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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?
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.
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.
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.
What a fun, fast-paced tale this is. A quirky comedy of errors populated by vampires and their hunters, and witches, all of whom live in an apparently ordinary town. Etty (“I hate Henrietta”) Steele is certainly no ordinary girl though. She’s a vampire hunter in-waiting with a tough, pushy mum. Since Etty longs for a normal life and to be allowed to hang out with her best (and only) friend April, plenty of comic conflict comes courtesy of the pull between the otherworldly and normal aspects of Etty’s life. Except it turns out that April isn’t exactly normal, and neither is Vladimir Nox, the pale, bowtie-wearing new boy at school. An action-packed mystery unfolds when it transpires that powerful vampires are plotting dastardly deeds, alongside heartwarming messages of friendship, not judging people because they’re different, and kindness (“There’s always a way to protect the ones we love without hurting anyone”). Recommended for readers who enjoyed Emma Fischel’s Witchworld series and Chris Riddell’s Goth Girl.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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