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'Picco Puppy Loves Football' is a simply written tale about a puppy who finds things difficult, doesn't give up and who's perseverance is rewarded by success in the end. It is written in a way that small children will be able to understand. There is a suggestion in the introduction that Picco faces specific challenges which make keeping going more difficult for him but these adversities are left vague, allowing the readers to apply the message of the book in all circumstances. The illustrations are clear and uncomplicated, portraying a diverse collection of characters; I think they will appeal to small children - as will the charming story. Jane Welby, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
It's a lovely, sweet story and quite unusal. The illustrations were very good, although they would be better in colour. Ferdinand is a very friendly dragon and this comes across both in the story and in the illustrations: I don't think any child would perceive him as being scary. My only concern is that the language is a little grown up in places and doesn't always flow although I don't think that a child would necessarily notice this because they would be too interested in what is happening in the story. As well as being an entertaining story, I think it teaches a child about sadness and hope and the importance of friendship. I think adults will enjoy reading this story too, I certainly did. Pauline Braisher, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
In 'The Traveller's Stone', S.J.Howland has created a wondrous fantasy world, inhabited by the creatures of myth and fairy tale. Any fan of J.K.Rowling, C.S.Lewis or Philip Pullman will immediately feel at home in this fantastical place called Haven. Haven is a world parallel to ours, where giants, fairies, hobgoblins, fauns and brownies co-exist, more or less amicably, alongside humans. Amongst the humans, it is only the Travellers who are gifted with the ability to pass between the two worlds. The book recounts the story of Xander King, a 14-year-old Londoner, who is transported to Haven by a Traveller's stone in the British Museum. But why has he ended up there? Is he really supposed to save this ailing, alien world from both external and internal attack, when he has no knowledge of it's history or culture, where he doesn't feel he can belong? This is a classic rite of passage story, well written and beautifully describing the feelings and emotions Xander goes through as he faces no end of trials to gain his place in this multifaceted society before returning home, a much stronger and more confident person. I really enjoyed reading this novel and was so pleased to discover that this will not be the end of Xander's adventures. 'The Traveller's Stone' is only the first of a planned series of five books and I personally can't wait for the next one in 2020. Drena Irish, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
My five year old son and I absolutely loved Don't Drink the Pink. In fact, he made me read it to him twice, one straight after the other, partly because he loved it and partly because he wanted to read it the second time after taking on board what happens in it. The book begins on Madeline's first birthday. Her beloved grandfather is always busy in his workshop cooking up, as it turns out, wonderful potions that give Madeline a superpower. Each year, on her birthday, she gets to choose a new potion but each time her grandfather tells her "just don't drink the pink". She gets to be tiny, to be a giant, to be able to move faster than a locomotive and, my personal favourite, to be able to build rollercoasters for herself and her friends. So many things about this book make it special. Firstly, it all rhymes which I think gives it a rhythmical flow that really keeps children (and their grown ups) interested. Secondly, the rhyme about not drinking the pink is the same for every birthday and it gave my son the opportunity to join in with the "just don't drink the pink" line with a big smile on his face. He can read perfectly well himself but it made it a nice joint endeavour. Thirdly, the story is fun and magical. There's a sad element to it but it's tempered by an uplifting ending. Finally, the illustrations are gorgeous and complement the story perfectly. They're colourful and give an accurate depiction of what is happening in the story. I really can't praise this book highly enough. Be aware, it does deal with the death of a relative but it's sensitively done and although my son did feel a bit sad at that bit, he bounced back with the ending. It's a fabulous little read for the 3-8 age group. Nicola Smith, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
The story follows little Turtus as he hatches and makes his way towards the sea along with the other little turtles. However, he does not feel that he is like his brothers and sisters and this is confirmed as his journey continues. Eventually, he encounters his mother who explains that his father was in fact a giant land tortoise and assures him that he will meet him one day. This is a charming picture book using an effective, fairly natural and simple rhyme format which tends to appeal to young children. The illustrations are varied and appealing and match the text extremely well. Intrigue draws us in at the onset with the mystery of what is a 'Turtus' and reappears at the end of the tale when the reader is left with the expectation of eventually meeting Turtus' father in the next book. The story is also effective on other levels with its educational value and as an introduction to the fact that we are all different and can have a variety of different family situations. My granddaughter is 7 and really enjoyed this story and wants to know what happens next! Val Rowe, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Written for children but will appeal to young adults and adult readers also. The author tells the story of two differing boys and what brings them together, they both have an interest in habitats and badgers living in a wood near to where they live. It shows how friendship is important regardless of status or where they have come from. I found myself in the treehouse whilst the boys looked into the badgers and the beautifully drawn illustrations added to this. The author writes well and has a great understanding of nature and the natural world, and I literally could not put the book down and boy was there an ending. Moralistic which again will apply to both young adults and grown-ups. Recommended read. Jane Brown, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
This blast of a book represents children’s non-fiction at its finest. It’s packed with inspirational interstellar facts about the first moon landing, all delivered in a well-considered, scrapbook-style design that enhances the subject matter, from the retro typewriter font, to the easy-on-the-eye information boxes. Covering everything from why the moon mission happened in the first place, to astronaut training, lift-off preparation, life on board, exploring the moon, and much more, the book’s USP is its emphasis on how it felt to be in Neil, Buzz and Michael’s moon boots. It provides answers to questions all space-obsessed kids will devour: how did the astronauts get to the moon? How did they go to the toilet? What did they eat? What were their space suits like? What work did they have to do on board? How did they actually land? With an inspiring introduction by Helen Sharman, the first Briton to travel to space, this is perfect for fact-loving young readers to launch into, and should be on the shelf of every school library.
