Category: Friday Assembly

Year 1 Challenge Miss Cleveland: Monsters

Grab your cushions of comfort and get ready to for a grisly selection of books based on Year 1s theme: Monsters!

First, it’s important that we know what we are facing… An A to Z Of Monsters And Magical Beings by Rob Hodgson & Aidan Onn is a cornucopia of monstrous information to satisfy the most curious appetites!

Do you know how to escape from a stalking werewolf? Have you always wanted to learn the difference between a hobgoblin and an imp, and do you know the secret to avoiding the sharp claws of the ancient Eloko monster? Learn all these brilliant facts and more with this guide to the strange, scary and wonderful world of monsters and ancient mythical beings!

Spark meaningful discussions about loneliness, friendship, community and coping with loss with this enchantingly illustrated story about a girl who befriends a monster in The Thing At 52 by Ross Montgomery & Richard Johnson, which publishes next month

He was big and lumbering and a wore a tiny top hat perched on top of his rather large head. She didn’t think he had any friends, so she brought him a flower. It wasn’t long before their friendship bloomed… the Thing was gentle and kind and the adventures they went on were the best she could ever imagine. The girl soon discovered that there were many Things, living all over the place… which gave her an idea. She invited them all to a party, and the Things danced till midnight. Thing had never felt so happy. But one day the Thing had to go and their adventures came to an end. All Things have to go sometime

In this poignant story, discover how small acts of kindness can grow into great friendships, and how the community you build from those friendships can provide comfort and companionship when you need it most.

Small! by Hannah Moffatt is a brilliantly funny book about finding your feet in a new school, friendship, and foul food.

Harvey is a small boy in a giant world. On stilts! When Harvey accidentally sets fire to his headteacher’s trousers, Mum decides it’s time for a BIG change and packs him off to Madame Bogbrush’s School for Gifted Giants.But Harvey’s not a giant. He’s a boy on stilts. And if his classmates find out, they’ll stomp him into a sandwich

21% Monster by P.J. Canning is a fun, fast-paced, high-octane action adventure, – the perfect page-turning new series for fans of Alex Rider, Percy Jackson and Marvel.

When Darren Devlin is arrested for destroying his school with his bare hands, it’s not just the police who are after him. Enter Marek Masters, 14 years old, 19% alien, and the most intelligent, most wanted “almost human” alive. Marek is here to tell Darren the truth – he is 21% monster, and together they must take down the secret organisation that created them.

Darren and Marek are wanted, powerful and dangerous. And now it’s payback time.

And finally, I’m sneaking in another book that publishes next month. Buy tissues – you’ll need them from laughing and crying! The Boy Who Made Monsters is utterly, heartbreakingly beautiful storytelling, with Jenny Pearson’s trademark laugh out loud humour.

Benji McLaughlin is a visionary. He believes in things that other people think are impossible, like that he and his brother Stanley will be happy in their new home in Scotland, and that the Loch Lochy monster exists, and that his parents will come home safely one day, even though they’ve been missing for months.

When he finds out that his Uncle Hamish’s Loch Lochy tourist business is struggling, and it looks like Benji and Stanley might lose another home, Benji’s not worried. He has a plan. If he can show everyone that the Loch Lochy monster exists, people will flock to come and see it, and the business will flourish again.

Together with his new friend Murdy and Mr Dog, the best dog in the world, Benji sets off to capture evidence of the monster, even if he has to get a little creative. But Benji might end up confronting more monsters than he expects.

Happy reading!

Year 2 Challenge Miss Cleveland: Our Planet

What a fabulous theme Year 2 have chosen – Our Planet! This has been really tricky to narrow down so I’ve gone with illustrated non-fiction to help reduce my options (it didn’t really help)!

Our World: A First Book of Geography by Sue Lowell Gallion, illustrated by Lisk Feng

A read-aloud introduction to geography for young children that, when opened and folded back, creates a freestanding globe.

Children are invited to identify and experience the Earth’s amazing geography through rhyming verse and lush illustrations: from rivers, lakes, and oceans deep, to valleys, hills, and mountains steep. Secondary text offers more detailed, curriculum-focused facts and encourages readers to consider their own living environments, making the reading experience personal yet set within a global backdrop. This informative homage to Earth is sure to inspire readers to learn more about their planet – and to engage with the world around them.

