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Issue 278 Book Club

April 28, 2017


The Secret Diary of John Drawbridge

by Philip Ardagh

Illustrated by Jamie Littler

Nosy Crow




John Drawbridge has moved to Widemoat Castle to learn to become a knight. And there is a lot to learn. How to charge with a lance on horseback without falling off. Why the spiral staircases always go up in a clockwise direction. How to defend the castle against invading parties. Why the plates served at banquets are made of stale bread (and why you should never eat them…). And much, much more. So it’s no wonder that John decides to keep a diary (even if it is only an imaginary one…) of his time at the castle. Things really liven up when the castle is attacked by an invading Welsh party – but can John foil their plot before it’s too late…?




Roald Dahl Funny Prize winning author Philip Ardagh is the author of The Grunts. He is probably best known for his Grubtown Tales, but he is author of over 100 books. He is a ‘regular irregular’ reviewer of children’s books for The Guardian, and is currently developing a series for television. Philip Ardagh is two metres tall with a ridiculously big, bushy beard and size sixteen feet, making him an instantly recognisable figure at literary festivals around the world.



Jamie is an illustrator who graduated from the Arts Institute at Bournemouth in 2008. When not trying to tame his un-naturally fast growing hair or having staring matches with next door’s cat he likes drawing, colouring in, cutting things out and sticking things in. Jamie’s books include Hamish and the Worldstoppers which was the bestselling children’s debut of 2015 and a Wilf the Mighty Worrier, shortlisted for the Laugh Out Loud Book Awards.

Issue 277 Book Club

April 21, 2017


Dragon’s Green

by Scarlett Thomas

Canongate Books


Dragon's Green packshot


Effie Truelove is a pupil at the Tusitala School for the Gifted, Troubled and Strange. When her grandfather is brutally attacked, Effie promises to look after his magical books. But then shady book collector Leonard Levar gets hold of them and Effie has to embark on the most dangerous adventure of her life!

Oh, and by the way, on
the hardback edition…
the cover glows
in the dark!

Dragon's Green glow in the dark

‘I loved reading Dragon’s Green… I found it even better than Harry Potter books! If you like books about magic, dragons, rare books and friends, you’ll love Dragon’s Green!’
 – Anon, 9 years old


Scarlett Thomas (c) Ed Thompson


Scarlett Thomas is a best-selling, award-winning, tale-spinning writer. When she’s not writing, she teaches others how to write at the University of Kent.

Issue 276 Book Club

April 15, 2017


Lesser Spotted Animals

by Martin Brown

David Fickling Books




Bison are banned and tigers are taboo. Say goodbye to the gnu, cheerio to the cheetah and poo poo to the panda. The world of Lesser Spotted Animals STARTS HERE! Discover the brilliant beasts you never knew you needed to know about – from the numbat to the zorilla and everything in between.

Forget dry, dusty old tomes and forget those pesky A-listers of the animal kingdom. It’s time they shared the limelight with the animals that most grown-ups haven’t even heard of. A fantastic, funny, factual series that puts the spotlight on lesser-known animals.



As a boy, Martin Brown dreamed of drawing lesser-known animals for a book. When he grew up, he moved from Melbourne, Australia to England, and illustrated the phenomenally successful Horrible Histories series. Now, at last, it’s time for the animals.

Issue 275 Book Club

April 7, 2017


The Huntress: Sea

By Sarah Driver






“In the sky, the fire spirits dance and ripple. Grandma says they showed our Tribe that I’d be a captain, before I was even born.”

Ever since Ma died, Mouse has looked after her little brother, Sparrow, dreaming of her destiny as captain of the Huntress. But now Da is missing, Sparrow is in danger, and a deathly cold is creeping across Trianukka . . .

It’s a sea-churning, beast-Shattering, dream-dancing, whale-riding, terrodyl-flying, world-saving adventure.

Read a sample:
 “The beasts are coming. I’m below decks in the gloomy kitchens, helping Pipistrelle salt raw reindeer steak, when the first call hacks through the air. As the sound fades, my fingers stop dead and cold chunks of salt dig into my skin. My bones turn to water, but I stand fast. I won’t let my knees buckle.”

Sarah Driver


Sarah Driver was born in West Sussex, where she still lives close to the sea with her street-wise ginger cat and her miniature lop-eared bunny.

