BfK 8 – 10 Junior/Middle continued New Talent Brightstorm HHHH

Vashti Hardy, Scholastic, 978-1-4071-8170-7, 343pp, £6.99pbk

Arthur and Maudie are twins, they are

Brightstorms, their father a

famous explorer. He has died in an attempt to be the first at South Polaris and evidence suggests he was involved in criminal activities. His reputation is ruined; the Brightstorm name degraded. Arthur and Maudie determine to find the truth and restore the family fortunes. In the company of the butler, Forbes and Harriet Culpeper with her flying ship, the Aurora they set off on a race to reach the Polaris. They are embarking on a journey that will see them facing real and terrible danger. But will they succeed? Lively

storytelling, an attractive

cast with interesting characters – Maudie is the genius engineer, Arthur, despite having lost an arm, the imaginative thinker, while Harriet Culpeper brings energy and optimism – these combine to draw the reader in ensuring pages are turned. The villains

are suitably wicked and

duplicitous; Eudora Vane might be a relative of Cruella de Vil. The setting

Horace and Harriet Take on the Town


Clare Elsom, ill. Clare Elsom, Oxford University Press, 117pp, 978 0 19 275874 3, £5.99 pbk

In this funny farce by Clare Elsom, a pompous, egotistical statue comes to life and strikes up a very unlikely friendship with a seven-year-old girl. Horace is a lord commander; a seventeenth century hero who has been stuck on a plinth for centuries and is sick of graffiti and pigeon poo. Harriet is bored and impatient to grow up, and eager to take on more responsibility...though a three hundred and fifty-year-old, belligerent noble is perhaps a little more than she was hoping for. It is hard for Horace to understand

why the public no longer adore and serve him. Harriet has to stop him from renovating her grandad’s shed into a galleon, and from eating all the food in a cafe without paying, and from storming Mayor Silverbottom’s mansion. She also has to help Horace navigate his way round mobile phones and cappuccinos and public libraries, all of which provide moments of hilarity as Horace buffoons about all over town. Everything about

Horace is

ridiculous. He talks like a medieval knight, he owns a pet pigeon, and he is made of stone. Many younger readers will love how silly he is, and

is imaginative. Here is a world that is recognisable in many respects but one that can accommodate sky ships, sapient creatures and enormous telepathic wolves. Society is dominated by explorer families intent on taming the unknown – to its detriment. Well crafted, full of humour, excitement and jeopardy, Brightstorm is a welcome debut for that KS2 audience. Vashti Hardy is a talent to watch and I look forward to meeting Arthur and Maudie and friends in future adventures. FH

the moments of slapstick (mostly

involving pigeon poo) that he delivers. There is a classic quality to Elsom’s farce (there are even flying custard pies in one chapter) and, though Harriet’s first person narrative provides a few rare moments of lucidity, the silliness never lets up. Though there are


an entertaining and amusing jaunt through over 1000 years of Roman history. Each double-page contains

information about

spread one

specific aspect of Roman life: the beginning of the Roman Empire, famous emperors, life in the army and as a slave, gods and goddesses, entertainment and much more. Inside the back cover, there’s a simple timeline of Ancient Rome and some information about life in the modern- day city. There’s

mixture of the usual information that appears in every children’s

an interesting book

about the Romans (how the planets were given their names, how Roman numerals work, etc.) as well as plenty of lesser known trivia. I certainly had no idea that Julius Caesar was never officially a Roman Emperor, that Caligula once put his horse in charge of the government or that a Roman century consisted of only 80 soldiers! The book is extremely eye-catching,

as it’s printed on bright red paper throughout. white

illustrations labelling but,

The bold, black and are

in style and could use slightly more informative

cartoonish on

those who have read Greek myths in the past or even Percy Jackson, you gradually begin to get hints of who some of the main characters are; it is a good moment when you are proved right in your guesses. For those who have not read Greek myths then this is a great introduction and hopefully will encourage younger readers to discover the amazing tales that have stood the test of ages. The story is full of atmosphere and we have a real sense of what life was like for the

household staff in Victorian

England and there is the underlying ‘creepiness’ about the island and the butler Mr Grey as well as the Hawk family.

