The Center for Children's Books


Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
English Tales - May 2012

Selected and annotated by Kelsey Bates


Beccia, Carlyn. The Raucous Royals: Test Your Royal Wits: Crack Codes, Solve Mysteries, and Deduce Which Royal Rumors Are True. Houghton, 2008. 64 p. Gr 4-8.
Many famous English royals are mentioned in this book, which asks readers to solve historical mysteries surrounding these famous rulers.  What was behind King George III’s madness?  Was King Henry VIII really fat or is a just a myth?  Children can discover the facts about these royal subjects as well as the best way to research a rumor.

Billingsley, Franny. Chime. Dial, 2011. 368 p. Gr 7-10.
Briony never expects to tell the secret that ruined her sister’s mind, killed her stepmother and will cause her own death if anyone finds out: she is a witch.  Then her next-door neighbor, Eldric, returns to their small English village, and Briony is tempted to finally let someone help her. 

Clayton, Emma. The Roar.  Chicken House/Scholastic, 2009. 496 p. Gr. 6-9.
In a post-apocalyptic London, Mika has been having terrifying nightmares ever since his twin sister was kidnapped the year before.  Kept safe behind The Wall, which encircles London, Mika has had psychic dreams about his sister and mysterious figures ever since she disappeared.  When the figures from his dreams appear as government officials at his school, he begins to believe that his psychic flashes are real and that there is a connection between these officials and his sister, whom he is convinced is still alive. 

Corey, Shana. Mermaid Queen. Scholastic, 2009. 42 pg. 6-9 yrs.
Although Annette Kellerman is from Australia, she became the first woman to attempt to cross the twenty-two mile wide English Channel just by swimming.  This illustrated biography shows many of Annette’s amazing feats, including her fashion innovations and her silver screen career.

Cottrell Boyce, Frank. The Unforgotten Coat. Candlewick, 2011. 112 p. Gr. 4-7.
Two Mongolian brothers enter Julie’s Liverpool classroom, both oddly dressed in large coats.  While the boys make inventive stories about their past, they decide that Julie is their “Good Guide” and must help them assimilate to their new country.  It is only after the authorities take them away for being in the country illegally that Julie really begins to think about their friendship.

Dowd, Siobhan. The London Eye Mystery. Fickling/Random House, 2008. 323 p. Gr. 6-9.
Siblings Ted and Kat must search for their cousin, who boarded the London Eye but never got off at the end of the thirty-minute trip.  Ted and Kat search all over London, following a trail of clues as they try to find the key to the mystery.  It’s ultimately up to Ted’s amazing brain to sort out all of the evidence to find out what really happened.

Golding, Julia. The Diamond of Drury Lane. Roaring Brook, 2008. 424 p. Gr 4-7.
Cat, who has been raised by the artists and crew of London’s Drury Lane Theatre, overhears the theatre’s owner talking about hiding a diamond on the premises.  She promises to keep the secret—but that turns out to be much harder than expected, since many others are also looking for the diamond.  When Cat finally realizes the real value of the diamond, she realizes she is not the only one in danger if the secret gets out.

Gourlay, Candy. Tall Story. Fickling/Random House, 2011. 304 p. Gr 6-9.
Andi’s only wishes are to be taller and to have her half-brother, Bernardo, leave the Philippines and live with her in London.  When Bernardo finally moves in with her, his gigantism (he’s eight feet tall) and his inability to speak English well make it hard for Andi to accept him.  It is only as he begins to tell his amazing story of his life before moving to her that Andi realizes how much she really has in common with her big brother.

Johnson, Maureen. The Name of the Star. Putnam, 2011. 384 p. Gr. 8-12
Rory starts boarding school in London just as a Jack the Ripper copycat begins recreating the famous murders.  Rory becomes entangled in the mystery when she is the only one to see the killer after a murder near her school.  In a great story with many twists and turns, Rory must try to find the killer before he kills the next girl.

Judge, Lita. Strange Creatures: The Story of Walter Rothschild and His Museum. Hyperion, 2011. 36 p. 5-8 yrs.
Walter Rothschild was the richest—but shyest—boy in England in 1868.  He spent most of his time with animals that did not mind his speech impediment.  This illustrated biography shows how he followed his love of animals to become a revolutionary scientist who built a museum to house all of his animal collections when he grew up.

King-Smith, Dick. Hairy Hezekiah. Roaring Brook, 2007. 96 p. Gr. 2-4.
Hezekiah is an ornery and lonely camel who has escaped his rural English zoo and is now wandering the countryside, looking for friends.  On the advice of some cows, he goes to a nearby safari park where he meets another Bactrian camel (the two-hump kind) and finally finds friends. 

Lee, Tony. Excalibur: The Legend of King Arthur. Candlewick, 2011. 158 p. Gr 7-10.
The well-known legend of King Arthur gets a fresh twist in this graphic novel.  Arthur is torn between the Seelie fairy court, where he trained in the knightly arts, and the human world where he is responsible for the entire ancient English country.  Although somber, this story weaves tragic love and a new retelling into something magical.

Ness, Patrick. A Monster Calls. Candlewick, 2011. 224 p. Gr. 6-9.
Conor is awaken by a horrifying monster who sits outside his bedroom window, but Conor isn’t scared because the terrible nightmare he began having when his mother started her cancer treatments is much scarier. The monster tells Conor three ancient stories, and in return, it wants the truth from Conor—it wants to know what truly scares him.

Nicholson, William. Rich and Mad. Egmont, 2010. 384 p. Gr. 9-12.
Rich and Maddy are two English teens who have both decided that they are ready to find love. 
They both choose people that are unavailable to them until an unexpected turn of events lead to them finding each other.  First love and first sexual experiences are fully explored in this coming-of-age book.

Turnbull, Ann. Forged in the Fire. Candlewick, 2007. 312 p. Gr. 6-10.
Will sets out from the countryside to find a living in London in 1665 so that he can marry his love, Susanna.  However, many obstacles stand in their way including Will going to jail for his Quaker beliefs, the plague and great London fire.  In this second book in a series, Will and Susanna must fight great odds to stay together.

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