Children's Book Reviews

     All you need to know about books at                                                     Issue 4 July 2008


     »Crime, Thrillers and Horror
     »Fantasy and Science Fiction
     »Popular and Romance
     »History & Historical Novels
     »Non Fiction and Reference
     »Children's Books
     »Comic Books & Graphic Novels

 Feature Articles & Stories

 New & Coming Soon Titles


If you were lucky, and you're a dad, you might have received a copy of this fantastic book on Father's Day! Neil Oliver, the historian from the smash BBC series COAST, retells the stories that inspired us to be better men during the last century. He laments... more

Amanda Greenslade is a fantasy writer, like me (except she's young enough to be my granddaughter, and therefore has time on her side!). Her ASTOR CHRONICLES look fantastic, and I hope it won't be long before she finds a publisher. In the meantime, there's an interview with Amanda in this issue, together with information on TALON, the first book in the series.

KELLEY ARMSTRONG's latest book, THE SUMMONING, is so good I had to give it joint book of the month in the fantasy section; Kelley never lets you down, and this is a terrific read, chilling and entertaining at the same time - don't miss it!

And don't forget to let me know what you think of this issue of BOOKS MONTHLY ~ you can e-mail me at

All of the titles listed or reviewed in Books Monthly are available from the store. Click on the Amazon logo to check availability as many are not yet published.


PETE JOHNSON: HOW TO GET FAMOUS ~ Tobey is determined he will be famous. He's not big-headed, he just knows he's got something special and he's determined that everyone will know it! He even hangs around with the stars, getting autographs at film premieres. Tobey and his friend Georgia audition for a role in the local play - and to his huge disappointment, Georgia gets a part, but he doesn't. Can he turn this tragedy around and find a way to be famous after all? Tobey and Georgia are delicious characters - Tobey's diary is the focus for what happens, charmingly written with terrific wit and a sense of the way young people think and act today - a great read.

TERENCE BLACKER: THE ANGEL FACTORY ~ Life seems perfect for Thomas Wisdom - too perfect, in fact. When Thomas becomes convinced that his parents are concealing some kind of secret from him, he hacks into his father's computer. What he discovers there leads him into a strange and frightening adventure that reaches from his own family to the far ends of the universe and involves nothing less than the future of the human race. The Angel Factory is an exciting and surprising novel from the author of The Transfer. Some unexpected twists and turns in this great and sometimes sinister thriller; nothing is what it seems - highly enjoyable and just right for older teens.

JAMES PATTERSON: THE DANGEROUS DAYS OF DANIEL X ~ Fifteen-year-old alien hunter Daniel X is on a mission to finish the job that killed his parents - to wipe out the world's most bloodthirsty aliens on The List. At the number-one spot, The Prayer is Daniel's ultimate target. With mind-blowing skills like telepathy and the ability to transform and create, Daniel's got more than a few tricks up his sleeve. But for now there are plenty of gruesome enemies in the way, including Ergent Seth at #6, Daniel's fiercest contender yet. Seth is a horse-faced beast with a sinister agenda of his own: a plan to ruin Earth and a terrifying alien slave ship that will transport Daniel to a planet with more surprises than he could ever imagine. Along with his friends Willy, Joe-Joe, Emma and Dana, Daniel hunts down the aliens on The List one by one. But as he battles towards his top target he can't forget one thing: he's got a host of aliens to fight, but on their lists there's only one name at the top . . . and that's his. The first action-packed adventure in a new blockbuster series from James Patterson, the world's bestselling thriller writer.

IAN BECK: TOM AND THE DINOSAUR EGG ~ One cold morning, while walking on the beach, Tom finds something strange in a tangle of seaweed. He frees it and carries it back to the lighthouse to show to his grandfather. His grandfather realizes it is an egg, but what sort of egg? They decide to keep it warm and see what happens. One morning, Tom notices a crack, and much to his surprise, a baby dinosaur emerges from the shell! Tom's egg was a dinosaur egg. Day by day the dinosaur grows bigger and bigger and bigger until he becomes a bit of a problem. What will Tom do? Find out in this wonderful adventure story featuring a boy, an egg, an unusual pet and an epic journey. Thrillingly told with exquisite artwork, this book is perfect for dinosaur-mad boys and girls. Delightful story, beautifully illustrated.

TAMMAR STEIN: HIGH DIVE ~ Arden has a plane ticket to Sardinia to say goodbye to her family’s beloved vacation home after her father’s sudden death and her mother’s deployment to Iraq as an army nurse. Lonely for her father and petrified for her mother’s safety, Arden dreads her trip to the house in Sardinia—the only place that has truly felt like home to her. So when she meets a group of fun, carefree, and careless friends on their summer break, she decides to put off her trip and join them to sample the sights and culinary delights of Europe. Soon they are climbing the Eiffel Tower, taking in the French countryside on a train chugging toward the Alps, and gazing at Michelangelo’s David in Florence, all the while eating gelato and sipping cappuccino. Arden tries to forget about the danger her mom faces every day, to pretend she’s just like the rest of the girls, flirting with cute European guys and worried only about where to party next.
But the house in Sardinia beckons and she has to make a choice. Is Arden ready to jump off the high dive?

