thrives and grows his presence is deemed a public health hazard. A solution needs to be found, but it isn’t long before Winslow proves his worth alerting neighbours to danger, just like a guard dog or guard donkey. This is an engaging beautifully

written story about the risks involved in allowing yourself care

to for another With echoes love and living creature. of Charlotte’s Web,

this heartwarming tale from award winning novelist Sharon Creech would make a great book to read aloud at home or at school. SMc

You Can Write Awesome Stories


Joanne Owen, HarperCollins Books, 96pp, 9780008372651, £7.99 pbk

So, you want to write? You love those amazing books you find can transport you to extraordinary worlds where you experience exciting adventures. You admire those talented authors. How can you emulate them? Well, here is the book to help you on your way. Joanne Owen guides the young writer to think about all the elements that combine to create that magical thing, a story, from the opening line to its conclusion. She talks about character development, vocabulary, atmosphere,

empathy, different

genres, even allegory. However, there is nothing worthy in her presentation. Each topic is introduced by a snappy double page spread with concise definitions or description and easy suggestions to follow all embellished with lively decoration by Kia Marie Hunt. You do not even have to find paper – there are spaces and pages for doodling and writing – and the reader is encouraged to do both (librarians beware!).

There are

guidelines for editing your work – and a reminder for those who will be writers to establish a routine. Indeed, here is a very comprehensive guide to getting started. You can write awesome stories is

one of a series looking at different topics and enthusiasms – making pictures, photography, gardening among them. If writing might not be your path, why not try something else. FH

Once Upon an Atom: Questions of Science


James Carter, ill. William Santiago, Little Tiger, 32pp, 978 1 84857 983 5, hbk £11.99

Once Upon an Atom introduces

science and how fundamental it is to, well everything! Through simple verse Carter introduces the branches of science: Chemistry, Physics and Biology and within each of these fields, key concepts and vocabulary such as chemical reactions, atoms, gravity and evolution. Scientists are refreshingly

introduced as people

trying to see the world ‘anew’. Their understanding begins with curiosity

8 – 10 Junior/Middle continued and


asking questions, a subtle to young readers

to be

curious about the world around them is made explicit towards the back of the book with the suggestion they could become scientists themselves. The

illustrations and animals emphasise are skeletal the bold

images effect


striking, the big bang and fireworks explode across the page, electricity crackles

of of

the invention of Xrays. A dramatic page layout adds to the impact. More terminology and information about famous scientists and early inventions is included in an acrostic at the back of the book. This book continues the popular

series from poet James Carter which gave us Once upon a Star, a poetic journey through space and Once upon a Raindrop, the story of water. SMc

Agent Asha: Mission Shark Bytes


Sophie Deen, ill. Anjan Sarkar, Walker Books, 240pp, 9781406382723, £6.99 pbk

In this original action adventure, Asha has to use all of her skills with problem solving and computer programming to confront an evil genius and save the world’s Internet...without being eaten by sharks!

friends include a robot hamster-like creature

spec talking drone...called

Asha is a coding genius whose called Tumble and a hi-


She made these friends herself and they help her to tackle life’s everyday problems, like how to talk to your mates in class using a calculator, and how to hack into the school’s computer system. When the Internet starts

being interrupted, all over

the world, a spy agency for children contacts Asha in a secret code, and suddenly her expertise in computing is put

to far more exciting (and

dangerous) use! Asha’s task is to take on Shelly

Belly - teenage Internet sensation - and her army of tech-experts (and sharks!). To complete her mission, Asha has to solve complex problems and crack codes to get round Shelly’s ingenious traps and cyber-security. Pleasingly, Asha has few special gadgets

or brave companions to

help her. Instead, she relies upon the crystal clear protocols of the Children’ Spy Agency: think for yourself and question logical,

everything. Asha applies

problem-solving strategies to break down the

procedural thinking and seemingly

mission and create flawless (well, usually!) plans to defeat her enemy. The book revels in its celebration