There are a whole host of atlases to explore, so I’ve chosen two that allow us to explore more than just our planet.

Lift-The-Flap Transport Atlas by Christina Webb and Andy Mansfield

Buckle up! This interactive and colourful atlas takes young readers on a hands-on journey all around the world. Discover the stories behind the world’s most iconic vehicles, including the countries where they were invented and the places that they’re strongly associated with.

Each page turned brings a new continent and its famous forms of transport to life. Discover how the first aeroplane took flight in America, the speed at which Japan’s shinkansen bullet trains travel, and when the first hot air balloon floated into the sky of France. Plus we’ll set sail to learn about the longships rowed by Scandinavia’s vikings and the icebreakers that are used to plough through Antarctica’s sea ice.

Featuring over 100 flaps that lift to reveal fun facts and the inner workings of vehicles, this beautifully illustrated atlas will turbocharge kids’ interest in the world of transport and travel.

Atlas Of Dogs by Frances Evans, illustrated by Kelsey Heaton

Explore the paw-some world of pooches in this definitive guide to dogs that’s packed with fun facts and illustrations.

Large continent maps show the origin of 150 weird and wonderful breeds like the Greenland Dog with wicked sledging skills. Plus amazing Pooch Profiles provide size, coat and personality stats. Kids will love this who’s who of dogs!

Wild In The City by Kate Baker, illustrated by Gianluca Foli

Discover the secret lives of more than 30 extraordinary creatures that share our cities. From red foxes sneaking rides on London buses to leopards prowling the backstreets of Mumbai, this book explores the clever ways animals have adapted to the urban environment and explains how you can help protect your wild neighbors.

Crammed with buildings, traffic, and people, urban spaces are the last place you’d expect to see wildlife. But all kinds of animals live alongside us in the hidden corners of our towns and cities-from ants living under pavement cracks to monkeys and spotted hyenas living among locals.

Travel from city to city across six different continents to meet some of these amazing animals. There are tips on where and when you might see them, what signs to look for, and how you can help make our cities more nature-friendly places. You’ll also see the conservation status of each animal, from the species of least concern to those that are endangered.

The Magnificent Book Of The Abyss by Bethanie and Josh Hestermann, illustrated by Val Walerczuk

This book takes us on a journey to a part of our planet that has barely been explored. Dive into the deep to meet its weird and wonderful residents. Get up close to some of the extraordinary creatures that live thousands of feet beneath the ocean surface – from the barreleye fish with a transparent head to the seaworm that drops ‘bombs’ on its enemies.

Intriguing facts accompany every illustration, so you can find out why the gulper eel has an inflatable mouth, how the dumbo octopus got its name and why the vampire squid turns itself inside out.

Happy reading!

Read For Empathy

Yesterday was Empathy Day – a day which celebrates a superpower everyone can learn. Empathy is our ability to understand and share someone else’s feelings. It builds stronger, kinder communities. It’s a crucial life skill that children need to learn, thrive and make a positive difference. Books provide a safe way to explore different situations and experience other lives, and when children identify with book characters, they
learn to see things from other people’s point of view. As they read, they are building their empathy skills.

This year, 40 books were selected for primary schools, with each book exploring timely, powerful themes, including food poverty and homelessness; handling and sharing emotionsidentity; understanding different cultures and changing society for the better. This week, I am sharing four of my favourites from the list, 

Expanding children’s vocabulary for feelings has a profound effect on understanding self, and building empathy. Everybody Has Feelings by Jon Burgerman is the perfect book to help our younger children do this.

It covers feeling joyful, anxious, brave, jealous, embarrassed and 17 other emotions. The illustrations help explain how each emotion might look bodily.

Nikhil And Jay: The Star Birthday by Chitra Soundar, illustrated by Soofiya is a fabulous collection of four interlinked stories about Nikhil and Jay and their family: Grandad and Granny come to visit from Chennai; there’s a Star Birthday with a special Indian feast; the family go for a banana picnic in the park; and the time comes for Grandad and Granny to go home.  From them the brothers learn practical things about life in India, like cooking. And the grandparents lovingly pass on wisdom about handling emotions.

