Sign me up for this Spy Agency Series and to be a spy please! This unique new series is set to take the world by storm! Girls in STEM books are always welcome on my bookshelves and in my libraries.
Asha is gifted and fearless when it comes to coding, hacking and overriding systems. It seems her efforts and skills have not gone unnoticed….she is now the newest recruit of the top secret Children’s Spy Agency. Heading to the library, she finds herself immediately put to work to solve a case where the world’s underwater internet cables are being bitten and destroyed.
Using her unique set of skills and her understanding of the world, she quickly deduces the reasons and sets to work to stop the evil genius. Meeting other talented children in the agency is a perk to the job, as is all the access to cool new gadgets….I mean who wouldn’t want a MegaFart Selfie Stick…no explanation needed for how cool that is!
Asha proves herself time and time again throughout this exciting adventure and I was in awe of her quick wits, quick typing and quick solving of the mystery! You may not believe what was attacking the internet cables… but it is all in a days work for the newest recruit!
Loved the added extras with this book…protocols, morse code, password help. Kids will absolutely devour this book!
I think this will be a hugely successful series featuring clever kids using their talents and skills to defeat the baddies!
If I could be recruited I would hope for a cool gadget to carry around with me…perhaps something to help me understand the animals around the world. I could flip a switch to the continent I was on, then choose the species and then when they made a noise, I would know what they said!
Bean is a fluffy pup with an extraordinary tale! His rise to stardom, adoration and fame is all because of Bongo. Now you might think Bongo is a friend, a partner or another pup but think again…
Bongo is Bean’s bottom! Together they create a fun, entertaining and surprising act on stage, with fans paying to watch the show! Bean learns to lip sync while Bongo belts out tunes in all styles- rock, jazz, opera and hip hop.
Told in rhyme, we see what Bean needs to do to calm his nerves before the big show. Chili, beans on toast and bean burgers- we can see where he got his name! However, Bongo is in for a surprise!
Fun, bright and colourful illustrations show us exactly what happens with “The Bum that Barked”! A Hilarious book promising to have young readers in stitches as the show begins and a different sound is shared with the audience. Will the show go on?
Out Now from Tiny Tree Books, an imprint of Matthew James Publishing
Welcome to My Shelves Are Full for a special guest post from Flyntlock Bones author Derek Keilty! Read on for fascinating information about history’s best known pirates and for a special reading of Chapter 1 by Derek himself.
In my new book, pirates rule the seven seas and there is an amazing map near the front, drawn by ship’s illustrator Mr Mark Elvins. There are towns like Baskervile and Bellgravya and islands like the Boglands and the Isle of Tut where a museum was broken into and an ancient magical sceptre stolen.
Pirates have been around for hundreds of years and of course there are modern day pirates still operating in some parts of the world. I’ve enjoyed researching about pirates and pirate ships for Flyntlock Bones, trawling through books and the web and over the course of the last year I have come up with my top most ‘scurviest’ historical pirates you could ever meet (or hopefully NOT meet).
Edward Teach (aka “Blackbeard”), 1680-1718
This one really was a rascal and is probably in the running for the most famous pirate of all time, Blackbeard definitely lived up to his fearsome reputation. It’s believed he sailed into every battle with a whole armoury of weapons including knives, pistols and cutlasses. At his most powerful, he had four ships in his fleet and 300 loyal pirates to crew them. He seized more than forty merchant ships in the Caribbean until one day his luck finally ran out and he was captured by the Royal Navy.
Anne Bonny, 1700-unknown
All seemed to be going well for Anne Bonny. She moved from Ireland to the sunny Bahamas with her family and got married. But things quickly went down hill. She ended up in an unhappy marriage that led Bonny to look for excitement in other places. She found it when she met “Calico Jack” Rackham, who just so happened to be the captain of a pirate ship. Because women were generally unwelcome as part of the crew, she dressed and behaved like a man to fit in and kept up by fighting and drinking with the boys and had a reputation for being quite a tough character.
