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Rabbit and Bear: Book 4 | Rabbit is worried: trees in their forest are disappearing and, worse still, the stream has moved – even unflappable Bear declares herself ‘close to being slightly worried’ at that. The cause is the arrival of Castor Canadensis, a beaver, who is delighted with engineering as a means of building ‘New, Bigger and Better things’ in the name of ‘Progress’. It suits some of the animals, but definitely not all. Fortunately, Bear finds a way to get the animals working together, so that Castor’s hard work benefits them all, himself included. As ever, there’s as much insight as humour, and it’s a superb read aloud story. Gough and Field make creating books this good look simple, because they’re both masters at what they do. Treat yourself, and buy all four books.
If you love Tom Gates, the Wimpy Kid, or Nikki Maxwell of Dork Diaries fame, then you need to get to know Max Crumbly. Like these hapless anti-heroes, Max has a habit of getting into trouble – this episode opens with Max and his crush Erin Madison trapped in a dumpster full of smelly rubbish – mainly in an effort to escape school bullies or teachers. He recounts his adventures in a breathless, as-it-happens mix of text and image, which is vivid, action-packed and guaranteed to keep the pages turning and readers laughing. It all works too because author Rachel Renée Russell understands her protagonist and her readers so well, ensuring that Max is always a credible and sympathetic character.
When Melvin Pebbles moves to the town of Donut Island, he has no idea what’s in store: before he’s even unpacked his vast collection of toy bags (unopened, toys still inside to preserve the mystery), he’s been adopted into the Daily Donut Club by new friend, Rhubarb Plonsky, and by the end of the book, together with third Donut Club member Yoshi Fujikawa, will have foiled an alien invasion and bid to brainwash his new neighbours. As you’d expect from the creator of the inimitable Barry Loser series, this is a blissfully surreal mystery adventure, as weird as it is wonderful, and certain to have readers laughing out loud from beginning to end. Jim Smith’s illustrations are as playful as the plot, and make the whole package even more of a treat. Comic genius!
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month February 2020 | February 2020 Debut of the Month | A celebration of the wonder of reading! Mabel HATES books. She gets given loads of them but has no interest at all in reading them. But, one night, the books piled up in her room come alive. The stories jump out of their covers and off the pages so that they can show Mabel their story worlds. She is intrigued by a detective adventure, excited by the chance to board a spaceship and take a trip to the moon, delighted by the thought of accompanying a knight on his quest to seek castles and to duel with dragons. But, there is no way she can find out what happens next in these stories unless she begins the read the books! An entertaining celebration of why reading is such fun.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month February 2020 | | A fabulous story with a great comic twist at the end! Everyday Tom goes up the hill behind his fishing village home to look out for pirate ships. As soon as he sees one he shouts out a huge warning and everyone rushes to hide! But Tom isn’t very sure what a pirate ship looks like. After several false alarms which lead to everyone diving into uncomfortable hiding places all the villagers stop taking any notice of Tom’s warnings. So what happens when the pirates really do arrive? Great illustrations match this story perfectly.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | | Jeanne Willis is a latter-day Hilaire Belloc creating cautionary tales for modern youth that are both hilarious and full of sensible advice. Desperate to win more ‘likes’ for her posts, Goldilocks is driven to find ever more daring activities to share, which is why she takes a selfie breaking in to the bears’ cottage, and - #pipinghot! – one of her eating their porridge. It all ends in tears of course, and community service, but what’s worse for Goldilocks is that her posts are there forever, depicting her as a horrid porridge thief and leading to the moral: ‘So please, think twice before you send!’ Tony Ross’s illustrations, sharp and full of life and wit, are the perfect complement to the rhyme. Brilliance all round!
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month February 2020 | | Manners matter as Mr Gnome finds out the hard way! Mr Gnome is a grumpy old thing who will always say NO rather than yes. He says NO to helping a hedgehog get an apple off its spines and NO to anyone joining him on his fishing trip. But when he says NO to a witch it has very terrible consequences!
There are some excellent series for young readers at the moment: Amelia Fang, the Royal Rabbits of London, Isadora Moon, and now Mermaid School. Marnie Blue is worried about her first day at Mermaid School, for all the usual reasons: will she make friends? will the teachers be very strict? When she arrives, it seems her teachers expect her to take after her aunt Christabel, now a famous singer and DJ, who was a right terror! And for some reason, fellow first year Orla seems to have it in for Marnie too. It’s all a lot more interesting than the average primary school, and Orla’s story in particular involves Marnie in a very exciting adventure. Very nicely told, and the underwater world is enticing; young readers won’t be able to put this down.
Lincoln ‘Big Nate’ Peirce’s new book is a brilliantly funny story of knights, troubadours, wizards and derring-do, all played out via a snappy mix of text and illustrations. Max is a troubadour in training with Uncle Budrick. Max however really doesn’t want to be a troubadour, but a knight. A series of mishaps lead the two to Byjovia, where Uncle Budrick is imprisoned by wicked King Gastley. With the support of a gang of young friends, aka the Midknights, is this Max’s chance to be a hero? The adventures come thick, fast and very funny and there are surprises in every chapter. Readers who like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Captain Underpants or the 13-Storey Treehouse series will lap this up, but it’s hard to see anyone not enjoying these hilarious adventures.
Fabio the flamingo and Gilbert the giraffe are the animal Holmes and Watson, solving mysteries from their office on the banks of the Laloozee river. A trip in Gilbert’s new plane leads them off the beaten track to a small town where there’s something fishy going on with the water supply. Red herrings are scattered all over the place before Fabio solves the case, identifying the culprits. It all makes for fun and flamboyant reading (love Emily Fox’s illustrations and the fluorescent colour scheme). Fabio and George are a great comic double act and there’s real satisfaction to be had as they work out the crimes too.
I feel like, in an equal world, there would be more penis admin ... Kat Evans doesn't know much about feminism, but she does know this. Utterly hilarious and boldly honest, Kat tells it how it is - and it is INCREDIBLY embarrassing. 15-year-old Kat wants to do GOOD FEMINISM, although she's not always sure what that means. She also wants to be a writer, get together with Hot Josh (is this a feminist ambition?), win at her coursework and not make a TOTAL EMBARRASSMENT of herself at all times. But the path to true feminism is filled with mortifying incidents, muddling moments and Instagram hell. And it doesn't help that Hot Josh is just, well, properly, distractingly hot. And when everything at school starts to get a bit too much, Kat knows she's lost her way, and the only way forward is to ask for help ... Bold, authentic and laugh-out-loud funny, Kat's diary fearlessly navigates mooncups, mental health and #TimesUp - perfect for fans of Geek Girl, Juno Dawson and Sex Education.
This is a lovely story that is well illustrated about an ant and his friend helping the Queen ant. Charlie, the ant and his friend, Sam must go on a mission to get a chocolate cake for the queen. Charlie and Sam liked to explore and have adventures so this is brilliant for them. Once they find a cake, they have to find a way to get it off of the kitchen counter, down onto the floor so they can move it out of the house and to the ant colony for the Queen. They then have to work out how to get the cake to the Queen before Sam eats it all. This is a sweet story for younger readers about friendship, working together and thinking outside the box in order to complete a mission. With illustrations of the delicious prize at the corner of every page and occasional illustrations throughout the story, this is a good book for younger readers to enjoy with parents.
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