Friday, November 20, 2015

Books for Christmas Part 5 - Wild Wolves, Imaginary Friends and A Slice of the Moon - Middle Grade Grandeur for Christmas

At Mostly Books, we call them 'confident readers', the wider book world increasingly likes the phrase 'Middle Grade' (or 'MG' as it fights back against the downward-pressing, all-conquering, social media-fuelled 800-pound gorilla that is YA).

For everyone else though, it's the brilliant time in life when children are reading independently, flexing their individuality, and discovering the books that will have a profound effect on them for the rest of their lives.

(We're always a bit flexible in terms of age-guidance - so do take a look at our recommends for younger readers too.)

At Christmas we look for those gorgeous editions that combine the best writing with the best that publishers bring to the physical book. Beautiful, desirable and shouting out to be read - what more could we ask. Here's our favourites this year...


The Wolf Wilder - Katherine Rundell (£12.99)
Feodora and her mother live surrounded by the snowbound woods of Russia and with only wolves for company. In a world where there is a huge divide between rich and poor, the rich have taken to taking wild wolves as pets. But if they turn savage, they are brought to Feo and her mother - wolf wilders. But with such a divide between rich and poor, revolution is brewing and when Feo is unwittingly caught up in the fight, suddenly, having wolves on your side can make you very sought after – for good reasons and by bad people.

In Katherine's trademark style (which readers will know from Girl Savage and multi award-winning Rooftoppers), Feo is left with no option but to go on the run, finding friends and fighting foes, finding out what her skills and her strengths really are. What follows is a story of revolution and adventure, about standing up for the things you love and fighting back, rich in language and lore and with a spirited protagonist you will be rooting for all the way.

Published as a gorgeous hardback edition, complete with atmospheric illustrations, this is a book to treasure in every way.


An Eagle in the Snow - Michael Morpurgo (£12.99)
A brand new fiction title from Michael Morpurgo is always an exciting event, and in 'An Eagle in the Snow' Morpurgo again tells a dramatic and extraordinary tale - partly based on a true story - and painted onto the canvas of the Second World War.

Barney and his mother, their home destroyed by bombing, are travelling to the country when their train is forced to shelter in a tunnel from attacking German planes. There, in the darkness, a stranger on the train begins to tell them a story. A story about one of the most decorated soldier of WW1, who once had the chance to end the war before it even began, and how he tried to fix his mistake. But sometimes doing the right thing is hard to see - and even harder to live with. This will delight Morpurgo's legion of fans - and further cement his reputation as one of our finest living storytellers.


Little Stars - Jacqueline Wilson and Nick Sharratt (£12.99)
This is the wonderful new Hetty Feather story from the legendary author Jacqueline Wilson - the fifth book in the series. Hetty and her dearest friend Diamond, having escaped from Tanglefield's Travelling Circus, are determined to find positions as glamorous music hall artistes. Hetty and Diamond quickly become the 'Little Stars' of Mrs Ruby's show.

But the Cavalcade proves a dangerous place, and Hetty must fight to protect Diamond, whilst struggling to understand her feelings for Bertie - and for Jem, whom she has never forgotten. Hetty dreams of a glittering future for herself and Diamond. The bright lights of the London theatre world beckon - will Hetty become a true star?

Hetty is developing into a classic series, and with the foundling's tale having been turned into a West End production and serialised on CBBC, It's a beautiful, sparkly edition with bags of appeal to new readers and fans alike.


The Imaginary - AF Harrold and Emily Gravett (£7.99)
We recommended 'The Imaginary' when it came out as a beautiful hardback last year - and the paperback is just as stunning. It's an extraordinary tale of love, loss, imagination and not really being there, definitely for fans of Roald Dahl and Neil Gaiman, by the world's most famous bearded poet AF Harrold (and that award is up against stiffer competition than you might imagine).

Rudger is Amanda's best friend. He doesn't exist (but then nobody's perfect). Only Amanda can see her imaginary friend - until the sinister Mr Bunting arrives at Amanda's door. Mr Bunting hunts imaginaries. Rumour says that he eats them. And he's sniffed out Rudger...

It's funny, scary and moving, and gorgeously illustrated by the award-winning Emily Gravett. Highly recommended...

