Book review: A swashbuckling month of books with The Chicken House

Take the second star to the right and straight on ’til morning… but this time with a feisty little girl called Jocelyn.

Friday, 10th April 2015, 10:00 am
Hook's Daughter
Hook's Daughter

A delicious new take on the famous story of Peter Pan is just one of a highly original selection of new books from The Chicken House, an innovative publisher which aims to make a real difference to children’s reading.

Enjoy the adventures of Captain Hook’s daughter, immerse yourself in a magical mystery set in the wilds of Scotland, learn life lessons from a topical teen thriller about young love and religious intolerance, and be moved by an extraordinary novel about a boy living with cancer.

Age 10 plus:

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Hook’s Daughter by Heidi Schulz

Debut author Heidi Schulz puts fun and entertainment first in this action-packed, warm and funny tale following the adventures of Captain Hook’s daughter. In a clever and exciting twist on the classic and much-loved story of Peter Pan, 12-year-old Jocelyn is the strong and fierce heroine that every girl would love to be.

It’s not easy being the daughter of Captain Hook. Jocelyn dreams of following in his footsteps but her grandfather sends her to finishing school instead. When her father meets his unfortunate end, Jocelyn sails to Neverland to avenge his death but she hadn’t bargained on quirky crocodiles, lazy pirates and a troublesome boy called Peter Pan.

Share in the excitement of Jocelyn’s exploits and meet up again with familiar names like Captain Smee, the Lost Boys and, of course, Peter Pan himself. Hook’s Daughter is an enchanting read, packed with adventure, brilliant characters and humour, and is the perfect escape for children… and adults who don’t want to grow up!

(Chicken House, paperback, £6.99)

The Sound of Whales by Kerr Thomson

Prize-winning author Kerr Thomson tackles big themes in this beguiling story that explores the importance of the environment, our relationship with animals and how uncovering the truth isn’t always straightforward.

Three children are spending their summer on a wild Scottish island. Fraser is desperate for adventure, American visitor Hayley is fed up that she’s even there and Dunny, Fraser’s younger brother who has mild autism, spends his days staring out to sea. He hasn’t said a word in years and lately he has been acting more strangely than ever. But everything changes with the discovery of two bodies on the beach… a whale and a man. Fraser and Hayley see a mystery adventure to be solved, but Dunny is inconsolable. The whispering sea conceals a terrible secret and in the end, it will take someone who listens to the sea to put it right.

This magical and enlightening adventure story, set against the atmospheric backdrop of the Scottish coast, is a touching tale of friendship and hidden strengths as well as an exploration of the idea that the natural world could rise up against a cruel humanity… whales versus the human traffickers.

The action is filtered through the prism of Dunny’s struggle to communicate and overcome his fears, giving extra power and pathos to an extraordinary, must-read story.

(Chicken House, paperback, £6.99)

The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart

Mark is like any other thirteen-year-old. He loves his dog, taking photos and hiking, but he also has cancer.

Written with immense sensitivity and tear-jerking emotion, debut author Dan Gemeinhart’s beautiful coming-of-age story centres on a young boy who, despite his illness, is determined to go on one last adventure with his dog Beau.

Mark has been in and out of hospital his whole life and he’s fed up. So when his cancer returns, he decides he’s had enough. Running away with his faithful dog Beau, he sets out to climb a mountain and he’s not going to give up until he’s done it. It’s only when he has left everything behind that Mark realises he has everything to live for.

This is a rare and extraordinary novel. At once heartbreaking and uplifting, it speaks of the importance of love, families, undying friendship, determination and acceptance.

A moving and memorable story which opens up children’s eyes to those battling serious illness.

(Chicken House, paperback, £6.99)


One Of Us by Jeanne Waudby

Debut author Jeanne Waudby crosses the cultural divide in this nail-biting teen thriller set in a modern society divided by violence, prejudice and distrust.

Inspired by her own experiences working with refugees and their stories of survival, Waudby examines young love and religious intolerance, terrorism, separatism and individual and national identity.

Terrorism divides her country. When sixteen-year-old K narrowly survives a bomb attack, she agrees to cross the line… to go under cover, befriending the radical young group held responsible and whom she is determined to bring to justice. But whilst living among them, she discovers it’s hard making friends when you are lying, and that even enemies are real people. And when she falls in love, K soon learns that some things are far from black and white. This boy is special. Can she ever tell him who she really is? Can love unite them all?

One Of Us promotes the message of ‘live and let live’ and demonstrates that it is in the power of young people not to accept the attitudes and stories they inherit from their elders but to make up their own minds and aim for peace no matter how hard that may be.

Gripping and thought-provoking…

(Chicken House, paperback, £6.99)

If You Were Me by Sam Hepburn

And here’s a thrilling crime mystery that will keep you guessing until the very end.

Not long after Aliya’s family escapes Afghanistan for Britain, her brother is accused of being a suicide bomber. Aliya is sure of his innocence but when plumber’s son Dan finds a gun in the bathroom of a derelict block of flats occupied by Aliya’s family, what is he to think… and what is Aliya to think? Dan has his own reasons for staying silent. He is worried the gun might have something to do with his dad. But the truth that connects the two teens is far more dangerous than either of them could imagine. Thrown together by chance, they set out to uncover a tangled and twisted truth. Can they find friendship and prove their families’ innocence?

Hepburn’s story of friendship between two teens explores with insight and powerful realism the current issues of contemporary London… immigration, religious tolerance and terrorism.

(Chicken House, paperback, £6.99)