Everyday interactions with family at their heart make Nikhil and Jay instantly relatable to young children, while opening a window into another culture. The huge Indian feast for Nikhil’s birthday, the family picnic in the park, the sadness at saying goodbye to family who live far away, and the joy at finding a way to stay in touch all give opportunities for discussion beyond the story and a chance for children to work their empathy engines.

The Good Turn by Sharna Jackson is brimming with good-hearted characters. This pacy adventure focuses on how children can make a difference in the world. Josie, Margot and Wesley form a troop called the Copseys and set about challenging racism and social injustice in their community.

Josephine Williams is definitely a leader – and her teachers know it! What other eleven-year-old is desperate for MORE schoolwork? Looking for more challenging tasks, Josie enlists her friends Wesley and Margot into her very own Scout troop, the Copseys, named after the street they all live on. Together they start their quest for their camping badge by sleeping out near to the abandoned factory behind their houses. But that night they stumble across something strange. Someone seems to be living in the derelict building! The Copseys have to solve the mystery… and perhaps earn their bravery and activism badges along the way…

Perfect for readers who love Robin Stevens and Katherine Woodfine, and full of fast-paced adventure, brilliant characters and snappy dialogue with themes of real-life activism and how to help others.

Frankie’s World by Aoife Dooley is a graphic novel offering a unique perspective on autism told with humour and heart. We meet Frankie, who is autistic, as she tries to work out if she’s an alien and why her dad left when she was a baby. A funny, dynamic read full of warmth and heart; a realistic representation of neurodivergence.

Frankie knows she’s not like anyone else in her class: she’s different, but she can’t quite figure out why. Is it the new freckle on her nose, or the fact she’s small for her age? Or that she has to go to the hospital sometimes? Everyone else seems to think she’s weird too, and they make fun of her at school.

Frankie’s dad left when she was a baby – maybe he was different too? It would explain why she always feels like an alien. So she and her best-friend Sam, embark on a mission to track him down. 

And I’m sneaking in a fifth book this week – We’ve Got This: Six Steps To Build Your Empathy Super Power by Rashmi Sirdeshpande & EmpathyLab is the essential empathy handbook for young readers. In just SIX simple steps readers will be taught how to harness empathy as their human SUPERPOWER, and discover how using this power can change their lives and the world around them for the better.

The emotional well-being of children is just as important as their physical health but it’s not something that all children are taught about or are offered support for. Harnessing empathy and growing their emotional intelligence allows children and young people to develop the resilience to cope with life’s ups and downs as well as understand and experience other people’s emotions, feelings and points of view.

Happy reading!

Year 3 Challenge Miss Cleveland: Nature

This week, Year 3 have challenged me to choose books based on the theme of nature, just in time for the weather to be good enough to enjoy books outside!

For our younger children, I have chosen Mrs Noah’s Garden by Jackie Morris and James Mayhew.

The flood is over – but while Mr Noah builds a house out of the ark, Mrs Noah creates a garden. Luckily her famous pockets contain seeds and she has some help from the children – and the creatures. Midsummer morning brings some very special surprises! This magical story from the creators of Mrs Noah’s Pockets explores new beginnings, care for nature and, above all, home.

James Mayhew’s vibrant spreads are the perfect backdrop for Jackie Morris’s lyrical tale which touches on themes of refugees and migration, but my biggest take away from Mrs Noah’s Garden was a new found love for the outdoors, and the creativity it inspires, which leads perfectly onto my next choice…

The Big Book Of Nature Art by Yuval Zommer is packed with twenty-two easy art activities inspired by nature. Each of the activities can be achieved in four simple steps using natural materials combined with recycled or found materials from around the home. Drawing on Zommer’s years of experience running art workshops for children, The Big Book of Nature Art includes his tips for stress-free ways to get creative with kids.

Each nature art activity requires no more than five minutes set-up and five minutes clean-up, making them easy to achieve and fun for everyone involved. The book also encourages children to see the creative potential in the natural and everyday treasures all around us – from twigs, seed pods, petals and leaves through to loo rolls, pencil shavings, takeaway cutlery and kitchen string.

Little nature artists will enjoy making paper-plate birds; leaf bugs; coffee-cup owls; tree bark bats; and seed pod creepy crawlies, as well as scenes for their creatures to dwell in, from watery worlds to underground tunnels.

