Peeking At Picture Books – December 2019

Vegetables in Holiday Underwear

Jared Chapman

A hilarious festive title that younger readers will love this book has humorous illustrations to admire while reading the run book. The book tells the reader how month after month a pea has waited until he can finally wear his holiday underwear as December arrives. There are a variety of other themed and event relevant underwear featured within the pages of this book, all of which will make readers laugh out loud a they enjoy reading this fun story book.

Patience, Miyuki

Roxane Marie Galliez and Seng Soun Ratanavanh

An utterly beautifully illustrated picture book that tells of a little girl called Miyuki who is anxious and impatient waiting for a single flower to open. Everything else is blossoming when Spring arrives but still the one flower has yet to open. Miyuki looks for ways to encourage the flower to open but her grandad advises her to sit and wait with him, that would be the best way to see the flower bloom. As Miyuki sits with him and waits she learns an important lesson that young readers will learn too, good things come to those who wait.

What John Marco Saw

Annie Burrows, illustrated by Nancy Lemon

A hugely appropriate story, this is about a little boy who nobody pays any attention to because he is small and insignificant to them. John Marco is busy paying attention to the world around him and noticing all the smaller more special details about things such as the nice grasshoppers make when eating, and he is eager to share these details with others. When he goes outside to escape the people paying him no attention he realises the tree in the front garden is starting to come down and through shouting he manages to get peoples attention enough for them to head outside and realise he is right, and they notice that which is going on around them. A brilliant story about how even the smallest person has valuable information and opinions to share.

Just Because

Mac Bennett, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

A curious picture book that comes filled with questions a young child has at bedtime about things they are thinking of and that are relevant to them. The answers the parent gives are elaborate and imaginative, and it is brilliant that the book finishes by saying that when you close your eyes and go to sleep you can have the most elaborate and imaginative adventures, thoughts and dreams. Beautifully illustrated with scenes of bedtime that give readers a relaxed, sleepy feel and make this a brilliant book to share at bedtime.

The Tempest -William Shakespeare

Retold by Georghia Ellinas and illustrated by Jane Ray

A stunning retelling of the classic and iconic The Tempest, this book has the most amazing illustrations that really portray the magic and adventure brilliantly and make it so easy to become immersed within this books pages. The pictures take the reader on an incredible exotic adventure to a beautiful island and tells of storms and magic and a quest for freedom and all with illustrations that compliment the text perfectly. This book is a great way to introduce readers to the world of Shakespeare and make it more appealing to a new generation of fans who will fall in love with this book, making it a perfect addition to a school library too.

Aesop’s Fables

Retold by Elli Woollard and illustrated by Marta Altes

From the Tortoise and the Hare to the Boy who cried Wolf and so much more besides, this collection of Aesop’s Fables is retold in rhyming sentences that make this so much more exciting for young readers as they take up the classic that is these fables that always have a moral to what they are about. The illustrations portray the scenes brilliantly and reflect the energy and adventure perfectly. This would be a brilliant book to gift to children to cherish for years to come and would be enjoyed by parents and children too.

The Misadventures of Frederick

Ben Manley and Emma Chichester Clark

A hilarious book that contains letters written on paper aeroplanes sent to and from a girl called Emily and Frederick. Emily writes over and over again inviting Frederick to come outside and join in with her fun and adventures but with each letter he declines because he worries that if he does venture outside he will become unwell or get hurt. Thankfully Emily does not give up and her persistence pays off when Frederick does leave his house and join her and in over coming all of his concerns he has an absolute blast. A fantastic title to share that encourages children to leave their comfort zone and see what adventures await them elsewhere.

The Hike

Alison Farrell

This is a beautiful adventure story about three friends who prepare for and go on a hike along a nature trail, and there is so much detail of the nature and environment they come into contact with spread across the pages in a scrapbook sort of design. One of the girls keeps a record of their hike in a sketchbook and this is shared amongst the books pages and when the girls reach the end of their walk one of the girls places a flag, one reads out a poem and one releases feathers into the wind which is such a heart warming and worthy ending to what is a jammed packed, fun adventure that the trio successfully complete even though they get lost and go wrong along the way – they are their for each other and help one another when needed such as when they are tired. A great example of strong friendships and loyalty for younger readers to learn from.

T.Rex Time Machine – Dinos in De-Nile

Jared Chapman

A fantastic story of dinosaurs that find and use a time machine and head back in time to that of the egyptians who upon spotting the dinosaurs request that the dinosaurs visit the pharoah. When they do visit the egyptian leader they are treated like royalty themselves with a feast being held in their honour followed by a tour of the pharoahs lands which makes for great reading. The dinosaurs do not stay in favour for long however, when aliens arrive they make things hard for the dinosaurs who make for a swift exit via the time machine. Fans of dinosaurs will love to read this story and the adventure the dinosaurs go on will inspire their imaginations too.

The Child of Dreams

Irena Brignull, and illustrated by Richard Jones

A heart warming story about a girls journey to find out where she comes from given that she doesn’t live with a dad and notices that all of the nature around her has two parents that created them. When her mum is unable to clarify the situation sufficiently the girl goes off to explore where she really comes from, starting with talking to the stork that delivered her to her mum. The girl finds out where she was first found as an unwanted baby and quickly realises that the mum she has known all her life is everything she needs and hurries home to her mum and the life she identifies with and enjoys. This is a lovely book that tells of all things family and what it is to feel loved, at home and wanted which young readers will enjoy hearing.

Navigating Non-Fiction this November

Magical Myths and Legends

Chosen by Michael Morpurgo

Featuring the stories of heroes and legends that we are familiar with such as Thor and Robin Hood, and those that we perhaps are less familiar with such as Gawain and the Green Knight and The Giant of Mont Saint-Michel – all chosen by the iconic children’s author Micheal Morpurgo. The stories all have stunning illustrations by various illustrators including Joe Todd-Stanton, Lee Cosgrave and Pierre Kleinhouse and the different styles not only help differentiate between the tales but also give readers a visual treat with the gorgeous designs and graphics included. This is the ideal gift for those that love stories of heroes and legends as it would make a perfect keepsake with children returning to this book time and time again.

