When a new boy named Ahmet joins the school, people initially think he's strange because he doesn't speak or join the other children on the playground during break times.
They soon learn that Ahmet is a very special student because he's come to the UK from Syria. He has a foster mother who is taking care of him as he was separated from his parents when he arrived.
As the students learn more and more about Ahmet, a group of clever and resourceful friends hatch a plan to reunite Ahmet with his parents. It might just be the greatest plan ever devised, or it might completely backfire and cause a lot more trouble than the students are prepared for.
I absolutely loved The Boy At the Back of the Class. We don't know the narrator's gender or name for the majority of the novel and it really woks, having that kept a secret as their identity is slowly revealed. The novel tackles some serious issues including the refugee crisis of course but also home grown casual racism that in my opinion is rampant in UK society. There are cruel students who are mimicking their parents' bigotry and apathetic teachers who allow bullying to occur under their watch. It also sheds light on the generosity and kindness that will hopefully prevail in the end. It's an important book that I think should be required reading in Year 6 or 7!
Penelope Lumley has just landed a job as governess at Ashton place, a formidable looking estate in the countryside.
Right from the start Penelope can tell something is a little off about the entire place. The people act funny and the children she is supposed to be caring for are nowhere in sight.
When she is shown them, she discovers the truth, that they are actually feral children discovered by Lord Ashton himself during a hunting party.
At fifteen, Peneloe has never experienced anything quite like this, but she is a headstrong and resourceful teenager and decides to plunge ahead with the daunting task of bringing the children into the "civilised" world.
Penelope teaches them basic manners, like not chasing squirrels (this will become a huge task late in the novel) and learning poetry and Latin.
To add to the pressure, Lady Constance has instructed Penelope to get the children ready for the biggest Christmas party in the land, something that fills Penelope with dread.
To make matters even worse, Penelope has the sneaking suspicion that not all is right with Ashton Place. Mysterious characters like Old Timothy roam the grounds trading whispers with the others and she doesn't like the vibe coming off of Lady Constance in general.
I can't believe it took me this long to get to this series. Anyone who ever grew up watching Mary Poppins or the Sound of Music and reading Harry Potter or any Sherlock Holmes or Agatha Christie will really dive into it. Penelope is a tremendous force of nature yet in a quiet way which only makes her more likeable. The children, Beowulf, Cassiopeia & Alexander will tug at your heart strings from the second you discover them huddled under a pile of hay in the barn. Then there's the mysterious Frederick & Lady Constance, perfect villains set in a strange estate that seems to breathe and act on its own.
One of the best books I've read this year, I'm really excited to promote it to my students in the Library!
One thing Tomas enjoys doing is gardening with his grandfather. When he discovers a weird looking tree, he almost gets rid of it but decides at the last moment to keep it. He takes the even weirder looking fruit from the tree and brings it into his house. Something about it tells Tomas that it's special but he can't figure out what.
He gets a huge shock when the fruit bursts open and a dragon flies out.
Tomas names it Flicker and tries his best to hide it from his family and friends. The problem is, Flicker does things like set fire to almost everything and poops everywhere.
To make matters even stranger, Tomas finds that more and more dragonfruit are growing from the tree. He is officially growing dragons, but can he keep his secret for long?
The Boy Who Grew Dragons is a very touching tale about friendship, standing up for yourself and much more. It's full of great laughs (exploding poo, toothbrushes that have been burnt by dragon fire) and sinister villains. Tomas' neighbour is a mean, grumpy man that doesn't like Tomas or his grandfather. You can see where this is going, and it's pretty great. The illustrations in this novel are amazing. It's the first in a series which I highly recommend for anyone 9 and up!
Tilly is eleven years old and is in love with books. It's no surprise considering her grandparents own and run the magical Pages & Co. bookshop in London.
Pages & Co. is a magical place because of the love and literary energy that surrounds it but it's also magical in strange and to Tilly, bewildering ways. She sometimes sees her grandparents speaking to customers who are standing there one minute and are gone the next.
