Book review: Step into summer with Scholastic Children’s Books

Forget super heroes and meet sewer hero Stan Stinky, the grime-fighting star of a sparkling summer line-up from Scholastic Children’s Books.

By Pam Norfolk
Wednesday, 19th June 2013, 10:00 am
Stan Stinky
Stan Stinky

The trusty band of editors at Scholastic, a publisher which has been producing books that educate, entertain and motivate children for more than 90 years, have been seeking high and very, very low for their new collection.

From the deepest, darkest drains to a new series featuring a magical world of faeries and a thrilling young adult novel in which parallel universes spectacularly collide, there is a feast of summer reading.

Talented author and illustrator Hannah Shaw has plumbed the smelliest sewers to unearth Stan Stinky, the unluckiest rat in the underworld.

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Sewer surfer and adventuring rat, Stan is at your service in the first of a new, not to mention smelly, series for young readers aged eight and over. With illustrations on every page, Stan Stinky (Scholastic, paperback, £5.99) is ideal reading for even the most reluctant readers.

Funny, quirky illustrations bring to life the gloriously smelly life of Stan and his equally foul and fetid friends. Little boys will love surfing with Stan through the smelliest drains and pipes in Britain!

Stan Pipe Stinky is annoyed. He is being forced to spend his summer in the boring sewer he’s lived in his whole life, while all his friends are off surfing the storm drains of the Bahamas.

What’s worse is that his mum is making him work aboard his crazy uncle’s boat, The Noodle. Uncle Ratts and his sidekick Roachy think they are adventurers, but in reality all they do is deal with some very smelly poo blockages. Then Ratts and Roachy disappear up a U-bend into the terrifying unknown ... a human house. Stan must come to their rescue! When desperate measures call for him to flush them to safety down the toilet, Stan finds himself riding the biggest wave of all!

Pictures, dialogue bubbles, posters, notes, diary entries and an appealing square format all help to make Stan’s escapades a journey of adventure rather than a reading chore. And there’s plenty of toilet humour and rancid references to make little boys snigger with naughty delight.

Stan may not be heaven ‘scent’ but he’s certainly a hero not to be sniffed at!

Babies and toddlers:

Stick Man’s First Words

Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Stick Man is the brilliant creation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. He lives in a family tree with his Stick Lady Love and their three stick children and their madcap adventures are guaranteed to bring a smile to the face of any child.

The story of Stick Man has captured the imagination of hundreds of thousands of children and now babies can join in the family fun with a new, sturdy, colourful board book which is the ideal way to introduce babies and toddlers to their first words.

The luminous illustrations are a fantastic way to introduce numbers, colours, animal sounds and the concept of opposites. Easy to handle and fun to follow, Stick Man’s adventures help children to learn new words and the rudiments of language.

(Alison Green Books, boardbook, £8.99)

Age 3 plus:


Claire Freedman and Sarah McIntyre

And from the bestselling author of Aliens Love Underpants comes a wonderful new pint-sized hero… Superkid! He seems quite ordinary, looks like any boy but in secret he’s superkid. In fact, there’s nothing he can’t do! With X-ray vision, super speed and bravery by the bag-load, Superkid is always on hand to save the day. He can spot bullies trying to steal your bubblegum, he knows just what to do with a plate full of broccoli and he can even make pirates surrender.

Superkid is an enchantingly funny picture book about the hero within every child. Bold, busy, colourful illustrations and a well-reasoned, rhyming story will encourage children to stand up for themselves and fight back against life’s bullies.

(Scholastic, paperback, £6.99)

A Day with the Animal Builders

Sharon Rentta

Enjoy a dream day out with a madcap gang of animal builders who provide the perfect story for little boys who can’t resist action, machines and crazy adventures.

Donkey dreams of being an expert builder but, oh dear, he’s just a great big donkey! When he joins the animal builders as an apprentice, it’s chaos and catastrophe all the way. The penguins’ dream home ought to be amazing, with an ice rink, a helter-skelter and a swimming pool on the roof. But Donkey’s bricklaying is a mess, his plumbing is horrendous and he’s a positive danger in a dumper truck. When a runaway bulldozer threatens to flatten everyone’s hard work, it’s Donkey’s super-strength that saves the day!

