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Strawgirl

Despite an almost fatally slow start, Straw Girl builds up to a truly exciting adventure with not a little magic fantasy thrown in for good measure. Set in the Scottish Highlands, it tells the story of 11-year-old Molly, her Scottish/Irish mother and her Nigerian Ibo dad as they work on the family farm. Life is…

Suffragette: The Battle For Equality

At the occasion of the centenary of women’s vote in the United Kingdom, David Robert’s prose and illustrations come together beautifully in a tribute to the women and men who participated in the struggle. Starting in 1832 with the first Great People’s Reform Act, Suffragette records chronologically the important events leading up to Universal Suffrage.…

Summerland

Summerland is written in the tradition of the epic quest, and carries most of the trappings of the genre: a semi-mystical goal, other-worldly creatures inhabiting parallel existences, mourning for a lost parent and difficult dealings with the incapacitated one left behind, an exploration of the limits and latitudes of gender expectation. But this is an…

Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt

Narwhal has decided to become a super hero. He has his super outfit and secret identity, but Narwhal has yet to discover his unique superpower. Join him and his best friend Jelly as they navigate their way to becoming the best super heroes and super friends they can be! Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt is…

Superhero Street

Fans of author Phil Earle’s Demolition Dad will be thrilled to get their hands on Superhero Street, the second in this brilliant, funny series featuring the residents of Storey Street. Well written, with sharp humour and genuine warmth, this face-paced tale tells the story of ‘Mouse’, an ordinary 10-year-old boy who is somewhat obsessed with…

Swami on Rye: Max in India

Originally published in 1995, this picturebook, an exuberant, tongue-in-cheek search for the meaning of life, is one of four ‘Max the Dog’ books by New York artistic and literary phenomenon Maira Kalman. Kalman is well known in the USA for her New York Times columns, her magazine covers and contributions to The New Yorker, and…

Swan Lake: A Retelling of the Classic Ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

This picturebook retelling of Swan Lake is a good introduction to the iconic ballet story and reading it would be a great way to prepare for an outing to the ballet itself, as the three pages with text on them function rather like programme notes. We open this lavish book with ‘Act I’ and a…

Tales from Shakespeare

(Note: This review focuses on Twelfth Night (ISBN 9781784930028) and Hamlet (ISBN 9781784930004)) QED publishing’s Tales from Shakespeare series is not the first to rewrite Shakespeare’s plays for a young audience, nor will it be the last. While these are not the most innovative of such adaptations, there is enough originality to make them a…

Tales Told in Tents

In this enchanting book, Sally Pomme Clayton retells stories inherited from the rich storytelling traditions of the nomadic cultures of Central Asia, taking us on a story-telling journey through Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tadjikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. While Sally Pomme Clayton has made the stories her own, she still succeeds in passing on the spirit of…

Tall Tales for Little People

Two ‘Tall Tales for Little People’, these chapter books draw on the rich wealth of leprechaun legends to create two new magical tales for young readers. In the first, Finn the leprechaun is awarded a great honour, the ‘Armband of the Fearless and Flawless’, and sent out into the human world for a year, his…

Tamsin and the Deep

In this chapter-based graphic novel, Tamsin, swept out to sea when attempting to bodyboard in her home county of Cornwall, is returned to her family a month later by mysterious means. The narrative hinges on her family’s magical and historical links, their responsibilities regarding Cornwall and an ancestor’s deal with a mermaid. As one might…

Tate Kids Modern Art Activity Book

This creatively formatted activity book introduces young readers to ten different modern artists. The diversity of the subjects is better than you’ll find in a lot of galleries: seven male and three female, five European, one African and four American.  There’s a lovely range of style and shape to the book, and the activities suggested…

The Adventures of Alfie Onion

When you’re the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, you have some high expectations to live up to. But when you’re the eighth son, you may have to work a bit harder to get noticed. Alfie Onion is not afraid of hard work, nor of trolls, ogres, a talking horse, mischievous mice or even meddling…

The Adventures of Miss Petitfour

This book brims with delicious fun like a plate of cream cakes on a summer’s day. The five stories inside are packed with an array of confectionary delights that tempt you through each tale. But it’s not the opportunities to sit with an éclair that make this collection so wonderful; it’s actually Miss Petitfour, her…

