Chickensaurus by James Foley

I know when I read a new S.Tinker Inc. book that something is going to go horribly wrong with one of Sally Tinker’s inventions. In James Foley’s latest book, Chickensaurus, though it is not Sally’s (or even Joe’s) fault. In this adventure you’ll meet dinosaurs unlike any you’ve seen before.

Sally, Charli and Joe get invited to Maelstrom Manor, the home of Sally’s arch-enemy, Dexter Maelstrom. Dexter has invited them to a demonstration of his new invention. He has invented a De-Evolving Ray that can zap any living thing and it will morph into one of its primitive ancestors. To prove to his visitors that it works he transforms a chick into a little dinosaur. Dexter then introduces them to his collection of chickensaurs, who are kept under control using special collars. Something causes the chickensaurs to attack and Sally, Charli and Joe must run for their lives. As if things weren’t already bad enough, Charli and Joe get dino-napped, leaving Sally with no choice but to team up with her nemesis and rescue her brother and her friend. Their rescue mission reveals the shocking truth about Dexter’s experiments.

Chickensaurus is an egg-citing adventure, filled with prehistoric poultry and funny situations that will crack you up. The different chickensaurs are hilarious! There’s a Trifeathertops, an Eggosaurus, a Chickensaurus Rex and a Pteroducktyl (they were out of chickens that day). It’s pretty funny seeing someone else’s invention going badly wrong and Sally needing to save the day.

Like the other books in the series it’s James’s illustrations that make me laugh the most. Joe has some great bits that made me laugh, like when he just wanders in to the room wearing a tiny suit of armour and clapping his hands. You see him clanking into the picture with everyone looking awkward or exasperated. I also love the look of joy on Joe’s face towards the end when he’s riding on the Chickensaurus.

Grab a copy of Chickensaurus from your bawk-shop or library now and check out the other wonderful S.Tinker Inc. books. The black and white graphic novel format makes them perfect for fans of The Bad Guys, Super Sidekicks and Sherlock Bones.

The InvestiGators series by John Patrick Green

A question that I get almost every day in my school library is ‘Are there any Dog Man books here?’ 95% of the time the answer to that question is no because they’re always on loan. When I get this question I like to have another book or two up my sleeve to recommend and my go-to books now are the InvestiGators series by John Patrick Green. They’re the same format, about the same length, with appealing illustrations and laughs galore.

The InvestiGators are Mango and Brash, two wise-cracking alligators who work for S.U.I.T. (Special Undercover Investigation Teams). Armed with their V.E.S.T. (Very Important Spy Technology) they fight crime and protect their city from evil-doers. In their first case together they must solve the case of the missing chef, Mustachio, and find out who caused the explosion at the Science Factory. In their second mission, Take the Plunge, Mango and Brash stop a rocket from causing destruction but unwittingly transmit a code that will create havoc all over town. Mango and Brash get sent into the sewers, undercover, to retrieve another S.U.I.T. agent and capture Crackerdile. When things don’t go to plan though, Mango and Brash are relieved of their duty and replaced by the B Team. They must prove that the A team is the best and solve the case of the Robot Genie before it’s too late.

This series is absolutely hilarious and I can’t get enough of Mango and Brash! With their bright illustrations, action-packed story, silly antics and laughs galore these books are perfect for young readers, but also equally entertaining for older kids and adults. The story is bursting with puns that had me laughing out loud and there are some jokes just for the adults (like the reference to the Aisle of Dr Morrow in Take the Plunge).

Kids will love the characters, especially Mango and Brash, and will be desperate to get their hands on their next adventure. As well as Mango and Brash there are other characters who keep popping up in each book, like their nemesis (and former S.U.I.T. agent) Crackerdile. My favourite character though is Doctor Copter. Dr. Jake Hardbones, a mild-mannered brain surgeon, was bitten by a rabid helicopter and now, whenever he sees something newsworthy he transforms into the Action News Now helicopter in the sky. It cracks me up every time I see him!

There’s a fun cameo in Take the Plunge too. If you’ve read John Patrick Green’s Kitten Construction Company (brilliant series!) you’ll spot Marmalade and her crew in the illustrations.

