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Great Reads for the Young of Heart and Limb

Wednesday, December 17th 2014 at 1:46 PM

It’s a week before the Christmas Festivities are upon us and if you are looking for a great gift or just a holiday read, here are some of the current Book Lounge favourites to indulge in.

Books for little ones

mu's wolfMu’s Wolf Problem

A charming story by local girl, Maria Lebedeva, Mu’s mother has to leave her alone at home when she goes off to work. When Mu suspects there is a wolf in her house, she bravely declares herself fearless and soon, despite initial uncertainty, the two become fast friends. A beautifully illustrated little gem for those of us who sometimes feel a little bit scared and alone.

 

 

SparkySparky!

All she ever wanted was a pet and all her mom said, was only if it will be no trouble what so ever.  After some library research our little girl knows exactly which animal she wants to spend her time with and asks for a sloth. If you were going to have a sloth as a pet, would Sparky not be the best name? And yes, Sparky can’t play fetch, and he does not roll over, but he is really really very good at playing dead. But Mary’s bunny can do tricks and Mary’s bunny is mostly awake… when a Trained Sloth Extravaganza is organised to show off Sparky’s skills, things don’t go as planned, but in the end, that’s all okay, because Sparky is who he is, and that is actually okay.  Jenny Offill’s text with Chris Applehans’s gorgeous watercolour sketches makes this the perfect book about friendship.

 

LuckyLucky

Book Lounge hearts David Mackintosh, ever since his first picture book, Marshall Armstrong is New in our School. With his latest offering, Lucky, we meet Leo and his brother who at breakfast hear that there will be a surprise later that day. David Mackintosh shows us just how crazy imaginations can get with his excellent drawings and collages, and eventually Leo and his brother are convinced that they know all about the trip their parents are planning for them. Or was there just a misunderstanding? A hilarious look at family life and children’s jumping-to-conclusion minds!

 

bear escapeThe Bear’s Sea Escape

Last year we saw the first in this series and yeah for Benjamin Chaud for bringing us more Bear adventures. His illustration style is an intrigued doodle with lots of subplot in the detail of his work. It is like a modern Richard Scarry with all the characters getting a their own tiny story to act out. When it starts to snow Papa Bear decides it is time to find a better place to nap and so the journey to the sea starts. There’s ocean liners, puffer fish, jungles and a masquerade ball : adventure indeed!

 

 

orlandoOrlando the Marmalade Cat : A Camping Holiday

First published in the late 30s, Kathleen Hale’s cat family have always been considered classic. Available again for the first time in a while, the first Orlando story is now in paperback, with the family going off on a camping holiday in the country. Although some of the adventures might seem old-fashioned, Orlando tries so hard to be a good cat father, how can he not be loved? The illustrations are amazing pencil sketches and the style from a time long forgotten. Especially Grace’s, (the wife) outfits with aprons and hats, are very classy!

 

13 words13 Words

A book created by Lemony Snicket and Maria Kalman… come on, how could it not be great? They have taken thirteen words and created a story around them. Kalman’s sketching style is as brilliant as ever. If word number 6 is convertible, then of course number 9 would be haberdashery. All in all it is a story of great friendship and cake with a song.

And it is beautiful in a kind of I-want-to-have-it-now kind of way.

 

I’ve got the Alphabet Down

squishySquishy McFluff : The Invisible Cat and Supermarket Sweep

Is an imaginary friend not the best to have any adventures with? Ava thinks so, she thinks that her invisible cat, Squishy McFluff will ensure that she is never bored again. And bonus, imaginary cat food is incredibly cheap, so there is no problem there! Pip Jones has created two books so far in the series, in the first one we meet Squishy and soon realise that invisible or not, he needs to work on his manners if he wants to stay with Ava, not sure it is working because in the second book, Squishy goes with to the supermarket and soon there is chaos in the shop.

Don’t sulk, don’t get in a huff, because nothing is boring with Squishy McFluff!

 

foxyFoxy Tales : The Cunning Plan and The Road to Fame and Fortune

Meet Foxy Dubois. A girl who knows what she wants. Well, a girl who is a fox. Unfortunately, the same idiot always stands in her way, Alphonso the Alligator! So Foxy constantly has to use her best skills to get rid of Alphonso. Told in the same way as the Mr Gum books, this is the start of an excellent series of adventures with attitude. Alex T. Smith’s black and white illustrations add flair and subtle humour to be enjoyed by any age of reader.

Two books available so far in chapter book format and two in picture book format.

 

mimiMimi and the Mountain Dragon

Michael Morpurgo is the master of tenderhearted stories, and this is the perfect Christmas read. In her castle lair high in the mountains of Switzerland lives a terrible dragon. And one morning when she wakes up, her little baby seems to have disappeared. In the village below lives a little girl called Mimi. When she finds a baby dragon in the woodshed, she makes a brave decision to return the baby to her mother as soon as the snow settles and she can risk to go up to the castle.  Mimi’s bravery to reunite the two brings peace to the little village and for the first time they get to have a joyful Christmas. A beautiful little hardcover read with illustrations by Helen Stephens.

 

goth girlGoth Girl and the Fete Worse Than Death

The sequel to the beautiful Goth Girl and Ghost of a Mouse, is finally here, with its red shiny finish and all. Poor Ada, between the planning for the big Bake Off and the annual Fete and her father being away on a book tour, it seems that everyone has forgotten her birthday. When Marylebone, her wardrobe dwelling ladies’ maid, gets a marriage proposal and Maltravers is (still) acting strangely as we’ve learned by now, Ada feels it is time to get right in the middle of the intrigue and make sure that it all runs smoothly. Well, as close as possible.

And yes, Chris Riddell draws pictures too beautiful and intriguing to ever forget.

 

A few issues, but-still-a-kid

moon boyMoone Boy : The Blunder Years

Poor Martin Moone, he is the only boy in a family of girls. He’s desperate for a wingman to help him navigate his awkward life. And so he gets himself an IF (imaginary friend) to help out. His first attempt fails, because Loopy Lou is hyperactive and writes terrible rap songs, but then we meet Sean Caution Murphy, a lazy man with a head full of jokes and it seems that Sean is the perfect man to guide Martin through the messy maze of life. If only there was an easy way to get rid of Loopy Lou… Written by Chris O’Dowd and Nick Murphy, the humour is a sophisticated mix of grown up and silly school boy, but beware, a lot of out loud laughing will take place!

This is Adrian Mole for a new generation.

 

summer and birdSummer and Bird

It was Tolkien who said that a book set in an imaginary world should not only show the darkness, but share the joy. Katherine Catmull has definitely accomplished this with her debut novel. There is the story of two sisters who wake up one morning to find their parents missing and they set out on a journey to look for them. However, there is also the simple yet complex relationship of two sisters, the pure but hardly selfless love of children for their mother, the selfless but sometimes conflicted love of a mother for her children, and a strained relationship between parents, and how it affects their children. All these topics are dealt with with honesty, but through the filter of a magical world, written without talking down to her readers. It is a story about heroism, about love in all forms, and about the magic in the world that is always there.

 

tiger mothTiger Moth

Sometimes all we need is one friend., Alice always believed she was born, she was chosen and therefore the safest place in the world was always at home with her adoptive parents. Everything’s perfect. Until it isn’t. When she finds out her Mum is going to have a baby, Alice’s world turns upside down. Will they love their real baby more than her? Why isn’t she enough for them anymore? Not knowing how to say what she feels, she stays silent that day and the day after that, until six months have passed without her saying one single word. Zack has everything he could want. His dad’s a film stuntman, he lives in the best house on the best street and is Mr Popular at school. Everything’s perfect. Until it isn’t. Zack’s dad is killed on set and he and his mum are forced to sell their house and move to a tiny cottage by the sea. Ripped from the life he once knew, Zack is angry at the world and looking for trouble. Then he meets Alice, the girl who doesn’t speak, and together they begin to realise that sometimes it’s when life seems less than perfect that the most magical things can happen. A bit funny, a bit mysterious, but mostly just a heart-warmingly gorgeous read.

 

nine livesThe 9 Lives of Alexander Baddenfield

Alexander is no ordinary boy, he has cunningly stolen the 9 lives from his cat and now he can have as many adventures as possible. Right? He jumps off the Empire State Building, he gets swallowed by a giant python and even manages to get himself electrocuted. It’s all fun and death until Alexander realises that he is running out of extra lives, in fact he only has one left and suddenly he becomes rather obsessed with keeping this one. Sophie Blackall has done beautiful line drawings between the chapters and gives us a perfect picture of a spoilt boy about to learn the lesson of the value of life.

My favourite is his seventh life, a short chapter that pretty much just says “Bull. Hooves. Dead.”

 

tabithaThe Rise and Rise of Tabitha Baird

A comedian and a scriptwriter, Arabella Weir, is successfully trying her hand at writing for younger readers. When 13-year old Tabitha Baird’s parents split up, she moves with her mom and brother to London to live with Gran (who mostly talks to her dog, Basil) and tries to reinvent herself as the coolest, most popular girl in her new school. But with her mom’s blog about her and her gran’s dog’s knitted jumpers, how will she juggle her not-cool family life and still get the attention of the hottest boys.

This is a hilarious beach read if I’ve ever seen one (and, if  you are wondering, I have).

 

 

violetViolet Ink

Rebecca Westcott is definitely carving out a spot for her in the Cathy Cassidy/Jacqueline Wilson crowd. With her tender hand she introduces us to two sisters, Alex and the younger Izzy. Izzy has always admired her older sister, but now that she spends most of her time with her new boyfriend, there is suddenly the chance that he will spoil their bond. The reader gets swept along with Alex’s letters written to Izzy, all in a violet pen, until one of them brings unwanted news. A beautiful teary read.

Also have a look at her other book, Dandelion Clocks, when you are in the shop. Also a gorgeous read.

