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In a nutshell: gentle, heart-warming story of a little girl and her puffin Christmas is coming but Polly can’t seem to get in the right mood: Neil her puffin friend is preoccupied with his girlfriend who is hatching their egg, and when she and her mum make a special trip from their island home to Edinburgh to see Father Christmas, Polly takes the wrong list with her and then loses her puffin toy. Jenny Colgan understands all the ups and downs of being a child, and how frustrating it is when nothing is really in your control, and describes it very well here. Fortunately, reading the Christmas story with her mother cheers Polly up and then on Christmas day, the puffling hatches. With its short text, lively adventure and charming illustrations this is particularly good for newly confident readers, but lovely for sharing too. ~ Andrea Reece
The Twelve Days of Christmas is an important element of the Christmas celebrations and Anna Wright’s version is beautiful, original and witty. From the gorgeous partridge gazing out at us on the first page, bird and pears on the tree both embellished with gold brocade, to the twelve woodpeckers drumming on the trees in a snowy wood, animals feature for every one of the lines. Perhaps my favourite is the fifth day, when five handsome frogs twirl gold rings, or the eighth day, illustrated by a sow feeding her eight piglets. Young children will enjoy talking about the animals but this is full of appeal for older children and adults too. ~ Andrea Reece
Hear the best-selling book The Bear and the Piano come to life with this special gift-edition sound book. A young bear cub finds a piano in the forest and after a first hesitant ‘PLONK’, he returns to it every day for years until he has grown strong, and the sounds that he makes on the piano are melodic and beautiful. The other bears love listening to him but one day a girl and her father overhear his concert and persuade him to go with them to the city and play in front of thousands. Swapping the tranquillity of the forest for the bright lights of Broadway brings the bear fame, but he misses his friends and decides to return to play again for the most important audience of all. It’s a beautiful story, and illustrates perfectly the effect of music on performer and audience. Litchfield’s illustrations are very special indeed: he plays beautifully with light and shade, in both the forest and concert hall scenes, to create atmosphere and to illuminate his hero and his message. ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: unforgettable Christmas with mini-dragons It’s Christmas and Eric is going to have an exciting day: he’s woken up early by Pan, the mini-dragon who lives in his sock-drawer, and they discover that Pan’s parents have arrived unexpectedly to spend Christmas with their son, so that makes three mini-dragons in the house… Then, thanks to trouble at the airport (which might just have something to do with the dragons), Eric’s friends and neighbours arrive for Christmas too, including the thoroughly awful Toby. Anything could happen, and probably will. The action is fast, funny but firmly rooted in family life and friendship, while Sarah Horne’s illustrations of dragons and humans alike catch the tone perfectly. This series will keep the ho-ho-ho going long after Christmas. ~ Andrea Reece One to recommend to fans of Guy Bass and Josh Lacey’s Dragonsitter series.
In a nutshell: warm-hearted animal story set on a proper farm These sweet little stories are perfect for animal-mad youngsters and filled with useful information about how to care for pets. When friends Jasmine and Tom find an abandoned kitten they know they need to look after it. As Jasmine’s mum is a vet she can give them lots of advice on how to do this and soon the kitten, called Holly, is thriving. Jasmine loves Holly very much but as Christmas approaches she has to make the brave and generous decision to give Holly to someone who really needs her. A typically well-written and convincing story in this excellent series which has lots to appeal for young readers, particularly those who dream of living on a farm. ~ Andrea Reece The Editor at Nosy Crow says: “This series is going to be a classic. It’s beautifully written with clever plotting and proper animal adventure. Life as a farm vet’s daughter shows Jasmine that nature is not always kind and life-and-death situations are never far away. But what cute animals! And what great stories!”
In a nutshell: warm, inspiring animal story When Isabelle comes face to face with a beautiful snow leopard in her local zoo an amazing adventure begins. She goes to bed tucked up with her snow leopard toy but wakes up in a ger, a Mongolian yurt. Only the little girl of the family can see her and they quickly become friends. Odval takes Isabelle up into the mountains and shows her a family of snow leopards. Odval loves them but her family want them gone because they are preying on their sheep. Can the girls protect the leopards? This is a lovely story of friendship starring some of the most beautiful animals on the planet; readers will be inspired to find out more about snow leopards and how they can help them survive in the wild. ~ Andrea Reece
Wonderful rhyme carries you through this rollicking ride through the wild west and a town they called Fear, whose scary inhabitants wear rattlesnake socks, chew rocks and and soon leave newcomer, the colourful and jolly Bingo B. Brown without his cheerful grin. Bingo soon discovers that as scary as the cowboys in town are, the wildest, scariest cowboy of all comes calling after dark. Frightened by the tales he hears of this terrible stranger, Bingo and his dog decide to leave town. They soon discover that you can't run away from the things that scare you as they come face to face with the fear spreading cowboy. Bingo soon finds his courage though and before long this baddie goes from spiteful to delightful. This is an absolute joy to read and is packed full of fun and colourful illustrations that complement the story perfectly. ~ Shelley Fallows - You can also find Shelley here.
November 2017 Debut of the Month In a nutshell: the night-time escapades of a pair of adventurous cats Inspired by his own cats, one of which is almost totally blind, Dermot O’Leary has indulged in some ‘what if’ imagining and dreamed up a rather wonderful world of adventures for them. On their first night in London, Toto and Silver make friends with the gregarious Catface, who promises to show them the town. Riding round the city on the Animal Tube they have a brilliant time, ending up in London Zoo where they become involved in the attempt to recapture an escaped Boa Constrictor, at which point Toto’s ninja skills really come into their own. Young readers will lap up this lively, funny story and Toto and Silver – particularly as depicted in Nick East’s illustrations – are charismatic characters. ~ Andrea Reece Dermot says: 'The idea for Toto first came to me when my wife and I rescued two stray cats from an olive grove in Italy. One of them, Toto, has been blind from birth, but we quickly realised she had ninja-like reactions. Like a lot of cat owners (or cat servants), we like to imagine our pets having secret lives when we're out or asleep. So before I knew it I was writing about Toto and her brother Silver's nocturnal adventures around London. I really hope that children who pick it up enjoy reading the adventures of our little Italian underdog (cat).' For readers who like their heroes feline, Anne Fine’s Diary of a Killer Cat is clever and entertaining, Marilyn Edward’s White Chin gripping and realistic, and Paul Gallico’s Jennie a real classic.
This clever interactive board book is just the thing to get everyone smiling in the run up to Christmas. Turning the pages really does wake up Santa, thanks to a neat bit of paper engineering. Readers can wake up an elf too, and watch Rudolph’s nose light up, before a teddy gets ready to play. The artwork is bright and lively, full of things to spot, count, name and discuss and it’s a really useful first book as well as being a fun introduction to the festive season. ~ Andrea Reece
There’s a new mystery afoot in this entertaining sequel about Noble Warrior and his owner. Everything seems calm. Young horse lover Charlie Bass is getting her life back on track and her horse Noble Warrior is safely back in his stable after the excitement of the race. But, after such fame, is he safe? Soon Nobel Warrior goes missing. How will Charlie ever track him down? TV presenter Clare Balding has created a terrific adventure with a heart warming relationship between a young owner and her horse at the heart of it. ~ Julia Eccleshare
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