For our older children, I have picked Witchstorm by Tim Tilley.

Will believes in witches and the stories he’s grown up with – of mythical storm-lions, disappearing villages, and secret songs. Most of all, he believes the tales of magical treasure hidden in the Fens centuries ago. Treasure that he has to find, to solve the mystery of his Ma’s disappearance. Then, in the eye of a storm, a witch arrives. She holds the key to finding the lost treasure – a powerful magical object that can summon storms. But someone else is searching for it too. If it falls into the wrong hands, Will’s beloved home could be destroyed, and with it, his chances of ever finding his ma. Join Will on an epic quest filled with riddles, ruined towers, cloud cities and broomstick chases, on a journey to save everything he loves before time runs out.

An astonishingly atmospheric adventure, that feels timeless. Once you start, you will not want to put it down. Tim Tilley’s keen observations about the flora and fauna transport the reader to Will’s world, a time of rapid industrial growth, where motor cars are in their infancy. A strong environmental message about living in harmony with the natural world is woven effortlessly into this story of witches, wildlife, courage and hope. I’ll definitely be paying more attention to the clouds from now on.

And finally, I Am The Seed That Grew A Treenamed after the first line of Judith Nicholls’ poem ‘Windsong’, is a lavishly illustrated collection of 366 nature poems selected by Fiona Waters. There is one for every day of the year, including leap years and is filled with familiar favourites and new discoveries, written by a wide variety of poets, including – John Agard, Roger McGough, Christina Rossetti, William Shakespeare, and many more. There are in fact 185 named poets and many anonymous poems to explore and enjoy including much-loved classics, contemporary favourites, traditional rhymes and poetry in translation.

Published in collaboration with the National Trust, this anthology is a brilliant introduction to a wide range of nature poetry, through which you can explore the wonderful world of animals, plants, trees, weather and much more with each carefully selected poem. Stunning original artwork lets you travel through the changing seasons and immerse yourself in the beauty and wonder of the natural world. This is the perfect book for children (and grown-ups!) to share at the beginning or the end of the day, or just to dip into.

Happy reading!


Year 4 Challenge Miss Cleveland: Dystopian Worlds

This week, Year 4 have challenged me to recommend books set in ‘Dystopian Worlds’. Dystopian fiction, in all of its forms, shows a world in decline or collapse. Regardless of the root cause, the common person is labouring under some form of oppressive control, the most common culprits being government, technology, and social conditioning. Disaster can strike without much—or any—warning; an environmental collapse, a world war, a robotic uprising, a global pandemic…

Flooded by Mariajo Ilustrajo

The flood comes gradually at first.  All the animals ignore the obvious and go about their busy lives, disjointed from one another and preoccupied by their own problems. Eventually, the flood water reaches a height that they can no longer ignore and they have to work together to save their city. All the animals join together in a line and pull out the plug that is drowning the city.

This is an exceptionally illustrated story that teaches a message not to let problems fester and with a little team work and community spirit, no problem is insurmountable. 

The King Who Banned The Dark by Emily Haworth-Booth

There was once a little boy who was afraid of the dark. There’s nothing unusual about that. Most children are afraid of the dark at one time of another. But this little boy was a Prince, and he decided that when he became King, he would do something about the dark. He would ban it. When a King bans the dark completely, installing an artificial sun, and enforcing “anti-dark” laws, it seems like a good idea. The citizens don’t need to worry about monsters, crime, or any of the other scary things that might live in the dark. But what happens when nobody can sleep, and the citizens revolt? Will the King face his fears and turn the lights off?

The King Who Banned the Dark is a beautiful story about how we need the dark in order to enjoy the light.

It’s The End Of The World And I’m In My Bathing Suit by Jason A.Reynolds

What happens when five unsupervised kids face the apocalypse under outrageously silly circumstances? Twelve-year-old Eddie Gordon Holloway has concocted his most genius plan ever to avoid chores … especially the dreaded L-A-U-N-D-R-Y. If he can wears every item of clothing in his wardrobe, summer will be halfway over before he has to do laundry! On the day of the highly anticipated Beach Bash, Eddie ends up grounded until he can get his clothes clean. While left home alone to do his laundry, the power goes out mid-cycle. With his first load of laundry soaking wet and the rest still filthy, Eddie sets out to explore the seemingly empty neighborhood in just his swim trunks and flip-flops. As he meets up with other neighborhood kids to find out what happened, they realize that their families aren’t coming back anytime soon. And as night falls, the crew realizes they aren’t just the only people left in the neighborhood – they might be the only people left . . . anywhere.