The Adventures of Shola

The Adventures of Shola features four stories tracking the life of our protagonist, Shola, a little white dog with a big personality, who oozes ego, hypocrisy, snobbery and selfishness. In fact, Shola’s personality profile would tick each of the seven deadly sins. Despite her obvious flaws, the reader can’t help but be enamoured. The writer allows…

The Adventures of the New Cut Gang

This two-story collection of mystery and adventure is set in Victorian Lambeth with a quirky cast of street urchin like children. The Victorian setting is cleverly drawn and allows the members of the New Cut Gang to roam freely and get into all kinds of hilarious scrapes as they set out to solve the mystery…

The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips

This story begins with 12-yearold Michael describing his close relationship with his Grandma Lily and his concern at her vanishing after the funeral of his Grandpa. Grandma sends Michael a diary of her childhood by way of explaining her current disappearance. As the reader along with Michael begins to read the diary account of a…

The Awesome Body Book

Adam Frost has been described as one of the UK’s most exciting new children’ s writers. He is also a worthy winner of the Blue Peter Book Award for best book with facts 2016 for his title The Epic Book of Epicness. When you look at The Awesome Body Book it is not difficult to…

The Bell Between Worlds (The Mirror Chronicles)

The Mirror Chronicles is Johnstone’s début book and will be part of an upcoming trilogy. The novel tells the story of Sylas Tate, who greatly resembles a Harry Potter kind of figure, and lives a lonely existence with absentee parents. The tolling of a giant bell summons him into another world, the ‘Other.’  Again, similar to…

The Best Medicine

The Best Medicine is a welcome addition to the growing body of children’s literature dealing with the topic of cancer. The book shares some similarities with Patrick Ness’s magnificent A Monster Calls, in that the protagonist is a young boy living with a single mother and dealing with a school bully, but Hamill’s approach veers…

The Big Book of Beasts

Zommer’s book is a treasure-trove of beastly facts. Have you ever wondered why wolves howl at the moon or why tigers have stripes? This book will give you all the answers. Not only are the illustrations detailed, showing such things as animal footprints and fur patterns, but they are also incredibly expressive, imaginatively showing the…

The Black Dragon (Mysterium)

Phew! This is by début author Julian Sedgwick, and it is fantastic. From the cover and the blurb one would think that it was just about an orphan in Hon Kong, with a circus friend as his minder, looking for his just-kidnapped aunt and only guardian. But it is so much more than that and…

The Book of Clouds

Ever looked up into the sky and wondered about clouds? Well, wonder no more. This cloudy compilation of poetry, art and a good pinch of humour by Latvian poet Kronbergs, appeals to the skygazer in us all. The twenty-five poems in this book tell a story of clouds; from how they move and travel, to…

The Book of Learning

E. R. Murray’s middle-grade mystery of magic and reincarnation is a thrilling and promising début. Young Ebony Smart from rural Ireland lives with her grandfather as her parents disappeared when she was very young. Her grandfather (who has never been ill) is her sole carer, and when he dies suddenly, her life is thrown into…

The Book of Revenge (Nine Lives Trilogy)

E. R. Murray’s thrilling trilogy for younger readers comes to a close in fitting and fantastic style as the heroine of the books, young Ebony Smart, must overcome dangers and horrors to defeat the enemies of the Order of the Nine Lives. Without revealing too many spoilers, suffice it to say that Ebony overcomes ghosts…

The Bookshop Girl

Abandoned as a child, Property Jones is now eleven and living in a bookshop with the owner, Netty, and her son Michael. Property fits perfectly into the family of booksellers, apart from one minor detail: she can’t read! Nobody knows her secret and, too ashamed to admit the truth, Property invents clever methods to conceal…

The Boole Sisters

The story of the Boole sisters is told creatively from start to finish in this instalment of the In a Nutshell series. A delight for young readers, the lives of the four daughters of the famous George Boole are brought vividly to life. The historical evidence and facts of their influential lives are intertwined with…

The Boy At The Back Of The Class

There’s an empty chair at the back of the class because a girl left at the end of last year. Nobody pays it any attention until one day a new boy sits there. A strange, quiet boy who never talks or smiles and who disappears at break and lunch. A group of classmates, lead by…

The Boy Who Fell from the Sky

Lucy Coats can tell a story! And what a feast of stories we have in this collection of Greek myths. Wisely, Coats seems to follow a chronological pattern, beginning with the love between Gaia, the Earth and her husband Uranus, the sky and their battling offspring the beautiful Titans and the ugly Cyclopes. We have…