GARTH NIX: SUPERIOR SATURDAY ~ Garth Nix is back with the sixth explosive title in his gripping fantasy series, The Keys to the Kingdom. On the Sixth Day, there was Sorcery Arthur Penhaligon has wrested five of the Keys from their immortal guardians, the Trustees of the Will. But gaining the Sixth Key poses a greater challenge than any he has ever faced before. Superior Saturday is not just one of the Trustees, she is also the oldest Denizen and the most powerful and knowledgeable sorcerer within the House. She has tens of thousands of sorcerers at her command -- and she has been preparing her forces all along for the Will's escape and the activities of the Rightful Heir. Everything is all just part of a greater plan she has been hatching for ten thousand years. As Saturday's schemes become evident, Arthur is beset on all sides. Nothing is eroding the House, and only the power of the Keys can hold back the tide of destruction. His mother is still missing. His home city is under attack. His allies are unreliable.He can't even get into the apparently impregnable Upper House and even if he does, finding the Sixth Part of the Will and gaining the Sixth Key might not be enough to counter Saturday's sorcerous hordes or stop her bid for ultimate power.

The school story gets a new champion at last - Carmen Reid brings her unique talents to late night feasts in the dorm and first fumblings with boys...

CARMEN REID: SECRETS AT ST JUDE'S ~ Gina's mother is fed up with her staying out late, spending too much money on clothes and too much time IM-ing her friends. But her solution to sort out her wayward LA IT girl is pretty drastic - she's sending Gina to Scotland to go to the same boarding school she attended. Suddenly taken from a world of malls, mobile phones, en-suite wet-rooms, designer clothes and sophisticated boys, Gina is suddenly forced to find her way through games of hockey, communal meals and showers, horrible public schoolboys and stuffy housemistresses. Will she ever survive? Her dorm buddies might just help - they're a strange bunch but they seem to be good fun ...And there are always the boys from the local school to help keep them entertained. From the Back Cover
Ohmigod! Gina's mum has finally flipped and is sending her to Scotland to some crusty old boarding school called St Jude's - just because Gina spent all her money on clothes and got a few bad grades! It's so unfair! Now the Californian mall-rat has to swap her sophisticated life of pool parties and well-groomed boys for . . . hockey in the rain, school dinners and stuffy housemistresses. And what's with her three kooky dorm-buddies . . . could they ever be her friends? And just how does a St Jude's girl get out to meet the gorgeous guys invited to the school's summer ball? An addictive read. A hilarious read. A Carmen Reid. The school story is alove and well in the hands of Carmen Reid. There's a touch of Blyton, Digby, Brent Dyer and even Passion Flower Hotel about this as Gina the Yank settles into an awkward first term at St Jude's, the school in Edinburgh her mother attended in the 1980s. This book has all the elements of the new student in a strange school - bullying, eccentric house mistresses, alien sports, bitchy friends, even bitchier enemies, unauthorised absences from school, first crushes - it's brilliant. A romp through first yearnings towards teenage sex sets the scene for a terrific yarn - I enjoyed it immensely and hope Carmen continues to wow us with more tales from St Judes. Carmen also has a new adult book out this month - LATE NIGHT SHOPPING. I'll be reviewing it next month, and there'll be a feature and interview with Carmen too!

How sad that this final trilogy from the late, great Douglas Hill should be one of his finest works...

Buy it from Books Monthly 

DOUGLAS HILL: DEMON STALKERS - PREY ~ Nick Walker can pass for eighteen, which comes in useful while living on the streets. But Nick isn't eighteen. He's fourteen. He's been fourteen for years ...A chance encounter with Manta, an exceedingly powerful witch, sees Nick cursed with changelessness. Not only will he never age, but, more usefully to Manta, broken bones and sliced flesh, while excruciatingly painful, will mend themselves in a short space of time making Nick the perfect weapon against the demonic assassins sent by the evil Cartel. Constantly hunted, Nick is forced to run evading his enemy when he can and facing gruesome and bloody battles when he can't. But, help comes from a surprising source April, a young girl Nick rescues from some occult enthusiasts intent on sacrificing her, has powers beyond her control or understanding. Together, might they be a match for the sinister forces that stalk them? Hill was sadly knocked down and killed by a bus on a zebra crossing exactly one year ago - he was full of enthusiasm for this latest project, a trilogy concerning the exploits of young Nick Walker, doomed forever to remain fourteen years old. The terrifying demon sequences are reminiscent of the great Dennis Wheatley, tinged with the up to date treatment of the occult we're used to from Darren Shan, and this series will be a serious challenge to Shan!

DIANA WYNNE JONES: HOUSE OF MANY WAYS ~ A chaotically magical sequel to Howl's Moving Castle. Charmain Baker is in over her head. Looking after Great Uncle William's tiny cottage while he's ill should have been easy, but Great Uncle William is better known as the Royal Wizard Norland and his house bends space and time. Its single door leads to any number of places - the bedrooms, the kitchen, the caves under the mountains, the past, to name but a few. By opening that door, Charmain is now also looking after an extremely magical stray dog, a muddled young apprentice wizard and a box of the king's most treasured documents, as well as irritating a clan of small blue creatures. Caught up in an intense royal search, she encounters an intimidating sorceress named Sophie. And where Sophie is, can the Wizard Howl and fire demon Calcifer be far behind?

MY TERRIFIC DINOSAUR BOOK ~ Touch, feel, look, listen and watch dinosaurs come to life on the page in this interactive book for dinosaur loving toddlers. Look at all the things dinosaurs can do; watch a giant reach up high, see a flying dinosaur in the sky, look a tyrannosaur in the eye. Then press the button and just listen to the noises they make Roarrrrrrrrrrr! Join in the fun with your child as they lift flaps, pull tabs, touch and feel textures, listen to sounds and learn all about the wonderful world of dinosaurs using all their senses. You can trust Dorling Kindersley to come up with the perfect introduction to dinosaurs for small people! Full of puzzles and things to do, plus animated dinosaurs at the pull of a tag - just fantastic!