Published by Oxford Children’s costing £9.99 in paperback.

Epic Tales of Triumph and Adventure

Simon Cheshire and Fatti Burke

Containing the stories of 66 men and women that have gone above and beyond, achieving amazing fetes so many areas such as exploration, science, sports, and inventing. Each individual has a double page spread focusing on what makes them stand out as such an extraordinary individual, with each page having bitesize amounts of information to each section, featuring a self portrait of the person or people and a large illustration depicting the overall main relevant scene to them too. The variety of people included in this book make it hugely interesting and informative, with it being both a title that will entertain and interest readers as well as an educational resource for purposes in school too.

Published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books costing £12.99 in hardback.

The Scale of Dinosaurs

Joanna Brundle

This fascinating book details the sizes of dinosaurs in a way that makes them understandable to young readers as it compares them to things that are relatable such as buses or elephants. The dinosaurs sizes referenced include the lengths of the animals as well as the weights which give such an impressive overview and understanding of the sheer size and mass of these prehistoric creatures. The book features bold, colourful illustrations that depict the comparatives perfectly and help readers comprehend the information presented. This book is perfect for KS1 children onwards and is the perfect title for dinosaur fans, topic work research and general fact discovery.

Published by Booklife costing £12.99 in hardback.

The Story of the London Underground

David Long and Sarah McMenemy

This insightful book tells you everything there is to know about the underground tube system that exists in England’s capital. The much used travel system has existed since 1863 with many modifications and improvements being made along the way that have led to the it being what we know it to be today and it is those changes that are interesting and make for exciting reading – especially for those who enjoy transport, engineering and STEM related topics. There is information on design details, technology, planning and so much more in this hugely informative book that will leave you with an appreciation for the system that is essential to not just London.

Published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books costing £12.99 in hardback.

Incredible Jobs you’ve (probably) NEVER heard of

Natalie Labarre

This large format book has a wealth of information amongst its pages on occupations that are strange, unheard of and most unusual – and all intriguing to the reader who will love exploring everything that this book has to offer. There are things to search for on some of the books pages and brilliant bold images to accompany the text throughout which really grab your attention. Careers that made it into the book include those suited to working outdoors and in various climates including as keeper of an island, jobs that work for people that don’t mind scary/weird like working with dead people, and those that suit adventurous types too – in fact there is quite literally a profession in this book that would interest everyone – including that of a professional sleeper!

Published by Nosy Crow costing £14.99 in hardback.

My First book of New York

Ingela P Arrhenius

An illustrative guide to what’s what in New York this book is both vibrantly coloured and visually stunning, featuring all of the must sees and dos of this spectacular state in America. The book would be a perfect gift for young readers either pre or post visiting New York as it serves as a souvenir and reminder of being there as much as a guide to what to do if visiting. Broken up into the relevant locations this book is easy to navigate and gives you a really informative tour of the area by providing us with a full page of keywords relevant to the location named and described on the opposite page. From foods and cultures to appreciate to statues and parks to visit this book really has covered it all, and in a way that children will recognise and relate to which ensures that they enjoy the book.

Published by Walker Studio costing £15.00 in hardback.

Africa Amazing Africa

Atinuke, illustrated by Mouni Feddag

Another super informative guide to a travel destination, this time Africa. This book breaks down the continent into North, East, South and West and teaches us about all the countries that fall into those areas. Each country is described to give us the chance to visualise the landscape and along with temperatures the locals endure we are also told of clothing choices, customs, wildlife, religions and so much more. The countries are ordered alphabetically within the book which makes using this book for research purposes so much easier and the illustrations have a cultural authenticity that depict the vibrancy and energy of the continent brilliantly and allow you to visualise the busy streets as much as the billowing deserts perfectly.

Published by Walker Books costing £14.99 in hardback.

My Body, Your Body – Skin

John Wood & Danielle Jones

With large font and simple sentences this book is ideal for KS1 children that are looking to learn about skin and the different colours it can be as well as the different patterns that can appear such as rashes and wrinkles. The illustrations are bold and brightly coloured with easy to distinguish details that make them interesting to look at and maintain childrens attentions albeit for at home or school reading and research material.

Published by Booklife costing £12.99 in hardback.

Have a Jolly Holly Christmas – Christmas Book Recommendations 2019 (Part Two)

Another stunning selection of Christmas picture book titles that are available to purchase for gifts, reading at home and school library stock, each of which I would highly recommend. Each of these books highlights the joy and excitement of the festive period, and the real meaning to Christmas is portrayed beautifully in many of them too. One of my favourite times of the year is winter with berries on bushes and trees sparkling with frost and these books all encapsulate that perfectly.

Flip Flap Frozen

Axel Scheffler

A fantastic interactive title from the illustrator of such classics as The Gruffalo, this book has two flaps that form the pages and the top half of the page is the top half of an animal and the bottom flap is the bottom of an animal meaning that with each turn of a page you have created an animal combination. The opposite page details facts on the half of the animal you have chosen so that you can read a crazy mismatch of information that works for your animal creation. This book is continual fun to play with making endless combinations of animal parts and children will love being able to engage with this fantastic title which follows on from multiple other Flip Flap titles such as Farm, Safari, Jungle, Pets, Ocean and Dinosaurs.

Published by Nosy Crow.

