It was a particularly good library haul, that saw Blood and Roses, and Off by Heart, because it also included the utterly spectacular Ronny Rock Starring in Monster Cake Meltdown by Merryn Threadgould, which deserves to be a classic, but probably won't be, as it's just a teeny bit too bonkers. It is wonderfully illustrated by Bruce Ingman, who must have enjoyed drawing all the cakes.
It's about a boy (the Ronny Rock of the title) who is a baker's son. His Dad makes a variety of wild and wacky birthday cakes every Friday evening before heading for an evening out. On this one particular Friday, he misses one of the notes, and it is up to Ronny and his wonderfully depicted teen babysitter to make the monster cake (also of the title). I won't give away too much of the plot (like I usually do) but suffice to say I had to read the entire book in one sitting, even though it is pretty darn long!
It's not a book for small children. I keep meaning to take it in to read to some of the kids I teach, but A has taken to hoarding it in her pile of faves at the end of her bed, so I keep forgetting. I would say 7+ really. C did enjoy it, but he began to lose interest during the middle section.
It reminded me somewhat of The Dunderheads by Paul Fleischman and David Roberts, which was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal in 2o10. This is also a picture book for older kids, about a group of school children getting one over on their evil teacher.
Another book I have loved for older kids (at least 7+ on this one, I would say), which was shortlisted for the self-same prize this year, is Cloud Tea Monkeys by Juan Wijngaard. It takes approx 40 minutes to read aloud but it kept a group of 12 year olds spellbound for all of that time, when I read it in the Spring. It's a touching story about tea-pickers, and the illustrations are absolutely beautiful. Completely different in style to the other two books mentioned here, but all three are excellent reminders that older kids (and parent readers!) like pictures too.