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

Sunday 23 September 2012

KBR Recommends: New Middle Grade Fiction, September 2012

A sensational batch of new fiction titles has arrived. These titles would suit kids aged between 8 and 14, depending on their reading level. Warning: you may enjoy them as much as your kids!

The Terrible Thing that Happened to Barnaby Brocket by John Boyne (Doubleday, $19.95)

There's nothing unusual about the Brockets. Normal, respectable, and proud of it, they turn up their noses at anyone strange or different. But from the moment Barnaby Brocket comes into the world, it's clear he's anything but ordinary. 

To his parents' horror, Barnaby defies the laws of gravity - and floats. Desperate to please his parents, Barnaby does his best to keep both feet on the ground - but he just can't do it. 

One fateful day, the Brockets decide enough is enough. They never asked for a weird, abnormal, floating child. Barnaby has to go. Betrayed, frightened and alone, Barnaby floats into the path of a very special hot air balloon - and so begins a magical journey around the world, with a cast of extraordinary new friends. 

Time Thieves by Charlie Carter (Pan Macmillan, $12.99)

After the rip-roaring success of his Battle Boy series for younger readers, we were thrilled to set eyes on Carter's new Omega Squad series for older readers. Augustus Smyth (Battle Boy 005) is growing up. Now 13, he continues to stun. Particularly good for older boys struggling to read.

Thirteen-year-old Napoleon Augustus Smythe (Battle Boy 005) is now Battle Agent 005. Along with BA004 (a super smart boy but a real smarty pants too), BA009 (a girl with attitude and no time for a smarty pants) and super soldier TEX, he is a member of the Omega Squad, an elite team of Time Troopers sent back into history for Operation Battle Book.

Professor Perdu, their mission controller, is worried. Someone is stealing the TIME and ENERGY bundles from the Battle Books. But who is behind these attacks? And why? Omega Squad is sent on a series of Master Missions to investigate these clandestine forces who seek to use Operation Battle Book for evil ends.

The Secret of Zanzibar by Frances Watts (ABC Books, $19.99)

′So many secrets ... so many lies ...′

Time is running out, as Queen Eugenia prepares to crown herself the absolute ruler of Greater Gerander.

And so Alistair and Tibby Rose travel deep into dangerous territory on a daring mission to stop her, while Alice and Alex risk their lives by returning to the enemy stronghold they so recently fled.

They must act now to restore Zanzibar to the throne, or lose their homeland forever.

But Zanzibar has a secret. And it may cost Alistair his life ...

Ghost Club: The Haunted School by Deborah Abela (Random House, $15.95)

Kids tell scary stories all the time . . . but what if this story is REAL?

Angeline and Edgar have to go to their Senior School sleepover, but Angeline is dreading having to talk to the other kids.

The night goes wrong when a ghost appears in the old boarding school dormitory where they are camped out. Their classmates are terrified – and Principal Prim is not happy!

With the help of Ghost Club, Angeline and Edgar must find out who the ghost is so they can help her – but first they have to convince their school principal that kids can be ghost catchers too, and they have to avoid Travis the bully, who is spying on them – and causing trouble wherever they go.

Five Times Dizzy / Dancing in the Deli by Nadia Wheatley (Lothian, $16.99)

These popular and award-winning stories are now combined in one book! 

Together they tell the tale of Mareka and the Wilson kids, who live in an ordinary inner-city neighbourhood but find themselves caught up in extraordinary adventures. 

What with the professor's tricks, Yaya's magic, the Haunted House and the mysterious Munga, it sometimes seems as if Smith Street is the most exciting place in Australia.

Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead (Text Publishing, $16.99)

When Georges moves into a Brooklyn apartment building, he meets Safer, a twelve-year-old coffee-drinking loner and self-appointed spy. Georges becomes Safer’s first spy club recruit. His assignment? Tracking the mysterious Mr X, who lives in the apartment upstairs.

But as Safer becomes more demanding, Georges starts to wonder: how far is too far to go for your only friend?

Rebecca Stead’s characters are delightfully engaging, and she has woven intricate ideas into a beautiful story. Liar & Spy is an inspired, often-funny novel for middle grade kids about friendship, fears, bullying and how to deal with your worries. It will keep readers guessing until the very end.

Miss Understood by James Roy (Woolshed Press, $16.95)

Lizzie has a history of misunderstandings, but the latest one is bad enough to get her expelled from Our Lady of the Sacred Wimple College. So now she’s going to be homeschooled.

That’s right – from now on her mum will be her teacher. No friends, no playground, nothing but homework. What will Lizzie have to do to prove that she’s mature enough to be allowed back to Sacred Wimple? She’s prepared to give almost anything a go, but will it end up the same way it usually does – with her being misunderstood all over again?

Miss Understood is a warm, funny and moving story by award-winning author James Roy.

Hal Junior: The Missing Case by Simon Haynes (Bowman Press, $6.99)

The Hal Junior series is written in a similar style to the adult Hal Spacejock books, except the Hal Junior titles are shorter and feature a younger protagonist. In other words, most adults will enjoy these books too!

'I've heard of food going off, but this is ridiculous!'

Space Station Oberon is expecting an important visitor, and everyone is on their best behaviour. Even Hal Junior is doing his best to stay out of trouble!

From multi-coloured smoke bombs to exploding space rations, Hal Junior proves ... trouble is what he's best at!