I’m really looking forward to reading this one. It looks like a great action-packed read. Boy Nobody by Allen Zadoff is out now in NZ from Orchard Books.
Category Archives: adventure
When Joe Edmunds makes a wish on an Egyptian amulet, little does he know that he has volunteered to guide and defend the undead pet inhabitants of his town…
If you know a young reader who likes adventure stories that are a bit spooky and really funny, then I’ve got a new series for you! Undead Pets by Sam Hay is an awesome new series for 7+ featuring zombie animals and ‘pets with one last thing to do before they pass to the other side.’ As well as a great story (that boys especially will love) the books are illustrated throughout by Simon Cooper. I especially like the cartoons that describe how each of the pets die. I reckon the covers are terrific and are sure to jump off the shelves. Young readers will get hooked on Undead Pets and they’ll gobble them up in no time. They’re stand alone adventures so kids can start with any of the books.
Read all about the different books in the series below and watch the cool book trailer.
Dumpling the hamster came to a dusty end inside a vacuum cleaner … but he suspects that his owner Oliver’s parents never admitted to their son that they were to blame for Dumpling’s demise. Now the hamster needs Joe’s help to reveal the truth – but there’s a furry surprise awaiting them at Oliver’s house…
Disaster strikes when Bonsai the pug chases Pickle the cat into the street, where she is flattened by a car. But the fact that Pickle has (almost) shuffled off her mortal coil isn’t her biggest concern; she is worried that Bonsai will pursue her sister Pebble into an early grave too, unless she and Joe teach the dog a lesson…
Night of the Howling Hound
Joe is off on a school trip to an adventure camp, and he can’t wait to put Uncle Charlie’s survival tips into practice! But it’s not long before he’s visited by Dexter, a scruffy-looking dog, with a howling tale of woe. Dexter doesn’t want his owner feeling guilty for his death, but it’ll be hard for Joe to intervene this time – it turns out that the owner is Joe’s headmaster, the dreaded Mr Hill!
Goldfish from Beyond the Grave
Just when Joe thought things couldn’t get any stranger, he is visited by Fizz, a zombie goldfish. Fizz was flushed down the toilet by his owner Danny’s little sister, who doesn’t realize that she’s sent the fish to a watery grave. Fizz needs to ensure the truth is revealed before his fellow fish meet a similar fate. But how do you get a goldfish to rest in peace?
Rise of the Zombie Rabbit
Fluffy’s owner, Olivia, lost a necklace in her back garden and she’s going to get in big trouble if it isn’t found. Fluffy can’t bear to see her owner in distress and she demands that Joe finds the necklace – now! Can Joe do what Fluffy wants or will the undead pet be hopping around forever?
Chris Coloumbus is the writer and director of some of my favourite movies, including Gremlins, The Goonies and Home Alone. He’s a gifted storyteller for the screen who has now delved into the world of children’s books. His first children’s book is House of Secrets, co-written by Ned Vizzini, and I was interested to see if his books were just as good as his movies.
A secret history… A mysterious family legacy… Dark magic of untold power… And three kids who will risk everything to bring a family back together. The Pagett kids had it all: loving parents, a big house in San Francisco, all the latest video games … But everything changed when their father lost his job as a result of an inexplicable transgression. Now the family is moving into Kristoff House, a mysterious place built nearly a century earlier by a troubled fantasy writer with a penchant for the occult. Suddenly the siblings find themselves launched on an epic journey into a mash-up world born of Kristoff’s dangerous imagination, to retrieve a dark book of untold power, uncover the Pagett family’s secret history and save their parents … and maybe even the world.
House of Secrets is an action-packed blockbuster of a book about three children who are transported into the world of fiction. There’s something in this story to appeal to all kids – adventure, mystery, magic, witches, giants, warriors, pirates, and fictional characters coming to life. Most readers have wanted to actually be in the world of a story at some stage, and this is exactly what happens to Cordelia, Brendan and Eleanor (even if it was the last thing they wanted).
Chris and Ned have said that the story was originally going to be a screenplay for a movie, but they thought it would be too expensive to make so they adapted it into a book. I thought this came through quite clearly as the story really reads like it should be a movie. It’s quite fast-paced and there is lots of action so it will definitely keep kids’ attention. I can see why it would have cost so much to make this story into a movie, because it’s quite epic and there would be huge special effects involved. The house that the children find themselves transported in is much like the Tardis (‘it’s bigger on the inside’), with lots of hidden passageways, and it gets battered about by witches, giants and pirates. There are many different fictional worlds, filled with different creatures and characters.
Although I loved the story and the way the authors kept the action moving along, I found the children quite stereotypical and a bit flat. Within the first 10 pages you’ve had a detailed description of what the three children look like and how old they are, which just seemed a little bit forced to me. I guess it’s probably a movie thing and they’re trying to give us a picture of the characters, but you don’t need to know everything about a character within the first few minutes.
The plot races along right to the end and leaves the story hanging for the next book in the series. I’ll be looking forward to discovering what comes next for the Walker children.
