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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?
The Unnamed Beast is a tale that follows are creature of the forest that is so shunned and lonesome, it is never had a name. As it braves it’s first steps into a world it has never known, it soon experiences tragedy, friendship, heroism and bravery in saving it’s world from destruction. Written in entirely in iambic couplets, the story seeks to set a grand and cinematic narrative world while exploring complex emotions.
With an engaging rhyming text that’s ideal for reading aloud, this picture book is a warm-hearted way for Muslim pre-schoolers and those of infants school age to understand and celebrate what it means to be Muslim. It would also make a great tool for teachers and parents to introduce all children to the principles of the faith. It’s underpinned by a warm message of inclusivity – “we don't all look the same”, Muslims are “different colours, shapes and sizes” – and accompanied by soft, fuzzy illustrations of all kinds of toddlers enjoying each others company in harmony and a spirit of kindness.
This first book in the Yin Yangs Odyssey series is a kaleidoscope of emotion and outlandish adventure. Eleven-year-old Freddie isn’t “exactly Mr Popular at the secondary school he attended,” which is no surprise given that his dad is “not only a science teacher but also the new deputy headmaster”. But it’s not long before feeling like an outsider is the least of his problems… When his dad doesn’t return from a trip to Egypt, Freddie is sent deeper into limbo. While left in the care of his tyrannical Nanny Maureen (a woman who reminds him “of that grandmother in George’s Marvellous Medicine), a strange mullet-haired alien being materialises in his room: “It could have easily been mistaken as human, but it wasn’t. The skin was a cold ice blue. Its eyes were twice as big as any man’s and radiated a piercing red.” The alien comes in peace, though and transports Freddie to planet Modeerf where he makes new friends and embarks on a voyage of discovery that might just lead him to work out where his dad has gone. With plenty of high-stakes hijinks and peppered with humour, this is a pacey blend of alien adventure and real-life emotion. Joanne Owen, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Suspenseful YA spy thriller that throngs with gaming, guts and deadly risks. Teenager Jack is up to his neck in trouble. His brother is about to be imprisoned for a crime Jack plotted and, on top of that, a secret agency is using this intelligence to force him to join them. Jack’s mission? To infiltrate the manufacturer of a hot new game to discover what’s really going on there. Caught between more than a few rocks and hard places, Jack is forced to make a near impossible decision. While the premise is strong and the story packed with action, the tendency to over-wordiness and repetitive descriptions slow down the plot in places. Having said that, there’s enough pace-turning peril to recommend it to fans of Alex Rider and Young Bond.
This action-packed blend of magical fantasy with classic kids’ adventuring is a swashbuckling read for 8+ year-olds, peppered with soft line-drawings and propelled by a strong sense of urgency. Siblings Finn (the narrator) and Aria, and their smuggler dad are undertaking a voyage aboard their home, a boat called Alcina. Their dad has to pick up a parcel, but this time they’re charting an unknown course. “This new route is dangerous”, Finn observes and, what’s more, they’re journeying to New London, a place that’s been “enclosed by the high stone city walls since the Last War”, a place “strangers are forbidden to enter”. And they are strangers… When they reach a port and Dad heads off to collect the parcel, Finn and Aria also go ashore (against Dad’s wishes) to explore the bustling bazaar where a mysterious vendor issues them with a grave warning. Then, soon after, Finn learns the shocking truth of his true identity as “a child born with the clan magic in their blood”, as a Sea-tamer, and so an elemental tale of ancient lore and magic unfolds as the family are pursued by a warlord with the weight of saving civilisation on their shoulders.
The Devil’s Apprentice is a fantasy novel written from the viewpoint of a 13-year-old boy who finds himself in hell – literally. It’s an adventure story with a twisty mystery to solve, with some innocent early-teen romance and historical references as well. It’s the first book in The Great Devil War series. The book is very well written and well translated from Danish, with plenty of dark humour. It features impressive world building through vivid imagery, and I enjoyed visualising the author’s clever concept of Hell and its occupants. The Devil’s Apprentice reminded me of the Harry Potter series, as the plot is complex enough to satisfy teenagers and adults (of all ages), yet simple enough to entertain pre-teens. It covers some moralistic themes, including good versus evil, knowing right from wrong and that even the most angelic people can have a dark side, so its suitability will depend on a child’s maturity. As expected, the book focuses mainly on death, with a mention of suicide and punishment/redemption in the afterlife. Some adults may disagree with certain concepts, but the book would provide a good starting point for discussions. I’m not surprised The Devil’s Apprentice is a popular series in Denmark and I can see it potentially doing well in the UK too. I found it highly compelling and raced through it. As soon as I finished, I eagerly looked forward to the next one, which is always a sign of an enjoyable read.