Sir Henry Morgan, 1635-1688
Captain Morgan made a name for himself by successfully leading a Jamaican fleet that disrupted Spain’s power in the Caribbean. He is probably most well-known for raiding affluent Panama City with thirty ships and 1,200 men, where he reeled in a vast amount of booty. Although he was arrested and taken to England after his great plunder, he was knighted by the king and released to hold the title of deputy governor in Jamaica, where he lived out the rest of his life as a plantation owner.
Happy World Oceans Day everyone! Arrrr!
To watch me read chapter one of Flyntlock Bones on YouTube click the link below
FLYNTLOCK BONES: The Sceptre of the Pharaohsby Derek Keilty, illustrated by Mark Elvins out now in paperback (£6.99, Scallywag Press)
Written by M.G.Leonard and Sam Sedgman, Illustrated by Elisa Paganelli, Published by Macmillan
Uncle Nat has taken Hal on the trip of a lifetime, all the way to Chicago where they are hopping on board the California Comet. This exceptional three day journey will take them across Western America, through ever changing landscapes and time zones, finally arriving in Emeryville, California.
Believing that riding the train will be the biggest adventure of this journey, Hal and Nat are in for a surprise. From the beginning of this trip, Hal has an unexpected feeling, as though something is going to happen. He begins to record events in his sketchbook capturing faces, moments and details that will of course be hugely important later in the story. Elisa Paganelli’s illustrations are significant to the reader as we can see what Hal sketches and they are incredible!
Hal, a magnet for friends, meets several interesting characters who, like Lenny in book one, become important as the story develops. August Reza has invited journalists, like Nat, to hear a huge announcement about his future plans. He travels in style on his very own custom designed train carriage, alongside daughter Marianne and her bodyguard.
As you read the story, you meet fascinating characters who add a level of mystery to the journey. A man who never lets his briefcase out of sight, a woman wearing a bearded dragon and a father and son duo who seem on edge. Also on board is a grumpy woman with questions and fellow journalist, Zola. With these characters on board, what could possibly go wrong???
However, the clues aren’t adding up, the police aren’t interested in Hal’s detailed drawings and theories, so Hal needs to find allies who will listen and believe him. With the incredible cast of characters travelling with him, who can he choose and trust? A new nickname is given to Hal on this trip and it is an exceptional fit- Sherlock Da Vinci!
As with all perfect mysteries, the stage is set, the suspects are in front of you and yet there are still twists and turns to contend with. Can Hal solve this kidnapping before they arrive in Emeryville?
All aboard for an adventurous journey on the California Comet! It is one you won’t soon forget.
As an avid reader, I have high expectations on books to engage me, interest me and make those emotional connections that will keep the book as a fond memory after reading. Ross Montgomery has done all of those things with The Midnight Guardians. It has the classic feel of Narnia, the historical adventure in WWII and characters who leap off the page and into your heart.
At first we meet three characters sat waiting in an abandoned house, in the attic. They are waiting for Col, “the only hope we have”. There is a 4ft knight in shining armour, a badger wearing a waistcoat and smoking a pipe, and a Bengal tiger. Not out of place in a child’s imagination, we have yet to learn who Col is and why he is the only one to save them.
Meeting Col, a boy of 12 comes next. He has been evacuated to live with his Aunt as London is being bombed nightly. His father has recently passed away and his older sister still lives and works in London. Col is excited as his sister is coming from London to spend Christmas in their cottage not far from his Aunt’s house. When he gets the news she is not coming Col runs away to the cottage.
Hearing voices coming from the attic upon his arrival, Col comes face to face with the characters he has played with so often as a child. The knight, badger and tiger have been waiting for this moment. Now, they are more alive than ever and they need his help to save London.
What follows is what can only be described as a epic adventure of Narnia proportions. The Midwinter King is set to destroy the Green Man in the Spirit World and this will have huge implications on the human world. Once Col has been convinced that this is outside his imagination, he is keen to save London, the spirit world and most importantly, his sister.
Enchanted trees try to stop their progress, salt counting fairies capture them and giants argue over everything! This trip to London is not straightforward or lacking danger but the team must work together to arrive safely and in time.
An utterly beguiling tale, historically accurate and full of emotion, not to mention how exquisitely it all tumbles onto the page as though straight out of a young boy’s imagination.
