The Lost Child’s Quest – Tales of Truth & Treasure Book 1 – by James Haddell

A quest for truth sparks a hunt for a legendary hoard of magical treasures.

I was absolutely thrilled to be sent a copy of this middle grade book prior to publication and to be asked to kick off James Haddell’s blog tour. As a primary school Reading Lead, I am always on the lookout for high quality, high-interest children’s books and this ticks all the boxes! I can’t wait to share it with my class.

When James first contacted me, he described this story as, ‘The first instalment in a series about an orphaned girl, her search for answers about her past, and the adventures this leads her on. Her search for answers ignites with the arrival of a sinister stranger and a move to a new home: Stormhaven Castle, where unravelling mysteries of the past is part of everyday life.’ I was sold immediately! An adventure story with a strong female protagonist and a Castle thrown into the mix? Who wouldn’t be?

From the moment I met Tia Hemyke, I was completely drawn into her story. Tia is an orphan – she knows nothing of her past and her only clues are a collection of mysterious objects that were left with her when she was a baby. Right at the beginning of the story the mood is quiet and thoughtful. We learn that she is about to embark on a new life with Mr and Mrs Trevelyan who are to become her new mum and dad.

Very quickly however, the pace quickens and the story explodes! Within just a few pages, the ‘sinister stranger’ mentioned above bursts on to the scene. Mr Silverman clearly has an ulterior motive for turning up at Mrs Davidson’s home for orphaned girls, and he seems strangely interested in the pendant Tia is wearing around her neck… Tia escapes him, but not before Mr Silverman throws the name ‘Geoffrey Hemyke’ at her, which, as a child desperate to understand her past, understandably sparks Tia’s interest. And this is where the ‘quest’ in the title begins.

Mr and Mrs Trevelyan take Tia to live in the idyllic sounding Stormhaven Castle. We learn that this castle is steeped in history, having ‘been home to warlords, kings, knights and sorcerers… nowadays it is home to a community of archaeologists and historians who are trying to unlock the hidden secrets of its past.’ What better place for Tia to explore her past and her possible link to eminent historian, Geoffrey Hemyke? She learns that he is believed to have unearthed ‘the secret of a long lost medieval hoard of treasure…’ This piques Tia’s interest. Could this hoard of treasure be linked to the mysterious artefacts she was left with as a baby?

Tia has help in her quest from her new sister Meghan and the new friends she makes at Stormhaven Castle School of Exploration and Discovery (I mean, what a name!). Her adventure will turn out to be dangerous and of course, things do not quite go to plan…

James, as a teacher himself, understands how hard it can be to keep children’s interest in a story. The fast pace of this story along with all the twists and turns are bound to keep even the most reluctant reader engaged. There are plenty of opportunities for discussion along the way and James has even included discussion prompts for each chapter at the back of the book.

Lastly, he has expertly combined fiction with historical detail. I had no idea until the end, for example, that several of the artefacts mentioned in the story are real or that The Thirteen Treasures of Britain are a series of items described in late medieval Welsh manuscripts. This level of detail adds a depth to the story that I was not expecting and which is guaranteed to fascinate readers of all ages. I absolutely cannot wait to see where he takes Tia next.

The Lost Child’s Quest – Tales of Truth & Treasure Book 1 – by James Haddell is out on Friday 4th December and can be pre-ordered from Emira Press. It will be available on Amazon from the day of publication.

The Boy Who Made the World Disappear by Ben Miller

Oh my goodness me. I LOVED this story! It is a child-friendly romp through space but with an all important message for children everywhere…

Ben Miller’s own children are the stars of the show – how cool is that? The main star is Harrison who absolutely loves anything to do with space. Like most 8 year olds though, he finds it hard to control his temper, even though he realises that actually, his anger tends to show itself when he is anxious or worried about something.

At the start of this story, Harrison is going to Hector Broom’s birthday party. He is not looking forward to it. Hector is a bully who takes great delight in pinging Harrison with his ever-present elastic band. But like 8 year olds everywhere, the thought of missing out is even greater because his whole class is going to be there. Poor Harrison does NOT have a good time. Despite learning about constellations and black holes in Hector Broom’s living room, he and the party entertainer, Shelley, do not hit it off and things go from bad to worse. He does get a special balloon to take home however. A VERY special balloon indeed…

Harrison finds out very quickly that his balloon has very strange powers. I’m not going to spoil it by saying exactly in what way, but what initially seems fabulous and incredibly helpful to Harrison, soon takes an ominous turn and things quickly get out of control. To sort things out, Harrison knows that Shelley is the only one who can help him. But Shelley isn’t home. How can 8 year old Harrison get to Chile to meet her at the The Very Large Telescope (VLT) in the Atacama Desert? Nothing is impossible when you have an enterprising older brother…

A wonderfully engaging, timeless story that is sure to engage children everywhere. I loved it!

‘…anger can be good, important even… But it’s about what you do with your anger…’

Page count: 272

Age group: 8 years +

Links:

Amazon.

Goodreads.

Waterstones.

I would like to thank both Net Galley and Simon & Schuster Children’s UK for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Nevertell by Katharine Orton

‘Don’t trust your eyes…’

Oh my. That cover…!

Welcome to the freezing, harsh landscape of Siberia. Here we find a forced labour camp filled with prisoners arrested in the purges of the ‘Great Leader’, Joseph Stalin, and home to 12 year old Lina and her mother, Katya.

