'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 7 July 2011

KBR Recommends: Junior Fiction for Boys, July 2011

We love great junior fiction here at KBR and we heartily recommend these fabulous books for boys  - although girls would have a load of fun with them, too! Recommended ages are included.

Galactic Adventures by Tristan Bancks
(UQP, $16.95, 9780702238697, 31 May 2011)
Ages: 8 - 14

Dash Campbell has only ever had one dream. To go to space.

Now he and four others have been given the chance to become the first kids ever to leave our planet. From building rockets behind his family’s laundromat in Australia to attending a hardcore Space School in the US, Dash is a long way from home. And he still has an intense month of training ahead before he can even think about that glorious moment of blasting out of Earth’s atmosphere and living his dream.

But does Dash have what it takes to survive Space School? Gruelling physicals, fierce competition, media attention, medicals, the Vomit Comet, a skydive from 4000 metres and an instructor who despises him. Can he push through his deepest fears and make history? Does he have the right stuff to go to space?

Loving the concept of this book plus the additional addendum - a must-read handbook on how to become a space kid. This is not only a lot of fun but a priceless way to engage kids in the story post-read.

Nerds by Michael Buckley
(Amulet, $14.95, 9780810989856, 8 Jan 2010)
Ages: 8 - 14

Michael Buckley is at his comic best in this madcap new series sure to appeal to kids looking for a quick, exciting read.

Combining all the excitement of international espionage and all the awkwardness of elementary school, NERDS, featuring a group of unpopular students who run a spy network from inside their school, hits the mark.

With the help of cutting-edge science, their nerdy qualities are enhanced and transformed into incredible abilities! They battle the Hyena, a former junior beauty pageant contestant turned assassin, and an array of James Bond–style villains, each with an evil plan more diabolical and more ridiculous than the last.

This New York Times bestselling series includes plenty of eye-catching graphics, illustrations and altered typeface, to help keep kids engaged.

Just One More by Joy Cowley

(Gecko, $19.95, 9781877467677, April 2011)
Ages: 5 - 12

This gorgeous collection of stories is a hark back to oldtime storytelling, with magical, kooky and warmly-written tales that will engage not only very young readers but older readers keen for something outside the modern, action-packed scene.

From horrible things with hairy feet to a tiger with a bad tooth, the stores vary in length from extremely short to medium in length, creating nice little pockets that can be enjoyed during travel, in one solid whack or in snippets before bedtime.

Gorgeously retro illustrations by Gavin Bishop are interspersed throughout, and perfectly complement these fun tales, written by one of New Zealand's most respected children's writers.

Mission Fox: Dolphin Rescue by Justin D'Ath
(Penguin, $12.95, 9780143305835, 27 June 2011)
Ages: 5 - 9

A black-tipped fin went gliding past... then another... the next one was even closer.

There's no rest for Mission Fox - not even when they're on holiday! Off the coast of Reef Island, Harry and Jordan spot a baby dolphin in trouble. But is Mission Fox a match for a ring of hungry sharks?

It looks like their scariest mission yet...

Nicholas by Goscinny and Sempé
(Phaidon, $16.95, 9780714861142)
Ages: 6 -12

Nicholas is the first in a series of five books that bring to life the day-to-day adventures of a young school boy - amusing, endearing and always in trouble.

An only child, Nicholas appears older at school than he does at home; his touchingly naive reactions to different situations cut through the preconceptions of adults to result in a formidable sequence of escapades.

This first book in the series contains a collection of 19 individual stories in which, despite trying to be good, Nicholas and his friends always seem to end up in some sort of mischief.

Whether confusing the photographer hired to take the class picture, rescuing a 'stray' dog, or trying desperately to help the teacher when the school inspector pays a visit, Nicholas always manages to make matters worse. This hilarious and heart-warming book will ignite laughter in children and adults alike.

The Travelling Restaurant by Barbara Else
(Gecko Press), $18.99, 9781877467776, April 2011)

In the reign of Lady Gall (Provisional Monarch of Fontania), the word ‘magic’ is forbidden...

When 12 year old Jasper Ludlow’s parents flee the city, he gets left behind and finds refuge on The Travelling Restaurant, a sailing ship captained by old Dr Rocket and crewed by feisty Polly.

Jasper faces challenges, adventures, storms and hungry pirates. Should he go in search of his parents, or his lost baby sister? Who should he trust? And why is Lady Gall hunting him?

The Unknown Spy by Eoin McNamee
(Quercus), $16.99, 9780857381293, May 2011)

In Book Two in the Ring of Five trilogy, Wilsons Spy Academy has called back their most brilliant trainee spy: Danny Caulfield.

Danny is to be sent on an urgent mission: to find the treaty stone that protects the Upper World before the Ring of Five, leaders of the Cherbs, destroy it and wage war. Danny and his friend Dixie - a spy who can appear and disappear at will - must set off the Kingdom of Morne to save the stone.

But the Cherb children have got there first, and the King of Morne pits Danny against them in a contest for the stone. Lily, a Cherb, reveals to Danny that she is his sister: she urges him to join the Ring of Five with her. Danny is locked into a battle between the two worlds and with himself.

Whose side is he on? Wilsons or the Ring of Five? And how much can he truly trust Lily? A high-stakes spy adventure, complete with double crossings, brilliant spy inventions, and a hero who has everything to learn about who he really is.