CHARLIE SMALL: THE PERFUMED PIRATES OF PERFIDY ~ No one knows the full story of Charlie Small. At least, not yet. His original battered journal was found washed up on a remote, windswept shore in the north of England. And at first we thought it an elaborate hoax. Surely no eight-year-old could have had so many wild adventures, witnessed so many extraordinary things, lived such an incredible life - and still only be eight. And yet ...there was something so vivid in the telling, that we were persuaded, just enough, to send the journal and some of its boggling content for analysis. The results were absolutely astonishing. And only one conclusion could be drawn. Everything in the journal of Charlie Small is true. He really has wrestled a deadly river croc, ridden a steam-powered rhino, been cabin boy for a band of desperate lady-pirates and tribal chief in a city of gorillas. And countless other things besides. And ...not only that ...even though Charlie Small is only eight, he must have lived for over six hundred years! This second volume was found encased in ice, high on a glacial plateau in the Himalayas. It details even more remarkable deeds and thrilling acts aboard the Jolly Roger with the dastardly lady-pirates of perfidy - and a lot more besides. It is guaranteed to delight readers as much as Charlie's first journal. Note: At the time of writing we had just received unconfirmed reports of a third journal, found on a seat at a bus stop in Pimlico. If the diary proves to be further adventures of Charlie Small, rest assured that we will publish it very soon indeed. Meantime, do please continuing looking out for a young boy with a slightly perplexed look, a battered rucksack and an unlikely talent for swinging through trees...

SIMON MORDEN: THE LOST ART ~ A millennium after the formidable war machines of the User cultures devoured entire civilisations and rewrote planetary geography, Earth is in the grip of a perpetual Dark Age. Scientific endeavour is strongly discouraged, while remnant technology is locked away - hidden by a Church determined to prevent a new Armageddon. This is the world to which Benzamir Michael Mahmood must return. A descendant of the tribes who fled the planet during those ages-old wars, he comes in pursuit of enemies from the far reaches of space. The technology he brings is wondrous beyond the imaginings of those he will meet, but can its potency match that of the Church's most closely guarded treasure? For centuries it has lain dormant, buried in a lead-lined tomb deep beneath the flagstones of a remote Siberian monastery. But it is about to be unearthed, and the powers that will be unleashed may be beyond anyone's capacity to control. Even a man as extraordinary as Benzamir...

JULIE BURCHILL: SWEET ~ 'Some people tread water all their lives. Not me - I'm gonna make a big splash.' Maria Sweet, aka Sugar, is back. Her husband's done a runner taking their daughter with him, but at least she has a plan: get a job, get some cash and get the hell out of Brighton. And somewhere out there in the big bad world is Kim Lewis, who might just be the Love of Sugar's Life. Sugar's landed herself a stint as a model for local fashion designers Agnew & Bagshawe. But when she discovers they've exploited her, she's hell-bent on vengeance and that can only lead to chaos ...Sugar is as defiant and outrageous as ever in this riotous sequel to "Sugar Rush", Burchill's bestselling teen novel.


INDIANA JONES & THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL ~ Indy's back! The most anticipated movie event of the summer comes to comics in this adaptation of the fourth "Indiana Jones" film!Across three movies, a TV series, and countless spin-offs, Indiana Jones - the archaeologist turned adventurer - is one of the most recognisable icons of the 20th, and 21st, centuries!Now he's back in the sure-fire hit "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull"! With returning characters Marion and Abner Ravenwood (from "Raiders of the Lost Ark") and new faces, new threats, and new death-traps to dodge, Dr Jones is going to have his work cut out! At the time of writing the film is still packing audiences in and I've heard only good things about it. This is an ideal novelisation for youngsters - the action doesn't let up for an instant!

LINDA BUCKLEY-ARCHER: THE TAR MAN ~ In Gideon the Cutpurse, an accident with an anti-gravity machine catapulted Peter Schock and Kate Dyer back to 1763. Now a bungled rescue attempt leaves Peter stranded in the 18th century whilst a terrifying villain, The Tar Man, takes his place and explodes onto 21st century London. Concerned about the potentially catastrophic effects of time travel, the NASA scientists responsible for the situation question whether it is right to rescue Peter. Kate decides to take matters into her own hands. But things don't go as planned, and soon the physical effects of time travel begin to have a disturbing effect on Kate. Meanwhile, in our century, The Tar Man wreaks havoc in a city whose police force are powerless to stop him... The dark and dismal streets of Dickensian London are brought thrillingly to life in this time travel extravaganza by Linda Buckley-Archer. First class.

GERI HALLIWELL: UGENIA LAVENDER AND THE BURNING PANTS ~ Thoughtful, brave and sassy, Ugenia Lavender is one amazing kid. With bags of energy, heaps of attitude and brainwaves like thunderbolts of lightning, Ugenia leaps into adventures that are not only full of fun, but which also contain a great message: that every child is special and capable of great things! With three stories, plus Ugenia's Big News, Top Tips and extra puzzle pages in each book, "Ugenia Lavender" will delight children and adults alike. In Book 3, Ugenia discovers the true meaning of 'liar, liar, pants on fire' and celebrates her tenth birthday in style. She also saves the day when her school stages its very own Olympic Games!

LILY ARCHER: THE POISON APPLES ~ We're reclaiming the apple! We all have evil stepmothers and we're going to give the apple back to them! Alice, Reena and Molly all have one thing in common: they are the stepdaughters of three very evil stepmothers. They think they are alone in their unhappiness until they meet at Putnam Mount McKinsey, a posh boarding school located in lovely, rural Massachusetts, where Reena comes up with a cunning plan to exact their revenge ...