InvestiGators and InvestiGators: Take the Plunge are must-haves for all primary and intermediate school libraries. They are perfect for fans of Dog Man and Bad Guys or kids who just want a really funny book. Book 3 is out early in 2021 and I can’t wait to see what Mango and Brash get up to next.

Mr. Wolf’s Class: Field Trip by Aron Nels Steinke

Aron Nels Steinke’s Mr Wolf’s Class series of graphic novels have been hugely popular with the kids at my school. With their quirky cast of characters, relatable storylines and awesome art, it’s not hard to see why kids love them. I always look forward to another story of loveable Mr. Wolf and the antics of his class. The latest book in the series, Field Trip, has just been released by Scholastic’s Graphix imprint and I think this is the best book yet.

Mr. Wolf’s class are going on an overnight field trip in the mountains. They get to sleep in log cabins, come up with camp names, build huts and see things they’ve never seen before. Before they even get to camp though, Randy and Aziza have a falling out, which leads to some awkward moments on camp. Competition with another class staying at the camp leads to new friends, but Randy and Aziza must learn to work through their argument too. There is so much to do, see and learn outside the classroom.

In Field Trip, Aron throws his characters into a completely different environment and we see them thriving in the outdoors. There is plenty for both kids and adults to enjoy in this story. Kids will bring their own experiences of field trips to the story and relate to the good and bad that happens. There are plenty of laughs too, like the kids staying up late talking and farting just when everything is quiet. As an adult I really love seeing how Mr Wolf copes with everything that comes his way. His thought bubbles are especially hilarious as he’s often thinking something different than what he’s saying to the kids.

I really like the way that Aron uses lots of visual storytelling. There are several parts of the story where there is little or no text, letting the reader interpret what is happening in the story through the illustrations. I especially like the parts where Aron shows the kids all doing different camp activities, almost like a little montage.

There are a few cool references dotted through the story for readers to pick up too. Randy and Aziza are obsessed with Hazelton the Musical (a nod to Hamilton). The other reference I really liked was Fawn reading the Sky World series, a series of books that she says are all being adapted into graphic novels (a nod to Tui T. Sutherland’s Wings of Fire series).

If you’re new to Mr. Wolf’s Class this is a great introduction to the series. You’ll want to go back and read all of the others in the series.

Pea, Bee and Jay series by Brian “Smitty” Smith

Three unlikely friends become besties in Brian “Smitty” Smith’s new graphic novel series for younger readers, Pea, Bee and Jay.

The first two books in the series have been released simultaneously (I love it when publishers do this, so thanks Harper Alley!) so we get a double dose of this funny team. In Pea, Bee and Jay: Stuck Together these three first meet. Pea lives on his farm and he loves to roll. When a mean strawberry dares him to roll all the way to the big tree, Pea knows that he can do it. Unfortunately it’s a lot further away than he thought and then a storm strikes, bouncing him off course. He bounces right into a bee named Bee, who is hiding from her responsibilities, and a bird called Jay, who doesn’t know how to fly. These three unlikely friends band together to help Pea find his way home.

In the second book, Pea, Bee and Jay: Wannabees, Bee would rather play with her new friends than perform her queenly duties. When she leaves the hive to see her friends a coup takes place and Lenny declares himself Queen of the hive. Pea and Jay must disguise themselves as bees and help Bee infiltrate the hive and get back what is rightly hers. Add in some daring acrobatics and a vegetable dispute and you have a seriously funny adventure.

Pea, Bee and Jay is a series that constantly cracks me up. Each book is full of laughs and super-silly puns. The argument between the corn and the potatoes in Wannabees had me cackling with laughter (it’s a graphic novel that adults will appreciate as much as the kids). Coming in at just over 60 pages each, they’re short and snappy, and I just know that kids (especially boys) are going to read them over and over again. I’m sure it won’t be long until I’ll be hearing fruit and vegetable puns in my school library. The illustrations are super cute and not highly detailed which makes them especially great for younger readers.

These first two books are the start of a series that is just going to keep getting better and better. I know my kids will be begging me to get the next ones as soon as they’re released. These are a must-buy for school library collections as I guarantee they will fly off the shelves. They’re a great read-alike for James Burke’s Bird and Squirrel series.

