Best Children apos;s Fiction For The Summer Holidays
Sally Morris picks out the best children's fiction for the summer holidays
Super Stan by Matt Robertson looks at sibling rivalry
by Matt Robertson
(Orchard Books £11.99)
Jack is constantly overshadowed by his younger brother, Stan, who can run faster, throw further, jump higher - even fly.
Whenever Jack does something kind or clever, Stan upstages him, so Jack pleads with him not to ruin his special birthday visit to the zoo.
But the chance to race cheetahs or wrestle with lions proves too great a temptation for Stan, and again Jack is left feeling second best.
Then Stan starts to cry and no one understands why, except Jack.
Many children will identify with this sibling rivalry theme, relayed with wit and warmth and illustrated with energy and bright, primary colours.
THE DETECTIVE DOG
by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Sara Ogilvie
Julia Donaldson is the undisputed queen of rhyming picture books, and this fun-filled adventure has the added bonus of encouraging children to join libraries
Julia Donaldson is the undisputed queen of rhyming picture books, and this fun-filled adventure has the added bonus of encouraging children to join libraries.
Nell is a detective dog with such a great sense of smell that she sniffs out lost objects: ‘The sock in the sofa, the shoe in the shed.'
Every Monday she goes into school and listens to children read, but one day the classroom is empty of books.
Who will find the robber?
Call Nell! There's a high-octane chase through the town and a satisfying solution to the missing book issue, all recounted in Donaldson's perfectly pitched rhyme and illustrated with joyful brio by Sara Ogilvie.
A Beginner's Guide to Bear Spotting is a highly original twist on the usual bear-based picture book
A BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO BEAR SPOTTING
by Michelle Robinson, illustrated by David Roberts
This is a highly original twist on the usual bear-based picture book, as Robinson talks directly to her readers and blends nature facts with her imaginative fiction.
Our intrepid young hero (boy or girl, it isn't clear) sets out to walk in dangerous bear country armed with a huge backpack and a bandana-wearing teddy.
But what if they meet a black bear?
Or a brown one? What if they meet both . . .
The dry, deadpan humour is offset by the highly expressive illustrations and a touchingly silly ending makes this book a delight from start to finish.
SUPERHERO STREET by Phil Earle
AGE 6 - 9
by Phil Earle, illustrated by Sara Ogilvie
Demolition Dad was one of my favourite books of last year, and xok.ro now Earle turns his attention to another troubled family in Storey Street.
Michael's parents barely notice him since the birth of the twins, and then the triplets.
Dad's magician's act has lost its spark and he never helps Mum juggle babies and work.
Bullied Michael dreams of being a superhero.
Then Mum accidentally foils a jewel robbery and she and Michael are lauded as heroes.
Other so-called Avengers turn up at their house, but can a scalp that shakes dandruff defeat evil Esther? Warm-hearted fun.
THE ACCIDENTAL SECRET AGENT by Tom McLaughlin
THE ACCIDENTAL SECRET AGENT
by Tom McLaughlin
When geeky schoolboy Kevin meets diminutive MI7 agent Jake Pond (006-and-a-half), it's like looking in a mirror - except that Jake is more than 30 years older than Kevin.
The tired, jaded spy suggests a life swap: he'll go to school and Kevin can play at espionage.
Suddenly, Kevin is summoned to take part in a dangerous secret mission to track down a criminal intent on destroying the internet.
With help from his older sister - and a pair of talking trousers - Kevin goes undercover and finds that he's actually pretty convincing.
Packed with puns, jokes and action, this is enormous fun.
SPUTNIK'S GUIDE TO LIFE ON EARTH by Frank Cottrell Boyce
SPUTNIK'S GUIDE TO LIFE ON EARTH
by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Prez's grandfather, with whom he lives, is suffering from dementia.
When he is taken into a home, Prez is sent to stay with a warm, chaotic farming family for the summer.