When she turns a corner and comes face to face with a girl who looks exactly like Alice from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, she's not sure if the bookshop is responsible or her own mind.
Then she meets Anne of Avonlea and eventually uncovers the secret: Book characters are travelling from the world of novels to Pages & Co. through a magical process called Book Wandering.
Tilly soon discovers that she also has the ability to Book Wander, but that there are strict rules to follow. With the help of her friend Oskar she sets out on a quest to discover what happened to her long lost mother. Her journey will take her through her favourite children's literature and features a host of amazing characters and villains.
Pages & Co. can be read anywhere but it deserves to be read on a cold, rainy day in a bookshop cafe because it will warm your soul. Tilly is a smart, stubborn and sometimes fiery character with a good heart, she's a great new character that you'll want to follow through the pages of any book.
There are many new novels being published for children and teens in the UK in the Fall of 2018 but make sure you don't miss Pages & Co. because it will be on at the top of the list of any student ages 9 and up.
Ralph, Jojo, Noel, Persephone, and Cammi are in the 6th grade (Year 7) and play a table top role playing game called Reign of Dragons.
They create magical stories and submerse themselves in a fantasy realm full of orcs, kobolds and other deadly creatures.
One day, while playing with a special golden D20 die, the kids summon the characters they have created for the game into modern day Brooklyn.
One minute they are flat pieces of paper and the next they are living and breathing, standing in the kids' kitchen.
What follows is a hilarious and heartfelt tale of a group of very confused fish out of water. Completely overwhelmed by their new surroundings, the Reign of Dragons characters rely on the children to guide them through the ways of the world.
With a Reign of Dragons convention happening soon, and the creator of Reign of Dragons in attendance, it seems their only option is to bring them to the convention and try to figure out how to get them back home.
There are some truly funny moments in this novel, like when the Rogue plays a cup and ball game with hapless New York tourists and is forever flabbergasted as to why he can't simply pickpocket anyone he sees. And when the party tries to figure out the magic of an iPhone weather app.
Anyone who has ever played Dungeons and Dragons will really love this story, but you don't have to be a D&D fan to enjoy it.
There are some really great messages in the novel and it's great to see the children gain their confidence and figure out the challenges with their Reign of Dragon counterparts.
Denis Markell's first novel, Click Here to Start is without question one of the most popular books at the Glenthorne Library. Game Masters is no different in that I know it's going to be a hit with boys and girls alike. If you are a school Librarian you need to pick up these two novels as they will fly off the shelves.
I recommend it for ages 9 and up!
Nelle is a private-eye hoping for a new case. When Eddie de Menthe, a well known candy hustler approaches her and says his most prized possession, his teddy bear, has gone missing, she takes the case.
In this world candy is prohibited. That doesn't mean everyone is eating it, they're just doing it in secret. There are rival gangs and shady people handing out candy left right and centre.
Then Eddie goes missing, Nelle thinks it might have something to do with the mysterious chocolate factory on the edge of town, a seemingly derelict building owned by the reclusive Mr. Farnsworth.
As she unravels the clues, the suspect list seems to get larger and larger and then there are the two "police" officers shadowing her every move.
Candy is a detective novel and a Dahl-esque adventure rolled into one. Nelle is a memorable and interesting character as are the villains and the sidekicks. I know students will really take to his novel, fans of David Walliams will also be charmed by the story. I recommend it for ages 9 and up!
When Kat Wolfe and her veterinarian mum move to the Jurassic Coast from London, they feel like they've landed in paradise. Kat's mum has her own vet service and Kat starts a pet-sitting business.
However, when Kat suspects that one of her clients may have been kidnapped, or even worse, murdered, she begins to peel away the thin veneer of peace and tranquillity that resides in Bluebell Bay.
