I am a huge fan of middle-grade children’s fiction, and am continually in awe of the brilliance of these authors. As a primary school teacher, I continually see how they enrich the lives of so many children and, to be honest, they have helped me so much as they are my escape from the pressures of daily life. AND they are just so good, no matter your age!
I absolutely love sharing books with my class and read aloud to them every day. They are always keen to talk about the books I have read and to borrow them from my class library which has now over 100 books I’ve added in the last year. My favourite time of the week is Friday afternoon when the children all lie around the room on cushions, or wrap up under a throw and just enjoy reading. I also get to enjoy my book. It feels very special, and is something we all look forward to.
I agree wholeheartedly with Katherine Rundell when she says in her wonderful book Why You Should Read Children’s Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise:
“Those who write for children are trying to arm them for the life ahead with everything we can find that is true. And perhaps, also, secretly, to arm adults against those necessary compromises and necessary heartbreaks that life involves: to remind them that there are and always will be great, sustaining truths to which we can return.“
I am aware from Twitter that some authors whose books are being released in April and beyond are quite understandably concerned about cancellation of publicity events and their affect on book sales, so I just want to do my bit by giving a shout-out to children’s books which are being published in April which I have already been lucky enough to read, or which I am eagerly anticipating. I will do a follow-up for books being published in May and beyond in the next couple of weeks.
I’ve kept the books in order of publication date, and used the Publisher Synopsis to give a brief overview to whet the reader’s appetite!
I have already posted a January to March anticipated releases which you can find here. The March books included are:
- The Pear Affair by Judith Eagle (5th March)
- Skeleton Keys The Haunting of Luna Moon by Guy Bass (author) and Pete Williamson (Illustrator) (5th March)
- The House on Hoarder Hill by Mikki Lish and Kelly Ngai (5th March)
- Potkin & Stubbs Ghostcatcher by Sophie Green (5th March)
- Crater Lake by Jennifer Killick (19th March)
April Anticipated Releases:
Publication Date: 2nd April (there’s a LOT of fantastic books being released on this date!)
I was lucky enough to get an early copy of Viper’s Daughter by Michelle Paver from ed public relations, so will post my review before publication date. This is an astoundingly rich, immersive and thrilling adventure that utterly gripped me from start to finish, skilfully drawing me into the Stone Age world with characters I adored, feared and feared for. A triumph of masterful story-telling that captured me completely.
A boy. A wolf. The legend lives on. For two summers Torak and Renn have been living in the Forest with their faithful pack-brother, Wolf. But their happiness is shattered when Renn realizes Torak is in danger – and she’s the threat. When she mysteriously disappears, Torak and Wolf brave the Far North to find her. At the mercy of the Sea Mother and haunted by ravenous ice bears, their quest leads them to the Edge of the World. There they must face an enemy more evil than any they’ve encountered. Viper’s Daughter plunges you back into the Stone-Age world of Torak, Renn and Wolf: a world of demons, Hidden People and exhilarating adventure which has entranced millions of readers.
I was lucky enough to be sent an early copy of this absolutely fantastic book by Charlie at Little Tiger, so I’ll be able to post my review shortly. I’ve just finished reading it, and it completely gripped me from the intriguing prologue to the final chapters which brought that tearful release I get when I read a story that completely immerses me and keeps me in a heightened state of tension as I follow the action, caring so much for the young girls, worrying for them and admiring their strength and courage. Readers are in for a real treat with this one as it plunges you into the life of Victorian Edinburgh with THE most wonderful female characters, and dark villains with an intriguing plot, with brilliant twists.
Zinnie and her sisters live in the murky tunnels beneath Edinburgh’s Old Town. They keep out of the way of the authorities and remain undetected. Until, that is, rumours of a ghost bring unwanted visitors into the caverns they call home. Among them, a young Arthur Conan Doyle, keen to investigate, and MacDuff, the shady owner of Edinburgh’s newest attraction, the House of Wonders. Caught up in a world of intrigue and adventure, Zinnie seeks answers. But how can she discover what secrets lie in the House of Wonders while also protecting the sisters she holds so dear?