Unhappy and silent, he answers the door one day to Sputnik, a little alien (but the rest of the family simply see him as a dog), who tells Prez he is on Earth to find ten reasons to save the planet from total destruction.
They embark on a series of adventures and make lists of valuable things: TV remote controls, fish and chips etc.
But underneath this madly energetic and funny story lies a touching tale about memories and finding somewhere to belong.
BINNY BEWITCHED by Hilary McKay
AGE 10 - 13
by Hilary McKay
I am a huge fan of the prickly, intense and beguiling Binny and her disorganised family, readjusting to life in Cornwall after her father's death.
Here she is on the cusp of adolescence and frustrated by a lack of money.
When she ‘finds' cash left at an ATM, she impulsively takes it home, but is then consumed with guilt and becomes convinced that her neighbour, Miss Piper, is a witch.
When the money goes missing, Binny and her best friend, Gareth, turn detective.
McKay seamlessly stitches the emotional impact of grief and renewal into her brilliantly observed interactions between parents, children and siblings, creating memorable characters, hilarious dialogue and touching scenes.
WOLF HOLLOW by Lauren Wolk
by Lauren Wolk
‘The year I turned 12, I learned how to lie,' says Annabelle, the narrator of this powerful, beautifully written coming-of-age novel.
Set in Pennsylvania in World War II, Annabelle's carefree life comes abruptly to a halt when cruel Betty arrives at school and bullies her.
Betty commits a violent act with devastating consequences, but blames damaged World War I veteran Toby, who wanders the hills alone carrying guns.
Comparisons are being made with To Kill A Mockingbird, but this emotionally intelligent, complex story deserves recognition and praise in its own right.
THE GIRL OF INK & STARS by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
THE GIRL OF INK & STARS
by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
(Chicken House £6.99)
Isa's father is a cartographer, but since the repressive governor of Joya has forbidden travel around the island, she can only imagine places outside her village.
When her best friend Lupe, the governor's daughter, goes missing after they have an argument, Isa volunteers to guide the searchers using an ancient map as they cross into the Forbidden Territories.
Myths about dark forces, a fire demon and a girl who sacrificed herself to protect Joya inspire Isa as she searches for Lupe.
This debut novel from poet Millwood Hargrave is impressive, and the book itself is a lovely object, with star charts and line drawings.
TEENAGE FICTION NEW GUARD by Robert Muchamore
by Robert Muchamore
All good things must come to an end, and this is the final instalment in Muchamore's bestselling and ground-breaking Cherub series.
He has managed to engage both girls and boys in these gritty, uncompromising spy adventures.
Fresh from helping to trap internet paedophiles, 14-year-old twins Leon and Daniel are enlisted to infiltrate a radical Islamic terror group holding hostages.
Packed with action and drama and near-the-knuckle humour, Muchamore has saved his best until last.
GIRL OUT OF WATER by Nat Luurtsema
GIRL OUT OF WATER
by Nat Luurtsema
Comedian Nat Luurtsema struck gold with her memoir Cuckoo In The Nest and looks set to repeat the success with her debut novel.
Lou, 15, and her friend Hannah are brilliant swimmers and compete in the Olympic trials.
When Hannah is selected and Lou comes last, her world falls apart.
Overly tall, friendless and decidedly uncool, she unexpectedly attracts the attention of three boys who want her to train them to appear on a TV talent show.
The ensuing drama is pin-sharp in its observation of teenage angst and pressures.
A perfect summer read for teenage girls.
NIGHT WANDERERS by C.
(Simon & Schuster £7.99)
Flood won the Branford Boase Award for her debut novel Infinite Sky, and this thrilling tale of two friends who defy the rules will garner similar praise.
Feisty troublemaker Ti surprisingly chooses shy, blushing Rosie as her friend and they soon embark upon night escapades that threaten to have them expelled from school, just like Ti's twin sister.
But Rosie betrays their friendship and the twins spiral out of control, committing a terrible act of revenge.
It's pacy and full of drama, and the conflicting pressures on Rosie shape an endearing and attractive character.