Helens selection of Must Reads this August (Part Two)

Crater Lake, and Crater Lake Evolution

  • Written by Jennifer Killick
  • Published by Firefly Press

When I first read Crater Lake I was hooked, the plot was fantastic. It follows a year 6 group on a residential trip, but this isn’t a normal activity centre, there’s nobody else round, and the staff are very strange. Its up to a group of five friends to save everyone. So you can imagine that I was disappointed when this book ended, I was so excited when Crater Lake Evolution was released. 

We join the characters five months after Crater Lake, they have all moved on to high school and some of the children aren’t talking to each other. 

Strange things are happening in their home town, after an explosion at the University, a creature is on the loose, everyone is under an curfew and  Lance’s mum is acting extremely strange. Personally I wouldn’t want to live with her.

Yet again its up to the group of friends to save the town.

If it is possible, this is even better than Crater Lake, which in itself is a fantastic read, as it has you once again gripped from the moment you start reading. You feel as though you are there, you experience everything the characters do (see pages 155-157)

After reading one particular chapter I decided to sleep with the lights on, just in case! Of course there’s twists but that just adds to the enjoyment. 

You really need to read Crater Lake first so you can understand what happened before. 

So yet again I find myself disappointed because I finished the book, but fingers crossed there will be another one, because I know these two titles are incredibly popular, and the chance to return to the characters and adventures within these books would be utterly brilliant!

Bigfoot Mountain

  • Written by Roderick O’Grady
  • Published by Firefly Press

When Minnie’s mum dies she is left in the care of her stepdad Dan.

There are clearly struggling to come to terms with the death of her mum, and trying to get use to each other.

So when one day Minnie and her best friend Billy find a bigfoot foot print things suddenly change. 

This is going to be a must for school libraries, it’s going to be a great support for children dealing with a family death. This is what the book is really about, the relationship between the Minnie and Dan and how over time they become close again.


  • Written and illustrated by Nadia Shireen
  • Published by Simon and Schuster

Over the years I have loved picture books by Nadia Shireen so I was delighted when it was announced that she had written her first fiction book. 

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the book and I read it in one sitting, it was fabulous. 

It follows two fox cubs as they are forced to move out of the city, after one of them rips the tail of Princess blossom, and we see them settling down in the countryside. 

I’ve always been accused of not having a sense of humour, but I found this to be hilarious. The text is quite big and easy to follow so this would be great for those children who are developing the skills to read by themselves. I will definitely be buying a copy for my school library, and am excited to share this recommendation with children.

The Incredible Talking Machine

  • Written by Jenni Spangler
  • Illustrations by Chris Mould
  • Published by Simon and Schuster

When I first started my job as a primary school librarian I was told to read as much children’s fiction as possible. 

I contacted my best friend and now co blogger Sam, and she kindly agreed to help me by giving me a lot of her books to borrow .

One of the first books I borrowed was The Vanishing Trick by Jenni Spangler. I couldn’t believe how lucky children were to have quality books like that. The vanishing trick was the book that I set all of the others by, it is a must read that I highly recommend.

So now we co write BookBound blog together, and we meet to discuss the books we want each wish to read and review, so I was delighted when I got this one to read first. The Incredible Talking Machine was mine to enjoy, and I hoped it would be as good as The Vanishing Trick. I was not disappointed, this book is as awesome a read, if not better dare I say. It centres around a run down theatre with an owner desperate to sell, but stopped every time by the young children who work for him, and by his sister.

The theatre owner decides to hire a professor, and his talking machine, in the hope that it will be a massive flop and he will be able to sell, but two of the children Tig and Nelson have other ideas  and do their best to save the theatre. 

This book has all the characters you could ever wish for, the children battling to save the day, an evil owner and a strange professor, oh and there is even a ghost! Chris Mould’s illustrations only make the reading experience better will the beautifully illustrated, incredibly detailed pictures. This book is going to be one of the best 2021, and it will take something special to beat this book. The combination of the author and illustrator involved in this book is a winner, and I cannot wait to showcase this title in my school library, I just hope I can keep up with demand!

Dragon Mountain, and Dragon Legend

  • Written by Katie and Kevin Tsang
  • Published by Simon and Schuster

When I first started reading middle grade books I realised that I love books about magic and especially dragons. So imagine my delight when Dragon Mountain was first published, I think I annoyed everyone round me by going on and on about this wonderful book!  My family was relieved when I finished the book, and yet unfortunately for them, but much to my delight, I started discussing at length the second book of the series Dragon Legend. I loved both books and felt as if I was there in China, first befriending the dragons then off on the quest with them, I could imagine myself flying in the air holding on tight as my Dragon flew through the air. Sadly I finished Dragon Legend,  and by chapter 26 I really didn’t see that coming. These are such brilliantly written story books, and a real treat for readers. 

Roll on September when the third title in the series Dragon City is out, and if its anything like the first two then we are all in for an unforgettable adventure.

Sister Switch

  • Written by Beth Garrod 
  • Published by Simon and Schuster

This is an interesting story,  we never know what other people life’s are really like, we can guess but we never really know. In this story two sisters accidentally swap bodies so they actually get to experience the others life. This is made more interesting by the fact that the sisters don’t actually like each other. The sisters are complete opposite and of course during the story you find yourself rooting for the under dog.

The author puts real feelings into the book,  and there’s some light hearted moments that readers will definitely enjoy. A fun story with a great storyline concept, and one that children will love.

When the Sky Falls

  • Written by Phil Earle
  • Published by Andersen Press

1941 in war torn London, 12 year old Joseph has been sent to live with Mrs F a fearsome woman who owns a run down zoo. She’s under orders to shoot dead the love of her life, Adonis a silver backed ape, if his cage is blown up in a bombing. Joseph and Mrs F struggle to get to know each other, and finally bond over Adonis.

This is an truly beautiful book, as well as giving the reader a look into 1941 London they get to experience the feeling of sheltering while bombs go off, and being torn by the circumstances facing the characters in the uncertainty of it all.

You get to experience how different school life would be and how badly pupils were treated.  As readers we all realise that Joseph suffers from dyslexia, and we see how it wasn’t recognised as a condition back then.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and how immersive it is for readers as they are transported back to our country’s capital, and an incredibly relevant period of history.

Moonchild, City in the Sun

  • Written by Aisha Bushby
  • Illustrations by Racheal Dean
  • Published by Farshore

Three moonchildren, Leo, Amira and Farah were on a voyage of discovery until Leo goes missing. Now the girls have a new mission – to find Leo. Carrying on from the first book this is Farah’s story,  a story of a girl who discovers sun magic for the first time.

With new characters Farah must come to terms with her past, learn to live with her magic all the while searching for Leo then Amira.

As this is the second book of the series I personally think you have to have read the first one beforehand, just so you understand what is happening and who the characters are. With illustrations that bring the characters to life I believe this book is better than the first, and love how the characters and plot have developed along the way. I hope that there are many more titles to come, and that it won’t be long before I get to return to Leo, Amira, and Farah.

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