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Not all great books come through big publishers. Check out some of our favourite indie books on the market.
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
Who needs gritty, dark psychological thriller when you can curl up in your armchair with your furry companions and read a cosy murder mystery especially one where a feisty Scottish wildcat pits his superior feline wits against a delightfully wicked murderer in the rugged heart of the Scottish Highlands?
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.
A cracking Christmas presentation box comprising a seasonal storybook and snow globe gift. This fully-illustrated seasonal storybook plus snow globe looks like a real labour of love, with no corners cut on the smart gift box packaging that comes replete with golden cloth lining. The story tells how Mrs Claus allocates a personal elf to each child, and it falls to the elf to watch over the child to determine whether they’ve been naughty or nice so Mrs Claus and Santa can “decide what gifts you will receive from your list”. The tale is told from the point of view of Gabriel, an almost-ten-year-old, who’s lost all sense of the magic of Christmas now his dad has a new family who have “everything I could ever want”, while he and his mum will be stuck making their own Christmas decorations and eating chicken. Monumentally disgruntled, Gabriel disobeys his mum and flees to find his dad’s new town. Then, in a strange and initially terrifying turn of events, he encounters one of Santa’s reindeers and – wait for it – his very own elf! The elf certainly has his work cut out persuading Gabriel that Santa is real, but with the help of a magical snow globe and through showing Gabriel the true spirit of Christmas much like the ghosts in Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, he manages to do just that. With its mix of real-life worries and seasonal magic, this captures the feeling of being on the brink of not believing in Father Christmas and is underpinned by the message that love is the best gift of all. Joanne Owen, A LoveReading Ambassador
This eighth book in the Riverdale Pony Stories series is packed with peril, mystery and high-octane action as pony-mad Poppy McKeever goes into detective mode to track down the dog that attacked the sheep on her friend’s farm, while also preparing for a big riding competition. While the writing is pacey and has an urgency to it, at times the somewhat dense descriptions could benefit from a little trimming. But, overall, this gripping, entertaining adventure rings with authentic dialogue, strong evocations of the countryside and Poppy’s indomitable spirit.
This inventive Wimpy Kid-esque book for 8+ year-olds (more graphic novel/comic than conventional novel) brims with high-stakes dilemmas, high-octane action, and a whole lot of humour. To set the scene, iLK is a Glubwark from planet Glub and his scary dad has invaded Earth. The book takes the form of iLK recounting the attack and its unexpected aftermath in his journal. From the off iLK is an amusing narrator, such as when his dad instructs him to land on earth to “help with the invasion” and he winds up realising that “I didn’t do a very good job, so now my job is to stay out the way. I’m very good at that.” This kind of wry humour and the accompanying doodle-style illustrations provide lots of laughs throughout. iLK is much happier caring for his collection of plants than getting involved in the invasion, but when his dad deems planet Earth useless, it falls to iLK to take on his father’s “Emperor of the World” role. There’s much tension as iLK steps-up to his new position but, little by little, he accepts it, first installing his HQ at Machu Picchu, then learning about the Amazonian rainforest. iLK is really getting into the idea of helping Earth survive and thrive when his dad drops a bombshell about why they really came here. Funny, engaging and with strong messages about making right choices and saving the planet, this is spot-on for eight to ten year-olds, and comes especially recommended for reluctant readers. Joanne Owen, 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.
