Posts tagged Mystery

Drawing mutant carnivorous plants: a chat with Sabrina Malcolm

How do you turn ordinary looking plants into walking, talking mutants? That’s what the wonderful illustrator Sabrina Malcolm has to do in The Fly Papers books. I asked her a bit more about how …

sabrinaWhen you start coming up with ideas for turning particular carnivorous plants into sentient mutants – what are some of the things you think about?

Sabrina: I always need to think about how the creature will move around, and how it will perform whatever actions are required by the story. Dion’s roots, for example, became his way of getting around; and his traps came in handy for things like opening louvre windows.

The eyes have always been particularly important, because they’re one of the most important ways of showing the creature’s thoughts and emotions. Other parts of the creature can be helpful with that, too — for example, Dross’s leaves can look bedraggled, or lively and excited; and similarly with his eye stalks.

Of course, these things are always decided in consultation with the author and designer!

dionDo you use real plants or photos for reference (or both)?

Sabrina: I use real plants when I can, but photos can be useful too, especially if I’m drawing while a plant has died down for the winter. Venus flytraps, for example, can look very poorly during the winter months.

How do you make the plants’ eyeballs express emotion?

 Sabrina: Eyelids are the crucial thing: without them, it’s much harder to show emotion. They can take on some of the job of eyebrows — pulling down for a frown, narrowing together to show suspicion, or rolling right back in fear.

The eye stalks can be helpful, too — if they’re rearing back, it can convey fear, and lunging forward can show aggression.

Okay, if you were Bette Noire – and you could create a mutant plant or animal in your lab – what might it be?

 Sabrina: A cow with cheesecake-flavoured milk. Oh, and edible brussels sprouts.

 

Sabrina is the illustrator of all The Fly Papers books, and also an author. Last year she wrote and illustrated a beautiful picture book: Blue Moon Bird.

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Solving The Fly Papers mysteries

character1 If you’ve been following the adventures of Spencer, Tora, and their friends in the first two books of The Fly Papers, you know that the kids still have a lot of mysteries to figure out. Luckily they’ve got six more books to do it in!

People often ask if I’ve planned what’s going to happen all the way through to the eighth book.

When I first started writing book one, my answer was, ‘Mmmm … kind of.’ I had a vague resolution that I aimed get to at the end of book eight, but that was about all.

character2The wise and generous author Fleur Beale took me in hand and told me (nicely) that I needed to do better than that. She warned that if I didn’t have a very clear idea what was going to happen throughout the whole series, then writing it would be dangerous. I might get to a point later in the plot where I was stuck and would suddenly realise I should have written things differently earlier on.

So I came up with a few paragraphs of plot description for each book, but deep down, I knew it might not be enough to save me from a plot tangle.

Luckily – after the first book was published – something exciting happened. We got approached by a  producer working for quite a famous British film and TV company. This company was interested in maybe turning The Fly Papers into a TV series! (I didn’t believe it at first. I didn’t even reply to their email for about a month, because I thought it was someone scamming me. But nope, it was legit.)

Well. First they wanted to know more aboutcharacter3 every book’s storyline. So I began feverishly developing the plot in more detail than I’d ever tried to do before.

As it happened, no TV series eventuated. (Such is the uncertain nature of the film and TV industry.)

I was a bit disappointed, but not horribly, because I’d been trying not to get my hopes up. I was also grateful. I now had pages and pages of plot information to work from, all the way through to the end of The Fly Papers.

character5So now, when people ask me if I’ve planned what’s going to happen the answer is, ‘Yes – everything!’

(But no, I’m not telling.)

P.S. All these lovely character illustrations from The Fly Papers are by the marvellous illustrator Sabrina Malcolm.

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The lure of mystery

Hi everyone – I’ve been looking forward to being your March author.

Do you like mystery?

I do. Growing up, my favourite book series was The Three Investigators. I longed to discover this gang was real and join them as investigator number four –  I mean, they really did need a girl.

