The Secret Dragon by Ed Clarke

Mari Jones is desperate to be a real scientist, even though she’s only eleven.
So when she discovers a tiny dragon while fossil hunting on the beach, she’s sure she can find a good scientific explanation – as long as she can keep it hidden long enough to study it. Unfortunately for Mari, this is one secret that doesn’t want to be kept. And as she starts to form a deeper bond with the mischievous dragon, she might have to admit that, when it comes to friendship, science might not have all the answers… 

The first in a new series, this is a heartwarming tale of family, friendship and following your dreams.

Mari is a fiercely determined and independent young scientist and we loved all the brilliant references to Mary Anning and women in science. There’s also some lovely swapping of gender stereotypes here. A brilliant book for the little feminists in your life.

And who could resist a tiny dragon that can curl its tiny tail round your finger but also burn your school down with one burp?! A perfect book for all budding scientists, adventurers and animal lovers.

We love the cover illustration by Ben Mantle and really do want our very own Gweeb to live in our shop.

Available in our shop now, you can get your copy online here.

The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell

Fresh off the boat from England, Vita Marlowe has a job to do. Her beloved grandfather Jack has been cheated out of his home and possessions by a notorious conman with Mafia connections.

Seeing Jack’s spirit is broken, Vita is desperate to make him happy again, so she devises a plan to outwit his enemies and recover his home.

She finds a young pickpocket, working the streets of the city. And, nearby, two boys with highly unusual skills and secrets of their own are about to be pulled into her lawless, death-defying plan.

Katherine Rundell’s fifth novel is a heist as never seen before – the story of a group of children who will do anything to right a wrong.
 

Katherine Rundell writes sentences that you wish you could hold in your heart. Her superpower in The Good Thieves is her ability to write characters who burn with bravery and a fierce sense of injustice.

This is a story full of heart as well as adventure. The extraordinary world of tumbledown castles, terrifying gangsters and forbidden heists becomes the backdrop for acts of daring, kindness and respect.

We loved this story of loyalty, friendship and overcoming the odds. Great for 10+

You can order your copy here.

Lampie and the Children of the Sea – Annet Schaap

Every evening Lampie the lighthouse keeper’s daughter must light a lantern to warn ships away from the rocks. But one stormy night disaster strikes. The lantern goes out, a ship is wrecked and an adventure begins. In disgrace, Lampie is sent to work as a maid at the Admiral’s Black House, where rumour has it that a monster lurks in the tower.
But what she finds there is stranger and more beautiful than any monster. Soon Lampie is drawn into a fairytale adventure in a world of mermaids and pirates, where she must fight with all her might for friendship, freedom and the right to be different.

We always get excited by a new book from Pushkin Children’s Books. They consistently deliver something different that makes you look at the world through fresh eyes. Lampie and the Children of the Sea is a joy to read; quirky and filled with wonder.

There is something of The Secret Garden here, in the monster in the tower, the slowly building friendships, and in the fear and distrust that dissolve into something magical.

Lampie is fierce and determined and filled with questions and doubts. The richly diverse cast of characters come together beautifully in a Greatest Showman, This is Me moment.

It’s a beautiful book about standing up against injustice, fighting for what you deserve rather than settling for what life has handed you. Above all it is about being fiercely, proudly, determinedly you. 

A masterclass in writing, perfect for any budding young authors and adventure-lovers. 12+

Lampie and the Children of the Sea by Annet Schaap and translated by Laura Watkinson. Out 30th May, you can order your copy from our shop today.

Meat Market by Juno Dawson

Jana Novak is catapulted to superstardom when she’s scouted by a model agency. But the fashion industry is as grimy as it is glamorous, and there are predators at every turn.

Jana is an ordinary girl from a south London estate, lifted to unimaginable heights. But the further you rise, the more devastating your fall…

Honest and raw, this is a timely exposé of the dark underbelly of the fashion industry in an era of #TimesUp and #MeToo. It might just be Juno Dawson’s most important book yet.

We love this fast-paced and addictive read. Meat Market is Juno Dawson at her best; accomplished writing, beautifully diverse characters that dig into your head and heart, and a powerful storyline that is all too relevant.

Jana is immensely relatable. She is every young woman facing the challenges of growing up in this image-centric world. Just as Jana is pulled into the chaos of the fashion industry, we were swept along, unable to put Meat Market down, binge-reading all the way to that perfect, perfect ending. Jana’s downfall feels inevitable and inescapable, yet this is a hugely positive book with a powerful and hopeful ending.

A brilliant book that highlights the importance of friendship, standing up for what you believe in and being true to yourself in a world that often tries to tell young women otherwise. A must for raising the consciousness of the fashion-conscious.

You can order your copy here.

Rumblestar – Abi Elphinstone

‘Adventures are unpredictable and often terribly badly behaved – a bit like pickled onions if you’ve ever tried to fork one on a plate – but they have a way of unlocking people and turning them upside down so that all the astonishing things fizzing around inside them start to tumble out…’

Eleven-year-old Casper Tock hates risks, is allergic to adventures and shudders at the thought of unpredictable events. So, it comes as a nasty shock to him when he accidentally stumbles into Rumblestar, an Unmapped Kingdom full of magical beasts.