Squidding Around: Fish Feud! by Kevin Sherry

If you’re looking for a super-fun, pun-tastic graphic novel for younger readers then look no further than Kevin Sherry’s latest, Squidding Around: Fish Feud!

Squizzard and Toothy have been best friends since they were teeny tiny. A squid and a Great White Shark at first seems like an odd friendship but Toothy is a vegetarian so it works. They do everything together but Toothy is getting sick of being pushed around by Squizzard. Toothy finally snaps and says he doesn’t want to be friends anymore. Squizzard has to figure out how to put others first and learn how to be a good friend. If he can do that maybe Toothy will want to be his friend again.

Fish Feud is one of the coolest graphic novels for young readers! It’s colourful, full of jokes and puns, packed with facts and totally hilarious. Kids will be laughing out loud while they read and sharing the jokes with their friends. Jokes like ‘What happened to the shark that ate a set of keys? He got lockjaw!’ It’s a story about friendship too and the importance of compromise. Squizzard is a clown who loves to be the centre of attention. Squizzard always thinks about himself and the games that he wants to play and Toothy feels like he doesn’t get heard. When Toothy snaps Squizzard has to change.

Kevin’s illustrations are bright and bold and his characters are simple but expressive. I love some of the little details of the illustrations, like the pages when the class are doing their oral reports. Each of the kids have brought something to talk about, from their video game to a priceless necklace.

The thing I love most about Fish Feud is the way that Kevin has incorporated facts about the sea creatures into the story. At the same time as laughing your head off you also learn about barracudas, hammerhead sharks, and squid. Sometimes facts are just dropped into the story and other times Kevin will change his illustration style to show you it’s a fact.

Fish Feud is the first book in what will hopefully be a big series. Readers are going to begging for more after reading this one.

Pacey Packer Unicorn Tracker by J.C. Phillipps

Most books and movies would have us believe that unicorns are cute and colourful but not J.C. Phillipps’ new graphic novel. Dive into Pacey Packer Unicorn Tracker and discover what unicorns are really like.

Pacey Packer is a girl with a big imagination but she could never have imagined she would find herself in Rundalyn, the secret land of the unicorns. Pacey’s little sister Mina gets sick of waiting for Pacey to play with her. When Pacey goes looking for Mina she finds her about to leap out of her window on the back of a unicorn. Pacey thinks Mina is being kidnapped and tries to grab the unicorn. Pacey, and Mina’s plushie unicorn, Slasher, fall from the sky and find themselves lost in Rundalyn. Pacey and Slasher set off to find Mina but also discover what unicorns are really like. Pacey will have to become the brave hero from her imagination in order to save her sister.

This is a super cool graphic novel for kids! It’s a story full of nasty unicorns, weird plants, magical seeds and sassy characters. J.C. Phillipps’ illustration style is unique and will certainly appeal to kids. She has used a limited colour palette, with just black, white and purple. I really like how J.C. uses different perspectives throughout the story (like Pacey being up in a tree) and the movement between panels, like the example below:

J.C. has even made chapter headings cool by incorporating them into the illustrations.

Pacey herself is a great character but my favourite is Slasher. He’s full of attitude but looks super cute. He’s a soft toy but he’s clearly not happy about it. He’s always cursing his lousy plushie grip. I’m sure most kids won’t see this but Slasher reminds me of Brian, the dog from Family Guy.

Thank goodness this is just the start of the Pacey Packer series! Kids are going to love Pacey and Slasher and, like me, will eagerly await their next adventure.

Sherlock Bones and the Sea-Creature Feature by Renée Treml

Everyone has wondered what happens in a museum at night. There have been books written and movies made about it. In Sherlock Bones and the Natural History Mystery, Renée Treml introduced us to the great detective known as Sherlock Bones. The always sharp and super-observant tawny frogmouth skeleton is back on the case again in his latest mystery, Sherlock Bones and the Sea-Creature Feature.

Sherlock Bones lives in the State Natural History Museum with his pals Grace the raccoon and Watts the stuffed parrot. When the sun goes down and the humans leave, Sherlock and his friends come alive. A new wing of the museum has just opened, with new exhibits, but Sherlock has heard of a swamp monster that is scaring the visitors and the octopus is missing. Where there is a mystery Sherlock Bones isn’t far away.