 

Stop-treating-me-like-a-child Reads

 

hackedHacked

Once Dan discovers computers, his ADHD mind seems to settle down. In the beginning the hacking was harmless; free phone credit, free movie tickets, nothing too serious, but by the time Dan is contacted online by Angel, he is eager for the challenge laid before him to create more advanced code. When Dan begins to suspect that something more nefarious may be planned for his code than he thought, he realises that he might not be able to control it all anymore. He will have to decide what truly matters more, protecting his anonymity and freedom, or preventing a deadly terror attack.

Tracy Alexander has written a very fast-paced, very nail-biting book, basically like a double espresso first thing in the morning.

 

Naonaomi 2mi and Ely’s No Kiss List

Naomi and Ely have been friends for, like, ever. Besties, soul mates. And just to be sure, they have a NO KISS LIST, a list of people neither of them are allowed to kiss. Bruce is Naomi’s boyfriend, so there is no reason for him to be on the list, right? When Ely kisses Bruce, their carefully constructed world falls apart. Did I mention that Ely is a boy? David Levithan and Rachel Cohn have beautifully constructed a very real world held together with love and trust and figuring out who we really are.

David Levithan is an amazing author of many books that look at gender and love and how the soul of a person is not always defined by what you see. If you have never read one of his books, please do, he is magic.

 

atlantiaAtlantia

At the beginning of the dystopian craze, Allie Condie brought us the Matched-series, which we all loved. This week saw the arrival of her brand new series, Atlantia. This is an underwater refuge built when the earth above became too polluted for humans to survive there for long. But Atlantia is crumpling and our heroine, Rio, is dreaming of leaving this underwater city and living in the world above. Rio has a twin sister, Bay, and when she realises that they might not have the same vision of their future, she feels stranded and alone.  Rio has to figure out who to listen to in order for her to make the right choices to ensure she has a fighting chance of survival.

 

 

castleKeeping the Castle

Seventeen-year-old Althea is the sole support of her entire family and their old home, Crawley Castle, the only option is that she must marry well. But there are few suitors of any kind in their small town of Lesser Hoo. Then, the young and attractive (and very rich) Lord Boring arrives, and Althea sets her plans in motion. There’s only one problem; his friend and business manager Mr. Fredericks keeps getting in the way. And, as it turns out, Fredericks has his own set of plans . . . Patrice Kindl’s first novel in a decade takes a heroine with money problems, puts her in a crumbling castle, adds two stepsisters and some suitors and viola, it’s a very funny charming read!

If you’re a fan of I Capture the Castle you will love this sharply comic tale of courtship.

 

skinkSkink No Surrender

Richard is the quiet one in the family, not like his crazy cousin, Malley, who seems to have run away with some guy she met online.  And when no one seems to realise that Malley is in danger, he decides that he might have to man up and find her. Enter, Wild Skink, a ragged, one-eyed wandering vigilante, who use to be a former governor but now goes around protecting the innocent, mostly animals. As Skink believes in lost causes he decides to help Richard and together they go on one crazy roadtrip with alligators, bullets and mysterious clues to find Malley.

Carl Hiaasen is a well-known author for adults, but with this his 4th YA book, he has definitely shown his commitment and passion to writing good books, regardless of age. He is a big nature lover and his work always has a strong environmental feel to it.

 

thousand piecesA Thousand Pieces of You

As the daughter of two brilliant physicists, Marguerite grew up surrounded by some wild scientific theories, always encouraged to imagine the impossible. When her father is suddenly murdered, and all the evidence points to his protege, Paul, Marguerite’s world is turned upside down. With no way out, Paul escapes with a device that allows him to leap through alternate dimensions, called the Firebird. Marguerite has no choice but to follow. Will she capture her father’s killer or will she discover that all is not what it seemed at first? Claudia Gray’s writing sweeps us up in an epic love murder mystery that will making you want to hack her laptop to get to book two as soon as possible.

 

 

jewelThe Jewel

Violet Lasting is no longer a human being. Her name and her body is no longer her own. Tomorrow she becomes Lot 197, auctioned to the highest royal bidder in the Jewel of the Lone City. Tomorrow she becomes the Surrogate of the House of the Lake, her sole purpose to produce a healthy heir for the Duchess. Imprisoned in the opulent cage of the palace, Violet learns the brutal ways of the Jewel, where the royal women compete to secure their bloodline and the surrogates are treated as disposable commodities. Destined to carry the child of a woman she despises, Violet fights to hold onto any sanity, until she meets Ash Lockwood, another captive, the royal Companion. Drawn together, Violet and Ash become puppets in a deadly game of court politics, until they become each other’s jeopardy – and salvation. This is the first book in a series by Amy Ewing, with a good dash of dystopian, politics and love, what more can we ask for?

 

messenger fearMessenger of Fear

Michael Grant (from Gone and BZRK) brings us the a new adventure, and what a ride! Will you play or will you pay? Mara wakes in a field of dead grass, a heavy mist pressing down on her. She is terrified, afraid that she is dead. Then a beautiful young man dressed in black appears. He calls himself Messenger of Fear. This boy is able to move effortlessly through space and time. He also sees the darkness in human hearts. He sees the evils done: the destructive lies, the cruelty, the bullying, the violence. And if the world does not bring justice to those who do evil, he will. He offers the wicked a game. If they win, they go free. If they lose, they will live their greatest fear. Either way, their sanity will be challenged. It is a world of fair but harsh justice. Of retribution and redemption. And mystery. Why was Mara chosen to be the Messenger’s apprentice? What has she done to deserve this terrible fate? She won’t find out until three of the wicked receive justice. And when she does, she will be shattered. So good. So very very good.

We of course also have other books, a whole section full, so find parking and come and find what you are looking for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Children’s Book to Read and Treasure

Tuesday, December 3rd 2013 at 9:36 AM

It was a great year for children’s books and it seems that they have become even more beautiful and well-crafted, cleverer and most precious.  Great new authors have been writing magic for young readers and in YA there has been an explosion of brilliance, with great new takes on old classics and lots of great mystery and whodunnits. Books remain a great gift for this time of the year, be it for the Christmas tree or just for holiday entertainment. These are some of my current favourites:

For little ones

Sugarlump and Unicorn by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Lydia Monks

What is a rocking horse to do if it is unhappy with its life? Thank goodness it has a Fairy Unicorn Mother that can make its wishes come true. Sugarlump learns that we must be careful what we wish for, because the grass always looks greener on the other side. From circus horse to race horse, Sugarlump tries all kinds of different careers until he finds his true home with the help of his magical Unicorn. Sparkly bits everywhere, Lydia Monks draws horses we will adore.

*

Little Mouse’s Big Book of Beasts by Emily Gravett

We adore Emily Gravett (especially now we have met her) and in her second Little Mouse book, we see her paper magic at work again. She is just so clever, as she show us Mouse’s scrapbook of beasts, sharks, wasps and jellyfish (that are not made of jelly?!) all make it in to this work of genius. There are holes in some pages, pop-up bits, crayon marks and many other things to look at and muse over for hours. What is your most feared beast?

*

Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle

Wordless books have become more popular in the last few years, it transcends language (which is often challenging in South Africa) and celebrates the telling of your own story with amazing illustration. Truly a visual adventure. Flora is a little girl who wants to be more graceful, she wants to dance like the flamingo with its long pointy legs, but with chubby thighs and flippers, can she do it? Clever paper crafting by Molly Idle creates a dance to remember between these two pink friends.

*

Herman’s Letter by Tom Percival

Henry and Herman are best friends, they do everything together, they have a tree house and a secret handshake; life could not be  more perfect. Then things change as Henry has to move away. Having promised to write all the time, Henry writes often and tells Herman all about his new life, his new friends, his new home. Herman feels left alone, that Henry is not his friend anymore, and does not write back. As winter is approaching and Herman has to go into hibernation (did I mention he is a bear?), he realises his mistake and tries to post a letter back, but finds that the postal system might have been shut down for winter already. Is there a way for Herman to save his friendship and get the letter to Henry?  What an adorable story of true friendship with fun lift-the-flap letters to read.

*

Shall We Share a Story Tonight? – four books in one collection

Oxford University Press has given us a great bedtime reading gift with four of stories in one collection. It starts with Just Like Tonight by Amber Stewart, a sweet story about Button Bear and his Dad who tells him stories before he goes to sleep so he can have good dreams. You also get to meet the great Christopher Nibble in Charlotte Middleton’s eco-friendly tale. Christopher loves football and eating dandelions, but soon there are no more dandelions left and Christopher has to think of a way to save the day. The illustrations are gorgeous and Christopher is a hero. Whoosh around the Mulberry Bush from Jan Ormerod is a classic, here with new illustrations by Lindsey Gardner, it is great for reading together and making all the sounds. The last one in the collection is my favourite, What Small Rabbit Heard by Sheryl Webster, this story makes me laugh out loud every time I read it at story time. It is a very windy outside (a bit like Cape Town days!) and Big and Small Rabbit go out for a walk. Big tries to shout warnings to Small to be careful, but the wind carries the words and turns them into different messages with hilarious effects.  This is a treasure for every bookshelf.

*

For young readers

Stan Stinky Sewer Hero by Hannah Shaw

I have long been a Hannah Shaw-fan who up to she has produced fabulous picture books, so we are excited about Stan Stinky. With rat-tastic drawings on each page, we meet Stan the unluckiest sewer rat ever, because he does not get to go on a great holiday, but rather has to spend his summer with his uncle. When Uncle Ratts and his sidekick, Roachy (you guessed it) disappear in a human house, it is only Stan who can save the day. Maybe he is more of a hero than he imagined. A funny adventure, perfect for holiday reading.