I was lucky enough to pick up a signed copy of this yesterday, and it will be my next read. It is the second book in the Starfell series. I have no doubt it will be just as wonderful as the first, Willow Moss and the Lost Day which I read last year and absolutely loved – especially Oswin! I’ll be able to post a review before the ‘official’ publication date.
Willow Moss, the youngest and least powerful sister in a family of witches, recently saved the world. The problem is, nobody can remember it – and, to make matters worse, her magical ability seems broken. Instead of finding lost things, objects keep disappearing against her will … which is especially troubling now that her friend Sometimes needs her help! Sometimes has discovered how to see ten minutes into the future. Unfortunately that’s only enough time to find out that his kidnappers are on their way! His only hope is to write an urgent letter to Willow, asking if she wouldn’t mind trying to find him. As Willow and her friends piece together what has happened to Sometimes, their adventure takes them from an enchanted tower to the magical forest of Wisperia and into dangerous new realms… Can Willow save Sometimes when her own powers are out of control?
This is the third book in the Clifftoppers series, after Arrowhead Moor Adventure and The Fire Bay Adventure. My husband: “Oh, that is the one I would read!” Thank goodness, something has engaged him with reading – at long last!
For Aiden, Chloe, Ava and Josh, holidays at their grandparents’ cottage mean wild beaches, no curfew, Bella the dog, and most of all – adventure! While sailing their Grandad’s boat along the coast with her cousins, Chloe sees a terrified face at a tower window on Thorn Island. Could the face belong to recently kidnapped young George, the only child of a rich local businessman? No one they tell believes there could be a child held prisoner in the tower. So, certain that the villains are hiding out nearby, the cousins must use all their skills and cunning to conduct a daring rescue.
I’ve been reading so many fantastic early reviews of this one! I’m waiting patiently for its release!
Imagine having the perfect friend, one who never steals, lies or bullies. Now you can, with the TrooFriend 560, the latest in artificial intelligence! What can go wrong with a robot buddy? Especially one that’s developing human characteristics and feelings, and who has just run away with her human?
I absolutely loved Swimming Against the Storm with its powerful environmental message, and am really looking forward to this one.
An epic race for survival that follows four children and their dog through treacherous waterways, dense forests and the deep, dark wilderness of Wales. From author Jess Butterworth comes a beautifully written adventure story in a vibrantly described setting – perfect for fans of Katherine Rundell. One day, as Cara and her siblings are trying to clean up the canal where they live, they pull out a mysterious locked safe. Though none of them can open it, they’re sure it’s something special. That night, a thief comes after the safe. The children flee, travelling with their boat as far as they can, before continuing into the forest on foot. But soon they’re lost in the mountains with a snowstorm about to land and food supplies running low. Will Cara and her siblings be able to survive the wilderness with nothing but their wits, their bravery and one very large dog to help?
I don’t know very much about this one, but it mentions a witch, so I’m so going to read it!
A spooky adventure set in Cornwall; Famous Five with a twist. A long-dead Cornish witch to thwart and a curse to stop – it’s just another family holiday. Orla thought she was in for a relaxing break, but when she finds a mysterious glowing necklace in the woods, it turns out there is a slight possibility she may have uncovered a witch’s ancient curse. After meeting a coven of suspicious old ladies, it becomes clear that Orla’s arrival in Cornwall is no longer a coincidence. The curse is poisoning the land and destroying everything it touches, and Orla is the one person who can stop it. But she’ll need help from the only other member of the family with good instincts – Dave the dog.
I adored meeting Milton in the first book in the series: Milton the Mighty, and am really looking forward to his adventure in Hawaii.
