What kid hasn’t pretended there are microscopic people living microscopic lives right under our noses?
In Max and the Millions Ross Montgomery takes readers in to the tiny world of Floor that the Blues, Reds and Greens call home. They are at war for the control of Floor but little do they know there is something much bigger that could mean the end of their civilisation. Demon is coming and he is bringing his vacuum cleaner! There is one person who can save them and his name is Max. Although Max needs hearing aids to hear it is his ability to lip read that helps him to communicate with these microscopic people and help them when they need it the most.
I absolutely loved Max and the Millions! Ross Montgomery had me captivated from the first page. The story cast a spell on me and I couldn’t stop thinking about what might happen next. There is lots of action, both in Max’s world and in the land of Floor, as the story switches between the points of view. There is also a touch of mystery as you are trying to figure out what happened to the School caretaker, Mr Darrow, and where the people of Floor have come from.
I loved the characters, both good and bad. Max is a loveable character who you routing for the whole way. Mr Pitt on the other hand is a character that you love to hate. He is delightfully horrid and is willing to do anything to get what he wants. It is deliciously satisfying what happens to him in the end.
I was sad to say goodbye to Max, Sasha, Luke and Ivy but I can’t wait to push this book in to the hands of young readers at my school. It’s perfect for fans of M.G. Leonard’s Beetle Boy.
I love reading translated fiction, especially for children. Some of my favourite stories were not originally published in English – Inkheart by Cornelia Funke was originally published in German and The Watcher in the Shadows by Carlos Ruiz Zafon was originally published in Spanish. Thank goodness for publishers like the wonderful Gecko Press who translate the best books in to English for children to enjoy here in New Zealand. Gecko Press’ latest translated gem is The Ice Sea Pirates by Frida Nilsson. This wonderful story brought back memories of the first time I read my favourite book, Inkheart, as it took me on an adventure that swept me away.
Siri lives on a small island with her younger sister, Miki, and her old, tired father. An outing on a nearby island to collect berries ends in tragedy as Miki is taken by pirates. These are not just any pirates, but those from the Snow Raven, a ship from the stories that Siri tells her sister. The Snow Raven is captained by the most wicked pirate in all the seas, Captain Whitehead, a pirate with hair white as snow and a heart as empty as an ice cave. Children who are taken by Whitehead are never seen again as they get sent to work in his mines until their bodies and minds are broken. Siri knows that she is the only person who can save her sister and so sets out to get her back by any means.
The Ice Sea Pirates is an adventure story full of pirates, wolves, mermaids, frozen landscapes and a whole lot of heart. It is a story about an incredibly brave girl who never gives up on her search for her sister. Frida Nilsson, and her skilled translator, Robert Graves, transport the reader to the unforgiving Ice Sea and make you feel that you are right there beside Siri the whole way. You feel the biting, icy wind, feel Siri’s gnawing hunger and her heartache for the friends she makes along the way, and hear the creaking and groaning of the frozen sea. The writing is beautiful. Some of the descriptions of the characters and places were so perfect that I had to reread them several times.
Siri is one of those characters that becomes your best friend. You are right there beside her and get inside her head. She goes through so much on her journey to find her sister – she leaves home by herself to rescue her sister, faces down white wolves, stows away on boats with angry men, and stands up to vicious pirates – but she never gives up. She is determined to find her sister, rescue her friend and protect those who cannot protect themselves.
I loved The Ice Sea Pirates and I know that Siri and her story will stay with me for a long time. It is the perfect read aloud for ages 9 and up and I highly recommend it for anyone who loves adventure stories with a touch of magic and wonder.
Sometimes you pick up a book and you just know that kids are going to love it. It could be the cover that jumps out at you or the blurb that hooks you in and makes you want to read the book. Mick Elliott’s new book, The Turners, has huge kid-appeal, from the awesome cover featuring a shape-shifting kid to the promise of killer pigs and snake-men on the cover.
Leo Lennox has an epic problem: it’s his thirteenth birthday and he has just grown a tail.
You’d think that growing a tail in the middle of the school library would be the worst thing that could happen to you, but Leo is about to discover that things can always get worse – and a whole lot weirder. Now, as he discovers an unthinkable family secret, Leo must team up with his infuriating older sister to escape snake-skinned henchmen, ancient shape-shifters and a whispering villain determined to feed him to a pack of genetically engineered killer pigs – all while trying to control his new shape-shifting powers.
The Turners is a crazy, hilarious thrill-ride packed with shapeshifters, weird genetic experiments and family secrets. Mick Elliott drops you straight into the action with the strange, embarassing situation that Leo finds himself in. The story gallops and leaps along, with never a dull moment, as you join Leo and Abbie on their search for answers.
There is something in The Turners to appeal to anyone. There is the mystery of Turners with their genetic anomoly that allows them to turn into different animals, (from rodents and birds to mammals and reptiles), the adventure that Leo and Abbie find themselves on in their search for answers, some delightfully sinister villains, and genetically engineered pigs and hamsters. The Turners is also perfect for those kids who love a funny story. There are some hilarious moments in the story, especially when it comes to turning in to different animals. My favourite part is when Leo interupts his sister Abbie when she is trying to show him how an expert Turns. It ends in Leo being sprayed with sloth urine (I know kids will love this part).
