The Super-secret Diary of Holly Hopkinson

The Super-secret Diary of Holly Hopkinson
Charlie P. Brooks, illustrated by Katy Riddell
Harper Collins Children’s Books

Having survived the move to the countryside following her Dad’s job loss, Holly (with volume 1 safely stashed in a time capsule) shares volume two of her memoirs with readers.

Four months have now passed. Mum is still commuting to her old PR job in London while Dad is busy with his Chequers bistro pub project that her Aunt Electra might or might not become general manager of, and her niece aka Holly is assisted by the magic pocket watch given to her as a 10th birthday present by said aunt. She’s just got to get the hang of how to use it properly and then all will be fine.

As the account opens the school Christmas holiday is a couple of days away and life for Holly promises to be hyper-hectic. First though she sneaks a preview look at the reports her class teacher has left in her desk drawer while she has a coffee break. Did I hear the word ‘tamper’ just then? Oops! magic pocket watch disaster number one.

Followed soon after by disaster number two and that one well and truly messes things up for her dad at Chequers. Maybe she can help Mum instead … sounds as though another disaster is imminent. Beware the cloud of doom.

Then there’s the formation of The Cool to deal with, followed shortly after by band management duties. Can she possibly cope with a stay-over visit from London bestie (ex?) Aleeshaa with all this, not to mention keeping an eye on what Grandpa is up to. Then there’s the arrival of a film director looking for a location for his next blockbuster. Talk about chaotic Christmas holiday.

Annoyingly, the chances of Holly getting that i-pad she so much wants seem to be diminishing.

Like this reviewer, readers will likely find themselves giggling at almost every turn of the page: try this for a taster: ‘My bum now looks like two raw steaks being marinated overnight and the way I’m walking you’d think I was auditioning for a cowboy film. I’ve even had to put the loo paper in the fridge.’ (entry following a fall from Declan as Holly prepares for the Chequers Xmas Pony race).

When countryside catastrophes are mixed with comical capers you can be sure Holly Hopkinson is involved one way or another in Charlie P. Brooks’ altogether different, fun family drama with highly appropriate visual jottings by Katy Riddell.

Saving the Planet – The International Yeti Collective: Shadowspring / Astronuts Mission Two: The Water Planet

The International Yeti Collective: Shadowspring
Paul Mason, illustrated by Katy Riddell
Little Tiger

The Yeti Collective is a worldwide organisation with each of its strands having responsibility for an element of conservation while simultaneously aiming to avoid human detection.

Shadowspring (underground water upon which all wildlife and the humans depend) is under the protection of the Greybeards (the British group) but now somebody or something is interfering with the water levels and things are looking bad for the inhabitants of Tadpole’s community.

Tadpole (she of unripe character), daughter of the sett’s leader, Shipshape (she in perfect order), is next in line to become the Greybeards’ leader, a role for which she feels anything but fit.

Despite the precedent for avoiding humans contact, like her grandfather before her, Tadpole meets a human; his name is Henry, a boy just adapting to boarding school life.

Now, on account of the danger the Greybeards are facing, Tadpole and Henry (aka Hen-ree) must work together: an extremely dangerous undertaking ensues.

It’s a delight to enter and share in this world with its highly pertinent environmental messages, that’s populated by wonderful characters such as the two main ones in this story.

I missed the first book in the series, but I intend getting hold of it forthwith; I’m sure it too will be a superb read.

Astronuts Mission Two: The Water Planet
Jon Scieszka and Steven Weinberg
Chronicle Books

AstroWolf, LaserShark, SmartHawk, and StinkBug, the four NNASA agents, return having previously failed to find the perfect Goldilocks Planet, with a new mission, to find a planet fit for human habitation.

Having splash-landed on Water Planet, they discover it is awash with clams, a power-hungry, sub-aquatic force led by their president, P.T.Clam . Said creature is absolutely gushing with praise about his home planet and more than a little keen to swap his planet of residence for Earth. the polluted waters of which he claims to filter. Now why might he be so eager for that exchange?

It appears that he’s willing to do a special deal on the quiet with AlphaWolf (the mission’s leader) but another clam, Susan B. Clamthony tells a rather different story

and it’s one that the Astronuts really need to hear. It sounds as though not all the residents of Water Planet are as dastardly as their leader.

Packing the adventure with punny humour, hilarious interchanges and with a bounteous brio, Jon Scieszka, via his Earth narrator, cleverly knits together environmental information and facts about climate change. Combined with Steven Weinberg’s equally zany collage illustrations, every one of which is as immersive as the watery environment of the story’s setting, (love the spread on how they were created) this is a terrific second instalment.

More please! I hear youngsters, (especially fans of graphic novels) cry. (And this reviewer.)