Mouse’s Night Before Christmas

Tracey Corderoy and Sarah Massini

A beautiful festive story that begins with the start of a well known traditional festive tale “Twas the night before Christmas” and then breaks off to tell about a mouse that lives in the bottom of the grandfather clock and how he longs to have a friend to buy gifts for at christmas. After wishing upon the star at the top of the christmas tree the mouse is visited by Santa who gifts mouse with two pairs of ice skates and sets him on his way to having his dream come true when he gives mouse a map to follow that leads him to bird and the two become very good friends. A feel good festive read that encourages younger audiences to see the significance and value in friendships.

Published by Nosy Crow.

Little Robin Red Vest

Jan Fearnley

A gorgeous christmas story full of festive cheer that tells of a little adorable robin who gifts away his warm winter vests to various friends he meets on his way during the week and then he finds himself cold and alone on a rooftop when Santa arrives. Knowing how kind and generous the robin has been Santa takes him home and has his wife knit the little bird a beautiful red vest that will keep him warm always and radiate warmth to those around him too. Santa praises the robin for being so kind, thoughtful and generous which will resonate with younger audiences who will fall in love with the adorable little bird from the offset.

Published by Nosy Crow.

Snow Still

Holly Surplice

An extremely cute and utterly adorable book of gorgeous illustrations and sentences that tell us of the scene being depicted on the pages which also feature some foil detailing to them, giving the snow and winter landscape and authentic wintery feel. The book shows us a fawns potential first experience in the snow, unbalanced and unsure and equally cute and adorable as they become more sure of the situation and then settle down in the warmth and security of their mother. This book has all the aspects you want in a book to snuggle up and read with a blanket at bedtime with younger children, reading it time and time again.

Published by Nosy Crow.

Meerkat Christmas

Emily Gravett

A fun and interactive book that contains christmas cards to open and read during the journey Sunny the Meerkat takes when he decides to embark on a hunt for the perfect christmas which he doesn’t find at home. The book takes readers across the world as Sunny explores different habitats and terrains before coming to realise that the best place to be at Christmas is at home with your family. This is such a lovely feel good read that has a lot of information for younger readers to learn such as animals from different environments and the names of them and it has the important message that family is where the true love and happiness lies and that there really is no place like home.

Published by Two Hoots.

The Night Before Christmas in Wonderland

Carys Bexington and Kate Hindley

This is a must have book to share and cherish at this time of year, combining the world of Santa with that of Wonderland and all his chaotic misgivings. With the queen declaring that they chop of Santa’s head in true Wonderland tradition and the reindeers on the look out for the Cheshire Cat there is so much going on in this dual story combinational read. The mad hatter is even present, arranging a tea party as ever when Santa and his reindeer arrive in Wonderland having received a letter from the princess there and not wanting to let her down at Christmas. With rhyming sentences that make this a catchy read there is no doubt that children will love being introduced to key Wonderland characters and behaviourisms in a christmas tale.

Published by Macmillan Children’s Books.

The Return of Sproutzilla

Tom Jamieson and Mike Byrne

This fun story tells of how Sproutzilla is completely anti christmas and intent on destroying peoples festive fun and when he holds Santa and two children who had been helping Santa – Jack and Ruby – hostage they realise it is because Sproutzilla has no one to celebrate the festive period with and that he lives somewhere in need of a festive makeover. Once done they all team up to ensure Santa still has time to deliver all of the presents to children on christmas eve. The story is a humour filled adventure that children will love hearing and following as they read this title.

Published by Macmillan Children’s Books.

Christmas Comes to Moominvalley

Adapted from the Tove Jansson classic by Alex Haridi, Cecilia Davidsson and Filippa Widlund

Giving us a look at what Christmas looks like and involves with the moonmins, this book is stunning visually and introduces the Moomins to a new generation this festive season. This embossed and foiled book tells the story of how the Moomins are woken from their sleep to hear Christmas is on its way but have no idea what Christmas is. Through the integrity and kindness that Moomins are fantastic examples of younger audiences learn the true meaning of Christmas through this gorgeous keepsake gift worthy title.

Published by Macmillan Children’s Books.

The Lollies Shortlist 2020

Next month the voting closes for the Lollies awards with voters having until 11.59pm on 13th December 2019 to cast votes on titles from the shortlist which were chosen by a panel of judges – Micheal Rosen, Alison Leach, Scott Evans, Andria Zafirakou and Kate Newport. My blog is intended to give you an insight into those titles on the shortlist and information on how to cast votes, which you can do as an individual or an entire class. The books are separated into three catergories – picture books, books for 6-8 year olds and books for 9-13 year olds. In the fourth year of the Lollies there is a beautiful variety of titles on offer that depict a wide range of topics, messages, characters and storylines all chosen because of their humourous content and that they will make readers laugh and smile. Enjoy.

Picture Books

Ten Fat Sausages by Michelle Robinson and Tor Freeman

A hilarious rewrite of the classic rhyme we all know and love, this book brings it into the 21st century and introduces the rhyme to the latest generation of readers with a new ending to each pair of sausages referenced in the pan. The endings are brilliantly funny, equally ridiculous and plausible in a young readers imagination and definitely likely to leave you grinning from ear to ear as you read of the lengths and depths of the sausages escapades.

Published by Andersen Press at £6.99 (PB)

Baby’s First Bank Heist by Jim Whalley and Stephen Collins

A fantastically funny picture book with rhyming verse that tells the story of how baby Frank wants a pet so badly that after failing to persuade his parents to buy him one he takes matters into his own hands and successfully robs a bank for the funds to purchase his own choice of furry companion. When one pet seems easy enough to look after and hide Frank buys another, and another and continues to spend the money he stole on a wide range of animals that it becomes increasingly difficult to hide. It is insane how many animals Frank acquires and the places that they have to hide and readers will be laughing page after page through this book as they keep up with this baby’s crazy animal acquiring antics.

