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The Dragon Diary: Dragonology Chronicles Volume 2
The Dragon Diary: Dragonology Chronicles Volume 2
by Dugald Steer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 10.03

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Epic Dragon Quest, 6 Oct 2009
Fresh from their previous adventures Daniel and his sister Beatrice are busy studying Dragonology with Dragon Master Dr Drake. They are also waiting for a dragon egg in their care to hatch. But despite the appearance of peace things are starting to go very wrong in the world of Dragons. First of all the siblings parents disappear, then rumours of a deadly dragon plague start to spread; it would seem that the evil dragonologist Alexandra Gorynytchka is back!

Before long the pair are on the run across the world as they struggle to bring the only hope of a cure to Dr Drake. Somewhere in the pages of the Liber Draconis, an ancient dragon diary, is hidden the secret recipe. The two children must somehow decipher it and get themselves and their newly hatched dragon chick to China if they are going to foil Alexandra's evil plans and save dragonkind.

Following up from the popular The Dragon Eye, the action continues in this second volume. This is an epic adventure spanning different continents and cultures from England to Africa and the Himalayas to China but despite the scale you still manage to visualize every moment of the story thanks to Steer's gift for description. This is an imaginative and exciting tale with an old fashioned feel to it which is in no way displeasing. The book cover, the illustrations and the text all give that feeling of reading a turn of the century style novel but with the added fantasy element of dragons and a lot of excitement. This should appeal to all dragon lovers out there but most of all to any child with a real sense of adventure and a touch of imagination.


The Pirate Cruncher
The Pirate Cruncher
by Jonny Duddle
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slightly disappointing, 24 Sep 2009
This review is from: The Pirate Cruncher (Hardcover)
It seems like pirate books are all the rage at the moment and they're particularly popular with boys of all ages! The Pirate Cruncher will definitely appeal to readers with a sense of adventure. The first thing we noticed was the artwork, which is exceptional. It veers from dark and mysterious to bright and hearty from page to page and really kept our interest. The colours are intense, the characterisation is excellent and each picture is detailed, meaning kids could look at this book for hours and still enjoy the illustrations. The book also has an interesting plotline, with a mysterious stranger appearing in a pirate tavern with a treasure map and a fiddle. The fiddler leads them to an island and buried treasure, but also leads the pirates to their doom when they are eaten by a sea monster. The fiddler is a puppet on strings, used by the monster to manipulate the greedy pirates and lure them to their end, making this a tale with a moral at its heart.

Where this book does not do well is its literary style. Some of the dialogue rhymes, including that of the fiddler and the captain, but irregularly, not often following the same rhyming pattern. Other characters speak in straight prose and the story itself is sometimes narrated in prose, sometimes in a rhyming scheme which makes the story read in a disjointed way. The plot still comes across clearly, but there are many mental missteps as you judder over the odd rhyming sentences. This makes the story difficult to read aloud, which is a shame as in all other respects, this is a very good pirate picture book.


The Faceless Ones (Skulduggery Pleasant - book 3)
The Faceless Ones (Skulduggery Pleasant - book 3)
by Derek Landy
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars All action magic!, 14 Sep 2009
Skulduggery and Valkyrie are back again for a third action packed adventure! A series of murders has attracted the interest of the two detectives. Teleporters are being killed and there is no sign of a suspect. The pair are still baned from the Sanctuary and the investigation is hampered even further by the bumbling Detective Crux. As the situation worsens, it quickly becomes clear that the last Teleporter left alive, Fletcher Renn, is the key to the mystery and his safety is paramount. A plot to return the Faceless Ones to the earth is being set in motion, a deadly sect has set out to bring back these dark gods and doom the world to complete destruction. Worst of all a spy has now infiltrated the Sanctuary, passing on vital secrets and endangering the heroes lives as they race to save mankind.

The third book of this increasingly popular series will by no means disappoint! In fact it is possibly the best of them all as the plot thickens and Skulduggery's past begins to be revealed. This is magical action at its best, as the story rockets onwards leaving the reader out of breath and exhilarated. You will not want to put the book down as this clever and at times witty adventure drags you ever inwards with its twisting plot, great characters and brilliantly over the top fight scenes. A lot of the book's supporting characters are wonderfully portrayed and delightfully ambiguous as the line between good and evil is becomes blurred as each pursues their own agenda. The ending is unexpected and gruesome and leaves the story on a cliff-hanger, ready for the next eagerly awaited instalment. There is little wonder that this series is getting such a strong and fervent following when Derek Landy never fails to up an already frenetic tempo and deliver such exciting books.

A great book for over ten year olds, if you liked Harry Potter but thought it could do with some more action then this is the book for you.


Gone
Gone
by Michael Grant
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great start, 7 Sep 2009
This review is from: Gone (Hardcover)
At 10:14am, every person over the age of 15 disappears. Vanishes. Gone. Children are left to fend for themselves as best they can until help arrives, the help that Sam is sure will come. Scared and alone, the children spread out to fend for themselves, finding sweets and soda, seeking comfort amongst company. They look to Sam for leadership, Sam who had steered the school bus to safety after the driver's heart attack just years before. However, Sam is not at all certain that he wants lead, especially as he is covering up a secret, a secret that may be related to the disappearance of the adults.

