Tag Archives: younger fiction

Dinosaur Rescue: Scuto-stickysaurus

Like many boys around the country I look forward to a new Dinosaur Rescue book from the wonderful Kyle Mewburn and Donovan Bixley.  Each book gives me my dose of prehistoric facts, disgusting dinosaur behaviour and wild adventures with Arg the brainy cave boy.  Arg’s latest adventure is Scuto-stickysaurus.

In Scuto-stickysaurus, disgusted by his family’s eating habits, Arg leaves his cave to search for the cause of the terrible noise that is filling the air.  He discovers a Scutosaurus, a very slow, heavily armoured dinosaur, and he sets off to save it from his tribe’s hunting party.  It’s not long before he finds himself stuck to the Scutosaurus with no way to pry himself loose.  It’s up to his good friend Skeet to rescue him and the Scutosaurus before it’s too late.

Scuto-stickysaurus has the perfect mix of fact, fiction and stinky dinosaurs that I love about this very cool series.  In this book you can:

  • Learn how to look like a Neanderthal,
  • Find out about a prehistoric trip to the dentist,
  • Get some jungle survival tips (Bear Grylls style)
  • Learn about dangerous jungle plants
  • Discover the perfect way to escape a Deadly Mouth Plant.

There’s also plenty of dinosaur poo and farts to go around, and when it comes to these, Arg is always in the wrong place at the wrong time.  It’s the combination of the story and the illustrations that makes this series so hilarious.  Scuto-stickysaurus is the 7th book in the series and it’s just as good as the 1st book, T-wreck-asaurus.  I hope that Kyle and Donovan have got plenty more ideas up their sleeves for Arg’s future adventures.

Thanks to Scholastic New Zealand I have 2 copies of Scuto-stickysaurus to give away.  You can enter here.


Filed under books, children, children's fiction, humour, New Zealand

Wings & Co: Operation Bunny by Sally Gardner

I’ve been a huge fan of Sally Gardner ever since I first read I, Coriander.  Sally is one of those brilliant authors whose stories are always original and you never know quite what to expect when you start reading them.  She’s also incredibly versatile, as she writes for all ages, from preschoolers, to middle grade, and right up to teens and beyond.  Her latest book, Operation Bunny, is the first in a new series for younger readers, called Wings & Co.

Emily Vole makes headline news in the first weeks of her life, when she is found in an abandoned hatbox in Stansted Airport. Then, only a few years later, her neighbour Mrs String dies leaving Emily a mysterious inheritance: an old shop, a small bunch of golden keys and a cat called Fidget. It’s the beginning of an adventure of a lifetime as the old Fairy Detective Agency comes back to life. It is up to Emily to reopen the shop, and recall the fairies to duty. Together they must embark on their first mystery and do battle with their great fairy-snatching enemy, Harpella.

Operation Bunny is a magical story, filled with a cast of wonderful characters, plenty of mystery, and a sprinkling of humour.  It’s the sort of book that you sit down to read a few chapters and end up gobbling up the whole book because you’re enchanted by Sally’s storytelling and David Roberts hilarious illustrations.

I fell in love with the characters straight away and I wanted to be friends with Miss String and Fidget the talking cat.  Emily is a Cinderella-type character because she gets locked away and made to do all the housework for her horrible adopted parents.  Not only are they horrible, they’re also quite stupid.  Emily’s adopted mother lets a strange lady into their house who turns her triplets into zombies, and Emily’s adopted father is a slimy wee man who’s hiding a secret and always calls his wife ‘Smoochikins.’ However, Emily is much smarter and braver than these horrible people give her credit for, and with the help of her rather unusual neighbours she escapes and starts her new life as a detective.  Fidget is my favourite character because he is always happy to help and he has the best lines (which usually involve fish of some sort), like ‘Search my sardine tin, I don’t know,’ and ‘Twiddle my whiskers and call me tuna.’  I love the way that Fidget calls Emily ‘my little ducks’ too.  Even though she doesn’t have parents that love her, she has a giant talking cat that is looking out for her always.    There are lots of other interesting characters in the story, including a mischievous bunch of keys, zombie babies, a fairy policeman, a shop with legs, a magic lamp that talks, and lots and lots of bunnies.

David Roberts illustrations are wonderful as always and help set the tone of the story.  They’re both hilarious and a little dark, and they bring Sally’s characters alive.  I especially like the personalities that David has given each of the rabbits and the suave, charming look that he’s given Fidget.

Operation Bunny is perfect for reading aloud (to 7 years and up) or find yourself a comfy spot and disappear into this magical story. I’m so pleased that we have more adventures with Emily, Fidget and the Fairy Detective Agency, Wings & Co. to look forward to.  I can’t wait to read the next book, The Three Pickled Herrings (coming in February 2013).

