The Time of Green Magic by Hilary McKay

From acclaimed author and Costa winner Hilary McKay comes The Time of Green Magic: a beautiful, spell-binding novel about family, magic, an old house and a mysterious visitor…

Abi and her two step-brothers, Max and Louis, find that strange things happen when they are alone in their eerie, ivy-covered new house. Abi, reading alone, finds herself tumbling deep into books, while Louis summons a startling guest through his bedroom window.

Even Max has started to see shapes in the shadows . . . Their busy parents see none of it – but Louis’ secret visitor is growing too alarming to keep secret, and he finds he cannot manage without Max and Abi’s help. Can they find out where the mysterious creature has come from – and how to get it back there?

Hilary McKay writes family relationships beautifully and her characters are a joy to spend time with. She creates young children perfectly and Louis is alive and leaping from the page from his very first sentence. The Time of Green Magic has all McKay’s trademark warmth and wit and is a book that hugs you as you read it.

This is an enchanting story of a blended family coming together and muddling along through life as best they can. It is a celebration of the power and magic of reading and the strength of imagination. A masterclass in writing and an absolute delight to read.

Published 5th September by Pan Macmillan, you can order your copy here.

The Monster Who Wasn’t by T C Shelley

“A brilliantly rich and strange fantasy adventure that will make us all believe in monsters – be they good, bad or somewhere in between.

It is a well-known fact that fairies are born from a baby’s first laugh. What is not as well documented is how monsters come into being …

This is the story of a creature who is both strange and unique. When he hatches down in the vast underground lair where monsters dwell, he looks just like a human boy – much to the disgust of everyone watching. Even the grumpy gargoyles who adopt him and nickname him `Imp’ only want him to steal chocolate for them from the nearby shops.

He’s a child with feet in both worlds, and he doesn’t know where he fits. But little does Imp realise that Thunderguts, king of the ogres, has a great and dangerous destiny in mind for him, and he’ll stop at nothing to see it come to pass…”

Imaginative and unusual, this is an intriguing, compulsive read that will stay with you long after you close the covers. A story of magic and darkness, with lots of gothic elements and an exciting quest for belonging.

Brilliant for fans of Lorraine Gregory and those looking for something a little different. Best for 9+.

You can get your copy here.

The Girl Who Speaks Bear by Sophie Anderson

They call me Yanka the Bear. Not because of where I was found – only a few people know about that. They call me Yanka the Bear because I am so big and strong.

Found abandoned in a bear cave as a baby, Yanka has always wondered about where she is from. She tries to ignore the strange whispers and looks from the villagers, wishing she was as strong on the inside as she is on the outside. But, when she has to flee her house, looking for answers about who she really is, a journey far beyond one that she ever imagined begins: from icy rivers to smouldering mountains meeting an ever-growing herd of extraordinary friends along the way.

Interwoven with traditional stories of bears, princesses and dragons, Yanka’s journey is a gorgeously lyrical adventure from the best-selling author of The House With Chicken Legs.

The Girl Who Speaks Bear by Sophie Anderson is a beauty of a book about the pain of feeling different and the power of stories to help you find your way. It celebrates the comfort that comes from having stories told to you and explores the power of accepting help from your friends, forming a herd, a web of strength, and finding your tribe. It's a beautiful exploration of what makes a family.

Yanka is stubborn and determined and as bright and spirited as we have come to enjoy from Sophie Anderson's characters. Full of animals, folktales, family and friendship, we love this atmospheric adventure - and whooped at the links back to The House with Chicken Legs. 

Coming September 2019!

The Land of Roar by Jenny McLachlan and Ben Mantle

Believing is just the beginning . . .

When Arthur and Rose were little, they were heroes in the Land of Roar, an imaginary world that they found by climbing through the folding bed in their grandad’s attic.

Roar was filled with things they loved – dragons, mermaids, ninja wizards and adventure – as well as things that scared them (including a very creepy scarecrow. . .)

Now the twins are eleven, Roar is just a memory. But when they help Grandad clean out the attic, Arthur is horrified as Grandad is pulled into the folding bed and vanishes. Is he playing a joke? Or is Roar . . . real?

We love this stunner of a book. Beautifully illustrated by Ben Mantle and with a cover that would be coveted by the most fussy of dragons, The Land of Roar looks as beautiful on the outside as it is on the inside.

The Land of Roar is a story with a heart. Filled with dementor-style darkness, beautifully balanced with humour and brilliantly imagined gender-stereotype-flipping characters, it perfectly captures the imagination and play of children and explores what happens to your lands of make-believe when you begin to grow up. It celebrates embracing play and imagination and not growing up too soon.