I also loved those mysteries you have to solve yourself, like the Encyclopedia Brown stories – except I got impatient and looked up the answers. Then I’d feel angry at myself and try to brainwash myself into believing I’d worked them out on my own.

ImageThe stories I love writing are also mysterious ones. The Fly Papers is full of mystery.

Another series I’m working on is The Owl Kids. It’s for a magazine called Wild Things and has wonderful illustrations by Adele Jackson. (Like the one on the left right!ahem, 45 years old and I still get my left and right mixed up sometimes.)

I’ll talk more about it soon, but you can read the first episode here – and solve the first of its mysteries.

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Phantom of Terawhiti by Des Hunt

It’s the school holidays and Zac thinks he might go crazy with boredom. He’s living in exile with his disgraced father on the remote Terawhiti Station on Wellington’s wild southwest coast. Then Zac and his dad witness a boat sink during a storm. Investigating further, Zac finds a set of unusual animal prints on the beach. Whose boat is it? And what creature could have made the prints? Soon armed men are prowling the coast, and threatening Zac, his friends and his family. He must do all he can to protect the Phantom of Terawhiti from those intent on hunting it down.

Phantom of Terawhiti is an action-packed adventure story, packed with mystery,  armed and angry Russians, brainless hunters, wild weather, a car chase, and a race against time.  Des Hunt is a gifted storyteller who never fails to write a story that grips readers and makes you keep turning the pages to find out what happens next.  In Phantom of Terawhiti there are plenty of heart-stopping moments, especially when Zac and Jess clash with the Russians.  The mystery of the ‘Phantom of Terawhiti’ draws you in and, even when the creature is revealed, you wonder how it will survive in the wild with the hunters trying to track it down.

Like the main characters in his other books, Zac and Jess are just normal Kiwi kids, who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (or maybe the right place at the right time).  Zac gets dragged by his dad to come and live on the remote Terawhiti Station, and it’s while he’s here that he discovers the wreck of the yacht and the paw prints in the sand.  When they discover the Phantom of Terawhiti, Zac and Jess know that they must do everything they can to protect it.

Phantom of Terawhiti is one of Des Hunt’s best books so far and I can’t wait to see where in the country he will take us to next.

4 out of 5 stars

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Wings & Co: Operation Bunny by Sally Gardner

Emily Vole makes headline news in the first weeks of her life, when she is found in an abandoned hatbox in Stansted Airport. Then, only a few years later, her neighbour Mrs String dies leaving Emily a mysterious inheritance: an old shop, a small bunch of golden keys and a cat called Fidget. It’s the beginning of an adventure of a lifetime as the old Fairy Detective Agency comes back to life. It is up to Emily to reopen the shop, and recall the fairies to duty. Together they must embark on their first mystery and do battle with their great fairy-snatching enemy, Harpella.

Operation Bunny is a magical story, filled with a cast of wonderful characters, plenty of mystery, and a sprinkling of humour.  It’s the sort of book that you sit down to read a few chapters and end up gobbling up the whole book because you’re enchanted by Sally Gardner’s storytelling and David Roberts’ hilarious illustrations.

I fell in love with the characters straight away and I wanted to be friends with Miss String and Fidget the talking cat.  Emily is a Cinderella-type character because she gets locked away and made to do all the housework for her horrible adopted parents.  Not only are they horrible, they’re also quite stupid.  Emily’s adopted mother lets a strange lady into their house who turns her triplets into zombies, and Emily’s adopted father is a slimy wee man who’s hiding a secret and always calls his wife ‘Smoochikins.’ However, Emily is much smarter and braver than these horrible people give her credit for, and with the help of her rather unusual neighbours she escapes and starts her new life as a detective.  Fidget is my favourite character because he is always happy to help and he has the best lines (which usually involve fish of some sort), like ‘Search my sardine tin, I don’t know,’ and ‘Twiddle my whiskers and call me tuna.’  I love the way that Fidget calls Emily ‘my little ducks’ too.  Even though she doesn’t have parents that love her, she has a giant talking cat that is looking out for her always.    There are lots of other interesting characters in the story, including a mischievous bunch of keys, zombie babies, a fairy policeman, a shop with legs, a magic lamp that talks, and lots and lots of bunnies.