I want to highlight some truly lovely picture books that I have had the immense joy of reading recently. Luckily, some have arrived as physical copies, though I am still able to enjoy the books that arrive digitally as well.
Five More Minutes, written and illustrated by Marta Altés, published by Macmillan
An adorable story about Dad, raising two boisterous fox cubs. Time is always an issue- it either ticks by too quickly or drags on too slowly. Dad wants five more minutes of sleep, the cubs want more time to play yet at the end of the day, they are all happy to share five more minutes of storytime.
This book celebrates all that happens in the day of a parent and reminds us to share “five more minutes” of time with our children. I am in awe of Marta’s talents as both author and illustrator. The illustrations are gorgeously detailed and full of clues to the busy-ness of the home- from drawings on the wall and toys scattered along the floor. Reading this should remind us to slow down and enjoy moments together.
I Can Catch a Monster, written and Illustrated by Bethan Woollvin, Published by Macmillan.
Woollvin’s distinctive artwork fills the pages of this story of bravery and monsters. Bo is small but mighty, left behind by her brothers on their quest to catch a monster. Bo knows she “is smart and brave and strong” so she too goes in search of a monster.
Monster hunting takes a twist as Bo befriends monsters instead of hunting them, and we learn who the true monsters are towards the end of the story. Bo’s brothers learn never to underestimate the bravery of Bo and her incredible kindness towards monsters. There are so many positive messages to explore in this book.
Bloom, written by Anne Booth, illustrated by Robyn Wilson-Owen, published by Tiny Owl.
Bloom is the beautiful tale of a young girl, happy and thankful for the world around her. She is particularly fond of a pink flower near her school. She talks to it every morning until the man who owns the bloom chases her away.
When the flower starts to droop and lilt, the mans frustrations grow and he blames the gardener, lack of shade, not enough water. It takes him awhile to realise that the key to the flower blooming has been chased away. Finally seeking advice, it is not only the plant that comes back to life. A charming and endearing story full of stunning illustrations.
Animal Explorers, Lola the Plant Hunter. Written and Illustrated by Sharon Rentta, published by Scholastic.
Lola is “a bear on a mission”, determined to sail to the Amazon Rainforest in search of singing orchids. Her grandpa Reggie was an intrepid explorer and Lola wants to follow in his footsteps. She gets ready for her adventure, though all the Arctic animals think she is silly.
Her adventures are captured in her diary every evening just like her Grandpa. The jungle is loud, hot and full of amazing plants and animals. When a mudslide takes Lola and the jungle animals on a ride, she is pleasantly surprised to hear a special sound. Could it be she found the singing orchid after all? This adventure is just the beginning for Lola…where will she go to next? Colourful and delightful illustrations fill the pages!
With plenty of books being sent digitally, I have been lucky enough to read and enjoy the the following titles. Whether via Netgalley or sent in PDF by the publishers, these books are worth celebrating.
This is the Path the Wolf Took, Written by Laura Farina, Illustrated by Elina Ellis, Published by Kids Can Press
Gabe, being a brilliant big brother, is retelling some favourite traditional tales to his little sister. However, in his versions of the story, nothing bad ever happens. The big bad wolf does not eat Granny or blow down the pigs’ homes, instead Sir Gabriel dashes in on his trusty steed and scares the wolf away.
“His armour was made of truth, his shield was made of glory and his sword was made of courage”. This line sums Sir Gabriel up perfectly. He is ready to scare the wolf away each time. However, Little Sister is not at all pleased with Gabe’s versions of the stories.
Can brave Sir Gabe save the story and entice his sister back for story time? He will need the power of his imagination, twists and funny endings but I think they might just work. I adored this story, it is perfect for reading aloud and sparking imaginations.
Meesha Makes Friends, written and Illustrated by Tom Percival, published by Bloomsbury.
Tom Percival’s Big Bright Feelings series is an amazing set of books featuring children of all ages and races learning about themselves, their emotions and building their confidence. Stunning stories and pages full of gorgeous illustrations, these books are a must have for every home and school.
Subtle messages are communicated via the story that most children can relate to. This series will build empathy, self confidence and positive self image in all children.