From Coates Academy, the prestigious cliff top school for bright but difficult children, comes a parade of black SUV's driving ominously into town. Out steps Caine, a charismatic, charming boy who quickly presents his plan to run the town in the absence of the adults. He is reasoned and calm and smoothly takes power. Once in place, it becomes painfully clear that Caine is a bully and under his rule, the bullies will have the power. The problem is, since the adults disappeared and an impenetrable dome appeared over the town, kids have been developing special abilities. Sam can do special things, but so can Caine, and so can Caine's group of henchmen.

Its up to Sam and Astrid to fight off Caine and his cronies in time to discover the answers to the impossible events that have happened around them. Time is ticking away quickly, for in just over a week Sam will turn 15 and if he has not found a solution, he will disappear from the world forever. This book is a great modern tale on the question of just how would you cope if your world was turned upside down. Absolutely fascinating, this book is a great choice for young adults and we here at Kid's Compass are on the edge of our seats waiting for the next instalment!

Gone is the first in a new six part series. Due to some scenes, we would suggest that this book is not for readers under 13.


Eeeek, Mouse!
Eeeek, Mouse!
by Lydia Monks
Edition: Paperback
Price: 4.93

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Picture book of the month!, 29 Aug 2009
This review is from: Eeeek, Mouse! (Paperback)
Minnie LOVES mice! But her parents hate them. So when a family of mice move into Minnie's house she has to work fast to save them from her Dad's amazing mouse trap and a hungry cat! Minnie has to find them a new home before it's too late.

From the same family as Aaaarrgghh, Spider! this is a great, quirky new adventure. Full of funny moments with humorous, vibrant drawings to illustrate them, it's a great story for all kids. For those who read the previous book, the reappearance of Spider hidden about the house should bring back good memories, while the antics of the huge mouse family should rapidly make them a popular new favourite. Colourful and eye catching, this funny story will be a big success, from the very young all the way up to beginner readers and it should have both children and parents giggling long before the end.


Nathaniel Wolfe and the Bodysnatchers
Nathaniel Wolfe and the Bodysnatchers
by Brian Keaney
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.55

3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 25 Aug 2009
Nathaniel Wolfe is bored. His life with his newly-found Grandfather is one of luxury and leisure, a vast change from his time spent working in the gutters of London, but he misses the excitement of his old life. This quickly changes however when a series of thefts from various graveyards by body snatchers begins. When a clerk from a law firm in London turns up at Nathaniel's house with a story about a ghost haunting him, it seems that Wolfe is to make a trip to the city. Meeting up with his old friends Sophie and Lily he sets out to discover the reasons behind the haunting. Little does he suspect that this case and the body snatching are related. The story picks up pace as a large inheritance comes in to play with a vicious group of thugs after it.

A supernatural detective story set in Victorian London, the plot is simple and without any serious twists which makes this quite any easy read, perfect for young readers beginning to take an interest in mysteries. It will also appeal to those who enjoy ghost stories. That aside, there is no real thrill to this ghost hunt and the writer doesn't quite manage to put the reader on the edge of their seat. This is perhaps due to the sedate progression of the plot line, with no particularly exciting action and the book gives the overall impression of a rather half-hearted plot. The main draw is the historical accuracy with which Brian Keaney describes Victorian society. Body snatching was a real problem at the time as was cholera, opium dens and even blocked sewer systems! The period lends itself very well to ghost stories and children will learn some interesting things from this tale. The lack of a gripping plotline aside, Nathaniel's adventure is an enjoyable meander through a well researched supernatural mystery.


Bog Child
Bog Child
by Siobhan Dowd
Edition: Paperback

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Brilliant!, 25 Aug 2009
This review is from: Bog Child (Paperback)
Eighteen year old Fergus lives in Ireland in 1981 at the peak of the Troubles consuming his country. Digging for contraband peat early one morning with his Uncle Tally he uncovers the body of a young girl buried in the mud. Dating back to the Iron Age the body has a noose around its neck and seems to have been the victim of brutal execution. But Fergus has his own problems. His brother is on hunger strike in prison, a man he believes to work for a terrorist cell is attempting to recruit him, he's falling in love with Cora the archaeologist's daughter... And on top of all that the voice of the dead girl, Mel, is talking to him in his dreams.

A Carnegie Award winner the posthumously published Bog Child is a work of genius. Beautifully written there are no jarring notes to this tale as it seamlessly balances the harshness of the situation and the strong emotions running through the story. Fergus is an intelligent and likable character destined for better things and does not fit into this world of conflict and hate dominated by the war between the IRA and the British army. His story and Mel's intermingle as the story nears its climax, both characters confronted by mindless and vicious political issues that will require great personal sacrifice on their part. Personal heroism, political conflict and love are just some of the themes dealt with by the writer in a book that resonates with a real passion for life, reinforcing just what a loss Siobhan Dowd is to the world of teenage fiction.


