Book review: Late summer adventures with Puffin books

The Eye of the Falcon
The Eye of the Falcon
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Discover a terrifying Bronze Age endless winter, an Aussie boy’s moving wartime partnership and a magical friendship in a new collection of children’s books from Puffin.

Puffin Books, the children’s imprint of Penguin, publish a wide range of fiction, picture books and children’s classics and they have some exciting new books for young readers this month.

Age 9 plus:

The Eye of the Falcon by Michelle Paver

Throw away the sunscreen and dig out your woollies… the amazing Michelle Paver is back with the third and best yet book in her thrilling Gods and Warriors series.

These remarkable stories are simply packed with high-energy adventure, 3D characters who spring from the page and all set in in an enthralling Bronze Age landscape.

In the latest instalment, we find that winter has been colder than anyone can remember and there is no spring. The eruption of Thalakrea has shrouded the sky in ash and blotted out the warmth of the sun.

Fate brings Hylas to the island of Keftiu. He is desperate to find his friends, Pirra the daughter of the High Priestess, and Havoc the lion cub. But Keftiu has suffered more than anywhere from the fury of the gods and the once-prosperous island has been ravaged by cold, famine and plague.

As Hylas sets off alone to seek his friends, he is tormented by the fear that Pirra and Havoc may not have survived the winter...

From the opening page, Paver thrusts her readers straight into an alien and dangerous environment where the youngsters must use all their guile and determination to beat both the elements and the angry gods.

As always, Paver’s animal characters are the stars of the show, giving us an endearing and fascinating overview of the often forgotten but vitally important natural world.

Imaginative, powerful and entertaining, The Eye of the Falcon is a wild and wonderful journey into the past.

(Puffin, paperback, £6.99)

Age 10 plus:

Loyal Creatures by Morris Gleitzman

With the centenary of the First World War fresh in everyone’s mind, Aussie author Morris Gleitzman brings us an extraordinarily moving children’s story to mark the commemorations.

Inspired by Michael Morpurgo’s top-selling War Horse, Gleitzman harnesses the grim realities of the conflict to an Australian boy’s wartime odyssey with his horse Daisy in the lesser-known battlefields of Palestine.

Teenager Frank Ballantyne’s very special kind of bravery is a story to set young minds in motion and maybe shed a few tears for those who made such extraordinary sacrifices a century ago.

It’s 1915 and less than a year since 16-year-old Frank’s mother died. Her loss has brought him closer to his hard-working dad Ted. Frank is eager to do his bit for the war but he’s still too young to join up.

However, he has grown up fast and looks older than his years so fooling the authorities isn’t too difficult. Before long, both Frank and his father have signed up with the Australian Light Horse infantry regiment and are on their way from the outback to the gruelling Middle Eastern campaign.

With Frank is his beloved horse Daisy, ‘the best mate a bloke could ever hope for.’ Their skill in finding water is vital to the regiment in the desert, but their devotion to each other is what keeps them alive in an overwhelmingly hostile environment.

Gleitzman, best known for his Holocaust novels Once, Then, Now and After, is unflinching in his portrayal of the horrors of war and the suffering of both men and their horses in a hostile environment.

Written with powerful and perfectly understated simplicity, Gleitzman juxtaposes brutality with kindness, cruelty with humanity, and terrible loss with hope and warmth.

A truly extraordinary novel with a message for all of us…

(Puffin, paperback, £6.99)

Age 8 plus:

Angels in Training by Karen McCombie

Karen McCombie’s sparkling Angels Next Door series sees the popular children’s author and her gorgeous cast of gregarious girls on top form.

McCombie has hit on a truly magical formula in these delightfully reassuring and warm books about an angelic pair of girls and their very special brand of friendship.

Young readers will be enchanted by ‘ordinary’ girl Riley, her madcap sort-of-stepsister Dot and the mysterious Angelo sisters who have moved in next door.

Riley’s life has changed hugely since she discovered the Angelo sisters’ secret. The thing is, her new neighbours are a little bit… well, magical. They know things that no-one else does and that’s why she hopes they can help her find out more about Mum – especially since Dad won’t tell.

But just as Riley is about to get some answers, mysterious events start happening at school. As things get stranger and stranger, Riley begins to suspect that Sunshine, Kitt and Pearl Angelo are the only ones who can work out what or who is behind them...

McCombie explores themes of friendship, family and school with warmth and understanding whilst delivering an engaging and intriguing story.

Friendship with a heart-warming, magical twist…

(Puffin, paperback, £6.99)