*

The Fabulous Four Fish Fingers by Jason Beresford

As is often the case in stories like these, when a crisp-loving elf encounters best friends Gary, Bel, Ruby and Morris, they are given superpowers and new identities.  Their first task is to stop Jumper Jack Flash and The Panteater from stealing all the sweets (and pants) in Tumchester. This is not as easy as it sounds as they have to learn to work together as a team first with their new powers. A hilarious take on superhero stories when The Chimp, The Nightingale, KangaRuby and Slug Boy unite against the baddies. Apparently everyone forgets not to step on Slug Boy, which is of course a problem when he is trying to save the world!

*

Wendy Quill is a Crocodile’s Bottom by Wendy Meddour

Poor Wendy has a terrible laugh so everyone calls her Wheezy Bird (nice) and in this, her first adventure we find out how she becomes just a little bit famous when her class performs Peter Pan and Wendy as their play. And this Wendy was named after that Wendy. So of course she will get the leading role, won’t she? It is a crazy story with a bully called Ainsley, an unattractive crocodile costume and sensible shoes, how could it not be fabulous?

*

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Chris Riddell

An immediate success with these two great names on the cover, especially when the dad looks a bit like Neil Gaiman! Everyone knows that the day can only start once you have had breakfast, but when there is no milk and the porridge is dry…you know it is going to be a day full of delays. When dad pops out for milk he gets abducted by aliens, attacked by pirates and nearly sacrificed to a volcano god, but don’t worry, as with any good story there is a dinosaur and a hot-air balloon and we all know the milk will eventually arrive, right? It is gorgeous and gorgeous and gorgeous.  Chris Riddell has made magic again. Also look out for Chris’s new book, Goth Girl, in black and purple it will steal the heart of any young girl who wears black dress in summer.

*

The Illuminated Adventures of Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. Flora Belle Buckman has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, so when the vacuum cleaner sucks up a squirrel unexpectedly, she is just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight and some of the best misspelled squirrel poetry you have ever read. Flora discovers her own changes as she has to step out of the shadows of her own life. Kate DiCamillo, who is a genius, created a laugh-out-loud story filled with eccentric endearing characters and featuring an exciting novel interspersed with comic-style graphic sequences, plus full-page illustrations ( a bit like The Invention of Hugo Cabret, for fans of book art).  It is beautiful, it will move you, you will treasure it, win-win.

*

For older readers

The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata

I have always been a fan of Cynthia Kadohata, since Kira-Kira saw the light. In her new book, the Thing About Luck, she tells the story of Summer and her little brother, Jazz, who are left alone on the farm in Kansas just before harvest time when their parents suddenly have to go to Japan. They are left in the care of their strict elderly Japanese grandparents. She has to help in the kitchen and help with her brother and her grandparents are easily disappointed in her. When there is a hint at first romance, Summer thinks that things are about to change, but the thing with luck is, not everything always changes for the good. This is a gentle and beautiful book about finding out just what you are made of, of finding the heroine inside yourself. It is also an honest telling of what happens when cultures collide within a home.

*

Treasure Hunters by James Patterson

The first in a new series by a master storyteller, Treasure Hunters has all the makings of a great new adventure with lots of heart. The Kidd siblings have grown up diving down to shipwrecks and traveling the world, helping their famous parents recover everything from swords to gold doubloons from the bottom of the ocean. But after their parents disappear on the job, the kids are suddenly thrust into the biggest treasure hunt of their lives. They’ll have to work together to defeat dangerous pirates and dodge the hot pursuit of an evil treasure-hunting rival, all while following cryptic clues to unravel the mystery of what really happened to their parents – and find out if they’re still alive. Rich with great illustrations throughout, it is perfect for a beach read, as close to the treasure as you can get!

*

The Mysterious Misadventures of Clemency Wrigglesworth by Julia Lee

Do you like adventure and a bit of melodrama? Then you will love Clemency Wrigglesworth. After the sudden death of her family she has to leave India and is send to England by boat. Here she is taken in by  the Marvel family, who are excited about getting to know her. Clemency’s fate is not yet sure as she is soon kidnapped by the frightening Miss Clawe under mysterious circumstances. A good dose of imagination and adventure awaits readers as we track Clemency in a race across the country and against time.  This book deserves a big thumbs up. It is a real page turner. Did I mention there is a dog called Ping Ping?

*

Picture Me Gone  by Meg Rosoff

The new Meg Rosoff is amazing. Can that be my whole review? Picture Me Gone, is very gentle and like a good old school mystery it does not give too much away, there are just subtle clues for the reader and for Mila to discover. Mila has the gift to read a person or a room, to see the unspoken. When her father’s best friend, Matthew disappears, Mila and her father go to the USA to help look for him. She finds clues but they do not lead to answers. Is she missing something because she is younger, or are the grown-ups hiding things from her. Meg Rosoff softly words those first experiences of adult worlds that can crumble and are not as polished and perfect as we want children to believe.

*

YA reads to consider

 

Red Ink by Julie Mayhew

This is the most beautiful book of the year, Red Ink. It captures the angst and anger of a teenager so well, it feels as if it is all happening to you. Melon and her mother don’t have the best relationship and she has never met her father. Then there is a bus accident and Melon’s mother is killed. Suddenly it feels that Melon has very little left in the world to find comfort in. Very little to help her cope, and heal. The writing is so beautiful, choppy in places, the way an awkward teenager’s thoughts can jump around, the way they only see the world in black and white. There is a strong element of myth to the story which makes it seem nearly like an early Isabelle Alllende read. As Melon retells their family mythology the reader is left to help discover the forgiveness we so seldom bestow on ourselves. I cried a lot, I laughed and I wished with all my heart that I could travel in time and be with Melon. The honesty about lost and that little bit of hope we store at the back of the cupboard is summed up brilliantly in this book.

*

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

I will be the first to admit I did say I will never read another vampire book, but then the gorgeous Holly Black wrote one and I loved it. I realised it is not that I did not like vampire books, it is that I did not like terrible ones. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a seriously cool read, no other way to sell it.  It is seductive in its writing and as the reader you find yourself agreeing with Tana’s logic. There are towns in which those affected live called Coldtowns, but with live feeds and blogs and a great online presence soon everyone wants to live in a Coldtown, it seems to be where the party is at. Tana’s already lost her mother to the infection when she was younger and when a party goes wrong, Tana knows that a Coldtown is her only option. She meets great characters, some friends, many not. As Tana tries to figure out who she is and what the right thing to do would be, she also realised that there are consequences to our actions. Coldest Girl is an awesome read, not for the fainthearted.

*

Every Day by David Levithan

Everyone is loving John Green this year, he has written amazing books, with Fault In Our Stars, a much adored favourite. I want to introduce you to a friend of him, David Levithan. If you love the honest writing of John Green, you are going to fall hard for Mr Levithan. In his latest book, Every Day, we meet A. Every day A wakes up in a different body. There is no warning as to whose body it will be, and with this A is fine, this is how A knows life to be. A has own thoughts, but has learned not to interfere too much in the lives of the bodies. And then A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Rhiannon, Justin’s girlfriend. All the rules change… A has found someone to be with every day, but life is never straightforward. David Levithan creates a text around gender and loving a person for who they are and not what you see, that will blow your mind. It is heart breaking and it is tender and honest. Sometimes when you meet someone for the first time you know you want to be friends with them, there is an immediate click. Every Day has that click, you would want to be friends with this book forever. Sigh.

*

She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgewick

Another author who must please never stop writing, in his latest offering, Marcus Sedgewick introduces us to a strong character, Laureth Peak. She is worried about her father, a writer who has been acting weirdly lately and now seems to have disappeared. Laureth feels she is the only one who is worried as her mother keeps on telling her not to interfere and her brother, Benjamin is still little and mostly hangs out with his fluffly raven, Stan. The only clue she has is her father’s notebook, so she decides to follow the faint trail all the way to New York. Only problem is, Laureth is blind, but she has a burning determination to find her father, even if it means kidnapping her brother in the process. This is such a smart thriller, it will captivate and intrigue you as only Sedgewick knows how to do.

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Noble Conflict by Malorie Blackman

Years after a violent war destroyed much of the earth (everyone who reads sci-fi knows this is coming, right?), Kaspar has grown up in a society based on peace and harmony. As he gets older, Kaspar joins the Guardians, following in his parents’ footsteps, as he wishes to protect his fellow citizens from the attacks by the Insurgents from the Badlands. However soon Kaspar begins to suspect that all he has been told about their history and the wish to live in peace is not absolutely true. The more he is sucked into trying to understand what has really happened to the Alliance citizens and the Insurgents, the more danger he finds himself in. A really powerful and well written story you won’t be able to put down! Malorie Blackman weaves suspense into her books in such a cunning way that you are hooked before you know it. We have waited a while for a new novel by her, and it kicks ass.

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This is just the tip of the iceberg. The children’s section is packed with treasures. Come along and visit and tell us about what you have loved this year and maybe discover a new author or a new genre. We are very chatty downstairs!

December 2012

Monday, December 2nd 2013 at 12:05 PM

For the last five years or so, every year’s harvest of children’s books just seem to get better and better. Illustrations are becoming breath taking, making picture books really a first art experience for children. Teen novels, known as YA, have gotten a wider reader market with more adults reading this genre of often fast paced, adrenaline reads. So there are many many amazing books and these are only some of the ones we love at the moment. Come and visit us and we will show you more oohs and aahs.

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Beautiful Books for Little Ones

 

Creatures by Orla Kiely

Designer, Orla Kiely has done a range of small board books for little ones and the latest edition to the series is Creatures and Shapes. They are cloth bound and adorned with her very simple but beautiful design style illustrations.

Gems for young designer babies!

 

Animal Sounds by Tad Carpenter

A fun lift-the-flap book with an I say, You say component. So if I say Pig, you would say Oink! The illustrations are very humorous and it will lead to loud screaming answers and a few giggles. A lovely book for adult and child to enjoy together.

