elves and the secret North Pole workshop, he knows about the elves and the secret North Pole workshop, he knows about the magic that allows Father Christmas to deliver presents around the world in just one night, but there’s one thing he doesn’t know…how did Father Christmas become Father Christmas?

That all changes when, one Christmas Eve, Jackson meets Father Christmas Eve, Jackson meets Father Christmas and hears his incredible story.

So begins an enchanting fairy-tale into a magical snowy landscape, where Torvil, a mean-spirited and miserly elf, is about to discover the true meaning of Christmas.  This might not have been the story Jackson was expecting but, as Father Christmas tells him, no good story ever is…

A Christmas classic in the making from actors and comedian Ben Miller that will prove once and for all that Father Christmas really does exist!

 

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Ben Miller is pretty well known.  Comedian, actor and now author, he crosses generations with his work.  In our house we know him from his time playing DCI Richard Poole in Death in Paradise and more recently as Bough, the hilarious side-kick to Rowen Atkinson’s Johnny English.  In my school Library we know him for his books The Aliens Are Coming!: The Exciting and Extraordinary Science Behind Our Search for Life in the Universe and It’s Not Rocket Science, both giving interesting, insightful and enjoyable access to their subject matter.  And now he brings us this wonderful festive tale about a young boy named Jackson.  Jackson who has had a tiny seed of doubt planted into his mind about Father Christmas.  So he comes up with a plan to meet the man himself and ask him a very important question.  

I love Christmas.  I love the build up, the magic that seems to fill the air and ever since having my son (eleven years ago now), I’ve rediscovered the joy of being a .  It’s easy as adults to lose that magic and we can quite often become cynical.  So as the big day approaches Christmas stories come pretty close to the top of the list of things that make me happy.  Especially Christmas stories that I can share with my son.  When writing The Night I Met Father Christmas, Ben took inspiration from some great authors to create a wonderful tale that already feels like a classic. I already read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol every year – I love the language, moral and sheer joy that this tale brings – and I can see The Night I Met Father Christmas being enjoyed for many years to come.  So I asked Ben what his favourite Christmas Story is.

‘That one! A Christmas Carol. I am a huge fan of Dickens generally and he has been a huge influence on everything I’ve done. Having English teachers as parents meant I was introduced to him at a very early age and I love his unique and infectious wit and psychedelic warmth. Dickens is the perfect grounding for a career in sketch comedy!’

But how does one go from writing books about science to writing a Christmas story?  This is Ben’s first work of fiction and I asked him if any of the characters were based on himself or people he knows.

‘I based Jackson, the main character, on my own son. I did ask if he as OK with that! He said yes — I hope he feels the same when he’s older. Torvil, I think, is basically me.’

So there you have a little more insight into this wonderful story.  I’ll be back soon to talk about Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini who has created the beautiful illustrations for Ben’s story and tomorrow I will be hosting the first day of the official blog tour in which I will be running a giveaway to win a copy of the book.

Thanks so much for reading.

 

 

Children's Fiction

A new tale from The Badlands series by J.R.Wallis

I love a good series.  It’s the waiting for the next book that’s the hardest.  I’m not the most patient person but then again I love the sense of anticipation as the date of publication comes closer and closer.  Last year I reviewed The Boy With One Name by J.R.Wallis and boy, did I love it.  Book one from the Badlands series, I hoped that the next instalment wouldn’t be too long coming. Well The Black Amulet has now been published and I happy to say that it’s every bit as exciting as The Boy With One Name.   So without further ado, here’s a little more about both books.  If you haven’t yet come across the series then do start with The Boy With One Name.

The Boy With One Name by J.R.Wallis

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I absolutely adore a little magic and mystery. Throw in some mortal danger, monsters and things that go bump in the night and I’m in heaven.

Last summer the rather lovely people over at Simon & Schuster kids sent me a copy of The Boy With One Name. The cover alone grabbed my interest as soon as it slipped out from it’s Jiffy bag.

WELCOME TO THE BADLANDS … a hidden part of our world populated by creatures which most people think exist only in fairytales and nightmares.

Twelve-year-old Jones is an orphan, training as an apprentice hunter alongside his mentor, Maitland, tackling ogres, trolls and all manner of creatures that live in the Badlands – a hidden part of our own world, and which most people think exist only in fairytales and nightmares. But all Jones secretly wants to be is an ordinary boy and to leave the magical world forever…

When an ogre hunt goes wrong and Maitland is killed, Jones finally has a chance to find out where he came from. But the truth he uncovers isn’t what he’s expecting and it seems that if Jones is going to make his dream come true he’ll have to defeat a creature not even Maitland had dared take on and he won’t be able to do it alone…

He’s going to need help from Ruby, the first girl he’s ever met. She’s outspoken, fearless and determined to prove she’s as good as any boy, and unlike Jones, being ordinary is the last thing on her mind. Ruby’s desperate to find her place in the world and thinks the Badlands could be it. So, working together isn’t going to be straightforward. In fact, it could be downright dangerous.

But who said getting what you want is supposed to easy, even if it is just wanting to be ordinary?

The story features two young protagonists – Jones desperately wants to be a normal boy, yet since before he can remember fate has had other plans because Jones is an apprentice Badlander. Badlanders hunt witches, ogres, shapeshifters and other monsters that ordinary people only see in their nightmares.

Ruby is also desperate for a different life. Running away from her latest foster carer and a difficult home life, Ruby  is searching for a world she can fit into. A world where she has some purpose and meaning.

