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 got 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 particularly 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 20,000 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, priced at #163;6.99
10 LESSON PLANS
Last month's top 10 downloads for 4- to 11-year-olds
1. Dr Evil's maths game
What would you do if you learned that an evil genius was about to take over the planet? Turn your students into spies and set them on a mission to save the world in this code-breaking mathematics game.
Sing along to Incy Wincy Spider and see the world through the eyes of tiny creatures with a series of minibeast lessons, songs and activities.
3. Moral maze
You see a new student being bullied by an older boy. You are frightened of him, too. What would you do? Ask students to consider this question as you explore stories with moral issues and dilemmas.
4. Ancient Egypt
Take your students on a virtual journey to the pyramids. They can enjoy the sights and sounds of Ancient Egypt - and perhaps try their hand at hieroglyphics - in this engaging scheme of work.
5. Life cycles
How do caterpillars turn into butterflies? What patterns and shapes can students see on a butterfly's wings? What is the life cycle of a frog? Explore these questions with your class using this illustrated PowerPoint lesson and activities.
6. Word spinner
Make learning fun with a high-frequency word spinner. Ideal for developing sight vocabulary and as an introduction to guided reading.
7. Fantasy stories
What might happen if students walked through a magical door into a darkened forest? What kind of fantastical world might they enter? Let children's imaginations roam and develop their descriptive writing skills using these lesson plans.
8. Growing plants
Summer is on its way. Take time to explore the great outdoors using lesson activities about plants, how to look after them and why we need them.
9. The seaside
Who wants to be beside the seaside? Help children to learn about the wild and beautiful seaside places of the British Isles with this interactive PowerPoint.
10. Samba music
Bring a hint of Brazil's carnival culture into class and get students dancing the samba with these songs and musical activities.
Find these lesson plans at bit.lyTop10LessonsPrimary
10 LESSON PLANS
Last month's top 10 downloads for 11- to 18-year-olds
1. Guess the decade
How has Britain changed since 1948? Get students to consider changing lifestyles using these Guess the Decade activity flashcards. Ideal for a range of ages and abilities.
2. Comics in the classroom
Who wouldn't want superheroes parachuting into lessons? Get them to help students in a range of comic book-inspired writing activities.
3. Things to do before 20
Learn how to iron clothes, have a deep conversation with an elderly person, try a different hairstyle and learn a poem by heart. These are just some of the things recommended for teenagers in this stimulating and imaginative PowerPoint lesson.
4. Kinaesthetic Shakespeare
Put kinaesthetic learning into Shakespeare. Get students moving around the room and working in teams as they find out all about the Bard.
5. Sell your brother on eBay
Siblings are often destined to annoy each other. Use this to your advantage and get students to produce written work in either French or Spanish by "selling" a sibling on eBay (in a worksheet activity).
6. The Simpsons science
Homer is at the bowling alley deciding which shoes to wear, Marge is making waffles and Maggie has flown away with a helium balloon. Help students to understand the differences between independent, dependent, control, categoric and continuous variables in this engaging lesson.
7. Wants and needs
What is the difference between wanting something and needing it? Are the needs of all children met? Help students to recognise how needs can also be rights using these illustrated cards based on the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of the Child.
8. Mathematics relay races
Using this lively classroom resource, get students out of their seats and racing against the clock - and each other - to solve a series of mathematical problems.
9. The Bomb Factor
Explore the nuclear weapons debate in the style of The X Factor. Use this lesson plan to get students arguing for and against nuclear weapons and to put their powers of persuasion to the test.
10. The 'perfect face'
Merge artistry and mathematics to determine how close to mathematical perfection some faces are with this lesson tool.
Find these lesson plans at bit.lyTop10LessonsSecondary
3 SPECIAL NEEDS RESOURCES
1. Wonderful words
Develop children's vocabulary with this interactive teaching activity from TESprimary. Get students to think of imaginative and descriptive words to match a series of photographs.
2. How do you tell the time?
How do you identify the time on a clock? Develop your students' analogue clock skills using this set of worksheets, with one for "o'clock" and one for "half past the hour". bit.lyTellingthetime
3. Managing emotions
Keeping students calm often goes hand-in-hand with teaching. georgetimlin's animated guide to anger management is ideal for use with students who find it hard to stay calm. bit.lyCalmingDown
TOP 5 ASSEMBLIES
Cultural diversity "Before you've eaten your breakfast in the morning, you've depended on half the world," Martin Luther King said. Celebrate cultural diversity in an assembly from James Shryane.
Smile For fyefye's entertaining assembly about dental health, get students dressed up to play the roles of an expert in a white coat, an assistant with a giant toothbrush, teeth and decay.
Who Wants to be a Millionaire and beat bullying? If someone is being bullied, is it their fault, their teacher's fault, their friends' fault or the bully's fault? Help children to understand bullying in thetreasurebox's PowerPoint assembly based on the popular quiz show.
Working together How can we celebrate our differences and work together? Why is teamwork important? Explore these questions through the story of a lazy old farmer and the sheep that did all the work from Deany13.
Random acts of kindness What does it mean to be kind? Get children thinking about kindness with jeannettedav's assembly script. For these assemblies and more for every day of term, try the TES Assembly a Day collection. bit.lyAssemblyADay.