Published by Bloomsbury at £6.99 (PB)

“You’re Called What?!” by Kes Gray and Nikki Dyson

This is an absolutely hilarious book that details lots of different real life animals that have names that anyone would find funny and laugh at, with lots of animals and insects visiting a name changing bureau to be known by something less funny, embarrassing and awkward. The final insect to declare his name as one to be reluctant to share is a wasp who gets more and more frustrated as the others laugh at him so he demands his name be changed immediately to something he is happy with – Dave! You will literally be laughing all the way through to the end of this book and find yourself reading this book and referencing it time and time again.

Spyder by Matt Carr

This is a great story book of a spider secret agent who has been tasked with preventing a fly from ruining the birthday cake during a child’s party at the family home that the spider lives in. We get to follow the spider through different rooms of the house, and view them from spider worthy angles such as the ceiling of the bathroom – giving us a birds eye view of the layout which gives this book an interesting and immersive appeal.A great way to get children interested in insects and potentially less afraid of spiders.

6-8 Year Olds

The Legend of Kevin by Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntyre

With the gorgeous silver spray edging and sparkly cover (hardback) you are instantly drawn to The Legend of Kevin and it does not disappoint. The book has stunning illustrative content throughout that compliments the text perfectly. The narrative is cheeky and fun and tells of how Kevin – the flying pony nonetheless – is blown about by a storm that then delivers him on to the balcony of Max’s flat and then during the storm the causes the sea waters to rise and the town is then infiltrated by sea monkeys which leaves Kevin and Max having to try to save the day. This book is perfect for children growing in confidence to read chapter books, and as there are similar books to this title from the iconic duo that is Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre (Oliver and the Seawigs, Pugs of the Frozen North) children can find longevity in there choice as they indulge in some fun adventure stories like this one.

Bad Nana Older not Wiser by Sophy Henn

With bold illustrations and vibrant colours this book has the readers attention from the offset. Telling the story of Jeanie and her grandma “Bad Nana” in three stories that tell of the antics that happen whenever Jeanie’s grandma is about such as changing the signs displayed at the park to promote enjoyment and fun instead of it all being disallowed. The stories are fun and highly entertaining and readers will love the character Bad Nana and all that she gets up too.

The Nothing to See Here Hotel by Steven Butler and Steven Lenton

The first in a brilliant series for readers entering the world of chapter books this instalment tells of the adventures and antics in the nothing to see here hotel which is run by Frankie Banister and his family. News arrives that a very special guest is enroute and the family busy themselves for the prestigious arrival and the story tells of the chaos and carnage that ensues as they deal with a brat of a prince. With some fantastic characters and humour that even us adults will appreciate this book will have readers excited for the rest of the series and recommending the books to plenty.

World’s Worst Children 3 by David Walliams and Tony Ross

The third instalment in the World’s Worst Children collections this book like the two books that precede it has ten stories of children considered to be pretty awful for hilariously ridiculous behaviourisms and characteristics for example vanity, tantrums and pranksters. The book is humour filled from the offset with brilliant characters that readers will find utterly hilarious and relatable as the characters remind them of children from school, television and film. Children will delight in this latest instalment of giggle inducing literature.

9-13 Year Olds

Kid Normal and the Rogue Heroes by Greg James and Chris Smith

This second book in the Kid Normal series sees us return to the world of Murph Cooper and the Super Zeroes in another humour filled story of the gang saving the day and being in the line of danger along the way. The characters are brilliant and make this creatively written story undoubtedly hugely popular with readers looking for an adventure story that has the quality and depth you look for in a good book, with the added bonus of it being the second instalment in a successful series.

I Swapped My Brother on the Internet by Jo Simmons and Nathan Reed

This is a brilliantly funny book about a boy called Jonny who finds a way to get rid of his annoying brother by swapping him on the internet for what will hopefully be a vastly improved sibling. It doesn’t quite work out how he assumed it would as the website he used to swap his brother sends him the most peculiar replacements including the ghost of Henry the Eighth. Jonny endures it all in a bid for a better brother but comes to realise that the one he had to begin with wasn’t as bad as he initially believed. The book is hugely relatable to children who have similar love/hate relationships with their siblings as that displayed in the book and as such will prove popular to readers as they enjoy seeing Jonny do what they can not and enjoy the hilarious consequences.

Planet Stan by Elaine Wickson and Chris Judge

The layout of Planet Stan is eye catching and fun with infographics that feature within that draw your eye and attention to the different parts of the book. You cannot help but want to design your own pie charts by the time you have read this book that tells of Stan – a boy who loves to use charts and diagrams to make sense of the world. Stan and his brother are funny, extraordinary characters that make this a fun, make you want to smile a lot book that readers will enjoy immensely. The combination of the fantastic illustrations and text make this an award winning combination that readers will love as they enjoy reading about the ups and downs of Stan’s life and the impact and involvement of his brother who is irritating far too much.

I Bet I Can Make You Laugh by Joshua Seigal and Tim Wesson

This anthology of hilarious poetry will make readers laugh out loud as they enjoy the selection of poetry that has been edited and collected up by poet Joshua Seigal who has also written some of the poetry that is included in the book. There are plenty of laughs to be had from reading the poems inside the book that even include love poems!

Make sure to cast your votes by visiting the website by 11.59pm on 13th December 2019.

It’s the Season to be Jolly – Christmas Book Recommendations 2019

There are definitely a lot of christmas titles to choose from this time of year so I have compiled a list of those that I think offer great value for money, emulate the christmas feel and vibe we all look for in the perfect christmas book and would be perfect to share with young children at home or at school. Be sure to check them out as the following books would be perfect christmas titles year after year. Happy Holidays!

How Winston Delivered Christmas

Alex.T.Smith

This is all you associate with Christmas in a book! Truly magical, rewarding and invested in providing memories with your loved ones as you share the books twenty four and a half chapters and/or the numerous activities that feature too.

