Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Middle-Grade Book Picks - March 2018 - UK Post One

Danny Wallace (Author), Jamie Littler (Illustrator) - Hamish and the Baby BOOM! (Hamish 4) - Published by Simon & Schuster Children's UK (8 Mar. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1471167829

Get ready for another hilarious adventure from bestselling author Danny Wallace brought to life with illustrations from Jamie Littler, perfect for fans of David Walliams, Roald Dahl, David Baddiel and David Solomons!

Beware the Babies ... they CRY ... they POO ... they ATTACK!
Hamish and the PDF have been left in charge of Starkley while his dad and the rest of the Belasko agents are off hunting down the universe's second-most dangerous villain - Axel Scarmarsh!
But nothing bad will happen while he's gone, right? WRONG!

Suddenly the babies of Starkley are on the rampage and causing chaos - but only  Hamish and his friends seem to be worried about the odd behaviour. 

What’s behind the baby uprising and can the mini-mutiny be stopped before EVERY BABY ON EARTH rises up?!

Natasha Farrant - The Children of Castle Rock - Published by Faber & Faber (1 Mar. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-0571323562


When Alice Mistlethwaite is shipped off to boarding school in Scotland it's nothing like she imagines. Run by the mysterious Major, there are no punishments and the students are more likely to be taught about body painting or extreme survival than maths or English!
Then Alice's dad goes missing and she must run away to find him. Can she persuade her new friends to help?

So begins an epic quest across wild Scottish highlands and islands, where friendships will be made and broken, lies will be untangled and the children will face danger and excitement at every turn.
Both hilarious and heartfelt, this is the classic adventure story brought bang up to date, and told in Natasha's inimitable voice.

Vashti Hardy  - Brightstorm: A Sky-Ship Adventure - Published by Scholastic (1 Mar. 2018) -  ISBN-13: 978-1407181707

Twins Arthur and Maudie receive word in Lontown that their famous explorer father died in a failed attempt to reach South Polaris. Not only that, but he has been accused of trying to steal fuel from his competitors before he died! The twins don't believe the news, and they answer an ad to help crew a new exploration attempt in the hope of learning the truth and salvaging their family's reputation. As the winged ship Aurora sets sail, the twins must keep their wits about them and prove themselves worthy of the rest of the crew. But will Arthur and Maudie find the answers they seek?

James Nicol - A Witch Alone (The Apprentice Witch)  - Published by Chicken House (1 Mar. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1910655979
During an eventful holiday in Kingsport, Arianwyn is recruited for an important mission: to retrieve the Book of Quiet Glyphs from its hiding place in the Great Wood. But as she returns home to Lull, feyling refugees gather outside the town walls and hex plagues the forest. As tensions lead to fall-outs with her friends, town squabbles and magical mishaps, Arianwyn faces a sobering truth: she alone can find the Book, and wield its secrets ...

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Peadar O'Guilin - The Invasion (The Grey Land Book 2) - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books Book Review

In a world where teenagers are trained for the most horrific 3 minutes of their lives, Nessa and Anto have both survived their Call, but fate has a cruel way of rewarding them. Nessa is branded a traitor as no one believes that someone like her could survive the experience. She's thrown in prison and eventually sent where all traitors are sent - back to the horrifying Greylands, but this time there's no way home. Anto is packed off out of the way to join the militia. Ireland is being invaded and the enemy are building their army from the very people defending it. However, Anto can't get Nessa off his mind, he knows in his heart that she's innocent and he'll go to any length to rescue her. The final chapter in this thrilling and fast-paced adventure with the power of true love at its very core.

I've been invaded by The Invasion of Peadar O'Guilin's long-awaited sequel to the Call. It is soon to be published on the 1st March 2018 by David Fickling Books (the home of great stories). In this book, we are reunited with the two main characters, Nessa and Anto. They survived the Call, but what's in store for them in The Invasion is more terrifying than you can ever imagine. The complexity of this book is brilliant. From the very start, it pulls the reader on a journey that is captivating. The story is beautiful and brutal at the same time which makes it both compelling and disturbing in equal measure. 