David Roberts illustrations are wonderful as always and help set the tone of the story.  They’re both hilarious and a little dark, and they bring Sally’s characters alive.  I especially like the personalities that David has given each of the rabbits and the suave, charming look that he’s given Fidget.

I’m so pleased that we have more adventures with Emily, Fidget and the Fairy Detective Agency, Wings & Co. to look forward to.  I can’t wait to read the next book, The Three Pickled Herrings.

5 out of 5 stars

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Who Could That Be at This Hour by Lemony Snicket

 

Before you consider reading “Who Could That Be at This Hour?” ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are you curious about what is happening in a seaside town that is no longer by the sea?
  2. Do you want to know about a stolen item that wasn’t stolen at all?
  3. Do you really think that’s any of your business? Why? What kind of a person are you? Really?
  4. Who is standing behind you?

Who Could That Be at This Hour? is uncanny, peculiar and outlandish, all words which here mean ‘quite strange.’  It’s the first book in Lemony Snicket’s new series, in which he gives an account of his apprenticeship in a secret organisation, ‘in a town overshadowed by a sinister conspiracy, culminating in some unnerving and troublesome truths that lay buried for a number of years, while people were busy doing somthing else.’  The story is addictive and once you start, it’s very hard to put down.  It’s set in a strange little town, containing ‘a sea without water and a forest without trees,’ and it’s full of bizarre events and curious characters.

Nobody in this story is quite who they first appear to be.  There is Lemony’s chaperone, S. Theodora Markson (don’t ask what the S stands for) who is not as competent or highly skilled as she portrays, the mysterious, coffee-drinking Ellington Feint, the shadowy Hangfire, and even Lemony Snicket himself.  I love the way that Lemony Snicket describes some of the weird people he meets, like Stew,

He looked like the child of a man and a log, with a big, thick neck and hair that looked like a bowl turned upside down.  He had a slingshot tucked into his pocket and a nasty look tucked into his eyes.

My favourite characters in the story are Pip and Squeak, the two brothers who drive the Bellerophon Taxi.  They are supposedly filling in for their father, but they’re so short that one steers while the other sits on the floor and pushes the pedals.

If you love mystery and adventure stories, but also want a bit of a laugh, Who Could Be at This Hour? is the perfect book for you.  Grab your copy now from your library or bookshop.

5 out of 5 stars

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The Flytrap Snaps by Johanna Knox

The Flytrap Snaps is the first book in The Fly Papers series by Johanna Knox. It is an quirky yet cool tale. I even found the dedication page unique:

Dedicated to all the carnivorous plants that sit on our window sills and inspire us (you know who you are).”

Spencer Fogle is the hero of this story: he lives in the town of Filmington, which is famous for its variety of landscapes. For this reason it is used by producers all over the world to film movies, ads and videos. Spencer is used to hearing screams on his way to school. One day, Spencer hears a scream, and something tells him that this is not special effects in a horror film. He goes to investigate…and so begins a mysterious adventure, involving carnivorous plants, hench-women, wrestling and shampoo ads.

Dion is Spencer’s friend, and meets Spencer during the story. Dion is very theatrical, and dreams of becoming a movie star. He also happens to be a Venus Flytrap with four eyes. Yes…I think that Dion Horrible (his stage name) is definitely the most original element of the book!

I think that Johanna Knox has done a wonderful job of fleshing out the characters. I imagined each one very vividly…from Tora, a wrestling expert with amazing hair, to Spencer’s parents, who own a business that sells stuffed food, such as sardine-stuffed lemons. I also admire the way she writes in such a consistently humorous and strong way. There wasn’t a dull moment in the book, nor a moment when I wasn’t smiling at Dion’s antics.

