Troofriend by Kirsty Applebaum

We loved Kirsty’s first book, The Middler, and were very excited to venture into her next visions of the future. Troofriend didn’t disappoint and confirms her place as the Queen of middle grade dystopia.

‘Imagine having the perfect friend, one who never steals, lies or bullies. Now you can, with the TrooFriend 560, the latest in artificial intelligence! What can go wrong with a robot buddy? Especially one that’s developing human characteristics and feelings, and who has just run away with her human?’

As well as looking at the rise and risks of technology, Troofriend explores the grey areas between right and wrong and good and bad. It’s a wonderful investigation into the nature of friendship; how far should you go to make friends or be popular? What does true friendship mean and what does it take to achieve?

This is a fantastic book for children with a strong sense of justice and those who love to imagine the world in the future. Best for 9+.

Due to be published 2nd April, you can order your signed copy here.

Anisha Accidental Detective by Serena Patel and Emma McCann

Anisha is all set to be a (reluctant) bridesmaid at Aunty Bindi’s wedding…until a secret ransom note arrives. Bindi’s groom has been kidnapped and will only be released IF THE WEDDING IS CALLED OFF!

With best friend Milo, mischievous Granny Jas, a runaway lobster, a kitten-loving giant, and some super skills of logic and observation, it’s up to Anisha Mistry to find her uncle, before the big family wedding of the year becomes a big disaster.

This brilliantly funny character-led series is perfect for fans of Pamela Butchart and Swapna Haddow and is a great gateway read into older detective fiction like Robin Stevens’ Murder Most Unladylike series.

Anisha Accidental Detectives is the first in a brilliantly inclusive detective series featuring a multi-generational British Indian family. It reflects reality with a strong cast of characters and footnotes explaining cultural references in a fun and unobtrusive way.

Anisha is a fantastic female lead; a reluctant heroine who would rather stay out of any drama. She has much more common sense than all the grown ups and is a strong role model for STEM loving children.  Together with her best friend Milo she must use all her logic and reasoning skills to get to the bottom of the great kidnapping mystery.

The book is an ode to the strength and solidarity of female family members, celebrating women in all their different forms with Anisha’s fantastically fierce granny who never gives up and oozes positivity, and her unflappable Mum who stays calm through every crisis. The book is filled with role models and wonderful women for readers to aspire to.

Anisha and Milo flip gender stereotypes on their head and this book is a real celebration of knowing who you are, being comfortable with yourself and seeing your differences as your strengths. Emma McCann’s illustrations bring the diverse characters to life and add an extra layer of humour to a wonderfully written, fun and engaging story. 

You can get your copy here.

Sam Wu is Not Afraid of Zombies

We love the Sam Wu series! Highly illustrated, fun and fast-paced reads with guaranteed laughs, they never disappoint.

In Sam Wu is Not Afraid of Zombies Sam and his team are back to face their fears together as they investigate the strange noises – and smells – coming from Ralph and Regina’s Do-Not-Enter basement. Hilarity and chaos ensue as the team try to save the world from a rabid pack of zombie werewolves.

We particularly love this series for its readability, strong sense of fun and imagination and its beautifully positive and casual inclusion of diverse characters. Sam Wu is Not Afraid of Zombies includes gentle nods to the fear of being different and not fitting in and shows the reader that you will always find your people if you are brave enough to be yourself.

Perfect for fans of Pamela Butchart and a brilliant follow on from her Wigglesbottom Primary School series.

About the book:

The fifth in the slapstick, action-packed middle-grade series. Sam is conflicted about saving the day when it’s his arch-enemy Ralph Zinkerman the Third who falls foul of the zombie werewolves. Deals with common childhood fears in a sensitive and accepting way.

Evernight by Ross MacKenzie

If you like your adventures dark and dangerous and your stories gory, this is  the book for you. Perfect for fans of the magic and story building of Harry Potter and the darkness of A.F. Harrold's The Imaginary. 

