Fleur Hitchcock

Clifftoppers: The Fire Bay Adventure

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The first Clifftoppers book- The Arrowhead Moor Adventure- is on our 2019 Read Aloud Category short list, modelled here by Mungo. We were so excited to hear that there was another book in this series that we couldn’t wait to get our hands on it!

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Aiden, Chloe, Ava and Josh, accompanied by Bella the dog, are back at their grandparents for the holidays. They love the time they spend there, exploring the countryside-all the nature and calm- with the boats bobbing in the bay- bliss!

This holiday, there is the added excitement of the fire festival. Ava hopes she’ll be allowed to run with one of the burning barrels this year and the children are keen to search for the smugglers’ tunnel they have heard about. However, when some mysterious fires break out, the cousins realise they have a mystery to solve…

Another delightful adventure for this new famous five, ‘The Fire Bay Adventure’ is a wonderful read. The reader gets to know more about each of the children, learning about their strengths and foibles, and how each brings their strengths to the group. There is no child left cooking the dinner in these stories!

This story also celebrates one of the more bizarre West Country traditions- carrying tar barrels through the streets of Ottery St Mary in Devon- and the legacy of smuggling, perfect ingredients for a story. There is much tension and action here with the children facing danger and dilemmas a-plenty, making it perfect for sharing.

Every bit as enjoyable as the first book, ‘The Fire Bay Adventure’ is another great adventure in this wonderful series.

Clifftoppers: The Fire Bay Adventure

Fleur Hitchcock, cover illustration by Tom Clohosy Cole

Nosy Crow ISBN: 978-1788000611

You can read our review of The Arrowhead Moor Adventure here.

NSTBA READ ALOUD CATEGORY LONG LIST 2019 part 2

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Coming from a magical family who can do extraordinary things, Willow Moss's talent of finding things does not seem very special. Her sisters, with their 'proper magic', take after her mother; Willow, with her long stick-straight brown hair and brown eyes, takes after her father. So whilst her mother and her sisters visit the Travelling Fortune Fair, Willow is left behind to find things for those in need of her services. However, she finds her queue of customers vanished and the most feared witch in Starfell, Moreg Vaine, in their place. Last Tuesday has gone missing and Moreg needs a 'finder' like Willow to help her. And so an unwilling Willow finds herself embarking on a quest to locate the missing day, finding friendship, adventure and a lot of self belief on the way!

This is a wonderful story in so many ways. Full of fabulous characters, the story romps along at an enchanting pace to a very satisfying conclusion. The world of Starfell is full of detail and colour. Wisperia, the largest, most magical forest, 'an unpredictable place with magic fizzing about', the Midnight Market full of 'dangerous and deadly looking goods for sale', Troll Country where few apart from trolls venture- each location is beautifully imagined and described. Great fun to read aloud, there are plenty of opportunities for leaving your audience dying to hear more! The perfect read for those who enjoy adventure with a touch a magic.

Starfell: Willow Moss and the Lost Day Dominique Valente, illustrated by Sarah Warburton

Harper Collins ISBN: 978-0008308391

You can read another review of this book here.

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Summers staying with their grandparents mean freedom and adventure for cousins, Aiden, Chloe, Ava and Josh. However, when a day out for a picnic at a nearby stately home leads to a mystery involving a speeding sports car, several shady characters and stories of stolen diamonds, the cousins are in their element and pit their wits against all that comes their way.

Reminiscent of the Famous Five, ‘Clifftoppers’ is a fresh take on these classic stories with a real zest for life and sense of mischief mixed in. Complete with Bella, their dog, there is someone to appeal to everyone in this story and the pacey adventure will keep children begging for more. Full of rich language and vivid descriptions, it makes an excellent read aloud with plenty of action to keep everyone on the edge of their seats. With more stories in the series to come, this also offers other adventures for children to move on to once the class book has been shared. Brilliant!

Clifftoppers: The Arrowhead Moor Mystery Fleur Hitchcock

Nosy Crow ISBN:978-1788004695

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Storm of Odin is the youngest hound of the Wild Hunt and longs to be chasing through the sky with the other hounds. However, he falls from the sky during his first hunt and lands near Abergavenny. Here he is found by Jessica Price, who longs for a pet. She is alarmed to find that lots of people are very interested in her new puppy and that mysterious, magical things are going on.

Mixing mythology and action with a lovable puppy, ‘Storm Hound’ is a wonderful read. Storm’s voice is a joy to read as he comes to terms with each new misunderstanding about the world he has found himself in. There is plenty of humour in the story, but Jessica is also well written, a very emotionally vulnerable child, reeling from her parent’s split and trying to come to terms with her new life. A rompingly good read!

