Book review: Adventure, drama, thrills and romance with Macmillan Children's Books

From toddlers to teens, Macmillan Children's Books have a summertime treasure trove of reading to entertain and amuse your youngsters.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 2nd June 2016, 10:00 am
Updated Monday, 6th June 2016, 12:58 pm
Adventure, drama, thrills and romance with Macmillan Childrens Books
Adventure, drama, thrills and romance with Macmillan Childrens Books

Escape to a tropical island full of amazing creatures, dine out with some colourful dinosaurs, be swept away by a mathematical romance, scare yourself silly with a deadly virus thriller and share some dark truths with a group of fandom followers.

Age 10 plus:

The House on Hummingbird Island by Sam Angus

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What do you do when there are monkeys in the chandeliers, turtles in the bathtub and secrets behind every door?

Sam Angus, author of a string of beautiful wartime stories including A Horse Called Hero and Captain, sweeps us away to the West Indies during the First World War in a moving, coming-of-age adventure told with all the timeless, seductive quality of those much-loved classics.

Idie Grace’s life is turned upside down in 1912. At just 12 years old, she has inherited dilapidated Bathsheba House on a mysterious tropical island in the Caribbean and has been sent away from grey old England to a place where hummingbirds hover, monkeys clamber from tree to tree and she will be mistress of the grand old house.

The island is like nothing she has seen before… it’s alive with unfamiliar but incredible sounds and colours, and there are so many exotic animals which Idie likes so much that she takes them into her house. Soon there are turtles in the bath, monkeys in the parlour, hummingbirds eat from the palm of Idie’s hand, her beloved horse is in the hallway and she carries a grumpy, talking cockatoo called Homer on her shoulder.

But the house also holds many secrets which everyone tries to keep hidden from her. And as the war progresses and the men leave the island to serve for a country they have never set foot on, Idie soon learns the truth behind her inheritance and family history.

Sam Angus has the enviable knack of being able to transport her young readers to a different age with different rules while still engaging with contemporary ideas and themes. Her story is filled with stirring wartime deeds and a sense of adventure and discovery that has instant appeal for the younger generation.

An exciting and warmhearted story packed with real history, wonderful characters and amazing creatures!

(Macmillan, paperback, £6.99)

Young Adult:

The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood

When her world turns upside down, maths freak Gottie H. Oppenheimer finds comfort in numbers… but it doesn’t always add up to happiness.

Welcome to one of this summer’s most intriguing and exciting young adult fiction debuts which explores heartbreak, love and the meaning of infinity with the lightest of touches and the deepest of emotional power.

The Square Root of Summer comes from the pen of Harriet Reuter Hapgood, a freelance journalist, who was inspired to turn novelist by her German mathematician grandfather and her lifelong obsession with YA romance.

Last summer, 17-year-old Gottie H. Oppenheimer’s life fell apart when her beloved grandfather and second parent Grey died and Jason, the boy who had won her heart, wouldn’t even hold her hand at the funeral. This summer, still reeling from those twin heartbreaks and consumed by grief, Gottie is lost and alone and burying herself in equations and quantum physics. And then suddenly, after five years away, Thomas, the boy who was her next door neighbour, best friend and well, everything to her, returns home. And as life turns upside down all over again, she starts to experience strange blips in time… back to last summer, back to what she should have seen then.

During one long, hazy summer, Gottie navigates grief, world-stopping kisses and gaping holes in the space-time continuum, as she tries to reconcile her first heartbreak with her last.

Although Grey is still gone, both Jason and Thomas are back, and Gottie’s past, present and future are about to collide…

Blending science and romance should be a tough problem to solve but in the hands of Hapgood, the sum of the whole is riveting romance and fascinating formulas. A stunning debut…

(Macmillan, paperback, £7.99)

Remade by Alex Scarrow

Fasten your seatbelts and get ready for this summer’s scorching, scariest thriller… the terrifying tale of a virus that makes humans turn to liquid!

Former rock guitarist Alex Scarrow has turned from music maestro to a master of thrills and here he packs a powerful punch in a high-octane adventure that will have teens running for cover.

Leon and his beloved younger sister, Grace, have recently moved to London from New York after their parents’ separation and are struggling to settle into their new school when rumours of an unidentified virus in Africa begin to fill the news.

No one seems remotely concerned but within a week, the virus hits London. The disease soon spreads, killing anything that comes into contact with it, and the desperate hunt for a cure begins. As panic spreads and Leon and Grace witness people turning to liquid before their eyes, they run for their lives.