It's a fantastic blend of action horror written in its own unique style. Not using any of the classic tropes normally found in this category, it really makes this story stand out and addictive to read. The plot is dark and twisted just like the characters. In a world full of monsters, Sidhe's are disfigured, amalgamations of human flesh and animals/beasts. They are very cunning in character and appear to morph from the dark depths of the author's psyche into a very bizarre world. 

You will prowl into the strange and disturbing land of the Greylands which is very descriptive and well written. It will both captivate and thrill you in equal measures. The author has cleverly blended his fascination for mythology and Irish legend by instilling a very unsettling creepiness that follows you around through every twist and turn. The nation must survive but will they survive? That is most definitely the question.  

This is a fantastic sequel. In my opinion, it is even better than the first book which is something that I very rarely say or think. The author has spent time inventing and building a brilliant backdrop that is even more surreal than the last book. It certainly sucks you into a vortex of evil and chaos. The characters have been very well written, their personalities and emotions are depicted at just the right times through the story. Their different viewpoints come across very clearly and are very much in keeping with the storyline. The story is more compact, fast-paced and free-flowing whilst delivering just the right amount of character dialogue and back history to bring the reader up to speed on the previous story.

The author has taken no prisoners with this book. It's a bloodbath fuelled on high adrenalin action that is both unpredictable and deeply satisfying to read. I really loved this book. Thanks, Peadar - I'm looking forward to the next book, whatever it maybe.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books - Favourite Children's Picture Books - Jan/Feb 2018

Jonny Duddle - The Pirates of Scurvy Sands - Published by Templar Publishing (8 Feb. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1783704088


This summer, Matilda is going on holiday with her friends, the Jolley-Rogers. Their destination is the island of Scurvy Sands - a favourite holiday destination for pirates. 
When Matilda arrives, the swashbuckling residents are not too impressed with her. She has clean teeth, tidy clothes and doesn't smell like she's been at sea for six months without washing - she's definitely no pirate. But when Matilda discovers the secret of the legendary treasure of Scurvy Sands, the pirates decide that maybe some lubbers aren't so bad.
A scurvy sequel to the bestselling The Pirates Next Door.

Jonny Lambert -  Look Out, It’s a Dragon! - Published by Little Tiger Press (8 Feb. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1848698215


Saffi isn’t like other dragons. She doesn’t enjoy crushing castles and capturing princesses. But when she finds the perfect new home, how can she persuade her new neighbours that she is a helpful sort of dragon?

Written and illustrated by the award-winning Jonny Lambert (Little Why, The Only Lonely Panda and Tiger Tiger), this is a humorous and heart-warming tale about bravery, overcoming prejudices and finding new friends.

Helena Covell - Jumble Wood - Published by Flying Eye Books (1 Feb. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1911171362

Far, far away there was a wood. A jumble of twists and turns, ups and downs, and unknowns. The little creatures that lived there each had a thing that made them happy... all of them except Pod, who just can't seem to find hers. Exasperated and sad, Pod sets off to discover where her 'happiness' might be hiding, only to find it in the friends she meets along the way.

Julian Gough & Jim Field - Attack of the Snack: Book 3 (Rabbit and Bear) - Hodder Children's Books (11 Jan. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1444938173

Gorgeously illustrated and with a classic feel, this is a brilliantly funny story of a rabbit and a bear who discover that things are always better when they're shared with a friend. Ideal for readers moving on from picture books. 
'A perfect animal double-act.' (The Times, Book of the Week)
SPLASH! A Mysterious Thing lands in Rabbit and Bear's peaceful summer lake. 
Is it exciting, or terrifying? Is it a tiny fluffy owl, or a huge hungry monster? And has Rabbit finally met a creature with worse habits than himself? 
Rabbit's SURE he can solve this mystery. But when he accidentally turns the Best Day Ever into the Worst Day Ever, he needs Bear's help ... 
From novelist and playwright Julian Gough, and the winner of the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, Jim Field, this is a tale of friendship, acceptance, and what you can do with blueberry poo.