 

The Game of Red, Yellow and Blue by Herve Tullet

He is an artist. He is a designer. He is a genius. Tullet has done a range of books for children and really holds nothing back in explaining whatever concepts it is he wishes to engage them with. In this book he explains the mix of colours so cleverly you want to give a standing ovation.

Herve Tullet has done a wide range of amazing books for children.

 

Welcome to the Zoo by Alison Jay

A wordless picture book in board format. It tells the story of all the things that happen at the zoo in Jay’s well-known illustration style. And best of all, you can make up your own story or simply sit with your child and find all the same animals over the pages.

There are quite a few wordless books out these days, which all lends to the telling of your own stories, great for new imaginations.

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Picture Books to Adore

 

 Ambrose Goes for Gold by Tor Freeman

An old story, it got revived this year for the Olympic Games. It tells the story of Ambrose who tries out for all the different activities at the Great Insect Games, but seems to not be really any good at anything. Just as it seems all is lost, Ambrose eats his weight in sticks and so wins the Twig Eating Competition, because everybody knows that what termites are great at, is eating! And so we all have our special talents… like cupcake eating on a Saturday!

 

The Great Snortle Hunt by Claire Freedman

What if there was a giant creature living in your neighbourhood and no-one has seen him? Would you not want to go out and try to get a glimpse of him? Mouse, Cat and Dog decide to go out at night to surprise the Snortle. With great rhyming text the friends fumble their way about till they are in the Snortle’s room (as you do!) and when he starts to wake up they try to run away, only to discover that things that look scary, aren’t necessary. It turns out that the Snortle is really a loveable creature, looking for friends to invite to tea. A gentle story with great illustrations by Kate Hindley.

 

A Flower in the Snow by Tracey Corderoy

In an icy world lives a little girl, Luna and her best friend, Bear. One day a sparkly dancing flower pops out of the snow and Bear picks it for Luna. She loves the flower, which soon wilts and dies. Bear thinks that the only way to make Luna happy again is to give her another flower, so he sets off on a search that takes him to many faraway places. Eventually he returns home with no flower and no gift. When Luna sees him, she is so happy to have her friend back. She shows him that with the seeds of the dead flower she has planted a new one and together they sow the other seeds till they have a whole sparkly garden. Sometimes the best things are right with us. Sophie Allsopp’s illustrations are really magical and dreamy.

 

The Princess and the Pig by Jonathan Emmett

By accident a piglet and a tiny baby princess get swopped at birth (this is only possible in a story of course!) The King blamed a bad fairy and the Farmer gave thanks to a good fairy for giving him a child, and so the two grew up.. the princess, the child of poor, but loving farmers and the pig, as a princess. The girl was loved by all and the poor piglet drove the help in the Castle crazy with all her shenanigans. The farmer realises what happened many years ago and because he is honest, he goes to the to tell him where his real daughter is. No one believes the farmer and he is send away. So the real princess marries a young shepherd and lives happily ever after. The piglet princess also gets married, but that poor prince is in for a surprise! Illustrations by Poly Bernatene will have you giggling all the way.

 

Boot and Shoe by Marla Frazee

Boot is a back porch kind of dog. Shoe is a front porch kind of dog, and that is perfect for both of them. Although they are from the same litter and sleep on the same pillow at night, they have their own different day time routine. Until a cheeky squirrel gets under their skin and they start chasing him all over the yard. In the end they end up looking for each other to restore the peace and just when they have given up (and lost a lot of sleep) they find each other by the tree they both like to pee on. A funny story about friendship for all dog lovers.

Goldilocks and Just the One Bear by Leigh Hodgkinson

We all remember when Goldilocks made such a mess in the Three Bears’ House, they were glad when she left, but do you ever wonder what happened after that? Well, many years later, Little Bear (now a big bear himself) gets lost in the noisy city and stumbles upon a house with strange beds and interesting meals. When the owners returns they see the state of the house and discover a lone bear in the bed. The bear and the woman realises that they have met each other years ago, when she (Goldilocks) came to his house. So Goldilocks makes him a big bowl of oats and the next day helps him find his way home (with a map of course, the city is really big). A really clever sequel to a story we all know very well.

 

The Worst Princess by Anna Kemp

What is a princess to do when the prince just won’t show up? Just as princess Sue is about to go off the find adventure, a prince arrives and whisks her away to his castle. This is not what Sue dreamed off, and soon boredom is getting the better of her. She makes friends with a Dragon who helps her escape the castle, the twit of a prince and the two of them travel the world having great adventures. A perfect book for girls of all ages who wish to sometimes fight their own battles. Sara Ogilvie’s illustrations are bright and brave and full of mischief.

 

Black Dog by Levi Pinfold

This is a beautifully illustrated, wonderfully told story of confronting and overcoming fears. The Hope family is visited unexpectedly one day by a big black dog, and all the Hopes are terrified until Small Hope shows them that even when facing a seemingly overwhelmingly large and frightening thing, there is nothing to be scared of really. With a liitle hope we can all face our own black dog and get it down to a manageable size. An important and rewarding tale.

 

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Pop-up Books to Love

 

How to be a Hero by Edge & Howells

Do you know how to cross a troll bridge, escape from a dungeon or survive a banshee’s wail? Learn all the skills a budding hero needs in this indispensable guide to the world of fantasy and legend. Filled with dragons, wizards, unicorns and much more, every page is packed with clever solutions to the challenges of being a hero. If you want to be a hero, this is definitely the handbook for you. Bursting with maps, bone-chilling booklets, gruesome guides and much more. Don’t start your quest without it!

 

Alienography Tips for Tiny Tyrants by Chris Riddell

Fancy being the leader of the whole universe? It is very easy with this fail-safe guide. Expert advice on everything from selecting a sidekick to buying the best battleship cruiser there is means that you will be able to be a butt-kicking baddy before your mother can blink. Magnificently illustrated and hugely funny, with novelty elements including a mini comic, a fold-out cross-section of the ‘Centennial Turkey’ spaceship, and a ‘Top Chumps’ card game. Chris Riddell remains a man with a dangerously sharp mind and a very funny drawing hand.

 

How to Make Stuff – the story behind our everyday things by Christiane Dorion

Where do our clothes come from? What’s the link between gorillas and cellphones? And you say chocolate grows on trees, come on! Find out in this hand-on guide to how we make most of the things we never think about. It is crammed with pop-ups and stuff and facts. Lots of facts (even about toiletpaper).

 

The Practical Princess Guide by Andy Mansfield

The essential hand-on guide for all young princesses, it is time to get practical! Work out what kind of princess you want to be, learn the pitfalls of modern princessing and discover the tricks you can use to appear as if you have always been royalty. There are many different type of princesses in the world, and they don’t all wear pink. Find out the various paths to becoming royalty, explore the Pampered Princess Emporium that sells everything a budding royal lady needs and then take the Princess Test to see if you’ve got what it takes to make it to the top!

 

Lorax (pop-up) by Dr Seuss

We have all read the book, loved the movie and now this ecological tale has been transformed into an elaborate pop-up edition. The text is the same as the original, but now there are things that pop and flap and hop and tabs to pull. The Lorax, the Brown Bar-ba-loots, the Truffula Trees, none of them have ever looked more alive.

Boing!

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For the slightly older reader who has started to read on their own

 

In our world, we often call these chapter books, the stories are broken up into chapters so you can read one a night and feel like a genius (which you are, as you are learning to read, which is one of the greatest skills there is, as great as being able to do somersaults).

Claude in the Country by Alex T. Smith

Have you met Claude? He’s an extraordinary dog with an extraordinary life. He’s my favourite red-beret wearing adventuresome pup. In this story Claude takes a trip to the countryside. The wild blue yonder turns out to be quite hard work when Claude becomes the stand-in farm dog for Mrs Cowpat. What with lassoing and egg collecting, herding sheep and washing pigs Claude and his best friend Sir Bobblysock are quite worn out. What a dog, what a day!

 

Operation Bunny by Sally Gardner

When Emily Vole inherits an abandoned shop, she discovers a magical world she did not know existed. With the help of a talking cat (of course!0 and a fairy detective called Buster, Emily tries to solve the mystery of Operation Bunny. This is the Fairy Detective Agency’s first case and with David Roberts’s hilarious illustrations, we are hoping for many more adventures.

Did we mention that there are bunnies all over this book?

I’m Dougal Trump and It’s Not My Fault by D. Trump

Diary of a Wimpy Kid has definitely unleashed the concept of handwritten books that tell us what is happening inside the heads of our characters, and Dougal Trump is a great example of this. He lives in fear of being eaten by the thing in their shed and can’t help by being annoyed by his sister, Sibble.

A funny look at the life of a boy who just wants to play football and not do homework and has no idea why everyone always thinks it is all his fault!

 

The Factory Made Boy by Christine Nostlinger

Imagine receiving a parcel in the post that contains a boy, perfect in every way. If you can, you could understand Mrs Bartolotti’s surprise when she opened the box to find a 7-year old boy, Conrad, made in a factory. They soon grow fond of each other, but when the factory realises its mistake of delivering the parcel to the wrong address, the two have to come up with a brilliant plan to stick together forever.

A funny look at what makes up a family.

 

Alien in My Belly Button by Jimmy Mars

Who would get the biggest surprise, Pete – when an alien crash lands in his belly button, or the alien, Binko, when realising what his soft landing spot actually is! Binko is on a mission and soon he realises that he will need Pete’s help.

If you like cheese and often say “Pufflefarts!”, this is definitely the book for you.

Agatha Parrot and the Zombie Bird by Kjartan Poskitt

We have become big fans of Agatha Parrot. She is one crazy girl who is not afraid of adventures. In her latest book, there is a magic battle on at the school and it turns out that the Zombie Bird is not what everyone thought it was (a bird maybe?) Reading this book will not turn you into a rabbit, but it will reveal the secret behind how the Pen of Destiny works. How can you not want to read it?