The mystery gets darker as the book progresses. You will find yourself rooting for Spencer and Dion, hating Jimmy Jangle and his salami-breath sidekicks, Sybil and Cassandra, and turning the pages faster and faster as the pace of the adventure quickens. Will Jimmy Jangle find Dion? What is Tora’s secret? Will Dion get his change at fame? You will find the answers to these questions- and more- by reading The Flytrap Snaps.

By Tierney.

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The Crystal Code by Richard Newsome

What do you get when you mix Tintin, James Bond, and The Famous Five together?  You get Richard Newsome’s Billionaire Series.  So far in the series we’ve followed Gerald, Ruby and Sam to England, France, Greece and India, trying to stay one step ahead of the notorious Mason Green.  In their latest action-packed adventure, The Crystal Code, we join our favourite characters as they make new friends and enemies.

Gerald, Ruby and Sam are meeting up with Alisha and Gerald’s Australian school friend Ox for two weeks of snowboarding in the mountains of California. It’s a dream vacation.

But soon after they arrive—by helicopter, with Gerald’s butler Mr Fry at the controls, of course—the private chalet is attacked. Gerald and the gang escape through a secret passage, only to be pursued on snowmobiles by men with guns across frozen lakes and into the path of a cascading avalanche.

Could this be the work of Gerald’s nemesis Sir Mason Green, recently escaped from prison? Or is someone else behind the attack?Does the old dry cleaning ticket Gerald found amongst Green’s belongings hold the key?And how does an invitation to join the secretive Billionaire’s Club land Gerald in so much trouble?

The Crystal Code is Richard Newsome at his best!  It’s chock-full of everything I love about the Billionaire Series – chases, fights, close calls, awkward situations, sarcastic remarks, laugh out loud moments and memorable characters.  From the Sierra Nevada mountains in California, to Prague, and a tiny island in Sweden, Richard Newsome takes us on a wild ride where the action never lets up.   As the characters grow up, their relationships change, so things become a bit awkward between Gerald and Ruby (especially when another girl, Felicity, gets thrown into the mixture).  I really liked the dynamics between the characters, and by introducing new characters into the original trio, Richard has refreshed the series and made it even more exciting.

Richard also introduces us to some new villains.  At the center of the story is a centuries old manuscript that nobody has been able to decipher, and there are two characters that are desperate to get their hands on it.  Tycho Brahe, the mysterious man with the silver nose, is a fantastically sinister character who will stop at nothing to carry out his plans.  There is a lot of mystery surrounding him and Gerald and his friends don’t believe that he can be the man he says that he is.  Then there is Ursus, the man with many names, a shadowy character whose motives are unknown.  They’re both really intriguing characters and I have a feeling we’ll meet them again.

The Crystal Code, and the rest of the Billionaire series, are a must read for anyone who loves action, adventure and mystery stories.  Grab it from your library now and dive into the adventures of billionaire boy, Gerald, and his friends.

5 out of 5 stars

Richard Newsome is joining us as our October Star Author.  Make sure you check out his posts and watch out for your chance to win a copy of The Crystal Code in this week’s Free Book Friday.

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The Brain Sucker by Glenn Wood

How would you act if part of your personality was stolen with a brain-sucking machine?

Lester Smythe has a black heart. He s invented a dangerous brain-sucking machine that removes the goodness from its victims, and he intends to use it to rid the world of all human kindness. But Lester didn t count on thirteen-year-old Callum McCullock and his two best friends, Sophie and Jinx. The trio vow to destroy the brain sucker. And nothing will stop them.

The Brain Sucker is one of the coolest books I’ve read in ages!  The idea is original, the story is action-packed, the heroes are unlike any you’ve met before and the villain is sinister.  From the very first page, when the villain slinks onto the page, I knew I was going to love the story, and I greedily turned the pages wanting to know how it would end.