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!
The Die of Death is the second in The Great Devil War series and picks up where the first book – The Devil’s Apprentice – ended. Philip isn’t quite as ‘good’ as he was in the first book, as life with the Devil has made its mark – with more than just two tiny bumps on his head. This time, Philip has been brought back to the underworld by Death himself, as someone has stolen the ‘Die of Death’. Yet again, this is a dark and humorous read. It reminds me of the Harry Potter series, with devils, demons and tempters rather than wizards, witches and goblins, and a focus on Hell and the underworlds. I would recommend reading these books in order, even though this one contains some ‘flashback’ summaries of the first book. The plot moves at a fast pace with plenty of action, as Philip and his demon friend, Satina, search for the Die of Death and the villain who stole it. There are references to well-known characters, including Hitler, Judas and Pontius Pilate. I would love to see this on the screen – big or small – as the world building is excellent, bringing Hell ‘to life’, as well as all of its varied occupants. The book covers some difficult themes – right and wrong, heaven versus hell, good versus evil, redemption and punishment, immortality, terminal illness and, of course, life and death. Some of the locations and characters are fairly gruesome, and the detailed descriptions ensured that I could visualise everything in my head. I would suggest that this book is for slightly older (or more mature) teenagers and young adults and not for those of a sensitive nature or who scare easily. Parents of younger teenagers, in particular, may wish to read the book first to check it’s suitable. The Die of Death is a dark combination of fantasy, adventure and mild horror. This series continues to grow and grow – I’m looking forward to the next book.
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
Part picture book, part illustrated young fiction, this crime-themed Christmas story sees siblings Jack and Sarah head to school where their Granddad, a retired multi-award-winning writer, has been invited to read one of his stories to the pupils. The tale he tells is the eponymous Robbers Nearly Ruined Christmas, in which (you’ve guessed it!) some (Milton Keynes-residing) robbers almost spoil Christmas, but - thankfully - Dancer the reindeer steps up to save the day. This could make a fun tale to read-aloud to young children in the run-up to Christmas, but there’s something of a mismatch between the illustration style and picture book format - both of which are better suited to young toddlers - and the story level, length and language, which are more appropriate for older readers. Also, there’s no integration of the framing story (the siblings going to school) with the seasonal story Granddad reads to the pupils. This would be improved by working-up a real-life story around the tale Granddad tells, or else leaving out the framing elements and simply focussing on the Christmas story itself, which is peppered with peril, elves and action. As a lovely bonus, there are some pages to colour-in at the back.
Somewhere between picture book and illustrated young fiction, this cracking Christmas story (pun entirely intended!) is set three days before the big day. Excitement is mounting for siblings Jack and Sarah, who are out with their mum, soaking up the seasonal atmosphere – shop windows laden with presents, the scent of mince pies, the sound of carols. Back at home, they settle down for a cosy evening’s entertainment courtesy of their Granddad reading one of his stories, in which Santa’s elves are engaged in a frantic flurry of activity. However, when the big night arrives, it soon becomes clear that Santa Claus Junior doesn’t have much idea about where they’re going, which means they’re way behind schedule. So, if Christmas is to be saved, the more experienced elves and reindeers will have to help out. While there’s some incongruity between the young illustration style and picture book format, and the older story level and length, this is ideal for reading-aloud to children in those thrilling days before Christmas, while the extra pages to colour-in will keep little ones happily entertained.
A riotously imaginative feast of fantastical adventure with lashings of larger-than-life characters and curious goings-on. Following the amusingly absurd loss of Peter’s parents (kidnapped by pirates, then eaten by tigers), “the Overseers of Children decided the lad was too young to live in the hut on Evil Island without them”, and so he’s sent to live with his aunt and uncle in their shop on the Peculiar Hill. From Peter’s arrival here, it’s perfectly clear that Peculiar Hill is as peculiar in nature as it is in name. “You’ll need a hat here when the bogeys start flying around,” says the Station Master. “Otherwise your head’ll get covered in fizz”. But no one is in a hurry to explain what bogeys and fizz are, or what ‘unge’, ‘glop’ and ‘heeble-greebs’ are either for that matter. And then there’s Peter’s introduction to the very essence of “strangeness” and the nearby Vale of Strange, a place that, according to his uncle, a number of tourists have vanished into and never returned. Soon enough, Peter discovers the unnerving secrets of this place, and then finds himself embroiled in an exuberant, quirky quest. This book’s whimsical, jaunty language and characterisation make it marvellous for reading aloud. In fact, as you read the dialogue, it’s easy to hear and see the characters in action, replete with tone of voice and physical quirks. Brilliantly bonkers, this perfectly peculiar page-turner comes heartily recommended for fans of Mr Gum and Philip Ardagh.