No catches, no fine print just unconditional book loving for your children with their favourites saved to their own digital bookshelf.
New members get entered into our monthly draw to win £100 to spend in your local bookshop plus lots lots more...Find out more
Not all great books come through big publishers. Check out some of our favourite indie books on the market.
Very cleverly this gentle story links the astonishing tale of the migration of the tiny swift to find a safe nesting site in Africa, with the story of Leila, who also must travel thousands of miles to find a safe home. The parallel migrations mirror each other in the perils of the journey but also in the hope engendered by the welcome they receive in their new home. The passage of the brave bird and the places and people who mark the passing of the seasons by his journey is evocatively told and really highlights to young readers both the physical distance and the challenges of climate and geography. All of which subtly underscores the challenge for Leila and the physical and social challenges she will face. It is thought provoking but wonderfully hopeful too. As if the miracle of nature and the endeavours of the swift can act as an inspiration for human endurance and kindness as shown by the kindness of the welcome for Leila from other children. Manuela Adreani’s gorgeous, stylish illustrations are the perfect foil for the simple yet powerful text. With many cross curricular uses for older children as well this is a very worthwhile purchase.
This witty, stylish counting book will catch the attention of adults as well as the imagination of the very young. A rhythmic, rhyming text and eye-catching illustrations present us with one fox in socks, then two gorillas looking in mirrors, followed by three jolly llamas in pyjamas, right up to the twenty birds who have the last words. Along the way we also meet five goats wearing coats, the goats labelled and clearly identifiable under their coats (Nubian, mountain, angora…). Other favourite spreads include the one featuring sixteen chickens reading (and clearly enjoying) Dickens! A wonderfully original counting book that is as handsome as it is effective.
Following the success of The King Who Banned the Dark, Emily Haworth-Booth has created another timely, beautiful and enthralling fable. As the best stories do, it starts ‘Once upon a time …’ A group of friends looking for somewhere to live choose a peaceful forest, but the longer they live there, the more trees they cut down, and the loss of the trees leads to all sorts of problems. Fortunately, the children of the settlement choose to quietly protect the last tree, and from there rebuild a caring and happy society for themselves and their parents. The artwork, mostly retro green and black, feels timeless and deliberately child-like, but the story is urgent, contemporary and thought-provoking, and will speak direct to readers of all ages.
Although the original tale of the wild wolf and proud girl is known to have a sad ending this has been retold for this version giving a hopeful outcome. Wild Wolf is the guardian spirit to his people, wise in knowing that people can be very proud and cruel in their actions. When Proud Girl refuses many suitors one, Bravest Warrior, seeks revenge by making her fall in love with a creature built from ice and scraps.As Proud Girl follows Ice Man, she is separated from all she knows, until Ice Man melts in the sun. Proud Girl might also perish, except for the care of the spirit wolf who helps keep her warm until Bravest Warrior finds her and keeps her alive, ultimately winning her hand, though they had both gone through many changes.A simple but very tough story of revenge, pride and forgiveness told in bold pictures with bright, vibrant colours. Each double spread has few words and big illustrations with bold blocks of colour filling the page. The wolf has an almost hypnotic stare, you could imagine him as a truly great guardian spirit in a harsh natural world. A moral fable for our times.
Thanks to Scallywag Press, the wit and wisdom of Jon Agee is becoming more familiar to UK audiences and this delightful picturebook will only add to his growing reputation. The tale is told with characteristically few words and his distinctive black line that outlines the setting and characters, filled with soft-coloured chalk pastel washes. Comical details pepper each spread, whether in the background (for example, a certificate from Harvard School of Claw) or through the expressive faces of the characters. Lions are a popular picturebook character from Ed Vere’s How to be a Lion to The Lion Inside by Rachel Bright and so one can see why our young hero might choose to take Lion Lessons rather than violin or karate. Most of the boy’s attempts to master the essential characteristics of a ferocious feline, such as speed, agility, the loudest roar, and the ability to pounce, end with less than satisfactory results, “The lion checked my scores. ‘This is not very promising.’” The lion’s wry expressions and droll criticism: “We do not eat spaghetti”, provide lots of laughs for both adult and child readers. Everyone will be rooting for the little boy who channels his inner big cat to save a little kitten from the bully neighbourhood dog, as he triumphs in the last lesson of Looking Out For Your Friends. Another Jon Agee treat to enhance your picturebook collection.
I read this book twice. The first time I read this on my own and found it a delightful read. It was entertaining and filled with a fun adventure. The Halloween Parade is about a girl called Trixie Grimble who is sent to a boarding school even though she doesn’t want to go. The boarding school is not your average boarding school, this one is full of Vampires, Ghosts and Werewolves and the only normal thing about the school is Trixie. I really liked how the books shows that we can all be different but can go through the same feelings when we are bullied or left out. The second time I read this book it was with my 5-year-old nephew. He's a big fan of helping me reading children’s books, but he normally struggles to sit through the bigger ones like this one. But not this one. He actually reminded me that we need to read a few more chapters. Together we finished this whole book in a few days. When I asked him what he liked about the book he said: “It was really funny, we have to read it again next week”. This was a big hit with both me and my nephew. A very enjoyable read, suitable for all ages young and old. Manisha Natha, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
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 Owen, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
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
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
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.
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
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.