What We Are Reading Right Now – #32, A PanMacMillan Edition…

Every now and then we just need a post with all the latest and greatest kids reads for kids. I have to say, when folks say you can’t beat a classic they are right, but it would be a mistake not to dip into some the fantastic contemporary reads that are coming out right now.


We are giving some of these books to our Library Building Project… If you would like to join us in Growing a Library Book by Book then follow this link, we would love you to join us!!!

The Hoods Are Reading…


Hood #1:


The Lie Tree by Francis Hardinge: Technically this book isn’t out yet, it is “impending” and we read a “proof copy”… but who can wait to tell about a new Frances Hardinge book. She happens to be hands down one of our favourite authors. This is the story of Faith, a fourteen year old girl on a quest to discover the truth behind the death of her father. A murder mystery, and mystery it is. On searching through her father’s possessions she discovers the “Lying Tree,” a tree that flourishes everytime you tell a lie. This book is dark, in the sense that it is set in the under a very grey sky… during a very grey time in history towards the end of the eighteen hundreds. Even so, the writing is so rich and beautiful that you are compelled to read on. By the end of the first chapter you are a firmly on Faith’s side and you want to see her succeed with all your heart. The book begins with the family moving to an island off the coast of England, Faith is not told why, but their appears to be some deep dark secret, and lots of “looks” from fellow passengers. Faith is called to be braver than brave, as she uncovers the truth and while not your typical Frances Hardinge fantasy novel, there is this mysterious lying tree. The more entangled Faith becomes in her web of lies, and the bigger the lies become, the more is revealed to her… she just has to know more. I was intrigued when Hood #1 explained the plot to me, so I have settled in and I am reading away. Compelling, I dare say… there is an uneasy tension throughout. Look out for this book, it is a keeper.a href=”http://www.franceshardinge.com/” target=”_blank”>Francis Hardinge has the coolest website and is well worth a visit.


Hood #2:

The Deadly 7, who needs friends when you have monsters? by Garth Jennings: This is a book for folk who enjoy everything beyond your wildest imagining… because you are going to need a lot of imagination to read it. It is funny, it is sad and it is filled with monsters of the weird and wonderful kind, not to mention all the typical trials and tribulations of an eleven year old boy. Nelson’s older and very much loved sister goes missing and he is left with an odd uncle, who happens to be the caretaker at St. Paul’s Cathedral. He finds himself wandering in the catacombs and he stumbles upon an ancient machine. This is a one of a kind machine that extracts the seven deadly sins from a person and turns them into monsters. Nelson suddenly finds himself surrounded by seven grumpy, smelly and plain old embarrassing little monsters… Luckily since Nelson is a pretty good kid, his monsters are “not too bad.” They set out on an amazing adventure to find his missing sister. This book is not theologically sound (!!!) but it is a good fun read, filled with fabulous illustrations. This book probably isn’t going to change your life, but it could definitely make your day. You can take a peak at the author, Garth Jennings personal monsters in this article.


Hood #3:

The Winter Horses by Philip Kerr: You know how we love war stories, and this is one right up there with the best of them. The year is 1941, the place Ukraine. Kalinka is a young girl on the run after her family was killed by Nazis. Max is an old caretaker devoted to taking care of his animals in an animal preserve, including the horses of the ancient Przewalski breed. The Nazis arrive and begin the termination of all Max’s animals, only two of these very special horses remain. They intend to wipe all the animals out and Kalinka and the horses find themselves on a desperate race for their lives, across the freezing winter wastelands of the Ukraine. This is a book full of emotion, there are very sad moments in it… but that just makes it more of a great read.


Hood #4:

My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish, by Mo O’Hara: This is not our first venture into My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish, in fact it is the fifth in the series. These books are about the antics of a goldfish that was rescued by a young boy, Tom, from his less than charming older brother had intended to use the fish for grim scientific experiments. Turns out the fish developed a few extra abilities along the way and is about as far from your regular pet goldfish as you can go. These are chapter books of the laugh out loud, turn the pages quickly and read away kind. They are full of fishy puns and many play-on-word type jokes.There are extra little features to keep your new and easily distracted reader reading, humorous illustrations, the bottom corner is a flip book… and of course the story. This book is two stories in one. The first, “Agent Octopus-Sea”… there is an octopus at play, and a bit of a mystery; And the second, “My pet’s got talent,” is another fishy story, with a talent show of course. These books definitely appeal to middle grade boys, who have begun chapter books, but aren’t ready for anything heavy. You can check out this hypnotic fish on his very own website.