Mr Poskitt could be a cousin of Andy Stanton as they have the same kind of humour, so if you are a Mr Gum fan, it’s time you meet Agatha.

 

The Winter Sleepwalker and other stories by Joan Aiken & Quentin Blake

Fairy tales are definitely popular again and when two book geniuses join forces, it leads to magic. Joan Aiken has teamed up with Quentin Blake in this telling of modern fairy tales. Yes there are kings and witches in this collection, but also singing blue shoes and a very pink snake and of course space football (maybe even you can finally score a goal).

This is a great gift book that will stay on your shelf till you are old and you wear your slippers to the shop.

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Getting into reading

 

The Windvale Sprites by MacKenzie Crook

After a huge storm, Asa Brown find something strange in the garden pond. At first he thinks it is a huge dragonfly, but when he starts to investigate he can’t believe his eyes; it is a small winged creature that looks a lot like a fairy. Do fairies really exist? Asa embarks on a mission to find out. A mission that leads him to the lost journals of local eccentric Benjamin Tooth who, two hundred years earlier, claimed to have discovered the existence of fairies.

What Asa reads in those journals takes him on a secret trip to Windvale Moor, where he discovers much more than he’d hoped to.

 

Sword of Light (Pendragon Legacy Book 1) by Katherine Roberts

Katherine Roberts has written lots of children’s novels, but we haven’t heard from her for a while. So I was happy to see this new page-turning adventure with knights, dragons and magical horses, emerge this year. After the Death of King Arthur, the path to the throne is now open to his evil nephew, Mordred. No one wants this to happen in Camelot, but what else could happen.

Then someone with a better claim to the throne steps forward, Rhianna Pendragon, the secret daughter of Arthur, and really Camelot’s only hope.

 

Mr McCool by Jonathan Tulloch

Currently Mr McCool is a polar bear at the zoo, but he has plans. Plans to escape and the travel back to his true home, the North Pole. With a human boy and a furry sidekick for company, Mr McCool eventually sets sail, but the waters hold secrets and dangers.

The story takes the author along on the journey and soon you see that friendships can be formed in the most unlikeliest places between the most unlikeliest of companions.

 

Small Change for Stuart by Lizza Evans

So if your surname was Horten and by ten years of age you were still really small, would you not also be upset if you parents called you Stuart, because on all your school books it will then say S.Horten (shorten) which will make everyone in class laugh at you. Things are going from bad to worse for poor Stuart, as they move to a new town and he has to leave his few friends behind. But the town of Beeton seems to have some surprises up its sleeve. Once Stuart finds his great-uncle’s lost workshop, he realises it is full of magic and trickery. What starts out as fun exploring soon becomes dangerous when Stuart realises he will have to get help to see it through.

 

Mystery of the Missing Everything by Ben H. Winters

When the school’s sacred trophy is stolen, Principal van Vreeland is threatening to cancel the Grade 8 school trip, unless the trophy is found. Self-appointed sleuth, Bethesda Fielding is confident that she will be able to track down the culprit and save the class trip. With her tendency to find the right clues but jump to the wrong conclusions, Bethesda is a sort of lovable bumbler who does, in fact, eventually get her man, but not without insulting most of the eighth-grade class and nearly losing her best pal in the process. The book is full of great school humour, a bit of mystery and makes for an excellent holiday read.

 

Cordelia Codd Not Just the Blues by Claire O’Brien

Cordelia Codd wants to be glamorous, but mostly she is trapped in misadventures and a very uncool school with two mean ex-best friends and problems at home. A very very look at our quirky families and how we deal with life’s everyday curve balls, when all we actually want to do is have a small absurd-looking dog and manicures every Wednesday! It reads as if Jacqueline Wilson swallowed a whoopee cushion.

The second Cordelia Codd adventure will be out early next year.

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For older readers (old enough to have an opinion, but not a driver’s license)

 

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler (with art work by Maira Kalman)

Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for. This exposé begins at the end and flashes forward through meeting and falling for Ed, and realizing that the course of true love rarely follows a Hollywood script.  The characters are vivid and talk about their feelings, experiences, and images in a run-on fashion for the story ultimately to come together. It is a beautiful, bittersweet love story and with the art work in between the text, it really is a special keepsake book.

 

Gods and Warriors by Michelle Paver

Hylas is barely making a life for himself in the mountains when he is attacked by mysterious warriors, covered in armour with bronze spears and their faces smeared with ash, they are unlike any other beings he has encountered. The black warriors want Hylas dead, not that he knows why. All he knows is that he needs try and escape and find his sister. So begins Hylas’s quest along land and sea. Partnered with Pirra, the rebellious daughter of a High Priestess and a dilpine called Spirit, he tries to stay alive. Michelle Paver brought us the great Wolfbrother series, and once again she has done her research well. Gods and Warriors is set in the Greek Bronze Age, a time of chieftains, chariots and ancient magic.

 

The Killables by Gemma Malley

Evil has been destroyed, and the City has been established. All citizens can only live there once the “evil” part of their brains, have been removed. Your everyday activities are tracked and you are catalogued according to how good you are, or act. Should signs of evil re-emerge, you will be labelled as Killable and disappear from the City, never to be seen again. We meet Evie who is living in this environment, but in her dreams she longs for something more. She is supposed to marry Raphael, but secretly would rather be with his brother, Lucas. A great dystopian read, it really makes us ask ourselves whether our identity is with our society and the environment we grow up in or whether we ourselves have to break away from the norm and discover our own identity. This is/was definitely the year for dystopian reads and there are some great ones out in the market.

 

Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna

What if we had doubles? People who were breed to look like us, who are told to study everything we do, to eat like us, to talk like us and love like us. The Weavers have the ability to make copies, echos of people and if you should die, you will be replaced by your echo. Eva’s life is not her own. She is a creation, an echo,  made to replace a girl named Amarra, her ‘other’, if she ever died. Eva studies everything Amarra does, so when Amarra is killed in a car crash, Eva should be ready.  But fifteen years of studying never prepared her for this. Eva has to move to India to convince the world that Amarra is still alive and she has to give up what she know to be home, the guardians who raised her, the boy she has fallen in love with, all the things that make her Eva, whom she is not supposed to be. Such a great concept and such an amazing read.

 

Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

In a city where diamons and witches no longer are allowed to live together after the Big War, the class lines are clearly drawn. In the heart of the city is the Carnival of Souls where, once in a generation, anyone can fight for their chance to join the city’s elite. Kaleb is from the lowest caste, Aya again from the highest, but she’s a girl, so she has no future, other than to have children. They both enter the fight trying to make their lives better. Kaleb is also going to the human world to look for Mallory, who does not know the city but her heritage to this other world is stronger than she could have imagined.  Although her adopted father is trying to protect her, in the end it would be up to Kaleb to protect her from the dangers and mysteries of the Carnival of Souls, as she tries to claim what is rightfully hers. The book has excellent fight scenes in and a great dose of old-school magi

Christmas Stocking

Monday, December 2nd 2013 at 11:15 AM

It’s that time of year again – so before you

 

 

Reasons my Kid is Crying

This is ho-ho-larious! Every parent will recognise it – the melt down, the tantrum, the plaintive wail of…the TODDLER! Author Greg Pembroke has taken on the important task of cataloguing the bizarre, inconsistent and sometimes alarming causes for that wrinkled face, screaming mouth and runny nose, with photos to match. Among the real-life meltdowns featured…

“His piece of cheese was broken in half”
“His sock wouldn’t come off”
“I wouldn’t let him touch the fire”
“I asked her to stop licking the bottom of her shoe”…

Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett

The 40th Discworld novel and a brilliant present for Pratchett’s legion of fans. Steam is rising over Discworld, driven by Mister Simnel, the man wi’ t’flat cap and sliding rule who has an interesting arrangement with the sine and cosine. Moist will have to grapple with gallons of grease, goblins, a fat controller with a history of throwing employees down the stairs and some very angry dwarfs if he’s going to stop it all going off the rails . . .

Eat: The Little Book of Fast Food by Nigel Slater

This beautiful little cloth bound book from one of our favourite foodies is a treasure for food lovers everywhere. Returning to the territory of Nigel’s bestselling Real Fast Food, Eat is bursting with beautifully simple and quick-to-cook recipes, in a stylish and practical flexible format that’s easy to read and use anywhere.
Enjoy sizzling chorizo with potatoes and shallots; a sharp and fresh green soup; a Vietnamese-inspired prawn baguette; a one-pan Sunday lunch.
Tipped by many as the cookery book of the year – it’s a great gift for your foodie!

Star Wars Origami: 36 Paper-folding projects from a Galaxy far far away…

It had to come didn’t it? You knew there was a void that needed filling – and here is the answer! A book of Star Wars origami which gives you and your friends and family the opportunity this Christmas to make your very own Star Wars characters and models out of paper. Gasp at the elegant Yoda, tremble at the realistic Darth Vader helmet, impress all your friends with the realistic Vulture Droid Fighter! With specially designed paper included, this will keep the whole tribe occupied for the hols.

S by JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst

This is a very, very special piece of publishing. Emmy Award-winning director JJ Abrams (Lost, Star Trek, Fringe, Alias) has collaborated with McSweeney’s writer Doug Dorst to produce a novel within a story. Produced to look like a library book the novel – Ship of Theseus by the mysterious and elusive writer VM Slaka – is heavily annotated by marginalia from two readers who are trying to understand the novel and track down the author. Inserted in the book are various ephemera connected to the author (a postcard, a drawing on a napkin). The quality of the production makes you feel as if you have stumbled across a genuine artefact, and the story grips. A unique and extraordinary gift – this is something to be treasured.