A wholesome hygiene message about how, when and why to wash your hands is here delivered through irreverent loo, poo and goo humour (even the queen gets slimed!) that’s sure to appeal to seven+ year-olds. Pands is woefully resistant to washing his hands. In fact, he “believed washing dirt off his skin was a bad thing.” But thankfully his brother Seb comes to the rescue as a hygiene Superhero, armed with an antibacterial cape and the knowledge that “germs were nasty and cruel”. Seb’s mission to persuade Pands to clean up his act begins at home (the detailed cross-section of their slide down a toilet pipe is sure to raise a few eyebrows and elicit some grins), before he undertakes an epic quest save the earth from succumbing to an invasion of zombiegerms. This provides parents and teachers with an original way to teach kids about hygiene, with the glossary and hand-washing instructions that follow the story delivered in the same comic style. Joanne, A LoveReading4Kids 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
Featuring effervescent illustrations and an engaging rhyming text, this picture book has lots of page-turning “what happens next?” appeal, which makes it perfect for reading aloud to animal-mad toddlers. Poor Tiger! He’s lost his stripes while doing his washing, and a real sense of drama is evoked as Tiger prowls the jungle in search of them. Along the way he encounters a host of animals who’ve also lost their defining features - first parading Peacock who’s lost his “fabulous tail”, then Mongoose who’s lost his nose, then Wolf who’s without his teeth. But who’s the thief? While the text could be trimmed in places for smoother scansion, and the concluding morals could be expressed more subtly, this is a well-designed, vibrant picture book, and the reveal and outcome is sure to illicit surprise from little ones. Joanne Owen
Puff is a “caring, noble” grey squirrel whose propensity for distraction is seemingly hampering his future potential to represent the Grey Clan in the Tournament of Oaks, a contest that determines which clan will rule the park for the coming seasons. Indeed, according to Puff’s mentor, Sir Pattercloud, Puff will never become a Knight Captain unless he learns “how to determine what is most important”. Puff gets his chance to prove his worth when Pattercloud vanishes right before he’s due to represent Clan Grey in the tournament and do battle with wily Scratchclaw of Clan Black. While the tale is tightly-told and crisply atmospheric, its messages are driven home a little too hard, too often. Having said that, it’s a good read for 8+ year-olds who like animal-centred fantastical adventures (think Brian Jacques for younger readers), but struggle to finish a whole novel. Perhaps also one to recommend for time-pressed, fantasy-fan adults to read with or to kids.
A high-stakes quest. A magical kingdom. A boy in possession of a coveted power. This mythology-rich novel for 10+ year-olds has all the ingredients of an epic adventure. Ankido is a twelve-year-old British-Iraqi boy with a passion for words. So much so, his beloved grandmother calls him her “Word Boy”. One morning, his grandmother announces the terrible news that Ankido’s father, an eminent archaeologist, has gone missing on a field trip in Iraq. When she leaves to search for his dad, she entrusts him with a special book: “The cover was made of fine, gold-inlaid leather. The title read, The Land of Mesopo. Ankido wondered why it was so special but thought it best not to ask.” Left with his aunt and uncle, Ankido is destined to be sent to boarding school, but not before he’s forced to burn Grandmother’s special book when his aunt tries to take it from him. He knows the book is special - “When I started reading it, it felt so real. Almost as if it was calling me to step inside “ – and indeed it does turn out to be special. Rather than end up at boarding school, he finds himself in the Library of Nineveh after being pursued by “a creature of the dark” who “feeds on words. And she knows that you can make your own words.” Ankido’s quest to find his father, and to save the fantastical word-world of Mesopo as the Kingdom’s newfound Tale Smith is sharply evoked, and packed with heart-pounding peril, mysterious atmosphere and intriguing characters, among them scribes, princes and magicians. Joanne Owen, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
When I first started reading this one, I thought it was going to be about a journey through the animal kingdom, but I was so wrong. In fact, this book is about the impact of deforestation affects on the different habitats in the forest. I found this to be a beautifully simple yet very interesting read that I enjoyed very much. By the time I finished it got me thinking about nature and how it’s being affected in by all the changes. The story is told through the point of a tree which I found strange at first but then as the story progressed it really worked out well. This may be aimed for younger readers but I think it should be read by everyone. A great relaxing read. Manish Natha, a LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Part of the author’s Not Just a Princess six-book series about a group of supportive princesses with non-traditional jobs, this bright picture book sees Princess Becca, a skilled mechanic, come to rescue of a broken-down safari truck after being alerted to the problem by helicopter pilot Jade. Working under pressure amidst a bunch of nervy tourists and a herd of agitated rhinos, Princess Becca keeps her cool and saves the day. Alongside the positive representation of a girl mechanic, there’s a great undercurrent about girls supporting each other and teamwork, and all set in an engaging safari setting. As a whole, the series sets out to “Inspire your children to be ANYTHING that they want to be”, and Becca and Jade’s story certainly delivers on demonstrating the power of two self-sufficient girls who are great at solving problems and using their skills for a greater good. Joanne, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador