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Issue 289 Book Club

July 16, 2017


Kid Normal

By Greg James and Chris Smith

Illustrated by Erica Salcedo


KidNormal Cover


Kid Normal tells the story of Murph Cooper. When he rocks up to his new school several weeks into the beginning of term, he can’t help but feel a bit out of his depth. And it’s not because he’s worried about where to sit, and making friends, and fitting in, or not knowing where the loos are. It’s because his mum has enrolled him at a school for superheroes by mistake. And unlike his fellow students, who can all control the weather or fly or conjure tiny horses from thin air, Murph has no special abilities whatsoever. But just because you don’t have superpowers, it doesn’t mean you can’t save the day.

Let’s hope Murph realises that, and quick – because not far away is a great big bad guy who is half man and half wasp, and his mind is abuzz with evil plans …

About the authors
Greg James and Chris Smith - credit Jenny Smith
GREG JAMES is a familiar voice and face on both radio and TV. He’s the host of Radio 1’s Drivetime show – named Best Entertainment Production at the 2016 ARIA Awards where the judges described it as ‘a joyous listen … ambitious and constantly surprising’. He also presents the UK’s Official Chart every Friday. On-screen, Greg’s recently been busy hosting Children in Need and BT Sport’s new cricket coverage. Earlier in the year he raised over a million pounds for Sport Relief by completing his #GREGATHLON – five triathlons in five different cities on five consecutive days. Greg has no super powers. In his spare time he enjoys the idea of having hobbies. But in reality, he’s made all of them into work.
CHRIS SMITH is a not only a key part of the success of Greg’s show both creatively and in an on air capacity but an award-winning journalist and broadcaster in his own right. Since 2011 he’s been delivering the news to millions of people every day as the presenter of Newsbeat on BBC Radio 1. He’d previously presented on Radio 5 Live and Xfm. Chris enjoyed a previous, glittering, literary career as the winner of the H E Bates Short Story Competition 1981 (under 10s section) with his tale Where Are the Brandy Snaps?. Chris has no super powers either, although he enjoys pretending his cat Mabel can fly by picking her up and running around.

Issue 288 Book Club

July 9, 2017


Demon Headmaster: Total Control

By Gillian Cross

Oxford University Press



Something strange is going on at Lizzie’s school. Suddenly everyone’s brilliant at something. Where have these amazing skills come from? And why can’t they talk about them? It’s as though the pupils have no power over their own actions. Could this be something to do with the mysterious new headmaster . . . ?

The return of one of the all-time greatest book series ever written has everyone talking!

You don’t want to miss out!

About the author
 Gillian Cross photo high res
Gillian Cross (born 1945) is a British author of children’s books. She won the 1990 Carnegie Medal for Wolf and the 1992 Whitbread Children’s Book Award for The Great Elephant Chase. She also wrote The Demon Headmaster series of books that were later turned into a television series by the BBC.
 Gillian Cross is one of the best children’s novelists today and her stories of the Demon Headmaster are both fun and quite frightening. – Daily Telegraph

Issue 287 Book Club

July 2, 2017


City of Secret Rivers

by Jason Sager Weinstein

Walker Books

city of secret rivers


Hyacinth Hayward has recently arrived from America and is having difficulty adjusting to her new surroundings, especially being in the sole company of her eccentric mother. Everything feels strange. Very strange. And it gets stranger the day she accidentally unleashes the power of a secret river running through London.

To prevent a second Great Fire, Hyacinth needs to retrieve a single, magically charged drop of water from somewhere in the city sewer system. Along the way she encounters an eclectic cast of characters – the shambling, monstrous Saltpetre Men who kidnap her mother, the Toshers who battle for control of magical artefacts and a giant pig with whom she has a tea party.

The clock is ticking – will she figure out who to trust?

About the author
Jacob Sager Weinstein is the author of four non-fiction books for adults and has written for The New Yorker, HBO and the BBC. He is also a former contributor to The Onion and has won a Writers’ Guild of America Award. The idea for City of Secret Rivers came to Jacob while walking along the Thames Embankment, as he started thinking about London’s secret underground rivers and “discovered that London’s history is so magical that it only takes the slightest of tweaks to make it into a fantasy story.” 

Issue 286 Book Club

June 25, 2017


Cool Coding

(Cool Science Series)

by Rob Hansen

Pavilion Children’s

Cool Coding_cover


This fun and quirky book provides a fascinating introduction to the world of computer coding, organised into handy bite-sized chunks. Coding, now firmly part of the National Curriculum, is a huge subject and can seem slightly impenetrable, especially to parents, and that’s where this book comes in.

Cool Coding contains everything you need to know about computers and coding, from the very basics of binary code and how it works, to the myriad things that coding can actually do. It introduces the most popular coding programmes taught in schools, Scratch and Python, and shows how coding can be used to create websites, games and apps.

Packed with playful illustrations and inspiring information on the amazing world of coding and computing, this book is the perfect introduction to this most essential of subjects.

About the author
Robert has written all sorts of things, from software patents to tabletop roleplaying games, but this is his first non-fiction book. In his spare time, Robert enjoys hiking and making all sorts of things, from electronics to computer programs to woodwork. He is married and lives in Hertfordshire.

Other books in the series:

Cool Astronomy cover_high res

Cool Physics_coming soon


Issue 285 Book Club

June 18, 2017


The Misadventures of Max Crumbly: Middle School Mayhem

by Rachel Renée Russell

Simon & Schuster

Max Crumbly 2 Final Cover

At the end of his first adventure, Max had crash-landed on top of a Mighty Meat Monster pizza (try saying that three times) after taking a late-night tumble through the vents at South Ridge Middle School – and he was completely surrounded by three ruthless criminals!

