David Solomons: Doctor Who – The Secret in Vault 13

 Published by Puffin Books 1st November 2018

811basinister school where graduation means death . . . A monstrous mystery lurking below a quiet London street . . . A desperate plea for help delivered by . . . hang on. A potted plant? The Doctor has been summoned. The galaxy is in terrible danger, and only a Time Lord can save it. But to do so, she must break in to an ancient vault on a remote and frozen world – from which nobody has ever returned alive . . . Can the Doctor and her friends Yaz, Ryan and Graham uncover the shocking secret in Vault 13? A thrilling, hilarious and scary adventure for the Thirteenth Doctor, as portrayed by Jodie Whittaker. Perfect for younger readers, this will be a must-have for fans, and an ideal introduction to Doctor Who and the brilliant new series airing in autumn 2018.

David Solomons has certainly managed to capture the essence of the character of the new Doctor in this hilarious Red Dwarf-style adventure, crammed with humour and edge of seat terror as the Doctor and her companions investigate a terrifying threat to not just the galaxy but to the whole of existence. This book is aimed at 7+ year olds, but I devoured it in a couple of sittings (I’m 72) and I thoroughly enjoyed it. If this is the standard of the new era of Dr Who novels, then I’m suitably impressed and can’t wait for the next one! Superbly funny and engaging!

Sophie Plowden: Jack Dash and the Great Custard Cake-Off

 Published by Catnip September 2018

811gIf you had a magic quill pen that made drawings real what would you draw? Jack’s mum is taking part in the local Cake-Off Competition and is now battling against the unbeaten champion, Dr Spleen. But something smells burnt . . . Of course Jack and Coco can t keep away from trouble, causing more chaos than they would have ever expected. And yes, this book also features a herd of hairy yaks . . .

I believe the idea of drawings coming to life has been tackled before, but that doesn’t matter a bit. This is an hilarious adventure centering on custard, that simply cannot be a bad thing! Hugely funny and totally enjoyable farce. Kids of all ages will love it!


Natasha Carthew: Only The Ocean

Published by Bloomsbury 1st November 2018

811mBreath-takingly fierce, smart and tender, ONLY THE OCEAN is a story of survival, and courage in the midst of darkness that will thrill fans of Patrick Ness and Sarah Crossan. The two girls sat at opposite ends of the boat and Kel dug and stretched the oars into the ocean like her life depended upon it because it did. ‘Just so you know,’ said Rose, ‘everything, and I mean everything, is your fault. ‘Kel Crow lives in a dead-end swamp with her deadbeat family and a damaged heart. But she has a plan to escape. It’s a one-two-three fortune story that goes: stow away on the ship, kidnap the girl, swap the girl to pay for passage to America and a life-saving operation. But the ocean is an untameable force, and wrecks ships and plans alike . SWEET, RAW AND UNCOMPROMISING – THIS IS THE STORY OF AN UNFORGETTABLE RELATIONSHIP FORGED ON AN EPIC JOURNEY.

An engaging near-future fantasy for children which explores the complexities of relationships between children in a subtle way. A book with a message, and a jolly good story at the same time.

S M Locke: A Stone Called Fred

Published by Matador 28th September 2018

811nA unique take on a children’s fantasy book- the `hero’ is a pebble called Fred. Although largely set in the present, the book transports readers to the early twentieth century. Ideal for children 12 years and over. Jack Watt is a teenager, rather given to over-quick conclusions. Finding what looks like an explosive device on his kitchen table one morning, Jack Watt alerts the rest of the house. The device turns out to be a mysterious object which leads him into all sorts of adventures and trouble. Joe, his downstairs neighbour, is more sceptical. Even more so, when “the bomb” is found to be nothing more than a harmless stone one might find on a beach or garden path. Jack knows otherwise, for later that day, he has some weird experiences with the strange visitor he names Fred. When Jack’s journalist girlfriend, Fiona McDuff returns from an assignment, she is eventually impressed by the powers of the stone and convinces the others to spy on the Royal Family at a theatrical event, but the evening doesn’t go according to plan… Through a turn of mysterious events, Jack and Fred travel in time to the early twentieth century. A Stone Called Fred is an ideal read for children 12 years and over, and fans of fantasy and adventure fiction.