PAUL COOKSON: I'D RATHER BE A FOOTBALLER ~ This fantastic collection features all of Paul Cookson's most popular poems, including "Superman Dog", "The Toilet Seat Has Teeth" and "The Amazing Captain Concorde"! "Short Visit, Long Stay": The school trip was a special occasion. But we never reached our destination. Instead of the Zoo, I was locked in the loo of an M62 service station.



HOW LOUD CAN  YOU BURP? ~ How loud can you burp? Could we use animal poo to make electricity? Why is water wet, and is anything wetter than water? What's the deadliest disease in the world? What are clouds for? What's the difference between a brain and a computer? This is a wonderfully funny and informative book which helps us take a fresh look at the world (and universe) we live in, with no boring bits and an abundance of fascinating facts!



ROD CAMPBELL: THE POP UP DEAR ZOO ~ Loved by children for over twenty years, Rod Campbell's classic title is now available in pop-up form. Retaining all the charm of the original title, this new edition is packed full of exciting surprises! Open the zoo's crates, and you'll find an extremely tall giraffe, an incredibly fierce lion, an exceptionally naughty much more. Innovative, witty and as delightful as ever, "The Pop-Up Dear Zoo" is a guaranteed winner!


LARA JONES: FASTER FASTER POPPY CAT ~ Poppy Cat and her friends are off for a day out and you can join in! Inside are four sturdy, simple two-piece jigsaws that have soft-to-touch areas which little fingers will love to explore. This book is perfect puzzles for very young Poppy Cat fans!



LARA JONES: WHIZZ WHOOSH POPPY CAT ~ Poppy Cat and her friends are having some playtime fun and you can join in! Inside are four sturdy, simple two-piece jigsaws that have soft-to-touch areas which little fingers will love to explore. This book includes perfect puzzles for very young Poppy Cat fans!



HONEY HILL BUSY DAY ~ Everyone at Honey Hill is having a busy day! Join them as they listen to stories, paint pictures, play in the garden, have a snack and play dress-up and find the hidden character on each spread. Packed with fun nursery school details that young children will love, with peep-through holes and flaps to lift, this is a great way to get to know Lucy, Oscar, Olivia, Jack and Rafi as they go through their busy day!

PAMELA F SERVICE: YESTERDAY'S MAGIC ~ WHEN HEATHER MCKENNA is kidnapped by the sorceress Morgan LeFay, it is up to Heather’s friend Welly and the wizard Merlin (yes, that Merlin), to rescue her. Set 500 years in the future, following a nuclear devastation, the technological world has ground to a halt, but magic is beginning to take hold again. And the powerful icons of myth are starting to fight over control of the world. From the Russian witch Baba Yaga, to the native American trickster god, Raven, the most ancient magical forces are beginning to awaken, and they have very different ideas about the future of the earth. This riveting sequel to Tomorrow’s Magic continues Merlin and Arthur’s quest to reunite the world.

CATHERINE BANNER: THE EYES OF A KING ~ FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLD LEO NORTH’S prospects in life are limited. He attends military school, lives with his fearful grandmother, and looks after his brother Stirling. He resists his innate powers, because those who demonstrate any sort of magical ability are considered enemies of the state. But when he finds a blank book in the snow, his typical indifference melts away. From the first moment he touches the book, he senses its strange power. Passages start to appear on the pages—revealing family secrets, telling the history of Malonia, and uncovering the story of Ryan and Anna, two teens from a parallel universe. When Leo’s seemingly narrow path takes an unexpected tragic turn, he finds himself on a journey from which he can never really return. And, as he slowly begins to lose touch with reality, Ryan and Anna’s story comes to the forefront. Their idyllic summer romance—seemingly worlds away from Leo—has everything to do with Malonia.

NEAL SHUSTERMAN: UNWIND ~ Connor's parents want to be rid of him because he's a troublemaker. Risa has no parents and is being unwound to cut orphanage costs. Lev's unwinding has been planned since his birth as part of his family's strict religion. Brought together by chance, and kept together through desperation, these three unlikely companions make a harrowing cross-country journey, knowing all the while that their lives are hanging in the balance. If they can survive until their eighteenth birthdays, they can't be harmed. But when every piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, are wanted by a world gone mad, eighteen seems far, far away...Neal Shusterman challenges readers' ideas about life - not just where it begins and where it ends, but what it truly means to be alive.

TANITA S DAVIS: A LA CARTE ~ SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLD LAINEY DREAMS of becoming a world famous chef one day and maybe even having her own cooking show. (Do you know how many African American female chefs there aren’t? And how many vegetarian chefs have their own shows? The field is wide open for stardom!) But when her best friend—and secret crush—suddenly leaves town, Lainey finds herself alone in the kitchen. With a little help from Saint Julia (Child, of course), Lainey finds solace in her cooking as she comes to terms with the past and begins a new recipe for the future.
Peppered with recipes from Lainey’s notebooks, this delicious debut novel finishes the same way one feels finishing a good meal—satiated, content, and hopeful.

JAMIE MARTINEZ WOOD: ROGELIA'S HOUSE OF MAGIC ~ IN ROGELIA’S HOUSE OF MAGIC, three different 15-year-old girls find friendship and special powers as they are trained in the ways of the curandera by a wise old woman.
When Rogelia becomes a maid at Marina Peralta’s home, it’s obvious to Marina and her friend Fern that they have a real mystic on their hands. Soon Rogelia agrees to teach the girls the magic of their ancestors, much as she taught her granddaughters, Xochitl and Gracielia. Even though Marina and Fern are thrilled to have this chance to understand and use their powers, Xochitl isn’t happy about sharing such a sacred thing with anyone but her sister, who perished in a car accident. Besides, magic has let Xochitl down before. Why wouldn’t it now? But, as the girls will eventually discover, at Rogelia’s House of Magic anything is possible.