Evernight is dramatically written; crying out to be read aloud. It would be a great choice for teachers who want to share some magic with Key Stage 3 pupils. We were totally engrossed, although we did have to read some of the more macabre sections through our fingers!

With fantastic characters who come alive through strong, dramatic writing, this is a vivid and engaging story. This is a refreshing take on good versus evil, with the evil being deliciously dark and dangerous and the good being feisty yet powerless.

Evernight is hard to put down and harder to let go of. We can't wait to see what happens later in the series.

About the book:

Thousands of years ago, the Evernight came to the Silver Kingdom and turned everything to darkness and chaos. It was only defeated thanks to the skill and bravery of the Witches. But now the Evernight is about to return, released by the evil Mrs Hester, and the only spell that might stop it is lost, deep below the great city of King’s Haven.

Then orphan Larabelle Fox stumbles across a mysterious wooden box while treasure-hunting in the city’s sewers. Little does she realise she is about to be catapulted into an adventure, facing wild magic and mortal danger – and a man who casts no shadow . . .

Best for 11+ You can get your copy here.

Tiger Heart by Penny Chrimes

One magical friendship. One roaring adventure. The magical tale of a bold young chimney sweep and a remarkable tiger, a dangerously hypnotic ruby and a mystical land that’s found across an ocean and through a storm. Perfect for fans of The Girl of Ink and Stars and Pax.

Tiger Heart is a fierce historical fantasy where nothing is as it seems and magic can come from the most surprising of places. It is also deliciously dark; dealing with themes of capitalism, control and greed. A tale for our age, the nods to capitalist politics, child labour and animal welfare make this historical adventure all too relevant.

A fantastic story for children who enjoy their magic grounded in history with believable, authentic characters and a layer of worldly truth. We loved it!

About the book:

Fly never meant to end up in a cage with a man-eating tiger. And though she’s no princess, when the tiger bows to her, she can’t help vowing to free him and return him home. But the bird-filled jungles and cloud-topped mountains of the tiger’s homeland are an ocean away. And not everyone wants the tiger to return.

With dark and dangerous forces working against them, will Fly be able to fulfil her promises, keep them both alive and – just maybe – become the queen her tiger knows her to be?

You can get your copy here.

Nothing Ever Happens Here by Sarah Haggar-Holt

“This is Littlehaven. Nothing ever happens here. Until the spotlight hits my family.”

Izzy’s family is under the spotlight when her dad comes out as Danielle, a trans woman. Izzy is terrified her family will be torn apart. Will she lose her dad? Will her parents break up? And what will people at school say? Izzy’s always been shy, but now all eyes are on her. Can she face her fears, find her voice and stand up for what’s right?

A beautifully accessible book about growing up, dealing with friendship issues and securing your place in the world, we really enjoyed spending time with Izzy and her family.

Sarah Haggar-Holt writes sensitively and positively about Danielle and her family's response to her transition but the focus is very much on Izzy and her realisation that parents are fallible and not all-powerful, all-knowing beings. We follow her as she finds her way through secondary school, dealing with all the anxieties of facing friendship issues, learning who you are and securing your place in your world.

Engaging characters and an honest insight into how it feels for the family of someone transitioning, this deserves a place in every key stage 2 library.

You can get your copy here.

Explorers on Black Ice Bridge by Alex Bell

If you haven’t yet discovered Alex Bell’s extraordinary The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club series then you have a real adventure ahead of you and, quite frankly, we’re jealous that you get to experience the joys from the very beginning. Get on it now! The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club awaits:

The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club

Explorers on Witch Mountain

Those of you who have read the first two books are in for a treat with book three; Explorers on Black Ice Bridge. The team are back together and face a daring mission that combines all the storylines Alex Bell has been weaving through the first two books in the series. We meet snow queens, magical creatures, club rivalries, injustice, conservation, fierce friendship, and the flouting of many, many rules. There are wonderful new characters to meet and all the peril, excitement and universal truths we have come to expect from this outstanding series. Engaging and exciting, this is a truly magical series for explorers 9+

You can get your copy here.