It is a really great read,

especially for fans of authors such as Robin Stevens, Katherine Woodfine and Janine Beacham. MP

Usborne Politics for Beginners HHHHH

Alex Frith, Rosie Hore and Louie Stowell, ill. Kellan Stover, Usborne, 128pp, 978 1 4749 2252 4, £9.99 hbk


whole, work effectively alongside the text. The irreverent style of writing, quite similar to that of the Horrible Histories series, ensures that serious matters are covered in a way that is accessible to younger children. This book serves as an ideal introduction to Ancient Rome and would definitely fire up a child’s enthusiasm for further reading on the subject. The author and illustrator, James Davies, also

produced Meet the...Ancient

Egyptians, which was published at the same time and is of a similar high- quality. Bene factum James! JBid

The Lost Island: A Silver Service Mystery


Harriet’s best friends, and Horace’s historical arch enemy makes a brief appearance, the story rarely shifts focus from the two title characters, and potential storylines are somewhat underdeveloped in favour of keeping it simple – and silly. There are plenty of laughs to be

had in this story, and many readers would be enthusiastic to see Horace and Harriet in further episodes. The illustrations are engaging and original, in two-tone emerald and white, and Horace’s Dictionary at the end of the book is an affable way to introduce young whippersnappers to language from days of yore. New characters, particularly villains, would be welcome additions if the improbable companions are to undertake new adventures. SD

Meet the…Ancient Romans HHHH

James Davies, Big Picture Press, 978-1-7874-1052-7, £9.99 hbk

Beginning with the legend of Romulus and Remus and the creation of the city of Rome, this book provides

24 Books for Keeps No.229 March 2018

Laura Powell, Macmillan, 281pp, 9781509808922, £6.99 pbk

This is the second in the ‘middle grade’ series starring thirteen year old Pattern, who has found herself recruited into a clandestine detective agency. In this adventure she finds herself working as a housemaid on the mysterious island of Cull; where a house party is being held by the owner Lady Hawk. It is being held for all of the suitors for her daughter Cassandra’s hand; however when guests start disappearing and there are no clues as to why, Pattern finds herself caught up with some supernatural

goings on. Whether

Pattern and her friend Nate can solve the mystery before all of the guests have vanished leads to some nail biting moments. Laura Powell has created a very

sympathetic and resourceful main character who gains our sympathy from the beginning. Whilst it is helpful to have read the first book in the series, it is not vital as this story is totally self-contained. The combination of a crime story mixed with a hint of the supernatural and even mythical tales really makes for an exciting read. For

This is a fascinating, user friendly, thorough

and well-presented

introduction to politics for children and young people. The starting point is politics in everyday life, making collective decisions as part of a group or team, before moving onto politics at national and international level. Different kinds of governments are introduced, from the first democracy in Ancient Greece. There is a strong historical

perspective (such as the throughout

the book. Key figures (for example Lenin and Mao Zedong) and key events

importance of Boston Tea

Party and genocide of Bosnian Muslims at Sreprenica) are included, emphasising the

understanding the past. The authors quote philosopher George Santayana on this: ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’. We find out about political systems including communism and the rule of empire.

There is a particular focus

on the democratic system and how it works within the UK on national and local levels. We find out about the role of the monarch, how the two Houses of Parliament operate and the role of civil servants. The democratic system in the USA is outlined too, with the role of the President, Congress and the Supreme Court. A section on international

politics introduces

significant organisations including The United Nations and The European Union. Differing electoral


and approaches to holding elections and voting are outlined. There is an interesting timeline highlighting when the vote was first given to women and people of all races throughout the world.


Current as

issues the are difference is discussed

addressed between

immigrants and refugees. Terrorism

and what

radicalisation, fundamentalism and white supremacism means. We find out about key ideas and political ideologies such as capitalism and socialism. Readers can begin to explore where they stand on some of

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32