DAN WATERS: GENERATION DEAD ~ All over the tri-state area, something strange is happening. Teenagers who die aren't staying dead. They are coming back to life, but they come back different - they stutter and their reactions to everything are slower. Termed 'living impaired' or 'differently biotic', there are lots of conspiracy theories to explain this new phenomenon. But as their numbers keep on growing, so does the discomfort of the living people in the community. When Phoebe falls for Tommy Williams, her best friend and star of the football team, Adam, has conflicting emotions. And when Tommy decides to try out for the football team, it sets off a chain of events that escalates into deadly violence.


PAUL STEWART & CHRIS RIDDELL: BARNABY GRIMES LEGION OF THE DEAD ~ Barnaby Grimes is a tick-tock lad, high-stacking his way across the rooftops of his city in search of adventure and mystery. In each tale, he encounters a supernatural force and must battle the horrors that await him. In "Legion of the Dead", Barnaby finds himself embroiled in a plot that includes a legion of zombies raised from the dead. In Dickensian times, people were terrified of being buried alive, and so were left in their coffin with a wire, attached to a bell, running from above the ground, down through the earth and the lid of the coffin, and tied to the little finger of the buried body. Those who found themselves awake in the darkness of their coffin could wiggle their finger and summon help. And so one night, Barnaby makes a shortcut through a graveyard and is horrified to hear the tinkling of dozens of little bells... From the Inside Flap: The corpses swayed where they stood, their bony arms outstretched before them and tattered sleeves hanging limply in the foggy air. I smelled the sourness of the sewers about them; that, and the sweet whiff of death. Their sunked eyes bored into mine. I was surrounded. . .
Barnaby Grimes is a tick-tock lad, delivering messages and running errands all over the city, day and night. Gangland funerals and diving expeditions are hazardous enough, but when the graveyards begin to give up their dead, this tick-tock lad is faced with his deadliest challenge yet... A blood-curdling tale of greed and betrayal. Will Barnaby be defeated by the Legion of the Dead? From the creators of the bestselling EDGE CHRONICLES.

CLARA VIDAL: LIKE A THORN ~ MÉLIE’S MOTHER IS sometimes nice, sometimes mean—prone to erratic behavior that Mélie does her best to cope with. As a young girl, she invents rituals to protect herself from her mother’s moods; but as Mélie becomes a teenager, the years of tiptoeing around her own home take their toll, and Mélie sinks into increasing unhappiness. No one understands her situation.
No one understands that Mélie is treated like a thorn in her mother’s side. Since Mélie’s mother isn’t capable of change, it’s up to Mélie to find the strength to break free.


CATHY'S KEY ~ When the laboratory technicians working for Ancestor Lu discover the key to the immortality genetic structure, Victor names it the 'Cathy Key' in honour of his quest to make Cathy immortal. Ancestor Lu humors him. But when events go fatally wrong and a Fortune Teller's grim prophecy comes true, soon a homicide investigation is underway and Cathy, once again, is a little too close for comfort Cathy's Key is a brilliantly involved mystery thriller, a love story and an entirely interactive experience with further developments to the websites and phone numbers and online activity which makes this package so unique and special.


VALERIE BLOOM: THE TRIBE ~ Maruka is different to the other girls; she likes to hunt and fish deep in the forest, even though it's dangerous. But she should have stayed in the village the day the Kalinas tribe came and stole her mother. She would have stopped them. Two years later, Maruka sees giant white sails rearing up on the horizon. She is sure of a Kalinas attack but a deadlier enemy wades ashore and plants a flag on the beach. Her tribe welcome the pale-skinned men but are repaid with treachery and forced to mine the white man's God - gold. Maruka knows that the tribes have one option: they must put aside their differences and defeat their common enemy. And if the tribes unite, Maruka might even find her mother again ...

Banana! by Ed Vere. Learn to say 'please' in this delightful romp – now available in board-book format. Join two little monkeys learning to say the magic word – please! Packed with humour, fun and a riot of colour, Ed Vere skilfully teaches the value of manners and sharing through cleverly depicted toddler behaviour and only two words! 'Vere is as clever and entertaining as any writer-illustrator in the game' - Independent Ed Vere studied fine art at Camberwell College of Art and has been writing and illustrating children's books since 1999. He is published in both England and the US. Ed is also a painter, working from his studio in East London and is represented by galleries in London and Los Angeles. After a year and a half living in Barcelona, Ed now lives and works in London.


Mr Big by Ed Vere. The latest picture book from dazzling new talent Ed Vere comes with a message on friendship and inclusion. Mr Big has one small problem – because of the way he looks he just can't get people to stick around. How can he show them that although he may look scary, he is just a great big softy inside? With his trademark bold colour and masterful graphic simplicity, Ed Vere's third picture book sensitively and humorously tackles the universal subject of inclusion, reminding readers that to get to know someone you need to look beyond their exterior.


My Completely Best Story Collection by Lauren Child. It's time for a story! A collection of five favourite Charlie and Lola stories, based on the hit BBC television series. Charlie has this little sister Lola, and together they have lots of extremely good adventures and do some very fun things. All Charlie and Lola fans will love this collection of six favourite stories, featuring Charlie and Lola, their friends Lotta and Marv and, of course, Marv's dog, Sizzles! 'An irresistibly comic duo' – Sunday Times Based on the award-winning books by Lauren Child, Charlie and Lola is now a top-rated BBC children's television show and a huge international hit. Lauren is also the multi-talented prize-winning creator of Clarice Bean and the co-creator of the widely acclaimed The Princess and the Pea. Charlie and Lola is produced by Tiger Aspect Productions, one of the UK's most successful and prolific independent television producers.