Mountwood School for Ghosts - Tony Ibbotson (£6.99)
Fredegonda, Goneril, and Drusilla are Great Hagges, much more important and much rarer than regular old hags. They think that ghosts these days are decidedly lacking and that people haven't been scared of ghosts for years. So one day they decide that something needs to change - it's time for these ghosts to learn a thing or two about being scary. And what better way to teach them than to set up their very own school for ghosts? A funny ghost story from Toby Ibbotson, son of award-winning author Eva Ibbotson, and based on an idea conceived by her. The cover is by Alex T. Smith.


Pathfinder - Angie Sage (£6.99)
Another book we raved about in hardback - now out in paperback.

Tod has grown up a PathFinder, one of an ancient seafaring tribe. Her mother, who died when Tod was young, had a very different history. She was from a mysterious magykal desert-dwelling family. When Tod's father disappears she is not only alone, but soon finds herself swept into the path of an evil sorcerer. Now Tod must choose which of her pasts will help her to survive: PathFinder or Magician. Magyk will allow her to fight like with like, but her PathFinder heritage gives Tod something special - the edge. Angie Sage's new book combines breathtaking action with fabulous plotting. The characters are instantly engaging, the tension is relentless and Angie's superlative storytelling weaves the threads seamlessly together for an utterly satisfying read.

The Seal's Fate - Eoin Colfer & Victor Ambrus (£7.99)
A stunning coming-of-age novella by international bestselling author and current Irish Children's Laureate Eoin Colfer (author of 'Artemis Fowl'), beautifully illustrated by Greenaway winner Victor Ambrus. School's out and Bobby Parrish is spending the summer on his dad's boat. Job number one is to deal with the seals infesting the peninsula. The money's good - but Bobby knows, deep down, that he hasn't got it in him. Eoin Colfer's trademark humour and lightness of touch and Victor Ambrus's classic artwork evoke a strong sense of place, character and vitality. An ideal gift for lovers of a fantastic artist and writing team, from reluctant-reader specialist Barrington Stoke, who bring all their experience in developing a love of reading for all children.


A Slice of the Moon - Sandi Toksvig (£9.99)
The brand-new action-packed story of one family's journey across the world from author Sandi Toksvig. Slim Hannigan and her family are poor but happy. Theirs is a life filled with love and laughter - and a pet pig called Hamlet. But things change overnight and suddenly they find themselves facing hunger and danger like they have never known. So they leave their village in Ireland to journey to America where, they hope, family and fortune await them. Can one brave girl keep her family together no matter what is thrown at them?

The delight of this book is the surprising amount of humour, and emotional depth Toksvig brings to a story full of danger and heartbreak. It's another beautiful hardback edition to treasure as well.

Top of the Class (nearly) - Liz Pichon (£10.99)
From the winner of the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, the Red House Children's Book Award, the Waterstones Children's Book Prize and the Blue Peter Best Story Book Award 2013, comes the ninth (can you believe that?) amazing instalment of the Tom Gates adventures. Tom Gates is a superb, accessible voice for children of 9+, and great for reluctant readers who may struggle to get into reading.


Return to the Secret Garden - Holly Webb (£8.99)
Return to Frances Hodgson Burnett's timeless classic, 'The Secret Garden', in this magical sequel by bestselling author Holly Webb. It's 1939 and a group of children have been evacuated to Misselthwaite Hall. Emmie is far from happy to have been separated from her cat and sent to a huge old mansion. But soon she starts discovering the secrets of the house - a boy crying at night, a diary written by a girl named Mary, and a garden. A very secret garden... Holly Webb is the author of The Truffle Mouse and the Emily Feather series. 

The Astounding Broccoli Boy - Frank Cotterill Boyce (£10.99)
Frank Cottrell-Boyce is one of our favourite authors - his special genius is to tell stories that grip and unfold through the eyes of the children he's created, which allows him to generate incredible twists in perspective that are a totally delight.

After 'Cosmic' and 'Millions' this is another funny and wildly imaginative modern-day adventure. When Rory Rooney turns inexplicably green he is convinced he has super powers, but after being whisked off to a research facility, he must team up with his worst enemy - and some penguins - to find out what's happened. Why does London seem to be under attack from aliens? Will he ever be normal again? And will he be able to drive the bin lorry he's just stolen? Crazy, super-powered and just fantastic!

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