Lester Smythe is a sinister villain, but there’s also something awkward about him.  He reminded me of a cross between Gru (from Despicable Me) and Professor Doofenshmirtz (from Phineas and Ferb) and I almost expected him to announce that his brain sucking machine was the ‘Brain-suckinator.’  Lester’s plan is to rid the world of goodness because anyone acting good makes him physically sick, due to a horrible experience when he was younger.  The machine that will help him with his task is the Brain Sucker, which sucks the goodness right out of people’s heads.  It’s up to the heroes of the story to save the day (and the world from becoming a miserable place).

The heroes of the story, Callum, Sophie and Jinx are unlike any heroes I’ve met before.  They all have flaws but they manage to overcome these to help save the day.  Callum is paralysed from the waist down so he’s wheelchair bound, but he’s really determined and doesn’t let his disability get in his way.  He’s also got one of the coolest wheelchairs around!  Sophie is Callum’s best friend and she’s incredibly talented and intelligent.  She has a mechanical mind, so she can make improvements to her toys or invent new gadgets to help her friend.  Her only problem is that she gets claustrophobic.  Jinx is the funniest character in the book, because he has really bad luck.  He’s always in the wrong place at the wrong time, whether it’s a gas main exploding under his school desk or bird dive-bombing him.  You always know something bad is going to happen when he’s around, especially when his thumb starts to dance.

If you’re after a fun story, full of adventure, mystery, magic, exciting gadgets, and great characters, The Brain Sucker is the book for you.  I’d recommend it for 9+ and it would be a great read-aloud for Year 5-8.

4 out of 5 stars

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Red Rocks by Rachael King

While holidaying at his father’s house, Jake explores Wellington’s wild south coast, with its high cliffs, biting winds, and its fierce seals. When he stumbles upon a perfectly preserved sealskin, hidden in a crevice at Red Rocks, he’s compelled to take it home and hide it under his bed, setting off a chain of events that threatens to destroy his family. Can he put things right before it’s too late?

Red Rocks is a magical adventure story, set in New Zealand.  Rachael King has taken the Celtic myth of the selkies and transplanted it into a New Zealand setting that kiwi kids will relate to.  Jake is an average kid who gets sent to live with his dad for a few weeks, and like any kid, soon gets bored and sets off to explore the coast.  I really liked Rachael’s interesting cast of characters, from old Ted who lives in a run-down shack along the coast, to the mischievous Jessie and mysterious Cara.

One thing that I really love about Red Rocks is Rachael King’s beautiful writing.  She’s very descriptive so she paints a vivid picture of the wild, windy coast.  It’s the sort of book that you want to read snuggled up in bed because you almost feel the biting wind and the freezing ocean.

Reserve your copy of Red Rocks at the library.  You can also win a copy this week on Free Book Friday.

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Floors by Patrick Carman

Imagine if you could live in a hotel.  Not just any hotel, but one where each of the rooms had a different theme.  If you like cuddly toys, you could live in a room full of cuddly toys of every size, colour and type.  If you like Playstation, you could live in a virtual reality room where you could be a character in any game you chose.  In Patrick Carman’s new book, Floors, Leo lives in the weirdest, most wonderful hotel in the whole world, the Whippet Hotel.

Leo Fillmore and his father Clarence live and work at the Whippet Hotel as the caretakers, making sure everything is in working order.  The hotel’s eccentric owner, Merganzer D. Whippet disappeared one hundred days ago and hasn’t been seen or heard from ever since.  This leaves the mean hotel manager, Ms. Sparks in charge of the hotel, and when the hotel doesn’t work as it should, everybody hears about it.  Leo spends his days helping his father maintain the hotel and making sure Betty and the other ducks get walked.  One day, as Leo is returning the ducks to their pond on the roof, he discovers a mysterious box in the duck elevator.  This box is the first of four that will lead Leo to discover the secrets of the Whippet Hotel and the mystery of the missing Merganzer D. Whippet.