Cape Town Then and Now

This is a beautiful and absorbing book, and a must for anyone who loves Cape Town. It places current and old photos of various locations in Cape Town and the Cape peninsula next to one another, with very surprising results. Lovingly presented and written – it’s an eye-opener and a wonderful gift. You would not believe what Greenmarket Square looked like in 1890!

100 Ghosts: A Gallery of Harmless Haunts by Doogie Horner

Cut two eyeholes into a bedsheet and Boo! You’ve got yourself a classic Halloween icon. But what happens if you tie the bedsheet in knots? What happens when you set it on fire, hang it from a clothesline, or put a llama underneath it? 100 Ghosts is a brilliantly simple artistic exploration of an icon as familiar as a grinning jack-o-lantern or an arched black cat. It’s a delightful gift for adults, kids, and anyone who enjoys spooky design.

My Big Fat Gupta Wedding by Zapiro

Aaah – Zapiro. Never dull, never off-topic, never letting his standards slip. This is his eighteenth annual collection and does not disappoint. No year would be complete without Zapiro’s annual collection of cartoons, and in this latest book of sharp-witted and well-timed cartoons, Zapiro once again proves himself a satirical genius, ensuring that no event passes by without comment… or a laugh.

Ja Well No Fine by Tim Richman and Stuart Hendricks

Ja Well No Fine is, well, ja, like a book, bru. About South Africa, nogal a.k.a. Sefrica, a.k.a. Mzansi Fo Sho and how it all fits together, you check. Sharp sharp, wena… But its not just about slang and Safricanisms; it’s also about our people, places, things, brands, food, habits, sport, clothes, culture and politics. It’s about all the wonderful (and flippen annoying) little things that make up the country we live in, from the legal requirements of boerewors (not braai wors!) to the one thing we all have in common yes, its sugar.
From the team that brought you the bestselling Is It Just Me Or Is Everything Kak? series, Ja Well No Fine is, in short, an (alternative, entertaining, enlightening, irreverent) A-Z guide to South Africa, a perfect stocking filler and a wonderful light read for summer 2013/14.

Encyclopedia Paranoica

In Encyclopedia Paranoiaca, master satirists Henry Beard and Christopher Cerf have assembled an authoritative, disturbingly comprehensive, and utterly debilitating inventory of things poised to harm, maim, or kill you – all of them based on actual research about the perils of everyday life. Beard and Cerf cite convincing evidence that everyday things we consider healthy – eating leafy greens, flossing, washing our hands – are actually harmful, and items we thought were innocuous – drinking straws, flip-flops, neckties, skinny jeans – pose life-threatening dangers. Did you know that nearly ten thousand people are sent to A&E each year because of escalator accidents? And if you’re crossing your legs right now, you’re definitely at serious risk. Hilarious, insightful and, at times, downright terrifying, Encyclopedia Paranoiaca brings to light a whole host of hidden threats and looming dooms that make asteroid impacts, planetary pandemics and global warming look like a walk in the park (which is also emphatically not recommended).

Madam and Eve – Keep Calm and Take Another Tea Break

They’re back, and better than ever! This year sees the release of the twenty-first Madam & Eve, and it’s another winner from this sharp and witty creative team. Madam, Eve, Thandi and Mother Anderson return with their chaotic and totally recognisable South African household in the latest hilarious reflection of everyday life in South Africa.

Marvel Year by Year

This is fabulous! For comic book fans everywhere, Marvel Year by Year A Visual Chronicle explores Marvel’s fascinating story, decade by decade, year by year, month by month. Everything is covered chronologically, from the company’s beginnings as Timely Comics in the late 1930s to the founding of the Marvel Universe of Super Heroes in the 60s, right up to the present day – this is the ultimate Marvel collector’s piece for all comic book fans, young or old.

Save with Jamie by Jamie Oliver

No, not Jamie Oliver’s guide to investment banking (though I’m sure it’s only a matter of time…) but his guide to shopping smart, cooking clever and wasting less – which can’t be a bad thing. This book is the response to public demand – Jamie realised that we are all tightening our purse strings at the moment, so came up with this to help us. He promises big flavours, comfort food, nutrition on a budget. Pukka!

Elements of Eloquence: How to turn the Perfect English Phrase by Mark Forsyth

From the author of The Etymologicon and The Horologican comes the guide to not only improving your linguistic skills but turning a memorable phrase with it. Whether you are striving for literary immortality, or a one-liner to impress, this book will take you there. The perfect gift for the wordsmith in your life.

Daily Rituals: How Great Minds Make Time, Find Inspiration and Get to Work by Mason Currey

Anthony Trollope wrote three thousand words every morning before heading off to his job at the Post Office. Toulouse-Lautrec did his best work at night, sometimes even setting up his easel in brothels, and George Gershwin composed at the piano in pyjamas and a bathrobe. Freud worked sixteen hours a day, but Gertrude Stein could never write for more than thirty minutes, and F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in gin-fuelled bursts – he believed alcohol was essential to his creative process. From Marx to Murakami and Beethoven to Bacon, Daily Rituals examines the working routines of more than a hundred and sixty of the greatest philosophers, writers, composers and artists ever to have lived. Daily Rituals will amuse and inspire your budding writer.

Yoga Sparks: 108 Easy Practices for Stress Relief in a Minute or Less by Carol Krucoff

We’re all in a rush these days – more pressure at work, more stress at home – and our promises to ourselves to exercise often fall by the wayside. This smart little book is an excellent solution. Recognising our time constraints it presents 108 yoga practices which we can fit into our busy lives, and which will help us to stay relaxed during the day. Perfect for any age or level of fitness, and the ideal gift for the stress bunny in your life!

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher

This is brilliant! Inspired by one of the greatest creative minds in the English language – and William Shakespeare – here is an officially licensed retelling of George Lucas’ epic Star Wars in the style of the immortal Bard of Avon. Reimagined in glorious iambic pentameter, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars will astound and edify learners and masters alike.

Pursu’d by agents sinister and cold,
Now Princess Leia to her home doth flee,
Deliv’ring plans and new hope they hold:
Of bringing freedom to the galaxy.
In time so long ago begins our play,
In a star-crossed galaxy far, far away.

Marvel 1602 10th Anniversary Edition by Neil Gaiman

All’s not well in the Marvel Universe in the year 1602 as strange storms are brewing and strange new powers are emerging! Spider-Man, the X-Men, Nick Fury, Dr. Strange, Daredevil, Dr. Doom, Black Widow, Captain America, and more appear in the waning days of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. As the world begins to change and enter into a new age, Gaiman weaves a thrilling mystery. How and why are these Marvel stars appearing nearly 400 years before they’re supposed to? The plot thickens….

My Town/My Zoo

These are loads of fun for kids of all ages. Press out figures and buildings for you to make your very own town or zoo. Bright and colourful, with limitless options to rearrange, refigure and play for hours.

The Art of Conversation

This is a great game for large or small groups, aimed at reviving…the art of conversation. There are over 300 topics distributed on 104 small cards to help kick things off, and to make every get together and occasion one to remember.

Paper Chess Set: Punch out the Pieces and Play

Everything you need to enjoy this centuries-old game of strategy is in here. A slim, portable package contains an easy-to-assemble board and 32 punch-out paper pieces, all of which capture a timeless yet modern design that will make this set appealing to chess aficionados of all ages.

5 ½ Tragi-comic Picture Stories by Alistair Findlay

Funnier than JM Coetzee, more miserable than Leonard Cohen, Findlay’s picture stories are bound to delight and dismay in equal measure. In The Light Bulb and Absolute Zero he follows the lives of the small time, financially illiterate entrepreneur, revealing the perils of doing business without an MBA. C is for Chemo deals with the double ordeal of being diagnosed with a dread disease and discovering how the red devil can save your life. Sinking into the quicksands of nostalgia and sentiment Thomas is a tale of innocence, hero worship and the sense of irretrievable loss. The Man Who Lived Twice is about a seismic mid-life event precipitated by social and psychological instability. ThLast day at Pelindaba is a tribute to poet and naturalist Eugene Marais. It is set in the Rondavels on Gustave Preller’s farm where we find Marais desperate for relief from his prevailing agony…
This is a beautifully written and produced graphic novel which would make a very special present for anyone who loves stories.

Pieces of a Dream: The Story of Dance for All by Gillian Warren-Brown

This is a beautifully produced book which tells the story of Dance for All – the Cape Town-based NGO which provides children in historically disadvantaged communities with the opportunity for enjoyment, empowerment and promotion of self esteem through the medium of dance, as well as training professional dancers and developing a unique, indigenous dance company.

With beautiful photography Gillian Warren-Brown tells the story of DFA and the children whose livesx have been enriched by it. A fabulous gift for any dancer, or anyone who loves photography or a good story.

F**k: An Irreverant History of the F-word by Rufus Lodge

An amusing, informative, controversial and utterly irreverent history of the world’s favourite word.
F, U, C and K – four letters that can cause outrage, scandal, embarrassment or instant relief if you hit your thumb with a hammer.
Rufus Lodge takes it upon himself to seek out the origins of our language’s most popular obscenity, and chronicles its dramatic arrival in our everyday lives. As he discovers, the F-word can be heard among aristocrats and astronauts, rock stars and royals, poets and politicians, even in the company of Father Ted and Basil Brush.
The cast of characters includes Shakespeare, the Beatles, Andy Murray, T.S. Eliot, Elton, Camilla and everyone unfortunate enough to live in an Austrian town with a very embarrassing name.
F*** is a cavalcade of priceless anecdotes, historical research, filthy jokes and definitions too devious for any decent dictionary – guaranteed to make you laugh, and broaden your vocabulary*.
* The publisher/bookseller takes no responsibility for any embarrassment caused when readers drop the F-bomb after reading this book.