5 out of 5 stars



Filed under authors, books, children, children's fiction, fantasy, funny, Illustrators

Ivy + Bean: No News is Good News by Annie Barrows

Working in a library you see the hundreds of fairy/princess/ballerina books that fill the shelves and that young girls borrow by the handful.  They’re all very much the same story, with different characters so kids fly through them.  It’s great when you discover a series for young girls that’s original and features quirky, memorable characters.  If you know girls who want a story that will make them laugh, about girls just like them, then the Ivy + Bean stories, written by Annie Barrows and illustrated by Sophie Blackall, are perfect.  No News is Good News is the latest book in the series.

Ivy and Bean need some money.  Ten dollars to be exact.  Never mind what for.  Don’t even ask.  Okay.  It’s for cheese.  Two bags of low fat Belldeloon cheese in a special just-for-you serving size.  Don’t ask why.

But ten dollars is a lot of money.  How are Bean and Ivy going to make ten dollars?  Should they wash the car?  They’re not allowed to touch the car.  No.  Should they write a newspaper about their neighbours and sell it?  Great idea – and easy too!  Yes.  All Ivy and Bean have to do is snoop around Pancake Court and get some news.  It’s very interesting what you can find out if you look in your neighbours’ windows.  It’s even more interesting when the neighbours read about it in the newspaper.

No News is Good News is the 8th Ivy + Bean book, but the first one that I’ve read.  I loved it and I’m going to hunt down the other books in the series from my library!  If, like me, you haven’t met Ivy and Bean before, let me introduce them.  They’re two unlikely friends.  Bean is loud, wild and goofy and Ivy is quiet and full of ideas.  They’re complete opposites but they make a great team.  In their latest adventure, they need money to get their favourite cheese (or the wax on the outside of the cheese) so they have to come up with a scheme to get it.  After a very unsuccessful attempt to sell their flying potion, Bean’s dad suggests they make a newspaper.  That’s when all the trouble starts.  Little do their neighbours know that their secrets (and their bottoms) will feature in Ivy and Bean’s newspaper.

Ivy and Bean are quirky, funny, and mischievous.  They’re the sort of characters that girls will want to be like and will wish were their friends.  Like Ivy and Bean, Annie Barrows and Sophie Blackall make a great team.  Sophie’s quirky illustrations go perfectly with Annie’s text and will really appeal to girls.

Get Ivy + Bean: No News is Good News from your library or bookshop now.  Once you’ve read one, you’ll be hooked!

Recommended for 7+

International Ivy + Bean Day is being celebrated around the world on Saturday 13 October.  We’re celebrating it at Christchurch City Libraries, and you can ask your library or bookshop to see if they are too.

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Elf Girl and Raven Boy: Fright Forest

Marcus Sedgwick is one of my favourite writers of Young Adult fiction.  Blood Red Snow White would have to be in my list of all-time favourite books.  In recent years he has started writing younger fiction (for 8-12 year olds), with his Raven Mysteries series (illustrated by Pete Williamson).  The first book in his great new younger fiction series, Elf Boy and Raven Girl: Fright Forest, has just been released.

Raven Boy has short black spiky hair, amazing night vision and can talk to animals. Elf Girl is light of foot, sharp of mind and…elfish all over. She hadn’t expected to meet Raven Boy; it’s not that often someone falls out of the trees and squashes your home flat like Raven Boy did.

Before they know it they are plunged into some very strange, creepy, altogether spooky and hilarious adventures as they save their world from trolls, ogres, witches and things that slither and slide in the fiendish forest.

Fright Forest is a fun-filled story, with quirky characters that kids will love.  Elf Girl and Raven Boy are very different from each other, but they join forces to find out who is destroying their home.  Raven Boy has a habit of eeping like a raven when he’s scared and Elf Girl’s ears go red at the tips when she’s embarrassed.  Elf Girl and Raven Boy aren’t actually their real names and they have seem to have a lot of fun trying to guess each others real names. At the beginning of each chapter we learn something new about the characters or the place that they live, like the fact that Raven Boy is really good at climbing or that Elf Girl loves shoes.  They meet some rather strange characters on their journey, including a helpful rat, some hungry trolls and a very bad witch, and find themselves in some very awkward situations.  I love illustrated novels for younger children and Pete Williamson’s illustrations are fantastic. They match the tone of Marcus’ story perfectly. They’re a little bit dark and spooky, but very funny as well, especially the illustrations of the trolls.

Elf Girl and Raven Boy is perfect for 8-12 year olds who love adventure, a touch of magic, or just a really funny story.  I think the series would be especially great for those girls who don’t like fairy books or boys who want something more than Captain Underpants.  For those children who love series, there are five more Elf Girl and Raven Boy stories to come too.

4 out of 5 stars

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