2016: A Year in Books for Children

2016-in-review-jr

 

It’s been a difficult year for many, but Alma’s 2016 has gone from strength to strength… Below is a round-up of the publishers’ favourite projects from this year, highlighting the diverse nature of our publishing ethos with a hefty amount of literature in translation.

(See also A Year in Books for Adults)

 

 

January

9781846883903

The Double Axe

Dark forces are at work in the House of the Double Axe. Stephan, the thirteen-year-old son of King Minos of Crete, stumbles across a terrifying conspiracy. Is the Minotaur, a half man half bull who eats human flesh, real? Or is something even more dangerous threatening to engulf both the palace and the world?

Stephan must race to save his family from a terrible fate and find out what really lurks inside the labyrinth…

You think you know the story? Think again.

The Double Axe is the first instalment in Philip Womack’s Blood and Fire series, which reimagines classical myths from the point of view of teenage protagonists. It’s a thrilling tale of adventure, and an opportunity for young readers to engage with and learn more about classical mythology.

RRP: £6.99 £5.59

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February

9781847495723

The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily

Starving after a harsh winter, the bears descend from the mountains in search of food and invade the valley below, where they face fierce opposition from the army of the Grand Duke of Sicily. After many battles, scrapes and dangers, the bears’ reign is established over the land, but their victory comes at a price.

RRP: £6.99 £5.59

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March

9781846883958

SIX

When Parker Banks moves with his family from London to New York, he struggles to adapt to his new school and environment. His scientist dad is constantly at work on a top-secret technological venture for a major corporation, when one day he is kidnapped. It is up to Parker, along with his deaf sister Emma, their friend Michael and the pet pig their father left behind, to find and rescue him. They have at their disposal the E.F.E. device that their dad has invented to allow the family members to communicate with one another through telepathy.

As their search progresses, it becomes clear that SIX, the project that Parker’s father has been involved in against his will, is a sinister enterprise that poses a threat not only to the Banks family, but to the world at large.

RRP: £7.99 £6.39

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April

9781847495594The Adventures of Pipì the Pink Monkey

Pipì isn’t like his four brothers or the other young monkeys living in the forest of Hullabaloo: he has bright-pink fur, a mischievous character and a rebellious streak that lands him into all sorts of scrapes. In this story, an expanded version of Collodi’s original tale, we see him lose his tail to an ancient crocodile, end up as a valet to a young master, fall into the hands of flying bandits and become emperor of a tribe of apes.

Collodi wrote this story immediately after Pinocchio, and the little monkey’s adventures present clear similarities, both in terms of themes and characters, with his more celebrated masterpiece. This rediscovered gem of Italian literature, beautifully illustrated by Axel Scheffler and preserving all of Collodi’s trademark wit and linguistic crispness, will delight and enthral a new generation of children.

RRP: £7.99 £6.39

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May

9781846883972

The Emergency Zoo

It is late August 1939: Britain is on the brink of war, and preparations are under way to evacuate London’s children to the countryside. When twelve-year-old Tilly and her best friend Rosy find out that they will not be able to take their beloved dog and cat with them – and that, even worse, their pets will, along with countless other animals, be taken to the vet to be put down – they decide to take action. The two girls come up with the idea of hiding them in a derelict hut in the woods and, when other children find out and start bringing their rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters, their secret den turns into an emergency zoo.

Inspired by real events during the Second World War, Miriam Halahmy’s novel is a touching tale of courage, resourcefulness and camaraderie in desperate times, as well as a stirring defence of animal welfare.

RRP: £6.99 £5.59

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June

9781846883927

Caramel Hearts

Liv Bloom’s life is even more complicated than that of your average fourteen-year-old: her father walked out on the family when she was young, her mother is in a recovery centre for alcoholics, and her older sister is struggling to step into Mum’s shoes. The only person she can turn to is her best friend Sarah, who gets out of scrapes at school and is a constant source of advice and companionship. One day Liv discovers a book of recipes written in her mum’s handwriting, which sets her off on a journey towards self-discovery and reconciliation – but a theft, a love rivalry and a school bully are just some of the many obstacles on the way.

Structured around real cake recipes, Caramel Hearts is a coming-of-age novel about love, disappointment and hope, and discovering the true value of friends and family, no matter how dysfunctional they are.