Things go terribly wrong one night whilst Jones, as part of his commencement, is making his first kill.  Suddenly he is left without his master, Maitland, the one man who taught him everything he knows and who’s been there for him since he was a baby. Now he is alone with only a talking gun (which he can’t touch) for guidance.

Looking for a safe place to hide, runaway Ruby, finds herself caught up in Jones’ life along with the monsters that she thought only belonged in fairytales and nightmares. Before long circumstances force them to work together as each tries to not only stay alive but to find the lives they’ve both dreamed of.

What follows is an adventure story that grips from the very first page as you tumble, head-first, into the Badlands. Adrenaline filled and full of danger, Wallis will have you cheering for more.

This is a great book about friendship, self discovery, learning who you are and finding courage in even the most desparate of situations. I absolutely loved Jones and fiesty Ruby. They each had their own problems but discovered that working together they could achieve anything.

An exciting start to what I hope will become a series. This will make a fantastic, fun and exciting read.

The Boy With One Name was published in August 2017 by Simon and Schuster\

Here’s a small taster that I’ve taken from the opening page.

     Jones stopped. He’d felt safe enough creeping down the path in front of the cottage, in the dark.  But now the moon had reappeared from behind the clouds, the world was relit with a softer silver light meaning he was much more likely to be seen.

He kept trying to focus on what Maitland had promised, that he wouldn’t come to any harm. But that was less easy to believe now they were actually here. Scared to go on, Jones looked behind him, to where his Master was hiding, hoping to be beckoned back.

Maitland stepped out from the granite porch concealing the front door of the cottage and stood on the path, big as a bolder in his greatcoat. He said nothing. His craggy face remained hidden below the peak of his baseball cap. And Jones knew right away Maitland wanted him to go on, however bright the moon, because this was his big night. This was his big test.

The Black Amulet by J.R.Wallis

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Reunited with his parents, Jones is finally living the ‘normal’ life he’s always wanted.  But, despite leaving the Badlands behind, there’s still magic inside him…

His two friends, Ruby and Thomas Gabriel, are struggling with their new lives too; Thomas Gabriel’s magical abilities are fading away and Ruby is railing she might never be accepted as a ‘proper’ Badlands in a world of monster-hunting run by men.

One thing could help all of them – the Black Amulet, a magical artefact hidden for centuries by the most powerful Badlands that ever lived.  But finding it won’t be easy, and using it even harder, because things are never simple when magic’s involved…

This is a fantastic second Tales From the Badlands.  All three friends are working together to find the Black Amulet but all for very different reasons.

The Black Amulet gives us more insight into both Ruby and Thomas Gabriel.  Both are desperate for their magical difficulties to be resolved and the Amulet offers the solution to those problems.  Yet it has a dark side to it. It is a powerful artefact and can take possession of those who wear it with sometimes deadly consequences.  There are ways to stay remain immune from its effects, however,  the Amulet is constantly working to break down those protections.  Perhaps together, Ruby, Thomas and Jones, can find the way to use it safely to take away all their problems.   Yet how much can you trust your friends?

I love the way the novel highlights how important it is to be true to yourself and that being ‘different’ is good.  This is a great series and The Black Amulet finishes perfectly to continue on in a third book.  I have another wait ahead of me but I have no doubt it will most definitely be worth it.

Another taster…

    ‘But Ruby, I want to be an ordinary boy too and I can’t be that with magic inside me.  It’s not meant to be in the regular world…’

     Ruby leant forward and took his hands in hers.  ‘You can still be both if you want t0.’  Ed looked at her, unsure what she was getting at.  ‘You don’t have to be a regular Badlands.  I won’t be, even if Drewman fixes our Commencement.  I’ll always be a girl.  I’ll be different to other Badlands.  So why can’t you be a different type of Badlands too?’

Review copies supplied by the lovely people at Simon and Schuster (thanks so much:)

Find out more about author J.R.Wallis by visiting his website: here.

 

Fiction, Middle Grade Fiction, Review

A Far Away Magic by Amy Wilson

Haunting prose that feeds the magical story as monsters are battled, fears are faced and grief is overcome. There is something quite beautiful in Bavar and Angel’s relationship. A special connection that makes them gentler, braver and more compassionate.

Angel doesn’t fit. Not in her new school or in her foster home in the vanilla house with nice Mary. The day her parents died was the day everything changed for her. A burglary gone wrong they said but Angel knows different. Angel knows that monsters really exist but when they don’t believe her she tries to forget the memories that haunt her dreams…that is until she meets Bavar.

He too is different except that he doesn’t draw attention to himself and seems to shrink back into the shadows even though he is seven feet tall. But Angel can see him, and she sees the magic that surrounds him. The two are drawn together by their differences, by the way they stand out and by the sadness that surrounds them. Soon they discover that they have an even deeper connection and Angel believes she’s found a way to stop the monsters but she needs Bavar’s help. He’s reluctant but if there is one thing she’s sure of it’s that she wants to stop the monsters once and for all and make sure that no one else suffers the loss she has.

Bavar, sees the light in Angel, in his world of shadows and darkness she is sunshine and starlight and his need to protect her draws him into her plan to fight the monsters. But are two young teens enough to defeat the Raksasa, the strange, winged creatures you’d only expect to find in a nightmare. Everyday they are growing stronger and it’s only a matter of time until before they break through the gate and kill again.

Beautifully written, filled with magic, love and grief, this is a powerful novel with wonderful characters – I was left feeling a little of the magic had stayed behind with me.

Suitable for aged 9-11yrs+

Discover more about Amy Wilson here.

Published by Pan Macmillan

Published on 25th January 2018