Lola's Toy Box: Party at Cuddleton Castle, by Danny Parker

‘This party must be for a very important toy,’ said Lola.
She was right. On the cake, written in sprinkles, it said:
Happy birthday,
Great High Bear!

Lola has a magic toy box. When she opens it and jumps inside, she is never quite sure where she will end up. This time it has taken Lola and her toy friend Buddy to the great High Bear’s castle, where his birthday party is just about to start. But Lola notices something suspicious about the cake.

Party at Cuddleton Castle is the sixth title in the Lola’s Toy Box series. There is enough backstory and explanation for readers new to the series to read this one, and fans of the earlier books will enjoy this new adventure.

Good sized font, full page illustrations in each chapter (by Guy Shield), and fast paced action make Party at Cuddleton Castle accessible for newly confident readers.

Party at Cuddleton Castle, by Danny Parker
Hardie Grant Egmont, 2016
ISBN 9781760126858

The Incredible Powers of Montague Towers by Alan Sunderland

The boot whizzed past his left ear and slammed into the wall behind him. It hit so hard that an explosion of plaster and dust flew into the air. It only missed Montague by a few millimetres, but that wasn’t the biggest problem.

The biggest problem was that Montague Towers forgot to duck. He really needed to keep a better track of these things.

You are not invisible today, Montague reminded himself as he took shelter behind a rubbish bin. That was yesterday.

The boot whizzed past his left ear and slammed into the wall behind him. It hit so hard that an explosion of plaster and dust flew into the air. It only missed Montague by a few millimetres, but that wasn’t the biggest problem.

The biggest problem was that Montague Towers forgot to duck. He really needed to keep a better track of these things.

You are not invisible today, Montague reminded himself as he took shelter behind a rubbish bin. That was yesterday.

Montague Towers is looking forward to a bit of a rest. All the other occupants of the orphanage where his lives, and now works, are going on a vacation to the seaside. All Montague has to do is look after himself. He settles down to enjoy a bit of nothing. Until he hears a knock at the door. While he tries to ignore it, hoping that whoever it is goes away, eventually the repeated knocking means he has to answer. In comes an old man who makes very little sense. He likes a cup of tea though. Then he sends Montague on a mission. The mission needs superpowers, so the old man gives him one. Before he has any idea how to harness it, Montague finds himself slap-bang in the middle of a zoom-fest of a quest.

You might think that having super powers would be fun. And it is. But somehow, it’s harder than it looks. And when you only have a day to get used to the power before it vanishes, while also avoiding all sorts of huge men who seem to be after you, well sometimes it can get a bit hairy. But Montague, who is quite a quiet, gentle soul, is ready to do what he can to keep everyone happy as his calm, useful life is turned completely upside-down. Action-packed and full of laughs (who knew the sky was such a dangerous place?), this adventure will keep mid-primary readers hooked.

TheIncredible Powers of Montague Towers, Alan Sunderland
Scholastic 2016
ISBN: 9781760153649

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

Magrit by Lee Battersby

One rainy spring night when she was nearly ten years old, a girl named Magrit climbed onto the roof of the chapel at the centre of the octagonal cemetery that was her home. She nestled herself against a tall, skeletal figure that gazed out across the grounds like an ancient guardian. Together, they bathed in the light that shimmered through the curtains of the surrounding buildings.

One rainy spring night when she was nearly ten years old, a girl named Magrit climbed onto the roof of the chapel at the centre of the octagonal cemetery that was her home. She nestled herself against a tall, skeletal figure that gazed out across the grounds like an ancient guardian. Together, they bathed in the light that shimmered through the curtains of the surrounding buildings.

Magrit, a nearly ten-year-old girl, lives in a tiny cemetery. Her only company is Master Puppet, whose words speak directly into her mind. She is mostly content, even if sometimes she and Master Puppet do not agree. Before a stork drops a bundle into the cemetery, her life is one of leisure, if sometimes unexciting. But the arrival of the bundle alters her life, fills it with activity and causes the biggest disagreement with Master Puppet. Her life will never be the same. Text is interspersed with black and white illustrations, and wrapped in cloth binding.

Magritis a beautiful book, from the dark purple binding with stylised illustrations on cover and internally. Magrit, the main character, is a grounded, thoughtful character, guided by internal wisdom from Master Puppet. Her world is turned upside down by the appearance of the bundle, but she adapts to this change as she has adapted to being trapped within the cemetery. She continues despite the warnings from Master Puppet, making her own decisions and growing towards the both surprising and inevitable conclusion. Themes include resilience, responsibility and independence, wrapped up in a suspenseful and fantastical mystery. Recommended for mid-primary readers.

Magrit, Lee Battersby
Walker Books 2016
ISBN: 9781925081343

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

The Littlest Angel 1: Lily Gets Her Wings and 2: Lily Has A Secret by Elizabeth Pulford ill Aki Fukuoka

Lily rolled over in bed. She stared up at the starry painted ceiling. Today was the big day. The day she tried out for a place in Amelia’s Angel Academy.

 

Lily rolled over in bed. She stared up at the starry painted ceiling. Today was the big day. The day she tried out for a place in Amelia’s Angel Academy.

The trouble was, there were two of them trying to get into the academy. And there was only one place left. It was between her and Tisa.

With an anxious sigh, Lily glanced over at Tisa’s bed. It was empty. Oh no! She was probably practising already.

 Lily really, really wants to be an angel. That means being accepted at Amelia’s Angel Academy. There are two candidates and only one place, and from her late morning waking, things just keep going wrong. Tisa, the other girl vying for the Academy place, is ultra-determined that she will win. Whoever wins the place will learn all there is to learn about being a proper angel. As the testing progresses, Lily becomes surer that Tisa is going to win. But there is more than one way to test a trainee angel.

In ‘Lily has a Secret’, Lily does a good deed, but it seems sure to get her into trouble. She rescues a kitten, but having a kitten in the Academy is Against The Rules. And her former nemesis, Tisa, is becoming more and more impatient with her as their rehearsal for the concert is constantly disrupted. Illustrations of Lily and her adventures are scattered throughout.

The Littlest Angel is a new series from New Zealand writer Elizabeth Pulford. They are shiny-covered, with coloured pages and will surely appeal to young independent readers, particularly girls. Who doesn’t long to be able to fly and to help people achieve their dreams? Lily is exceptionally pure-hearted, but this same heart that endears her to almost all at the Academy also gets her in all sorts of scrapes. She tries valiantly to follow all the rules, but there always seems to be a reason to break them. If it’s not her wings being torn, then it’s some other calamity. Fortunately there are people to help her when she thinks she is in trouble. Slowly she is coming to know and understand Tisa, a very different child/angel, who bends the rules in other ways and always seems to be cross. Recommended for early primary independent readers.

Lily Gets Her Wings (The Littlest Angel)

Lily Gets Her Wings , Elizabeth Pulford, ill Aki Fukuoka Scholastic NZ 2012 ISBN: 9781775430223

Lily Has a Secret (The Littlest Angel)

Lily Has a Secret , Elizabeth Pulford, ill Aki Fukuoka Scholastic NZ 2012 ISBN: 9781775430230

 

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

www.clairesaxby.com