Book review: Summer with Piccadilly Press children’s books

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Add some extra fun to your children’s holiday entertainment this summer with the superb selection of books now available from Piccadilly Press.

An independent publisher, they have been specialising in teen fiction and non-fiction, children’s fiction, picture books and parenting books for 29 years and have a wide choice of reading for youngsters aged from two to sixteen.

Here are just a few of their top choices...

Silenced by Simon Packham

A 15-year-old grief-stricken schoolboy’s mental conversation with his dead best friend seems a harrowing subject for a young adult novel... but not when it’s in the capable hands of Simon Packham.

Silenced, the story of Chris who is struck dumb when his comedy ‘partner’ Declan dies in a car crash, is Packham’s third YA novel and it looks set to be one of this year’s best teen reads.

Darkly funny, compellingly real, remarkably wise and beautifully written, this is the kind of book that leaves adults convinced that youth fiction is wasted when it’s read only by the young.

Using an eclectic and instantly recognisable cast of characters, and a powerful and original narrative voice, Packham deals with highly sensitive and emotive themes with extraordinary warmth, understanding and humour.

Chris Hughes and Declan Norris had been best friends since nursery school. They were a comedy double-act, a promising pair of jokers who dreamt of writing their own sketch shows and taking the Edinburgh Fringe by storm.

But now Declan has been killed in a late night car crash, Chris has lost his voice with the shock and everyone is falling over themselves to be ‘nice’ to him.

Chris feels guilty, and not just because he knows that Declan will never now do the ‘stuff’ he wanted, like solving the Countdown conundrum, discovering that Angelina Jolie is ready for a new relationship and ending his tireless quest for the perfect pepperoni pizza.

As the months pass, school pals give up on the silent Chris and only eco-freak Ariel and a suspiciously friendly new boy, Will Hunt, are left in his ever decreasing circle. While Will provides a welcome distraction and encourages increasingly dangerous ways for Chris to forget Declan, Ariel realises her friend is hiding something.

But what is Chris’s terrifying secret, and will he find his voice before it’s too late?

Youth culture, peer pressure, the raw and uncompromising nature of loss and the black humour of the schoolroom meld into a gripping, moving story which delivers a huge emotional punch. As ever, Packham keeps his book to perfect length with snappy one-liners, fast-paced action and a plotline that enthrals and intrigues.

Not to be missed...

(paperback, £6.99)

Viper’s Nest by Isla Whitcroft

She’s clever, classy, courageous and ready to whisk teens on a summer adventure they’ll never forget...

Yes, sassy sleuth Cate Carlisle is back for another humdinger holiday, care of her unreliable mother who has a tendency to disappear ... leaving her resourceful daughter to face trouble, mystery and danger.

The Cate Carlisle Files are the work of British journalist Isla Whitcroft and they are bringing girls a spellbinding mix of adventure, glamour and worldwide travel.

In Viper’s Nest, we meet 16-year-old Cate on her way from her home in London to spend the holidays with her mother in Los Angeles. She’s looking forward to days of swimming pools and sunshine, but things never go to plan when her mum is involved.

Mum has a new boyfriend, Burt Tyler, an antiques dealer who is currently doing some ‘deals’ with the locals in Mexico and her rendezvous with Cate will have to be delayed.

Bur when two of Cate’s good friends go missing from an archaeological dig in Mexico, along with some priceless artefacts, she soon discovers her mother’s new boyfriend is selling Mexican treasures, leaving Cate in a terrifyingly dangerous situation . . .

Viper’s Nest is a thrilling, fast-moving story full of action and intrigue and featuring a feisty heroine whose daring exploits are sure to inspire teenage girls everywhere.

(paperback, £6.99)

Bringing Up Your Parents: A Guide for Teenagers

John Farman

John Farman knows a thing or two about teenage blues, whether it’s the parents or their frustrated kids who are pulling out their hair.

So he’s decided to help with that very important problem – setting up a successful line of communication with ‘fuddy duddy’ mums and dads!

Whether it’s that age-old question to dad ‘What time do I have to be in?’ and his typical buck-passing answer ‘You’d better ask your mother,’ or mum’s cop-out as to why teenagers have to be in early, ‘Because I say so,’ Farman has invaluable advice on handling exasperating parents.

