Friday, 20 June 2014

Titles for More Mature readers

Picture Me Gone
Written by Meg Rosoff
Penguin (eB) £12.99
ISBN: 978-0141344034
Meg Rosoff has once more produced a compelling tale that is powerful and haunting. Though brief, it is beautifully written. Mila and her father are in America trying to find his best friend, Matthew, who has gone missing, leaving his wife and baby son. Mila has always been very perceptive, often seeing things that busy grown-ups miss, and she soon realises that there is more to Matthew’s disappearance than meets the eye. As more of his hidden life comes to light, Mila begins to despair of, and for, adults. As the story progresses, more secrets are uncovered and the tension builds. Matthew’s disappearance weighs heavily on each of the characters for different reasons, and Mila is both puzzled and disappointed by their actions. Meg Rosoff has given us credible characters, both flawed and vulnerable. They may not have in-depth back stories, but you know as much as you need to. In Honey, she has written the most believable portrayal of a dog I have ever read. The conclusion is completely satisfying with no huge reveals or shocks, just an ideal resolution to this very understated story. Highly recommended!
Jane Hall

Sad Monsters
Written by Frank Lesser
Souvenir Press (eB) £6.99
ISBN: 978-0285642324
The innocent illustration of a cute monster on the cover of Sad Monsters belies the adult humour inside, within stories that are often laugh-out-loud funny. US satirist Frank Lesser has taken all the monsters one would expect, i.e. vampires, zombies, and werewolves, but shows us sides of them we never knew existed. Godzilla wonders if there is more to life than destroying cities, when really he prefers to stay at home and watch M*A*S*H! The forty, short, monster tales in the book are not designed to be read in one sitting. If kept as a ‘dip-in’ book, then each separate tale will entertain. While some of the stories are innocent, many of the monsters have adult issues, such as searching for a job, body image, and sexual relationships. There is no actual ‘adult language’, but there are frequent allusions to mature themes which younger children will not understand, and could cause embarrassment for any parent asked to explain. Great subversive fun for older teens!
Jane Hall

Small Damages
Written by Beth Kephart
Philomel (eB) £10.87
ISBN: 978-0142426418
This mature and lyrically written story is perfectly flavoured with the tastes, sights and sounds of Spain. Beth Kephart writes with a simple but elegant intensity that matches the mood of the story. Still grieving for her father and coping with her mum’s new career, Kenzie throws both her and her boyfriend’s futures into doubt when she becomes pregnant. So that no-one in their home town will find out about the baby, Kenzie’s mother sends her daughter to stay with friends in Spain who organise an adoption. However, present-day issues mingle with tales of Spain’s tortured past and Kenzie is not the only person facing difficult truths under a blistering Spanish sun. Under the wings of Esteban, the house cook, Kenzie glimpses what love means and learns where her heart wants her to be. This thoughtful and endearing story will enthral many readers, particularly those looking to read something emotionally substantial and well written.
Benjamin Scott

The Cuckoo’s Daughter
Written by Griselda Gifford
Country Books £6.99
ISBN: 978-1906789879
This historical novel is based on a true story set at the end of the eighteenth century, which gives rare insight into growing up in a farming family long before cars, central heating, mobile phones or any phones at all, when babies were delivered at home, there was no NHS and Forster’s Education Act was still seventy years away. Based on the author’s great-great grandmother, Louisa, born illegitimately, is reared by the Edsir family, and, although she loves them dearly, she knows, from an early age, that she is fostered, “Your mother was like the cuckoo, leaving you in a stranger’s nest” says the fairground gypsy who also warns, “You’ll be needing strength and courage to go with your love.”At sixteen, Louisa is no nearer to knowing the truth of her origin and can only guess, thanks to the expensive presents she is singled out to receive. But, if she’s not even to know the truth about her parents, why should she accept an arranged marriage? She must summon the courage of which the gypsy spoke, and she does! This story, well researched and credibly written, really is a rare treat.
Gill Roberts

Little White Lies
Written by Katie Dale
Simon & Schuster (eB) £6.99
ISBN: 978-0857071439
Lou’s cousin has been attacked and left in a coma. The publicity surrounding the assault, and her uncle’s imprisonment for the manslaughter of the boy believed to have attacked her cousin, has driven her to create a new identity. With her new name, a new life at university and a web of white lies she hopes to stop even her closest friends finding out the truth. When Lou meets the tall, dark, handsome Christian her determination to keep herself detached is seriously challenged. But it seems that Christian has his own secrets, and the reader is taken on a ride of twisting truths, identities and allegiances with many dangerous and sinister turns. Then Lou’s cousin dies, vigilantes begin looking for the other teenage boy thought to be involved in the assault and we realise that Christian’s secrets are serious indeed. Almost no-one in this thriller is who they seem, and, as the action becomes increasingly dramatic, we are lead closer and closer to the truth about what really happened to Lou’s cousin. This is a gripping read for older teenagers, full of conflicting loyalties, startling revelations and unexpected resolutions.
Stella Maden

Yellow Cake
Written by Margo Lanagan
David Fickling (R) (eB) £7.99
ISBN: 978-1849921114
Lanagan is a superb author of short stories who takes ownership of the English language and twists and turns it with inventiveness. Words are invented and repurposed to build a sense of authenticity in the many and varied worlds which she creates. These are imaginatively challenging tales. The reader can’t simply sit back and let the story wash over them, understanding requires active engagement. This is not to say that Lanagan’s prose is dense, far from it! Lanagan’s style is to catapult us straight into a world which we learn about gradually as we read on. The writing is often casual and conversational, but with a sense that every word has been meticulously chosen and placed. Settings range from a fresh retelling of the Rapunzel story to a childrens’ dare that affects a whole town. An illuminating postscript notes the inspiration behind each story. This book is suitable for older readers and those interested in the craft of writing.
Annalise Taylor

Half Bad
Written by Sally Green
Penguin (eB) £7.99
ISBN: 978-0141350868
From the very first page this book had me hooked. It is exciting, innovative, tense and completely unputdownable. Half Bad is the first novel from Sally Green but I can see it becoming a cult book amongst young adults, similar to The Twilight series. Nathan is a half witch – half black (bad) and half white (good). He needs to find his father, Mercury, a dangerous Black Witch, before his seventeenth birthday in order to ascertain his future. Nathan is illiterate but has amazing self-healing powers which prove to be very useful. He reacts to the phases of the moon and finds sleeping indoors traumatic. His symptoms are increasing as his seventeenth birthday draws nearer and his search for his father is relentless and beset by danger and trauma. Mercury is wanted by all the white Witches as he is a ruthless killer with amazing powers so Nathan’s movements are closely guarded. The last page is a cliff hanger so hopefully more will follow. Somehow, despite the whole fantasy angle, this book is credible and one not to be missed.
Ingrid Fox

Cruel Summer
Written by James Dawson
Indigo (eB) £8.99
ISBN: 978-1780621081
This thriller is set in a seaside villa in Spain, where a group of school friends have met up a year after leaving school. Things are overshadowed by the memory of Janey, a close friend, who died on the night of last year’s School Leavers’ Ball. Was it suicide, or was it murder? As the friends settle in, past memories and suspicions surface, eventually leading to another death. The holiday soon becomes a nightmare with several murders, a terrible and stark climax, and only a slight glimpse of a possible happier future for two of the friends. This is thrilling read, which takes us through a series of clever plot twists and turns to keep us guessing. The characterisation is very good as we really do believe in these people, which helps to sustain the suspense. The writing flows easily and confidently, and the dialogue is handled well. The whole story moves along at a good pace. A good page-turner!
Liz Dubber

The House of Scorpion
Written by Nancy Farmer
Simon & Schuster (R) (eB) £7.99
ISBN: 978-1471118319
Matt is the clone of 142 year old Matteo Alacron, Lord of a country called Opium, where he is a drug lord. Unlike other clones who are imbedded with a computer chip to make them “ejits”, Matt is highly intelligent and given private tutoring. However, many still treat him as an animal and during his life he encounters hatred and is mistreated. Although futuristic, this novel echoes some of the problems in the world today – slavery, human rights, drug use, immigration and crime. It is well-written, thought-provoking and an interesting concept.
Ingrid Fox

Forbidden Friends
Written by Anne-Marie Conway
Usborne (eB) £6.99
ISBN: 978-1409561903
Lizzie and Bee both have issues within their respective families. They meet on holiday and feel like they have always known each other and that they were meant to be best friends forever. But, there are dark secrets hidden in both families and the girls instinctively know it somehow links to their fathers’ disappearance. When their friendship is discovered and they are told they can’t see each other again, the girls are determined to find answers to their questions, to give each other strength and to make sure their friendship survives. This is a thoughtful, well-written novel, which captures the readers’ interest from the start. Narrated through the voices of Bee and Lizzie, the characters are well-drawn, family dynamics are realistically portrayed and the atmosphere emotionally charged. The plot is carefully constructed, balancing the darker threads of the secrets awaiting discovery with the love and warmth of the girls’ friendship. It’s a story of grief, love, loss and family tragedy but above all it’s a story of the power of friendship.
Annie Everall

Titles for Young Teenage Readers

The Drowning
Written by Rachel Ward
Chicken House (eB) £7.99
ISBN: 978-1908435361
Rob is dead, drowned in a lake. His girlfriend, Neisha, and his younger brother, Carl, were rescued from the water. Why did Rob drown? Carl is in mental collapse but tries to piece together the moments of drowning in the lake and the events that led up to it. Episodes of hallucinatory flashback verge on the supernatural. Is he suffering from trauma or is he really hearing his dead brother speaking to him? He becomes more and more convinced that he killed his brother out of jealousy over Neisha. Gradually, it emerges that Rob was a violent boy who terrorised his girlfriend, including on that day at the lake. Was Carl saving her from Rob, and even if he was, would that justify him killing his brother? Carl is tormented by these questions and by the dreadful visions every time he is near water. This is a powerful novel which deals with grief and guilt as well as sibling jealousy and rivalry.
Nigel Hinton