Floors is full of wonder, mystery and mahem, and made me smile the whole way through.  Patrick Carman has created this weird and wonderful hotel and filled it with one exciting room after another.  There’s a Pinball Room, which is set up like a pinball machine, with bowling balls as the pinball and couches for the flippers; the Cake Room filled with real cakes that are delivered by the chefs each morning; and the Central Park Room which contains a scale model of New York’s Central Park.  The characters are just as weird and wonderful as the hotel.  There’s Captain Rickenbacker who thinks that his arch-nemesis is out to get him, the obsessive writer, Theodore Bump, and the nasty hotel manager Ms. Sparks.  Floors is one of the most fun, imaginative stories you’ll read this year.  It’s perfect for fans of Roald Dahl and Lemony Snickett.

5 out of 5 stars.  Recommended for 9+  

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Come and meet Billionaire’s Curse author Richard Newsome

One of my favourite series is the Billionaire Trilogy by Richard Newsome.  They follow the adventures of Gerald, Sam and Ruby as they uncover the truth about Gerald’s family.  You can read all about the three books in the trilogy, The Billionaire’s Curse, The Emerald Casket and The Mask of Destiny here on the blog.  Richard Newsome is coming to Christchurch this Friday (25th November) and you can meet him and get his books signed.

Richard Newsome will be at The Children’s Bookshop, 227 Blenheim Square at 4pm on Friday 25th November. 

For those of you who can’t be there we’ll be giving away a signed set of the three books in the Billionaire Trilogy next week right here on the blog.

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Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur

Elise never really knew her parents.  Her mum died after her birth and her dad got sick and died of cancer a few years later.  Her Uncle Hugh and Aunt Bessie promised to look after her and she has lived with them ever since.  She’s been best friends with Franklin for years and they’ve always loved playing games like Knights together.  When they start middle school Elise starts to get embarrassed by Franklin and doesn’t want to hang around with him anymore.  Then there’s her locker buddy, Amanda who nicknames her Scabula and squashes her lunch every morning.  Elise starts to hate school and is afraid to go because of Amanda’s bullying.  Just when she needs it a special surprise comes along.  Her father leaves her a mystery to unlock and with each discovery a new key arrives.

Eight Keys is about a girl discovering who she is and learning about the parents she didn’t know.  When Elise is feeling lost and worried, the mystery that her father left for her comes along and helps her choose who she wants to be.  It helps her see who her mum and dad were and how much they loved her, even before she was born.  You see a real change in Elise, from the worried, confused girl at the start to the confident, happy girl at the end.  I really liked the character of Franklin because he’s funny, loyal and will do anything to help his friend.  Eight Keys is the perfect book for girls who like Jacqueline Wilson and Cathy Cassidy.  It will make you laugh and cry, but leave a smile on your face.   Recommended for 9+    8 out of 10

 

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Ruby Redfort: Look Into My Eyes by Lauren Child

If you’ve read the Clarice Bean books by Lauren Child, you’ll know that Ruby Redfort is Clarice Bean’s favourite book character.  She’s a super brainy genius with terrible eyesight and loves to wear t-shirts with slogans like ‘What a total yawn’ and ‘Bored beyond belief.’  In Look Into My Eyes, we find out how Ruby got started as a secret agent.

Ruby Redfort lives her life by a set of rules, like Rule 1: You can never be completely sure what might happen next, or Rule 7: Never forget the little things – it’s the little things that will lead people to notice the big things.  When a mysterious stranger calls Ruby and sets her a challenge, her rules help her to solve the puzzle.  It’s not long before she finds her way into the HQ of the most secret of secret agencies – SPECTRUM.  After sitting SPECTRUM’s Agency Test, Ruby is put to work solving a code that one their agents failed to solve before she died in an avalanche.  The closer she gets to the truth, the more danger she finds herself in.  Ruby has grabbed the attention of some of the world’s most evil villains and crooks, but will SPECTRUM be able to save her before it’s too late.