Milton’s superstardom is stressing him out: the events, the glamour, the adoring fans! Secretly, Zoe, Audrey and Ralph think he’s turned into … well … a bit of a diva. So when Dad and Greta plan a trip to Hawaii, Zoe knows she has to take her best spider pals along for the ride: they all need a break. But with a live volcano, an endangered spider species, an unscrupulous entrepreneur and Milton’s ego to contend with, this is hardly a holiday …
Publication Date: 30th April
I adored Pippin and her friends in The Umbrella Mouse and am really looking forward to her next adventure. I have been approved to read this on NetGalley, so will be able to post a review before the publication date.
A timeless tale of courage, friendship and fighting for what you believe in, Umbrella Mouse to the Rescue is the eagerly anticipated sequel to Anna Fargher’s award-winning The Umbrella Mouse, based on the true stories of the heroic animals caught in the conflict of WWII. Young mouse Pip Hanway is in France as she continues fighting for the French Resistance group Noah’s Ark: a secret gang of animals operating beneath the feet of human soldiers, whose aim is to liberate France and secure the victory of the Allies. Determined to reach her ancestral home of the Umbrella Museum in Italy, Pip hopes she can find long-lost family and a home. But as Pip makes the perilous journey through occupied territory, she soon realizes that danger comes from all sides and that the enemy is all around, and she does everything she can to fight for her friends. Beautifully illustrated by Sam Usher, Pip will take you on an incredible journey through a war that reaches even the smallest of creatures.
I was lucky enough to be approved to read an early copy of this on NetGalley. Goodness, it’s good! This was a truly mesmerising, magical read which drew me into brilliantly imagined worlds with two wonderful protagonists whose relationship felt genuine and realistic. The sense of wonder, the intricate magical system and the pervading threat of danger enthralled me … I’ll post my review closer to publication.
Pack your suitcase for a magical adventure! Perfect for fans of The Train to Impossible Places and The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club. At the Strangeworlds Travel Agency, each suitcase transports you to a different world. All you have to do is step inside . . . When 12-year-old Flick Hudson accidentally ends up in the Strangeworlds Travel Agency, she uncovers a fantastic secret: there are hundreds of other worlds just steps away from ours. All you have to do to visit them is jump into the right suitcase. Then Flick gets the invitation of a lifetime: join Strangeworlds’ magical travel society and explore other worlds. But, unknown to Flick, the world at the very centre of it all, a city called Five Lights, is in danger. Buildings and even streets are mysteriously disappearing. Once Flick realizes what’s happening she must race against time, travelling through unchartered worlds, seeking a way to fix Five Lights before it collapses into nothingness – and takes our world with it. A magical adventure for 9+ readers that will take you to whole new worlds.
This is another one that I’ve been waiting patiently for after reading some great early reviews.
Step into a world of secrets, folklore and illusions, where nothing is as it seems and magic is at play… Madame Augustina Pinchbeck, travels the country conjuring the spirits of dearly departed loved ones… for a price. Whilst her ability to contact ghosts is a game of smoke and mirrors, there is real magic behind her tricks too – if you know where to look. Through a magical trade, she persuades children to part with precious objects, promising to use her powers to help them. But Pinchbeck is a deceiver, instead turning their items into enchanted Cabinets that bind the children to her and into which she can vanish and summon them at will. When Pinchbeck captures orphan Leander, events are set into motion that see him and his new friends Charlotte and Felix, in a race against time to break Pinchbeck’s spell, before one of them vanishes forever…
So, that’s me done! I have no idea why the books I want are all published on either 2nd April or 30th April – curious indeed! Of course, I’m likely to find other books over the course of the month which I’ll pick up too! And I’m always happy for recommendations.
My aim is to read any of these I’ve been lucky enough to get an early copy of prior to publication, so I can give them a shout-out with a review prior to or on publication. I will buy the others as close to publication as I can, read and then review. I will also be sharing these books with as many children in school as I can, and will include them in our next Parents’ Reading Newsletter. I have a huge appreciation for children’s authors and hope this goes some small way to help publicise all these wonderful books.