Peanut Jones and The Twelve Portals by Rob Biddulph, reviewed by Aysha (11)

Peanut Jones, her friend Rockwell, her sister Little Bit and the pencil that can make drawings come to life go on their second adventure. This time to try and stop Mr White (the baddie) from making the world and the illustrated city colourless and also to try and get famous paintings back after they had mysteriously disintegrated.

I loved this book because it had lots of beautiful illustrations on each page.

Aysha (11)

I loved this book because it had lots of beautiful illustrations on each page. It was exciting to read and nerve-wracking too! This would make a great gift to get with Christmas coming up!

Which Way to Anywhere by Cressida Cowell, reviewed by Evie M (9)

How long can you hold your breath? 

This is a story out of this world… it is dazzling and dangerous, 

come with me if you dare through the Which Way to anywhere!

What is the story about?

This intriguing story is about two thirteen year old twins called Izzabird and K2 O’hero. Their father had mysteriously gone missing when they were little. They have two stepsisters and a stepbrother, called Theo and Mabel, who they don’t like very much and a baby sister Annipeck. Their mother and aunts have magic powers and K2 discovers that he also has a gift that means he can draw maps to other strange universes when he places a cross in the middle of a piece of paper. The cross is a ‘Which Way’ and acts as a gateway to access other planets. 

“The best bit was when Horizabel, full of grace, appears from out of the washing machine with adorable Blinkers her robot!”

Evie M (9)

The adventure really begins when a stranger knocks on the door of their washing machine, a fearsome robot storms their house to destroy them and their baby sister Annipeck is snatched by an evil pirate named Cyril. They are forced to slice an ‘X’ in the air of their world to create a ‘Which Way’ portal to travel through to save their sister by working together and maybe even Everest, the father of Izzabird and K2! They also make new friends on the way including a cheeky robot named Puck and the beautiful, talented Horizabel, but is she really a friend?

My personal favourite character

Horizabel because she is the storyteller of the book and is pretty. She also seems to be good but really… Horizabel is quite fascinating and by far has the best clothing. (Cressida Cowell well done!)

If you liked these books you will love this story too!

Harry Potter or The Magic Faraway Tree then you would love this!

Best bit…

My favourite part was where baby Anniepeck is kidnapped by evil Cyril and when Horizabel, full of grace, appears from out of the washing machine with adorable Blinkers her robot!

The Strangeworlds Travel Agency: The Secrets of the Stormforest : Book 3 by L.D.Lapinski, reviewed by Leontine (11)

The epic final of The Strangeworlds Travel Agency was an amazing book, packed full of adventure, magic and courage. I really enjoyed reading this book and once I started I couldn’t stop reading it.

Flick is really powerful, strong and courageous.

Leontine (11)

The secrets of stormforest are all about Flick and her friends stopping an evil danger from stealing magic. Flick is really powerful, strong and courageous. Together Flick and her friends are unstoppable.

Tristyan is my favourite character because he’s really wise, brave and prepared to do anything to protect his friends and family.

I really liked this book and would recommend this book to all magic lovers.

Unraveller by Frances Hardinge, reviewed by Farrah (16)

Unraveller is a vivid and delightful fantasy novel, which had me gripped from the very first chapter. Featuring Kellen, an unraveller of curses, and Nettle, an individual whose curse was unravelled by Kellen, we follow these characters as they are joined by unlikely allies in a journey to uncover the conspiracy surrounding a band of fugitive cursers. Along the way they travel through the alluring and vibrantly depicted locations of Mizzleport, the Shallow and the Deep Wilds.

It will certainly go down as one of my favourite stories of the year.

Farrah (16)

Covering a variety of topics in this expertly crafted fantasy, this is a book which you will find yourself unable to put down. I loved the vast cast of characters, and the incredible set-up of this fantastical world and its ‘magic system’. From the fearsome creatures inhabiting the Wilds, to the victims of strange curses and their seemingly formidable cursers, these are characters who’s escapades are a joy to read. Nettle’s quiet compassion and Kellen’s vivacious lust for adventure (and often the danger that accompanies it) are enchantingly written.