'Rabbit's Bad Habits is a breath of fresh air in children's fiction, a laugh-out-loud story of rabbit and wolf and bear, of avalanches and snowmen. The sort of story that makes you want to send your children to bed early, so you can read it to them.' Neil Gaiman

Sam Hay & Sarah Massini - Star in the Jar - Published by Egmont (11 Jan. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1405284301

An enchanting bedtime story for toddlers, perfect for fans of Oliver Jeffers' How To Catch a Star.
Up high, in the dark, dark sky . . . a message: LOST, ONE SMALL STAR. 
When a little boy stumbles across a special star, he puts it in a jar and takes it on adventures. Together with his big sister, he takes his special treasure with him everywhere – to the cinema, to the swimming pool and even to the toilet! 
But the poor star is sad and misses its home . . .
Can the little boy and his big sister find a way to send the star safely back?
Sarah Massini's artwork glows with warmth and humour and perfectly captures the friendship between the two siblings in this warm-hearted bedtime book.
Told from the perspective of the big sister, this is the perfect picture book for siblings to share and read together. The short text and warm tone is ideal for toddlers aged 2 years and up. 

David Fickling & Richard Collingridge - Tiny Little Rocket - Published by David Fickling Books (1 Feb. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1910200902

There's a tiny little rocket that will take you to the stars.
It only flies there once a year but zips you out past Mars.
Its fins are solid silver with a door made out of gold.
There's a cozy pilot seat inside for a person young or old.

Climb aboard for a bedtime picture book sure to appeal to every kid's sense of wonder. Young readers will love stepping into the cockpit of a wonderful rocket ship that takes them zipping through the planets, stars, and space, all the way back home to Earth and their cozy beds!

Friday, 16 February 2018

Celine Kiernan - Begone the Raggedy Witches - Q&A Interview with Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

    To celebrate the release of the fantastic "Begone the Raggedy Witches", Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books has taken the opportunity to ask some questions about the up and coming trilogy by Walker Books. It's a rich and fantastically dark story that will have you gripped. Here are the questions that we asked Celine about her recently published book. We hope they peak your interest to read this book. 

    Thank you Celine and welcome to Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books. 
    • Tell us a little bit about your latest book Begone the Raggedy Witches? 

    Begone the Raggedy Witches is my first book for younger readers. The main character is a girl called Mup who must cross over into Witches Borough to rescue her Dad from the clutches of the grandmother she's never met. On the way, Mup finds a brave, if cranky, new best friend in a creature called Crow, discovers that her brother prefers life as a dog, explores powers she never thought she'd be allowed use, and faces up to a whole mess of complicated family history. 

    • The book features a variety of animals. How do you go about writing them as convincing characters?
    Well... I guess they're just real to me! All the characters in 'Raggedy Witches' have their own long histories stretching behind them, and their own deep-rooted reasons for behaving the way they do. Most of them have been alive much longer than Mup, and they've been shaped by their experiences living under her grandmother's less-than-gentle reign. It's hard for Mup to understand or forgive how hard the residents of Witches Borough are sometimes, but I think the reader might find a thread of sympathy or understanding for each of them. As for Crow, he's had no-one to listen to him for so long that he's become sour and abrasive as a consequence. There's a caring, kind and affectionate heart under those glossy feathers - just don't expect it to show itself too often or on anything but Crow's own terms. 

    • The book has a lovely dark edginess about it, what was your inspiration and has your Irish heritage contributed to this?
    I suspect every writer's heritage influences them in subtle ways. I know that Ireland's uneasy relationship with personal freedoms and self-expression has led to my exploring ideas of repressed memory and hidden histories quite a lot. Especially the poison leaked into innocent lives from the undealt-with fallout of previous generation's (often undisclosed) actions. These themes are quite prominent in Raggedy, I think. 
    I had fun playing with the old Irish witch-lore of the hare too, specifically that witches can change into hares in order to cross to and fro across invisible borders and follow paths which others may be incapable of seeing.