The book portrays the importance of kindness and taking care of one another through the story of Winston, a homeless mouse that shows both courage and determination as he sets about trying to deliver a letter to father christmas that got lost and he came across. The book has a twenty four and a half chapter format with the intention that a chapter be shared from December 1st through to the final half chapter conclusion on Christmas Day, this is a great way of building up the festive feeling and magic in the lead up to the big day whilst ensuring that it isn’t just the presents opened on the 25th that children associate with Christmas and come to look forward to in future years, especially as this stunning paperback version (the hardback was released last year) has a foil art designed front cover and breathtaking illustrations that will undoubtedly capture the hearts of all those that see this edition and having them asking for it time and time again as they follow Winston’s journey, making new friends along the way and learn the importance of kindness at christmas and beyond.

Published by Macmillan on 3rd October 2019 at £9.99 (PB)

Oh, Christmas Tree!

Sue Hendra & Paul Linnet

This festive title from the amazing duo that have given us books to enjoy that include Barry the Fish with Fingers and Supertato is the perfect book to share over the festive period. Using rhyme to tell of a tree that refuses to be a christmas tree, stood in a pot and decorated this book is great fun and will put a smile on every readers face. The tree decorations are determined to take their rightful positions on the tree to celebrate christmas on full display just like all the other trees along the street, so with some compromise and showing one another understanding and respect it seems as though everyone will get what they want. A great way of showing children an alternative christmas story that is packed full of surprises – especially learning that the tree likes to bake, and with stunning illustrations to compliment the text this really is a winning combination, especially as the illustrations reflect the festive feel authentically as well as the energy and excitement too.

Published by Macmillan at £6.99 (PB)

Maisy’s Christmas Letters

Lucy Cousins

An amazing interactive book that contains letters and additional extras from Maisy to and from her friends as she arranges a get together with them at christmas. There is also a christmas card and keepsake in the final envelope for the reader which is a beautiful way to finish off an immersive and fun book, ensuring this book is read over and over and remembered fondly. Children will love taking out the letters and gifts that Maisy is sent from her friends whilst following her progress organising her party.

Published by Walker Books at £12.99 (HB)

Christmas is Coming – An Advent Book

Katie Hickey

The first thing that you notice about this book is the front cover is an advent calendar, with flaps to open that are numbered like on a normal advent. Each of the flaps gives a clue as to which content inside the book is relevant, and that could be an activity, rhyme, song, story or craft to share with those around you, encouraging you to make memories and enjoy time with those you love. Everything about this book has a traditional christmas feel, from the front cover design to the illustrations inside. There is no doubt that this book will be chosen over and over given the interactive advent cover and interesting and varied content inside.

Published by Abram & Chronicle at £12.99 (HB)

Dasher

Matt Tavares

This is a heartwarmingly beautiful story about Dasher, one of the reindeer we all know to be one of Santa’s team, and how she came to take on the now infamous role of one of Santa’s sleigh pulling reindeer. I love that Dasher has been portrayed as a female, and that she continually thinks of her family even when she isn’t with them. Dasher has heard stories of a beautiful place that would involve her family being free to roam instead of fenced in and worked by their owner. Her mum tells the stories and includes details that the place she refers to can be found under the north star, so with that in mind Dasher heads that way when she sees an opportunity to run away. On her way Dasher comes across Santa needing help with pulling his sleigh as his reindeer is tired and struggling and Dasher offers to help, a great message to young readers that helping others is a real act of kindness. With a traditional feel through both the story and the stunning illustrative content this book is one to cherish and enjoy time and time again, especially as the illustrations are the epitome of christmas and the festive feel.

Published by Walker Books at £12.99 (HB)

The Night Before Christmas and Other Festive Favourites

Illustrated by N.Puttapipat

A gorgeous collection of christmas favourites that feature utterly stunning silhouette style illustrations that depict the rhymes that we all know and love such as Jingle Bells and the Nutcracker too. The illustrations spread beyond one page making this an ideal book to share with loved ones and at bedtimes when children can really take in the phenomenal illustrative efforts upon the pages which really depict the energy and message being portrayed within the text. The silhouettes stand out in front of vibrant coloured scenes and this style works brilliantly as it draws your eye to the various details such as the trimmings on a christmas tree. I absolutely love this book, it has a uniqueness to appreciate and creates that warm festive feeling inside as you indulge yourself reading.

Published by Walker Books at £14.99 (HB)

The Tree That’s Meant To Be

Yuval Zommer

With an autumnal feel from the very first page this rhyming story of one little fir tree’s journey through the seasons is the perfect story to share this time of year. The little tree doesn’t grow straight enough and tall enough to be chosen by anyone when they come to the forest to choose christmas trees but the animals of the forest come to support the little fir tree and decorate it with berries and feathers and other bits they have scavenged and they come to love and appreciate the tree being there and that in turns makes the little fir tree feel loved, wanted and complete. A beautiful and heartwarming story that reinforces that even those not picked first are wanted and cared about by the right friends. The illustrations are breathtakingly beautiful, depicting nature in such an inspiring way that younger readers will not only enjoy the story but they will likely grow an appreciation of and love nature too.

Published by Oxford Children’s at £12.99 (HB)

One Christmas Wish

Katherine Rundell and Emily Sutton

This festive treat of a story tells of a young boy named Theo who finds himself alone on christmas eve and looking to make his home more christmassy. He puts what trimmings he can find that aren’t damaged on to the tree and improvises when he realises he cannot reach the top of the tree to place the fairy. Longing for some company and conversation Theo wishes upon a shooting star he sees out of the window and four of the ornaments he hung on the christmas tree come alive and an amazing adventure ensues that sees them face different scenarios to assist each of the ornaments such as the robin wanting to recall singing so they pay a visit to a nearby neighbour that teaches piano and is familiar with music. The story has a brilliant ending that reinforces the message of making time for each other being more important then any gifts at christmas, and it is heartwarming to see Theo with his parents as they reunite just in time to enjoy the festive period together.