All Casper wants is to find a way home, but Rumblestar is in trouble. An evil harpy called Morg is sending her followers, the Midnights, into the kingdom to wreak havoc and pave the way for her to steal the Unmapped magic for herself. But Casper cannot turn a blind eye because the future of his own world, he discovers, is bound up with that of the Unmapped Kingdoms. 

And so, together with Utterly Thankless, a girl who hates rules and is allergic to behaving, and her miniature dragon, Arlo, Casper embarks upon an adventure full of cloud giants, storm ogres and drizzle hags. Can he, Utterly and Arlo, the unlikeliest of heroes, save the Unmapped Kingdoms and our world from the clutches of Morg and her Midnights?

Live a life filled with adventure with Abi Elphinstone in this brand NEW series where a whole new world is waiting to be discovered…

We adore this book! Abi Elphinstone has an incredible imagination and a real skill for world building. Filled with Faraway Tree style magic and a fair amount of wit, Rumblestar is wise and full of heart. Casper is an unlikely hero and Utterly is a fierce engineering prodigy – both fantastic characters, role-models and gender-stereotype-squashers. Follow them through glorious darkness, mild-peril and edge of your seat adventure. Think Narnia meets Maleficent. We cant wait to see what happens next in The Unmapped Chronicles series.

You can pre-order a PERSONALISED SIGNED COPY of this fantastic new book here.

Malamander – Thomas Taylor

Nobody visits Eerie-on-Sea in the winter. Especially not when darkness falls and the wind howls around Maw Rocks and the wreck of the battleship Leviathan, where even now some swear they have seen the unctuous Malamander creep… Herbert Lemon, Lost-and-Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel, knows that returning lost things to their rightful owners is not easy – especially when the lost thing is not a thing at all, but a girl.

No one knows what happened to Violet Parma’s parents twelve years ago, and when she engages Herbie to help her find them, the pair discover that their disappearance might have something to do with the legendary sea-monster, the Malamander.

Eerie-on-Sea has always been a mysteriously chilling place, where strange stories seem to wash up. And it just got stranger…

We love Malamander for it’s twists and turns and mild peril. It’s a magical mystery that had us holding our breath and wishing we could have our own book prescription from the Eerie book dispensary. Brilliant for brave adventurers 9+.

We can’t wait to see what happens in the next book in the series!

Brian the Brave

“Let’s all be friends!” says Brian…. But Stanley only likes sheep with black wool, Hamish, Cassidy and Lou think black wool and white wool are rubbish – while Tracey and Frank only want sheep with horns in their gang.

Then Brian bumps into a WOLF – and he knows he has to get the sheep to ACT TOGETHER!

A fun book about friendship and accepting our differences. We love this gentle introduction to understanding diversity.

Lily and the Rockets – Rebecca Stevens

‘Whatever you decide to do,’ he used to say, ‘there’ll be people who’ll tell you not to, say it’ll be too hard, you won’t like it, it’s not for the likes of you. They’ll try and stop you, Lily-oh. But you mustn’t let them. Listen to me, girl. You Must Not Let Them!’

Lily and the Rockets – Rebecca Stevens

It’s 1917. Lily spends her days working in a munitions factory, her nights picking metal out of her hair, and her lunchtimes kicking a ball with her workmates. Together they form a football team, the Rockets, and a league soon follows.

But when the war ends, the girls lose both their jobs and their football. Not Lily. If her only chance of being a goalie is to play with the men, then that’s what she’ll do …

An empowering story about having the courage to be yourself and follow your dreams. Brilliant for 10+

We love the beautiful cover illustration by Harriet Taylor Seed.

No Ballet Shoes in Syria – Catherine Bruton

Aya is eleven years old and has just arrived in Britain with her mum and baby brother, seeking asylum from war in Syria.

When Aya stumbles across a local ballet class, the formidable dance teacher spots her exceptional talent and believes that Aya has the potential to earn a prestigious ballet scholarship. 

But at the same time, Aya and her family must fight to be allowed to remain in the country, to make a home for themselves and to find Aya’s father – separated from the rest of the family during the journey from Syria. 

With beautiful, captivating writing, wonderfully authentic ballet detail, and an important message championing the rights of refugees, this is classic storytelling – filled with warmth, hope and humanity.

No Ballet Shoes in Syria is a gentle, poignant story that brought us to tears but warmed our hearts. Full of hope and the power of dance. Perfect for introducing empathy for, and understanding of refugees and asylum seekers to children 9+. It’s a beauty!

Our Books of the Month for May

A Mouse Called Julian by Joe Todd-Stanton – Julian likes living on his own but will that change after his dinner is rudely interrupted one night? 

Dave Pigeon (Royal COO!) by Swapna Haddow, ill. Sheena Dempsey  The fourth hilarious offering from our favourite pigeons, Dave and his best mate Skipper. 6+

Swimming Against the Storm by Jess Butterworth  – An exciting adventure with an environmental message set in the swampland of the Southern states of America. 9+

You Can’t Hide by Sarah Mussi A page-turning YA thriller complete with an unreliable narrator, secret identities and lost memories. Absolutely gripping!