Thirteen Reasons Why
Thirteen Reasons Why
by Jay Asher
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.24

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but not Great, 25 Aug 2009
This review is from: Thirteen Reasons Why (Paperback)
Clay finds a package waiting on his doorstep. There is no return address and, excited, he quickly opens it. Inside are seven tapes, numbered on each side. Clay can't understand why anyone would send him these tapes until he plays side number one, and hears the voice of Hannah Baker, the girl he could have loved, the girl who killed herself two weeks ago.

The tapes are not a suicide note, nor a comprehensive account of why Hannah decided to commit suicide. Instead, Hannah dedicates one side of a tape to everyone in her life who gave her cause to hate the world she was in so badly that she took her own life. Their acts, which range from sexual harassment to bragging and spreading gossip, impacted on Hannah in ways that recipients of the tapes were not aware of, a theme which the author weaves strongly throughout the book. Over the course of one night, Clay listens to each tape and learns more about Hannah than he had ever learnt before she died, learns more about his friends and classmates than he could ever have known. Much of what he learns he wishes he could forget, but he must keep listening until Hannah has said all she wanted to say.

Suicide is a serious topic for a book aimed at young adults, but Asher has dealt with it in an honest and sensitive way. The reasons that Hannah cites in her tapes seem, at first, to be frivolous and petty, daily incidents that many people will be familiar with. Over the course of the book, each layer is added to by the next tape and finally a full picture of Hannah emerges that is neither frivolous nor petty and it becomes easier to understand how and why Hannah has reacted in such an extreme way. Clay is key to this understanding, providing the reader with an outsider's point of view to many of the incidents described in the tape which allows us to see that Hannah had become isolated and introverted. Clay also reacts well to her reasoning; that no one could see, no one would listen, and that people were unwilling to help. His slight irritation but more importantly his heartbreak over her actions brings the reader, who often finds sympathy with Hannah, to ground. Hannah's assumptions, which seem like fact to her by the end of the seventh tape, are countered by Clay and this adds to the main tragedy of the book; that Hannah could have found a way out for herself.


Mad Dog Moonlight
Mad Dog Moonlight
by Pauline Fisk
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.97

4.0 out of 5 stars Mad Dog, 22 Aug 2009
This review is from: Mad Dog Moonlight (Paperback)
Mad Dog Moonlight was only a young boy when the police introduced him to the Lewis family, his new foster parents. Found wandering a lonely mountain road he had nothing but the baby in his arms and a silver-capped walking stick engraved with a mysterious word. He has no recollection of his life, where he came from or who his parents are. Struggling to come to terms with his lack of a past he often suffers from wanderlust, repeatedly disappearing at night and struggling to accept the restrictions of his new civilised life. Mad Dog gradually integrates into his new loving family but relapses are frequent especially after his first dramatic visit to Plynlimon a mysterious mountain that draws Mad Dog into a magical and thrilling adventure to uncover the secrets of his past.

While the story does have a supernatural element most of it is subtle and occurs quite late in the book. The majority of the tale deals with the emotional trauma felt by the young boy completely lost in the world that surrounds him. Beginning at the age of five and continuing through to the beginning of adolescence Mad Dog's plight is a truly moving one. His keen sense of loss pulls at the heartstrings and the sort of behaviour that would normally be tiresome just leads the reader to feel even more pity for this lonely little boy. A story seemingly rooted in the characters search for an identity slowly becomes laced with a supernatural feel as small, almost unnoticeable, mysterious events start to occur, an aspect that will appeal to fans of surreal novels. A beautifully descriptive and well written novel, Pauline Fisk has produced a very good book whose only fault is a lack of a real climatic ending. While it won't appeal to everyone, this is a good book and could be the perfect choice for those looking for a heart warming novel with a supernatural twist.


The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking)
The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking)
by Patrick Ness
Edition: Paperback

109 of 112 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A awesome debut!, 21 Aug 2009
Todd Hewitt is twelve, the last boy in Prentisstown, a town of only men. He lives in a world full of "noise" in which the private thoughts of every man and animal are audible. In one month he will be thirteen and a man. But the town is keeping secrets from him, secrets that will force him to go on the run from the mayor and the men of Prentisstown along with his dog and the first girl he has ever met.

This is quite frankly an astounding novel, quite deserving of the awards Ness has won. It is furiously paced with terrifying, exhilarating and heartbreaking moments, with fantastic cliff-hangers interspersed with philosophical pauses. It is one of those gems that are sometimes found in children's literature; a genuinely original novel that is also well written, grabs hold of the imagination and will not allow you to put it down. You will find yourself growing more and more attached to Todd and Viola as the story and their friendship progresses, and feel genuine affection for Todd's dog and sidekick, Manchee, whose behaviour is both hilarious and heart-warming. At its core it is a story about a boy forced to grow up fast in a world crumbling into madness and armed only with his conviction to do right to help him take on the desperate fight to survive.

The book is aimed at young teenagers, and we would recommend it for readers aged 13 and upwards, but it will also appeal very strongly to adults. I can not rate this highly enough. If the well thought out plot line, characters that lift from the page and the genuinely original idea at the core of the book wasn't enough, Ness's dialogue and style of writing would be enough to recommend this book. If you want to read a truly great piece of children's fiction then this is the one for you.
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