Laugh out loud funny,and the first in the series, this is perfect for fans of The Last Kids On Earth (read the books before watching it on Netflix though).

Day Of The Whale by Rachel Delahaye

Cam’s quest to understand Big Blue leads him to new friends and shared adventures – but the truth, when he finds it, is more dangerous than ever he could have imagined. ‘Follow the big blue’. That was the last thing Cam’s father said to him. Cam follows Big Blue – everybody does on the island of Cetacea. Their lives take place within his rules, delivered to them by enigmatic whale-talker, Byron Vos. Byron was once a marine scientist but is now organizing an epic clean-up operation to revive the ocean after centuries of human greed and neglect. And yet Cam wonders if there is a more complex truth. A truth that may be connected to his father’s disappearance. Cam’s quest to understand Big Blue leads him to new friends and shared adventures – but the truth, when he finds it, is more dangerous than ever he could have imagined.

This is a captivating read that is as unsettling as it is insightful into the way that power can corrupt, and what life in a world devastated by global warming might be like. I loved the links to First Nation art and beliefs that flowed through the story, and the importance of family, friends and community to support us all when life is difficult.

And finally, this weekend, Kenilworth Books are celebrating their 55th birthday with music, crafts, cake, and alpacas! The party begins at 11am so pop down and join in the fun.

Happy reading!


Year 5 Challenge Miss Cleveland

This week, Year 5 have challenged me to recommend books based on the theme of Magic.

The Bad Bunnies Magic Show by Mini Grey is a magical book full of beautiful illustrations and quirky characters.

When the great magician, Hypno, goes missing just before a show, his rabbits Abra and Cadabra step in to save the day. But are they all that they seem? Or is there more to their sleight of paw than meets the eye?
An exciting new novelty book from British author and illustrator Mini Grey that will have children and parents laughing out loud.

Small Change For Stuart by Lissa Evans is a puzzle filled, fast paced adventure full of mystery and magic!

Stuart Horten, ten years old and small for his age, is about to have the strangest adventure of his life. After moving to the boring town of Beeton, he finds himself swept up in an incredible quest to find his great-uncle’s lost legacy: a magician’s workshop stuffed with trickery and magic. There are clues to follow, unbearable neighbours to avoid and puzzles to solve, but what starts as fun ends up as danger, and Stuart begins to realise that he can’t finish the task on his own…

The Extraordinary Adventures Of Alice Tonks by Emily Kenny; with plenty of plot twists to keep you guessing, this is a fantastically fun mystery that grips from beginning to end.

Alice Tonks would love to make friends at boarding school. And, being autistic, she just wants people to accept her for who she is. But after a rather strange encounter with a talking seagull on her first day, she suddenly has a new challenge and a lot of questions.

Animals are going missing and Alice can’t solve the mystery alone. With new friends behind her, can Alice harness her magic powers and become the hero she never imagined?

Everyday Magic For Kids: 30 Amazing Magic Tricks That You Can Do Anywhere by Justin Flom

Using every day objects, daring magician Justin Flom will teach children (and their grown-ups) all they need to know to perform 30 amazing and how-did-you-do-that magic tricks at the turn of a hat. Featuring step-by-step instructions and illustrations, Everyday Magic for Kids will give budding magicians all the tips they need in order to wow their friends and family, whether at home, at school, or on the go. Tricks will vary from card tricks to tricks with coins and other small objects to tricks that can be done with friends/family members. The book also includes introductory material about how to act like a magician and the basics of performing magic in front of an audience (be it a friend or a room of people).

Happy reading!

Year 6 Challenge Miss Cleveland

This week, Year 6 have challenged me to recommend books to the whole school on the theme of “Video Games”.

For our youngest readers, The Screen Thief by Helen and Thomas Docherty is a cautionary tale of what happens when everyone is too busy looking at their screens.

