Spring into summer with Usborne books

Usborne Publishing has a superb selection of books just waiting to tempt youngsters looking for a ‘good read’ during the half-term holiday. Here are just a few.

By Pam Norfolk
Monday, 30th May 2011, 7:00 am

Return to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Steve Barlow and Steve Skidmore

If you believed that Jules Verne had written the last word on Captain Nemo’s mysterious submarine Nautilus, think again!

Sign up to our daily Burnley Express Today newsletter

Former teachers Steve Barlow and Steve Skidmore are back with another Luke Challenger thriller and this time our teen hero is plumbing the depths of the Indian Ocean in search of atomic secrets.

Cool-hand Luke and his hot-headed cousin Nick Malone are an entertaining double act who made their first outing in Return to The Lost World and now they are up to their eyes again in a deadly adventure based on the classic French novel.

Evil villains, deadly pirates, atomic weapons and giant squid attacks all await the two intrepid youngsters who are rapidly becoming the James Bonds of the children’s fiction market.

Set in the dark days of the 1930s when the world stood on the precipice of another devastating war, Return to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is full of exciting cliffhangers that keep young minds ticking and the pages turning.

Luke and Nick have learned that Captain Nemo’s enormous submarine, the Nautilus, has been found wrecked in a deep trench at the bottom of the Indian Ocean.

In a deadly race against time, Luke must reach it before the sinister Sons of Destiny salvage the ship’s unique atomic engines, learn their secrets and turn them to their own diabolical ends.

Braving pirates, tropical storms and the terrifying creatures of the deep ocean, will Luke and Nick stop their enemies and put an end to their murderous plans of world domination?

Exotic locations, super heroes, brilliant baddies, daredevil adventure and non-stop action make the Luke Challenger series simply irresistible for readers aged nine and over.

(Usborne, paperback, £5.99)

Sam in the Spotlight

Anne-Marie Conway

Anne-Marie Conway’s Star Makers Club series made its first appearance last year and is proving to be a big hit with girls who long to be famous.

Warm, wise, funny and entertaining, her books have all the thrills and spills of a school drama club as well as cleverly addressing the hopes and fears of youngsters in their early years at secondary school.

Sam’s a bit of a show-off and is always the first one up on stage bragging about just how fantastic she is, so why has she turned down the chance to play the starring role in Star Makers’ latest musical murder mystery, The Phantom Face?

Little do they know that Sam’s confidence is slipping and that all her shouting is simply a way of covering up a secret she has been trying her best to keep from her school friends.

A letter has arrived out of the blue and it has changed her life so completely that getting a big part at the drama club is suddenly the last thing on her mind.

The letter has come from Billy, the sister she never knew she had, and as the Star Makers Club works towards the big show, Sam finds herself caught up in an unfolding drama of her own.

Conway’s gossipy style and heartwarming stories are ideal for girls aged nine and over who love tears and tantrums and dreams and dilemmas.

(Usborne, paperback, £5.99)

Jordan Stryker: Cyber Terror

Malcolm Rose

A cybernetically enhanced secret agent and a mission that’s seemingly impossible...

Jordan Stryker, a walking, talking wonder of modern technology, needs every ounce of his vast store of cunning to track down a new deadly enemy in his latest high-octane adventure.

Author Malcolm Rose’s imagination seems to have no bounds and here he uses his own scientific know-how to bring us a superb all-action thriller for children aged 11 and over.

Jordan Stryker: Cyber Terror is perfect reading for boys who like their adventure stories to have plenty of technological wizardry and as an added bonus, Rose includes a fascinating section on the real-life science behind Jordan’s amazing bionic powers.

When planes start falling from the sky with no warning and even less explanation, Unit Red sends its top recruit Jordan Stryker to uncover the truth.

Stryker is drawn deep into the hidden world of the Dark Web, the digital catacombs of websites long since abandoned, replaced by better technologies and unreachable by any search engine.

Using these hidden channels, a criminal mastermind is wreaking havoc in the skies using electromagnetic bombs that render any electronic device unusable, including Stryker’s bionic implants.

It’s another gripping race against time for Jordan whose cyber enhancements are working against him.

(Usborne, paperback, £5.99)

Secret Ninja Spies: Tokyo Surprise

Alex Ko

She’s high-kicking, she’s power-punching, she’s back-flipping and she’s a granny!

Secret Ninja Spies: Tokyo Surprise is the first of a new brilliantly funny crime-fighting series featuring martial arts twins Josh and Jessica and it’s guaranteed to give young readers a kick.

Full of ninja action and side-splitting one-liners, there’s breathtaking fun here for children aged nine and over.

When 12-year-old twins Josh and Jessica visit their 70-year-old grandmother in Tokyo, things aren’t quite what they expected.

For starters, her flat is the most high-tech place they’ve ever been outside Dixon’s and granny turns out to be quick as a cat and silent as a shadow. Suffice to say, it makes them a little suspicious.

But when their friend, pop star Kiki, is kidnapped and the twins set out to investigate, they find themselves helped out by a mysterious hooded ninja.

Who is this shadowy crime fighter? Why, none other than their gran! She’s been busting crime for as long as she can remember as Tokyo’s secret ninja agent.

Can the twins and their granny piece together the kidnap mystery and rescue Kiki in time?

Ko’s fast-paced adventure promises to be just the start of a high-flying, high-kicking series.

(Usborne, paperback, £4.99)