A month after touching Earth’s atmosphere the virus has assimilated the world’s biomass. But the virus isn’t the only enemy, and survival is just the first step…

Scarrow’s imagination moves into overdrive as he paints a truly horrific portrait of a world at the mercy of an unidentifiable, ever-changing enemy.

Tingling with tension, super-charged and fast-paced, there won’t be a second to lose until the last page has turned…

(Macmillan, paperback, £7.99)

Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky

Also making her YA debut this summer is Goldy Moldavsky who conjures up a dark and witty tale about the fragility of fame and the murky truths of the ‘fandom’ cult.

Kill the Boy Band – bold, funny and revealing – explores the shadowy side of youth obsession and the realities of what can happen when fans finally get to meet their heroes.

The Ruperts are the hottest band on the planet. As winners of a top reality TV shows, the four boys, all named Rupert, have experienced a truly meteoric rise to fame, mostly due to the devotion of their fan base.

Being a Ruperts fan is a full-time labour of love so when the Ruperts announce a special Thanksgiving concert in New York, four teenage superfans decide they will do everything in their power to meet the boys and join forces to find a way to make it happen.

With a bit of luck, a parent’s credit card and a few white lies, the girls find themselves actually staying in the same hotel as the band. They are convinced their dreams of meeting the boys are about to come true.

But when one of the band is found dead in their hotel room, the girls suddenly find themselves living a very real nightmare…

Moldavsky’s powerful, perceptive, chaotic but controlled rollercoaster novel makes us laugh, occasionally cringe and, perhaps most importantly, ponder on this slice of crazy contemporary life.

(Macmillan, paperback, £7.99)

Age 2 plus:

Colin and Lee, Carrot and Pea by Morag Hood

Vegetable don’t just get together to make a tasty soup… they sometimes make the best of friends!

Meet Colin and Lee, the carrot and pea who might be vegetables patches apart but happily put their differences aside to become the taste buddies of a delicious picture book story about an unlikely friendship.

Lee is a pea and all of his friends are peas, except Colin. Colin isn’t a small, round pea like Lee, instead he’s an angular sort of guy, a tall orange carrot stick in fact. Colin can’t do everything the peas can, but he has some special carroty qualities that make him a very good friend to have, proving that you don’t have to have everything in common to be the best of friends.

Colin and Lee, Carrot and Pea is the inspired picture book debut of author and illustrator Morag Hood whose unique voice and idiosyncratic, wry humour permeate this enchanting book which combines vibrant, colourful and distinctive artwork with a warm and funny story.

Colin and Lee’s clear shapes, brilliant textures and bright colours, created from a collage of supermarket plastic bags and painted facial expressions, have instant appeal for pre-schoolers and will charm readers of every generation.

The perfect way to help children celebrate individuality, friendship… and vegetables!

(Two Hoots, hardback, £11.99)

Age one plus:

Dinosaur Roar! by Paul Stickland and Henrietta Stickland

Open wide and get ready to roar because the dinosaurs are making a comeback!

A brilliant, brand new edition of every child’s favourite dinosaur book is back on the shelves and this time the hugely popular modern classic comes with a special endorsement by the Natural History Museum.

Originally published in 1994, Dinosaur Roar! by Paul and Henrietta Stickland is the ideal introduction to dinosaurs that every pre-school child will love as it explores the concept of opposites in a fun and entertaining way. The simple but enchanting rhyming text is pitch perfect for little children and the bold, extravagantly coloured artwork is irresistible to young eyes.

All the original artwork has been digitally scanned for this new edition to retain all the vibrancy and character of the original and there is a super pull-out poster at the back of all the dinosaurs featured in the book so that children, parents and teachers can study them individually.

And there is yet more dinosaur fun on the prehistoric horizon as Dinosaur Roar! is currently being developed for a wide range of media, from online to museums and theatres, and from books to apps. There is also a range of high quality Dinosaur Roar! merchandise being produced, including puzzles and games, clothing and accessories.

Packed with lumpy, grumpy, tiny, slimy, strong and long dinosaurs, your youngsters will soon be chanting along with the rhythmic story and dining out on the dinosaurs’ beastly gobbling, nibbling, munching and scrunching eating habits.

A wonderful world of dinosaurs just made for little readers!

(Macmillan, paperback, £6.99)