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Even among lovable children’s book characters, Furry Purry Beancat is in a class of her own. A beautiful, beautifully furry little pussy cat with the pinkest nose and the fluffiest tale, she has some very exciting adventures. Sometimes you see, when Beancat goes to sleep, she’ll wake up somewhere completely different and in another one of her nine lives and that’s when she knows an adventure is about to happen. In this story, she’s a railway cat – what could be better? And she’s arrived at the station in very interesting times – there are unscrupulous thieves targeting the passengers and they’re in cahoots with enemy spies up to no good. Fortunately, Beancat is not one to panic and with the help of a great supporting cast, including Yorkie the talkative cockatoo, she’s able to save the day and the life of her new friend, Polly. It’s beautifully told for young readers, a mix of excitement and charm and the illustrations by Rob Biddulph are purr-fect too. Funny, exciting and thoroughly charming.
If you’ve ever looked at a furry ball of purry cat asleep in the sunshine and wondered what they are getting up to in their dreams, then you’ve got something in common with Philip Ardagh. In these exciting, comic and purr-fectly written little adventures, he imagines his feline star, Furry Purry Beancat exploring one of her other eight lives while asleep. In the first story, she finds herself on a pirate ship, a pirate ship’s cat. She arrives at a particularly exciting moment too as the ship is under attack from fellow pirates. With her captain locked up in his cabin, things look bleak, but Furry Purry Beancat soon discovers that the ship’s rats are a resourceful bunch and together they turn the tide in favour of their own pirate crew. It helps that one of the opposing pirates, a huge chap called Ten-Tun, falls for Beancat, but really, who wouldn’t? The little story is packed with incident and adventure as well as some gloriously comic moments thanks in the main to the young rats. It’s irresistible reading, made even more so by fabulous black and white illustrations by Rob Biddulph. All in all, this is a real treat, and it’s great to know that there will be eight more Furry Purry Beancat stories to come.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month August 2020 | Penny, the notorious dog-napper, has a host of dogs already but there is one very special dog she is determined to get her hands on. Quick, clever, a master of disguise and very good at problem solving, he is the dog she wants. And he is covered in spots so should be easy to find. Penny’s assistant Pat sets out to find the dog. Can the dog-nappers catch their prize or will they be outwitted by the super-smart dog? Emma Lazell’s energetic and vivid illustrations inject this simple story with great energy.
This book offers a fun and quirky introduction to famous artists, writers and scientists, via their pets. We learn a great deal about Sigmund Freud for example through the story of his beloved chow chow Jofi, who was present in his owner’s famous treatment rooms for seven years. Similarly, it’s much easier to identify with Isaac Newton once you know about his little dog, Diamond, or Henri Matisse as you learn about his cats Minouche, Coussi and la Puce. Some of the pets of course are interesting in their own right too – the crocodiles Dorothy Parker kept in her bath, or Charles Dickens’ talking raven Grip, who stars in Barnaby Rudge and also inspired Edgar Allen Poe’s poem The Raven. There are full page illustrations of each pet and owner and opposite a page of lively, accessible information about the pair and their relationship. Unusual, handsomely illustrated and inspiring.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2020 | Full of bravery, hope, dreams and humour this is a wonderfully doggy adventure as Paolo escapes from his confinement in a hairdressing salon and enjoys everything that is on offer in the stunning city of Rome. Paolo knows that Rome is full of beauty and magic but how will he ever be able to get out and see it? Seizing his moment when the salon door is left open, Paolo embarks on a whirlwind and dangerous adventure full cats, dogs, statues and even opera. Claire Keane’s fabulous illustrations create a glorious evocation of Rome – mostly from a dog’s point of view!
March 2020 Debut of the Month | Newton is excited: he’s just read a sign that tells him dogs have nine lives. That’s carte blanche for Newton to do all his favourite things and be much more daring. Without a second thought he’s off to explore the nature reserve and do some incredibly risky things. He’s pursued by his friend, a much more sensible cat, who realises - as we do - that Newton has been misled. The adventure that follows is full of wonderfully reckless behaviour and narrow escapes for Newton, all the more delightful because he is totally oblivious to the danger he’s in. Newton’s joy is infectious and it’s impossible to read this without smiling at his enthusiasm. Alice McKinley depicts Newton as a plump puppy, with constantly wagging tail and beautifully expressive ears, and he’s set to become a favourite with readers young and old.
