Every child enjoys a story about monsters. Throw in assassins, spies, a boy on a thrilling adventure and an interactive calendar of monsters and you have a winning formula.
Jon Mayhew, a teacher and writer, offers this gripping combination in his latest book Monster Odyssey: The Eye of Neptune, which tells the tale of young Prince Dakkar. He has been rescued from danger by the mysterious Count Oginski, who is working on a top-secret machine: the world's first submarine.
But the Count, who becomes Dakkar's mentor, is kidnapped from his coastal hideaway by masked men who want to steal the invention. Dakkar sets out to rescue him in the submarine, but his quest is halted when he encounters terrifying creatures of the deep.
A distinctive extra feature of the publication - available only this month to celebrate the book's launch - is likely to capture young readers' imaginations. Mayhew's Month of Monsters is an interactive online calendar that "unleashes" a new deadly monster every day. Readers can go online and click to open a different "door" each day in May.
The 31 monsters have been chosen from myths, legends, classic stories and ancient history and range from mythological dragons, minotaurs and the kraken to real creatures including dinosaurs and giant sharks. The kraken, for example, is described as a legendary sea monster, often portrayed as a giant octopus.
"It has many arms and could reach as high as the top of a sailing ship's main mast. It would drag ships beneath the waves and eat the crew," the website states.
Its modern-day equivalent is the giant squid: "A giant deep-sea-living creature estimated to grow as large as 13m. It has the largest eye of any living creature on the planet."
The monsters are illustrated by Mike Love and each one is accompanied by a couple of facts, some words from the author and "silly survival tips" for readers.
Monster Odyssey, aimed at children aged 9-11, takes its inspiration from Jules Verne's classic novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, which tells the story of Captain Nemo and his submarine Nautilus. For his book, Mayhew imagines Captain Nemo's young life and packs his adventure with pirates, conspiracies and deadly sea creatures.
The author, who lives near Liverpool, was an English teacher for 20 years and now works as a specialist teacher for children with autism. His debut novel, Mortlock, was shortlisted for the 2011 Waterstones Children's Book Prize and longlisted for the 2011 Branford Boase Award.
The calendar can be found at www.jonmayhewbooks.com. Monster Odyssey: The Eye of Neptune is published by Bloomsbury and is available now, price #163;6.99