Meesha, a young girl, has talent with making items from paper, She can make things from sound and pictures, but making friends does not come as easily as her designs. Left out and introverted, Meesha decides to make her own friends, and they go with her to a party. For Meesha, this is a scary event and she ends up playing with her “friends” under the stairs, Spotted by a boy, Meesha is worried he will tease her or break her toys. Can she be brave and allow a real friend in?
A wonderful story full of heart and hope, brilliant for those formative years in school where learning to share and make friends is the whole world.
My Best Friend, written and Illustrated by Rob Hodgson, published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.
I am a huge fan of Rob Hodgson and was actually on the panel that selected The Cave as Booktrust’s book for all children in reception. It was not a hard choice and I can see this one being as equally well received. Delightfully illustrated and with bold vibrant colours I can’t wait to get a physical copy to share with children.
Mouse finds himself a best friend….Owl. As we read we can see that Owl really just wants to eat Mouse. Mouse happily believes that Owl is doing nice things for him- like feeding him donuts, playing chase and building a cage for his house.
When Mouse finds himself in a dark tunnel, he hopes Owl will come to rescue him- where could Mouse possibly be?
This brilliant book will make children giggle, laugh and want to protect Mouse- will there be a happy ending?
Buy this book- I can guarantee it will bring a smile to plenty of faces.
Mr Brown’s Bad Day, written by Lou Peacock, illustrated by Alison Friend, Published by Nosy Crow.
I have long been wanting to read this. The cover is so colourful and enticing. Who can resist a tiger in a suit after all?
Mr Brown is a “very important business man” and he has a “very important briefcase”. Leaving the office for lunch with his briefcase, he cannot guess the adventure he will have. When the case gets passed accidentally around town, Mr Brown must chase it! Mr Brown is having a bad day.
It is clear how important this briefcase is, and as the reader, we wonder what important documents are in there! Colourful and bold illustrations make this book stand out and the story is wonderful.
I cannot possibly say what is kept in the briefcase but it was worth the chase for Mr Brown. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day for him.
This is one of the most anticipated reads of 2020, and the proof alone is a thing of beauty. Covered in shiny golden dragon scales, along with the title, it is no spoiler that dragons feature in this epic tale.
When Billy lands in China to attend a summer camp to improve his mandarin skills, he cannot possibly dream of what his summer actually holds in store for him.
As Billy and his new camp mates sit around the fire on their first evening at Dragon Mountain camp, they are hooked on the legend of the mountain they sit in the shadow of. The legend is being shared by Old Gold, leader of the camp. He also explains that the 12 children in front of him are the brightest and best, nominated to attend this camp, where not only will they upgrade their Mandarin speaking skills but will learn martial arts, cooking and will test themselves throughout the summer.
The camp mates are split into teams and these teams need to work and live together to win challenges and gain rewards. Billy, Dylan, Charlotte and Ling are teamed up and must work together to solve the first riddle given. This riddle leads them off the beaten track to find dragon fruit, but there they encounter a far scarier scene, a tiger. Little do the foursome know they have just met part of the legend told their first night in camp. However, running for safety back to camp, they are dismayed to find no one believes them, and they are punished for lying.
Bewildered at the reaction, the foursome must travel back to find Ling’s lost jewellery. They learn then that Old Gold’s legend is truth.
It turns out, the Tiger is the curse keeper and he must be defeated to gain access to the mountain. Hidden within the mountain are dragons, who can only be saved by the perfect balance of heart and bravery…aka….Billy, Dylan, Charlotte and Ling.
The foursome battle their way to the dragons and learn that a bond must be formed between dragon and human. Powers are gifted and allies formed. The dragons are amazing, all vastly different with their own blend of magical abilities, powers and image.
I always try to avoid spoilers and so in doing that, I cannot reveal certain important details….what you need to know Is that this is an incredible story, an epic journey and there are some brilliant twists and surprises along the way.
At times I was shocked, frightened, emotional but I was always full of hope. I loved the characters, and their hugely different personalities. I worried they would argue and fight more but the war they are raging is far more important. Their bonds of friendship are strengthened, and they learn to trust in new ways.
I was so thrilled to be able to read this via NetGalley, and am NEEDING book 2 as the twist and cliffhanger ending has left me wanting more dragons, more legends and more answers!
