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This is a simple circular tale, full of drama and threat, as Rider sets out on a quest tasked him by the Ancient One. Throughout the wonderful bold illustrations, the Rider appears small against impossible, scary, huge foes. The story is told in rhyming couplets, in large easy to read text; some couplets are on one double page spread, others have one line on each spread with the rest of the space filled with large, striking black and red images against plain coloured backgrounds. A limited colour palette is used with consummate skill to convey so much. This book is a gem – an artistic tour de force – one which children will love for the adventure and the change in every page turn. An epic tale through a mythical fantasy land that will engage children and adults alike.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month November 2019 | Full of Meg Rosoff’s delightful wit and evident affection for dogs, the is a great return for McTavish the big-hearted rescue dog who is already well-known for the good care he takes of all those around him. This time it is Betty who needs help. When Pa Peachey gets a new job the whole family is upheaved. Everyone is excited about it except for Betty. Not only has she got to move house but she also to say goodbye to her old friends and go to a new school. Betty does not want to be the new girl: she is terrified. Luckily, McTavish thinks of the best possible way to turn her arrival at a new school into a triumph rather than a catastrophe.
November 2019 Debut of the Month | Longlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2020 | Lina, born into a Soviet prison camp, has to find her way in the world when she escapes with some very disreputable characters. She is chased by her best friend, shadow wolves and a terrifying sorceress taking revenge on humankind. Without her friend Bogdan and her slow discovery of the magic she has she would perish – and she very nearly does on several occasions – in this gripping, bewitching story. The story combines all the best elements of a straightforward adventure with friends and a magically invested tale, echoing some of the folk tales of the area. The reader can taste the fear engendered by Svetlana the sorceress, and marvel at the bravery of the two young heroes in their battles against her and also the sheer determination needed to survive the awful winter climate. This novel will have a wide appeal, with characters that are carefully drawn – and appealing to both boys and girls. The mix of horror, magic and adventure make it very readable – a great read for a winters evening.
December 2019 Book of the Month | Set in 1912, this action-packed adventure feels both classic and contemporary, with Marina, its young heroine, yearning to break free from societal constraints to become the “new woman” she’s read about in modern magazines. Namely, the kind of woman who is “mistress of her own destiny”. Frustratingly, Marina’s father dismisses her desires outright. Being a naval captain he’s often away at sea and, with her mother gone, Marina is about to be shipped off to boarding school when all she really wants to do is set sail with her dad. So much so, Marina ends up stowing away on his ship. As his mission is vitally urgent, Captain Denham has little choice but to continue with Marina aboard. As their perilous voyage progresses, the thrilling dangers of enemy sightings, superstitious shipmates and icebergs are interlaced with myth and mystery as Marina feels an inexplicable “urgent tugging in her chest to go north” after being accused of possessing the power to “call up storms”. Indeed, Marina’s affinity with the sea adds an extra edge of intrigue throughout, leading to an eerie explanation as the novel twists and swells to its pulse-quickening crescendo.
Translated by the award winning Laura Watkinson | Available for the first time in the UK, this new translation is a real treat for fans of the breakout sensation Letters For the King, which brought the multimillion bestselling Dutch author Tonke Dragt to the attention of a UK audience for the first time and which then went on to win Children’s Book of the Year. Since then translator Laura Watkinson has continued her mission to bring us more of the award-winning author’s books. Written as twelve tales, the story of identical twins Laurenzo and Joacomo is perfectly suited to reading and sharing over the twelve days of Christmas! Each tale is a complete and satisfying adventure set in the wonderful fictional medieval world created so vividly in the Dragt books. The boys may be so identical that they can take turns to go to school, but they have very different talents and temperaments. Hard-working Laurenzo wants to make beautiful things and becomes a goldsmith; Jiacomo loves travel and adventure and in one tale is tempted to use his wiles to become an excellent thief. Although he gives up the immoral life, his skills come in very useful as from a case of mistaken identity involving the Knight of the Red Rose to the pursuit of the precious silver cups of Talamura, the brothers find themselves caught up in wild adventures that require all of their combined wisdom and cunning. A highly satisfying and totally absorbing read with prose that would be a joy to read aloud in class too.
Sparky isn't your typical double-decker bus. Behind the dragon aand magical paintings, she's exciting and full of funand adventures for all children.Jump aboard to find out what makes Sparky so special.A children's picture story book about a Playbus. The real bus worked in Glasgow, Scotland and helped promote inclusion and support for many children who were less mobile. The Real Sparky Sparky the Dragon Bus, JGA 199N, was a project in Glasgow offering play opportunities to disabled children and their families. It was a unique Playbus containing many special features, such as a chairlift from the lower deck, allowing users an access to the upper deck. At the rear was an emergency exit slide. The slide started from the top deck with a large, soft mat on the ground to ensure safe landing. Sparky encouraged many children to come along to the play scheme where they played alongside children of all abilities. Sparky the Dragon Bus was quickly recognised for its valuable service, and even received a royal visit from Princess Anne.