When the Snaffle arrives in the city, she just wants to play, but everyone’s too busy staring at their screens. The Snaffle discovers that she likes screens, too – as a snack! When she chomps down every last screen in the city, that’s when the fun really starts . . .

Next, we have Press Start by Thomas Flintham, for children who love video games but aren’t allowed to play as often as they’d like. The first in a full-colour series of graphic novels about – and for – kids who love gaming! Join Sunny as he and Super Rabbit Boy take on the world, one move at a time!

Sunny’s favourite game is Super Rabbit Boy and he loves to pit his skills against King Viking who hates fun and happiness and wants to steal Singing Dog and bring sadness to Animal Town FOR EVER! Can Sunny help Super Rabbit Boy get to Level 6 and rescue Singing Dog and restore joy to Animal Town? Only if he defeats the Robot Army, dodges the Robo-Crabs and Lakes of Lava before battling King Viking himself! Has Sunny got the skills? Has Super Rabbit Boy eaten enough super magical carrots (SPOILER: origin story)? You’ll have to read and find out…

Sticking with illustrated fiction we then move on to Glitch by Sarah Graley, a fresh and funny middle-grade graphic novel featuring a girl who must save a virtual world… and her own!

Izzy has an incredible secret — she can enter the world of her new video game! She meets Rae, a robot who says Izzy is destined to save Dungeon City from the Big Boss. How is this possible?! And how can she fight for this virtual world when she’s got a whole real life to keep up with: her family (though she could do without her mom’s annoying cat), and her best friend, Eric. Things get even weirder when Izzy loses a life while inside the game, and she starts to worry about what might happen if she gets a Game Over for good. Meanwhile, Eric has been super upset with Izzy since she’s been keeping secrets and bailing on their plans. Can Izzy survive Dungeon City and save their friendship?..

And finally, for our oldest children, we have Skywake: Invasion by Jamie Russell, an exciting and original debut sci-fi adventure trilogy for the gaming generation, from a screenwriter, film critic and gamer.

Fifteen-year-old girl gamer Casey Henderson is obsessed with smash-hit game SkyWake – and she’s good at it, too. Little does she realize it’s actually an alien training tool created by an evil extra-terrestrial race. When the aliens swoop down on a national gaming tournament, Casey and her teammates discover they’re abducting the best gamers to fight in a distant alien war across the galaxy. And they’ve got her brother. Casey’s gaming skills are her best hope of stopping the aliens – but first she and her online teammates must learn to work together in real life…

Happy reading!

Friday Library Recommendations – Tea-riffic books!

Hello, and welcome to the Summer Term! Today, as it’s National Tea Day, I get to talk about two of my absolute favourite things – books and tea! This week’s recommendations blend my two passions, so grab a brew and settle down with a fabulous book.

Teatime Around The World by Denyse Waissbluth and Chelsea O’Byrne reveals all the wonderful ways we can enjoy a cup of tea––or two!

Did you know that po cha, the traditional tea in Tibet, is thick and salty like soup? Or that in Iran, tea is served with a rock? (A rock candy, that is!) Or that afternoon tea was dreamed up in England by a duchess who complained of being hungry between lunch and dinner?

With vivid poetry, vibrant illustrations, and unique facts about different tea cultures, Teatime Around the World tells the delightful story of a beloved beverage.

For our youngest readers, Cloud Tea Monkeys by Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham, illustrated by Juan Wijngaard is a beautiful traditional tale that was shortlisted for the Greenaway Medal Winner.

Tashi lives in a tiny village below the tea plantations where her mother earns a living. One day her mother falls ill, and Tashi must pick tea to earn the money for a doctor. But she is too small to reach the tender shoots and the cruel Overseer sends her away empty-handed. Tashi needs a miracle. Then, on the mountains high above the plantation where only monkeys live, something extraordinary happens that will change her life for ever…

For Year 3 and up, Yesterday Crumb And The Storm In A Teacup by Andy Sagar is the first book in a magical series that I cannot get enough of!

Yesterday Crumb is no ordinary girl. She was born with fox ears that have cursed her to a lonely life working in the circus and her origins are a complete mystery. But she is about to escape into the adventure of a lifetime when she learns that she’s a strangeling who’s lost her magic.