February 2020 Book of the Month | Charlie Tanner’s dog Jasper thinks he’s descended from Viking dogs and is determined to find out more. This sparks a series of very funny letters from Charlie to the curator at the local Viking museum, in which Charlie poses questions from Jasper. In fact, questions and answers tell us lots about Viking life and the unusual and ingenious presentation makes it all extremely readable and accessible. A great way to learn about the Vikings. Jasper has explored space for readers too, and it looks he has more adventures to come, which is good news.
February 2020 Book of the Month | Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | This little story sparkles with magic and fun. It starts on Hallowe’en when friends Jessie and Ali find something very unexpected in their treat bucket – a little kitten. What’s even more surprising, the kitten is magic and can talk. They take the perfectly named Magicat home and all sorts of adventures follow – sheds are turned into treehouses, pancakes are cooked (almost) and the bully next door is put in his place. It’s all made even more exciting because Magicat isn’t quite as expert at the magic thing as he’d have you believe and some of the spells go delightfully wrong. Purrfect for newly confident readers as well as for those who are reluctant or dyslexic. Let’s hope there are more adventures to come for Magicat and his friends. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 8+
As cat-owners everywhere know, all cats are equipped with super-powers and Gwynneth Rees’s series stars a band of feline heroes who use their powers to fight villains (a kind of moggie MI6). In this episode, new recruits Tagg and Sugarfoot have to infiltrate the infamous Hit Cats to stop a prison break. Can they do it, and could they really end up fish-sliced if they get caught? Rees keeps things fun, but suitably tense too and it’s another satisfying adventure in a very enjoyable series. Illustrations by Becka Moor add to the fun. If you like the Super Cats series, look out for Dermot O’Leary’s Toto the Ninja Cat books too.
Olive (The Little Paws Hotel series) by Clare Luther is a delightful but also very helpful rhyming story for children of 3+ years of age. It is imaginatively illustrated by Maria Floyd in colour and monochrome. The book is about Olive, the miniature dachshund, whose family are going out for the day and, for the first time, need somewhere for her to be looked after. The Little Paws Hotel is the obvious answer and Olive is booked in. Upon arrival, she is devastated to be left behind when her family leave and can't imagine how she will survive the day without them. Gradually though, the other small-pawed dogs at the hotel welcome her, calm her fears and talk to her soothingly until she ends up relaxing and even having some fun! The questions at the end of the story are designed to help young children verbalize about and overcome separation anxiety so this would be an invaluable book for those about to start at a childminders, playgroup, nursery or reception class for the first time. An altogether ideal way to get youngsters thinking and talking about their emotions. Drena Irish, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Generosity, unexpected kindness and warm welcomes are at the heart of this story, making it perfect Christmas reading. It’s closing time on Christmas Eve in a big department store and all the shoppers and staff have gone home leaving only Clawdia the cat – and a family of lively mice. They lead her a merry dance around the shop, stopping occasionally to point out scenes that make her rethink her ‘bah, humbug’ attitude to Christmas. A surprise ending sees Clawdia and the mice enjoying a proper Christmas day. The message is lovely and the hectic chases around Christmas displays are lots of fun. As good as any John Lewis ad!
This follow up to the hugely popular Official Handbook of the Magical Unicorn Society will entrance fans of the original and new readers alike. It is again written by the mysterious Selwyn E Phipps, president of the Magical Unicorn Society, and tells eight separate stories, each one featuring a different unicorn. There are Water Moon Unicorns, Storm Chasers, Ice Wanderers and of course the Golden Unicorn. Each story is full of magic and mystery and is preceded by a short profile of the unicorn it features while the pages are full of delicate, atmospheric colour illustrations. It all makes for a beautiful book which really will send shivers of delight through anyone who dreams of one day, somewhere, somehow, seeing a unicorn.
September 2019 Book of the Month | A warm, family-centred story, full of humour and with a totally unexpected ending, The Bookworm is classic Debi Gliori. Like young children everywhere, Max is desperate for a pet, but his parents reject all his suggestions, from puppy to dragon (they don’t exist, says Daddy). But then Max finds a pet in the garden that’s just right for him, and is soon best friends with his story-loving worm. The illustrations are hugely appealing, full of well-observed details that will be recognisable to all families, and there’s a freshness to the telling that makes it particularly charming. This is certain to be a real favourite.
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