The solution, he claims, is to develop the knack and avoid all those heated arguments...

Tackling all the usual arguments, from what teens wear to what they drink, the very enterprising and resourceful Mr Farman gives a funny and fascinating inside view of what’s really going on and how to handle the confrontations.

With the right negotiation skills and with the help of this cunning guide, teenagers are assured that their parents will soon be under control, and mums and dads will understand a little more of the modern world and their bewildering children!

(paperback, £5.99)

Letters From An Alien Schoolboy: Galactic Poodle by Ros Asquith

If it’s intergalactic madness you’re after, then look no further than the talented and imaginative Ros Asquith’s brilliant Alien Schoolboy adventures.

Brimful of mayhem, laughter and quirky illustrations, they are perfect for parents to read or for young readers to tackle alone.

The spirit of childhood is alive and well is these wonderfully entertaining stories which pack in some wise life lessons as well as baddies, goodies, aliens and all those other beings that little ones love.

Keith, King of Threggs, spinach finder general and lord of the loonyverse, is ready to attack Earth with some very nasty aliens and an evil Thing called Mandy. Can Flowkwee, in his schoolboy disguise, save Earth for a third time and what is the significance of the Galactic Poodle?

The ideal book to send young imaginations into orbit...

(paperback, £5.99)

London Murder Mysteries: Death in the Devil’s Den

Cora Harrison

If only all history lessons could be as good as Cora Harrison’s enthralling London Murder Mysteries series featuring the fearless Alfie and his gang.

Her exciting books are inspired by the London of Charles Dickens and feature ragamuffin boy Alfie, his brother Sammy, their two cousins, Jack and Tom, and a dog called Mutsy who all live in a cold, damp, miserable cellar in Bow Street.

The orphans rely on gang leader Alfie, a sharp, quick-witted 12-year-old, to keep them fed and clothed, and it usually means teaming up secretly with police contacts and embarking on dangerous missions and hair-raising adventures.

In the sixth and final book of the series, the gang has to spy on a Russian secret agent, but that means they must be quick, clever and totally invisible.

It’s a thrilling game until the Russian is found murdered, and Alfie faces the greatest threat of his life...

Death in the Devil’s Den is full of drama, intrigue and page-turning action which will keep young readers on the edge of their seats. A cracking finale to a first-class series.

(paperback, £6.99)

Princess Katie’s Kittens: Poppy and the Prince by Julie Sykes

What little girl could resist the charms of adventure stories featuring some right royal kittens?

Julie Sykes has hit the animal jackpot with her enchanting, glitter-covered books featuring a princess, a palace and lots of cute kittens.

Princess Katie has six adorable kittens and they can’t help but get caught up in some thrilling escapades with young royals and their friends.

Here we meet Poppy who is a very friendly kitten. She wants to play with Prince Edward when he pays a visit to Katie’s home at Starlight Palace. But the prince thinks cats are silly and he teases little Poppy so when the kitten and the prince disappear at the same time, Princess Katie is suspicious. Could Poppy be in trouble?

Little girls aged five to seven will be like the cats that got the cream as they lap up Sykes’ warm-hearted, illustrated stories.

(paperback, £4.99)

Who Loves Baby?

Julia Hubery and Sean Julian

When there’s a new baby in the house, it’s a tough time for toddlers who have to learn to share mum and dad with their new sibling.

But help is at hand with Julia Hubery and Sean Julian’s perfectly pitched, warm and reassuring picture book, Who Loves Baby?

Using big, bold, colourful pictures featuring cuddly creatures, little ones are introduced to the new baby in the house. Everyone loves him, especially the Gooey Gang who come to coo and cuddle and goo.

Baby’s big brother doesn’t like the Gooey Gang, and he doesn’t like babies either – he thinks they are ‘icky, pongy and pooey.’ But when Baby’s tiny fingers wrap around his, and mum and her two little boys snuggle together on the sofa for a story, his view changes. No way will he join the Gooey Gang but he and Baby are definitely going to be friends.

Who Loves Baby? is an ideal book for jealous brothers and sisters, helping them to understand and grow to love the new arrival.

A beautifully creative and clever story.

(paperback, £6.99)