Sherlock Bones and the Sea-Creature Feature is a pun-tastic read that is both laugh-out-loud funny and chock-full of facts. Sherlock not only thinks he is an amazing detective (he’s really not), he also thinks he’s the funniest bird around (he just ends up making himself laugh). He has plenty of bad puns up his sleeve that will make readers young and old crack up. Unlike Sherlock and Grace, Watts never says anything out loud but he still communicates with Sherlock and his wings can be extended to help Sherlock fly around the museum. Sherlock and his pals are always on the lookout for clues but the reader sees things that they completely miss. Grace spends a good part of the story distracted with a Rubix cube and isn’t aware of what is going on around her.

The story is told in a graphic novel format, with black and white illustrations. Sherlock is a skeleton but Renée has given him so much personality. I think the star of the show has to be Nivlac though, as he is able to turn invisible and disguise himself. You can tell that Renée has had a lot of fun hiding Nivlac in the illustrations.

The thing I love the most about this book is the way that Renée incorporates information into the story. There are facts about the exhibits in the illustrations that help to explain what is happening in the story. The exhibit about the octopus says that octopus do not have a skeleton which means they can squeeze into tight spaces. This explains why the octopus goes missing. It’s one of those books that is really entertaining but you don’t realise you’re learning something at the same time.

I highly recommend both Sherlock Bones books, especially for kids who struggle to find something to read. They’ll be hooked straight away. They’re also great for kids who have read all of the Bad Guys books by Aaron Blabey as they’re a similar format and sense of humour.

Agent Moose by Mo O’Hara and Jess Bradley

Kids everywhere are obsessed with Dogman, so it’s always great when I come across a new series that I can recommend to Dogman fans. Agent Moose is the new series by Mo O’Hara and Jess Bradley and it has everything that kids love about Dogman – laughs galore, bold illustrations, and characters that they’ll love coming back to.

Whenever there is trouble in Big Forest there is only one team for the job – Anonymoose and Owlfred. With Anonymoose’s astounding skills of disguise and Owlfred’s calm attitude and patience in a crisis these two catch the criminals…eventually. Something strange is going on at South Shore. Terence Turtle, a witness in a high-profile robbery case, has disappeared and its up to Anonymoose and Owlfred to find him. Unfortunately for Anonymoose that means a run-in with his competition, Camo Chameleon. Camo has just solved his 100th case, making him the best agent at Woodland HQ. That title was supposed to be Anonymoose’s and he’s still bitter about it. Anonymoose and Owlfred are going to have to go undercover and discover what is happening to the animals of Big Forest.

Agent Moose is absolutely brilliant! Mo and Jess have created characters that kids are going to go wild for. The story is super funny and full of gags that readers of all ages will love. I’m a huge fan of Jess’ art, from reading her Squid Bits comics in The Phoenix Comic, so it’s really great to see a whole book full of her art. I love that her illustrations are so simple but all of the characters have a personality. The simple illustrations and the sparse text make this book perfect for younger readers and it’s a great introduction to graphic novels.

Anonymoose and Owlfred are complete opposites but they make the perfect team. Anonymoose is sauve and fantastic at disguise, but not very smart. Owlfred is the brains of the operation and is the one who is calm and rational. Every time Anonymoose was in disguise he made me laugh, because he is so obviously a moose dressed as a turtle or a palm tree. The other characters don’t see this though and often get startled when he talks.

This is just the first book in a series that I hope with have many more books to come. I know that kids are going to gobble this one up and be desperate for book 2 (coming in March 2021). Check out the fantastic book trailer below (this will be great to hook kids in).

Armadillo and Hare series by Jeremy Strong and Rebecca Bagley

I love it when I discover a hidden gem on my library shelves. Armadillo and Hare by Jeremy Strong had been sitting on my shelves for ages. Then the second book, Armadillo and Hare and the Very Noisy Bear, came along and it caught my attention. I took it home to read and my 5 year old daughter asked me to read it one night. We both fell in love with Armadillo and Hare and their friends from the Big Forest.

