Max Against Extinction / Warrior Monkeys and the Rescue Quest

It’s good to see new titles in two popular series from Oxford University Press – thanks for sending them for review.

Max Against Extinction
Tim Allman illustrated by Nick Shepherd

Max is back and he’s still determined one way or another, (like Greta, Aditya, Nina and Mari from various parts of the globe) to make the world a better place for everyone.

On the way home from school one day he notices a large new sign on a newly erected fence. There’s a plan afoot for a huge new office development and thus begins operation Save the Bramble Field. But then Max’s mum drops a bombshell: a family holiday abroad. It’s definitely a distraction as the boy starts dreaming of sunny climes, endless ice-cream treats and more; but the planned action must take priority and to that end Max ropes in Nisha and Tessa to help.

Max is ready to take whatever action he can to thwart this development proposal, even if that means getting into headteacher, Mr Costive’s bad books (again!) as well as upsetting his own teacher. But can he persuade his parents that a staycation is the way to go. He’ll certainly do his utmost – tropical curry, padlocks and all.

With a plethora of quirky cartoon-style drawings by Nick Shepherd to liven things up even more (they’re pretty lively anyhow but … ) Tim Allman and Nick are hugely entertaining and the cause is an important one, especially now with planning laws seemingly thrown out of the window. Max’s passion and willingness to own up to his mistakes are irresistible; he’s a great character likely to encourage readers to start and stick to their own plans for making positive changes in the world, whatever they are.

Warrior Monkeys and the Rescue Quest
M.C. Stevens, illustrated by Steve Brown

This is the third story by martial arts expert M.C. Stevens. Here young Suki and Bekko are mighty concerned when they discover that their much loved and respected teacher, Chan is missing after a strange wave hit one of Senshi Island’s beaches. They immediately report his disappearance to Sensei Rika (guardian of the castle) who seems undisturbed by the news, so the two, convinced there’s been a kidnapping, decide to investigate. Soon their suspicions are confirmed and Bekko and Suki are on a quest to rescue Chan from the clutches of Emperor Ming, ruler of seven mountain kingdoms who apparently needs Chan’s help. The quest involves a very dangerous sea voyage, pirates, battling over frozen wastes

and other hazards but so says, Bekko, “Warrior Monkeys know that facing a challenge is part of learning.” Are the two up to the mark though?

Reaching their destination is only part of the challenge, there are further hazards; but with unexpected assistance

together with their own bravery, resourcefulness and determination, along the way perhaps they can succeed in getting master Chan back where he belongs.

Full of drama and suspense, this story will excite readers especially those with an interest in martial arts, yoga and mindfulness; they’ll also be amused by Steve Brown’s illustrations scattered throughout the book.

The Wondrous Dinosaurium / My Perfect Pup

The Wondrous Dinosaurium
John Condon and Steve Brown
Maverick Arts Publishing

Danny is thrilled when his mum finally agrees to let him have a pet and he knows what he wants. Not a common or garden cat or dog but something much more exciting – something prehistoric no less. And he knows exactly the place to go: an establishment belonging to Mr Ree.

His first choice, a Diplodocus requiring vast amounts of vegetation every day quickly proves too much, so it’s back to the shop for something slightly smaller.

In fact Danny returns to Mr Ree’s Wondrous Dinosaurium quite a few times, trying out a range of possibilities …

until finally he comes upon a box in a dark corner of the shop.

His mum thinks he’s brought home a tortoise but she’s in for a surprise when the creature comes out of its shell.

John Condon’s amusing tale about the pitfalls of not doing any research before choosing a pet will hit the spot with both dinosaur lovers and pet people.
Steve Brown’s illustrations of the dinosaur menagerie are at once droll and yet recognisably authentic dinosaur species: avid dinosaur fans may well be able to put names to all Mr Ree’s stock of creatures, one of which was new to this reviewer.

My Perfect Pup
Sue Walker and Anil Tortop
New Frontier Publishing

Siblings Max and Millie have definite ideas about what they’re looking for as they head for the Perfect Petshop, very different ideas. However they both fall for the same beguiling little pup.

Inevitably though, Tiny, as they decide to call him, doesn’t remain so for very long; nor does he live up to Millie’s ‘pretty’ requirement. In fact he’s so far from perfect by both siblings’ standards …

that one day they return him to the pet shop.

Tiny himself has ideas about the perfect owner and when Joe Barnaby arrives on the scene it looks as though he might just be the one.

Joe and his family live on a farm with sheep, and Joe loves to play, to run and sometimes to take a ride on the dog, now named Horse. What better place for a sheepdog?

Expectations, acceptance and being patient are key themes in Sue Walker’s enjoyable story for which Anil Tortop’s spirited illustrations really bring out Tiny/Horse’s personality.