Zip-Zap DVDs

The Zip-Zap Circus is a great favourite with the Book Lounge. Their electrifying performances enchant everyone who sees them, and the brilliant work done by the circus school empowers and enables many children froom disadvantaged backgrounds. The DVDs of their various performances are huge fun, and can be watched over and over by the whole family.

Awesome CT Magnets

These very cool magnets, produced locally, are brilliant stocking fillers. Available as singles or a pack, and in various designs.

Unauthorised History of SA by Dr Stienie Dikderm and Prof Herodotus Hlope

Researched and written by two historians well respected in concentric circles, this hilarious take on our collective past reveals stunning new discoveries and fascinating new figures, from Koos van Doosch, the cheese-pimp who settled the Cape a year before Van Riebeeck, to Shaka’s lesser-known brother, Nigel Zulu, who just wanted to be a florist. You’ll discover how the winner of the Mr Mielie Board beauty pageant came to rule South Africa, and you’ll celebrate our greatest triumphs, like when Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman won the Rugby World Cup in 1995. From small fat gold-plated rhinos in Mapungubwe to small fat gold-plated politicians in Mangaung, The Unauthorised History of South Africa tells you the history you always wanted to know but were too afraid to ask!

Pocket Posh

These fabulous little puzzle books are also great stocking fillers. From logic puzzles to word round-ups and brain games – each one has a beautifully patterned cover. Hours of entertainment too!

How Not to be a Dick: And Everyday Etiquette Guide by Meghan Doherty

On the one hand, nobody wants to be a d*ck. On the other hand, d*cks are everywhere! They cut in line, talk behind our backs, recline into our seats, and even have the power to morph into trolls online. Their powers are impressive, but with a little foresight and thoughtfulness, we can take a stand against di*kishness today. How Not to Be a D*ck is packed with honest and straightforward advice, but it also includes playful illustrations showing two well-meaning (but not always well behaved) young people as they confront moments of potential d*ckishness in their everyday lives. Sometimes they falter, sometimes they triumph, but they always seek to find a better way. And with their help, you can too.

Childrens’ Books We Love

Friday, December 7th 2012 at 1:16 PM

For the last five years or so, every year’s harvest of children’s books just seem to get better and better. Illustrations are becoming breath taking, making picture books really a first art experience for children. Teen novels, known as YA, have gotten a wider reader market with more adults reading this genre of often fast paced, adrenaline reads. So there are many many amazing books and these are only some of the ones we love at the moment. Come and visit us and we will show you more oohs and aahs.

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Beautiful Books for Little Ones

 

Creatures by Orla Kiely

Designer, Orla Kiely has done a range of small board books for little ones and the latest edition to the series is Creatures and Shapes. They are cloth bound and adorned with her very simple but beautiful design style illustrations.

Gems for young designer babies!

Animal Sounds by Tad Carpenter

A fun lift-the-flap book with an I say, You say component. So if I say Pig, you would say Oink! The illustrations are very humorous and it will lead to loud screaming answers and a few giggles. A lovely book for adult and child to enjoy together.

 

The Game of Red, Yellow and Blue by Herve Tullet

He is an artist. He is a designer. He is a genius. Tullet has done a range of books for children and really holds nothing back in explaining whatever concepts it is he wishes to engage them with. In this book he explains the mix of colours so cleverly you want to give a standing ovation.

Herve Tullet has done a wide range of amazing books for children.

Welcome to the Zoo by Alison Jay

A wordless picture book in board format. It tells the story of all the things that happen at the zoo in Jay’s well-known illustration style. And best of all, you can make up your own story or simply sit with your child and find all the same animals over the pages.

There are quite a few wordless books out these days, which all lends to the telling of your own stories, great for new imaginations.

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Picture Books to Adore

 

Ambrose Goes for Gold by Tor Freeman

An old story, it got revived this year for the Olympic Games. It tells the story of Ambrose who tries out for all the different activities at the Great Insect Games, but seems to not be really any good at anything. Just as it seems all is lost, Ambrose eats his weight in sticks and so wins the Twig Eating Competition, because everybody knows that what termites are great at, is eating! And so we all have our special talents… like cupcake eating on a Saturday!

The Great Snortle Hunt by Claire Freedman

What if there was a giant creature living in your neighbourhood and no-one has seen him? Would you not want to go out and try to get a glimpse of him? Mouse, Cat and Dog decide to go out at night to surprise the Snortle. With great rhyming text the friends fumble their way about till they are in the Snortle’s room (as you do!) and when he starts to wake up they try to run away, only to discover that things that look scary, aren’t necessary. It turns out that the Snortle is really a loveable creature, looking for friends to invite to tea. A gentle story with great illustrations by Kate Hindley.

A Flower in the Snow by Tracey Corderoy

In an icy world lives a little girl, Luna and her best friend, Bear. One day a sparkly dancing flower pops out of the snow and Bear picks it for Luna. She loves the flower, which soon wilts and dies. Bear thinks that the only way to make Luna happy again is to give her another flower, so he sets off on a search that takes him to many faraway places. Eventually he returns home with no flower and no gift. When Luna sees him, she is so happy to have her friend back. She shows him that with the seeds of the dead flower she has planted a new one and together they sow the other seeds till they have a whole sparkly garden. Sometimes the best things are right with us. Sophie Allsopp’s illustrations are really magical and dreamy.

The Princess and the Pig by Jonathan Emmett

By accident a piglet and a tiny baby princess get swopped at birth (this is only possible in a story of course!) The King blamed a bad fairy and the Farmer gave thanks to a good fairy for giving him a child, and so the two grew up.. the princess, the child of poor, but loving farmers and the pig, as a princess. The girl was loved by all and the poor piglet drove the help in the Castle crazy with all her shenanigans. The farmer realises what happened many years ago and because he is honest, he goes to the to tell him where his real daughter is. No one believes the farmer and he is send away. So the real princess marries a young shepherd and lives happily ever after. The piglet princess also gets married, but that poor prince is in for a surprise! Illustrations by Poly Bernatene will have you giggling all the way.

Boot and Shoe by Marla Frazee

Boot is a back porch kind of dog. Shoe is a front porch kind of dog, and that is perfect for both of them. Although they are from the same litter and sleep on the same pillow at night, they have their own different day time routine. Until a cheeky squirrel gets under their skin and they start chasing him all over the yard. In the end they end up looking for each other to restore the peace and just when they have given up (and lost a lot of sleep) they find each other by the tree they both like to pee on. A funny story about friendship for all dog lovers.

Goldilocks and Just the One Bear by Leigh Hodgkinson

We all remember when Goldilocks made such a mess in the Three Bears’ House, they were glad when she left, but do you ever wonder what happened after that? Well, many years later, Little Bear (now a big bear himself) gets lost in the noisy city and stumbles upon a house with strange beds and interesting meals. When the owners returns they see the state of the house and discover a lone bear in the bed. The bear and the woman realises that they have met each other years ago, when she (Goldilocks) came to his house. So Goldilocks makes him a big bowl of oats and the next day helps him find his way home (with a map of course, the city is really big). A really clever sequel to a story we all know very well.

The Worst Princess by Anna Kemp

What is a princess to do when the prince just won’t show up? Just as princess Sue is about to go off the find adventure, a prince arrives and whisks her away to his castle. This is not what Sue dreamed off, and soon boredom is getting the better of her. She makes friends with a Dragon who helps her escape the castle, the twit of a prince and the two of them travel the world having great adventures. A perfect book for girls of all ages who wish to sometimes fight their own battles. Sara Ogilvie’s illustrations are bright and brave and full of mischief.

Black Dog by Levi Pinfold

This is a beautifully illustrated, wonderfully told story of confronting and overcoming fears. The Hope family is visited unexpectedly one day by a big black dog, and all the Hopes are terrified until Small Hope shows them that even when facing a seemingly overwhelmingly large and frightening thing, there is nothing to be scared of really. With a liitle hope we can all face our own black dog and get it down to a manageable size. An important and rewarding tale.

 

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Pop-up Books to Love

 

How to be a Hero by Edge & Howells

Do you know how to cross a troll bridge, escape from a dungeon or survive a banshee’s wail? Learn all the skills a budding hero needs in this indispensable guide to the world of fantasy and legend. Filled with dragons, wizards, unicorns and much more, every page is packed with clever solutions to the challenges of being a hero. If you want to be a hero, this is definitely the handbook for you. Bursting with maps, bone-chilling booklets, gruesome guides and much more. Don’t start your quest without it!

 

Alienography Tips for Tiny Tyrants by Chris Riddell

Fancy being the leader of the whole universe? It is very easy with this fail-safe guide. Expert advice on everything from selecting a sidekick to buying the best battleship cruiser there is means that you will be able to be a butt-kicking baddy before your mother can blink. Magnificently illustrated and hugely funny, with novelty elements including a mini comic, a fold-out cross-section of the ‘Centennial Turkey’ spaceship, and a ‘Top Chumps’ card game. Chris Riddell remains a man with a dangerously sharp mind and a very funny drawing hand.

 

How to Make Stuff – the story behind our everyday things by Christiane Dorion

Where do our clothes come from? What’s the link between gorillas and cellphones? And you say chocolate grows on trees, come on! Find out in this hand-on guide to how we make most of the things we never think about. It is crammed with pop-ups and stuff and facts. Lots of facts (even about toiletpaper).

 

The Practical Princess Guide by Andy Mansfield

The essential hand-on guide for all young princesses, it is time to get practical! Work out what kind of princess you want to be, learn the pitfalls of modern princessing and discover the tricks you can use to appear as if you have always been royalty. There are many different type of princesses in the world, and they don’t all wear pink. Find out the various paths to becoming royalty, explore the Pampered Princess Emporium that sells everything a budding royal lady needs and then take the Princess Test to see if you’ve got what it takes to make it to the top!