Lover of the fantasy genre or not, the lyrical writing and engaging characters will entice you in from the get-go. I would highly recommend this book to a large variety of age groups, and it will certainly go down as one of my favourite stories of the year.

The Thief Who Sang Storms by Sophie Anderson, Reviewed by Aysha (11)

The Thief Who Sang Storms is a great book written by Sophie Anderson. 

It contains magic, creativity, teamwork and most of all love (but not the romance kind).

I love how this book has lots of flashbacks so you can understand the back story too

Aysha (11)

It’s all about a bird girl called Linnet and her Island of Morovia, which is now divided into areas where humans live and a swamp area where all the bird people now reside, after something drastic happened. 

The bird people formed a group called the Unity Movement who have been trying to take down Captain Ilya who separated the bird people from humans for ‘safety’ after what happened. When Linnet’s father, Nightingale, gets caught by the bogatyrs (Captain IIya’s troops), Linnet realises she needs to do something. 

She teams up with humans to help stop this nonsense, but can she do it?

I love how this book has lots of flashbacks so you can understand the back story too.

Spellstoppers, by Cat Gray reviewed by Evie M (9)

Favourite character: My favourite character is Courageous Kit with her smart witted brain and sea-cret!

Read on if you dare!

Evie M (9)

What it’s about: It’s about a boy called Max who possesses a magic he can’t control so he is sent to stay with Bewitching Bram. There he discovers the Spellbinding Cove of Spellstoppers, evil enchantresses, Super Sulkies, Overhead Owls, mysterious mysts, and a crazy castle.

Adventures await! Read on if you dare!

The Secret of Haven Point by Lisette Auton, reviewed by Evie B (11)

‘The Secret of Haven Point’ is a heart-warming story about a girl called Alpha Lux. She was abandoned as a baby at Haven Point, a lighthouse which, since then, has become a safe place for any person with a disability or difference in need of a place to belong. The inhabitants name themselves ‘Wrecklings,’ raiding ships with the help of mermaids who live nearby. Alpha spends her days adventuring with her best friend, Badger, and trying not to get into trouble. Until one day, she spots a mysterious light upon the hill, and swiftly realises that her much-loved new family are in danger of being exposed to Outsiders…

Her fabulous tale is full of excitement and thrills – I just couldn’t stop reading! It’s also a story of friendship and compassion… I really felt for Alpha as I read.

Evie B (11)

I absolutely adored ‘The Secret of Haven Point’. It is a brilliant debut novel from the extraordinary new author, Lisette Auton. Her fabulous tale is full of excitement and thrills – I just couldn’t stop reading! It’s also a story of friendship and compassion. I really felt for Alpha as I read, because she wonders so often about what happened in her past, and why she was abandoned at the lighthouse. It is an amazing narrative and I really enjoyed the fact that there were such positive representations of children with disabilities and differences in the book.

‘The Secret of Haven Point’ actually has a lot of extremely important morals behind the wonderful storyline, including one about believing in yourself and being true to who you are. Another key message in it is that everyone should be judged by their personalities and actions, rather than their appearance. This is one of the fundamental ideas of the story, and I appreciate that it is included because it is just as important in real life. This book really celebrates the themes of belonging and acceptance, and I think that that’s brilliant.

I would recommend this story to anyone aged 9 or over. It’s a truly unique story, but any fans of adventure and mystery novels with a sprinkling of magic (such as the ‘Harry Potter’ series by J.K. Rowling) would find this book really captivating. I can’t wait to see what ideas Lisette Auton comes up with in her next book!

★★★★★ 5 stars!

MagicBorn by Peter Bunzl, reviewed by Niamh

Magicborn is the latest novel by Peter Bunzl, who is the genius behind the Cogheart book series.

