It is time for a book stack, so here is a pile of the latest and greatest middle grade reads from Jonathan Ball Publishers.


I always get asked, “What are middle grade reads?” These are chapter books, that find themselves above the reading level of easy readers, so often packed with picture rich chapters and very exciting storylines to keep the young readers interested. This is a great collection of middle grade reads… with animals, time travel, history and science, all of them great reads.


Eddie Albert and the Amazing Animal Gang

by Paul O’ Grady

illustrated by Sue Hellard

What a wonderful read and could only have been written by someone who loved and adored animals. This is the story of Eddie, a boy who feels slightly misunderstood and very unheroic. Eddie has a special skill, he can clearly understand animal conversations, a modern day Dr. Dolittle.

He keeps his special talent under wraps, but it constantly gets him into trouble… and one summer he is sent to stay with an elderly family friend in Paris. He really wasn’t looking forward to this, until he discovers that his aunt has the same gift that he does. Together Eddie, and his new neighbour Flo, set out to rescue an orangutang. I loved how gentle this story felt, I loved that each animal had its own wonderful personality, this story is heartwarming and would make a great and adventurous family read-aloud.


The Secret of Ragnar’s Gold

by Mark Dawson

illustrated by Ben Mantle

I loved this read, it is the perfect adventure story… it is the second in a series, but reading in order is not necessary at all. When a group of friends end up going away for the weekend to stay in a time worn castle, they stumble upon some ancient lore that appears to be far closer to the time they are living in, than expected. An ancient viking and his treasure ship are apparently buried there and protected by a fierce dog… well the children encounter the dog and then they find a treasure map. The adventure is now on, as the children race to discover the truth that was covered up by some locals. This book is a great swashbuckling adventure and the perfect mix of folklore and villains to spur the reader on.

AND I did not know it, but it is part of a series of books called The After School Detective Club. These books like a great deal of fun… add them to your book stack and thank me later.


The Boy Who Saved a Bear

by Nizrana Farook

This book is part of a glorious series of adventure stories for middle grade readers who love animals. In this book Nuwan is a young boy who lives in the shadow of his older brother and he would love to be a hero… but how? Meanwhile Nuwan inadvertently discovers a very important key that only he can can deliver to the queen, while some serious villains, working for corrupt leaders are after him. He has no-one to turn to for help, so he hides in a cave. In the cave he discovers a wild bear and together they go on a quest to deliver the precious key. It is an exciting adventure, the out-run and out-think and out-play several criminals, always rushing and always trying to reach their goal. No-one could expect a boy and a bear to get along, but these two were meant for each other.

This is a book about friendship and perseverance… it has a powerful message without being prescriptive. I am definitely adding the rest of this series to my “TBR” pile.


Cosima Unfortunate Steals a Star

by Laura Noakes

illustrated by Flavia Sorrentino

Firstly the title will grab you, then the cover, then the absolutely glorious illustrations throughout the book, and finally you will settle into a fabulous story… full of mystery, drama and intrigue. This is the story of Cosima Unfortunate, a young orphan girl and her house mates, they live in the Home for Unfortunate Girls, set in the Victorian Era, these children, with various disabilities, are deemed unworthy of society and their families have been forced to place them in a home. Cosima and her best friends like to perform small, but convoluted robberies at tea-time, the steal the cakes and sweet treats from the hideous powers that be at the home. This is really their only entertainment and they are good at it. The inevitable and horrible punishment is always worth it…

Considering the miserable lives these children are living, they certainly make the very most of their circumstances, they are extremely inventive, adventurous, fiercely loyal and just all round brave. One time they overheard a tea time conversation with a mysterious gentleman, who wanted to buy all all the children. Meanwhile, Cosima and co., have decided to perform a heist at the local “exhibition” and plan to steal and extremely valuable tiara. This book is has all the vibes of Oliver Twist, but… all our young heroes are variously and differently disabled, from wheel chairs to panic attacks this book is extremely “representative” in a really good way. The characters are well developed, full of feisty personality, they are on a quest to achieve something, despite all odds. Friendship abounds, on every page, this book is literally food for the soul.


How to Survive Time Travel

by Larry Hayes

illustrated by Katie Abey

An adventure into ancient times, and funny all the way… this is the kind of book that is so funny that you don’t even know that you are reading it and at the same time packed with facts. Eliza and Johnnie have to step back in time, well leap actually, back to the time of the Ancient Egyptians, on a quest to save their parents. Of course they get into all sorts of trouble, of course they go on all sorts of adventures and of course it is a great rip roaring laugh out loud kind of a story. This is a great read aloud for kids and their parents, who are ready to venture into chapter books at bed time. And for the child stepping up into chapter books the cartoon style illustrations are so engaging and fun… all in all a properly good and thoroughly enjoyable read. Highly recommend this book for folk who are looking for light reading, interesting facts and fun times.


Rainbow Grey Battle for the Skies

by Laura Ellen Anderson

illustrated by Sue Hellard

This is the third and final book in the Rainbow Grey Series, and I read it because I loved Amelia Fang, by the same author. This book would be fabulous for young science lovers, all the characters and the situations are around “weather terms”… Rainbow Grey and her friends Droplet Dewbells and Snowden Everfreeze are trying to save Weatherland from Tornadia Twist… and the illustrations throughout are just fantastic, the purple page edges just gave this book all the extra ZING that it needed. I didn’t love this series as much as I loved Amelia Fang, but it is a great series, none the less.


The Monkey Who Fell from the Future

by Ross Welford

I discovered Ross Welford during lockdown, and his books are just the most fantastic reads. All of them. If you have a middle grade reader that gets stuck on an author, then let it be this one. His books cover all sorts of topics, they are interesting, they are full of intrigued and he carefully pulls his reader through the book, from start to finish, grabbing them on the very first page.

The Monkey Who Fell from the Future, is really two stories. One set in 2425, where the world is recovering from a catastrophic collision with a meteor and Ocean Mooney and Duke Smith have unearthed a 400 year old tablet; And then in the present day, Thomas Reeve and his cousin Kylie create a “time tablet”… and the inevitable connection of the two stories. I loved the characters in this book, they really were strong and feisty and another page turner from Ross Welford.


These books were given to us for review purposes by Jonathan Ball Publishers. This is not a sponsored post and opinions expressed are entirely our own.

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