BfK 8 – 10 Junior/Middle continued The book is laid out so that we see

how something works in the natural world, and then the next double page spread looks at similar usage in the human world. The text is in bite- sized chunks, and well-illustrated by Anne Wilson in a clear, colourful and graphic style. A little cartoon person leads us through each topic, and there is a useful Glossary. This will be useful for browsing and for finding out all sorts of interesting facts. DB

Zombierella Fairy Tales Gone Bad


Joseph Coelho, illus Freya Hartas, 196pp, Walker Books, 9781406389661, £7.99 pbk

There are some very strange books in this library. Books that have gone mouldy, gone so bad their


have changed. And here is one. You are expecting Cinderella but you are going to get Zombierella – a tale to make you shiver. Cinderella in her desire to go to the ball with her three Fake sisters slips on the stairs and instead of a Fairy Godmother meets Death. But even Death may grant wishes. So Zombierella (as she now is) does meet her Prince – a Prince who hates sunlight and garlic. The story continues on its gruesome way (definitely not for faint-hearted adults – but fairy tales have never been soft) to yes – a properly happy ending. Joseph Coelho tells his tale with a

relish that will be appreciated by his young audience. There is blood, gore and guts galore as he references the version told by the Brothers Grimm. There is also a teasing sense of jeopardy – what is going to happen to Zombierella, especially as everyone will have realised what the prince is; you guessed, a vampire? However, fairy tales are there to teach – and the happy ending is both satisfying and practical. For such a tale, there should be illustrations to


both the pleasurable horror and the humour. Freya Hartas black and white illustrations and page decorations do just that. Her lines have an energy and a certain joie-de-vivre that matches Coelho’s blank verse rhythms. There will be more from this partnership. Adults may blench, but less squeamish young readers will thoroughly enjoy this fairytale gone bad. FH

The Beast and the Bethany HHHH

Jack Meggitt-Phillips, ill. Isabelle Follath, Egmont, 250pp, 978 1 4052 9962 6, £6.99 pbk

Ebenezer Tweezer has the looks of a young man in his twenties, but he is actually 511 years old and owes his youthful appearance and pampered lifestyle to a Dorian Gray-style deal with the beast who lives in the attic of his mansion. This beast, a huge blob of a creature with three black eyes, two black tongues and a large dribbling mouth, has an increasingly voracious

appetite. To Ebenezer’s dismay, the beast is no longer satisfied with such delights as exotic pets, historic statues and the odd cactus and instead demands a juicy child to eat in exchange for the potion that keeps Ebenezer young.

Enter Bethany, an

orphan with attitude, who proves more than a match for Ebenezer, but can they outwit the beast together. This entertaining debut novel has

overtones of Dahl in its mingling of dark humour and gruesome detail. The text is fast-paced and engaging, the mix of wit, bad behaviour and revolting


greatly to the book’s appeal. Amidst the

lively illustrations humour

and mayhem, This

young readers and the enticing cover and

will delight contribute the

story has a strong moral core as vain, selfish Ebenezer and rude, challenging Bethany grow and change and learn to help each other.

enticing debut should appeal to all young readers who enjoy macabre humour, gruesome

than life characters and plenty of action. This is one to recommend to Dahl, Snicket and Walliams fans. SR

InvestiGators HHH

John Patrick Green, First Second, 196pp, 978 1 5290 5436 1, £9.99 hbk

As the book opens, we meet Mango and

Brash, two crime busting

alligators or ‘InvestiGators.’ There follows a complex surreal story or overlapping stories in which the pair investigate the disappearance of Chef Gustavo, try to discover who has been stealing his secret recipes, find out about the strange happenings at the Science factory and who the sinister figure in the mac really is. InvestiGators is a substantial and

literally quite weighty graphic novel with thirteen chapters in full colour. The aim is to amuse and there is plenty of humour here. There are clever acronyms (eg the crime busting duo are working on a ‘S.U.I.T’ case (a Special Investigation Team case) wearing V.E.S.T.S with ‘Very Exciting Spy Technology’. The book is also packed with word play and puns, particularly

during the details, larger

A Mummy ate my Homework HHHH

Thiago de Moraes, Scholastic, 225pp, 978 1 407194 92 9, £8.99 pbk

Henry is delighted to be given an extra tricky equation to solve on his first day back at school. But as he finishes his calculation a black tornado swallows him up and he is transported back in time to Ancient Egypt and the court of Seti 1. Henry isn’t a natural fit with the

harsh lifestyle of the Ancient Greeks. There are some very strange pets (notably a baboon and a crocodile) and even stranger food. Henry hates the

onions for

breakfast, the camel and chariot rides and the spear throwing classes, not his cup of tea at all. But he gradually makes friends and learns to fit in. When he and a group of Egyptian classmates are sent for a survival test in the jungle and an emergency ensues, his navigation skills and creativity save the day. But will he ever get back to the twenty first century? This is an amusing and engaging

illustrated time slip adventure story packed

with information about

Ancient Egypt. Mathematics combines with astrology as the trigger for time travel in this story, an ingenious ploy. The back of the book includes extra information about life at the time of Pharaoh Seti First in the form of a survival guide – including how to write your name in hieroglyphics. SMc