Riley has been cursed by a fortune teller, after an unfortunate sneezing episode. He is convinced that a terrible curse is the reason behind all that goes wrong in his life.
There are some hilarious, laugh out loud moments involving glue, flooding bathtubs and dive bombing seagulls. It all happens to Riley- until Brad arrives. Brad is the glossy new kid in town and Riley is keen to be his friend.
In a moment of clarity, Riley remembers the fortune teller, before the curse, saying that “a young man will have a huge impact on you”. Now Brad is the good luck charm to Riley’s misfortunes, or so Riley believes.
Is it just coincidence that nothing bad happens while Brad is around? In order to prove his theory, Riley all but stalks Brad to ensure his safety. With some elements of a more mature book, it is easy to forget that Riley and Brad are only 10.
Simon James Green has created a brilliant middle grade book full of hilarious disasters that plaque a young boy. He is a charming, endearing character and one I was rooting for throughout the book.
Echo is adventurous, impetuous and constantly in trouble with the king. She is not one to sit quietly and embroider pillows when there are sights to see and corridors to explore, not to mention wishing she were living outside the castle walls in the city with other children. Constantly accompanied by Gilbert, her faithful and loyal lizard pet, the pair get up to all sorts of trouble. Echo is a ward of the king, having been abandoned as a baby. Living in a city in lockdown (how very apt), Echo is warned that nothing exists outside the city walls, nothing but the barren, a wasteland that no one could survive in. King Alfons has declared the walls will remain locked until such time as his prophecy comes true. “When Tuesday arrives on a Sunday, when a she-wolf soars by dragon flight, when the king’s blood turns from red to white, then the gates of Lockfort shall open.”
Waking one evening, Echo is surprised to find a sky ship stuck on the castle. Helping to rescue the ship and its only passenger brings valuable information and trouble to the kingdom. Professor Daggerwing imparts the truth- that there is a much larger world outside the city, and proves it with a map- plenty of new places, city names and the sea can be seen but can they be believed? Echo devours this information and is keen to learn more but the Professor is captured, the sky ship hidden and the map destroyed. Echo’s inner adventurous spirit is properly awakened and she can think of nothing but the world she is missing, the rescue of the Professor and the chance to travel on a sky ship. Of course, escape will not be easy but we know never to underestimate children!
This is Echo’s only chance to find answers to her life long questions and search for her mother. Echo knows nothing of her mother but she was left with a pin bearing a jewellers mark. Thrilled when her rescue and travel on the sky ship are successful, Echo is prepared for anything- except for a stowaway. “Pudding hearted” Prince Horace has tagged along for the journey by accident and now he is here believes he must convince Echo to come back to the castle.
Finding refuge with the Professor in Port Tourbillon, Echo and Horace are introduced to the world outside their city walls. New faces, new mechanisms and incredible opportunities are offered. Echo sets off on a mission to learn about the pin, however a chase from the Queen’s guard soon puts an end to finding easy answers. A quick getaway on the sky ship, Hummerbird is in order.
A forced landing, help from a flying woman and giant man eating flowers await Echo and Horace in the next phase of their adventure. Throughout their time in Port Tourbillon, Echo is warmed about a band of dangerous and dastardly sky pirates, The Black Sky Wolf Pirates. Rumoured to be the worst there is, Echo comes to believe her mother is imprisoned by them. Not one to shy from danger, Echo heads straight towards their last sighting, accompanied by Horace, who is proving to be more courageous than initially thought.
The first meeting with the pirates is unexpected, and meeting Captain Indigo Lil is full of fear, until formal introductions are made and celebrations are in order!
When all the pieces start to fall into place and a sense of belonging and happiness come together, there is the inevitable trouble! As they are all captured and thrown into the dungeons of Lockfort, Echo begins to lose hope. It is Horace, who rekindles her adventurous spirit and the two hatch an escape plan!
This is such a thrilling adventure- featuring a feisty girl intent on finding answers and exploring the world! It also features a boy with hidden courage, family reunions and secrets shared. Prophecies told, adventures had and kingdoms found. Sheer brilliance!