Follow Donkey in his battle to discover his building talent in this funny and reassuring picture book by Sharon Rentta, a rising star in the world of children’s books.

(Scholastic, paperback, £6.99)

Age 7 plus:

Deadly Days in History (Horrible Histories)

Terry Deary and Martin Brown

This year is the 20th awesome and awful anniversary of the endlessly entertaining and much-loved Horrible Histories series and to mark this auspicious occasion, here’s a special book full of madcap moments and foul facts from deadly days gone by. Deadly Days in History has got to be the most horrible Horrible Histories book yet.

Terry Deary and Martin Brown take a whirlwind tour through the most dreadful, disastrous and deadly days in the whole of horrible history, from the grim Great Fire of Rome to the vile St Valentine’s Day Massacre, leaving the gory bits in (and the boring bits out). Filled with Martin Brown’s full-colour, eye-catching and quirky illustrations and Terry Deary’s brilliant wit and superb historical detail, Deadly Days in History is suitably bloodthirsty and gory for all those lovely, lovable little devils who like nothing better than history that is truly horrible.

(Scholastic, hardback, £12.99)

The Abandoned Kitten

Sue Mongredien

The Abandoned Kitten is the latest in a brilliant series of books produced by Scholastic in tandem with the RSPCA, the leading UK animal welfare charity. The books feature fictional characters but tell the real-life story of the RSPCA’s part in an animal rescue.

Each book has a separate theme – wildlife, pets and farm – and includes heart-warming stories that families can enjoy together as well helping little ones to become aware of the important role of the RSPCA in saving animal lives. The beautifully-produced books, with a foiled cover and full of adorable illustrations, also promote responsible pet ownership. There are facts about animal care, an interview with a real RSPCA inspector and information about the RSPCA children’s club. And for every book sold, 15p will be donated to the RSPCA.

Eight-year-old Lily thinks her mum has an amazing job – she works as an Animal Care Assistant at an RSPCA centre. When three tiny kittens are abandoned and brought to the centre, Lily’s mum is so worried about them that she brings them home for the night. Lily stays up with her mum to help nurse the kittens, and even her rescue dog Poppy wants to help. As Poppy helps to mother the little cats in their basket, they soon stop feeling so lost and alone…

These eye-catching and informative books are a real winner with children who love animals, fun and adventure.

(Scholastic, paperback, £4.99)

Age 8 plus:

Emily Feather and the Enchanted Door

Holly Webb

Step into a world of faeries and fantasy in a magical new series which handles important themes like family change with subtlety and ethereal charm.

Holly Webb is a well-established and popular author and Emily Feather’s adventures look set to be a flyaway success. Everyone thinks Emily’s house is cool. It has so many different doors and everything is mismatched and sometimes it feels like the walls have moved. But that would be silly, of course they couldn’t move… or could they? Most people don’t know that behind some doors lie other worlds, full of magic and wonder. Now Emily must venture into the unknown in order to discover her house’s secrets. But she soon learns that she must be careful which door she opens…

Emily’s travels through the enchanted doors of her house are a feast for young imagination so sit back and let this new heroine take you beyond the realms of possibility and into a magical kingdom.

(Scholastic, paperback, £5.99)

The Abominables

Eva Ibbotson

The Abominables is the last book from Eva Ibbotson, a much-loved writer who died three years ago and whose bestselling novels for both adults and children have been published around the world. And it’s a wonderful swansong, an adventure of sheer delight full of her trademark humour, warmth and humanity.

A hundred years ago, in the Himalayan peaks of Nanvi Dar, the daughter of an English earl is kidnapped by a huge hairy monster and taken to a secret valley. There Agatha Farlingham is introduced to a family of motherless yetis and devotes her life to their upbringing.

She teaches them to speak, tells them stories and insists on polite manners but, as the decades pass, tourists come to the mountains, a hotel is built and yeti-hunters arrive. Agatha knows that there is one place in the world where they would be protected – her ancestral home at Farley Towers.