    • What do you think makes a good story and why?
    When it comes to my own reading, I like a story that challenges my perception - something that presents new perspectives or philosophies that may broaden my thinking or enrich my horizons. I also like stories that inform me about ways of life I may never get to experience for myself. I like thoughtful meat on the bones of a good adventure or fantasy. A little depth lurking beneath the surface of the entertainment. Heart.

    In my writing I try not to think about whether or not people might like the story. All my stories start out as explorations of something - me unknotting whatever philosophical conundrum is fascinating me at the time, or chewing whatever piece of social gristle I have the need to break down for myself. It's only later, when I go to edit, that I try to make the narrative enjoyable for the unknown reader (to make the pace bearable, to make the characters breath, to smooth out the writing to a readable level) But the story itself? That's always just for me - I write what I want to read at that time. To do otherwise would not work for me, as the process and the output would feel hollow.

    • Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc come from?
    I've been reading since the age of three. My mother said she couldn't get my head out of a book. She had to root me out from behind the sofa at my sixth birthday party because I'd been given a present of a book and I couldn't wait until everyone went home to read it. Stories were just a way of finding things out, of sharing other people's experiences, of seeing places I'd never yet been. And when I couldn't find one to satisfy me, I wrote my own.

    • I love the book cover. Do you think that the book cover plays an important part in the buying process? 
    I love it too. The Walker design team are amazing, and Victoria Semykina's artwork is astonishing. I do think a good cover makes a difference. It's the nature of the publishing beast. There are so many books to choose from and often it takes a really smashing visual for one to stand out from the rest. A good cover can't make up for a weak story though. The true test is when you start reading.

    • What can we expect in book two?
    Well, the residents of Witches Borough have a lot of work to do. Mup and her family move across the border and into her grandmother's castle, hoping to lend a hand. But - much and all as some folk would like to think it possible - people can't just start from scratch after a lifetime of fear and hatred. You can't always dust off the past and shake hands with your memories and move on. There are some ghosts that can't be forgotten - some ghosts that won't be forgotten. And unless Witches Borough faces up to its past, it may not be possible for anyone to survive let alone to move on. 

    • Do you read much and, if so, who are your favourite authors?
    I read a lot, yes, despite having a very busy schedule. I tend to read biographies and history books a lot, and to have favorite books rather than favorite authors. But there are some writers I find myself returning to again and again. Sebastian Barry is one, Shirley Jackson, Jennifer Egan, Stephen King, Edith Wharton, Louis de Bernieres. I've just discovered Geraldine McCaughrean and Michelle Paver and I will be hungrily eating up their work as soon as edits to Raggedy Two are done!

    • What are your thoughts about how to encourage more children/teenagers to read?
    Trust young readers, be honest with them, and stop worrying about what stories you think they want to read. Create stories about the things that motivate, inspire and entertain you. Produce books that are meaningful in a genuine, non-pandering way. The audience will follow. 

    Monday, 12 February 2018

    Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Middle-Grade Book Picks February 2018 - US Post Two

    Russell Ginns - Samantha Spinner and the Super-Secret Plans - Published by Delacorte Press (27 Feb. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1524720001

    For fans of Mr. Lemoncello's Library and the Secret series, and classics like Holes and The Westing Game, the first book in a hilarious new series about a girl, her brother, and some super-big globe-trotting adventures.

    Samantha Spinner's Uncle Paul disappeared, and here's what he left:
    * Samantha's sister got a check for $2,400,000,000.
    * Samantha's brother got the New York Yankees.
    * And Samantha got a rusty red umbrella with a tag hanging off its worn handle. The tag says "Watch out for the RAIN." 
    Thanks a lot, Uncle Paul.
    After all the strawberry waffles, stories, and puzzles they've shared, how could he just leave without saying goodbye? And what is the meaning of that mysterious message? 
    The answer is simple. Sam knows in her heart that Uncle Paul is in danger. And if he taught her anything, it's that not everything is exactly what it seems. Which is why we should pay close attention to that rusty red umbrella. 
    The RAIN is coming and Samantha Spinner is about to find herself mixed up in some super-important, super-dangerous, super-secret plans. 
    And don't miss what happens next to Samantha, Nipper, and Dennis in Samantha Spinner and the Spectacular Specs!