Angel Fever
Written by L. A. Weatherly
Usborne (eB) £7.99
ISBN: 978-1409522393
Angel Fever is the gripping conclusion to the Angel trilogy. As the Angel Killers train new recruits, their enemy, the angel Raziel, seems to be one step ahead of them. Willow will never understand the risk Alex needs to take to save his own kind, and is left betrayed and grieving, thinking that Alex is dead. But if Alex can return to Willow from the Angel’s own world, will she trust him enough to do what she needs to do to defeat the angels? Angel Fever hurtles towards an exciting climax, keeping the reader on the edge of their seat. L. A. Weatherly explores the nature of true love, jealousy and revenge, as well as asking whether we can recognise the harm in things that on the surface seem to bring joy, together with the benefits of things that also cause us pain.
Benjamin Scott

Gabriel’s Clock
Written by Hilton Pashley
Andersen (eB) £12.99
ISBN: 978-1849395786
Jonathan is half-angel, half-demon: the only one of his kind in the universe and the demons want to harness his powers for their own purposes. The boy ends up in the gentle village of Hobbes End where the battle for good and evil is played out. The village itself, built by the angel Gabriel, is home to a motley collection of eccentric characters including two rather pompous gargoyles and a talking cat. The plot creaks away as Jonathan lets loose his Hulk-like anger and fights off brass dragons and the hideous arch-demon Belial, in an attempt to save the village and the fate of his friends and parents. There’s plenty of tea-drinking and references to cricket giving a quaint ‘English village’ feel to this unusual and inventive fantasy.
Richard Monte

The Boy on the Porch
Written by Sharon Creech
Andersen (eB) £9.99
ISBN: 978-1849397728
Carnegie Medal Winner Sharon Creech tempts readers in from the very first page with an intriguing set of events. A boy is found on the porch of John and Marta’s farmstead, but they have no idea who he is, or how he came to be there. He is unable to speak, and a note in his pocket says he will be collected “when we can”. For John and Marta, childless themselves, so begins a journey together of love, loss, and rich blessing. Description and dialogue draw the reader deeper into their world, willing the story to end well, discovering plenty of surprises along the way. This is a story to warm the heart, and to encourage the reader to ask challenging moral questions about taking life’s good fortunes as they come. The unfussy, but tender, portrayal of John and Marta’s growing love for the boy, their tussle with moral dilemma and the way they cope with changes will leave readers feeling hopeful, lifted and optimistic.
Lucy Russell

Hidden Among Us
Written by Katy Moran
Walker Books (eB) £6.99
ISBN: 978-1406324211
All her life Lissy has been frustrated by a very over-protective mother. But there are secrets within her family, secrets that link back to when they were living in the village of Hopesay Edge, secrets that she knows nothing about but that put her life in danger. Lissy discovers that she is a link between the mortal world and the world of an ancient elven race that lives hidden among us and the battle for Lissy’s life and soul has begun. The plot is complex and the story is narrated through the voices of the five main protagonists. As there is a lot happening in the story, the different chapters for the voices works very well. This is a sophisticated novel which perfectly blends magic and reality and weaves a darkly gothic supernatural thriller with a modern contemporary family story. The writing is excellent with the tension continually tightening, leaving the reader breathless and completely engrossed.
Annie Everall

Written by Non Pratt
Walker (eB) £6.99
ISBN: 978-1406347692
This book could be seen as an exposé of teenage life today with boyfriends, sex, bullying and that ever-shifting combination of friends, allies and enemies. There are two main protagonists in the book: Aaron, new to the school, with some kind of mystery in his background, and Hannah, fourteen years old and pregnant. New boy, Aaron, offers to take responsibility for the child. Why would he do this? Perhaps his reasons are linked to one of the two underlying plotlines within the book. Of these, one concerns the true father of Hannah’s child and the other is the mysterious secret that Aaron is carrying with him: both of which are eventually revealed. The book will probably strike a chord with many teenagers but could make uncomfortable reading for their parents.
Patricia Thompson

Written by Bali Rai
Tamarind (R) (eB) £6.99
ISBN: 978-1848531208
Subtitled Two Tales from Devana High, this volume combines two previously published short novels, set in the highly charged atmosphere of a contemporary city high school, which bring the story up-to-date. Both show everyday life and pressures in school as seen by two members of the same friendship group. In the first, Grace is the narrator, and the plot revolves around a scam to avoid late (and spoiled) lunch sittings, and at the same time miss ten minutes of lesson time. In the second, Dean does some entrepreneurial selling in school, gets himself into problems, and has to avoid serious interference from a vindictive school bully. The school and its pupils are as diverse as we would expect from an inner-city school, providing an excellently drawn setting for the stories. Even stronger are the relationships between the group of friends, which emerge from brisk and lively current dialogue and realistically drawn ways of behaving. These are well-crafted stories, about everyday people in everyday settings facing familiar problems and challenges. Younger teenagers from diverse backgrounds will readily identify with the well-drawn characters and the situations in which they find themselves. Thoroughly recommended!
Liz Dubber

Far Far Away
Written by Tom McNeal
Jonathan Cape (eB) £12.99
ISBN: 978-0857551269
In this beautifully crafted, multi-layered story, Jeremy has an invisible, but constant, companion in the form of the ghost of the storyteller, Jacob Grimm, of fairy-tale fame. Trapped in the restless world between death and the hereafter, Jacob knows that his mission is to protect Jeremy from impending danger. But who, what and from where this danger will come is not known to him. It is Jacob’s voice that carries us through the story, with his quaint, old-fashioned take on modern life. The tale becomes very dark in places, full of suspense and terror as children disappear, one by one, from the village and are never seen again. This is no happy-happy land, where you can be sure everything will turn out fine in the end, for this a Grimm world of subversion and unpredictability. Jacob’s watchful presence, as he longs for release from the world that conflicts with his enduring love for the child he protects, stays with you beyond the pages of the book.
Yvonne Coppard

The Seeing
Written by Diana Hendry
Corgi (eB) £6.99
ISBN: 978-0552565691
This is a disturbing story set in the 1950s, in a small seaside town where Lizzie becomes fascinated by Natalie, a new arrival to her school. Natalie lives in poverty with her mother and her little brother, Philip, whom Natalie claims has second sight. Soon Lizzie is drawn in to Natalie’s campaign to oust ‘Left–Over Nazis’ whom she believes are masquerading as ordinary citizens. The plotline becomes extremely sinister as they hound several elderly people out of their homes, and when Natalie sets fire to the caravan of local beach artist, Hugo, there are ghastly consequences. This is a complex story in which the legacy of the war, together with the fate of the Jews under Hitler, has a strong influence over the characters and their actions. The historic setting is well managed and the characterisation is excellent, with even the minor characters playing their part in the totality of the plot. However, this is an emotionally demanding read, suiting confident readers who can cope with a strong psychological charge as well as a tragic ending.
Liz Dubber

The Messengers
Written by Edward Hogan
Walker Books (eB) £6.99
ISBN: 978-1406337181
As if it wasn’t bad enough being sent to live with her aunt and uncle, away from her mum, her friends and her beloved brother, Frances now realises her blackouts are getting more frequent. She has no explanation for these episodes until she finds herself drawn to Peter, an older man who explains that she, like him, is a messenger, but the messages they convey are not ones that anyone would want to receive. During their blackouts messengers glimpse the moment and circumstances of someone’s death and their task is to convey this image to the poor soul who is about to die. If they fail to do this there are dire consequences for those close to them in their own lives. The interesting question is this: if you can glimpse a moment of the future, can you or should you try to change it? Inevitably a lot of deaths do occur, but Frances’ emotional journey is our prime concern as she tries to accept this grim new aspect of her life and also tries to find out what has happened to her brother. At first, this appears to be a rather complex and unpromising plotline for teenage readers, but the haunting prose and strong characters make this an original and thrilling read.
Jan Lennon

Written by Lily Herne
Much-in-Little (eB) £6.99
ISBN: 978–1472100900
The first in a trilogy, this novel is set in a post apocalyptic South Africa. The suburbs of Cape Town have become zombie infested Deadlands, and the human survivors are protected by The Guardians, sinister shrouded figures. In return for this protection five teenagers are selected and then handed over to them and no-one knows what happens to the teenagers afterwards. When people die, their bodies are dumped in the Deadlands as food for the zombies. When Lele is chosen to be handed over to the Guardians she decides to be mistress of her own fate and to take her chances in the Deadlands. Alone and unable to return home she meets up with the Mall Rats, a group of teenage rebels. Together they uncover the truth about the Guardians and learn how to destroy the zombies. Fast paced, a cleverly constructed plot which twists and turns, with well-drawn and likeable characters, this is a cut above the average zombiefest. It is cleverly done, offering a fresh approach on this theme, full of horror, humour and a touch of romance, but with an interesting perspective on anti-capitalism and current political situations.
Annie Everall

The Keeper
Written by Darragh Martin
Little Island £9.99
ISBN: 978-1908195845
Oisin lives an ordinary sort of life, feuding with his older brother and holidaying with his Gran. But, when he comes across an intriguing little book that seems to exert a strange power, Oisin finds himself suddenly drawn into a mysterious and frightening supernatural world where he is known as The Keeper of the Book of Magic. His little sister is kidnapped, and Oisin and his brother must somehow overcome their differences and work together to free her, but in a world where they have no idea which of the people who step forward to help them can be trusted. There’s a good strong plot, with nods to various traditions: the evil queen, the noble quest, the ordinary child with extraordinary gifts, the mighty battle and above all, a ripping good yarn. The glossary of Irish words and guide to the pronunciation of the characters’ names at the back will, I think, be helpful. This is a great first children’s book from an author to watch out for.
Yvonne Coppard

Written by Meagan Spooner
Corgi (eB) £6.99
ISBN: 978-0552565578
Shadowlark, second in the Skylark trilogy, is even more powerful than the first. Lark escapes from the flesh-eating ‘Empty Ones of the Iron Wood’ only to be captured and imprisoned in a claustrophobic underground city. Powerful magic protects it, for which its inhabitants pay a terrible price. Lark may use her own strange powers to protect and defend, but only by leaching others’ magic and risking their lives. She has useful friends in Tansy, who helps her escape, Nix, the flying robot and Oren, half ‘Empty One’ himself, who loves her and needs her magic to keep him human. Lark gathers resistance around her, but in the end must face the rulers at the heart of the city alone to reveal its secrets and prevent further deaths. Lark must learn who to trust, how to judge herself and others, how to exercise power and responsibility and how to cope with the burden of others’ expectations. A surprisingly reflective, powerful book: complex, fast moving, thoughtful!
Tina Massey

The Prey
Written by Andrew Fukuda
Simon & Schuster (eB) £6.99
ISBN: 978-0857075451
This is the second book in The Hunt trilogy. Not having read the first in the series, I was, nonetheless, quickly caught up by this intense and violent saga in which a few remaining humans (hepers) are the prey of the marauding flesh-eaters (duskers), who have taken over the world. The young hero, Gene, and a small band of other hepers are pursued across land and water. They are in search of The Scientist, Gene’s father, who may hold the secret to survival. They come across the Mission; a community which they gradually find out is not as friendly or safe as they hoped. The story doesn’t flag for one second and the reader is whirled along through scene after scene of unremitting threat as the hepers just, but only just, manage to stay ahead of an appalling death at the hands and fangs of the duskers. Lovers of stories with a high quotient of gruesome horror and relentless tension will be waiting impatiently for the third and final instalment.
Nigel Hinton

Rebecca Rocks
Written by Anna Carey
O’Brien Press (eB) £6.99
ISBN: 978-1847175649
This is the third story about Rebecca Rafferty and her band, Hey Dollface, but you don’t need to have read the earlier books to enjoy this one. The summer holidays are fast approaching and the girls plan to advance their rock star ambitions by going to a summer camp for would-be performers of all kinds. Rebecca uses her diary to record the exciting events of that summer as the band is introduced to new techniques in music-making. They enter a competition with other bands from the area and begin new friendships and relationships, as well as making a lot of fudge! From time to time Rebecca worries about her boyfriend-less status, but she is genuinely delighted for her friend, Cass, to begin a close relationship with another girl. There are some very funny moments especially when Rebecca tries to improve her song-writing abilities with the aid of a rhyming dictionary. The girls have great fun even though some rather unpleasant boys, in another band, begin bullying them about their relationships, and threaten to spoil everything.
Jan Lennon

Weirdos vs. Quimboids
Written by Natasha Desborough
Catnip £6.99
ISBN: 978-1846471711
Teenage angst is ever the stuff of books for young adults. It’s all rather different from Little Women or Anne of Green Gables nowadays, though with frankness replacing discretion in both the style and content. There is a useful debate to be had about whether writers are appealing to the lowest common denominator or whether they are, at long last, being allowed to write fearlessly about how teenagers really behave and talk. Centred round the perennial fears and hopes of how to fit in and how to be liked and loved, this is a comedy of embarrassment. Blossom Uxley-Michaels, aka Bumface, and her best friend, known as Poohead, suffer all kinds of humiliating disasters along the way including regular bursts of acne, and things like wayward flying sanitary towels. Bumface and Poohead have a band called Camel Toe. Through their musical success with the band and as school DJs, and the intervention of some professional musicians, they finally achieve the social acceptance they have craved. I laughed a lot!
Nigel Hinton

Written by Paula Weston
Indigo (eB) £6.99
ISBN: 978-1780621586
Every night Gaby Winters has the same nightmare; she is killing demons alongside a strange, but very attractive, young man. She thinks that the dreams result from her twin brother being killed in the same car crash that left her critically injured. However, when Gaby meets the man from her dreams, and he claims to be her brother’s best friend, she finds herself caught up in a supernatural battle. Despite the fantasy elements, the core of the story is Gaby’s immense sadness following the death of her twin. Sensitive and moving passages describe Gaby trying to come to terms with her loss. It is heartening to see that the female characters in Shadows are confident and able, rather than cowering victims. The frequent use of the ‘F word’ would suggest that it is aimed at older teens.
Jane Hall

Close Your Pretty Eyes
Written by Sally Nicholls
Scholastic (eB) £6.99
ISBN: 978-1407124322
This gripping, but sometimes harrowing, story begins as Olivia arrives at her sixteenth home. Our strong-willed, eleven-year-old narrator has been in care since she was five years old, and family after family has rejected her. She is angry, violent and destructive. Although she makes it very hard for anyone to get close to her, she really hopes the Ivey family, in their lovely old farmhouse, will give her the love and stability she craves. Unfortunately, Olivia’s already troubled life encounters yet another problem. A former resident of this old house, Amelia Dyer, a Victorian baby farmer, may well have been hanged for mass murder in 1896, but her spirit lives on in her old home and is intent on driving Olivia away. As she narrates the story of her life and her previous homes and we start to understand her pain and anger, Olivia tries to convince us that her appalling behaviour is totally justified; however, this is definitely a case of love the child, but not her actions. The novel is well-researched and shows a deep understanding of the lives of fostered children and foster carers.
Jan Lennon

Hold Your Breath
Written by Caroline Green
Piccadilly (eB) £6.99
ISBN: 978-1848121706
This book has everything – it is a thriller with many twists and turns, contains romance and has a little of the supernatural. Tara has the unusual psychic gift of being able to find ‘missing’ objects and people. In the past this has got her into trouble with the result of her family having to move house and change schools. Now a classmate, albeit not a very nice one, has gone missing and Tara fights hard against her psychic ability. She knows something is wrong, has disturbing visions of her whereabouts, but desperately tries to ignore it and just be normal. This leads to more trouble for Tara with a thrilling and tense result. The writing is very descriptive, the characters are realistic and the pace is fast and furious. The tension and the excitement make the novel unputdownable!
Ingrid Fox

Titles for readers Moving On from Primary to High School

Frost Hollow Hall
Written by Emma Carroll
Faber & Faber (eB) £6.99
ISBN: 978-0571295449
A slight case of trespass at Frost Hollow Hall, leads Tilly Higgins to be skating on a not fully frozen lake, with the inevitable result that she falls through the thin ice. However, she is saved by a mysterious benevolent spirit. Tilly is convinced that this is the spirit of Kit, the son of the house, who drowned in that same lake in the same circumstances. Tilly also recognises that he is a very troubled ghost. She manages to get a job at the hall and becomes aware of another spirit, also troubled, but this one is malevolent. Although just a maid, Tilly manages to convince Kit’s mother, the mistress of the house, about her experiences and a séance is arranged. The results are surprising! This is an interesting ghost story for young readers as it is not too scary, but never lets the reader’s interest waver, with just enough mysterious happenings to satisfy.
Patricia Thompson

The Wells Bequest
Written by Polly Shulman
OUP (eB) £6.99
ISBN: 978-0192793119
This is the second title to centre on the New York Circulating Material Repository, a multi-level library for objects rather than books. Whereas the earlier title, The Grimm Legacy, was concerned with fairytale objects, the items in this volume are all connected to science fiction. When Leo’s science teacher suggests that he heads to the Repository to research his Science Fair project, Leo has no idea what kind of adventure he is embarking upon. Not only does he meet a great girl, Jaya, and get a part-time job at the fascinating Repository, he also gets the opportunity to explore his original, apparently impossible, project idea, time travel. Full of clever connections with existing stories by authors such as H.G.Wells and Jules Verne, along with thought-provoking conundrums about the nature of time and reality, this is a stimulating story for imaginative readers.
Annalise Taylor

The Lost Journals of Benjamin Tooth
Written by Mackenzie Crook
Faber & Faber (eB) £9.99
ISBN: 978-0571295586
The actor Mackenzie Crook has written a truly off-beat, whimsical and quirky novel unlike anything else around. No werewolves, vampires or wizards here. Not even a hero in the usual sense, for Benjamin Tooth is a self-opinionated young chap who declares his genius to all and sundry and who has few attractive qualities. He despises his mother and makes sardonic comments about almost everyone he meets. The one person he likes is a girl whom he misjudges and who wisely marries someone else. By the end, he has become so obsessed with his desire for greatness that he has hardly any humanity left and is a fanatical recluse, dressed as a deer and eating grass. However, such strange behaviour has led him to discover the existence of what he hesitates to call ‘fairies’ but prefers to call ‘sprites’. The strange story is told in journal form with Benjamin recounting his strange meetings with eccentric characters and giving idiosyncratic details about his life including his bizarre meals, “Dined today of pig’s ankles and blancmange” and his mother’s illnesses, “Mother abed with Yellowing of the Elbow”. It is intriguing, funny and absolutely one of its kind.
Nigel Hinton

Monkey Nuts: The Diamond Egg of Wonders
Written by Robin and Lawrence Etherington
David Fickling (R) £6.99
ISBN: 978-1849921695
The Diamond Egg of Wonders is the first book in the Monkey Nuts series and the debut graphic novel from The Etherington Brothers. It stars a crime fighting duo, the like of which we have never seen before. Sid, the monkey, and Rivet, the robot, make up the intrepid team that live on the Isla De Monstera. In their first adventure, the unlikely heroes have to uncover the truth behind a mysterious signal that makes the locals of the island fly into an uncontrollable rage. As if that wasn’t enough, they also have to track down the eponymous ‘Diamond Egg of Wonders’. I have rarely read anything that is so simultaneously exciting and amusing. The characters are hilarious and it is not often that a mystery is solved by a tap-dancing monkey and a coffee-producing robot. The illustrations are extraordinary with each panel containing much detail, immersing the reader completely. This book has everything that could be hoped for: action, adventure, humour and a sarcastic talking coconut.
Davy Hall

A Home for Teasel
Written by Margi McAllister
Scholastic £5.99
ISBN: 978-1407131061
This book will excite and delight all young pony-loving girls. It has the right amount of equine descriptions, including the grooming and mucking out, together with mystery, hope and friendship. Reminiscent of Lauren Brooke and K. M. Peyton, this will definitely be a winner. Gwen longs for a pony of her own but her family cannot afford one. She takes on various part-time jobs in order to supplement her ‘pony fund’ as one day she is determined to have her own pony. Her family does not understand her obsession and she is teased and mocked by her siblings and parents. Then, Gwen is asked to help an elderly lady who can no longer do her own shopping and it is with great surprise and delight when she discovers Teasel, who also needs looking after. Gwen’s whole life changes as she and Teasel develop an unbelievable bond but when the old lady is taken into a home, Gwen and Teasel’s relationship is threatened. Teasel is moved to new stables and Gwen must find a way to see her again. The result is an adventure for both of them with a satisfying result.
Ingrid Fox

Jinx: The Wizards Apprentice
Written by Sage Blackwood
Quercus (eB) £6.99
ISBN: 978-1780872476
The reader meets Jinx, a young boy, just as his wicked stepfather is ready to abandon him in the dark wood of Urwald, a dangerous place where people who step off the True Path rarely return. Jinx is saved by a wizard when a group of trolls turn up. The wizard, Simon Magus, shields Jinx from the trolls using his magic but his stepfather is not so lucky! Thus begins Jinx’s adventures, growing up as a wizard’s apprentice. We see the world through the eyes of Jinx and, as he meets the diverse cast of characters, including the forest itself, we get to know him as a character and become engrossed with how his journey will end. It’s an entertaining fantasy with a great storyline, and more adventures will appear in future titles. Sage Blackwood has a good eye for capturing the nature and relationships between characters, often in a very humorous way. The story and adventures keep you turning the pages to find out what happens next and putting Jinx at the heart of the story makes the cast of characters and the forest of Urwald very believable.
Annie Everall

Tilly’s Promise
Written by Linda Newbery
Barrington Stoke £6.99
ISBN: 978-1781122938
Here is a quick-read that powerfully conveys the reality of what happened in World War I. Linda Newbery has written brilliant longer novels for teens about this war and this is a clever distillation. When Tilly’s sweetheart, Harry, joins up he promises to look after her brother, Georgie, whose mind is much younger than his body. Tilly makes a promise too. Neither can hope to keep the promises made when they do not understand the realities of war, but they soon learn. The worst horrors are hinted at, and this lack of sensationalism leaves room for the reader’s imagination. Readers identify with the characters and experience their pain. Tilly and Harry survive the war so there is a happy ending of sorts, but they are older, wiser and deeply sad about the losses of others they have loved. Published by the dyslexia-friendly Barrington Stoke, this will appeal to teens struggling with reading but also to other readers too.
Julia Jarman

Titles for the Confident Reader in Primary School

The Forever Whale
Written by Sarah Lean
Illustrated by Gary Blythe
HarperCollins (eB) £6.99
ISBN: 978-000751222 5
This story of ten-year-old Hannah’s devotion to a grandfather suffering from Alzheimer’s may be too intense for some, as the ‘grandad’ in question is referred to on almost every page. But for those with the patience this thoughtful, well-written story raises major themes like the nature of memory and how best to deal with loss. These are then handed back to readers as part of an ancient mystery that young Hannah takes it upon herself to solve. Lovingly supported by her fifteen-year-old sister, Jodie, plus two caring parents, both Hannah and reader end on a positive note of understanding. Author of the previously best-selling A Dog Called Homeless, Sarah Lean is an author to watch.
Nicholas Tucker

Stan Stinky
Written and illustrated by Hannah Shaw
Scholastic £5.99
ISBN: 978-1407136240
Stan Stinky is a very bored sewer. Instead of being able to spend the summer surfing the storm drains of the Bahamas, he has to stay in the boring sewer he’s lived in all his life. Even worse is the fact that his mum is making him work aboard his crazy uncle’s boat. But when his Uncle Ratts and his sidekick, Roachy, disappear, Stan finds himself on a big adventure to rescue them. This is the first in a new series by a favourite author/illustrator. It’s sharp, witty and full of the kind of toilet humour that young readers just love. Hannah Shaw’s illustrations work very well with her text, giving visual clues to what is about to happen and supporting the narrative really well. This is going to be a very popular series.
Annie Everall

Vile Visitors
Written by Diana Wynne Jones
Illustrated by Marion Lindsay
HarperCollins (eB) £5.99
ISBN: 978-0007501595
Two previously published stories brought together in a new edition from the consistently brilliant Diana Wynne Jones. In Who Got Rid of Angus Flint? three children are outraged by the antics of their father’s friend when he comes to stay with the family after his wife has left him. Totally demanding and utterly self-absorbed, Angus Flint’s tyranny over family life threatens to overwhelm them all. But then, the children step up to the plate and, with the help of some magical furniture, restore peace and harmony to their home by turning the tables, and the chairs, the piano and the carpet, on their unwelcome intruder. In Chair Person it is furniture that becomes the enemy for another family, when an old discarded armchair comes to life and refuses to be ignored. He, like Angus Flint, selfishly demands total attention and causes mayhem wherever he goes. Once again, it is the children of the family who have to step up to the rescue, with a little magical help. The illustrations are expressive and the stories are funny and well-paced, with just the right mix of magic and reality to appeal to a wide audience.
Yvonne Coppard

Rona Long-Teeth
Retold by Fran Parnell
Illustrated by Sophie Fatus
Barefoot £4.83
ISBN: 978-1846869082
Sensitive readers - beware! This reworking of a somewhat grisly folk tale from Tahiti certainly earns its place in this Monster Series for early readers. Kind and helpful, Hina, is unaware that her loving mother, Rona, turns evil when darkness falls and has a nightly habit of eating the neighbours. However, Hina’s secret love, Monoi, falls victim to Rona’s hungry rage. Hina must turn to the village chief to help defeat her mother and save Monoi. This simple, but involving, tale evokes a fairy tale’s triumph of good magic over unambiguous evil with bright, accessible illustrations. Rona’s loving mother/secret cannibal persona may disturb some young booklovers but this exciting story will suit children with an appetite for the macabre.
Megan Stanfield

Jazz and Bo’s Story
Written by Sarah Hawkins
Illustrated by Artful Doodlers
Puzzle illustrations by Jason Chapman
Red Fox (eB) £4.99
ISBN: 978-1782951803
The inspiration for Jazz and Bo’s Story is the real life dog and cat that lived at Battersea Dog and Cats Home. There are many books in this series which have instant appeal to animal-loving youngsters. Abi is looking forward to Christmas and asks Santa for a kitten. Her brother, Harry, thinks dogs are more interesting, but his Mum and Stepdad think two pets will be disruptive. Abi is taken to Battersea Dog and Cats Home to choose her kitten but the result is unexpected and heartwarming. The outcome is satisfying and will please the young readers. The story is illustrated with pleasant line drawings which aptly complement the text. There are tips at the end of the book on how to care for a pet along with animal-related jokes, puzzles and recipes. It is easy to read and will be enjoyed by emerging readers.
Ingrid Fox

The Great Gold Robbery
Written by Jo Nesbø
Simon & Schuster £6.99
ISBN: 978-1471117381
The fourth title in this Doctor Procter’s Fart Powder series of madcap adventure stories sees our hero, Nilly, and heroine, Lisa, unite again with Doctor Proctor to solve the mystery of the theft of the entire gold reserves of Norway. When the reader finds out that this consists of only one gold bar, we have an indication of the seriousness of this escapade. With their wits about them and a host of crazy gadgets invented by the illustrious Doctor Proctor, they encounter the deadly Crunch brothers and their terrifying chief, Mama Crunch. Can Nilly and Lisa save the day? Well of course they can, but readers will enjoy the crazy and amusing ways in which they manage it. Fast-paced and full of action, with black and white line drawings scattered throughout adding humour.
Lucy Russell

Maisie Hitchens: The Case of the Stolen Sixpence
Written by Holly Webb
Illustrated by Marion Lindsay
Stripes £4.99
ISBN: 978-1847153715
Maisie Hitchins longs to be a world-famous detective like Gilbert Carrington. She is positive that out on the streets of Victorian London, there are lots of mysteries for her to solve, if only she could find the time to investigate, but she’s always too busy running errands for her grandmother. However, one day she rescues an abandoned puppy and he leads her to her first case, when the butcher’s boy, George, is wrongly accused of stealing a sixpence. Great to see a strong and feisty little girl as the central character! The story is fun and fast-paced. The text is supported by lovely black and white illustrations by Marion Lindsay and text and illustrations together give a real feel of Victorian London. First in the series, there are now three other titles and the fifth title will be published in May.
Annie Everall

Atticus Claw Lends a Paw
Written by Jennifer Gray
Faber & Faber (eB) £5.99
ISBN: 978-0571284474
The cat is back! Once again Atticus Claw is called to battle with his old enemies, Zenia Klob, Ginger Biscuit and the Magpies. This time, however, the story is mainly set in a more exotic location. An ancient Egyptian book is stolen from the British Museum and Atticus and his friends from Atticus Claw Settles a Score, set off to find it. On the way, Atticus discovers something strange about himself and his ancestry. The story moves along at a furious pace as the team move from one crisis to another. There is plenty of mystery, action, humour and magic, which are all guaranteed to appeal to the reader.
Patricia Thompson

The Warrior Sheep Go Jurassic
Written by Christine & Christopher Russell
Jelly Pie (eB) £5.99
ISBN: 978-1405267182
The five sheep known as the Warriors, visit the Isle of Wight in this crazy adventure about a stolen dinosaur egg. Sandy Bay Dinosaur Museum website advertises the egg before the director realises his mistake in publicising its whereabouts. At least two criminals spot an opportunity to steal it, and a young museum employee is tempted to do the same. The sheep escape from their field to try and track down the egg and prevent both the fulfilment of an ancient sheep prophecy, and the recreation of dinosaurs that would terrorise the country. The adventure involves a hilarious chase as the sheep trample most of the entries in the Sandy Bay Grand Sandcastle Competition and continue day after day to try to intercept the handover between the young egg stealer and her accomplice. Finally, things come to a head at the Ventnor Carnival. This is a fast-paced, humorous adventure story told with skill and enthusiasm. The plot is scarcely credible but a strong storyline and effective dialogue and characterisation suspend the reader’s disbelief, creating an entertaining read.
Liz Dubber

My Brilliant Life and Other Disasters
Written by Catherine Wilkins
Illustrated by Sarah Horne
Nosy Crow (eB) £6.99
ISBN: 978-0857631596
Jess is glad when she is doing the wild life project with her best friend, Natalie, but other parts of her life unravel when she has an argument over her prize cartoon. When her good friend, Lewis tells her she is being arrogant about her own drawings, should she listen? Unexpected developments in this richly comic novel lead to a satisfying end. Expressive illustrations add to the fun.
Marianne Adey

The Story of Gulliver
Written by Jonathan Coe
Illustrated by Sara Oddi
Pushkin £14.99
ISBN: 978-1782690191
The aim of Pushkin Books is to keep classic stories alive by getting popular modern writers to abbreviate and reinvent them. Good quality paper, bold typography and atmospheric illustrations make the stories accessible in these handsome editions. Well written, they retain the strengths of the originals, without trivialising plot, character or themes. First published in 1771 Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels soon became a book for children. Child appeal in the form of giants and little people was there from the start and in many children’s editions the satire on society was down-played, but not in this version. Why are people so poor that they starve, and rich people have more than they need? Why do people make weapons not just to defend themselves but destroy others? These important questions, so relevant today, are posed in a graphic re-telling that includes Gulliver peeing on a fire to save the diminutive Lilliputians and being banished for his efforts. The Lilliputians are petty and small-minded as well as small-bodied. There’s much to appeal to children here, especially those who like to ponder big questions.
Julia Jarman

Titles for the young child just beginning to Read Alone

The Girl with a Brave Heart
Written by Rita Jahanforuz
Illustrated by Vali Mintzi
Barefoot Books £10.99
ISBN: 978-1846869280
When Shiraz’s father dies her stepmother insists she does the housework because they cannot afford a maid. One day, when the young girl has finished all her cooking, cleaning, washing and ironing, she retires to the balcony to knit from a ball of wool left by her late mother. But a gust of wind blows the red ball off the balcony into a neighbour’s courtyard garden. The house is owned by an eccentric old woman who sets Shiraz three tasks which she must complete before getting her ball of wool back. The moral is subtly woven into the text, of this Cinderella-like tale from the Middle-East, which pits the good brave-hearted Shiraz against her greedier stepsister. The colourful artwork, with splashes of Hockney and Matisse, perfectly captures the spirit of this wise tale.
Richard Monte

Written by Elys Dolan
Nosy Crow £10.99
ISBN: 978-0857631992
Gloriously subversive and laugh-out-loud funny, Weasels has clearly been designed with adults’ humour in mind as much as kids’. Fuelled by coffee and biscuits, the weasels to which the title refers are secretly planning to take over the world, from an underground bunker reminiscent of something you might find in a Bond film, or Thunderbirds, but with the dynamics of a typical British office. Each weasel has its own unique personality and quirks, which come to light as their control room encounters difficulties, and a solution must be found. The Machine for World Domination is just the sort of thing kids would enjoy making themselves out of cardboard boxes and tin foil, and the incredible detail on every spread is veritable fuel for the young imagination. After every option has been explored, including, “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”, a rather sheepish lone weasel is seen holding the machine’s plug (needless to say, not in its socket), exclaiming “oops”. A well-rounded universe with splendidly slapstick inhabitants, this is a truly enjoyable book that will stand up to repeated outings.
Rowan Stanfield

Fortunately, the Milk...
Written by Neil Gaiman
Illustrated by Chris Riddell
Bloomsbury (eB) £10.99
ISBN: 978-1408841761
It all began when they ran out of milk. Dad went out to get some and ran into some very grumpy, globby green aliens, and that was only the beginning. Pirates, angry volcano gods, lisping vampires and singing dinosaurs add to the challenges he faces. The balance between lively text and fantastic illustrations makes this book an excellent choice for any new reader who enjoys real adventure.
Marianne Adey

The Case of the Phantom Cat
Written by Holly Webb
Illustrated by Marion Lindsay
Stripes £5.99
ISBN: 978-1847153821
In this third mystery for Maisie Hitchins, the Victorian maid, she gets the chance to accompany a friend to a house in the country. Before they have even seen the house they have heard rumours that it is haunted. The objects that go missing, strange smells, strange noises and a ghostly cat eventually cause the servants to walk out in fear. Maisie is used to working hard in the boarding house her Grandmother runs but cooking and cleaning is a novelty for her well-off friend Alice. Maisie is determined to prove that there is no such thing as ghosts and point-by-point she does just that, with Alice‘s help. This series is perfect for those who have been reading alone for a while but are perhaps not quite ready to move onto longer books. The illustrations throughout help bring the story to life, especially the scene setting cutaway of Maisie’s house at the beginning. Puzzles and quizzes at the back allow readers to do some detecting of their own.
Annalise Taylor

Dick King-Smith titles
These four books have all been reprinted giving a fresh feel to some old favourites. Dick King-Smith is the master of stories about animals and these books are still as humorous and entertaining as they were when first published. They are all illustrated by different artists in black and white line drawings and they have vibrant, appealing cover designs by Garry Parsons. The soft paperbacks are small with large text making them ideal for small hands reading their first chapter books. There are several other titles in the series.

Written by Dick King-Smith
Illustrated by Jim and Peter Kavanagh
Young Corgi (R) £4.99
ISBN: 978-0552567404
In Omnibombulator we meet a very small beetle who feels so insignificant that his parents give him a long name. He searches for recognition but is ignored by birds and insects until the day he meets his match – another tiny beetle, a female one, which is perfect.

Written by Dick King-Smith
Illustrated by Peter Wingham
Young Corgi (R) £4.99
ISBN: 978-0552567367
A smelly old tramp discovers that Eric Stanley Pigeon has a very unusual talent and so dreams of using it to win his fortune on the horses. The relationship between the two develops into a strong bond but will E.S.P fulfill the tramp’s dreams?

Connie and Rollo
Written by Dick King-Smith
Illustrated by Judy Brown
Young Corgi (R) £4.99
ISBN: 978-0552567381
Connie and Rollo are two books in one. Connie astounds everyone when, as a baby, she begins to speak and perform amazing mathematical calculations. Her parents are delighted with her talent and intend to harness it but things soon go astray and Connie becomes precocious and unbearable. Rollo is a little boy who, as he learns to speak, everything is said in rhyme. We follow Rollo’s life through rhyme in the story right to the end!

Billy the Bird
Written by Dick King-Smith
Illustrated by John Eastwood
Young Corgi (R) £4.99
ISBN: 978-0552567374
Billy is the baby brother of Mary and he can fly! Mary confides in her cat and guinea pig when she discovers Billy’s amazing ability, but decides not to tell her parents. Billy flies every month when there is a full moon and manages to escape recognition although there are a few near misses, until the lunar eclipse, when everything changes.
Ingrid Fox

Mondays at Monster School
Written by Ruth Louise Symes
Illustrated by Rosie Reeve
Orion (R) (eB) £4.99
ISBN: 978-1444008524
Fred is about to join his brother and sisters at Monster School but he is very apprehensive and not sure he wants to go. His Mum tries to reassure him by telling him all the exciting and horrible things he will be doing. However, Fred’s anxieties are soon squashed when he has to reassure his friend, Ted, who is also scared. The two little monsters have a great day and cannot wait to return on Tuesday. The story is one of the Early Readers range aimed at young readers just starting to move on from picture books to reading books. There are excellent illustrations to complement the text which has plenty of repetition and high frequency words.
Ingrid Fox

First Steps in reading for young children

Do You Speak English, Moon?
Written by Francesca Simon
Illustrated by Ben Court
Orion £9.99
ISBN: 978-1444001556
Confronting the loneliness of his room in those quiet moments before sleep, a boy begins a one-sided conversation with the kindly looking moon outside his window. Horrid Henry author, Francesca Simon, takes readers on a reflective stroll through the boy’s imaginings as he finds company and reassurance at a time of day many children find worrying. Ben Court’s vibrant full-page illustrations bring to life helter-skelter ice creams, mermaids, pirates and friendly constellations with brilliant colour and energy. Gentle and comforting – a bedtime favourite in the making!
Megan Stanfield

Puss Jekyll Cat Hyde
Written by Joyce Dunbar
Illustrated by Jill Barton
Frances Lincoln £6.99
ISBN: 978-1847804921
Sitting here, looking at our sweet, velvety, black cat, sprawled on a chair, waving his legs in the air, I wonder, “Can he really be a ferocious hunter in disguise?”. Well, yes, the evidence has been deposited at the bottom of the stairs on many occasions! This is the theme of Puss Jekyll Cat Hyde, a lovely book. The illustrations are wonderfully observed and focus on the cat itself with no distractions. The different aspects of cat behaviour are caught to perfection. The beauty of the language is a delight with great rhythm and rhyme. For young readers it can be shared, re-told, discussed and can be enjoyed at that simple level. With older children, the dichotomy of the nature of the domestic cat can be discussed, but it is the richness of the language that older children will enjoy and that will hopefully stimulate their own use of language, both written and spoken.
Patricia Thompson

Troll and the Oliver
Written and illustrated by Adam Stower
Templar £10.99
ISBN: 978-1848773523
Every day Oliver goes shopping and every day a turquoise troll with green eyes and a gap-toothed grin tries, haplessly, to catch him. Oliver is really glad about this and over hills and bridges, through woods and fields, he sings his song of triumph. The forlorn and very hungry troll returns to munch sticks and stones. At last, he successfully works out how to catch the over-confident little boy, but with unexpected results, for Oliver finishes up making cakes for the troll to prevent him menacing small children ... and there’s a clear and detailed troll cupcake recipe for everyone to share. A lively, funny, amusingly illustrated book which young children will love ... and using the recipe may enhance their reading skills too.
Tina Massey

Written by Gillian Shields
Illustrated by Cally Johnson-Isaacs
Hodder (eB) £6.99
ISBN: 978-1444904017
Ellie is a child used to getting her own way, because if she doesn’t she has a massive tantrum. She has everything she wants but it is never enough. She decides she wants a real elephant and throws a major strop until her father gives in and gets one for her. However, she soon learns that elephants have minds of their own, as they won’t be bossed around and also they have a singular way of teaching small children about manners, behaviour and friendship. This is a delightfully quirky story with whimsical illustrations that are gentle, but full of humour, and that really support and enhance the text very well. Suitable for both reading aloud and sharing together, this provides a good moral lesson for children wrapped up in a laugh-out-loud story.
Annie Everall

Captain Brainpower and the Mighty Mean Machine
Written and illustrated by Sam Lloyd
HarperCollins (eB) £6.99
ISBN: 978-0007324781
From the quirky imagination that gave us Mr Pusskins and Dr Miaow comes another enjoyably offbeat picture book for young readers. With more than a passing resemblance to Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear, the story’s central character has a pleasing familiarity that will draw the reader in, and his mouse companion is instantly loveable. There are maps and detailed spreads, ideal for little fingers to trace and explore, as we follow the two friends on their nail-biting adventure into the rubbish dump and across the path of its dogged oppressor, the Mighty Mean Machine. The text is cleverly designed to form part of the visual storytelling, and contains pleasingly childish rhymes, as well as brilliant words like ‘Bamboozled’ that will ignite giggles and encourage participation. Perhaps the most pleasing thing about this book is that it values intelligence and innovation as superpowers and encourages children to consider the act of thinking as a worthwhile exercise with which great feats can be accomplished.
Rowan Stanfield

Mr Wuffles!
Written and illustrated by David Wiesner
Andersen £11.99
ISBN: 978-1849397803
Two worlds collide in this inventive picture book from Caldecott Medal winner David Wiesner. Mr Wuffles is a black cat uninterested in playing with balls of rubber bands or clockwork mice because an alien spaceship has crash landed in the hall! As the aliens leave the safety of the control room to seek help, they are confronted by a huge black monster with sharp claws, which chases them underneath the radiator. Through a crack they discover a room. On the floor are a coin, a pencil, matches, some string and a few toys. The walls are decorated with pictures of the cat’s struggles with the insects that live there, like prehistoric art on a cave wall. Soon the aliens make friends with the ants and the ladybirds, but, will they be able to find a way of getting back passed Mr Wuffles and back to their spaceship to make the necessary repairs? It requires great skill to tell a story without using any words and still captivate the attention of the reader, but Wiesner’s masterpiece, with its new perspective on the world, is sure to appeal to older children.
Richard Monte

Written and illustrated by Emily Hughes
Flying Eye £11.99
ISBN: 978-1909263086
Finding a baby, the forest creatures look after her; Bird teaching her to speak, Bear how to eat, Fox how to play, “And she understood, and was happy”. There is a warmth, exquisite beauty and fine detail to the artwork, but its mood changes when the humans arrive. The sky blackens and all is sharper and more austere. Once rescued, she is taken in by a famous psychiatrist and his family, where even the family dog and cat appear disenchanted, if not completely unhappy, and the lady of the house is not only formidable but blatantly terrifying. Eventually, enough is enough and it is the baby, now a toddler, who leads the dog and the cat to a happier existence. “Everyone remembered how she left, and all knew it was right. Because you cannot tame something so happily wild…” A very special book with stunning artwork! Note the inclusion of a copy of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book.
Gill Roberts

The Magical Life of Mr. Renny
Written and illustrated by Leo Timmers
Translated by Bill Nagelkerke
Gecko £6.99
ISBN: 978-1877467899
This talented Belgian author brings his experience as a successful comic-strip artist into this lavishly illustrated story. Its hero, the dog artist, Mr. Renny, discovers that he can turn his paintings into reality, starting with a single apple, depicted Magritte-style against a green background, and finishing with a brand new mansion. Each illustration piles one surreal image on another, with various fantastical animals watching on as Mr. Renny finally decides he would like to return all his paintings to their original form. Totally original and unique, this picture book benefits from any amount of re-reading, each one discovering yet more artful detail, previously unnoticed.
Nicholas Tucker

I am a Woolly Hat
Written by Salma Koraytem
Retold by Vivian French
Illustrated by Betania Zacarias
Orion (eB) £4.99
ISBN: 978-1444008449
This tale has a simple, straightforward, but very interesting, text. The attractive illustrations have the texture of crayons, in warm autumn hues, and are set at unusual angles, giving the reader glimpses of Basma and her family life. Basma is a little girl who poses the deceptively simple question, “What is love?” and speculates about the answer. She wonders whether love has a shape like a long elephant’s trunk, or thin spaghetti, or does it have a colour like the blue summer sky? She asks her Mum who replies that love is like the clothes we wear in winter which keep us warm. Basma does not understand but as she goes to ask each of her family in turn what they think love is, she finds the answer herself in their actions, and understands just what her Mum means. This is such a special little book with a lasting message and illustrations to treasure and just right for a first reader to share.
Louise Stothard

When I Grow Up…
Written and illustrated by Patrick George
PatrickGeorge £8.99
ISBN: 978-1908473103
This is a lovely sharing picture book introducing children to the different jobs that people do and to promote thought as to what they would like to be when they grow up. As good as any dressing-up box, it encourages children to dream about becoming anything they like and perhaps to aspire to great things! So simple and yet so clever! Young children will enjoy turning the transparent pages which each transform a child into a pilot, a zoo-keeper, an astronaut, an artist or a superhero. There are also plenty of opportunities to talk about the different jobs that people do in your family. What other jobs can they think of? My young daughter particularly liked the pirate page! Perhaps we have an aspiring pirate on our hands!
Louise Mundford

I Miss My Pet
Written by Pat Thomas
Illustrated by Lesley Harker
Wayland £7.99
ISBN: 978-0750280112
Here is a picture book about the death of pets, designed to be read in a family or school setting to provide comfort and a means of discussion at the time of a pet’s death. The text is straightforward, honest and sensitive. It explains that while we all would like our pets to be with us forever, it is natural and inevitable that they eventually die. These matter of fact explanations are occasionally enhanced by ‘What about you?’ questions directed at the reader and providing a useful prompt for discussion about the issues raised by the text and pictures. The illustrations are colourful and clear, portraying a range of families with their pets in various situations: being played with, in illness, at the vet, in death or being remembered. At the back of the book is some useful guidance for adults on how to use the book with children, with ideas for classroom activity as well as very reassuring words about various ways in which children might react to the death of a much-loved pet. This is a well-designed and well-written book which should provide helpful to families and teachers at difficult times.
Liz Dubber

Love Monster & the Perfect Present
Written and illustrated by Rachel Bright
HarperCollins (eB) £6.99
ISBN: 978-0007487912
Most parents, and indeed grandparents, will have found themselves navigating the minefield of children’s materialistic demands and expectations around events like birthdays and Christmas. We want our kids to feel valued and special, but to also appreciate the sentiment behind the gift as much as the actual gift that gets unwrapped. A genuinely moving story of love between two monsters, Love Monster & the Perfect Present advocates a more meaningful and heartfelt approach to such ritualistic giving, stressing the importance of the thought behind the gift, and the love with which it is given. After realising that his few pennies and buttons won’t get him any of the “shinyful” things from Planet Present, Love Monster makes his own gift to give his special monster friend on Present Day, concluding that “the perfect present doesn’t have to cost the earth to mean the world”. Because it is told in such a colourful, humorous and visually engaging way, the message is never preachy or overly worthy. The apparent secular nature of Present Day and the ambiguous gender of Love Monster’s special someone makes for an inclusive read that could be appreciated by all cultures and family set-ups.
Rowan Stanfield

Two Trickster Tales from Russia
Retold by Sophie Masson
Illustrated by David Allan
Christmas Press £10.79
ISBN: 978-0992283803
Christmas Press is a new venture featuring traditional tales from around the world, presented by well-known authors. These high-spirited stories from Russia, retold in a lively manner by celebrated Australian author Sophie Masson, are the perfect way to keep young readers entertained. There is a delightful mischievousness about a little girl outwitting a bear by hiding in a basket of pies and a clever cat and thrush who save their less astute rooster friend from the jaws of a cunning old fox. The two tales have elements of Little Red Riding Hood and Aesop’s Fables about them, while the bright colourful illustrations by David Allan, have an old-fashioned charm which complements this beautifully produced book. Each edition comes complete with an audio CD, making them good teaching aids for the classroom.
Richard Monte

Picture Books for young children

Books Always Everywhere

Written by Jane Blatt

Illustrated by Sarah Massini

Nosy Crow £10.99

ISBN: 978-0857630896

It is impossible to resist a book with a title like this! The funny, imaginative illustrations explore the meanings behind the rhyming descriptions of the many kinds of books there are to explore. ‘Book Big’ is elephant-sized , ‘Book Wide’ is as wide as a crocodile, ‘Book Tall’ is as high as a giraffe, and everywhere babies and toddlers crawl, jump, dance and discover what you can do with books, and how they can move you. There are lots of creatures and people to find, with a tiny mouse hiding in every scene, and a surprising amount of words to discover in the tiny books displayed. Much gentle fun to share and explore up to four, or more! Lovely to read and reread!