Taken in by Miss Dumpling the flamboyant Tea Witch, Yesterday is introduced to a magical, walking teashop filled with fantastical customers, a flying teapot turtle called Pascal and powerful spells in every teacup!

Yesterday starts to rediscover her magic and to feel a sense of belonging. But a mysterious figure of darkness is working hard to ensure her new life comes crashing down – and it all starts with a deadly shard of ice in Yesterday’s heart…

But there’s nothing that can’t be solved with a pot of tea, a slice of cake and a BIG dash of magic!

For Year 5 and up, Arsenic For Tea by Robin Stevens is St Trianians meets Miss Marple, and murderously good fun!

Schoolgirl detectives Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are at Daisy’s home, Fallingford, for the holidays. Daisy’s glamorous mother is throwing a tea party for Daisy’s birthday, and the whole family is invited, from eccentric Aunt Saskia to dashing Uncle Felix. But it soon becomes clear that this party isn’t really about Daisy at all. Naturally, Daisy is furious.

Then one of their party falls seriously, mysteriously ill – and everything points to poison. With wild storms preventing anyone from leaving, or the police from arriving, Fallingford suddenly feels like a very dangerous place to be. Not a single person present is what they seem – and everyone has a secret or two. And when someone very close to Daisy looks suspicious, the Detective Society must do everything they can to reveal the truth . . . no matter the consequences.

Happy reading!

Coventry Inspiration Book Awards: The Runners Up, Week 2

This is our final week celebrating this year’s Coventry Inspiration Book Award shortlist, looking at the final runners up in each category.

Our final What’s The Story Book is Story Soup by Abbie Longstaff, illustrated by Nila Aye

Ollie and Susie are mixing a story soup in their kitchen. They think it will be easy to brew a story, but every time they throw an item into the soup the story takes an unexpected turn. Ollie wants a skateboarding story; Susie wants one about a princess – so they end up with a twisting turning tale about a skateboarding princess and a pirate who is a reluctant bad guy. But what happens when the story soup gets out of control? Will Ollie and Susie be able to work together to save the day?

If you loved this book, try Once Upon A Fairy Tale by Natalia and Lauren O’Hara

Did you ever wish to feast with fairies, live in a tree, or ride a unicorn across the sun-lit sky? Here, in this magical world, you can. You can choose to be a clever princess, or a curious gingerbread man, or perhaps a gentle knight. Maybe you’ll live in a tree, or a tower on a hill. You can eat fresh-buttered sunbeams with fairies, or newt pie and pigtail pudding with ogres. Everywhere you look, you will find a new adventure. Just pick the one you like best.

A captivating book where the child chooses the story they want to tell – empowering children to become storytellers and weave their very own fairytale.

Our last book in the Telling Tales category is Leonora Bolt: Secret Inventor by Lucy Brandt
Leonora Bolt spends her days creating incredible inventions in her TOP SECRET laboratory, under the watchful eye of her terrifying uncle. Everything changes one day when a strange boy washes up on an inflatable lobster and reveals that Uncle Luther has been stealing her inventions and selling them on the mainland. Leonora, armed with her most important inventions, must leave Crabby Island for the first time EVER to embark on an unforgettable journey that will test her brainpower to its limits. With the help of an otter with a special skill, a questionable cook, and a singing sea captain, can Leonora dream up an invention that will defeat her evil uncle once and for all?
If you loved this book, try Ollie Spark And The Exploding Popcorn Mystery by Gillian Cross and Alan Snow. Machines, mysteries and mayhem – this must be a case for Ollie Spark!

Ollie Spark loves mending machines and solving mysteries. But he gets more than he bargained for when fixing Aunt Caz’s van throws him into a real-life spy adventure!Ollie is whisked away to a mysterious city with strange plants, an unknown language and suspicious people round every corner. With the help of Gasket, his new dog best friend, he sets off on a mission to save the city – and Aunt Caz – from disaster.

Can Ollie fix things before it’s too late?!