    Eliot Schrefer - The Lost Rainforest: Mez's Magic - Published by Katherine Tegen Books (8 Feb. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-0062491077

    An action-packed and hilarious animal fantasy adventure from New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award finalist Eliot Schrefer, “this new series stunner” (Kirkus starred review) will thrill fans of Warriors and Spirit Animals.

    Caldera has forever been divided into the animals who walk by night and those who walk by day. Nightwalker panthers, like young Mez and her sister, have always feared daywalkers as creatures of myth and legend. 
    Then Mez discovers that she can enter the daylight world, and she rushes to discover what it means to cross the Veil—and the extent of her newly uncovered magical powers—before a reawakened evil threatens everything she’s ever known.
    Now, with an unlikely group of animal friends—including a courageous bat, a scholarly tree frog, and an anxious monkey—Mez must unravel an ancient mystery and face her greatest fears, if they are to have any hope of saving their endangered rainforest home.

    E. Latimer - The Strange and Deadly Portraits of Bryony Gray - Published by Tundra Books (NY) (13 Feb. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1101919286

    Lemony Snicket meets Oscar Wilde meets Edgar Allan Poe in this exciting and scary middle-grade novel inspired by The Picture of Dorian Gray -- a family curse is unleashed!
    Bryony Gray is becoming famous as a painter in London art circles. But life isn't so grand. Her uncle keeps her locked in the attic, forcing her to paint for his rich clients . . . and now her paintings are taking on a life of their own, and customers are going missing under mysterious circumstances. 
    When her newest painting escapes the canvas and rampages through the streets of London, Bryony digs into her family history, discovering some rather scandalous secrets her uncle has been keeping, including a deadly curse she's inherited from her missing father. Bryony has accidentally unleashed the Gray family curse, and it's spreading fast. 
    With a little help from the strange-but-beautiful girl next door and her paranoid brother, Bryony sets out to break the curse, dodging bloodthirsty paintings, angry mobs and her wicked uncle along the way.

    Abie Longstaff (Author) James Brown (Illustrator) - The Trapdoor Mysteries: A Sticky Situation: Book 1 - Published by  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (8 Feb. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1510201774


    The first book in The Trapdoor Mysteries, a series about Tally, a code-breaking, animal-loving servant girl and her best friend, a squirrel named Squill, who solve mysteries with the help of a secret library...
    Ten-year-old Tally is a servant girl at Mollett Manor. She sleeps in the scullery sink, and spends her days scrubbing, polishing and ironing (when she's not secretly reading books). Then Tally and her squirrel friend, Squill, find a secret library hidden under the manor - a magical library where the books come to life! When Mollett Manor is burgled, can Tally use the knowledge she finds in the books to catch the criminals? Can they even help her solve the mystery of her missing mother?

    Arthur Slade (Author) Christopher Steininger (Illustrator) Modo: Ember's End - Published by Orca Book Publishers (20 Feb. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1459817210 BUY HERE

    Modo, who first made his appearance in The Hunchback Assignments, is a young, disfigured spy trained to be the ultimate secret agent. Not only is Modo brilliant and strong, but he also has a special ability: he can temporarily take on the appearance of other people. 
    While on holiday, Modo and fellow spy Octavia Milkweed find themselves in Ember's End. Created by the slightly mad scientific genius Dr. Ebenezer Ember, this is no ordinary wild-west town. It is surrounded by an energy field that prevents gunpowder from firing, and messages are sent via pneumatic tubes. There are also rumors that before Dr. Ember died, he built a weapon so powerful it could end all wars. With the local sheriff recently deceased, the two travelers are suddenly put in charge of Ember's End law enforcement.

    Friday, 9 February 2018

    Steven Butler (Author) Steve Lenton (Illustrator) - The Nothing to See Here Hotel - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books Book Review

    Welcome to The Nothing to See Here Hotel! A hotel for magical creatures, where weird is normal for Frankie Banister and his parents who run the hotel.