Edith Pattou’s epic story is partly inspired by the old Norwegian fairy tale ‘East o’ the Sun and West o’ the Moon’, though readers will also recognise elements of the more familiar ‘Beauty and the Beast’. Though the story is told from the different perspectives of its main characters, at its heart is a young girl, Rose, the child born facing North and therefore full of dreams of travel and adventure, and who is saved from death by a great white bear. When later Rose betrays of the bear, it is her quest to make good the harm she has caused that drives the plot. Filled with magical scenes and unforgettable characters, this is a rich and rewarding read, filled too with fascinating research into map-making, Viking ships and Inuit life, all of which play an essential part in Rose’s journey to find the land of the Troll Queen and her true love. As spell-binding and mysterious as the best folk-tales always are.
November 2019 Book of the Month | Not since The Snowman have readers been taken on such a magical, snowy journey of love and adventure. Phoebe lives in a gloomy orphanage run by the cruel Griselda Bone. The two clash frequently, and often over Phoebe’s creative response to her school work: Griselda does not approve of words like ‘whispery’ and ‘flumping’. Locked up in the snow overnight, Phoebe and her little dog Herb are surprised by a huge and magical snow dragon, who takes them on an extraordinary ride through the skies. Filled with snowflakes, starlight and revelling in the power of the imagination this is a gorgeous story for Christmas nights and Fiona Woodcock’s illustrations are very special indeed.
A beautifully written book that you read in your mind as to a child as you settle them into bed. It sets them up to have sweet dreams in a long sleep. The illustrations match the journey that the children take to go to bed. It is an ideal and most parents would be delighted if that happened every night. You can definitely hear yourself read it out loud as a bedtime story! Cathy Small, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Award-winner Katherine Rundell has already taken readers on thrilling journeys over rooftops, across the Russian steppes and of course deep into the forest. She understands absolutely children's longing for wild adventure and no-one is better suited to write new stories for Kipling's Jungle Book characters. This very handsome book, which features beautiful colour illustrations by Kristjana S Williams, tells five different stories, and with each perfectly-imagined episode adds to what we love about Kipling's unforgettable characters, including Bagheera, Baloo, Shere Khan and Kaa. It opens too with a story about one of the most interesting characters, Mowgli's fierce wolf-mother Raksha, who has long deserved more time in the spotlight. These are stories of bravery and cunning, full of excitement and danger, but most of all they are stories of loyalty and community, and by the time they reach the end, readers will be daydreaming themselves into the jungle family. Mowgli links all the stories, and has his own of course, and is exactly the same impetuous, selfish, boasting but warm-hearted, generous boy drawn so vividly by Kipling. In fact the book does exactly what sequels should but seldom manage - it tells us new stories that grow out of the originals, and enhance and enrich them.
It’s a big day in junior inventor Izzy Gizmo’s house: a letter has arrived with an invitation to an Invention Convention. At first, Izzy is uncharacteristically unsure, pointing out that her machines don’t always work. Following a wonderfully robust response to that from her Grandpa - “Cobblers!” he shouts – they pack up her tools and set off for Technoff Isle in an extraordinarily wonderful, amphibious vehicle, designed by Izzy. The plot moves forward as energetically as Izzy’s contraption, with the young inventors challenged to an invention competition. Izzy seems to be in trouble when one of her competitors selfishly hoards all the materials available for herself, but there’s very little that Izzy can’t tackle with her limitless ingenuity and creativity. Picture book stars don’t come much more inspirational or resilient than young Izzy, but she’s thoroughly human too, not above getting frustrated or bad-tempered and often in need of encouragement from Grandpa and her friend Fixer the crow. The story is a joyful celebration of inventions and inventiveness with an excellent message for young readers. Pip Jones’ rhyming text and Sara Ogilvie’s action-packed illustrations match each other for wit and energy. This is a story guaranteed to fire the imagination, and let’s face it, the world needs more Izzy Gizmos. This review first appeared on Books for Keeps.
Orrcry is a wonderful story where we follow Amaroo on a journey to find his mother who left him with a Scottish cat called Tappy to look after because she feared it was too dangerous for him to stay with her. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this book at the start but I really got into the story and didn’t want it to end. Orrcry turned out to be very interesting and entertaining. There were some funny descriptions which will definitely keep the younger readers giggling. Although this book has an entertaining value it also covers important themes, such as grief and fear as well as leaving a subtle message of how love and hope is important. Annie Tucker has done a wonderful job writing this book. You can really tell she has written it from deep down in her heart. This book is primarily aimed at younger readers but I think it’s perfect for any ages young or old, there is a little bit for everyone to enjoy. Oh, and the cute illustrations in-between the pages, bring the book to life. Overall a wonderful read. That I would happily recommend to anyone looking for a quick read with hidden messages waiting to be discovered.