BfK 8 – 10 Junior/Middle continued New Talent Moon Juice HHHHH

Kate Wakeling, illus Elina Braslina, The Emma Press, 64pp, 978-1-9101-3949-3, £8.50

A collection of poems by a new voice

event to be celebrated. Moon Juice by the poet, Kate Wakeling is just such an event. However, these are not poems created to grab the attention with the quick laugh and a lot of noise. These are poems to seduce, to attract because they reflect the imagination of the young reader. In Night Journey, Wakeling captures

writing for children is an

feeling of driving through the dark so that the car becomes ‘not a mile machine./it is a thought machine’. How perfectly this describes what many young readers will have felt. Or what about the Bad Moods who, naturally, wear weird shoes? The Demon Mouth? Or those Ten dark toes at the bottom of the bed? These are no cosily romantic lyrics but original works vividly capturing thoughts,

ideas, musings and

both pendants they have the power to unleash pure evil back into the world.

It is up to Rose and her new

companions, Rui an Indian prince and the monkey Bahula, to prevent that from happening. This is an intriguing mystical

mystery that moves along with a great deal of pace and peril.

Rose is a

great character who is both brave and clever yet occasionally thinks it would be safer in the workhouse. Rui has resources and education and Bahula offers light relief and daring escapes. This would appeal to fans of Harry

Potter, although it more mystical than magical, and the body count is higher, three by the end of the book. The cover art may prove a little off putting to some, it implies the story is more ‘feisty girl detective’ than a struggle between good and evil. A story of dark magic, secret cabals

and ancient rites, there is much to keep you reading and it ends with our heroes sailing for India followed by a girl with blonde ringlets.

forward to the sequel; never trust a girl with ringlets. CD

The Griffin’s Feather (Dragon Rider)


Cornelia Funke, Chicken House, 368pp, 9781911077886, £6.99 pbk

A new book from Cornelia Funke is always something to celebrate, not

I look the almost limbo like

pinning them precisely to the page. Wakelin choice of words is pitch perfect –‘moon is/silver sliver’ - as are her varied rhythms. These are not poems to be afraid of, these are poems to be welcomed, savoured and read aloud to oneself – and to the class or the family. FH

Moon Juice has won the CLiPPA award for children’s poetry

just for the quality of the storytelling but also for her illustrations which capture

her creations

10-14 Middle/Secondary Walking Mountain


Joan Lennon, BC Books, 272pp, 978-1-7802-7456-0, £6.99pbk

The hero of this story Pema lives up in the high lands and is used to the fact that the mountain moves slightly north on a regular basis. However a day comes when the mountain reverses and starts to move in the opposite direction. His family send him up to the distant Abbey to try and find out why the mountain had changed.

There, he meets Singay,

a young girl who has grown up with the ‘Sisters of the Snow’, who guard the mountain. They both have a determination to find out what is happening, but what they discover makes their quest even more urgent and could have a profound effect on our whole world. This is a truly amazing story.

The perfectly,

providing the perfect counterpoint to the text. Here we return

to pick up the

story we left in Dragon Rider. Ben and his adopted family are now living in Mimameidr, the sanctuary they have created for magical and fabulous creatures. Firedrake, Ben’s dragon companion is living with the other dragons in the Rim of Heaven. However, it is learnt that a solution created from a griffin’s golden feather is the only thing that might save the three eggs of the Pegasus - the last of the flying horses, Ben and his father decide they must act. Griffins, however, are notoriously aggressive and cruel. Will Ben and his friends succeed in saving the foals? The epithet ‘old-fashioned’ is often

used to describe a certain quality of storytelling. Funke qualities

in abundance;

displays those engaging

characters, both human and animal, a real sense of jeopardy with a properly cruel enemy, an exciting storyline that keeps the reader wanting to know what comes next. Her well-crafted prose is ideal for the confident KS2 child, for a parent at bedtime or a teacher at the end of the day. Read Dragon Rider to get the full story - or just jump in; recommended. FH

idea is a mammoth one and takes us into the realms of Douglas Adams and our world being just a small part of the cosmic whole. The introduction of characters called Drivers, who herd meteors through space, so that they can be used as an energy source on their own planet, really creates something special. Pema and Singay are engaging young people who have a range of challenges they have to overcome. This story is a quest in the truest sense and we are totally gripped by the adventures that the three main characters have to undertake. There is humour as well as a lot of pathos and we really feel for the Driver (called Rose) when he thinks that his two other driver colleagues might be dead. I have read and enjoyed this author’s work before, but on this occasion she has taken it to a new level and I can only look forward to the next book that she decides to write. Whilst this is aimed at the younger teen, there is no reason why a very confident year 6 should not read and enjoy this story. MP

The Incredible Billy Wild HHHHH

Joanna Nadin, Little Brown, 276pp, 978-1-5102-0125-5, £6.99 pbk

Billy Wild longs to be as incredible as his dead Mum said he was but he is struggling to find his confidence in the chaotic, though loving, life he leads with his two brothers and his overworked and stressed midwife Dad. Billy’s letters to a God he is not sure he really believes in detail his hopes, fears and day to day problems. So when a greyhound turns up in Billy’s shed she seems like the answer to a prayer and ‘Dog’ becomes the catalyst to effect change in the lives of Billy and his family as Billy steps up to become truly incredible by saving Dog and hundreds more ill-treated greyhounds like her. Through

Billy’s warm-hearted,

honest narration the reader really gets to know him and his family and to

30 Books for Keeps No.225 July 2017

appreciate their struggle to deal with loss and carry on. The book is full of humour and compassion, the dialogue is believable and very funny, there are comic and sad situations and the overall effect is at once poignant and uplifting. Tough subjects, loss, cruelty, fear, faith in yourself, are dealt with honestly and the portrayal of a ‘just managing’ family is realistic. The author’s ability to combine humour and skilful writing to show the power of love and family in overcoming all the odds make this a life-enhancing and highly recommended read. Billy Wild is incredible. SR

The Evil Within HHHHH

Catherine MacPhail, Barrington Stoke, 120pp, 978-1-7811-2587-8, £6.99 pbk

Barrington Stokes’ dyslexia-friendly, ‘super-readable’ books continue to delight and to introduce young readers to classic stories.

Here, MacPhail

takes Stevenson’s memorable The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde as its inspiration and recounts Henry Jekyll’s early years and his gradual realisation that he has within him a powerful and evil entity which he cannot always control. The narrative is infused with drama tension, balanced well

and demonstrates with

scenes depicting Jekyll’s stable and happy family life. This juxtaposition very effectively


horror of his gradual transformation and his wretchedness as he realises that he is trapped within a dual identity which is at opposite ends of the human-or

barely human-

spectrum. Mary, one of the Jeykell’s servants, provides a commentary on The Beast and its terrible travails, a neat narrative ploy to keep the reader informed of events and emphasise the terrifying transformation. Edinburgh, too, is a protagonist

in the story. Its dark and mysterious wynds and closes, its gory myths and legends, its two faces-New and Old Towns-provide a dramatic setting for The Beast and a mirror of Jekyll’s split personality. Barrington

Stoke are to be

congratulated on continuing to recruit renowned writers who bring well- crafted and accessible literature to young readers. VR

Invisible Emmie HHHH

Terri Libenson, Puffin Books, 192pp, 978 0 141 37223 5 £7.99, pbk

Emmie the Invisible is not really

invisible. She is not a superhero and has no special powers. She is just a girl at school, facing all the problems and challenges that girls at school usually face, and struggling - really struggling. This thoughtful


extremely empathetic drama uses subtle comedy and quirky illustrations to transport readers into the mind of

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