Ruby Redfort: Look Into My Eyes has got me hooked on Ruby Redfort and her adventures.  Ruby Redfort is a very cool character and the sort of girl that everyone would like.  She’s smart, fearless, funny and isn’t afraid to stand out from the crowd.  She has quite an old-fashioned way of talking (she calls people buster and bozo), but that’s something I really like about her character and it makes her stand out.  The way that Ruby answers the phone made me crack up every time.  Ruby’s butler (or household manager as he like to be called), Hitch is one of the coolest butlers ever!  He’s very mysterious when you first meet him, but he’s always there when the Redforts need him.  Apart from Hitch, alot of the adults in the book are boring, stupid and just interested in themselves and their parties.  I was wondering how a girl as smart and full of personality as Ruby had such dull parents.

If you love books full of mystery, with kids who are secret agents, and evil villains who want to commit the crime of the century, then Ruby Redfort: Look Into My Eyes is the book for you.  As Clarice Bean says, ‘you will literally be on the edge of your wits.’   Recommended for 9+    10 out of 10

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The Mask of Destiny by Richard Newsome

Two years ago we were introduced to Gerald Wilkins, the boy who inherited 20 billion pounds from his aunt Geraldine.  In The Billionaire’s Curse Gerald found out that his aunt Geraldine had been murdered and that she wanted Gerald to track down her killer.  In the second book, The Emerald Casket, Gerald and his friends, Ruby and Sam traveled to India on holiday, only to get mixed up with a mysterious and deadly cult.  The final book in the trilogy, The Mask of Destiny brings Gerald’s story to a thrilling conclusion.

Gerald’s foe, Sir Mason Green has been arrested and Gerald has to act as a witness in the trial.  Disaster strikes at the trial when Mason Green collapses and is pronounced dead.  Gerald thinks this is the end of their problems and he can finally enjoy his billions, but the police come calling and want to arrest Gerald for the murder of Mason Green.  With Mr Fry’s help, Gerald goes on the run with his ever faithful friends, Ruby and Sam.  They head to the island of Mont-Saint-Michel in France hoping to uncover the truth of Gerald’s ancestors and clear Gerald’s name along the way. Their search takes them from France to Italy and Greece, to the heart of an ancient city that has been buried for centuries.

The Mask of Destiny is the perfect finale to this amazing series from Richard Newsome.  The story speeds along like a train out of control and just when you think you know what’s going to happen there’s a twist.  Gerald, Sam and Ruby are incredibly brave and courageous and I was amazed at how they found their way around Europe by themselves.  My favourite thing about the series are the characters Richard Newsome has created.  The clumsy, pigeon-loving Constable Lethbridge makes me laugh every time and my favourite from this book would have to be Walter, the life coach that Gerald’s mother hires.  He’s creepily nice and Gerald knows there’s something not quite right about him.  If you’ve read the other books in the trilogy you’ll love The Mask of Destiny.  If you haven’t discovered this fantastic series full of mystery, action, adventure, family secrets and sinister villains, go straight to your library or bookshop and get reading them now.

Recommended for 9+    10 out of 10

 

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Ruby Redfort: Look Into My Eyes book trailer

If you’ve read the Clarice Bean books by Lauren Child you’ll know who Ruby Redfort is.  If you haven’t, she’s Clarice Bean’s favourite book character and is an undercover agent and mystery solver.  Ruby Redfort: Look Into My Eyes is the first book in the new series and it looks great.

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The Flytrap Snaps by Johanna Knox

Spencer Fogle is an ordinary kid who lives in the extraordinary town of Filmington.  His hometown used to be called Flemington, until film and TV crews discovered its range of landscapes, from fiery volcanoes to snowy mountains and lush rainforests, and took over the town.  The town’s richest resident, Jimmy Jangle, controls most of the business within Filmington and holds alot of people’s futures in his hands.  When Spencer is walking home from school one day, he hears blood-curdling screams coming from one of the science labs and goes to investigate.  Spencer uncovers a dark plot involving carnivorous plants, genetically modified flies and a mysterious, hidden file.  However, Jimmy Jangle and his thugs are willing to do anything to keep the truth covered up.