If you’re a regular reader of my blog you’ll know that I love creepy stories of all kinds. Ghosts, werewolves, zombies, vampires, and other creatures that live in the dark are often featured in the books I love. I’ve been reading many of the first titles from Hot Key Books (a brilliant new publisher based in the UK) and when I read about Constable & Toop by Gareth P. Jones I had to get my hands on it. A ghost story set in Victorian London, featuring a boy who could communicate with ghosts, sounded absolutely fantastic! Constable & Toop was even better than it sounded.
Sam Toop lives in a funeral parlour, blessed (or cursed) with an unusual gift. While his father buries the dead, Sam is haunted by their constant demands for attention. Trouble is afoot on the ‘other side’ – there is a horrible disease that is mysteriously imprisoning ghosts into empty houses in the world of the living. And Sam is caught in the middle – will he be able to bring himself to help?
Constable & Toop is a creepy, gruesome story, with plenty of mystery, and a good dose of wit and humour. Gareth can have you cringing one moment and laughing the next, which is why I liked the book so much. He has given us a glimpse inside the ghost world and it’s not what you would expect. It’s the ghost world and the witty banter between his characters that provide the comic relief of the story. There is also plenty of throat slitting and stabbing for those who like their ghost stories gruesome. The story is set in Victorian London and from the first page you are immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of the period.
There are several different threads of the story, following different characters, which Gareth weaves together perfectly. Gareth shows us the lives of the living and the dead, and the ‘Talkers’ allow them to communicate with each other. Characters whose lives seem quite separate from each other in the beginning become increasingly intertwined as the story progresses.
The thing I liked the most about Constable and Toop was the way that Gareth portrayed the ghost world. It’s very bureaucratic, with each ghost having a role, like Enforcer or Prowler, and there are lots of rules and regulations that ghosts must follow. If they don’t do as they are told they’re labelled Rogues and are hunted down. There is an incredible amount of paperwork that needs to be filled out to do anything, and you must have a license in order to be a Poltergeist. In order to go to the physical world and find out what your unfinished business is (so that you can step through the Unseen Door and cross over) you have to apply for a research license. Lapsewood is my favourite character because he’s a very likeable guy, who just wants to get away from all the paperwork and get some adventure out in the real world (while impressing the girl of his dreams). He has some of the best lines and has some incredibly strange conversations with his superiors, who can never seem to get his name right.
If you want a ghost story with a difference grab a copy of Constable and Toop by Gareth P. Jones. I would recommend it for fans of Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant series, Joseph Delaney’s Spook’s Apprentice series, or Barry Hutchison’s Invisible Fiends series.
5 out of 5 stars
Let’s say John was pragmatic and played the drums, and Abigail was theoretical and solved cryptic crosswords. Now suppose their father was a brilliant, if sometimes confused, inventor. And suppose that another set of twins—adults—named Dean D. Dean and Dan D. Dean, kidnapped the Templeton twins and their ridiculous dog in order to get their father to turn over one of his genius (sort of) inventions. Yes, I said kidnapped. Wouldn’t it be fun to read about that? Oh, please. It would so.
Luckily for you, this is just the first in a series perfect for boys and girls who are smart, clever, and funny (just like the twins), and who enjoy reading adventurous stories (who doesn’t?!).
The Templeton Twins Have an Idea is perfect for fans of Lemony Snicket and anyone who likes a story with lots of mystery, adventure, and tight spots to get out of. It’s clever, witty and funny, but also a little bit crazy. The story is told by the Narrator, a rather strange fellow, who is always trying to convince us (the Reader) how wonderful he is. It takes the Narrator quite a few tries to actually get the story started, but when he does he keeps you on your toes. The Narrator helps to point things out to the Reader, but also throws you off track by asking bizarre and random questions, like ‘Can you spell moustache?’ At the end of each chapter the Narrator has some Questions for Review, to test what you can remember about the story or just help to boost his ego.
You meet some curious characters in the story. The twins themselves are quite unique – Abigail is very clever with words and John is extremely clever when it comes to devising plans and putting them into action. These skills, as you can imagine, come in very handy throughout the story. The villain of the story is Dean D. Dean, who accuses the twins’ father of stealing his idea for an invention. Dean D. Dean is good at hatching plans, which involves kidnapping the Twins to hold for ransom. If you think his name is silly, it only gets worse when he tells the children he wants to be a university dean.
Abigail said, “But that would make you Dean Dean D. Dean.”
“Exactly!” the man said with a wild, crazed smile.
“Dean Dean D. Dean?” Abigail said. “It sounds silly.”
“It sounds like ‘Here Comes the Bride,’” John said.
The book is illustrated throughout by Jeremy Holmes, with diagrams of inventions by the twins or their father, explanations of schemes that they have cooked up, and pictures of the characters. There is some little illustration on each page, whether it’s Cassie the Ridiculous Dog or just the cog around the page number. I think the illustrations will really appeal to boys and hook them in, especially if they’re not big readers.
Visit the very cool Templeton Twins website, where you can learn more about the book, the author and the illustrator, and watch the book trailer.
4 out of 5 stars