Storm Hound Claire Fayers

Macmillan Children’s ISBN: 978-1509895045

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In this fabulous quest, three children with magical talents come together to defeat those who threaten the cloud horses. But magic is forbidden and so brings danger to those who can use it.

Lavishly illustrated, this adventure is full of creative characters and exciting action. The story draws on myths and fairy tales, using elements that will be familiar, yet new! Moving at a pleasing pace, the story is perfect for reading aloud, whilst sharing the illustrations which have all Chris Riddell’s usual charm. Just wonderful!

The Cloud Horse Chronicles: Guardians of Magic Chris Riddell

Macmillan Children’s ISBN: 978-1447277972

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The Pringle family have fallen on hard times and so determine to try their luck in the north- well, as far north as Uncaster. Travelling by the recently invented train- which gives them their new name- the family discover that they have no lodgings; fortunately, recently widowed Mrs Poskett , has fallen on hard times and needs to take in lodgers. However, they are not the only performers in Uncaster- Baby Bubbles, a child magician, is also performing and his mother dies not appreciate the competition.

Full of fabulous characters, this is a book which was written to be performed. Each character is bursting with personality, offering great potential for getting into role whilst reading. For those who are less confident with their acting abilities, the plot romps along at a pleasing pace with plenty to interest and amuse. The story also speaks of kindness and cooperation and having baddies who get their comeuppance is very satisfying. A fabulous read aloud!

The Steam Whistle Theatre Company Vivian French

Walker Books ISBN: 978-1406376319

You can read another review of this book here.

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Surrounded by a thick forest, sits David and Penny’s new home – their mother’s childhood home. Along with their father, they have moved to the mysterious house following heir death of their mother. But they are not alone.

The house and the woods themselves are home to other mysterious creatures, like nothing David and Penny have ever seen before. Tiny, hairy Pog, - a magical creature who lives in the attic – is one of the First Folk and protects the boundary between worlds. As the children befriend Pog and he shares with them the secrets hidden below the house, they soon realise that creatures are slipping through from the other world… dangerous creatures… creatures that feed on pain and steal memories. It is up to Pog and the children to stop them! However, David has a secret. Lured deep into the woods, he has made a pact with another creature, a creature of darkness who insists it can bring his mother back.

Full of twists and turns, cliff hangers and wonderfully creepy creatures, this is an action-packed, spine-tingling fantasy adventure. Padraig Kenny has created a captivating magical world.full of strong characters which will have children desperate to hear more. It is also a story about grief and bravery. The children and their father have to learn to exist in a world without their mother; in places it is raw and full of feeling, but at heart, it is a story of family and friendship.

The rich vocabulary makes it a pleasure to read aloud. With its engaging characters and compelling plot, this is a story to share.

Pog Pádraig Kenny

Chicken House ISBN: 978-1911490395

The Boy Who Flew

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Athan Wilde lives with his family- mother, grandmother and two sisters. By night, he explores the rooftops of the city with his friend, Tod; by day, he works for Mr Chen, an inventor, and dreams of flying. When Mr Chen is brutally murdered, Athan realises that people are searching for the plans for Mr Chen’s flying machine and that he must discover them and complete the machine before someone else does. Sinister villains lurk at every turn in this dark and dangerous mystery.

Fleur has done it again, writing another gripping adventure for those children needing a challenging read at the top of KS2 and into KS3. Never one to avoid a difficult issue, Fleur does not shy away from the violence of the time nor the dark nature of some of those involved.

Loyalty and courage are at the heart of ‘The Boy Who Flew’. Coming from a poor family who are struggling to make ends meet, Athan works hard to support them, yet wants more from life than the job of a night soilman. He is devoted to his sisters, patiently minding Beatty, his younger sister who has lost the use of her legs, and helping his gentle older sister, Polly, whenever he can. His grandmother is a loathsome crone, vicious and harsh towards the children and Athan tries to protect his siblings from her as much as he can. Tod is also a wonderful character, who suffers at the hands of his father, yet remains loyal and supportive to Athan. In Blade, Fleur has really captured the essence of evil, creating a character without empathy who it is very easy to detest. As he infests Athan’s home, the tension in the story becomes almost unbearable. Athan’s loyalty to Mr Chen, his memory and his work lead him on his quest for justice which he hopes will free his family from poverty as well.

The story is full of rich descriptions- particularly the rooftop sections- and Athan’s world is brought vividly to life. Not for the faint-hearted, ‘The Boy who Flew’ is a gritty, challenging read full of twists and turns with an ultimately satisfying conclusion.

The Boy Who Flew Fleur Hitchcock

Nosy Crow ISBN: 978-1788004381