Tina Massey

Just Right

Written by Birdie Black

Illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw

Nosy Crow £9.99

ISBN: 978-0857630308

This wonderful picture book conveys, in such a lovely way, the delight of finding just the right present for someone you love and the pleasure of giving. It is Christmas Eve and as the King wanders around the market he spies a bolt of bright red cloth which will be just right for a cloak for the Princess. When the sewing maids have finished there are some scraps of cloth left over which the King instructs be left outside the back door. Jenny, the kitchen maid, spots the bright bundle and takes it home to make a jacket for her mother. Again, there are scraps left over and they are found by Badger, who resolves to make a hat for his Pa. And so the roll of bright red cloth makes presents for many others, as well as the Princess, and each is ‘Just Right’. The feel-good factor of this story is so well complemented by the bright and warm colours of the illustrations and the texture and depth of the art work.

Louise Stothard

Two Nests

Written by Laurence Anholt

Illustrated by Jim Coplestone

Frances Lincoln £6.99

ISBN: 978-847804969

Laurence Anholt’s rhythmical sing-song rhyme is perfectly complemented by Jim Coplestone’s quirky and fun illustrations. We witness the tale of Betty, Paul and the new little Baby Bird, happy in their nest, through the seasons, during good times and bad. But, Betty and Paul fall out and Paul decides to build a new nest. This is a clever and truly wonderful example of making sad situations positive and dealing with family separation. Instead of losing his dad, Baby Bird now has two homes, both full of love. This is a gentle tale with a fabulous balance of fun and realism to which many children can relate.

Gill Roberts

Just Right for Two

Written by Tracey Corderoy

Illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw

Nosy Crow £10.99

ISBN: 978-0857631763

Dog packs his suitcase with carefully selected special things and settles down to watch the moon rise. He has everything he needs. When he wakes up the next morning, he finds Mouse snuggled alongside him. Dog is perturbed for he does not want to share his day or show off his treasures. Reluctantly, he agrees to let Mouse take a peep inside his case and plays a game of hide-and-seek with him before Mouse goes on his way. Left alone, Dog begins to feel that life with his treasures is not quite enough for him anymore. Something is missing, but what is it? Dog learns the value of making friends and sharing experiences in this beautifully produced book. Rosalind Beardshaw’s Dog is adorable. You will want to reach into the pages and cuddle him. The balance of subtle colours and bold drawing in the illustrations, and the clear and accessible narrative, make this a lovely book to share with a young child.

Yvonne Coppard

Princess Penelope and the Runaway Kitten

Written and illustrated by Alison Murray

Nosy Crow £9.99

ISBN: 978-0857632319

This is variation on the classic tale of a runaway animal, who is trailing something behind them for the chasers to follow. In this case, it is a runaway kitten, tangled in sparkly pink wool, being chased by Princess Penelope. The illustrations are clear and humorous and children will have fun tracing the kitten’s route by following the trail of pink wool. The text is clear and well-placed on each page and the rhymes are delightful. This is a lovely book to share or read alone. The story flows at a great pace as if the reader, as well as the princess, is trying to catch up with the kitten

Patricia Thompson

How to Lose a Lemur

Written and illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon

Pavilion £5.99

ISBN: 978-1843652502

The small boy in this lavishly illustrated picture book objects to the group of assorted lemurs determined to follow him wherever he goes. He desperately tries to lose them by such methods as hiding up a tree, sailing off in a boat, climbing mountains, taking trains and even hot-air balloons, but without success. Rather than losing the lemurs he becomes lost himself! Who will help him find his way home? Big pictures, splashy water-colours and a subtle wit make sure that his attempts at escape and final reconciliation remain highly entertaining throughout.

Nicholas Tucker

One day a small boy is eating his ice cream cone and minding his own business when a lemur appears. The lemur and his friends follow the boy through the park, on to a train, on to a boat and even on to a hot air balloon. The boy can’t seem to avoid those pesky lemurs, but suddenly he realises that he is lost. Who can help him now? Large, realistic illustrations and spare, short sentences make this book perfect for reading to young children.

Marianne Adey

Where's Tim's Ted? It's Time for Bed!

Written by Ian Whybrow

Illustrated by Russell Ayto

HarperCollins (R) (eB) £6.99

ISBN: 978-0007509560

Tim’s search for Ted at bedtime leads him on an adventure around his grandparents’ farm. With his shiny red boots and trusted torch, Tim visits the animals one by one to help in his search for the lost teddy bear. Finally, Ted is found in the pigsty mistaken for a piglet! While the other animals’ enthusiasm and excitement get in the way, Tim calmly talks to a confused Mrs Pig. Tim and Ted are helped back into bed by their animal friends and are sound asleep before his grandparents miss them. With simple rhymes and an irresistible story, this is a perfect and popular bedtime story. The illustrations are as fresh and quirky as they were over fifteen years ago, adding humour and a touch of mayhem to a story that children will pore over. They will also give adult readers plenty of enjoyment during repeated readings.

Benjamin Scott

Penguin on Holiday

Written and illustrated by Salina Yoon

Bloomsbury (eB) £5.99

ISBN: 978-1408839072

In Penguin on Holiday the similarities and differences between hot and cold climates are explored. Penguin travels to the beach for a holiday and discovers that it is very different to the climate he is used to. He cannot sledge or ski at the beach, but Penguin soon finds out that he can still make friends. Penguin makes a friend in crab and they have lots of fun together. Crab returns to Penguin’s home and both friends realise that it is not where you go on holiday, but who you spend it with, that is important. This story will promote a lot of discussion about friendship, places, holidays and climates. The illustrations are simple, and yet comical in places. A lovely story for sharing!

Louise Mundford

Billy the Goat’s Big Breakfast

Written & illustrated by Jez Alborough

Doubleday (eB) £11.99

ISBN: 978-0857530363

Nat the Cat has invited her friends, Billy the Goat and Hugo the Hare, to breakfast. Billy is early and has to wait while Nat goes out. Unfortunately, his hunger gets the better of him and he drinks all the juice and then eats a big mouthful of raw bread dough before the others join him. Hugo arrives to find Billy feeling embarrassed, with a very unsettled tummy! In the end Billy has to admit his mistake and his tummy settles down as they sit down to enjoy breakfast together. The story ends with a song, complete with words and music. This is a very funny book which children will enjoy. Jez Alborough captures the animals’ human-like expressions perfectly and the sight of Billy’s expanding tummy and the description of its noises will have children laughing out loud. The vibrancy of the illustrations will enable children to ‘read’ the story themselves without the words. However, the text works very well too, even without the pictures, as it is presented in rhyming couplets which provide a bouncy rhythm carrying the story along with a varied vocabulary. A very successful humorous storybook!

Liz Dubber

The Hundred Decker Bus

Written and illustrated by Mike Smith

Macmillan £6.99

ISBN: 978-0230754584

Every day the bus driver follows the same routine to get to his bus and every day the same people get on his bus at the same stop, but nobody seems very happy. Until one day when he sees a new road and decides to take the bus down this different route. Suddenly, he and his passengers find themselves embarking on wonderful new adventures. More and more decks have to be built onto the bus to accommodate all the new people who want to join the happy passengers. This exuberant story, with bright, vibrant illustrations, full of fun and humour, has the added surprise of a fantastic giant fold-out page at the end.

Annie Everall

We’re Going on a Picnic!

Written and illustrated by Pat Hutchins

Red Fox (R) £6.99

ISBN: 978-1782950226

This is the wonderful sequel to the fabulous Rosie’s Walk, which has been an admired children’s classic for over forty years. With the same level of repetition and the same well-loved characters, this story will not disappoint. Hen, Duck and Goose decide that it is the perfect day for a picnic and so they collect fruit and pack their picnic basket. They set off, singing, looking for the perfect spot to enjoy their picnic, but, whilst searching, their picnic basket gets lighter and lighter and is finally completely empty! Where has all the food gone? The illustrations are bright and traditional and the story is interesting and lively. Young children will enjoy sharing and joining in with the predictive text. Another delightful story that will be returned to again and again!

Louise Mundford

A Mammoth in the Fridge

Written by Michaël Escoffier

Illustrated by Matthieu Maudet

Gecko £11.99

ISBN: 978-1877579141

What do you do when you find a mammoth in the fridge? Call the fire brigade of course! But what if the mammoth escapes and hides at the top of the tree? Elsa has the solution! This delightful picture book, with a restricted and effective colour palette of blue and yellow and a splash of red for the fire engine, is quirky and fun with a twist at the end. The pages are uncluttered and the line drawings are wonderfully atmospheric, complementing the simple and carefully chosen text. Readers will enjoy returning to the beginning once they know the secret at the end!

