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.

The Highland Falcon Thief

Adventures on Trains is a shiny new mystery series for budding detectives by Beetle Boy author M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman, illustrated by Elisa Paganelli. First stop, The Highland Falcon Thief, a breathless train journey full of deceptions, puzzles and clues to solve.

Brilliant for those who enjoyed Mr Penguin, it is gloriously tense and filled with dramatic moments, hold-your-breath action and mild peril. We loved the rich details of the train, it's operation and route, as well as the wonderful cast of characters on board. With twists and turns, dead ends and red herrings, this is detective fiction at its very best. It never talks down to its reader or swerves into melodrama, remaining authentic in detail and plot. An absolute stunner.

About the book:

Harrison Beck is reluctantly joining his travel-writer Uncle Nat for the last journey of the royal train, The Highland Falcon. But as the train makes its way to Scotland, a priceless brooch goes missing, and things are suddenly a lot more interesting. As suspicions and accusations run high among the passengers, Harrison begins to investigate and uncovers a few surprises along the way. Can he solve the mystery of the jewel thief and catch the culprit before they reach the end of the line?

Hear whispers in the dining car, find notes in the library, and unknown passengers among the luggage as you help Harrison to solve the mystery aboard one of the world's grandest trains. Fast-paced and packed with illustrations and clues, Adventures on Trains is a stop you won't want to miss!

Due in at the platform January 30th. You can order 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.

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.

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 Space We’re In by Katya Balen and Laura Carlin

“We are her world and her universe and her space and her stars and her sky and her galaxy and her cosmos too.

Frank is ten. He likes cottage pie and football and cracking codes.

Max is five. He eats only Quavers and some colours are too bright for him and if he has to wear a new T-shirt he melts down down down. Sometimes Frank wishes Mum could still do huge paintings of stars and asteroids like she used to, but since Max was born she just doesn’t have time. When tragedy hits Frank and Max’s lives like a comet, can Frank piece together a universe in which he and Max aren’t light years apart?

This jaw-dropping, heartbreaking and hopeful novel from debut author Katya Balen will remind you we are all made of stardust.”

This is going to be very special!

Brilliantly told in an authentic young voice that is raw and compelling, this is a truly immersive read. Heartbreaking yet hopeful, it celebrates the power of friendship, play and imagination in finding your voice and being comfortable with your place in the world. It brings together art and science, bullying and friendship, family and loss to create something beautiful and uplifting. We can’t wait to see how Laura Carlin’s illustrations combine with  such beautiful, powerful writing. 

Brilliant for schools to promote empathy and understanding of autism and its impact on families. Readers will love deciphering the codes to read the chapter headings. The perfect read for fans of Wonder and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.

Published 5th September by Bloomsbury, you can pre-order your copy here.