Published by Bloomsbury at £8.99 (PB)

The Christmas Unicorn

Anna Currey

A delightful story about a girl called Milly who spots a unicorn in her grandpa’s garden the night that she arrives there with her mum, staying there for christmas. The unicorn is friendly and heads inside to fall asleep on Milly’s bed, and in the morning is introduced to Milly’s mum and grandpa. Milly takes the unicorn shopping with grandpa for a new star to place at the top of the tree and meets a girl called Sophie who is also smitten with the unicorn and the pair make plans to hang out the next day. When Milly gets back home the unicorn explains he has to leave and return to his friends in the nearby countryside and heads off, and Milly is excited to see her dad has arrived and feels as though all that she could wish for has come true. This is a real heartwarming, festive feel of a story that would be perfect shared at bedtime, with a class, in a library or with a hot chocolate and mince pie to really encourage the festive vibe.

Published by Oxford Children’s at £6.99 (PB)

The Pearl in the Ice

The best middle grade stories are often those that reveal small amounts of significant detail throughout, which lure the reader in and ensure they are invested in the stories progress right through to the very ending and that is precisely what I love about The Pearl in the Ice. From the offset main character Marina, a 12 year old living with her dad is remarkable, and it as we accompany her on her journey to discover who she truly is that we see just how remarkable she is. A fantastic role model to young readers, she is courageous, intelligent, loyal, curious, and follows her heart.

In doing so Marina finds herself as a stowaway onboard the fishing vessel her dad is captaining, and whilst that was not her intention when she set out to follow her dad to port to see him off she is now in a situation that most would be petrified to find themselves in and yet Marina comes into her own – once she has battled sea sickness anyway!

And so begins Marina’s first ever journey by sea, caught and taken to her dad she doesn’t receive the warm welcome she anticipated but later on is given an official position within the ships crew, and responsibility for the dogs onboard which she takes very seriously but which also leads to some serious mishaps along the way, which are incredibly dangerous.

One such occasion sees Marina fall into the ocean and it triggers one of the flashbacks that feature within the book, to when she visited the seaside when she was younger, with her mum being there to take her paddling in the sea, and Marina is left confused and uncertain and looks for answers from her dad, especially as the water seems to be calling to her every time she is in it – whether it be in her flashbacks or at present – even when she is in the bath tub!

The mystery of Marina’s heritage, what happened to her mum – who is no longer around, and her adventurous soul that feels at home on the ocean make for an engaging and gripping read that young readers will love. The story is well paced, exciting, and has all the content you could ask for to immerse the reader into the adventure and take them alongside Marina on her ocean voyage. Fans of Katherine Rundell’s The Explorer, Alex Bell’s Polar Bear Explorers Club series and Abi Elphistone’s Sky Song would definitely enjoy this title.

The Pearl in the Ice is published by Chicken House on 7th November 2019.

Series-ly Sensational

When it comes to books you really can’t beat a good series as it offers that hugely valuable continuity to characters you come to know and love, and what better series to read then those with strong characters and immersive storylines. The series’ that feature on this blog would be perfect additions at home, in the classroom and in the school library.

The Sherlock Holmes Children’s Collection

Featuring a selection of ten books, this box set of Sherlock Holmes titles is perfect for 7-9 year old readers that enjoy mysteries. The original text by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has been adapted by Stephanie Baudet that simplifies the text to the relevant younger reader age group. The books feature stunning illustrations by Arianna Bellucci that help the reader become immersed in the story and visualise the adventure as it unfolds, she is also the talent behind the book covers which are eye catching, intriguing and modern. There is also a QR code in the inside front cover which allows an audiobook option for the story.

The titles in the collection are

  • A Study in Scarlet
  • The Sign of the Four
  • The Three Students
  • The Blue Carbuncle
  • The Speckled Band
  • The Red-Headed League
  • The Reigate Squires
  • The Naval Treaty
  • The Sussex Vampire
  • The Veiled Lodger

The books follow the iconic Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Watson through the adventures that are now so infamous, introducing these timeless classics to a whole new generation. With an average 110 pages these books are the perfect length for children that are starting out in the world of chapter books, and ensures they enjoy the story and want to continue reading through the series. This ‘Shadows, Secrets and Stolen Treasure’ book collection is great value for money and is the ideal way to encourage early chapter readers to build their knowledge of classic literature whilst building up their reading stamina too.

ISBN – 9781782264088

RRP – £69.90 for the Boxset or £6.99 each

To order (or for more information) – https://sweetcherrypublishing.com/the-sherlock-holmes-childrens-collection/

Max the Detective Cat

A fun new series of mystery stories featuring a Cat that does all the crime solving and detective work. With three titles in the series from author Sarah Todd Taylor

  • The Disappearing Diva
  • The Phantom Portrait
  • The Catnap Caper

Each of the titles features an adorable cat amidst an adventurous backdrop front cover design, illustrated by Nicola Kinnear, indicating what to anticipate from the book. There are stunning illustrations throughout each book too, allowing the reader to imagine the adventure as it develops through the depicted scenes and story characters. Perfect for children starting their adventures into the world of chapter books these books can be read independently or in series order, with The Disappearing Diva giving some of Max’s history of how he came to be a detective cat.

The Disappearing Diva

The first in the series, this is the story of how Max came to leave the home he lived in and took up a residence in a theatre. It is during his time at the theatre that Max comes across his first mystery involving a famous singer that is displaying strange behaviour.

The Phantom Portrait

In this story Max uses his detective skills at Lord Fawley’s castle where diamonds are going missing and it is obvious that it cannot be ghosts stealing them, so Max investigates all things strange and mysterious – including things that go bump in the night!

The Catnap Caper

In this story Max finds himself in Paris as his owner is a judge in a singing competition there and takes it upon himself to search for other cats that have been kidnapped, which is even more important to him given how much he likes one of the victims. With friend Oscar to help him the pair work on who is responsible. The book has a really authentic parisian feel with the reference of music and location to really help immerse the reader into the story.

