Wednesday Weeks and the Tower of Shadows by Denis Knight and Cristy Burne

Magic and science don’t often go together. Magic is mysterious and unexplainable whereas science is grounded in fact and can always be explained. Both magic and science are equally important in Denis Knight and Cristy Burne’s new series, Wednesday Weeks. The first book in the series, Wednesday Weeks and the Tower of Shadows, is out now and it’s absolutely brilliant!

Wednesday Weeks is always accidentally creating havoc, whether it’s setting things on fire or blowing things up. Her teacher knows what to expect and keeps a fire extinguisher handy at all times. If that wasn’t bad enough her sorcerer grandfather keeps materialising in her classroom, ready to take his apprentice away. Wednesday never asked to be a sorcerer’s apprentice, but her grandpa keeps showing up. One day, Wednesday will be the Protector of the Realms and her grandpa needs her to be ready. When Wednesday and her grandpa travel to the Realm of Slugs, they are attacked by the fire-flinging, psychotic goblin king, Gorgomoth. Grandpa refuses to give Gorgomoth the Ruby Ring, with which he would enslave the Nine Realms, so Gorgomoth takes grandpa and disappears through a void. Together with her best friend Alfie, a prime-number fan and robotics expert, and a wise-cracking talking skull called Bruce, Wednesday must learn to control her magic so that she can rescue her grandpa from the Tower of Darkness. Together they will have to solve puzzles, outwit fairies and survive a laundry maze to reach the Pit of Extreme Discomfort in the heart of the Tower of Darkness.

Wednesday Weeks and the Tower of Shadows is an epically awesome adventure that had me laughing out loud the whole way. There is something for everyone in this story, whether you like coding and mathematical problems, magic spells and sorcerers, or power-crazy villains and sarcastic sidekicks. Wednesday and Alfie are two characters that I would follow anywhere. Between them they can solve any problem that comes their way.

The book is bursting with humour, from the characters, like Bruce the wise-cracking talking skull, to the witty dialogue, and Denis and Cristy’s spot-on comedic timing. There are so many parts of the story that made me laugh out loud, like the fact that there is a Realm of Unfriendly Cats, or that Wednesday’s grandpa has a Settee of Interdimensional Contemplation. I love that Bruce is totally sarcastic and you never know what will come out of his mouth. You can tell that Denis and Cristy had a lot of fun writing this story and really let their imaginations go wild. I mean, a maze in a laundry, filled with clothing that turns into a kraken?! Fantastic!

Wednesday Weeks and the Tower of Shadows has me hooked on the series. I’m super excited for book two, Wednesday Weeks and the Crown of Destiny, which is out in September. I can’t wait for more adventures with Wednesday, Alfie and Bruce!

Dragon Kingdom of Wrenly by Jordan Quinn and Ornella Greco

So many kids love dragons. Tui T. Sutherland’s Wings of Fire series has seen a surge of interest in dragon stories at my school in the last couple of years, especially when the graphic novel adaptations (illustrated by Mike Holmes) were released. Some of my readers want to be reading Wings of Fire but they’re a bit too hard for them at the moment, so I’m always looking for slightly easier dragon stories for them. A new series of graphic novels about dragons has just started this year, called Dragon Kingdom of Wrenly, and it’s perfect for those younger or less-confident readers.

In The Coldfire Curse we meet Ruskin and his friends. Ruskin is a young scarlet dragon, who is the pet of the prince of Wrenly. He lives a pampered life, with his own lair and all the food and toys a dragon could ask for. Cinder is a young dragon from the island of Crestwood, whose father has been struck down by the coldfire curse. Cinder ventures to the castle in search of help from the king, but only finds Ruskin. Cinder tells Ruskin about the legend of the scarlet dragon and he agrees to come with her to help her father. With the help of Cinder’s cousin, Groth, the three young dragons set out to break the curse and save all of Wrenly.

In the second book, Shadow Hills, Ruskin hears of a firestorm heading towards Wrenly, which will rain fire from the sky. The only thing that can stop the firestorm are lava rocks, which can absorb the energy of the storm and disintegrate it. The lava rocks are only found on Crestwood, so Ruskin returns to the home of his friends, Cinder and Groth. The witch-dragon Villinelle tells the friends that it is only the enchanted lava rocks in the Shadow Hills that will stop the firestorm, so this is where they head. They soon discover why it is called the Shadow Hills. They are given the enchanted lava rocks by the dragons of Shadow Hills, but they are soon stolen. All hope of saving the kingdom seems lost. Only Ruskin’s mysterious powers will be able to help.

The Dragon Kingdom of Wrenly series is full of enough action, adventure and magic to keep any young dragon fan entertained. The pacing is steady and there is a bit of mystery to each story, so readers will want to keep reading to find out what happens. The stories are broken up into chapters, so there are some good places to pause for less confident readers. They’re great stories to hook younger readers (7-9 year olds) on fantasy and adventure stories, because there are elements of those types of stories, without being too heavy on detail. The illustrations are bold, while also being not too detailed. All of the dragons have unique characteristics, with the younger dragons appearing smaller and younger, and the older dragons appearing weathered and wizened.

With each new story in the series we start to get more of a picture of Ruskin’s powers and how it is that he might fulfill the prophecy of the scarlet dragon. The friendship between Ruskin, Cinder and Groth also develops, while the truth of who the villain might be is still hidden away.

I have loved the first two books in the series and will be looking out for the next in the series (book three and four are also out now). I can’t wait to introduce the series to the kids at my school. I know these books will be snatched up quickly and will spread like wildfire.