The Great Shelby Holmes Girl Detective by Elizabeth Eulberg

9781408871478The Great Shelby Holmes Girl Detective by Elizabeth Eulberg, illustrated by Matt Robertson

Shelby can solve any crime. But when she meets John Watson, Shelby finds the answer to a mystery that’s always puzzled her – friendship. Suddenly, New York’s prize pooch is stolen and Holmes and Watson are swept up in a dog-napping case that’ll take teamwork to solve!

John Watson has had a nomadic existence in life so far. His mother is an army doctor and changing military posts regularly has meant lots of moving. When they arrive at 221 Baker Street he’s looking forward to finally settling down somewhere for a change. However it’s not great as it might be – his parents have split up and he’s without his Dad. Thankfully, distraction comes in the shape of the tiny but terrifying Shelby Holmes, who makes herself known after a mishap with an explosive experiment in the apartment above the Watson’s! John is not sure what to make of Shelby, especially when she demonstrates her seemingly psychic deductive powers.

But being on your own in a new home is no fun. With his Mum at work and three weeks until he starts school, John finds himself drawn to this strange, rambunctious girl and soon he’s helping her investigate a serious case of dog-napping. Shelby has the perfect opportunity to put her amazing deductive powers to good use and find the missing dog. It soon becomes clear that John isn’t the only one who needs help; Shelby doesn’t have many friends of her own. John realises not only does he hope to help Shelby with the investigation, her can help her make friends too.

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This is a fun and quirky mystery story inspired by the great Sherlock Holmes stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Set in vibrant New York City, there’s a host of diverse characters from the pizzeria man to the pampered pooch Daisy! Our young hero is John Watson; a laid back thoughtful eleven year old and quite brave when it comes to meeting new people – but as he points out he’s had lots of practice! The heroine, Shelby Holmes, is a brilliant know-it-all nine year old and a little irritating at first; but you do warm to her when you realise she’s a just a very smart young girl struggling to fit in. Young readers will enjoy the dog-napping mystery focused on the wealthy Lacy family – who could have possibly stolen Daisy just before the most important Dog Show of the year?!

Supported by great illustrations throughout, the narrative gives a humorous nod to the original Holmes (“Seriously Watson? You think a real detective would wear a cap and smoke a pipe?!”). All in all Shelby Holmes is fun take on a classic, great for children aged 8+, that may well inspire new interest in the ‘real’ Mr Holmes himself!

To find out more visit: www.elizabetheulberg.com and  @ElizEulberg or www.matttheillustrator.com and @drawingmatt

With thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me this book to review.

Spy Toys by Mark Powers

spy-toys Spy Toys by Mark Powers, illustrated by Tim Wesson.   
The world’s leading toy manufacturer makes playthings for the rich and famous, and every toy they create contains a tiny computerised brain and a unique personality. These toys are seriously awesome! But every so often there’s a faulty toy…

Dan is a Snugaliffic Cuddlestar bear – he should be perfect for hugging. But because of a faulty chip, Dan is so strong he could crush a car. Thrown on to the rejects pile, he meets Arabella, a Loadsasmiles Sunshine Doll, who has a very short temper and is absolutely NOT good with children. Soon Dan, Arabella and Flax (a custom-made police robot rabbit gone AWOL) are recruited by the mysterious Auntie Roz, and together they make up The Spy Toys. Their first mission: to protect the prime minister’s son from being kidnapped…

Dan the Snugaliffic Cuddlestar Bear really wants to be able to do what he was made for – give people a hug and play! But he’s so super-strong he just can’t help but squash anyone he hugs. Thankfully, he’s given a second chance by Auntie Roz, along with Arabella – a doll with attitude to say the least – and Flax – the oddly clever bunny. Hoping to prove themselves, they become Spy Toys! After some rigorous training – with the help of the McBiff Triplets – the Toys first mission of protecting the Prime Minister’s son is more of a challenge than it first seems. Soon they are thrown headlong into a thrilling spy mission to defeat a maniacal villain. Dan and his new comrades not only have to learn to get along and fight the baddies, but also overcome their own ‘faults’ to succeed….

A fantastic story full of thrills and spills and perfect for younger readers (age 6+). Who wouldn’t love a story about toys coming to life?! Spy Toys is reminiscent of childhood favourites- think Super Ted and Danger Mouse. Add to the mix elements of Alex Rider (Stormbreaker) and young James Bond, and you get Spy Toys. Children will love the action sequences, humour and general mayhem caused by our heroes, and by characters such as the McBiff Triplets and arch enemy Rusty Flumptrunk.

You can’t help but like Dan, who so wants to get it right; it might take a little longer to warm to Arabella – who couldn’t be further from a ‘Sunshine Doll’! Bold and bright illustrations by Tim Wesson, bring the humour to life and aside from all the fun and excitement, the message that just because there’s something ‘wrong’ with you doesn’t mean you can’t achieve anything is evident throughout. All in all, Spy Toys is a great fun read which I’m sure will have children clamouring for the next one, in this sure- to- be- a- hit series. And there’s a game tie-in adding to the appeal for the more reluctant reader!

Find out more at www.spytoysbooks.com., www.timwesson.co.uk and follow Mark Powers on Twitter @mpowerswriter.

With thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me this book to review.

A Sky Full of Kindness by Rob Ryan

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A Sky Full of Kindness by Rob Ryan

Join two birds on an epic adventure as they become parents for the first time…

The story begins with two birds who are ecstatic to discover they are going to be parents. Their fellow feathered friends are overjoyed for them, but are soon sharing their wisdom, causing the mother bird to become frightened about all the potential perils of parenting. Are they ready to have a child? Such is her fear, the wisest and oldest bird of all sends her on a journey of discovery to see if she can find some peace about what lies ahead. The journey takes her across the land and sea and she meets many other birds of all different kinds, each reassuring her through kindness that whilst the world might be big and full of danger, there are many people in it who can help when you most need it.

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This is a stunning book by the incredible artist and illustrator, Rob Ryan. The artwork alone is a sight to behold; each word and image beautifully paper cut down to the finest detail. The story itself is lyrical and flows beautifully; a tale depicting the journey towards parenthood with all its highs and lows and everything in between. Poetry and prose combine, with each word literally illustrating the magic of the childlike but utterly insightful narrative. The mother bird is determined to find out how she can allay her fears, travelling over the widest oceans and unknown lands looking for answers.

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The other birds she meets are strange and exotic, each with their own wisdom to share, each showing her kindness. The mother bird repays the kindnesses she is shown along the way and she finally realises that through being kind, brave and finding hope, she can face her fears.

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A Sky Full of Kindness is a heart warming tale about unconditional love, the hopes and fears we have for our children and ultimately shows how kindness can change the world we live in. A must-have book for everyone’s bookshelf!

Find out more about the author and illustrator at www.robryanstudio.com and on Twitter at@RobRyan_Art. A Sky Full of Kindness is published by Chronicle Books.

Review can also be found at Discover & Be.