RRP: £7.99 £6.39

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July

9781846883996

The New Teacher

Mademoiselle Charlotte, the new teacher, is not like the others: she wears a large hat and a crumpled dress that make her look like a scarecrow, and she talks to a rock. The children think she is crazy at first, but soon realize she makes school more fun than ever, getting them to measure the room with cooked spaghetti in maths class, telling fascinating stories about a gorilla and even taking the pupils on at football.

The first book in Dominique Demers’s popular Adventure of Miss Charlotte series, The New Teacher, brilliantly illustrated by Tony Ross, is an entertaining, imaginative and inspiring book that will make you wish you had a teacher just like Mademoiselle Charlotte.

RRP: £6.99 £5.59

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August

9781846883965

The Castle of Inside Out

Lorina, a young schoolgirl, is led by a black rabbit through a wood to a magical land. There she finds a a race of green people, who are all overworked, starving and subjected to the toxic fumes billowing out of a nearby castle. She decides to gain access to the castle on behalf of the poor green people, and within its walls she meets the “insiders”, selfish creatures who hoard all the resources and treat the outsiders as slaves. Her quest leads her to encounter the bureaurat, the superviper, the farmadillo and, eventually, the awful Piggident himself.

Wonderfully illustrated by Chris Riddell, The Castle of Inside Out is an unforgettable and hilarious tale of adventure, set in a world where injustice and arrogance are widespread and must be countered by its courageous and compassionate heroine.

RRP: £6.99 £5.59

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September

9781847495914

Belle and Sébastien: Child of the Mountains

The son of a Gypsy woman, Sébastien is found as a newborn baby in the Alps and brought up by Guillaume and his grandchildren Angélina and Jean. Born on the same day, Belle is a beautiful white Pyrenean Mountain Dog who has been neglected and passed on from owner to owner, until one day she escapes from a kennel. When Sébastien rescues the runaway Belle from the wrath of the villagers, the boy and the dog form a lifelong friendship and embark on exciting adventures in the mountains.

First published in 1965 to coincide with the internationally successful television series of the same name, Belle and Sébastien is a heart-warming story of camaraderie, adventure and freedom.

RRP: £7.99 £6.39

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October

9781846884177

The Horror Handbook

What happens to a vampire when he dies? How does somebody become a werewolf? How can you protect yourself from witches? All of these questions and more are answered in this book, which will finally give you all the information you ever wanted to know about ghosts, zombies, monsters and all kinds of creepy-crawly creatures that give us the heebie-jeebies.

Full of tips, anecdotes and trivia – and delightfully illustrated by Axel Scheffler – Paul van Loon’s Horror Handbook is a fun and fascinating reference book for all fans of scary stories and things that go bump in the night.

RRP: £7.99 £6.39

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November

9781846884092

Alistair Grim’s Odd Aquaticum

Grubb, the young apprentice at Alistair Grim’s Odditorium – a flying house of mechanical wonders – finds himself on the run, with the world convinced that Alistair Grim is a villain. Grim, however, has come up with a plan to defeat the real villain: evil Prince Nightshade. Desperate to clear Grim’s name and save the world, Grubb and the rest of the Odditorium’s crew set off on a perilous underwater adventure to the mythical realm of Avalon.

The object of their quest? The legendary sword Excalibur, the only blade powerful enough to pierce Prince Nightshade’s magical armour. Along the way, Grubb and his friends must confront a banshee, murderous sea monsters and a witch with a grudge against Alistair Grim, in a rollicking adventure that will keep every reader riveted from beginning to end.

RRP: £6.99 £5.59

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December

9781847496164

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

From his Baker Street apartment, Sherlock Holmes wields his powers of deduction in pursuit of justice and truth, venturing out into foggy Victorian London accompanied by his faithful sidekick Dr Watson. This classic collection of Holmes tales includes many of the detective’s most-loved exploits: Holmes is confronted by a venomous snake in ‘The Adventure of the Speckled Band’, mystified by a missing thumb in ‘The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb’ and beguiled by a beautiful opera singer in ‘A Scandal in Bohemia’, never once losing his famous cool.

First appearing separately in the Strand Magazine, these stories were published together in 1892 in a volume that rapidly became one of the most popular Sherlock Holmes collections. Showcasing Arthur Conan Doyle’s inimitable genius for mystery and storytelling, these tales are proof that the famous detective remains one of the greatest crime fighters ever created.

RRP: £6.99 £5.59

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(See also A Year in Books for Adults)