Each of these titles retails at £6.99, more information can be found here

The Complete Jane Austen Collection

This stunning set of six books is the perfect addition to a school library looking to introduce the amazing works of Jane Austen to a new generation of readers with these original texts and gorgeous new cover designs by Nancy Leschnikoff and Margot Reverdiau that are visually appealing with the main female character from each book on the front cover, in period style dress and design.

The titles that feature in this box set are –

  • Mansfield Park
  • Persuasion
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Sense and Sensibility
  • Northanger Abbey
  • Emma

Publishers of this collection Sweet Cherry confirmed recently that another set of Jane Austen titles is due to be published in 2020 meaning more of the timeless classics from this phenomenal author. Intended for confident readers that are looking to enjoy the depth and quality these books have to offer these books would be a popular choice as a gift to those that enjoy classic literature, and with the updated, fresh and eye catching covers will prove of interest in a school setting too.

ISBN – 9781782264736

RRP – £ 53.94 for the Boxset or £8.99 each.

To order (or for more information) – https://sweetcherrypublishing.com/the-complete-jane-austen-collection/

The Somerset Tsunami

Somerset, 1616

A sinking boat …

A girl in disguise …

A disappearing sea …

This is the phenomenal story of Fortune Sharpe, a young girl that lives in a hamlet inhabited by all females with the exception of her older brother who she dotes on. The pair are frequently being reprimanded as they play games like chase, and on one of those occasions happen upon a fallen tree which they agree would make a perfect boat and the pair set about carving and creating just that. It isn’t long before the boat is left to Fortune to finish as her brother Jem is required to take on a prominent position within the hamlet, and take on all the responsibility thats comes with the role leaving him preoccupied and busy. In a bid to have fun with her brother again Fortune finishes the boat and encourages Jem to try it out in the ocean with her.

The boat is a success for the most part, that is until they spy someone up on a hill observing them, and given that it is the sabbath day both Fortune and Jem knowing that something bad will come of it all confess all to their mother in a hope she will give them guidance. That night Fortune is awoken by her mother who requests that she dress in boy clothes before the pair set off in the dark for the servants market. It seems Fortune’s time at home has come to an abrupt end and she must leave to find work elsewhere under the guise of being a boy.

Fortune finds herself employed by Mr Spicer, owner of Barrow Hall. The man despises girls, is highly suspicious of witchcraft – something he believes in, and has an awful associate by the name of Dr Blood. This business partner seems to always be lingering, constantly advising, and always watching what others are doing and from the offset Molly dislikes him. Disguised as a boy Molly begins work as personal servant to Mr Spicer’s son Ellis who soon discovers her secret along with his sister Susannah. The trio offer each other much welcome support and encouragement and are fantastic examples of a positive friendship, confiding in one another where necessary – Ellis for example tells Molly he will runaway if things don’t change at home.

When a Tsunami hits no one knows what it is, or what has caused it. The devastation it causes goes on for miles and is catastrophic. There are many deaths, losses of homes, crops and property that affect a vast amount of people, and with Mr Spicer among the dead it seems Dr Blood is intent on regaining control of the business plans and is intent on a witch trial. Molly worries that he is focused on Susannah and does all she can to help her, offering to take her back home to her family and seek sanctuary there. It seems the danger is closer to home – especially as Molly is known to be different by many and looked to have prior knowledge of the disaster by building a boat, but there is more to Molly than meets the eye, and her bond with her brother is one that cannot be broken with him coming to her rescue too.

Readers get to witness the dramatics of a witch trial, the accusations being thrown around and the consequences that has on not only the accused but those around them too. It is evident that not knowing the cause of this disaster has left the people of Somerset fearful, and consequently willing to accept any explanation put their way – in this case witchcraft. It is interesting to see the mindset of that particular time in history and understand why the suggested cause would be found ludicrous in the present day and yet made sense to those people there at the time.

This is both an intense and compelling read, one that takes the reader on the most incredible journey through history and immerses them in the midst of tense times, the accusation of being a witch feared by all. This tense atmosphere within the community Molly lives in as well as the country as a whole is evident from the offset and depicted brilliantly, especially with accused in jail being a part of Molly’s journey. The story has you gripped from the very moment you are introduced to Molly, and you find yourself willing her on, and hoping nothing bad will happen to her.

The Somerset Tsunami was published on 3rd October 2019 by Faber & Faber.

The Runaways – Holly Webb

‘A moving story of love and loss during the Second World War’

Following on from Holly’s hugely successful 2018 publication Evie’s War which is World War One based and tells of loss, death, and grief that all befall Evie’s family during the War, this book is Second World War based and follows Molly’s story. The two books combined make great fiction choices for KS2 classes learning about either/both of the World Wars. These are fantastic titles to add to respective topic boxes too.

Molly feels trapped, her mum is constantly checking up on her and barely lets Molly out of her sight, leaving the girl frustrated and resentful – especially as her friends aren’t treated the same way. When Molly does manage to see her friends and play for a little while she goes home and is caught out for having done so by her mum, becoming anxious of a punishment. But then war comes to England, and given that Molly lives in the Capital and is in more potential danger then those living further into the countryside it seems inevitable as well as imminent that things will change.

Things do change, but not how Molly anticipated – believing she would become an evacuee and finding out that her mother has different ideas and intends to keep her home, and then the people around Molly start to behave differently and when she combines this weird behaviour with a whispered conversation she overhears between her mum and sister decides to run away and takes the family dog with her.

What follows is the most amazing adventure that is both saddening and amazing in equal measures. Molly struggles to find suitable places to stay and sufficient food to eat either, but when she comes across two other runaways the trio combine efforts and things start to look up. Away from the war Molly distracts herself with a sense of normality and routine but she is always thinking of those she left behind, and the impact her disappearance has had on them.

