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

Monday, 15 December 2014

KBR Recommends: Great Junior Fiction Summer Holiday Reads

This fabulous clutch of books make a perfect library of titles to read over the summer school holidays. With an age range of 6 - 14, depending on the reader, you're sure to find something fabulous for the Christmas stocking.

The Imaginary by AF Harrold and Emily Gravett, Bloomsbury, $27.99, 9781408852460, ages 6 - 12)

Something's hunting Rudger, and all he can do is run. There's nobody to help him. Nobody will listen to him. Oh... and he doesn't exist. An extraordinary tale illustrated by the incomparable Emily Gravett.

Rudger is Amanda Shuffleup's imaginary friend. It's a funny old life, not actually being there, but someone's got to do it. Nobody else can see Rudger - until the sinister Mr Bunting arrives at Amanda's door. Mr Bunting hunts imaginaries. Rumour says that he eats them. And he's sniffed out Rudger.

Soon Rudger is alone, and running for his imaginary life. He needs to find Amanda before Mr Bunting catches him - and before Amanda forgets him and he fades away to nothing. But how can an unreal boy stand alone in the real world?

Fans of Roald Dahl and Neil Gaiman will love this unsettling story of love, imagination and not really being there.

Frank Enstein and the Antimatter Motor by Jon Scieszka and Brian Biggs, Abrams, $11.99, ages 7 - 12)

Frank Einstein loves figuring out how the world works by creating household contraptions that are part science, part imagination, and definitely unusual. After an uneventful experiment in his garage-lab, a lightning storm and flash of electricity bring Frank’s inventions—the robots Klink and Klank—to life!

Not exactly the ideal lab partners, the wisecracking Klink and the overly expressive Klank nonetheless help Frank attempt to perfect his Antimatter Motor . . . until Frank’s archnemesis, T. Edison, steals Klink and Klank for his evil doomsday plan! Using real science, Jon Scieszka has created a unique world of adventure and science fiction—an irresistible chemical reaction for middle-grade readers.

Jon Scieszka has sold more than 11 million books, including The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs, the Time Warp Trio series, Guys Read, Spaceheadz, and most recently, Battle Bunny with Mac Barnett. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Book by John Agard, Walker Books, $16.95, 9780744544787, ages 6 - 12)

My name is Book and I'll tell you the story of my life." Non fiction like you've never read it before!
Quirky and humorous, part poetry, part reflection, this is the story of the book told by none other than Book himself! This extraordinary character begins by reminding us of his origins in oral story and clay tablets, then ponders on papyrus, parchment and paper, and on being a scroll who finally gets a spine. We see him lovingly illuminated by monks in medieval monasteries, then witness the massive changes brought about by the invention of the printing press, and the coming of paperbacks and e-books in the 20th century.

But Book's not a straightforwardly chronological chap; he can't help musing - and his musings, whether they're on the evolution of the alphabet, libraries, book-burning or blurbs, are delightful and thought-provoking.

My Funny Family by Chris Higgins and Lee Wildish, Hodder Children's, $12.99, 9781444918410, ages 6 - 10)

It's a tight squeeze as usual in the Butterfield house, and with baby Will's stuff taking up all the room it's getting even worse. Lucinda's house has ten times more room for her family than the squished Butterfields have!

Mattie's Worry List gets bigger when Mum seems to be unhappy, and wants to move house. But moving house would mean moving schools - Mattie's worst Worry List come true!

The Volume of Possible Endings by Barbara Else, Gecko Press, $19.99, 9781927271377, ages 11 - 15)

Dorrity is the only child in magic-free Owl Town. When she finds an enchanted book with dire predictions, she must face her enemies. And who is the strange boy who has appeared in the Beastly Dark?

This stand-alone pre-teen adventure/fantasy novel is the third book in the Tales of Fontania series of novels, following The Travelling Restaurant (which received a starred review in Kirkus: "A heaping plateful of adventure, spiced to perfection with dangers, deft humor and silly bits.") and The Queen and the Nobody Boy.

Filled with humour, action, adventure, and magic, this is a truly gripping read featuring a large and memorable cast of characters

Jumble Cat by Archie Kimpton and Kate Hindley, Hot Key Books, $12.95, 9781471402784, ages 6 - 12)

Billy Slipper is a fairly normal boy with a definitely not-so-fairly normal family. All he wants to do is add to his 'Collectabillya' (an assortment of weird and wonderful objects he finds) in peace, but his cleaning-mad mum (she even clingfilms the carrots!) and his fantastically horrid twin sister have other ideas.

However, they don't bargain on Billy finding his best ever Collectabillya - Jumblecat! Jumblecat is a ...well, a jumbled-up cat (who talks, by the way), and he's set to change the Slippers' lives forever.

With the help of his batty old-lady next-door-neighbour, Billy must battle to win the town pet show, find a vet who can un-jumble Jumblecat, Rescue Jumblecat when he is stolen - and then stop Jumblecat from getting stuffed, all with the help of his dad's milk float. Sounds easy? Well, you just haven't met Jumblecat yet.

Friday Barnes, Girl Detective by RA Spratt, Random House, $15.99, 9781742759623, ages 9 - 12)

Imagine if Sherlock Holmes was an eleven-year-old girl!

When girl detective Friday Barnes solves a bank robbery she uses the reward money to send herself to the most exclusive boarding school in the country, Highcrest Academy. On arrival, Friday is shocked to discover the respectable school is actually a hotbed of crime.

She's soon investigating everything from disappearing homework to the Yeti running around the school swamp. That's when she's not dealing with her own problem - Ian Wainscott, the handsomest boy in school, who inexplicably hates Friday and loves nasty pranks.

Can Friday solve Highcrest Academy's many strange mysteries, including the biggest mystery of all - what's the point of high school?

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