Book review: Children’s summer reading from Scholastic

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Whatever the weather, Scholastic Children’s Books will bring a ray of sunshine to eager young readers this summer.

Here is a selection of just some of their super books:

How to Draw Horrible Science by Tony de Saulles

If you think it’s ‘sissy’ to draw cuddly kittens, pretty flowers and fluffy bunnies, then Tony de Saulles has a truly horrible alternative.

His hilarious and unique take on the standard ‘how to draw’ book isn’t about turning kids into artists... it’s about turning them into HORRIBLE artists.

Amazing illustrator De Saulles shares the secrets of his deliciously ‘squishy’ style so that everyone can master the art of drawing mad scientists, chopped-off fingers, sick chickens, farting cows and, yes, even elephant poo.

From the basic outline of a stick man, young artists can add skin, colour, clothes and accessories or turn the bare bones of a professor into his nasty assistant.

All that is needed is a little guidance from the master, a big serving of imagination and hey presto, science will come horribly alive.

(Scholastic, hardback, £12.99)

Thomas Flintham’s Marvellous Mazes

There’s a new ‘kid’ on the block and he’s shaping up to be an ‘a-mazeing’ talent!

Outstanding graduate Thomas Flintham has put pen to paper and come up with a puzzle book that takes youngsters on a fun-filled journey to the moon and back.

This unique book, created by a master of mazes, is full to the brim with stunning seek-and-find quests set in magical faraway lands.

Help a howling wolf to solve the maze hidden in the moon or request a wish from King Wishing-Bird who lives high in the forest’s tallest tree. Find a way through the fur of a great big bear and help squirrels reach nuts at the top of a tall tree

Then again, you can turn the pages and help a little knight in his quest to reach the castle and save the king from a wicked wizard. In fact, busy minds and hands get the chance to wander through all sorts of wonderful worlds, drawn in intricate and stunning detail.

Dozens of beautifully imagined black-and-white mazes are guaranteed to keep children absorbed for hours on end.

Once you set out on these marvellous journeys, there’s no way back till you’ve finished...

(Scholastic, paperback, £6.99)

Find Chaffy Now by Jamie Smart

Jamie Smart’s hopeless, hapless chaffies are not a very bright bunch of creatures but it takes a smart cookie to find them...

This is his second fun-filled activity book featuring the cute, lovable but navigationally challenged one-eared animals whose antics have won an army of young fans.

Chaffies have a tendency to get lost, and tracking them down is simply irresistible for children who love a challenge.

In Find Chaffy Now, a group of holidaying chaffies have got lost on an island full of weird and wonderful creatures and now they need to find their way home.

Spotting them amongst the island’s other bizarre inhabitants won’t be easy!

With a field guide to the strange island inhabitants, some colourful stickers and a chance to claim your very own chaffy soft toy, Smart’s book proves to be a very rewarding hunting ground.

(Scholastic, paperback, £5.99)

In the Spotlight: Celebriteens

Joanna Philbin

There’s more than a little real-life truth behind Joanna Philbin’s glamorous and glitzy debut novel about fame and friendship in New York.

The daughter of famous US talk-show host Regis Philbin knows all about the celebrity lifestyle and her tantalising tale of three sassy teenage girls and their famous parents hits the spot perfectly.

Lizzie, Carina and Hudson are front page news but these Manhattan girls didn’t ask for fame ... they were born with it!

As the daughter of a supermodel, Lizzie is used to living in her mother’s shadow. But when a photographer spots her unique style and look, Lizzie becomes the new ‘it’ girl of the New York fashion scene.

Carina’s dad is a multi-millionaire but she still desperately needs to get a job and although Hudson’s mum is a chart-topping pop diva, Hudson is far more subtle in her style of singing.

Cast into the spotlight, Lizzie isn’t sure fame is all it’s cracked up to be. Luckily, her best friends know just had to keep her grounded but can they bring her back to earth before she loses her chance with the gorgeous new boy at school?

Celebriteens opens a fascinating window onto fame and stardom but it is also a reminder of the importance of friendship and staying true to yourself.

An amusing, entertaining and thought-provoking start to a new series for youngsters aged 11 and over.

(Scholastic, paperback, £5.99)

Sean Griswold’s Head by Lindsey Leavitt

Serious, sophisticated but so tenderly funny ... Lindsey Leavitt’s clever children’s novel is in a class of its own.

After discovering her father has multiple sclerosis, Payton Gritas’ well ordered life suddenly starts to fall apart.

To help her deal with this devastating news and to save her from a spiralling self denial, the school counsellor gets Payton to take part in a ‘focus’ project to help the girl open up and come to terms with her father’s illness.

Payton needs a ‘focus object’ but all she can see is the oversized head of Sean Griswold, the boy who sits in front of her.

Payton has stared at the back of Sean Griswold’s head every day of her high school life. So why does it suddenly seem so, well, gorgeous?!

With her delicate and sensitive handling of illness and relationships combined with a caustic eye for life’s absurdities, Leavitt’s book is reflective reading for children aged over 11.

(Scholastic, paperback, £5.99)

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X.Stork

If it’s a good, old-fashioned, heart-warming book you’re looking for, Francisco X.Stork’s moving story of a teenager with low-level autism provides high emotion in spadefuls.

Marcelo Sandoval has Asperger’s syndrome and has always attended a special school, an idyllic, protected place.

But the summer before high school, his father demands that Marcelo works in his law firm’s mailroom in order to break out of his protective shell and experience ‘the real world.’

There Marcelo meets Jasmine, beautiful and surprising, and Wendell, the self-satisfied son of another partner in the firm.

He learns about competition and jealousy, anger and desire, but it’s a picture that he finds in a file – a picture of a girl with a terrible injury – that truly connects him to the real world.

And what he finds there is suffering, injustice and his place in it.

Immaculately researched, emotive, darkly funny and eye-opening, Marcelo in the Real World is an extraordinary novel about an extraordinary boy.

(Scholastic, paperback, £8.99)