The Boy Who Sprouted Antlers

Barn Owl publishes reprints of titles that are out of print, and they have brought back to life many useful titles for younger readers. This amusing story of young Billy, who is told by his teacher that he can do anything if he tries, is another success story for Barn Owl. Billy is dared by…

The Boy With 17 Senses

Earth has a new tiny visitor. This tourist is Jaq, who comes from the planet Yipsmix, where everyone has synesthesia, a real-life condition where people’s senses become confused when simulated, e.g. they see colours and shapes when they hear sounds. On this planet, it extends to a whole range of senses : words have a taste,…

The Breadwinner

The Breadwinner is a graphic novel which may introduce readers to some very challenging topics and questions around gender, equality and violence. From the outset the female gender of the protagonist presents as a problem, in a male dominated and controlled world. The dark shades of colour throughout the panels reinforce the sombre, melancholy mood…

The Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World’s Coral Reefs

When Ken Nedimyer was little, Nasa was just sending its first rockets, and then men, in to space. But while the whole world looked to the unknown realms of space for inspiration, Ken was far more interested in the unknown here on Earth – in the ocean. As a young man he collected hundreds of…

The Buccaneering Book of Pirates

The Buccaneering Book of Pirates is a collection of six swashbuckling adventure stories based on some of the most famous pirate stories and legends. Treasure Island, The Pirate Queen and Davy Jones’ Locker are all included in shortened, simplified versions suitable for both reading aloud or independently. All the usual pirate paraphernalia is here – treasure maps, sword fights, shipwrecks…

The Bush

Joyce is delighted when her mother brings home two fluffy white rabbits to breed. Mother tells her children that she will earn money by rearing rabbits and then bringing them to ‘The Bush’. Joyce works hard caring for the rabbits and develops a bond with one particular rabbit she calls Kipenzi (meaning favourite). The reader,…

The Case of the Pistol-packing Widows (The P.K. Pinkerton Mysteries 3)

It is 1862 and P.K. Pinkerton, age 12, “born in Hard Luck not far from Mt. Disappointment” is lost in a blizzard in a Nevada desert and writing his Last Will and Testament. P.K. is a half-Sioux misfit, twice orphaned, first when his mother was killed and then when his kindly preacher foster parents “get themselves…

The Castle Of Inside Out

Young Lorina has an essay to write about a special place so she sets off to explore the mysterious Castle of Inside Out. At first, misled by the prejudice of a talking black rabbit who insists he knows more than she does, Lorina anticipates all sorts of meanness from the green people who live outside.…

The Clubhouse Mystery

Do you want to know a secret? Well, I can’t tell you. So begins The Clubhouse Mystery, a lively and funny book centred around Cass and her friends Lex and Nicholas. Together they comprise the Bubble Street Gang, a secret society named after the road on which they live (which is actually called Berbel Street,…

The Clue is in the Poo (And Other Stuff Too)

The Clue is in the Poo is all about making factual things fun. From the intriguing title to the characterful animals that fill its pages, it is packed with fascinating, funny facts about the natural world that you can discover through the animal droppings, tracks and other traces that are left behind. Each spread has…

The Colossus of Rhodes

This is Book 9 (or rather Book IX) of the Roman Mysteries series, which has been very popular since first published in 2001. Hardly surprising, as they include some of the most classical elements of children’s literature – the detective story format, an exotic background and a group of spirited children with minimal adult intervention.…

The Colours of History: How Colours Shaped the World

There is something for everyone in this colourful, well-designed book: adventure, danger, discovery, intrigue and more! From ancient times to present day, colour has shaped our perceptions and engagement with the world and drawing on history, chemistry, sociology and economics, Gifford tells the story of how colours we take for granted today came into being.…

The Confidence Code for Girls

The Confidence Code for Girls is based on the idea that girls can do anything – all they need is confidence. But confidence can be hard to come by, especially in a world that still has very fixed opinions on what girls can and cannot, should and should not do. This is where the Code…

The Dark Horse

Just as this review is being written news arrives that Marcus Sedgwick’s novel is one of the six books shortlisted for the 2002 Guardian Children’s Fiction prize. It is welcome news in that it gives recognition to a title which otherwise seems not to have had the notice its excellence deserves. The story is of…

The Day War Came

Simple yet highly charged, this is one of the big stories of our time told in a form accessible to young children. More than ever in a post-truth world, art, here in the hands of masterful picturebook makers Nicola Davies and Rebecca Cobb, gets closer to the truth about the world we live in than…

The Devil’s Toenail

This is a chilling and cleverly structured study both of the insidious mechanisms and the appalling consequences of serious, violent bullying, showing how the bullied are infected by their experiences and can in turn become violent themselves. Unfortunately, so charmless is the hero/narrator – though, over time, the reader comes to see why – that…

The Dictionary of Difficult Words

For any reader ebullient about words this book is a ripsnorter. Packed with four hundred unusual words from ‘absquatulate’ to ‘zygodactyl’ and everything in between, it’s sure to appeal to the little abecedarian in your life. Lexicographer Jane Solomon has amassed a smorgasbord of words both frabjous and blithesome that are fun to say and…

The Divide

This is an exciting fantasy adventure set in a parallel world, where our myths and magic are real and human beings and science are their mythology. Felix wakes up to find himself in this strange land after standing on the Continental Divide, where the waters flowing to the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans separate. He meets…

The Dodo Made Me Do It

Danny is not looking forward to yet another boring summer. As much as he loves his gran, nothing ever happens in the small Scottish village of Kisoussie where she lives. He dreams of having adventures like his comic book hero Zac Hanaway, but instead he will be stuck in the middle of nowhere with only…

The Dog Who Lost His Bark

Oz is the sweet, thoughtful puppy that has had a rough start to life. After living with families who cannot care for him properly, he struggles to trust people and is careful not to bark because it only causes trouble. He soon meets Patrick who teaches him to find his voice again, and Oz teaches…

The Dog Who Saved the World

Can you imagine a world without dogs? Thanks to a canine-specific plague, poor Georgie is about to experience it firsthand. Can she find a way to stop it, with the help of her best friend Ramzy, the mysterious Dr. Pretorius and her beloved pet Mr. Mash? Much like the eponymous mongrel, The Dog who Saved…

The Dress and the Girl

Author Camille Andros and illustrator Julie Morstad present the seemingly simple story of a little girl and her favourite dress. Living on a beautiful Greek island, they both dream of a world beyond the horizon they know, as each day, however ordinary, with its chores and tasks, is infused with hope and a desire to…

The Eleventh Trade

Vibrant characters and a lively narrative draw the reader straight into this heart-warming story about life as a refugee featuring Sami and his grandfather Baba who live in Boston having fled the Taliban and their home in Afghanistan via Asia and Europe. A renowned musician in his homeland, Baba now busks on the streets to…

The Emperor’s Nightingale and Other Feathery Tales

Birds are the common theme uniting all the stories and poems in this wonderful and attractive anthology. There are twelve tales from a wide variety of sources. Ray begins the collection with Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Happy Prince’, a bittersweet story of generosity and love, and follows it with ‘Mulungu Paints the Birds’, a creation myth…

The Enchanted Lake

A collection of eight stories told in the oral tradition, these tales range from the quirky to the moral and unfailingly end with a happy-ever-after marriage. Most are based on a quest. The morality of each person attempting the quest is secretly tested and we usually see at least two unfortunates fail before our hero…

The Extincts

George’s bike was stolen and to pay for a new one, he is working on Wormestall Farm, home of a motley collection of prehistoric beasts and mythical creatures. Unfortunately, one of the more dangerous residents has gone missing…   On first sight, Veronica Cossanteli’s The Extincts isn’t the most promising. The premise creaks and the quirky owner…

The Extraordinary Colours of Auden Dare

In a dry and barren future world, Auden and his mum relocate to the Cambridge cottage they inherited from his uncle, the scientific genius Professor Jonah Bloom. Auden has achromatopsia, which means he can’t see colour at all. (The title is a bit misleading.) Mostly, he’s fine with his condition, even if the bullies aren’t,…

The Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen

When this book arrived for review I quite literally squealed with delight. From the cloth bound and vividly embossed cover to the stunning endpapers and all the beautiful illustrations within, this is book as work of art. Containing 23 of Andersen's best known and most loved tales, including such childhood classics as 'The Ugly Duckling',…

The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm

Once upon a time (2011, to be precise), there was a new book of fairytales that lay nestled on a shelf. In it entails your favourite cautionary tales, charming princes in disguise, little men old and wise, damsels in towers, and witches with powers. (However it doesn’t have much rhyming.) In its first republishing in…

The Fate in the Box

A highly imaginative read, The Fate in the Box is full of exotic characters, exciting twists and chilling portents – perfect for young, enquiring minds. The story enchants the reader immediately with its elegant Venetian setting, complete with gondolas, superstitious festivities, and a compelling fascination for novelty.Fusing history with fantasy, fact with fiction, Michelle Lovric creates an…

The Fearless Five

A group of five schoolchildren have just finished sixth class and are looking forward to their hazy, lazy summer holidays; but their lives change forever when these pleasant, good natured, mild-mannered kids plan (of all things) a heist and manage to become the Most Wanted Kids In Ireland – the inimitable Fearless Five! You see,…

The Fiery Chariot

This easily-read novel will be a welcome addition to any 8–11-year-old’s personal library, for it combines ripping adventure with the eerie presence of Druidic magic. The children who travel back in time to Queen Maeve’s ringfort take on the serious responsibility of winning a chariot race. Asilver cup made by their friend Samhain, a master…

The Finding of Freddie Perkins

With such an unusual title, the reader is instantly intrigued to unravel the mystery surrounding Freddie Perkins. The expression “finding” prompts many questions. Is it Freddie Perkins who is lost? Has Freddie Perkins lost something valuable? Is it a tale of development and maturity? The author delicately appeases our curiosity by opening up Freddie’s world.…

The Flask

The Flask is a sensitive novel, dealing with the themes of grief and belief. Protagonist Jess is coping with the death of her great aunt and anxious about the imminent birth of her half-brothers when she finds an old fashioned corked flask, which appears to have special powers. Jess goes on a journey, exploring various nations…

The Foolish King

With Horrible Histories illustrator Martin Brown on board, you know you can expect fun and irreverent accompaniments to the text, and this doesn’t disappoint. Mark Price, the current Minister of State for Trade and Investment in the UK, was prompted to write this for his daughter to teach her to play chess. It is a…

The Fox On The Swing

The Fox on the Swing, with its shimmering stars on the cover, is a wonderfully written and delightfully illustrated treat of a picturebook. The story, which begins with a tree, is a bit mad cap but is incredibly entertaining. It follows a very observant boy, Paul, who lives on the edge of a pretty park…

The Funny Life of Teachers

James Campbell has visited hundreds of schools, telling children stories and encouraging them to write their own, as well as performing stand-up comedy for kids. So it feels very appropriate that he has written a book exploring the funny life of teachers. He also examines other aspects of school life, including getting to school, school…

The Gauntlet (Marvel Iron Man)

In which Iron Man comes to Ireland! Eoin Colfer brings billionaire bigmouth/Marvel comics staple Tony Stark to these shores to attend an international eco-summit, but of course his many nemeses have other plans for him. Old enemy The Mandarin (who will be familiar to fans of the comics and movies) is lying in wait, but…

The Ghastly McNastys: The Lost Treasure of Little Snoring

The Ghastly McNastys are the worst kind of pirates – twin brothers who are dreadfully greedy and terribly mean. They enjoy making people walk the plank and are generally horrible to their parrot and second mate Mrs Slime. They even got kicked out of Pirate School! The one thing they love is treasure and they’re…

The Ghost of Shandon

This time-slip narrative, in which Ronan, a contemporary child, meets Aisling, a girl from 1792, is a lovely looking book, which uses subtle shades of colour to articulate the experience of history (or of being a particular shade or ghost). The colour works very well, particularly the deep blues, which give a sense of weight…

The Ghost Roads

Eoin McNamee returns with the concluding volume of the Ring of Five Trilogy. The action once again focuses on our hero Danny Caulfield as he is forced to use all of the skills learned at Wilson’s Spy Academy to prevent the evil Ambrose Longford from plunging the Upper World into a war of catastrophic proportions. The…

The Gift Of Darkhollow

This sequel to Podkin One-Ear is a continuation of the young rabbit’s adventures with his sister Paz and brother Pook through the burrows of The Five Realms, in his quest to become the leader of his clan and continue the fight against the fearsome, iron-corrupted Gorm. With his fabled dagger, as well as a new…

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led The Revels There

This is the second scoop of deliciousness by Catherynne M. Valente in her Fairyland series.  Parts of this book need to be read aloud so that you can savour the sweet and sour tang of Valente's vernacular. We meet September once more and are pulled back to Fairyland for reunions, adventures, questing and a hunt for a…

The Girls in the Velvet Frame

First published in 1978, published in a ‘new edition’ in 1988 and again in 2001, this title deserves its ‘Modern Classics on Tape’ soubriquet, and not merely for longevity. When the package with books for review arrived, my 13-year-old daughter took it away and her verdict was that ‘It makes you feel as if you…

The Goat

When a young girl named Kid moves into an apartment block in Manhattan from Toronto, she has no idea what awaits her. Shy and rather anxious, she misses her school, her friends and, most of all her cat. But New York City has a lot of unusual things to offer. In her building alone, there…

The Goblin and The Girl

Irani’s picturebook is a multilayered story that would suit a wide range of readers, each taking something different from it. Indeed, on each read of the beautifully illustrated book, they will learn something new. Irani tells the story of a little girl who sees herself as a goblin when she looks in the mirror. Hiding…

The Goblin’s Gift

  The Goblin’s Gift is the second book from the Tales of Fayt series by Conrad Mason. The book follows the exploits of Joseph Grubb, a half-human, half-goblin boy and his knife wielding, blue-haired friend Tabitha, as they are launched into an adventure to find the captured mermaid princess Palione and save their Demon’s Watch comrades. Mason’s novel…

The Good Thieves

From the award-winning author of The Wolf Riders, Rooftoppers and The Explorer comes another incredible and stellar adventure story: The Good Thieves. Katherine Rundell’s latest novel is a riveting caper set against the magnificent backdrop of New York City. The Good Thieves is packed full of exciting elements, including acrobats, animal charmers, pickpockets, dodgy criminals…

The Graveyard Book Vol. 1

After the grisly triple homicide of his entire family, a toddler wanders innocently into the confines of a graveyard, inadvertently escaping the same gruesome fate intended for him. The undead tenants agree to foster the boy, and call him Nobody Owens; raised by ghosts and a guardian who is questionably alive. While there are dangers and adventures a…

The Great Fire of London

This strikingly beautiful historical picturebook has been published to commemorate the three hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the great fire of London of 1666. It is a very fitting tribute to that event. It is a model of how to present facts to children in a clear, logical, well-written but always engaging style. It uses…

The Great Galloon

For those who relish a great adventure story The Great Galloon ticks all the boxes. This tale is packed with tremendously brave characters, exotic creatures, fantastical machines, war and love. The protagonist, Stanley Crumplehorn guides us through the bizarre world onboard The Great Galloon. The book opens with a chaotic scene of rushed celebratory preparations. Jubilation, however,…

The Great Good Thing

This book belongs in that category of books which are, in effect, books about books and which ask that readers keep constantly in mind that they are dealing with fictions and with characters who are, in the simplest formulation, totally made up. We have grown accustomed to this genre in children’s fiction, thanks to a…

The Great Ice-Cream Heist

Since being first published in 2009, Elen Caldecott ‘s books have been shortlitsed for many major awards – amongst them the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize and the Red House Children’s Book Award.  Fellow writer Julia Donaldson has described her work as “funny, poignant and hilarious,” – an accolade indeed for Caldecott who is perhaps best…

The High Hills

This charming little book instantly took me back to my childhood; its creamy yellow pages, beautifully detailed illustrations and animal characters are reminiscent of times gone by, and conjured up memories of Beatrix Potter’s Mrs Tiggywinkle and Peter Rabbit, and Kenneth Graham’s Mole, Toad and Ratty. In this story, the mice of Brambly Hedge are…

The Holidays

Rich in visual symbolism and told without words, The Holidays is a shifting fever-dream of a book. An independent young girl is spending the summer with her grandfather, happily exploring meadows and forests alone in a nostalgic rural idyll. One day, her grandfather introduces an unexpected and very different guest, in the shape of a…

The Horror Handbook

If you are a fan of ghosts, ghouls, vampires werewolves and witches, The Horror Handbook will give you the inside story of where many of them come from, where they go and what makes them tick. The Horror Handbook is meant as a fun collection of anecdotes, illustrated in a light-hearted and light-handed way by…

The House on Hawthorne Road

Beth, who is very shy and often feels invisible, has her world turned upside down when her beloved grandmother dies and her family move to Dublin. Everything is so different from London. At school, life is made even more difficult by Grainne the school bully and Beth’s BFF, Aisha, is now only available on Skype.…