When a boy and his sister stumble upon her hidden valley, she knows she has found the courageous people who will carry out her plan but when they arrive in England, a terrible shock awaits them at Farley Towers...

The Abominables, beautifully illustrated by Sharon Rentta, has some moments of exquisite tension and drama whilst charming us with its innate morality and compassion.

(Marion Lloyd Books, paperback, £6.99)

Age 10 plus:

The Year of Big Dreams

Karen McCombie

Bestselling author Karen McCombie returns with a breathtaking, glitzy and topical story of dreams, fame and standing by your real friends.

Flo Brown is seeing a fairy tale unfold in front of her eyes. She’s watching the Big Dreams talent show along with millions of other viewers – but it’s especially exciting for Flo because it’s her mum up there on the stage! When Queenie comes out of the wings, everyone is waiting expectantly for the nation’s favourite to give another spine-tingling performance. Meanwhile, Flo is holding her breath, just waiting for the moment when their lives will change forever. And change certainly is around the corner for Flo and Queenie, but not in a way either of them could have predicted…

With shows like Britain’s Got Talent and X-Factor and The Voice dominating our television screens, The Year of Big Dreams raises important questions about celebrity culture with the narrator Flo offering a witty and insightful backstage pass to showbiz life. A chance to enjoy the highs and lows of celebrity life without stepping into all the stress and tension of the limelight.

(Scholastic, paperback, £6.99)

Young Adult:


Lauren Miller

Lauren Miller’s thrilling debut novel sweeps us away on a time-travel adventure that will leave teen readers bewitched, bothered and bewildered.

It’s a big story with big themes, asking what we would do if we woke up to a new life every day, and how would we live if we only had today? Miller envisions the collision of parallel universes, leaving an eighteen-year-old girl living two lives, sharing them with her double and fighting to stay in control of her own existence.

Abby Barnes always had a plan for her life. And she always thought it was up to her to make that plan, but that was before she woke up in someone else’s version of her life, with memories that didn’t belong to her. Every time her parallel makes a new decision, Abby is forced to cope with waking up in a life she has no memory of creating. Abby’s real life (‘Here’) comes with a Yale University address, a new room mate and a birthday blind date with a super-hot lacrosse player. But in the parallel world (‘There’), Abby is still navigating her senior year classes at high school, college applications and her relationship with Astronomy Boy.

Miller’s writing is strong, intelligent and fast paced as she creates compelling, complex and credible parallel worlds as well as providing a witty and perceptive exploration of identity, fate, the role of cause and effect and the defining power of choice.

(Scholastic, paperback, 7.99)

Dead To You

Lisa McCann

Another intriguing and original teen read is Lisa McCann’s superb novel about a boy who was abducted from his front garden when he was just seven years old and now, at sixteen, has returned to his family.

For Ethan De Wilde, going home again is a miracle. At first. Then the tensions begin to build, and his family – mother, father and siblings Blake and Gracie – starts falling apart all over again. If only Ethan could remember something, anything, about his life before, he’d be able to put the pieces back together. But there’s something that is keeping his memory blocked. Something unspeakable…

An emotional, sometimes painful and twisting-turning journey into a heart-rending mystery written with style, subtlety and sensitivity.

(Scholastic, paperback, £6.99)


Chris Wooding

Horror maestro Chris Wooding is on top form in this thriller about a mysterious virus spreading through a boarding school. Perfect for fans of Michael Grant and Charlie Higson, Silver is high-octane, sci-fi adventure for teens tired of realism and romance.

Who will turn silver next? When a boy is bitten by a strange silver beetle, he becomes the first victim of a terrifying virus. It turns flesh into metal, and humans into machines. Bloodthirsty machines on a mission to kill… As the virus spreads and more terrifying machines are created, a small group of students manage to barricade themselves inside their school. Can they keep the machines at bay long enough for help to arrive? Is help even coming? Meanwhile, the virus is spreading and its victims are changing, evolving, getting stronger. The whole world is turning to sparkling, deadly silver. Will anybody survive?

Stirring stuff…

(Scholastic, paperback, 7.99)