There are thousands in the camp – whole families – many arrested on minor charges. The vast majority are required to work in the mine. Lina however, who was born in the camp and has known no other way of life, has inherited her grandfather’s talent for gardening and as such, is allowed to work in the greenhouse under the strict gaze of Commandant Zima. Zima is preparing for the Officer’s Banquet in a week’s time and is hoping that the vegetables Lina grows will win him prestige amongst the officers. The word around the camp is that Zima is Lina’s father, which is why he gives her preferential treatment. Lina isn’t so sure…

At the very beginning of the book, we learn about an escape plan involving Lina, her mother, Vadim – a 16 year old prisoner who ‘already has the tattoos of the criminal underworld’, Alexei – described as ‘Vadim’s muscle – twice (his) age and double his size’ and old Gleb. An unlikely group to be working together but all selected for the individual skills they can bring to the attempt. At the last minute, Lina’s best friend – Bogdan Buyan – the only other person of her age in the camp – tags along. His parents are political prisoners in another camp. His father is a map maker and Bogdan brings along draft maps of Leningrad and Moscow; as such, he is allowed to stay.

Katya is known throughout the camp as playing ‘a ruthless game of poker’ and she sets up a game with the officers to serve as a distraction on the night of the escape. Before she leaves, Katya gives Lina a beaded necklace of her grandfather’s and tells Lina to make her way to her grandmother in Moscow – she was away when her husband, Katya and her son were arrested and is therefore still free. We learn that she has great power…

It isn’t long before they run into problems on the outside and Lina and Bogdan end up on their own. This is only the start of their problems as they are captured again – this time by the Sorceress, Svetlana, also known as ‘Man Hunter’ and her invisible wolves – humans who have been captured and wolfbound to serve her forever. How will they escape this time…?

’NEVER TELL CHILDREN ABOUT THINGS THEY CANNOT SEE…’

I devoured this book. I loved it from the beginning, but when the magical elements were introduced I couldn’t put it down. Children (and adults) will love accompanying Lina and Bogdan on their adventure!

Page count: 384

Age group: 9-12+

Links:

Amazon.

Goodreads.

Waterstones.

I would like to thank both Net Galley and Candlewick Press for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Cat Ninja: and a Cabal of Shadows (A Fantastic Tails Adventure Book 2) by Erik DeLeo

Blurb: A missing puppy. An evil gang. And a hidden enemy lurking in the shadows.

She’s a cat. She’s a ninja. She’s a cat ninja. When Miko’s friend Sukoshi the field mouse comes calling with a new job, she agrees to investigate. But when it turns out the job entails helping the family an old enemy, little does Miko know that she’ll need to face her past in order to solve the case before it’s too late.

If you like talking animals, stealthy ninjas, and beating up bad guys, then you’ll love The Cat Ninja. This chapter book deals with many themes including anger, loss, abandonment, and fear. It is perfect for fans of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, Redwall by Brian Jacques and The Green Ember by S.D. Smith, along with other fantasy series including The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander.

Length: 186 pages

Age Level: 8 – 12

My thoughts: Wow. If you were expecting a cutesy animal story, think again! Miko is one kick-ass cat with a kick-ass reputation, complete with a kobachi sword called Amai Fukushu (Sweet Revenge) and a mouse sidekick (because why wouldn’t she?). As a kitten, she witnessed the death of her mother and brother and as a stray living on the streets she was taken in by a Ninja Master – Kobayashi (‘a rare male tortoiseshell’) who taught her all his skills.

Before leaving her safe, Miko’s mum left her with an heirloom – an omamori – which she wears round her neck as a reminder of what she has lost. Since then, Miko has been out for revenge and whilst completing this new job, she comes up against the dog that she believes was responsible for killing her family. With Sukoshi and Kobayashi at her side, she is sure to succeed. But not everything is as it seems…

“Battling yourself is tougher than any fight with a sword”.

Only £2.99 on kindle at the moment.

I would like to thank both Net Galley and Erik DeLeo for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

For Chloe

“I want to be a Fairy, Mum” said Chloe, as she pulled the nighty on over her head.

“Fairies are sooooooo lucky. They don’t have to go to proper school, only Fairy School. They don’t have to learn Maths”.

Header“In Fairyland, the sun is always shining but you never get sunburnt. Everything is green and there are flowers everywhere. I wouldn’t get told off for picking them because Fairy flowers don’t die”.

fairyland

“Fairies get to wear pretty dresses All. The. Time. Like THE best party dresses ever. They never have to wear a coat, or shoes and socks if they don’t want to. I could wear pink every single day. Even at school”.

pink fairy

“Fairies get to live in a Fairy Castle. I’d never be bored in a Fairy Castle! There would be hundreds of rooms full to the ceiling with toys. I bet they even have an Ice Cream Maker”.

Fairy castle

“Fairies can fly. Only with Fairy Dust though of course. Do you think it would make me sneeze?”

fairy dust 1

“Fairies have magic wands. I could turn Bella into a frog. Only when she was reeeeeeally naughty though”.

fairy frog

“But if I was a Fairy, could you still be my Mum?”

“Close your eyes and I’ll tell you a secret” said Mum. “At night, you can go anywhere and be anything you want to be, as long as you think about it hard enough”.

Chloe laid down and closed her eyes.

“And then in the morning I can come back to you?” she asked sleepily.

“That’s right” said Mum, kissing the tip of her nose. And she watched from the doorway as Chloe smiled and flew away into the night.

sleeping%20fairy