The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty

Expect the unexpected in this fast-paced adventure full of wit and warmth. A mesmerising story, filled with magic and dragons, family and friendship, puzzles and spells. Startlingly good and packed with the most wonderful characters and hold-your-breath twists and turns, plus my very favourite fictional librarian, we couldn’t put it down. Guppy Publishing are fast becoming a firm favourite of ours. They have an eye for a fantastic story and we are so excited to see what they create next. Beautifully illustrated by Karl James Mountford, this is a stunning book that would make a perfect gift for the young adventurers in your life.

About the book:
Bronte Mettlestone is ten years old when her parents are killed by pirates. This does not bother her much: her parents ran away to have adventures when she was a baby. She has been raised by her Aunt Isabelle, with assistance from the Butler, and has spent a pleasant childhood of afternoon teas and riding lessons.

Now, however, her parents have left detailed instructions for Bronte in their will. (Instructions that, annoyingly, have been reinforced with faery cross-stitch, which means that if she doesn’t complete them, terrible things could happen) She must travel the kingdoms alone, delivering gifts to ten other aunts: a farmer aunt who owns an orange orchard, a veterinarian aunt who specializes in dragon care, a pair of aunts who captain a cruise ship, and a former rock star aunt who is now the reigning monarch of a small kingdom. But as she travels from aunt to aunt, Bronte suspects there might be more to this journey than the simple delivery of treasure; though little does she suspect that she will have to play such a big part in the extraordinary events that follow.

You can get your copy here.

Deeplight by Frances Hardinge

The gods of The Myriad were as real as the coastlines and currents, and as merciless as the winds and whirlpools. Now the gods are dead, but their remains are stirring beneath the waves…

On the streets of the Island of Lady’s Crave live 14-year-old street urchins Hark and his best friend Jelt. They are scavengers: diving for relics of the gods, desperate for anything they can sell.

But there is something dangerous in the deep waters of the undersea, calling to someone brave enough to retrieve it. When the waves try to claim Jelt, Hark will do anything to save him. Even if it means compromising not just who Jelt is, but what he is…

Deeplight by Frances Hardinge is a deliciously dark exploration of identity and how far you will go to be true to yourself. It is an exploration of religion and the damaging effects of power, as well as a celebration of the life-giving power of stories.

The best fantasy has strong links with reality and Deeplight explores the teenage experience of identity and the confusions and contradictions of life beautifully. Dealing with themes of power, manipulation, bullying and the trials of friendship, it is about learning who you are and fighting for your independence.

With all the mystery and adventure we have come to expect from Hardinge, Deeplight doesn’t disappoint.

You can order your copy here.

The International Yeti Collective by Paul Mason and Katy Riddell

An epic adventure with big feet and an even bigger heart!

Ella is in the Himalayas with her uncle searching for yeti. But what seems like the adventure of a lifetime is cut short when she realizes that these secretive creatures might not want to be found.

Tick knows it’s against yeti law to approach humans. So when some arrive on the mountain, why does he find himself peering through the trees to get a closer look? What Tick doesn’t know is that his actions will set off a series of events that threaten the existence of yeti all over the world. What can he do to make things right? Just when all hope seems lost, help comes in the most unexpected form…

Brilliant for readers who are looking for something a bit different, this is fantastic storytelling, written with humour and passion. We can’t wait to see what Katy Riddell’s illustrations add to the story.

The International Yeti Collective has strong themes of conservation and the importance of respecting nature and the balance of the environment, making it a strong contender for a class read for environment topics. The yeti’s are portrayed as peaceful creatures who have a deep understanding of the ecosystems they live in. They have an active role in protecting the fine balance of nature, unlike the ignorant, greedy humans who the yeti see as destroyers. A beautiful lesson in sustainability and our responsibility to protect the environments we live in.

The first in a new series, we are very excited to see what happens next.

You can order your copy here.