The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold and Emily Gravett

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When I see that Emily Gravett has illustrated a new book, my immediate reaction is a kind of involuntary and urgently clumsy plunge for the auld wallet. I would paper my walls with her illustrations if I could afford to, but even I can see that a twenty-five-year-old who still lives at home doing this is pushing the I’m-an-adult-who-prefers-to-read-kids-books-and-it’s-awesome a little too far. So I’ve held off until I have some actual children. This may be my only motivation for having actual children.

So not to beat around the bush any further, it’s awesome. The strong childlike voice of the narrator (not first person) is gentle and easy but lively. I’ve never read anything by this author before, but he knows how to nail a childlike voice without sounding remotely childish. It would suit a confident eight year old and could be read to much younger children. That said, it is CRREEEPY, in the style of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, though not quite as messed-up. This means that it will appeal to parents who don’t want to traumatise their children THAT MUCH while still enjoying a couple in involuntary shudders themselves.

The story is about imaginary friends, and is told from the point of view of one called Rudger, who is naturally devoted to the little girl who created him. Their ideal childhood is disrupted by the appearance of a man and an (think if every long-haired creepy little dead brat you’ve ever seen in a horror movie) imaginary girl who can see him and take a disquieting interest in the pair. The cutsy and whimsical world of the imaginaries is juxtaposed alongside the real world and an altogether much darker meeting of the two. The book opens with a shock and there are sad bits to boot. Sorry, no spoilers. Overall, this was a fantastic book, with illustrations working in perfect creepy and adorable harmony with the text. The simplicity of the storytelling belies the complexity of the story itself. For the brief time I spent reading it (it is very short) my brain was very happy.

Christmas Gifts Part 3 for readers aged 8-12

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One of the best books I read this year was The Jade Boy by Cate Cain. I would hesitate to recommend it to anyone under 11, as it is at times frightening and gruesome but it was one of the most exciting historical novels I have read in years. Set in the time of the restoration just before the Great Fire of London it features Jem a mistreated servant boy and his two friends a selectively mute black boy called Tolly and Ann a young witch, with magic mystery and adventure this is a gothic and thrilling read.

Another great historical novel with a ghostly twist was Frost Hollow Hall by Emma Carroll. You can read my review here https://inkandpaperhearts.wordpress.com/2013/09/24/frost-hollow-hall-by-emma-carroll/

Back to Blackbrick by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald is another debut with historical elements which I adored. I reviewed on my other blog http://lisareadsbooks.blogspot.ie/2013/03/sarahmoore-fitzgerald-is-brave-new.html

The Keeper by Darragh Martin is new fantasy, perfect for fans of Percy Jackson or Arthur Quinn and will I hope be the first in an exciting new series. Featuring journeys on the DART, Celtic myths and mysterious books this is a thrilling read for 10 and upwards.

The Powers by Kevin Stephens illustrated by Sheena Dempsey is a a fun filled read for readers aged 8 plus featuring a family of super heroes who don’t always get things right. Check them out on you tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHi3vdFWRew

The Ark of Dun Ruah Protectors of The Flame by Maria Burke is the second book in the Dun Ruah series continuing the story of Simon and Kerry here is my review of the first in the series http://lisareadsbooks.blogspot.ie/2013/05/the-ark-of-dun-ruah-by-maria-burke.html this series will appeal to fantasy fans aged 10 and upwards.

A Rosette for Maeve? and Colm’s Lambs by Anna McQuinn are the first of a planned series of books for younger readers, perfect for reading aloud or for beginners reading alone. Published by O’Brien Press in association with The Farmer’s Journal they feature farming life , animals and nature. Age 6 plus.

Rebecca Rocks by Anna Carey is the third instalment in the fun and award winning series featuring contemporary teens as they attempt to become rock mega stars. A great read perfect for fans of Saran Webb. Ages 11 and upwards.

Fortunately The Milk by Neil Gaiman illustrated by Chris Riddell  A rollicking, fun and inventive read featuring Gaiman’s trademark wit and silliness and Riddell’s  illustrations not only add to the story but also contain hidden clues. This will be loved by young readers aged 8 or 9 but would make an ideal bedtime story for kids from 5 upwards.

The Wolf Princess by Cathryn Constable although this was actually published last year it deserves a mention here because this is a wonderfully exciting book which hasn’t had the attention it deserves. It has a very girly cover which some love and others really hate, this is a magical and at times dark tale  dealing with loneliness and friendship. A thrilling historical fantasy and it has wolves.  Here is Mara’s review from earlier in the year. https://inkandpaperhearts.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/the-wolf-princess-by-cathryn-constable/

Arthur Quinn and Hell’s Keeper by Alan Early is the dramatic conclusion to the Father of Lies chronicles which have been a massive hit with 9 to 13 year olds featuring an Irish setting and Norse mythology this is a sure fire hit with fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.

Ask Amy Green; Wedding Belles by Sarah Webb  I know I mentioned it in my first Christmas round up but in case you missed it I cannot recommend this series highly enough. These books are laugh out loud funny and sadly this is the last one but make a young person you know chuckle through Christmas by buying them this book. Ideal for ages 11 and up.

Darcy Burdock By Laura Dockrill is another very funny book ideal for readers aged 8 and up featuring a wonderful heroine who likes to notice everything around and write about it. The book also featues Laura’s fantastic illustrations. For anyone who enjoys the Wimpy Kid books this is a must.

 

Fangs Vampire Spy Book 1 by Tommy Donbavand

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This title was kindly reviewed for us by lovely guest reviewer Mia Madden aged 9

Special Agent Fangs Enigma is a vampire spy and with his friend Puppy Brown they are out to catch the bad guys.
These two guys watch people’s behaviour to spot the baddies, they sneak a tracking device on to them, and then watch them on their computer.  
In Operation: Golden Bum , they have to battle in a farting competition to stay alive and defeat the bad guys.
 
 
I would recommend this for age 8 and up as some hard words in it. It has nice big writing and some pictures which means this book is perfect for the younger reader.
 
This is a very funny book which I really enjoyed and can’t wait for the rest of the series.
 
Available from September 2013 published by Walker Books