    When a goblin messenger arrives at The Nothing to See Here Hotel, announcing the imminent arrival of the goblin prince Grogbah, Frankie and his family rush into action to get ready for their important guest. But it soon becomes obvious that the Banister family are going to have their work cut out with the demanding prince and his never-ending entourage, especially when it turns out the rude little prince is hiding a secret...

    The Nothing to See Here Hotel is a crazy and wildly imagined story written by Steven Butler and his sidekick illustrator, Steven Lenton. This is a fantastic new series for the younger reader (Age 6+) or the big kid like me. It is due to be published by the mighty Simon & Schuster Children's in the UK on the 22nd February 2018. It's fantastically illustrated all the way through and will help any reluctant reader to capture the story. It certainly brings the characters to life visually. 

    No sooner do you turn the first page, when your life shatters and explodes in a green mist of flesh and uncontrollable smells. You'll open the door of The Nothing to See Here Hotel and be expertly guided through the narrative by Frankie Banister. It is an unbelievable story that might take you and your smelly socks by surprise. You'll wobble down the path of humour before your toes go green and your brain turns into jelly. This is a funny, action-packed crazy ride that is faster than an Orkney Brittle-back, which I have on good authority by Steve. 

    This is a disgusting book that you really don't want to read. Nevertheless, you'll feel compelled to read it. It's absolutely crazy - packed full of ghastly humour and outlandish behaviour that will captivate the reading audience. You will be introduced to a bucket-load of magical characters, especially The Royal Regalia of wobbliness, Prince Grogbah, and his troll entourage. 

    This is a great book to get kids to read. It is full of imaginative 'shouting' text and rollercoaster action which is more suited to Brighton Pier. It will make you laugh, especially when the story explodes into a fantasy world of swashbuckling mayhem and gnashing teeth. This is Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books young readers pick of the month, so get it ordered now. 

    If I was rating this on Trolliday Review it would read. BOG OFF you little pimple. THERE IS NOTHING to see here. Expect ghastly food, dirty bed linen and no service you LOATHSOME LITTLE Toads! Thank you for not staying in the non-star rated hotel in Brighton. Our pleasure is in your dissatisfaction. 

    Wednesday, 7 February 2018

    Waterstones Children’s Book Prize shortlists 2018 (Appetite for new Imaginary Worlds)

    Children’s Book Prize shortlists reflect readers’ appetite for new imaginary worlds

    Stories depicting the fantastical are highlighted in the shortlists for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2018, announced today, Wednesday 7th February. 

    In previous years, real-life topics were prominent in the shortlists, but this year it is notable that the majority of shortlisted fiction titles are fantastical adventures. Many of the authors, representing the best in new children’s writing, have chosen to provide escapism from the boundaries of reality by setting their stories in imagined realms, or by infusing real-world settings with magical elements.

    Florentyna Martin, Waterstones Children’s Buyer says:
    “Whilst we still see exceptional real-life stories, this year’s shortlists indicate a renewed interest in the publishing and purchasing of fantastical adventure stories. Children have always been eager to experience worlds beyond our own, whether it’s in books, films or technology, but our booksellers’ shortlist choices show that a resurgence of nostalgic fantastical adventures is creating a hunger for new magical stories. We’ve been treated recently to bestselling revisits to the Wizarding World, with both Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts, and our booksellers crowned Philip Pullman’s new adventure La Belle Sauvageas Book of the Year 2017, ultimately championing the wide-reaching magic of children’s books. The books chosen by our booksellers on this year’s list are classics of the future, and will be inspiring children for generations to come.”

    A selection of more traditional adventure stories set in imaginary worlds, exemplified by Kieran Larwood’s The Five Realms: The Legend of Podkin One Ear, is highlighted in the ‘younger fiction’ shortlists. The first book in a new series, The Legend of Podkin One Ear is inspired by the author’s joy of reading The Hobbit as a child, and comparable to beloved childhood classics, such as Watership Down and RedwallNevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend, another first book in a new series, is a story in the tradition of Harry Potter, creating a “wundrous” world full of adventures. Helena Duggan’s A Place Called Perfect is a fantastical mystery, reminiscent of Neil Gaiman and Roald Dahl stories.