The Flytrap Snaps is the first book in The Fly Papers series, by New Zealand author Johanna Knox and illustrator, Sabrina Malcolm.  It’s a quirky story with action, mystery and plenty of laughs.  I love the idea of Filmington, with it’s different companies set up for the movie and television industry.  There’s the science labs that create experiments to be used in films, catering companies to supply food and drink for the film and TV crews, and the BodySlam Stunt Wrestling Club where they train stunt people for the movies.  I really liked Spencer because he’s just an ordinary kid who has to deal with an extraordinary situation.  I can’t wait to read the second book to find out what Spencer, Dion and Tora get up to next, and to solve the mystery of The Fly Papers.

Recommended for 9+    8 out of 10

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The Phoenix Files: Arrival by Chris Morphew

What would you do if you found out there were only 100 days until the end of the world?

When Luke and his mum move to the town of Phoenix, out in the middle of nowhere, Luke knows straight away that something isn’t quite right about the place.  There are no cars, no phones and no internet.  All the houses look the same and the only way to get around the town is to walk or bike.  The town was especially built by the Shackleton Cooperative, the mysterious company that offered Luke’s mum a job, and their security officers roam the streets.  A coded message brings Luke together with Peter and Jordan, and when they decipher the message they realise they’re in serious danger.  Someone is plotting to wipe out the human race in 100 days and Phoenix suddenly becomes the safest and most dangerous place on earth.  When Luke discovers a note in his backpack inviting them to a secret meeting at the Phoenix Airport, they hope that they’ll get some answers.  However, their meeting at the airport gives them more questions than answers and as they hunt for information about Phoenix and the deadly plans, the more dangerous it becomes for them in the town.

Arrival is the first book in the action-packed, heart-stopping Phoenix Files series.  It’s one of those books that you just have to keep reading to find out what happens.  It grabs you from the very first page and doesn’t let you go until the end.  You’re left with lots of unanswered questions about Phoenix and the Shackleton Cooperative, but this just makes you want to go and pick up the next book straight away.  Luckily there are 4 books already released (and in the library) of this 6 book series so I can read them all before Fallout gets released next year.  The Phoenix Files are perfect for those who like mystery, adventure and suspense, or books about secret agencies and the end of the world.  If you like Michael Grant’s Gone series, then you’ll love The Phoenix FilesRecommended for 12+    10 out of 10

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Mystery week at FaBo

Hi again!

By the way, has anyone written a story for FaBo this week? I hope so, because I’m the judge this week. If not, there’s still time. You’ve got until 5 o’clock tonight. Check out the details etc at – www.fabostory2.blogspot.com  

This week’s challenge was to write a mystery story. I used to read loads of mystery stories when I was younger. But I haven’t read any for a long time. And I’ve certainly never WRITTEN a mystery story before. It was very difficult coming up with an idea. I finished my story last night, and you can read it next week when I post it on the blog along with the winning story (or stories …) I’m also going to give an extra prize this week for the funniest sentence or word or simile. I’m allowed to do that because I’m the judge! hehehehehehe

OK, I hope to read some exciting entries from Christchurch this week. Now I SERIOUSLY need to do some proper writing…

Kyle

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Geronimo’s Valentine by Geronimo Stilton Geronimo

Geronimo Stilton is a rodent who works at most famous rodent’s gazette in all of mouse island. It’s valentines day and he’s going on a date with Petunia Pretty Paws but he mucks it up big time. He gets to solve a hard mystery in the book and has to eat 100 cheesecakes.  After he had finished he went hospital. Does he hate cheesecakes now? You’ll have to find out. Be a detective like Geronimo and go find the rest of the series it will make you feel cheesy inside.

From Holly

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