There is referencing to loss relating to the war, and there is great detail involved in the story relating to the evacuation of children once war was declared and other important aspects of life during wartime britain such as the use of anderson shelters, air raid sirens, rationing, and blackouts. The story immerses you among the streets and children of london, seeing the children leaving for the countryside, and Molly being left behind. The reader will be engrossed as they read of Molly’s travels by train and on foot, trying to ensure her dog stays a part of the family, compelling Molly to succeed in finding somewhere safe.

Molly, Rose and John find the kindest of people, a pregnant lady who seems happy to take them in and keep them safe. The trio give each other the strength they need to get through the ordeal they each face, and Molly looks to return home to her mum knowing she would have been worried sick about her, something that is confirmed by a police officer that attends their temporary address and identifying Molly as the young girl that her mum has begged the police for help to find daily.

This is a hugely compelling read, giving readers an insight into life in britain during world war two from a child’s perspective and regarding the impact it had on the children living through it at the time. Molly is a clever girl and manages far more than most, applying herself with a grit and determination that truly reflects the attitude of british people during wartime. This book has huge value to children learning about World War Two as author Holly Webb succeeds in drawing attention to those specific details that matter, tying them together throughout the book to ensure a consistently gripping read that is utterly heart warming and truly unforgettable – with the rawness to the emotions and experiences within that give this book an award winning genuineness.

The Runaways published on 3rd October 2019 by Scholastic.

Brilliant Titles from Buster Books

I recently made contact with Buster Books and requested a selection of the titles that they have available, and I am sharing them on this blog post. I am in love with the variety they have on offer, especially loving the Little Unicorn titles and that they have a selection of books about hugely important topics like the environment and our planet. I hope you enjoy this blog and the books it features, I definitely have.

Little Unicorn is Angry

Aurelie Chien Chow Chine

An amazing little must have book that helps younger readers to understand emotions, this title focusing on anger. Telling the story of a unicorn that has a magical mane, changing colour to reflect the emotion the unicorn is feeling most strongly, this book will help younger readers to not only understand what emotions are but also how to cope with them, and that how they are feeling is completely normal. It is important young readers relate to what they are reading, placing themselves and their feelings in to the story where appropriate, and this is incredibly likely as unicorn becomes angry in relation to things at home like bathtime and bedtime which is something young children experience. The book features a breathing technique explained in easy to follow stages and encouraging visualisation of the emotion and feelings involved in the situation which takes this book to the next level, providing self help support to younger readers. This book would be perfect for nurture groups, reception classes and lower ks1 classes as well as at home – any scenario that allows access to this beneficial new series by the intended age readers.

Little Unicorn is Sad

Aurelie Chien Chow Chine

A second book in the series, this one focuses on sadness by telling the story of how unicorn feels at school when his friends play a different game, excluding him in the process. As with each book in the series there is a breathing technique to help readers to control and cope with how they are feeling when angry. Each story also shows how the situation does diffuse for unicorn, his mane returns to the colourful variety and he feels so much better in himself.

You Can Save the Planet – 101 ways YOU can make a difference

An amazing guide book that educates readers on 101 achievable, often simple, straight forward ways to contribute towards the protection of the planet. Divided into sections to make searching for and referencing ideas more straight forward this book really does inspire, educate and encourage readers to take much needed steps to be green. Featuring everything from creating your own compost heap to making environmentally friendly hair conditioner and so much more besides, this book has a fantastic array of opportunities that will accommodate all circumstances and allow participation – regardless of whether you have a large family or small, house or flat, garden or pot plant. This is a vital resource for the younger generation to establish environmentally friendly behaviour that they can continue to use as they grow up, ensuring the planets survival for generations to come.

Guardians of the Planet

Written by Clive Gifford and Illustrated by Jonathan Woodward

Another quality Non-fiction title from publishers Buster Books, with this book focusing on educating young readers to become eco-heroes. Even the book is made from eco-friendly inks and paper – setting a standard for readers to admire and follow. The book has everything from what to do around the home, and significant environmental impacts around the home, the beach, ocean and forests. Information is displayed in a bitesize amount, eye-catching and interesting way that grabs your attention and maintains it throughout. The book gives perfect opportunities to go off and research more detail of some of the specifics such as to learn the different types of trees and how to identify them. I love that the book makes you want to go and learn more, and that it is providing you with all the information you need to make an informed decision about the state of our planet and environment and how as an individual to contribute positively to protecting the planet. There are challenges and experiments to complete along the way should you wish, and there are lots of bitesize facts and statistics to pull out easily, dotted on the pages. The illustrations are engaging, on topic, realistic and interesting, drawing your eye to the different sections of the page and indicating the topic.

The Book of Animal Super Heroes

Camilla de la Bedoyere

This is a hugely inspirational title about heroic animals that have done everything you could possibly think of an animal ever doing in an extreme situation like rescuing owners trapped during an earthquake and making people aware when a human has gone into a diabetic coma. The book is full of facts for all of the animals that feature in the book – dogs, cats and so much more. The full page illustrations that are contained within each section really capture the likeness, energy and spirit of the animals and helps readers to visualise the hero being showcased. This book has so much information to offer and inspire readers with, especially the real life stories which are told in a facts and no nonsense way which ensures the reader will want to continue reading this book and explore the amazing content it offers. This would be a great book choice for bedtimes, reading children the inspiring stories of heroic animals as much as it would be a great addition to a school library. I very much look forward to sharing the stories within this book with young audiences, ensuring the legacy of the animals continues.

Hopefully this has given an insight into some of the titles Buster Books have available at the moment, and given that their non-fiction is of such a high quality and their self help books for younger audiences are worthwhile resources in the home as much as at school I hope that this blog helps you to choose the right titles for your needs.

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