of computer science and technology, and makes brilliant use of illustrations and diagrams to help the reader fully engage with Asha’s thinking. Decision-trees and databases


used alongside cartoons and comic book pages and give the story an


exciting, multimedia feel, and there are extremely generous appendices to grant children genuine access to Asha’s spy files, at the back of the book and online via an app. As well as excitement, there are also

laughs to be had (though the jokes are rather too often flatulence based!). Even when the danger level reaches epic proportions, and when Asha is cracking the most fiendish of codes, we never lose sight of the fact that she is a young girl with a passion for computers and a desire to have fun. Sophie Deen has set out to deliver

a series of action-packed spy stories that promotes STEM subjects and careers for

young girls, especially

those who are BAME. Asha is a fun and motivating role model for all children, and this first adventure has the potential to capture imaginations and inspire many. SD

The Time Traveller and the Tiger


Tania Unsworth, Head of Zeus, 256pp, 9781788541701, £12.99 hbk

Compliant, overlooked Elsie longs for the sort of exciting adventures that Kelsie

of Elsie’s own secret involved in.

Corvette, daredevil heroine stories, gets

But when Elsie is sent

to spend the school holidays with her Great Uncle John there seems little chance of such adventure, until a magical flower sends Elsie back in

time to 1940s India where she meets her uncle as a twelve-year old boy about to hunt a tiger.

Elsie knows

that she must stop John killing the tiger, an act he has spent the rest of his life regretting. Elsie, John and Mandeep, an Indian boy who loves nature and wants to protect animals, find themselves lost in the jungle on a mission to save the tiger from a dangerous hunter. This is a beautifully written and thought-provoking mix of adventure, time travel and historical story with strong, engaging characters and themes of friendship, righting wrongs, and conservation. Echoes of classic children’s books, such as The Jungle Book, The Secret Garden and Tom’s Midnight Garden, are successfully blended in with contemporary takes on protecting the social

justice, and roles atmospheric

natural world, for


The narrative is split between Elsie, Mandeep and the tiger itself and the story is full of fast-paced action and

description of

the natural world, keeping readers’ attention throughout. Elsie’s attempts to convince John that she is from the future are very amusing and convey the

differences between modern

values and those of colonial India in a light-hearted but thoughtful way. The resolutions for all characters, and for the tiger, are very satisfying and make this a title to recommend to readers who will enjoy a mix of adventure, fantasy, and conservation. SR

10 – 14 Middle/Secondary Viper’s Daughter


Michelle Paver, Zephyr, 246pp, 978 17895 40550, £12.99 hbk

After a gap of ten years, this seventh book in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series

will delight both old and new. Although to the Stone-Age world

fans the

characters are slightly older, we are in familiar territory and are immediately transported evocative

wonderfully once

again. Renn has left the forest as she

believes she has become a threat to Torak. She suspects this might be some vestige from her mother who was an evil mage but is now dead. Once Torak realises she has left, he follows her trail to find she has taken their canoe. Renn’s signs lead Torak to the raven mage who tells him he sees tusks and that there is a demon that is not demon. He tells Torak that Renn is travelling beyond the Far North to the Edge of the World. The Raven leader lends Torak his own canoe and he sets off to find Renn. He is joined by Wolf who leaves his own mate and cubs to help his pack- brother. Renn

disguises herself and

becomes Rheu of the Sea-Eagles to throw Torak off the scent but along the way she is plagued by nightmares

and visions of her mother, Seshru. She meets up with a strange boy Naiginn of the Narwhal clan who accompanies her on her


Torak finds his way to the Narwhal clan

too noting that here women

are called half-men and are treated very differently to men. His own clan treat men and women as equals but here women are subservient to men. Torak eventually

catches up with

Renn to find her in the company of Naiginn who Renn claims is her half-

Books for Keeps No.243 July 2020 27

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