Taking place in 1726, 12-year-old Tempest lives with her adopted fathers, Prosper and Marino, in Ferry Keeper’s Cottage. Saved from nearly drowning, she doesn’t remember about her past life, and why she can understand her robin friend, Coriel, and nobody else can. 

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves magic, adventure and mystery. I’ve already recommended it to one of my friends so we can talk about it!

Niamh

She longs to know who her mother is. All Tempest has from her is a bone carved into the shape of a cloud she wears around her neck, which has an engraved message ‘From your mother’. 

Tempest’s life changes when she is made to take the mysterious Lord Hawthorn and his apprentice across the water to an island in search of a wild boy that can change into a wolf… Expect a magical adventure that travels from Kensington Palace to the fairy realm.

I loved the characters in Magicborn, especially the robin Coriel and how she affectionately ends her sentences with bird names, such as “Goodnight, little dunlin.” The spells were really exciting in the book, and I liked how it swapped between present and past events, revealing Tempest’s story. It would be amazing if there was a sequel and it would work really well as a film or TV series.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves magic, adventure and mystery. I’ve already recommended it to one of my friends so we can talk about it! I’m planning to dress up as Tempest for the next World Book Day! I even have a robin toy to be Coriel!

Tempest and Coriel, by Niamh

Perfect for fans of: The Cogheart novels by Peter Bunzl; Sophie Anderson’s The Girl Who Speaks Bear and The Castle of Tangled Magic; and The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave.

Hedgewitch by Skye McKenna, reviewed by Alma

One of the best books I’ve read in ages; enchanting!

Ever since her mum left her there, Cassie Morgan had been living in a strict boarding school which does NOT believe in magic. Then (several years later – convinced her mum needs to be rescued) she runs  away to her aunt in the small town of Hedgely, right next to the hedge which separates England and faerie, where she trains to be the best witch she can be and pass her fledgling test.

But can she discover why children are going missing and find them before it is too late? And will she ever get what she wants?

Hedgewitch is a magical book. The characters are realistic and the world is intriguing – I was devastated when it ended. A fun, happy story with a long lead up where you really get to know the characters. An epic climax, full of surprises and drastic plot twists; as interesting and exciting as the hedge itself!

The Map of Leaves by Yarrow Townsend, reviewed by Catherine

Orla Carson lives on her own, save for her horse, Captain, and her beloved garden which was planted by her late mother. She’s happy to keep it this way but sickness comes to her hometown of Thorn Creek, and nature is blamed. Stowing away on a river boat, can Orla save the people of Thorn Creek with a little bit of luck, love, and all the help she can get along the way?

“My favourite part is that the plants communicate with Orla so it’s as if they’re talking to her.”

Catherine

The story is told in Orla’s perspective. Although only 12 years old, she is evidently a headstrong, determined character who you find yourself instantly rooting for. She prefers to do things her own way which becomes an issue as teamwork is required when two other children, Idris and Ariana, join her on her mission. Idris is the son of a Hauler, and Orla doesn’t think much of him at first. Ariana is quiet and clever, the thinker of the gang.

The problem that occurs in this book is a sickness that strikes the fictional world where the story takes place. In a nearby town they had named it Mapafoglia: the map of leaves. Black veins would spread out across your body, like a map, and once it reached your heart it was the end. Yet a secret threat lurks close to home… could it be the answer that Orla and her friends are desperate to find?

My favourite part is that the plants communicate with Orla so it’s as if they’re talking to her. I wonder if her Ma shared the same gift? I think that this brilliant, gripping book deserves a 5/5 star rating.

I would recommend it to readers of ages 9 to 13 who love adventure and extreme plot twists – but if you aren’t in that age group then I’m definitely not saying you won’t love The Map of Leaves!

Our #ReviewCrew books are read and reviewed by our team of young readers.