Louise Stothard

Sir Charlie Stinky Socks and the Tale of the Wizard’s Whisper

Written and Illustrated by Kristina Stephenson

Egmont £10.99

ISBN: 978-1405254007

The popular Sir Charlie Stinky Socks is back for another adventure. In this tale, a mysterious wizard arrives and sends Sir Charlie on a mission to collect a “little black sack, tied with a silver string”. Charlie eagerly accepts the quest, promising not to look inside until he returns. His journey takes him past ogres, scallywags and an old witch, but none are a match for Sir Charlie and his trusted travelling companions and so the journey continues until the challenge is completed, with a fantastic surprise ending. This book will delight both new readers of Sir Charlie’s tales and his established fans. The perils and their resolutions are gentle enough for any young child, with illustrations sympathetic to very young readers, and nothing too scary. The story is beautifully presented, with text laid out in a variety of ways, including the use of different fonts. The pages are colourful and appealing and there is also a bonus of some very large flaps to lift as the reader explores with Sir Charlie.

Lucy Russell

Twinkle, Twinkle, Squiglet Pig

Written by Joyce Dunbar

Illustrated by Tim Hopgood

Egmont £10.99

ISBN: 978-1405257558

Piglet Squid is a happy smiley fish, who wishes all the miserable fish around him, would cheer up and smile too. He decides to go in search of something that will make his fishy friends happy. He embarks upon an adventure in which he meets fish much bigger than himself, and succeeds in making them laugh, although not in the way he expected. He eventually happens across something so big and wonderful, and very smiley, that he can’t wait to get back to his friends to tell them about it. Children’s favourite, Joyce Dunbar, has written a lovely tale of wanting to share happiness with friends to make them happy too. Award-winning illustrator, Tim Hopwood, has created an atmospheric sea-world, with bright colourful fish in the gloom of a deep blue sea. This is a delightful book children will want to read time after time.

Jane Hall

Herman’s Letter

Written and illustrated by Tom Percival

Bloomsbury (eB) £6.99

ISBN: 978-1408836750

Herman, the bear, and Henry, the raccoon, are best friends who do everything together and life is perfect, until Henry has to move away and each is devastated. They pledge to remain best friends for ever and to write every day, but Herman misses Henry so very much that it becomes harder and harder to write. Then, he receives an urgent plea from Henry. He finally puts pen to paper only to be thwarted by the closure of the Post Office for winter. In a flash of inspiration, he decides to deliver his letter personally, but it is a hazardous journey. This is the story of true, lasting friendship, as well as a fantastically resourceful postal service. The lift-the-flap letters and full-page illustrations ensure its immediacy and warmth.

Gill Roberts

Spells-A-Popping! Granny’s Shopping!

Written by Tracey Corderoy

Illustrated by Joe Berger

Nosy Crow £6.99

ISBN: 978-0857632210

Everybody is different and ‘wow’ is this Granny different? Her pointy black hat and the liberal use of her wand do give the game away a little, although the word ‘witch’ is never actually used. When Granny and grand-daughter go shopping, it’s quite an experience. Waving her wand, Granny creates chaos in the supermarket, but it is very funny chaos, such as when the runner beans start to run! However, Granny’s tricks prove very useful when an attempted robbery takes place. The pictures are very detailed and there are lots for children to talk about. The text is lively and full of rhyme. This is a lovely book, very funny, with plenty of opportunities for discussion and developing ideas. Shopping with a young child may never be the same again!

Patricia Thompson

Dragon Loves Penguin

Written and illustrated by Debi Gliori

Bloomsbury £10.99

ISBN: 978-1408839492

This book is a story within a story, told by a Mummy Penguin to her little one, Bib, about a dragon who finds an abandoned egg which hatches into a penguin. The dragon needs an egg and the egg needs a mummy. The egg hatches but has feathers, is small and fluffy, and is not at all dragon-like – in fact more like a penguin. The relationship between Mummy Dragon and Baby Penguin is moving and she is fiercely protective of her funny baby. The baby penguin is teased by the other dragons for not being the same and she desperately tries to do ‘dragon’ things, but to no avail. However, the baby penguin proves to be an excellent friend and in the end saves all their lives. This heartwarming story is beautifully illustrated by Debi Gliori, with a new style of painting. The facial expressions are magical. A lovely story to read and share again and again!

Ingrid Fox

Spider Sandwich

Written by Claire Freedman

Illustrated by Sue Hendra

Bloomsbury (eB) £6.99

ISBN: 978-1408839157

This is a rhyming tale about Max, the monster, and his disgusting appetite – gloopy, glucky, yucky, mucky! He will feast on almost anything repulsive and revolting, and every mealtime is a real fright. However, there is one thing Max will never eat! This story will make young children, and their parents, squirm whilst laughing and giggling. It will also encourage talk about food likes and dislikes and children will compare their appetites to that of the monster. Children will want this read to them over and over again!

Louise Mundford

Penguins Can’t Fly

Written and illustrated by Richard Byrne

Andersen £10.99

ISBN: 978-1849395137

Hudson, the penguin, is a very lonely penguin. His feelings of isolation and hopelessness are truly heartrending when his determined efforts to fly, like the other birds, cannot help but fail and the gulls, and even his closest friend, Gregory, make fun. However, when Gregory dives for fish and doesn’t immediately resurface, Hudson comes to the rescue: his instinctive selflessness ultimately displaying that every creature’s strengths have their own value. This is a lovely story about learning to understand and appreciate those who are different and realising they are no less special. Subtitled “Two friends become true friends”, this picture book is genuinely uplifting, very touching, wonderfully illustrated and the children loved it!

Gill Roberts

Wibbly Pig Picks a Pet

Written and illustrated by Mick Inkpen

Hodder £6.99

ISBN: 978-1444908213

Here is the latest enjoyable tale featuring this well-loved children’s character and his friends. Big Pig’s sister’s friend is getting a new pet and Wibbly Pig suspects that it will be an ordinary boring one! He talks to Scruffy Pig about the more exciting, exotic types of pets that you could own. But, predictably, their suspicions are correct and she brings home a rabbit. Both pigs are very disappointed as it is not as exciting as a giraffe or a dolphin! However, they gradually change their minds as they come to realise that a pet rabbit can be lots of fun too. This is a lovely story to share with little ones and provides the perfect opportunity to talk about the different types of pets there are. It also promotes discussion about what pets need and about the responsibilities they bring with them. Another success from this celebrated award-winning author/illustrator!

Louise Mundford

Z is for Moose

Written by Kelly L. Bingham

Illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky

Andersen £6.99

ISBN: 978-1849397810

This is an alphabet picture book with a difference. Zebra decides to make an alphabet book, thinking everyone will cooperate, and all is well until Moose gets impatient and takes over the letter D. Moose’s interference has chaotic results as he tries to squeeze into one letter after another. When Zebra chooses ‘Mouse’ for the letter M, Moose begins to realise that all is lost. Or is it? Large, humorous illustrations add to the fun of sharing this book.

Marianne Adey

Pepe takes a Tumble

Written by Kes Gray

Illustrated by Mary McQuillan

Hodder (eB) £11.99

ISBN: 978-1444900316

This is the sixth in the Get Well Friends series of titles, which tell of a variety of animal characters all of whom end up having an accident or being poorly and having to visit Nurse Nibbles at the hospital. In this story Pepe decides it’s time he acted like a big grown-up dog and did things like the big dogs do, like weeing up trees, chasing rabbits and sniffing other dogs’ bottoms. However, following a tumble he ends up, as expected, having to visit Nurse Nibbles at the hospital. Simple stories and language, with very colourful attractive illustrations, really bring the characters to life. There is also a range of toys available to accompany the books as well as a dedicated website, Other books and toys have been produced to also support the work of the Great Ormond Street Hospital

Annie Everall

Who’s For Dinner?

Written by Claire Freedman

Illustrated by Nick East

Little Tiger £5.99

ISBN: 978-1848954885

The City Fox is ready for his dinner and decides to visit a farm in the country. However, the animals are prepared for his arrival and have a cunning plan. They trick the fox by pretending to be different animals, which foxes are not supposed to eat. This story plays around with the concept of the food chain and each animals place within it. It’s a comical tale, with crazy, energetic illustrations, that children will love to laugh along with.

Louise Mundford

Too Small for My Big Bed

Written by Amber Stewart

Illustrated by Layn Marlow

OUP (eB) £6.99

ISBN: 978-0192758415

Subtitled Sleep tight in your own bed tonight!, this is a lovely tale about a little tiger cub and his mum. The time has come for Piper, the baby tiger, to sleep, all night, in his own big bed. Mummy reassures him and helps him to realise that she will never be far away. This is a story that can be used by parents who are helping their own children through sleep transitions. Children will love the bright, bold illustrations and will copy the tiger’s idea of counting to 10. This is a perfect tale for all tiger loving toddlers!

Louise Mundford

Bob and Rob

Written and illustrated by Sue Pickford

Frances Lincoln £11.99

ISBN: 978-1847803436

Bob, the dog, is a good-hearted, kind dog who dreams of being a pet in a normal, ordinary family, instead of being the pet of a burglar. He doesn’t like doing bad and unkind things and tries to keep his burgling owner on the straight and narrow. An unexpected opportunity then arises for his dreams to become a reality. But will he take it? We loved reading Bob’s perspective and may even want to give him a home by the end of it too! This hilarious story, with wacky, comic illustrations, will make you chuckle from beginning to end. Enjoy!

Louise Mundford