Armadillo and Hare are completely different but are the best of friends. They live in a little log cabin in Big Forest. Hare loves dancing, Armadillo loves cheese sandwiches. Hare loves playing the tuba, Armadillo loves cheese sandwiches. Hare is full of energy and loves to move, Armadillo is grumpy and prefers to keep still. They both like to laugh though and they do lots of it together. Their life is never boring. They make lots of friends and help them when they can, their house gets washed away in a flood, they hold birthday parties, have an art exhibition in their cabin, learn how to swim and just generally enjoy each other’s company.

I absolutely love Armadillo and Hare! The stories are incredibly funny, witty and filled with the most marvellous characters. Jeremy really knows his audience and tells stories that both make you laugh and appreciate the small things in life, like having breakfast in the sunshine or reading in a comfy chair. Armadillo is obsessed with cheese sandwiches and when he isn’t eating one he is dreaming of one or painting one. There are paintings of cheese sandwiches all through their house. In one story he even has a whole exhibition focusing on his paintings of cheese. Armadillo is a bit grumpy but he also has a good sense of humour. He knows that he is fat but he doesn’t see the point of exercise. Hare is quite full of energy and he is the positive one of the two friends. He loves playing the tuba and every time that he plays it things pop out of the top. It could be butterflies, puppies, glow-worms or neon signs. You never quite know what will pop out next.

It’s not just Armadillo and Hare themselves that are entertaining but the other animals that live in Big Forest. There’s Invisible Stick Insect who really wants some friends who can see her, Wombat who can do incredible tricks on her bike (but can also mend fridge lights) and Bear who is fantastic on the drums and almost a doctor. You can’t help smiling while reading these stories of Armadillo and Hare and their interactions with the other animals.

Another reason that I love this series so much is Rebecca Bagley’s delightful illustrations. Rebecca really brings out the personality of Armadillo and Hare, from Armadillo’s grumpiness to Hare’s flair and the way his ears twist together when he’s afraid. I also like the way she has drawn Bear with his sunglasses and colourful shirt.

There are several stories in each book, with each story taking about ten to fifteen minutes to read. The short length and the humour makes the stories perfect to read aloud at bedtime or to a class. I’ve also enjoyed Armadillo and Hare and the Very Noisy Bear as an audiobook from my public library. I hope Jeremy and Rebecca have some more Armadillo and Hare stories up their sleeves because I need more of these two in my life.

Hotel Flamingo: Fabulous Feast by Alex Milway

Anna and the team at Hotel Flamingo are back again in the latest book in the series, Fabulous Feast. This is one of my favourite series for younger readers so I always love returning to Hotel Flamingo. If you haven’t discovered this series yet here’s the gist of the series. A human girl, Anna, inherits the run-down Hotel Flamingo, and with a lot of hard work from her and her animal team, they turn it into one of the best hotels on Animal Boulevard.

In Fabulous Feast, Anna is trying to encourage more guests to come and stay at Hotel Flamingo after a long, quiet winter. Anna comes up with the idea of having a cooking contest at the hotel to find the best chef on Animal Boulevard. Anna and her team go out in search of chefs to enter the contest. Three chefs enter – Peston Crumbletart from The Fat Cat Restaurant, Toot-Toot from the Glitz Hotel and Le Pig from Hotel Flamingo. The competition is fierce but only one chef can come out on top.

Fabulous Feast is full of everything I love about the series – the chaos of a hotel, wonderful characters and animals of all sorts. As well as the busyness of preparing for the contest, Anna and her team have to deal with a crashed carrier pigeon, a couple of highland cows with a love of gourmet grass, and a coconut octopus with an urgent need for super-salty water.

Anna has a brilliant team who help the hotel to run smoothly. Lemmy the lemur manages the front desk, Stella the giraffe does the repairs and building work, T. Bear is the doorman, and Le Pig is the chef. They all go above and beyond the call of duty for the job they love and Anna can always rely on them.

One of my favourite aspects of the series is the way that Alex introduces readers to different types of animals and includes their unique characteristics. Anna and her team go out of their way to make sure the animals have what they need to make their stay comfortable. If otters come to stay the pool is specially prepared for them. If penguins come to stay ice is specially brought in. In this story the coconut octopus needs very briny water and Lemmy hunts down all the salt he can to add to the bath.

Book your stay at the 5-star Hotel Flamingo now.