 

Lorax (pop-up) by Dr Seuss

We have all read the book, loved the movie and now this ecological tale has been transformed into an elaborate pop-up edition. The text is the same as the original, but now there are things that pop and flap and hop and tabs to pull. The Lorax, the Brown Bar-ba-loots, the Truffula Trees, none of them have ever looked more alive.

Boing!

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For the slightly older reader who has started to read on their own

 

In our world, we often call these chapter books, the stories are broken up into chapters so you can read one a night and feel like a genius (which you are, as you are learning to read, which is one of the greatest skills there is, as great as being able to do somersaults).

Claude in the Country by Alex T. Smith

Have you met Claude? He’s an extraordinary dog with an extraordinary life. He’s my favourite red-beret wearing adventuresome pup. In this story Claude takes a trip to the countryside. The wild blue yonder turns out to be quite hard work when Claude becomes the stand-in farm dog for Mrs Cowpat. What with lassoing and egg collecting, herding sheep and washing pigs Claude and his best friend Sir Bobblysock are quite worn out. What a dog, what a day!

Operation Bunny by Sally Gardner

When Emily Vole inherits an abandoned shop, she discovers a magical world she did not know existed. With the help of a talking cat (of course!0 and a fairy detective called Buster, Emily tries to solve the mystery of Operation Bunny. This is the Fairy Detective Agency’s first case and with David Roberts’s hilarious illustrations, we are hoping for many more adventures.

Did we mention that there are bunnies all over this book?

I’m Dougal Trump and It’s Not My Fault by D. Trump

Diary of a Wimpy Kid has definitely unleashed the concept of handwritten books that tell us what is happening inside the heads of our characters, and Dougal Trump is a great example of this. He lives in fear of being eaten by the thing in their shed and can’t help by being annoyed by his sister, Sibble.

A funny look at the life of a boy who just wants to play football and not do homework and has no idea why everyone always thinks it is all his fault!

 

The Factory Made Boy by Christine Nostlinger

Imagine receiving a parcel in the post that contains a boy, perfect in every way. If you can, you could understand Mrs Bartolotti’s surprise when she opened the box to find a 7-year old boy, Conrad, made in a factory. They soon grow fond of each other, but when the factory realises its mistake of delivering the parcel to the wrong address, the two have to come up with a brilliant plan to stick together forever.

A funny look at what makes up a family.

Alien in My Belly Button by Jimmy Mars

Who would get the biggest surprise, Pete – when an alien crash lands in his belly button, or the alien, Binko, when realising what his soft landing spot actually is! Binko is on a mission and soon he realises that he will need Pete’s help.

If you like cheese and often say “Pufflefarts!”, this is definitely the book for you.


Agatha Parrot and the Zombie Bird by Kjartan Poskitt

We have become big fans of Agatha Parrot. She is one crazy girl who is not afraid of adventures. In her latest book, there is a magic battle on at the school and it turns out that the Zombie Bird is not what everyone thought it was (a bird maybe?) Reading this book will not turn you into a rabbit, but it will reveal the secret behind how the Pen of Destiny works. How can you not want to read it?

Mr Poskitt could be a cousin of Andy Stanton as they have the same kind of humour, so if you are a Mr Gum fan, it’s time you meet Agatha.

The Winter Sleepwalker and other stories by Joan Aiken & Quentin Blake

Fairy tales are definitely popular again and when two book geniuses join forces, it leads to magic. Joan Aiken has teamed up with Quentin Blake in this telling of modern fairy tales. Yes there are kings and witches in this collection, but also singing blue shoes and a very pink snake and of course space football (maybe even you can finally score a goal).

This is a great gift book that will stay on your shelf till you are old and you wear your slippers to the shop.

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Getting into reading

 

The Windvale Sprites by MacKenzie Crook

After a huge storm, Asa Brown find something strange in the garden pond. At first he thinks it is a huge dragonfly, but when he starts to investigate he can’t believe his eyes; it is a small winged creature that looks a lot like a fairy. Do fairies really exist? Asa embarks on a mission to find out. A mission that leads him to the lost journals of local eccentric Benjamin Tooth who, two hundred years earlier, claimed to have discovered the existence of fairies.

What Asa reads in those journals takes him on a secret trip to Windvale Moor, where he discovers much more than he’d hoped to.

Sword of Light (Pendragon Legacy Book 1) by Katherine Roberts

Katherine Roberts has written lots of children’s novels, but we haven’t heard from her for a while. So I was happy to see this new page-turning adventure with knights, dragons and magical horses, emerge this year. After the Death of King Arthur, the path to the throne is now open to his evil nephew, Mordred. No one wants this to happen in Camelot, but what else could happen.

Then someone with a better claim to the throne steps forward, Rhianna Pendragon, the secret daughter of Arthur, and really Camelot’s only hope.

Mr McCool by Jonathan Tulloch

Currently Mr McCool is a polar bear at the zoo, but he has plans. Plans to escape and the travel back to his true home, the North Pole. With a human boy and a furry sidekick for company, Mr McCool eventually sets sail, but the waters hold secrets and dangers.

The story takes the author along on the journey and soon you see that friendships can be formed in the most unlikeliest places between the most unlikeliest of companions.

Small Change for Stuart by Lizza Evans

So if your surname was Horten and by ten years of age you were still really small, would you not also be upset if you parents called you Stuart, because on all your school books it will then say S.Horten (shorten) which will make everyone in class laugh at you. Things are going from bad to worse for poor Stuart, as they move to a new town and he has to leave his few friends behind. But the town of Beeton seems to have some surprises up its sleeve. Once Stuart finds his great-uncle’s lost workshop, he realises it is full of magic and trickery. What starts out as fun exploring soon becomes dangerous when Stuart realises he will have to get help to see it through.

Mystery of the Missing Everything by Ben H. Winters

When the school’s sacred trophy is stolen, Principal van Vreeland is threatening to cancel the Grade 8 school trip, unless the trophy is found. Self-appointed sleuth, Bethesda Fielding is confident that she will be able to track down the culprit and save the class trip. With her tendency to find the right clues but jump to the wrong conclusions, Bethesda is a sort of lovable bumbler who does, in fact, eventually get her man, but not without insulting most of the eighth-grade class and nearly losing her best pal in the process. The book is full of great school humour, a bit of mystery and makes for an excellent holiday read.

Cordelia Codd Not Just the Blues by Claire O’Brien

Cordelia Codd wants to be glamorous, but mostly she is trapped in misadventures and a very uncool school with two mean ex-best friends and problems at home. A very very look at our quirky families and how we deal with life’s everyday curve balls, when all we actually want to do is have a small absurd-looking dog and manicures every Wednesday! It reads as if Jacqueline Wilson swallowed a whoopee cushion.

The second Cordelia Codd adventure will be out early next year.

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For older readers (old enough to have an opinion, but not a driver’s license)

 

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler (with art work by Maira Kalman)

Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for. This exposé begins at the end and flashes forward through meeting and falling for Ed, and realizing that the course of true love rarely follows a Hollywood script.  The characters are vivid and talk about their feelings, experiences, and images in a run-on fashion for the story ultimately to come together. It is a beautiful, bittersweet love story and with the art work in between the text, it really is a special keepsake book.

Gods and Warriors by Michelle Paver

Hylas is barely making a life for himself in the mountains when he is attacked by mysterious warriors, covered in armour with bronze spears and their faces smeared with ash, they are unlike any other beings he has encountered. The black warriors want Hylas dead, not that he knows why. All he knows is that he needs try and escape and find his sister. So begins Hylas’s quest along land and sea. Partnered with Pirra, the rebellious daughter of a High Priestess and a dilpine called Spirit, he tries to stay alive. Michelle Paver brought us the great Wolfbrother series, and once again she has done her research well. Gods and Warriors is set in the Greek Bronze Age, a time of chieftains, chariots and ancient magic.

The Killables by Gemma Malley

Evil has been destroyed, and the City has been established. All citizens can only live there once the “evil” part of their brains, have been removed. Your everyday activities are tracked and you are catalogued according to how good you are, or act. Should signs of evil re-emerge, you will be labelled as Killable and disappear from the City, never to be seen again. We meet Evie who is living in this environment, but in her dreams she longs for something more. She is supposed to marry Raphael, but secretly would rather be with his brother, Lucas. A great dystopian read, it really makes us ask ourselves whether our identity is with our society and the environment we grow up in or whether we ourselves have to break away from the norm and discover our own identity. This is/was definitely the year for dystopian reads and there are some great ones out in the market.

Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna

What if we had doubles? People who were breed to look like us, who are told to study everything we do, to eat like us, to talk like us and love like us. The Weavers have the ability to make copies, echos of people and if you should die, you will be replaced by your echo. Eva’s life is not her own. She is a creation, an echo,  made to replace a girl named Amarra, her ‘other’, if she ever died. Eva studies everything Amarra does, so when Amarra is killed in a car crash, Eva should be ready.  But fifteen years of studying never prepared her for this. Eva has to move to India to convince the world that Amarra is still alive and she has to give up what she know to be home, the guardians who raised her, the boy she has fallen in love with, all the things that make her Eva, whom she is not supposed to be. Such a great concept and such an amazing read.

Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

In a city where diamons and witches no longer are allowed to live together after the Big War, the class lines are clearly drawn. In the heart of the city is the Carnival of Souls where, once in a generation, anyone can fight for their chance to join the city’s elite. Kaleb is from the lowest caste, Aya again from the highest, but she’s a girl, so she has no future, other than to have children. They both enter the fight trying to make their lives better. Kaleb is also going to the human world to look for Mallory, who does not know the city but her heritage to this other world is stronger than she could have imagined.  Although her adopted father is trying to protect her, in the end it would be up to Kaleb to protect her from the dangers and mysteries of the Carnival of Souls, as she tries to claim what is rightfully hers. The book has excellent fight scenes in and a great dose of old-school magick.