With a small handful of friends, both human and animal, Kat uncovers a conspiracy that leads all the way to the highest echelons of the UK government.
Is she right? Is there a dark shadow descending upon the small village at Bluebell Bay, or is it all in her mind? As the connections become clearer, Kat must do everything in her power to convince the adults in charge that something sinister is lurking behind the manicured grass and windswept fields on the cliffs.
Kat Wolf Investigates is a great mystery adventure for ages 10 and up. Students will love Kat's rebellious yet loyal character. The village itself is full of prime suspects, quirky personalities and oddballs, creating a story that is fast paced, funny and interesting.
I really loved this novel and I know a large group of students at the Library I manage who will love it even more!
It's 1944 and Jakob is hiding from the Nazis in a horse stable in Austria. When they come to investigate the possibility that Jakob's guardian is harbouring a Jewish boy, the SS officer is angered that he can't locate him.
To compensate, he shoots and kills one of the guardian's acclaimed Lipizzaner horses.
Fearing they will return, Jakob and his guardian escape in the night with the remaining horses. Their goal is to reach a village across the mountains where they feel it will be safer.
Along the way they meet Kizzy, a Roma who has her own tragic story to tell. Kizzy is an adept rider and great at hunting and fishing and makes a valuable companion. To reach safety, the trio must enter Nazi held territory and areas crawling with Nazi sympathisers. To make matters worse, they aren't even sure what will be waiting for them on the other side of the mountains.
Flight is a harrowing tale of survival, cunning and adventure. Jakob and Kizzy make a great pair as they try to outwit and out-manoeuver the many threats to their safety. When Jakob's guardian becomes seriously injured, the hope of saving the horses becomes even smaller. It's a story of desperation and grit that any 10 year old will love. Fans of WWII, horses and friendship will really sink their teeth into it!
Demelza lives on the tiny island of Penfurzy with her father. Nothing much seems to happen on the island but that doesn't stop Demelza from creating fantastic adventure stories in her mind along with her pet goose Captain Honkers and her trusty Game Gauntlet (Anyone remember NES' Power Glove?).
Then one stormy evening a girl crashes through her door. Her name is Nessa and she tells Demelza that she just needs a place to crash for a few days and doesn't want any questions asked.
As they hang out together, Demelza tells Nessa about the legend of Penfurzy, knights who came across priceless treasure and curse that wiped them out hundreds of years ago.
Through a series of chance circumstances, Demelza and Nessa start to unravel secrets buried deep in the island's history. These revelations make them wonder if the legend of the Penfurzy knights is really true.
Knights and Bikes is a hilarious and fast paced fantasy adventure filled to the brim with nostalgia for 1980s video games and culture. I usually don't like it when I hear reviewers say a book is "This crossed with this" however I couldn't help think about films like The Goonies, tv shows like Scooby Doo, games like Dungeons and Dragons and of course books found in the Forgotten Realms or Dragonlance series and the amazing graphic novel Templar.
It's a great, original story with friendship and adventure at its core and I was very happy to see that there's room for sequels. Do not miss this awesome story, any book that contains a bicycle that's been named "Neon Justice" is aces in my book anyway. Loved it! Recommend it for ages 9 and up.
After Jake is given a box by a mysterious stranger, he discovers it contains nothing but a severed finger.
It's not just any severed finger, however, it's an enchanted one that summons a grim reaper after him. After this event, Jake realises he can communicate and see ghosts, this puts him on a wild adventure with Stiffkey the undertaker, Cora, a ghost who likes to attack people with hockey sticks and a ghost fox known as Zorro. Together, they must right the wrong accidentally set in motion by Jake when he opened the haunted box. Their lives depend upon it!
This is a fun new series with ghosts, spectres and lots of laughs. This is a welcome addition to the Library that I manage because we have a huge population of students who crave books with both silly and smart humour and this has both. It also has a lot of danger and a few frights, it's a great read worth your time, I recommend it for ages 10 and up!