I Really Must Do Scribbling and Sticking Now by Lauren Child. Draw, colour, scribble and stick with this brand-new Charlie and Lola activity book! Lola says, 'I love drawing and scribbling and cutting and sticking and painting and colouring.' With lots of pictures to colour in, finish, and even create, this activity book provides budding artists with plenty of inspiration and lots of ideas – so they can be just like Lola! 'An irresistibly comic duo' – Sunday Times. Based on the award-winning books by Lauren Child, Charlie and Lola is now a top-rated BBC children's television show and a huge international hit. Lauren is also the multi-talented prize-winning creator of Clarice Bean and the co-creator of the widely acclaimed The Princess and the Pea. Charlie and Lola is produced by Tiger Aspect Productions, one of the UK's most successful and prolific independent television producers.

Charlie and Lola: My Not Messy Sticker Book by Lauren Child. Mum and Dad want Charlie and Lola to tidy their room. A fun sticker story book based on the hit BBC television series. Charlie wants to tidy up, but Lola won't help him. How can Charlie convince her that sometimes it is better to be a little bit tidy? With six exciting story scenes and three pages of fabulous reusable stickers, each child can create, adapt and invent their very own Charlie and Lola adventure – so get sticking!  Based on the award-winning books by Lauren Child, Charlie and Lola is now a top-rated BBC children's television show and a huge international hit. Lauren is also the multi-talented prize-winning creator of Clarice Bean and the co-creator of the widely acclaimed The Princess and the Pea. Charlie and Lola is produced by Tiger Aspect Productions, one of the UK's most successful and prolific independent television producers.

Magic Kitten Duos: A Summer Spell and Classroom Chaos by Sue Bentley. Two fantastic Magic Kitten books in one! A gorgeous sparkly bind-up of A Summer Spell and Classroom Chaos.   Enjoy two magical stories in one sparkly book. Sue Bentley is a brand-new author for Puffin's fiction list and makes a magical debut with this charming young series. She has met and owned many cats and kittens herself. Sue lives in Northamptonshire. The Magic Kitten series has already sold over half a million copies.



Ginger Snaps by Cathy Cassidy. Wishes . . . secrets . . . true friendship – the fabulous new novel from bestselling author Cathy Cassidy. Ever wished you could be someone else?Ginger is cool, clever and very popular. But what her friends don't know is that at her old school she was a major misfit. It's taken a lot for Ginger to reinvent herself as Queen Bee of Kinnerton High, and she's not about to let anyone ruin it. But a face from the past means Ginger's new life could be turned inside out . . . A gorgeously tender-hearted, completely absorbing story about secrets, friends and fitting in. Sure to ring true with readers of 8-13. Praise for Cathy's books: 'Touching, tender and unforgettable' – Guardian'Seriously addictive' – Kraze Club'Cathy Cassidy is fast becoming the brightest star on the chick lit radar' –'Cassidy's characters have real heart' – Sunday Telegraph'Cathy Cassidy is set for world domination!' – Imogen, aged 11 Cathy Cassidy wrote and illustrated her first book aged eight years old. She has worked as an editor on Jackie magazine, a teacher and as agony aunt on Shout magazine. She lives in Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland, with her husband, two children, three cats, two rabbits and a mad hairy lurcher called Kelpie. Lucky Star follows the massive success of Dizzy, Indigo Blue, Driftwood, Scarlett and Sundae Girl.

Ice Claw - Danger Zone by David Gilman. Fans of Alex Rider and Young Bond will love Max Gordon – THE new action hero for young readers! Max Gordon is wanted for murder.A thundering rumble echoes round the mountain peaks of the Pyrenees as a deadly avalanche speeds towards the oblivious competitors in an X-treme sports challenge. Max Gordon's race to win has just become a race to survive. But Max has been betrayed.Sayid, Max's best friend, is injured and missing. Max is accused of murder and the evidence seems conclusive – the hunt for Max Gordon is on.In a life-or-death struggle, a mysterious monk passes on a vital clue, which plunges Max into the heart of an ancient secret, foretelling of a cataclysmic event that threatens to kill thousands and destroy the entire ecological balance of Europe... Praise for Danger Zone: The Devil's Breath: 'A seriously exciting new adventures series in which Max Gordon is a daredevil teen hero who will more than give Harry Potter and Young Bond a run for his money with his Jack Bauer moves' – The Weekender, BBC Radio 2 'The eco-angle will go down well and what Gilman . . . does superlatively is heart-pounding action' – The Times'The action rolls out thick and fast' – The Telegraph 'David Gilman's The Devil's Breath takes no hostages in an exciting, fast paced story that never lets up' – Nicholas Tucker, The Independent David Gilman is an incredibly exciting new talent to the Puffin list. The author of Danger Zone: The Devil's Breath, he is also a successful screenwriter. For the last six years David has been principal writer on A Touch of Frost, with one episode garnering a BAFTA nomination. He served in the Parachute Regiment's Reconnaissance Platoon, and has travelled the world, gathering inspiration for his books along the way.

The English Roses: A Rose by Any Other Name. An irresistibly gorgeous new fiction series about Madonna's five fabulous English Roses. Everybody's buzzing about the school play. When Grace is cast in the role Charlotte wanted, though, the girls' friendship is thrown for a loop. Is this drama too much for the Roses to handle? Madonna Ritchie was born in Bay City, Michigan, in the United States. She has recorded seventeen albums and has appeared in eighteen movies. She lives with her husband, movie director Guy Ritchie, and her three children, Lola, Rocco and David.