All the ingredients for the perfect reading for pleasure fantasy adventure are here; ninja wizards, mermaid witches, a band of fierce lost girls, dragons and of course, a glittering sprinkle of magic. We lost ourselves entirely in The Land of Roar

Let your walls down and allow magic in. Get your copy here.

Book Review by Mia H: A Pinch of Magic by Michelle Harrison

Three sisters trapped by an ancient curse. Three magical objects with the power to change their fate. Will they be enough to break the curse? Or will they lead the sisters even deeper into danger?

All whilst reading this book, I had an image in my heart of a little town surrounded by rocks beneath a cloudy grey sky with pale green waters lapping at the rocky beaches and an imposing tower rising above it all and casting long shadows on the street below. That is how I imagine Crowstone, where this story takes place. And at the centre of this town there is a rickety old tavern, where a girl with black hair warbles something very nearly reminiscent of a tune, another sits on the floor playing with bugs and rats and a third dreams about rocky mountains and humid, emerald jungles. Those are the Widdershins sisters. And that’s how clearly you can see them all as you read this book. The bond between the sisters in this book is what really makes it special, how they go to such lengths, risk their lives even, for each other. My favourite bits however were the ones with Sorsha, a girl that has a very different family dynamic and has to live with her magical abilities in a society that is not at all accepting of them and has it in for her right from the start. This book was gripping, and is one that you could read all in one day and still feel satisfied at the end. I would recommend this book for children aged 9+ or 8+ for more mature readers. It reminded me greatly of the Huntress trilogy, just because of the whole sea atmosphere of it and is overall thoroughly enjoyable.

The Dragon in the Library – sneak peek and Q&A with Louie Stowell

Kit can’t STAND reading! She’d MUCH rather be outside, playing games and getting muddy, than stuck inside with a book. But when she’s dragged along to the library one day by her two best friends, she makes an incredible discovery – and soon it’s up to Kit and her friends to save the library … and the world.

The Dragon in the Library is a fun, fast-paced adventure packed with mild peril and magic. It’s also a brilliant celebration of the power of reading and the special role that libraries play in the world. With tons of lively illustrations by David Ortu and a wonderfully diverse cast of characters, this book will appeal to newly confident readers. Perfect for Key Stage 1 and lower KS2, here’s a sneak peek inside…

Louie Stowell has kindly answered some of our burning questions…

Q:  What are your top tips for budding authors learning to write funny books?

A:  Think about what makes YOU laugh. The more fun you have while you’re writing something, the more other people will find it funny. Also, here are a few simple tips for writing humour:

1) Characters who don’t realise they’re doing something (this is called lack of self-knowledge), especially very pompous characters. Make them do really silly things while insisting that they are serious people who should be taken VERY seriously. This works especially well with adult characters.

2) Read a lot of funny books. The funny will seep into your blood without you noticing. Funny is infectious. You can also, if you’re hardcore, study funny books. When you laugh, think… what did the writer do that made me laugh?

3) Poo. See also farts, burps, wee, vomit.

Q: What is your best tip for kids who are struggling with reading (if a dragon isn’t available)

A: Comics! I have always loved comics, and I think they’re for everyone, from the biggest bookworms to people who’d rather be doing almost anything else except read. It’s a different type of storytelling, and it hooks into a different bit of your brain somehow. Whether you like stories about everyday life or ones about superheroes, there are so many amazing comics out there to discover. Always happy to give recommendations! I’m a big fan of The Phoenix, a weekly comic, but also book series like Amulet – a magical adventure involving giant robots.

Q: What is your fave dragon fact?

A: I love that dragons turn up in mythology all over the world and that, in some countries, such as China, they’re seen as the good guys. I’m Team Dragon, so I appreciate that.

Q: And now.. the killer question… Wow us with something we didn’t already know…

A: Tardigrades – also known as water bears or moss piglets – are microscopic (aka very tiny) creatures that can survive almost anything. They’re so tough they could survive in outer space, or in a volcano. They’re also adorable. Look!

Tardigrades. Adorable? Space monster? Evil clawed dust-burrower? What do you think?

Huge thanks to Louie for sharing her answers and freaking us all out with tardigrades! You can follow Louie on twitter here.

You can grab your copy of The Dragon in the Library from our online shop here!

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.

Rumblestar – Abi Elphinstone

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 get your 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!

April’s Indie Book of the Month

It’s time for a new Indie book of the month and April’s glorious offering is Padraig Kenny’s new book Pog. We are big fans and can’t wait for you all to read it too!

David and Penny’s strange new home is surrounded by forest. It’s the childhood home of their mother, who’s recently died. But other creatures live here … magical creatures, like tiny, hairy Pog. He’s one of the First Folk, protecting the boundary between the worlds.

As the children explore, they discover monsters slipping through from the place on the other side of the cellar door. Meanwhile, David is drawn into the woods by something darker, which insists there’s a way he can bring his mother back …