Will Max be shredded to bits like mozzarella cheese on the hard and crunchy pizza crust of doom? Can his friend and sidekick, computer-whizz Erin, help get him out of this sticky situation alive?

 Rachel Renee Russell_author photo 1

RACHEL RENÉE RUSSELL is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the blockbuster book series Dork Diaries and the exciting new series The Misadventures of Max Crumbly. There are more than thirty-five million copies of her books in print worldwide, and they have been translated into thirty-six languages. She enjoys working with her daughter Nikki, who helps illustrate her books. Rachel’s message is “Become the hero you’ve always admired!”


Issue 284 Book Club

June 11, 2017


Bad Mermaids

by Sibéal Pounder

Illustrated by Jason Cockcroft

Bloomsbury Publishing

3d cover BAD MERMAIDS Book

Mermaids Beattie, Mimi and Zelda are enjoying a summer on land with legs when they receive a strange crabagram ordering them to return home at once. Some seriously bad mermaids are on the loose and the girls are the only ones who can stop them. If they’re going to save the day, they’ll need answers. And a clam car. Definitely piranhaprint nail polish. Possibly not the talking seahorse. Can they do it?
Filled with magical mysteries, fabulous fashion, and a serious piranha problem, Bad Mermaids brings a whole new twist to the underwater world of mermaids. If you enjoyed The Little Mermaid, you’ll love this too!

Sibéal Pounder Head Shot credit Richard Grassie low res

Sibéal Pounder previously worked for the Financial Times – interviewing everyone from Veronica Etro to Vivienne Westwood. As well as Bad Mermaids, she writes about fabulous witches and feisty fairies in Witch Wars, her first and much loved series for Bloomsbury, which was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and the Sainsbury’s Children’s Book Award.


Issue 283 Book Club

June 4, 2017


The Adventures of John Blake

by Philip Pullman

Illustrated by Fred Fordham

David Fickling Books/The Phoenix comic




Far out at sea, and hidden by the fog of time, sails the Mary Alice and her crew – searching for a way home. But the mysterious ship is being hunted by a villain who will go to ANY lengths to track her down …

When a storm hits a small family yacht throwing a young girl overboard, John Blake dives in to save her and brings her aboard the so-called ghost ship. But trying to return her to her own time means going back to the one place where they run the greatest risk of being completely annihilated.

Join John Blake and the crew for an unforgettable time-travelling adventure on the high seas. With art by Fred Fordham.


Philip Pullman is the author of the legendary His Dark Materials trilogy! He has won more awards than you can shake a stick at, including the Carnegie Medal, the Guardian Children’s Book Award and a CBE. His writing is so awesome that The Times named him as one of the 50 greatest writers since 1945! He lives in Oxford, where’s it’s rumoured there’s a portal to Phoenix HQ…



Fred Fordham is truly a graphic-novel machine! From his first book, Nightfall, to his art in the astounding Phoenix smash hit, The Rocket of Rawangadalli, he’s been delighting readers, inspiring imaginations across the world, and generally making people say “WOW, LOOK AT THAT!”

Issue 282 Book Club

May 28, 2017


Evil Emperor Penguin STRIKES BACK!

by Laura Ellen Anderson

David Fickling Books/The Phoenix comic


Evil Emperor Penguin Strikes Back Cover 3D Lo Res


For anyone who doesn’t know, Evil Emperor Penguin longs to TAKE OVER THE WORLD! With his assistants, Number 8, a very well-to-do, sharply dressed octopus, and a cute ball of fluff called Eugene, he’s planning nefarious schemes of WORLD DOMINATION! There’s only one problem: EEP isn’t very good at world domination.

From the pages of The Phoenix, this book tells about the time EEP’s beloved spaghetti hoops are stolen! Could this be the work of his arch-nemesis Evil Cat?

Laura Ellen Anderson

Laura Ellen Anderson  spends every waking hour creating and drawing and would quite like to live on the Moon when humans finally make it possible.

Issue 281 Book Club

May 21, 2017


The Anti-boredom Book of

Brilliant Outdoor Things to Do

by Andy Seed





Say goodbye to boredom with this fantastic outdoor boredom-busting book! From the hilarious Andy Seed, winner of the Blue Peter Book Award 2015 for Best Books with Facts, comes the fantastically busy Anti-boredom Book of Brilliant Outdoor Things to Do.

A brilliant book bursting with amazing outdoor activities that will have you running for the door! Packed full of hilarious illustrations from the wonderful Scott Garrett, this book will keep you entertained for hours on end!


Andy Seed is an author and poet, living in North Yorkshire. He writes memoirs, funny poems and humorous non-fiction books as well as all sorts of things for teachers. Andy won the 2015 Blue Peter Best Book with Facts Award for The Silly Book of Side-Splitting Stuff, and was shortlisted for it in 2016 for Silly Book of Weird and Wacky Words.


7_592830 side-splitting








Issue 280 Book Club

May 14, 2017


Animal Activity

by Isabel Thomas

Bloomsbury Activity Books




Warning: this book will self-destruct!

Packed full of fun and exciting projects, which use its pages in different ways, this book will have you tearing, folding, cutting, experimenting and scribbling as you find out all about amazing animals and plants.

Make your own hopping bugs, create and decorate an inflatable fish, and play an animal trumpet as loudly as you can! Can you piece together your very own dinosaur? Can you turn a piece of sheet into a hanging mobile of sea creatures? Put your skills to the test!

Pages from 9781408870068_txt_print 21-30


Isabel Thomas has written over 80 books and has been shortlisted for both the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize and the Blue Peter Book Awards. When not writing, she’s experimenting, inventing, drawing, exploring and wearing out her library card. In Cambridge, she’s zookeeper to three young sons and a primary school governor.