Heidi and her friend, Adele go on a short trip to Seville and take their cat Vince with them. We are taken around the city and shown the usual tourist sites and do the usual tourist activities. It's a sort of youngsters travel book. Quite a bit of Spanish is spoken when in conversation with the locals, and I was pleased and relieved to see, at the back of the book, a translation of all the phrases. This is a great book for children learning Spanish at primary or early secondary school level. It's well set out in a situation type story and the illustrations show clearly the types of buildings and street scenes we would see in Seville. Chris Woolfenden, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
A mysterious art thief, a 12-year-old undercover agent and a Parisian patisserie. Simone La Fray is a unique character, old beyond her years and discreetly training as a covert agent, with the support and encouragement of her mother, a successful operative. Simone also works to help her Father at their patisserie, what a busy life! The descriptions of all the delicious confections made me very hungry as I was reading. The other descriptions throughout were nice and detailed and I could believe I was following Simone through the streets of Paris on the hunt for the Red Fox. I liked this story and I was intrigued at how Simone's first field operation would go. I also thought that the other characters in the book were detailed and it would be interesting to see if Simone and her mum team up in future books, would her sister Mia ever find out about her secret life? I don't quite know when this book is set, it appears quite modern and I did briefly wonder why Simone didn't seem to go to school, but I enjoyed the story nevertheless. I think that this book is just the right amount of believable and exciting spy adventure and I feel that younger readers will like this book and be interested in finding out more about Simone’s adventures in later books. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
This vibrant inter-planetary picture book sees mini Mercury, the smallest planet closest to the sun, fulfill his mythical job as a messenger when he warns his fellow planets that a sun storm is approaching. Mercury’s message makes its way to each planet in turn – loving Venus, lively Earth, warrior Mars, giant Jupiter (who “farts a lot”, due to being such a gaseous planet!), singing Saturn, ice-giant Uranus, before finally reaching freezing Neptune. Thanks to Mercury’s thoughtful warning and the planets’ varied ways of preparing for it, everyone stays safe from the storm. The story imparts an underlying message of friendship and support through the entertaining and educational personification of the planets, and the page of planet-themed questions at the back is a great extra. All in all, this is a fun way to introduce 4+ year-olds to the solar system. Joanne Owen, A LoveReading Ambassador
The Wrongful Death is the third book in the Great Devil War series – and yet again I raced through it. I don’t think it could be read easily as a standalone, and I would recommend reading the previous books before anyone dives into this one. Philip is back in Hell, this time searching for the school bully, Sam, who shouldn’t be there (yet). This book goes ‘beyond’ Hell though, as Philip (with his friend Satina) journeys into Heaven and also Hades, providing a contrast between all of the ‘after-life’ worlds. The relationship between Lucifer and Jehovah, in particular, is very entertaining. I can tell that the author has had fun creating each setting and the characters within them – his vivid imagination driving the plot forwards through great world building and character development. Trouble is brewing in Lucifer’s kingdom, providing the backdrop for Philip’s search and the start of the ‘Great Devil War’. Yet again the book features strong themes and also an unconventional (though not disrespectful) view of religion – Heaven versus Hell, punishment and retribution in the afterlife and creation of the world (explained as six years in Heaven is a couple of billion years on Earth). There’s plenty of dark humour alongside some gruesome descriptions (so, as with the previous books, this may not be suitable for younger teenagers or for the faint-hearted). There are several familiar biblical and historical characters to watch out for (I’ll leave these as a surprise), and the inclusion of Hades also introduces Greek mythology. This provides not only entertainment but also an educational slant. The Wrongful Death doesn’t end as neatly as the two previous books – in fact, there is a huge cliff-hanger, so be prepared for it. I won’t give anything away, but it is clear that there is more to come (as there’s a teaser for the next book at the end). I’m looking forward to it!
Beautifully written, The Unnamed Beast is a story of courage, friendship, strength and hope. When a fire breaks out, and starts to destroy the Wood, the unnamed beast is upset to see his beloved home on fire, but when he finds out from a Badger, that it's a dragon, he thinks it's his fault, and he is responsible for the destruction, after being told this isn't so, and so he decided to confront the Dragon and put a stop to it, as he starts on his journey, he meets other creatures of the wood, and friendships to start to form. I found this book had a touch of Roald Dahl, Dr Seuss and Julia Donaldson. Throughout, the story was enriched with illustrations and I think that The Unnamed Beast could easily become a children's classic. The story was told beautifully with the use of rhyme and I can see that it will have the readers smiling and children laughing as they follow the unnamed beast on his journey. Angela Rhodes, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
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