Not sure about the blurb telling me I’m being transported to the early twentieth century from the present – that doesn’t really make sense unless the book was written a long, long time ago, and I’m pretty sure it’s new…

Ulf Nilsson: Detective Gordon – A Case for Buffy

Published by Gecko Press 1st August 2018

811pThe final story in this big-hearted series takes on the most important case ever investigated in Detective Gordon’s forest – where is Buffy’s mother? Gordon faces his old nemesis, the fox, in an investigation that leads to the edges of the forest.

A superb fantasy along the lines of Wind in the Willows, with animals playing the main parts. Totally captivating and beautifully illustrated!




Matilda Woods: The Girl, The Cat & The Navigator

Published by Scholastic 1st November 2018

811wAn enchanting, charming story of bravery on the ice-tipped ocean, with stunning art by Anuska Allepuz on every page. Curious, pin-bright Oona Britt dreams of setting sail with her ship’s captain father for a life of excitement on the wild waves. She has read stories of a magical creature – the Nardoo – who swims through the stars at night, and stows away on whaling boat the Plucky Leopard for an adventure full of myths and marvel among the ice-caps. Bestselling author Kiran Millwood Hargrave on Matilda’s first book, The Boy, the Bird and the Coffin Maker: “This luminous tale of loss, love and finding family is threaded through with the power of storytelling, and a touch of magic.”

Perfect reading fayre for 7-12 year-olds – an old fashioned fantasy adventure with enchanting illustrations and a stellar cast of characters. I can’t fault it!

Joyce Lankester Brisley: Milly-Molly-Mandy Stories

 Published by Macmillan Children’s Books 6th October 2018

The enchanting and classic adventures of a little country girl.

The Milly-Molly-Mandy stories are perfect for reading aloud. They have been loved and shared for over 80 years with their timeless sense of fun and beautiful detail. Milly-Molly-Mandy lives in a tiny village in the heart of the countryside. She is always busy doing things, and whether she is earning money to give a party, minding the village shop, having a picnic or going sledging, you’re sure to have fun when Milly-Molly-Mandy’s around! The adventures of this lively little girl and her chums little-friend-Susan and Billy Blunt first appeared over eighty years ago and they have been delighting children ever since. ‘Simple, satisfying stories’ – Shirley Hughes. Joyce Lankester Brisley (1896 – 1978) wrote and drew books from an early age; she had her first fairy story published in a children’s paper at the age of thirteen. She studied at art school and, when she was twenty, had pictures hung in the Royal Academy. However, she enjoyed writing and illustrating stories best, and the Milly-Molly-Mandy series deservedly became her most well-loved and famous creation.

When I was at primary school back in 1951-2, we regularly had story time at the end of the school day, and I remember that for a while, the two choices were Rudyard Kipling’s Just-so stories, or Milly-Molly-Mandy stories. Much as I liked the Just-so stories, I always put my hand up for Milly-Molly-Mandy stories because I could relate to them more readily – the Indian jungle was remote, far away, more of a fantasy, and at the time I was into things like Just William and Milly-Molly-Mandy. First published in 1928, this year marks the 90th anniversary of M-M-M and Macmillan have released this stunning celebratory edition of the first thirteen stories, lavishly illustrated by the author (whose sister Nina Brisley was the first person to illustrate the Chalet School Stories of Elinor Brent-Dyer). Knowing that I now have to hand the stories that helped to form my childhood and my perennial love of brilliant children’s literature has produced an enormously pleasurable feeling. I loved the stories then, read by my favourite teacher, Miss Page, and I’m now loving them all over again.