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In bold, beautiful illustrations and a simple but engaging text, Christopher Corr explains the story of the Chinese Zodiac and how the Jade Emperor decided to name the years after twelve animals in order to count time as it passes. We see the animals compete against one another to win this wonderful prize: the rat and the cat – the latter tricked by the former – the ox, the tiger, the rabbit and more. The dragon is particularly resplendent in the brightest of bright orange but all of the animals leap from the page in Corr’s blazing folk-art-style. An intriguing story and a fascinating introduction to the Chinese calendar, this is also a gorgeous book to look at. ~ Andrea Reece
UKLA Longlist Book Awards - 2019 | Ancient magic abounds, great gods and goddesses grimace, and timeless truths teem in this enthralling reimagining of Norse mythology. In his foreword, Carnegie Medal-winning author Kevin Crossley-Holland explains that “Norse myths are brilliant, fast-moving, ice-bright stories”, and the tales contained herein certainly live up to that description. Beginning with an excellent illustrated overview of the gods and goddesses, dwarfs and giants, and a diagram of the Norse world itself, each dramatic retelling is prefaced by a pithy line summarising the wisdom it bears, with such gems as “Fair words often conceal weaselly thinking”, and “Be generous, be spirited, and you’ll lead a happy life” among them. The stories themselves will enchant the mind and quicken the pulse. One-eyed Odin, trickster Loki, and many more are brought to life with shard-sharp verve. The writing is crisp and lively, and the illustrations sublime: foreboding, cleverly scaled and incisively expressive. As well as providing exhilarating entertainment when curled up in a favourite armchair, this is also ideal for reading aloud. These tales, after all, were created to be told, and this collection is destined to become a classic.
This is an absolutely stunning book. Not only is it an absolute treat visually but it's also a feast for the imagination for lovers of fairy tales and the ever elusive happy ever after. Hilary has brought her own unique touch to well known and loved fairy-tales. Fairy-tales that we know so well and yet with her refreshing, imaginative touch have been made new for us. The ten retellings including Rapunzel, Cinderella, Red Riding Hood , The Princess and the Pea, Rumpelstiltskin, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, The Swan Brothers. Hansel and Gretel, amongst others.This is a selection that lovers of fairy tales, old and young, will love to read again and again. Combined with beautiful illustrations by Sarah Gibb, this will be a collection to treasure. ~ Shelley Fallows - You can also find Shelley here.
In any Enid Blyton book you can guarantee that at some point there’ll be a lip-smacking description of food. Allega McEvedy takes inspiration from Blyton’s best-loved stories to create recipes for every time of the day: starting with breakfasts that would be enjoyed by the Naughtiest Girl in the School, her book then lists elevenses for the Secret Seven, Famous Five inspired picnics (yes of course ginger beer is included), teatime treats from the Faraway Tree, Secret Island suppers and Malory Towers midnight feasts – heaven! The recipes are excellent and each section begins with an extract from the relevant book. Jolly illustrations by Mark Beech make it even more child friendly. ~ Andrea Reece
Cinderella, Rumpelstilstskin, Sleeping Beauty, Jack and the Beanstalk: these stories are in our DNA, says Michael Morpurgo in his introduction to this gorgeous new collection. They are told by some of our best authors for children and each story is illustrated in full colour with pictures that match its mood (Ian Beck’s illustrations for The Pied Piper of Hamelin, retold by Adele Geras, are particularly rich). Morpurgo himself has chosen to tell the story of Jack and Beanstalk and, typically, it’s a first person narrative, Jack addressing the reader directly, keeping us breathlessly attentive from the opening line to the happy every after. An excellent collection to share with children. ~ Andrea Reece
Beautifully produced and gorgeously illustrated, this is an excellent story collection. Each tale features a horse or pony, and quite often the human hero is a young girl, brave, clever and good-hearted. Each story is just the right length for bedtime reading, but they are wonderfully varied, with traditional stories, old favourites and legends from across the world gathered together. Not just for horse lovers, the collection is filled with magic and adventure and full of life lessons too, and will appeal to everyone. ~ Andrea Reece
Elliot Hooper is back in the second book in the fantastic, adventure filled series from Maz Evans. Poor Elliot is still having a tough time of it. Not only does he have a group of immortal Greek housemates who have sworn to protect him from Thanatos, Deamon of Death, but this time Thanatos has been joined by his evil mummy - so now there’s double the trouble. Elliot’s mum’s health is worse and teen goddess Virgo, is struggling to come to terms with her lack of immortality AND she’s having the worst bad hair day ever. All in all, it doesn’t make for an easy life. But if Elliot has any chance of making life better, for him, his mum and the world he needs to find the second chaos stone before Thanatos does. Another high energy adventure with plenty of laughs and an amazing cast of characters – oh and a very welcome return from the Queen and her family make this an awesomely funny sequel that will have kids laughing out loud. ~ Shelley Fallows - You can also find Shelley here. A Piece of Passion from Barry Cunningham, Publisher ‘What I like about the classical gods is that they are so true to life. Wild, naughty, emotional and unpredictable, they carry on a bit like us humans – but with superpowers! Of course, in this story our hero Elliot has some serious real life problems to deal with too, and so Maz Evans takes us on a funny yet thoughtful romp. Hold on to your pants because you are likely to lose everything else!’
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Elsie Piddock Skips in Her Sleep is one of the great Eleanor Farjeon’s loveliest stories, and Charlotte Voake’s beautiful ink and watercolour illustrations capture all its magic. Elsie Piddock is a born skipper, starting at just 3 years old with her father’s braces. Given a skipping rope of her own, she’s soon so good that she comes to the attention to the fairies. On top of Mount Caburn their skipping master Andy-Spandy teaches her their special skips, and from then on Elsie amazes all her see her. When she’s an old, old lady, a greedy lord tries to build a factory on the mountain, but Elsie skips to save it. As lovely to read aloud as it is to look at, and with a timeless message about the strength of communities, this is an absolute delight. ~ Andrea Reece
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Longlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month May 2017 Gill Lewis’s A Story Like the Wind, a powerful and lyrical story about contemporary refugees, is fuelled by an ancient tale which tells how throughout history music has crossed barriers and bound people together encouraging them to stand up to oppression and injustice. Rami has nothing but his violin as he sets off on a terrifying journey to try to find safety. Starving and thirsty he takes nothing from his fellow travellers as he has nothing to share. Why did you not sell your violin, they ask? With his violin as an accompaniment Rami swiftly demonstrates why; his inspiring story of freedom from long, long ago unites his fellow refugees and stirs them all to believe in their journey and their hope of a better life.
This reworked fairy tale provides children with a memorable demonstration as to why honesty is definitely the best policy. Princess Arabella is bored in the castle and decides to change places with a local shepherd boy. But guess what? Watching sheep all day is pretty dull too so to liven things up she pretends she’s being attacked by wild animals, causing the villagers to rush up the mountain to save her. When they finally realise she’s telling lies, she’s left to face a dragon on her own. It’s a great way to initiate discussion about why it’s not good to lie, and about considering others too, wrapped in a nicely delivered and exciting story. ~ Andrea Reece