Hood #5:

The 13-Story Tree house by Andy Griffiths: This book has huge appeal across the ages… really. Why have we not discovered these fantastic reads sooner. All young readers will enjoy these, easy enough to read for themselves and appealing enough for an adult to read and help wherever needed as well. This book is packed with the most amazing a detailed and busy illustrations by Terry Denton, and not vast amounts of words to overwhelm the beginner reader either. This book is about two boys that have to write a book and quickly, so they describe the house they live in, a thirteen story treehouse, that is filled with the most incredible and bizarre features… an anti-gravity chamber, a chocolate waterfall, and well I could go on!!! There is plenty of silliness to enjoy and the illustrations bring out the quirky writing!!! You can look at The Tree House Book Series website here.


Hood #6:

Timmy Failure 03: We Meet Again: I don’t know if I have ever mentioned it before, like ever (!!!) but we love and adore Timmy Failure… love, love, love. Timmy Failure is a young lad, who owns a detective agency… not a very good one mind you. He claims his agency os on the brink of world domination, in actual fact… nothing like that at all. His agency is held back by insurmountable troubles, like academic probation and getting paired with his nemesis Corrina on a project. This is he story of a cartoon boy in a cartoon world, with some very real-life troubles. Timmy has a very different response to life, and this quirkiness is heart-warming in every sense. The cartoons are hilarious, the read is rollicking and if ever a series of books were written for reluctant readers… this is it!!! You can meet Timmy Failure on his website. In fact, if you haven’t met Timmy Failure yet, then dash over to his website and thank us later. These books are delightful to read on every level… and instead of leaving them to my beginner readers to enjoy, I grab them first.


Hood #7:

Judy Moody: Mood Martian by Megan McDonald: Judy Moody is such a funky gal, so full of quirks that she is practically a member of our family. This is No. 12 in the series, but by no means the twelfth Judy Moody book, she appears in several other series as well, Stink, for instance. Judy Moody is a slightly opinionated, slightly headstrong and extremely delightful young lady who does things her very own way. This is a character in ever sense of the word, much to the “exasperation” of her family. These are great first chapter reads… they are easy reading interspersed with lots of wonderful illustrations by Peter H. Reynolds. For the reader that is lurking into chapter books, or the reader that requires you to read a page and then they read a page and so on… they are fun reads whatever your age, and spin you straight back into childhood. In this book Judy Moody, decides that for Backwards Day she is going to be in a great mood for a whole week.

And the se7en + 1th Books:


Hood #8:

Please Mr Panda by Steve Antony: (Spoiler alert, I reveal the punchline). This is one of those picture books that will be enjoyed by parents and children alike. this is a book with a lesson and not one of those boring old “blessed little thought lessons” either. There is a rather grumpy panda, with a tray of the most colourful and delicious looking donuts ever… he offers them to his friends one by one… and as soon as they say they would like one, he retracts the offer, “I have changed my mind.” Finally, in desperation, Mr Panda asks, “Would anyone else like a donut?” and lo and behold there is one last little beast that has the magic: “Please Mr Panda?”… and that lucky little one receives the whole tray, because as it turns out, Mr Panda doesn’t even like doughnuts but he rather fancies courtesy. If you haven’t met Steve Antony’s work yet… then now would be a good time, he has a delightful take on life. The question is, did this book appeal… it did. It is a big book, with fairly simple illustrations on grey paper and a book of few and repetitive words, but there is something quite appealing about this grumpy panda and his penchant for “please.”

We would really like to thank Pan MacMillan South Africa for providing us with the fantastic pile of books to review for this post. We would like to declare that we were not paid to do these reviews, just provided with books. All the opinions are as usual, entirely our own!!!

6 Replies to “What We Are Reading Right Now – #32, A PanMacMillan Edition…”

  1. I love what you have to say about reading classics v modern lit. These choices are great- I can’t wait to order the Treehouse books for my son! Thanks for your recommendations!

  2. Oh thank you Cat, we are just reading and reading right now… so many good books are out especially in the beginner chapter group range… Hope you are having a great weekend!!!

  3. Hay Mandi… the Treehouse books are just stunning, the most fantastic illustrations. My middle guys really loved them. Hope you enjoy them!!!

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