Hairy Maclary's Hat Tricks by Lynley Dodd. Join in with some fast-paced canine fun in this brilliant Hairy Maclary adventure, now in paperback! It's a windy day and Hairy Maclary is ready to play. So he trots down to the park where, while enjoying a game of catch, he comes across a windblown wedding party. Poor Grandmother Pugh tries to hold onto her hat, but the wind whistles through it and blows it clean away. It's no problem for Hairy Maclary,though! Off he shoots to the rescue, chasing the hat high and low until. . . "with a swoop and a flurry of black, he caught it and carried it all the way back!" Lynley Dodd is an award-winning author/illustrator enormously popular for her rhyming stories of the memorable Hairy Maclary, Slinky Malinki, Schnitzel Von Krumm - and many others! She worked as a teacher before beginning to write her own books in 1974. Lynley lives in New Zealand.

Not Quite a Mermaid: Mermaid Promise by Linda Chapman. The tenth title in the underwater magical adventure series from the author of the bestselling My Secret Unicorn series. It’s been a year since Electra's best friend, Splash, a dolphin, came to Mermaid Island – so she’s going to throw a party! But when Splash meets a group of wild dolphins, Electra is scared that he will want to join them. What will she do without him if he leaves? Linda Chapman lives in Leicestershire with her young family and two Bernese mountain dogs. She is the author of the phenomenally successful My Secret Unicorn series, and the Not Quite a Mermaid and Stardust series. Over 1.5 million of her books have been sold. For more about Linda's books, visit

Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan. Percy Jackson, the young demi-god, is back for a fourth incredible adventure, with a fantastic new cover look. The last thing Percy wants to do on his summer holiday is blow up another school. But after doing exactly that, he is forced to flee to Camp Half Blood, where he finds that all is not well. A dangerous enemy, intent on destroying the secret training camp for young demi-gods, has found a way in through an ancient labyrinth, built by the legendary Daedalus. Percy and his friends must find Daedalus and unravel the mysteries of the maze to stop this attack, before their world is destroyed forever. But nothing is as it seems when the gods are involved . . .Gripping, funny and hugely original – readers aged 10+ will be desperate for more in this award-winning series! Praise for the Percy Jackson series:
'The fusion of the magical with the mundane and modern gives the series its edge' –  The Times
'Funny and fast-paced . . . Percy is a hero that every kid will want to emulate' – Sunday Express
'Funny . . . very exciting . . . but it's the storytelling that will get readers hooked. After all, this is the stuff of legends' – Guardian
'One of the books of the year . . . vastly entertaining' – Independen Rick Riordan is an award-winning mystery writer. For the past fifteen years he has taught in the San Francisco Bay area and in Texas. Rick lives in San Antonio, Texas, with his wife and two sons. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, Rick's first novel featuring the heroic young demi-god, was the overall winner of the Red House Children's Book Award in 2006.

Savvy by Ingrid Law. The enchanting, funny, bittersweet debut novel from Ingrid Law – a major new talent with a fresh, original voice. Twelve-year-old Mississippi 'Mibs' Beaumont is anxiously awaiting her next birthday. Like generations of the Beaumont family before her, she harbours a magical secret – on her thirteenth birthday she will discover her own unique supernatural power – her 'savvy'. Mibs' brother Rocket can make it rain for days on end, and another brother, Fish, can create furious gusts of wind. But on the eve of her birthday, Mibs' world is turned upside down when a tragic accident befalls the Beaumont family. Mibs and her family find themselves in a frantic race against time to make things right. But can Mibs' emerging savvy help, or will it only make things worse?Fresh, warm, coming-of-age fantasy adventure – Ingrid Law is a name to watch! Ingrid Law is a writer and an artist. She is the author and illustrator of two e-books for children, and her artwork has appeared in local and national art shows in the US. She lives in Colorado with her twelve-year-old daughter. This is her first novel.

Nim's Island by Wendy Orr. A charming classic in the making, now set to become a major feature film starring Jodie Foster and Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine). Nim lives on an island in the middle of the wide blue sea with her father, Jack, an iguana called Fred, a sea lion called Selkie and a turtle called Chica. When Jack disappears and disaster threatens her home, Nim must be braver than she's ever been before. And she needs help from her friends . . .Fresh, delicious adventure-fantasy for readers aged 8+, illustrated by Kerry Millard. Wendy Orr lives in Australia with her family. She was born in Canada and grew up with various pets, in various places in North America and France. Once, when her family sailed to a new home, the dogs wore life-jackets, but the guinea pigs had to stay in their cages. Wendy is the author of several award-winning books.

Nim at Sea by Wendy Orr. Nim and her friends are back for more adventures in this gorgeous follow-up to Nim's Island. Nim lives on the most beautiful island in the world, she's as happy as a girl could be.But when her friend Alex flies away in the sea plane, and Selkie the sea lion is captured by villains from a cruise ship, Nim must risk everything to bring them back. Her mission takes her far across the ocean to New York City. It's a good thing she has Fred and two new friends by her side. Illustrated by Kerry Millard. Praise for Nim's Island:'A fantasy tale as welcome as a breath of fresh, tropical air' – Publishers Weekly Wendy Orr lives in Australia with her dog and her family. She was born in Canada and grew up with various pets, in various places in North America and France. Once, when her family sailed to a new home, the dogs wore life-jackets, but the guinea pigs had to stay in their cages. Wendy is the author of several award-winning books.