Issue 274 Book Club

March 31, 2017


How to Outsmart a Billion Robot Bees

By Paul Tobin

Illustrated by Katie Abey






It’s Friday the 13th again, and for sixth grade genius Nate Bannister, that means doing 3 more not-so-smart things to keep life interesting. But he has bigger problems than his own experiments. His nemesis, the Red Death Tea Society, is threatening to unleash a swarm of angry bees on the city of Polt if Nate doesn’t join their ranks.

This is the illustrated hysterical sequel to How to Capture an Invisible Cat, which has double the baddies and double the laughs.

paul_tobin_Author (00000002)


Paul Tobin is the author of a multitude of comics for such publishers as Marvel, Dark Horse, and DC Comics. He is one of the two head writers for the Angry Birds comics, and is also writing episodes for the upcoming season of Angry Birds cartoon shorts.


Katie Abey


Katie Abey is the illustrator of numerous books published by Bloomsbury, including How to Capture an Invisible Cat and Earth to Daniel.

Issue 273 Book Club

March 24, 2017


Arthur and the Golden Rope

By Joe Todd Stanton

Flying Eye Books




Welcome to Professor Brownstone’s vault – containing ancient relics from around the world, all collected by his famous ancestors!

Follow the epic journey of Brownstone’s earliest ancestor, Arthur, and travel back to the age of the Vikings where this bookish young adventurer must find the courage to save his village and defeat the mighty beast Fenrir…



Joe Todd-Stanton was taught to draw by his mother, and now he works for publishers like Oxford University Press and Usborne Publishing. He lists Maurice Sendak and Tove Jansson amongst his greatest influences!

Issue 272 Book Club

March 17, 2017



Dark Lord: The Teenage Years

By Jamie Thompson

Hachette Children’s Group

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 11.22.19


Follow a colossal final battle between the forces of good and evil, the Dark Lord was defeated and hurled into the pit of despair… which is a supermarket car park somewhere in suburban England. And not only that, he has been trapped in the body of a teenage boy named ‘Dirk Lloyd’. And so begins Dirk’s battle to recover his dignity, his power and his lands.

Dirk makes friends with the son of his foster family, Christopher, and the local goth girl, Sooz, and together they attempt to cast a spell that will transport Dirk back to his homeland. Inevitably, not everything goes to plan…

This is the first book of an amazing series! So if you enjoy this book, don’t worry, there is plenty to read about Dirk and his minions!



Jamie Thomson is a British writer, editor and game developer and winner of the Roald Dahl Funny Prize 2012.

Amazing Hilda and the Stone Forest Competition

March 15, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 16.49.52


We love comics at Phoenix HQ and one comic we really love is the Hildafolk series by Luke Pearson.

So, we have an amazing competition for you.

All you have to do is: 

  1. Imagine a new Hilda book and draw a cover for it!
  2. Send you cover to us at the following address: Hilda, The Phoenix comic, 29 Beaumont Street, Oxford, OX1 2NP


One lucky winner will get all five Hilda books, a Hilda figure and a Hilda tote bag with stickers and badges!

Four runners up will get a copy of Hilda and the Stone Forest and a Hilda tote bag with stickers and badges.

All five winning covers will appear in a special Hilda edition of The Phoenix fanfare.


Entires must be received before 31st March 2017, for full terms and conditions, visit www.thephoenixcomic.co.uk/hilda

Issue 271 Book Club

March 10, 2017



Hamish and the Gravity Burp

by Danny Wallace

Illustrated by Jamie Littler

Published by Simon & Schuster


This may look like a completely and utterly ordinary book. But it is not. This book knows something terrifying: that the people of Earth are facing their gravest, grimmest threat yet!

When Hamish arrives home to find his mum and his brother lying flat on their backs ON THE CEILING, he knows there is something seriously wrong (again) in the town of Starkley. What is the strange burping noise he keeps hearing? Why are weird seeds suddenly falling from the sky? And should he be worried about the odd woman with a cone around her neck?


Issue 270 Book Club: Fiction 8+

March 3, 2017



Who Let The Gods Out

by Maz Evans

Published by Chicken House


Elliot’s mum is ill and his home is under threat, but a shooting star crashes to Earth and changes his life forever. The star is Virgo – a young Zodiac goddess on a mission. But the pair accidentally release Thanatos, a wicked death daemon imprisoned beneath Stonehenge, and must then turn to the old Olympian gods for help. After centuries of cushy retirement on Earth, are Zeus and his crew up to the task of saving the world – and solving Elliot’s problems too?

Maz Evans is an author, which means she writes her own stories. But she also founded Story Stew, which is a program designed to help you write your own stories.