    ‘Fiction for older readers’ showcases fantastical story telling in its various forms, from speculative fiction to a magical coming of age story, and all protagonists are strong young women. Ink by Alice Broadway imagines a world where everyone’s actions and significant moments are tattooed on their skin for ever. Emily Bain Murphy’s The Disappearances is a story thick with secrets and follows a teenage girl whose family history could hold the key to a town’s mystery. Alternating between wordless graphic novel and written journal entries, Thornhill by Pam Smy tells the story of two girls and one house, evoking the atmosphere of a gothic ghost novel.

    Themes of fantasy and nature have merged in several of the illustrated books. In surreal adventure story The Secret of Black Rock by Joe Todd-Stanton a young girl discovers the truth behind a mysterious legend about the deepest sea and protects a peaceful creature from human harm. In The Night Box, Louise Greig and Ashling Lindsay tell a lyrical story about the magical nature of night-time. Sandra Dieckmann’s beautifully illustrated book Leaf introduces the youngest readers to the effects of global warming by telling  the story of a lost polar bear, who floats away from home on an ice floe and tries to find his way back.

    James Daunt, Waterstones Managing Director says:
    “The track record of our Children’s Prize is a source of great pride. Year after year, the Prize launches the enduring careers of a succession of brilliant writers. Our bookshops revel in the vibrant creativity of children’s publishing, with growing sales propelled to a significant extent by new discoveries. This is proving to be a golden age for children’s books in which we are delighted to play our part.”

    The Waterstones Children’s book prize exists to reward and champion new and emerging talent in children’s books. Now in its fourteenth year, it is widely regarded as one of the most important prizes for children’s books.

    Last year’s winner, The Girl Of Ink And Stars shot to the top of the bestseller charts after announcement and saw an increase in sales of over 1400% across the Waterstones estate.

    The winners will be announced at an evening reception at Waterstones Piccadilly (London), Europe’s largest bookshop, on Thursday 22nd March 2018. Six books will compete within each category to be crowned category winner, with the three category winners then vying for the overall title of Waterstones Children’s Book of the Year 2018. The winner of each category will receive £2000, with the overall winner receiving an extra £3000. In the event that the prize is awarded to a partnership then the prize money will be split equally between the joint winners.

    The winning authors and illustrators will also see a significant boost in sales, and the promise of an ongoing commitment to their writing career from all Waterstones shops nationwide.

    The full lists of shortlisted titles (in alphabetical order by author) for the 2018 Prize are:

    Illustrated Books:
    Superbat by Matt Carr (Scholastic)
    Leaf by Sandra Dieckmann (Flying Eye)
    The Night Box by Louise Greig and Ashling Lindsay (Egmont)
    I Really Want The Cake by Simon Philip and Lucia Gagiotti (Kings Road Publishing)
    Fergal Is Fuming by Robert Starling (Andersen Press)
    The Secret of Black Rock by Joe Todd-Stanton (Flying Eye)

    Younger Fiction:
    A Place Called Perfect by Helena Duggan (Usborne)
    Who Let The Gods Out? by Maz Evans (Chicken House)
    Kid Normal by Greg James, Chris Smith and Erica Salcedo, (Bloomsbury)
    The Five Realms: The Legend of Podkin One–Ear by Kieran Larwood (with illustrations from renowned British artist David Wyatt), (Faber)
    The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson (Scholastic)
    Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend (Hachette Children’s)

    Older Fiction:
    The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy (Pushkin Children’s)
    Troublemakers by Catherine Barter (Andersen Press)
    Ink by Alice Broadway (Scholastic)
    Thornhill by Pam Smy (David Fickling Books)
    This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada (Penguin Random House Children’s)
    The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Walker)

    Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Middle-Grade Book Picks February 2018 - US Post One