Our fnial book for Hooked On Books is a firm Year 6 favourite – Grandpa Frank’s Great Big Bucket List by Jenny Pearson
Young Frank John Davenport is hit with two massive surprises. First, he learns that he’s been left £462,000 by a step-grandma he didn’t know he had, then that he has a grandpa. However, there is a condition to his grandma’s bequest and the money must be used for the care and well-being of his grandpa. With his parents arguing about the money and his dad’s dodgy dealings, Frank is only too happy to team up with Grandpa Frank and embark on delivering the best bucket list ever (whether that’s what his grandpa wants or not). This leads to hilarious adventures such as balloon rides, monster-truck lessons, and synchronised swimming lessons!

If this was your favourite, try Millions by Frank Cottrell Boyce Heart-achingly funny, touching and brilliantly clever, Millions is a fantastic adventure about two boys, one miracle and a million choices.

Brothers Damian and Anthony didn’t mean to get caught up in a botched train robbery. But what would you do if a massive bag of cash dropped from the sky and you had only a few days to spend it before it became worthless? Buy a million pizzas? End world poverty? Not such an easy decision, is it? The boys soon find out that being rich is a mug’s game. Not only is the clock ticking, the bank robbers want their money back . . .

Happy Reading!

Coventry Inspiration Book Awards: The Runner’s Up, Week 1

This week, we are celebrating some of the books that were runners up in this year’s Coventry Inspiration Book Awards.

In the What’s The Story Category, lots of you loved The Who’s Whonicorn Of Unicorns by Kes Gray, illustrated by Garry Parsons, a funny and surprising new take on the unicorn craze. This book is jam-packed with joyful wordplay and hilarious illustrations. Get ready  to discover: – spooky BOO!nicorns – polite AFTERYOUnicorns – floating BALLOONincorns – smelly POOnicorns – clumsy BUMPINTOnicorns – and so many more!

If you loved this book, try The Blue-Footed Booby by Rob Biddulph

Let’s follow the footprints!
Let’s hunt for some clues!
Left footprint! Right footprint!
No time to lose!

As everybody knows, Red-Footed Boobies are fabulous bakers. But when Desmond’s frangipane tart goes missing amidst a flurry of footprints, the Blue-Footed Booby becomes the chief suspect. But all is not as it seems…

Featuring one of the stars of Draw With Rob (video number 24), this is a gloriously silly rhyming story about the perils of jumping to conclusions.

One of the Telling Tales runners up was Future Hero: Race To Fire Mountain by Remi Blackwood

When Jarell discovers that the fantasy world, he is obsessed with drawing is real, he is launched into an incredible adventure. Ulfrika, the land of his ancestors, is in trouble and he is the hero they need. With the help of brave and wise-cracking Kimisi, Jarell must stop the evil Ikala. The future of Ulfrika depends on it… A winning blend of future tech gadgets and a fantasy world inspired by the mythology of Africa and its diaspora. Jarell, an ordinary boy who loves to draw, is the chosen one to save the world of Ulfrika.

If you loved this book, try Stuntboy, In The Meantime by Jason Reynolds, illustrated by Raul The Third, a hilarious, hopeful, and action-packed novel about the greatest young superhero you’ve never heard of.
And finally for this week, a much loved runner up for Hooked On Books is Twitch by M.G. Leonard. The beauty of nature is the backdrop for a murky web of crime in this fabulous book celebrating family, friendship and feathered creatures. A nail-biting joy!
Can a birdwatcher outwit an escaped convict?

Twitch has three pet chickens, four pigeons, swallows nesting in his bedroom and a passion for birdwatching. On the first day of the summer holidays, he arrives at his secret hide to find police everywhere: a convicted robber has broken out of prison and is hiding in Aves Wood. Can Twitch use his talents for birdwatching to hunt for the dangerous prisoner and find the missing loot?

If you loved Twitch, try Eagle Warrior by Gill Lewis.
Bobbie is thrilled that a golden eagle has settled in the forest near her family’s farm. She loves to walk the hills with her granny and watch the bird soar through the sky. But not everyone shares Bobbie’s awe for the spectacular bird. When her granny’s beloved dog is killed by poisoned bait, it soon becomes clear that someone is out to get the eagle – and they’re ready to take down anything, and anyone, that gets in their way. Bobbie is determined to save the eagle but is it worth the risk? A stunning new wildlife adventure from multi-award-winning author Gill Lewis.
Happy reading!