The cover and design for The Turners is brilliant too. The bright orange and green makes the book jump off the shelf and the cover illustration makes you want to find out what the story is about. The title also has a very cool lizard scale effect as well.
The Turners is the first part of a trilogy by Mick Elliott and I can’t wait to see what happens next. It’s perfect for ages 9+ and would make a great read aloud for Years 5-8.
Imagine that your mother suddenly starts packing a suitcase for you and tells you that the time has come and you must hurry. She is sending you somewhere, but she doesn’t tell you where. She tells you that this place is unlike anywhere you have ever been and when you get there you must call yourself a different name. She gives you a locket that you should never remove from around your neck. The next thing you know, you are standing in the snow in a strange land – a land that only you can save.
When the Bloodtree loses its last leaf, there will be no more stories in the Silvering Kingdom …The Silvering Kingdom is the home of fairy tales but the kingdom and all those within are in danger of vanishing because the Bloodtree – the source of all stories – has been poisoned. ‘Sanspell’ is a story that has been cursed. It is up to Abigail (Spindale) to enter the fairy tale world and save the story-tree. Together with Flint, whose mother Trinket is being held captive by the evil Rackenard, they set off on a journey: three drops of Trinket’s blood is what is required to save the tree. The race is on …but can they survive the wicked Zezmena’s spells?
Elizabeth Pulford emerses readers in her fantastic story of the Silvering Kingdom in Sanspell, the first book in her new series, Bloodtree Chronicles. This is the sort of book that you just want to curl up with on a Winter’s day, wrapped in a blanket with a hot drink. Elizabeth really makes you feel like you’ve been transported to the snowy Silvering Kingdom with Abigail.
Abigail loves stories and uses books as an escape from her life. She doesn’t have many friends and is bullied at school, so she feels far from special. However, when she is transported to the Silvering Kingdom and the Sanspell story she discovers that she is incredibly important and it is up to her to save the Bloodtree and the characters that inhabit the story.
Like Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart series this is a story about the magic of stories. I love the way that Elizabeth Pulford has created the story within the story. The story of the Silvering Kingdom is written by Abigail’s aunties and there is a visual record of the story on the walls of their house. As the story changes, the illustrations change. The aunties are so used to creating the story that when Abigail takes the story in her own direction they are not sure what to do.
Special mention needs to be made of Donovan Bixley’s stunning cover and design. His cover is one that will catch the eyes of young readers and make them want to read this wonderful book. The silver foil catches the light and highlights different parts depending on how you look at it.
Sanspell has me hooked on the Bloodtree Chronicles! I can’t wait for Elizabeth Pulford to take me to Bragonsthyme and Thatchthorpe in the next two books in the series.
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, the book that introduced us to Percy Jackson, Camp Half Blood and the modern day Greek gods, turns 10 this year. It’s hard to believe that this series has been around so long but it certainly seems to be as popular as ever. It’s been good to see Rick Riordan writing new series featuring different mythologies (Egyptian mythology in The Red Pyramid and Norse mythology in the soon to be released Magnus Chase series) which really hook kids in and get them interested in mythology. One of my sons absolutely loves Percy Jackson and is an expert in Greek mythology!
The Lightning Thief has sold millions of copies worldwide and got plenty of accolades over the years:
- Time magazine’s 2014 List of 100 Best Young-Adult Books of All Time
- a New York Times Notable Book of 2015
- School Library Journal Best Book of 2005
- more than six years on the New York Times bestseller list (and counting)
- Plus a major movie!
To celebrate 10 years of Percy Jackson Rick Riordan and his publishers have put together an event kit so you can host your own Percy Jackson party. I love it when publishers to this as they create some great resources that you can use in your library or your school for free. The event kit includes ideas for games and some activity sheets for kids. I’m hoping to hold a Percy Jackson party in my library and here is the link if you want to download the kit and host your own party – http://readriordan.com/book/the-lightning-thief/.
Do your children love Percy Jackson? How will you celebrate Percy Jackson’s 10th Anniversary?
Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers. One day, he’s tracked down by an uncle he’s never met—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. His uncle tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god. The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants, and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarök, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years. When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision. Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . .
Rick Riordan fans the world over (including me) will be jumping up and down with this exciting news – Rick Riordan has a brand new series coming out in October, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard. This new series focuses on Norse mythology. Here’s what Rick Riordan says about the series:
‘I’ve always wanted to do something based on Norse mythology, but Percy Jackson happened to be the story that sprang to life first because my son was interested in Greek mythology at the time. Still, the idea for Magnus Chase has been with me for years. I have outlines of the general premise going back to at least 2007. In a very satisfying way, this series is coming full circle for me. Norse mythology turned me into a reader. Now, at last, I get to do my own take on it as a novelist.’
I love Norse mythology so I will be eagerly awaiting this new series. I can’t wait to see Rick Riordan’s take on Odin, Loki and the other Norse gods!
The Sword of Summer is released in New Zealand by Penguin Random House on 7 October 2015.