EVA IBBOTSON: A COMPANY OF SWANS ~ Weekly ballet classes are Harriet Morton's only escape from her intolerably dull life. So when she is chosen to join a corps de ballet which is setting off on a tour of the Amazon, she leaps at the chance to run away for good. Performing in the grand opera houses is everything Harriet dreamed of, and falling in love with an aristocratic exile makes her new life complete. Swept away by it all, she is unaware that her father and intended fiance have begun to track her down...



CHARLIE JAMES: DINO EGG ~ Ok. Here's a question: If an egg hatched into a dinosaur on your kitchen table would you: Lock it up in a secure room, and then run for the hills as fast as you could? Or, Hide it from Mum and try to keep it as a pet? It is Ned's bad luck that his brother Bill decides to go for option 'b'. So when a seemingly innocent boiled egg on the breakfast table starts to shake, change colour and say 'cheep' and then hatch out a dinosaur, it is up to Ned to try to shake some sense into his totally irresponsible brother, all the while keeping his eagle-eyed mum in the dark ...


JULIA GOLDING: EMPTY QUARTER ~ Expats, espionage and exotic destinations. "Empty Quarter" is gripping - you won't be able to put it down.Darcie's stuck aboard a cruise ship for problem rich kids. It sounds exotic but it's more like boot camp. And, annoyingly the US President's daughter with her reputation for being out-of-control is there too.Things are about to get interesting though...Darcie becomes embroiled in a kidnapping plot that will take her from Naples, via Cyprus, to Egypt and on a terrifying journey through the desert empty quarter.It is an adventure-thriller starring Darcie Lock.



MICHELLE MAGORIAN: JUST HENRY ~ From the award-winning author of "Goodnight Mister Tom" comes "Just Henry": a gripping mystery-thriller and an insightful snapshot of time, set in post-war Britain. It's 1949 and life is bleak for Henry. He misses his father who died a war hero, and he escapes from his annoying stepfather and stepsister whenever he can and goes to the cinema - his passion.One day in the cinema queue he meets Mrs Beaumont who also loves films, and lends Henry a camera for his school project. Henry is disgusted that he's been put in a group with Jeffries, the son of a man who went AWOL, and Pip, who was born illegitimate; but he's about to learn that tolerance and friendship are more important than social stigmas.Henry will need his new friends when he processes the film and makes an alarming discovery.Like a bomb waiting to explode, Henry's world is about to unravel.

VIVIAN FRENCH: SINGING TO THE SUN ~ Eight beguiling stories in the fairy-tale tradition by a leading story teller. Discover how a tabby cat and a court jester help a young lord to choose between power, riches and love. Read about the small thistle who, alone among all the beautiful flowers of the garden, has the wisdom and courage to help a childless king and queen. Follow the contrasting fortunes of the Little Beekeeper and her rude and foolish older brothers. Take a fantastical quest to the other side of Nowhere...Thoughtful and beguiling, these eight original stories in the fairy tale tradition have the resonance of much-loved classics, confirming Vivian French as one of the most imaginative and gifted storytellers of our times.

Kitty is fed up with being a cat and thinks that dogs have a far better time of it. They have much more fun, with all their playing, howling, barking and chasing robbers. They can even become film stars, for goodness sake. But of course, there is a downside to being a dog too. Being put on a lead can't be much fun. And chewing on old bones is a bit sad. And of course, they always have to do as they are told. Whereas cats get to catch mice and prowl like tigers and climb trees and come and go as they please--so maybe being a cat isn't so bad after all? Lydia Monks' highly original fable, I Wish I Were A Dog, reeking of envy and packed to the brim with exploding, vibrant in-your-face colour illustrations, is an absolute hoot. From the moment Kitty--the whiney, grumpy ginger cat dissatisfied with his lot--starts his whinging, to the moment he realises that a dog's lot is not always a happy one, this charming tale springs to life and is guaranteed to have readers, whatever age they may be, howling with laughter and dogs across the land wishing they were cats. A must-have picture book for children under 5 --Susan Harrison

JULIA DONALDSON: NIGHT MONKEY DAY MONKEY ~ Donaldson's text and Richards' artwork work stunningly together to create this charming story. Written with the rhythmic flair we have come to know and love in the award-winning Gruffalo, Night Monkey, Day Monkey tells of the enchanting two monkeys and how they come to learn about each other's opposite worlds. This is a beautiful book, not to be missed.




WHO ARE YOU, STRIPY HORSE? Read and sing along to this story of discovery and friendship. In the tick-tock quiet, a shaft of moonlight tickles the nose of something sleeping. It's a stuffed, stripy horse. He twitches. Then a dusty sneeze echoes round the room. He's awake. So begins this charming story, all about a forgotten toy who can't remember his name. He is befriended by Muriel (a hummingbird who flutters off the pattern on a lamp), Hermann (a daft draught excluder), and Roly and Pitch (penguin-shaped salt and pepper shakers), and embarks on an adventure to meet Ming, a wise and ancient Chinese vase cat, who is the only person in the shop who might be able to tell him who he is. Thrills, spills, and some seriously silly situations await him on his adventure.

THE OWL WHO WAS AFRAID OF THE DARK ~ Plop is a baby owl. Perfect in every way - except for one. He's afraid of the dark. But he soon discovers, through a variety of new friends, that dark can be fun and exciting and magical.

In this issue: interviews with ELIZABETH GEORGE and AMANDA GREENSLADE plus fe

Books Monthly (formerly Gateway Monthly) is published by Paul Edmund Norman on the first day of each month. You can contact me via e-mail at: If you'd like to get a story published in Books Monthly just e-mail it to me and I'll consider it - no payment though, I'm afraid!