The Ice Boy

In the simplest of formulations, the theme of Patricia Elliott’s novel concerns a boy who reluctantly, but gradually, grows to accept the fact of his father’s death. It is not an original theme, but there is considerable novelty in Elliott’s handling of it, principally because of the convincing way in which she has chosen to…

The Ice Cream Swipe

‘You know that game where you and your best mate walk backwards down the street, and the first one to bump into a lamp post or a traffic warden, or a man with a mad Alsatian or something has lost? It’s brilliant!’ Well that’s Gavin’s idea of fun. Would you put him in charge of…

The Ice-Cream Machine

Potts’ ice-cream is not only the most exciting icecream but also the strangest: strawberry with a hint of chilli peppers and cheesy peasmint are just some of the flavours. Add in a goat, an ice-cream van called ‘Macaroni’ with a definite mind of its own, entrepreneurial parents and two children and you have the recipe…

The Incomplete Book of Dragons

In an encyclopaedia like no other, Cressida Cowell gives an insight into her very own world where she categorizes dragons great and small from the minuscule Ziggerastica to the monstrous Leviathorgans, from the short-sighted Bog Spotted Gormless to the silly Two-Headed Gormatron. The book is filled with quirky facts and characteristics for each creature the…

The Incredible Ecosystems of Planet Earth

With her famous blend of interesting facts supported by intricate illustrations, Rachel Ignotofsky returns with another glorious work of art. This time she tackles planet Earth, its ecosystems and what we can do to protect it. Learning about how our ecosystems interact is essential in order to understand how humans are destroying it, intentionally or…

The Invisible Boy

Gary Gardner is a pathetic young boy when we first meet him. His father has just left his wife, taking Gary with him. Nobody asks Gary for his opinion, nobody cares. Gary becomes even more miserable when one misfortune follows another in his new life. He is now a latchkey child, neglected by his father…

The Jungle Book

Rudyard Kipling’s three tales of the man-cub Mowgli are attractively presented in this elaborate new edition. Although over a hundred years old, these stories have lost none of their appeal, containing as they do all of the classic ingredients of exciting narrative. From the cover and opening pages it is abundantly clear that this is…

The Kew Gardens Children’s Cookbook

The name Kew Gardens is synonymous with excellence in horticulture, and in this book that quality shines through. The concept of a cookbook that not only encourages time in the kitchen, but moreover makes children aware of how to grow their own fruit, vegetables and herbs, is one that will inspire both children and their…

The King of Birds

This collection of linked stories, in comic strip form, modelled on traditional Russian folklore has some beautiful artwork. Rich colours are everywhere and there are some very dramatic visual compositions that maintain engagement. There is evocative and effective use of comic strip grammar in laying out pages to increase drama, emphasise key points, and shift…

The King’s Head

Told like a Dark Ages cycle of stories, these tales are embedded in a framing eerie tale of a beheaded storyteller whose head keeps asking to be brought to his king. This yearning pulses through all the stories the head tells people who help him, and we constantly wonder what it is that he wants…

The Last Leg

Richard Kidd undoubtedly has a wild and busy imagination and an ability to click into the mind of an 11-/12-year-old. This zany, madcap story has a slightly slow build to a satisfyingly high level of intrigue and tension, in spite of some utterly daft and implausible plot twists. The novel is divided into two parts,…

The Last Spell Breather

Spell Breathing is the only thing that keeps the village safe from the monster curse that plagues the world. And for Rayne, Spell Breathing does not come easily. Now her mothers’ apprentice, she spends hours upon hours learning the spells, transcribing scrolls and examining a spellbook imbedded with grotesques that snap and bite. Rayne hates…

The Last Wolf

When people are lost, it is often an animal who rescues them – that is the theme of Michael Morpugo’s strong little story, The Last Wolf. Somehow the world of nature still comprehends the human heart when other human hearts are closed or turn away. A wild wolf leaves his woodland ways to follow and…

The Legend of Captain Crow’s Teeth

As five brothers settle down to sleep, in their cramped holiday caravan, the eldest brother, 10-year-old Marty, retells the local legend of Captain Crow’s Teeth ‘with plenty of blood and guts’. The legend centers on a vicious pirate, who is reputed to wander the local rocks, searching for a 9-year-old cabin boy who sunk an…

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