    John August - Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire - Published by Roaring Brook Press (February 6, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1626728141


    As Arlo looked around, the walls of his room began to vanish, revealing a moonlit forest. Only his bed remained, and the frame of his window, through which he saw the girl. The world on her side of the glass was sparkling with silver and gold, like a palace made of autumn leaves. 
    She looked off to her right. Someone was coming. Her words came in an urgent whisper: "If I can see you, they can see you . . . Be careful, Arlo Finch.” 
    Arlo Finch thought becoming a Ranger meant learning wilderness skills, like camping and knots. But upon arriving in the tiny town of Pine Mountain, Colorado, Arlo soon learns there's so much more. His new friends Indra and Wu teach him how to harness the wild magic seeping in from the mysterious Long Woods―a parallel realm of wonder and danger.
    First he must master the basics, including snaplights, thunderclaps and identifying supernatural creatures. But Arlo Finch is no ordinary Ranger, and this is no ordinary time. A dark and ancient force is sending threats into the real world . . . our world.
    Through perilous adventures and close calls, Arlo is awakened to his unique destiny―but the obstacles he faces will test the foundations of the Ranger's Vow: loyalty, bravery, kindness, and truth.

    Sayantani DasGupta - The Serpent's Secret (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond #1) - Published by Scholastic Press (February 27, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1338185706



    (Only she doesn't know it yet.)

    On the morning of her twelfth birthday, Kiranmala is just a regular sixth grader living in Parsippany, New Jersey . . . until her parents mysteriously vanish and a drooling rakkhosh demon slams through her kitchen, determined to eat her alive. Turns out there might be some truth to her parents' fantastical stories-like how Kiranmala is a real Indian princess and how she comes from a secret place not of this world.

    To complicate matters, two crush-worthy princes ring her doorbell, insisting they've come to rescue her. Suddenly, Kiran is swept into another dimension full of magic, winged horses, moving maps, and annoying, talking birds. There she must solve riddles and battle demons all while avoiding the Serpent King of the underworld and the Rakkhoshi Queen in order to find her parents and basically save New Jersey, her entire world, and everything beyond it . . .

    Aimée Carter - Simon Thorn and the Shark's Cave - Published by Bloomsbury USA Children's (February 6, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1619637184

    Simon Thorn has only recently discovered that he's an Animalgam, a member of a secret race of people who can shift into animals, and found a home where he truly belongs. But not everything is as good as it seems. Simon's evil grandfather, Orion, is bent on taking over the entire animal kingdom, and to do so, he'll need to gather the pieces of a terrible weapon--one that could shred the very foundations of the Animalgams' world. . . unless Simon can gather the pieces first. 
    So when Simon's dolphin Animalgam friend Jam is summoned home to the underwater kingdom's headquarters, Avalon, Simon sees it as an opportunity to secure another piece. But as soon as he and his friends arrive in Avalon, their search is complicated by Jam's strict family--and a potential traitor. Can they locate the piece before it falls into Orion's hands and puts the entire underwater kingdom at risk?

    Kristine Asselin & Jen Malone - The Art of the Swap - Published by Aladdin (February 13, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1481478717

    Freaky Friday meets Downton Abbey in this middle-grade mystery that features a modern-day twelve-year-old switching bodies with a Gilded Age heiress in order to solve a famous art heist.

    Hannah Jordan lives in a museum…well, sort of. She is the daughter of the caretaker for mansion-turned-museum The Elms in Newport, Rhode Island. Hannah’s captivated by stories of The Elms’s original occupants, especially Maggie Dunlap, the tween heiress subject of a painting that went missing during a legendary art heist in 1905.

    But when a mysterious mirror allows Hannah and Maggie to switch places in time, suddenly Hannah is racing to stop the heist from happening, while Maggie gets an introduction to iPhones, soccer (which girls can play!), and freedoms like exploring without supervision. Not to mention the best invention of all: sweatpants (so long, corsets!).

    As the hours tick off to the art heist, something’s not adding up. Can the girls work together against time—and across it—to set things right? Or will their temporary swap become a permanent trade?