Nine of us got together to talk about some of our favourite 2016 releases from the first half of the year! (No particular order, by the way.)
1. The Crooked Sixpence by Jennifer Bell (Corgi Children's) - selected by Jim from YA Yeah Yeah/Teens on Moon Lane
Stunning debut from Jennifer Bell, first in the Uncommoners series, is a magical story of a girl and her brother plunged into a strange world where nothing is as it seems and the most ordinary-seeming of objects can have hidden uses. With a great heroine and a truly chilling antagonist, this is a fantastic start to what's sure to be a must-read series.
2. The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave (Chicken House) - selected by Andy Shepherd
This is such a wonderful MG debut. I was captivated from the very first page. Gorgeous world, cracking characters and a thrilling fast paced story that never lets you go. My son's top pick for the year so far too!
3. The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth by Katherine Woodfine (Egmont) - selected by Katherine Webber
Katherine Woodfine's second book is even more delightful than her first, the wonderful and well-recieved Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow. Sophie, Lil, and the rest of the gang have another mystery to solve, and this time they have to venture away from the magnificent Sinclair's to do it, and enlist the help of a few new friends-who are fabulous additions to an already well-crafted and engaging cast of characters. The Jewelled Moth has all of the delicious details, gorgeous descriptions, and spectacular settings as Clockwork Sparrow, but the expanded world and the superbly plotted mystery is what makes this such a treat to read.
4. Dreaming the Bear by Mimi Thebo (OUP) - selected by Lorraine Gregory
Loved reading this story about a girl and her relationship with a wild bear. Great voice, beautiful writing and characters that are both real and charming. Honest, engaging and at times sad this book will stay with me for some time.
5. Swan Boy by Nikki Sheehan (Rock the Boat) - selected by Tatum Flynn
A rare magical realism MG and a rare book all round - beautiful, gripping, scary, funny, heart-rending tale of a boy with a sad past who is forced to perform in a school version of Swan Lake, and who may or may not be turning into a swan for real...
6. Mumnesia by Katie Dale (Macmillan Children's) - selected by Tamsyn Murray
A hilarious laugh-out-loud cringefest about Lucy and her mum, Sharon, and what happens when Sharon suddenly becomes Shazza - a twelve year old girl from the 80s! But don't be fooled - there's a gorgeous soft centre to this funny Freaky-Friday-with-a-twist. It left me grinning from ear to ear and sighing with satisfaction
7. Stormwalker by Mike Revell (Quercus Children's) - selected by Ruth Fitzgerald
A truly exciting, imaginative story about a boy who becomes the hero of his writer Dad's terrifying story. This is a fantastic book. A terrific, action thriller with a real emotional core. It covers grief, loss, friendship and football and wraps them up in a page turning, adventure - my emotions were all over the place! I really couldn't put it down.
8. Chasing Danger by Sara Grant (Scholastic) selected by Relly Annett-Baker
Chasing Danger is a mystery/thriller story set on an over-60s holiday resort in the Maldives with no TV or wifi. 14 year old Chase is convinced she might die of boredom. Instead Chase, and her new friend Mackenzie, barely have time to dip their toes in the aqua lagoon before they must defend the island from attack from modern-day pirates. The action is intense, the plot twists are breathtaking and Chase and Mackenzie are fab, hilarious, heroines. It’s Charlie’s Angels for middle grade and the start of a brilliant new series.
9. Erica's Elephant by Sylvia Bishop, illustrated by Ashley King (Scholastic) selected by Faye Rogers
In this beautiful story, Erica is a ten year old who wakes up one morning to find an elephant on her doorstep. With her uncle away on a business trip and no one else to turn to, Erica brings the elephant into her home and tries to find a solution to her money and feeding woes. This is a magical book full of incredible illustrations that will leave your heart feeling full and wonderful. The perfect cute story for the younger generation.
10. Defender of the Realm by Nick Ostler and Mark Huckerby (Scholastic) selected by Faye Rogers
Alfie is a prince. He also feels overwhelmed and does not want to be king as he feels that his twin brother would do a much better job. But when their father dies, Alfie learns that being King comes with even more responsibilities than he first imagined; like defending the realm from supernatural villains. In this fast-paced, funny, and adventure filled book, you'll follow Alfie as he learns to accept his destiny for what it is. This is definitely a series to keep an eye on.