Shoe Wars HHHH

Liz Pichon, ill. Liz Pichon, Scholastic, 430pp, 9781407191096, £12.99 hbk

This comedy adventure is a new one- off story from the author-illustrator of

the humongously style popular Tom

Gates series, Liz Pichon. Fans will be delighted to see her chaotic and energetic

applied to a new

story...even if they don’t like shoes! Ivor

Foot and his children, Ruby

sequences of banter between the two main characters. There

extended are

comic scenes too, including those illustrating Mango and Brash’s mode of travel, which is via the toilet system to their home in the sewers and scenes showing their failed attempts at disguising themselves. For those who enjoy Mango and

Brash’s capers this is the first in the series with future stories likely to further develop the InvestiGators’ encounters with archrival ‘Crackerdile’ introduced in this first adventure. The back of the book includes guidance on how to draw the main characters which might encourage young readers to create their own comic strip stories. SMc

26 Books for Keeps No.244 September 2020

and Bear, live in Shoetown, where everyone is completely dotty about shoes. There are shoes with googly eyes and spikey teeth, shoes with cameras in the sole and even shoes that make their own music, and Ivor and his friends are in charge of inventing the new styles. But there is one invention that nobody seems able to master (until now) - flying shoes - and their discovery is enough to start a shoe war. Shoetown is totally dominated by

Wendy Wedge - owner of the biggest factory in town, and mother to the world’s least likeable little boy, Walter. Wendy can’t bear the idea of anybody but her winning the Golden Shoe Awards, and she needs those flying shoes to win. This spells big trouble for Ivor’s family, and Ruby and Bear have a race against time to save their inventor dad from Wendy and her minions, who include a pair of ferocious guard dogs (Left and Right) and the sinister, creepy Mr Creeper. At more than 400 pages, it is a

weighty book for young readers, but that is because the story is illustrated

and told in such a generous manner. The story is never

rushed and

characters are given plenty of time and space so that every ounce of comedy is squeezed out


characters get to share their dungaree collection with their readers!). What really

takes though, up is the so many pages, simply enormous

number of cartoon illustrations. They seem to explode out of almost every other paragraph. From tiny portraits highlighting the raising of an eyebrow, to full page spreads detailing entire towns, Pichon spoils her readers with so many doodles that you can almost read the story without the words. Shoe Wars is an exciting story with characters

lively that offer plenty

of laughs. Most of all though, it is a visual feast, with bold fonts, random capitalisation, and calligrams jostling for space on the already crowded pages. Like Pichon’s other books, it can be enjoyed as a funny, action- packed

page-turner, but also Pizazz HHHH

Sophy Henn, illus. Sophy Henn, Simon & Schuster 204pp, 978-1-4711-9398-9 £6.99 pbk

Pizazz is indeed the name of the protagonist of this book, and she is, like all the members of her extended family, a super-hero. She is reluctant to reveal her special power until the very end of the story, but rails against always having to wear the same outfit, with a cape that often gets in the way, having to leap off and save people at very short notice, which is not always convenient, e.g. at mealtimes, and, although she does have to take her turn at loading the dishwasher, she seldom gets the chance to be, well, just NORMAL. The reader

might sympathise,

but want to find out what happens, anyway. The family has just moved house

to be nearer Grandad, who have from

Granny and retired

being super-heroes, and she and her younger sister, Red Dragon, who can breathe fire and is irritatingly good at everything she does, have started at a new school. Pizazz really misses her old friends Sue and Tom, and finds that everyone at the new school is in friendship groups already and no- one, particularly three girls she calls ‘The Populars’, wants to include her. And she still sometimes has to rush off when a baddy is threatening the safety of the planet in various inventive ways, like Harry the Slime having a Gunk Tank of Dooooom (“and yes, there are that many ‘o’s”). In an attempt at normality, Pizazz to become a school already,

tries and fails councillor (Red is one

annoyingly) but is given the consolation of becoming Eco Monitor, which, for someone who often has to Save The Planet, seems like a good idea, but it’s not the same sort of saving at all, as she discovers when she decides to try and stop the nearby park being turned


a comic book of cartoons so that children can keep returning to their favourite bits again and again. SD

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