It’s present buying time, so for the 8-12 year old readers in your life, here are some of my favourite reads of 2015 …
The Maloney’s Magical Weatherbox by Nigel Quinlan (Hachette)
What do you get when you combine a magical tourist, a bog beast, and two hags, with some very mixed-up Irish seasons? A unique and exciting adventure that conjures lots of belly laughs! Written from different viewpoints, this exciting page-turner successfully blends fantasy with traditional Irish folklore, while the humour running throughout will ensure it appeals to both boys and girls, including the most reluctant of readers.
This fresh and exciting adventure story that includes wildcats, catapults, dark magic, and Romany gyspy lore will have children enchanted from the first page. The forest setting is beautifully woven into the tale, and the feisty heroine, Moll, is full of energy and surprises. There is plenty of action and mystery to solve, as Moll and her people whisk you away on a spellbinding journey you won’t want to leave.
Once Upon a Place: Stories & Poems Compiled by Eoin Colfer (Little Island)
With striking illustrations from P.J. Lynch, as well as 17 stories and poems from some of Ireland’s best-loved writers, including Derek Landy, Sarah Webb, Siobhan Parkinson, and Jane Mitchell, this beautiful book makes a stunning gift for any young reader. Exploring a sense of place in bite-sized pieces, the writing is in turn topical, funny, heartwarming, heartbreaking, and sublime, with something for everyone to enjoy.
My Name’s Not Friday by Jon Walter (David Fickling)
A heart-wrenching yet also heart-warming tale set during the American Civil War, this is an exciting, unique and powerful story that evokes plenty of emotion. Follow the protagonist, Samuel, into the murky world of slavery, as he battles to overcome the obstacles out of love for his family. A timeless choice and set to become a classic, this book will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading.
The Last Wild Trilogy by Piers Torday (Quercus)
In a world where animals are almost completely extinct, it takes a young boy with a big heart to risk his life to protect their future. Kester’s quest is to find a cure for the deadly ‘red-eye’ disease, when he finds himself battling against corruption and greed. A mesmerizing and moving tale with a thought-provoking message at its core, this epic adventure will offer plenty of appeal for animal lovers and adventurers.
The Black Lotus by Kieran Fanning (Chicken House)
Another fast-paced page turner, this gripping tale of a futuristic warlord society, complete with samurai, magical swords, and time travel, is unlike anything you’ll have read before. Join our teen ninjas from all over the globe as they combine their special skills to battle against the evil Lord Goda to save their world. A truly original and action-packed story of loss, betrayal, friendship, and loyalty.