We have a terrific selection of books all recommended by our LoveReading experts, split into easy-to-find age ranges with extracts and reviews to help make your job of choosing that little bit easier. We'll be adding more books over the next few weeks so don't forget to keep visiting!
A small bear goes on a big adventure when he is left behind on a train one day in the charming tale of The Most-Loved Bear. This story, which spans the lifetime of little Mary Rose, is one of Sam McBratney's personal favourites. Based on a real-life teddy bear which has been owned by Sam’s wife Maralyn since the 1940s, the story of The Most Loved Bear is sure to steal your heart this winter.
This Christmas-set story has the charm and depth to fill a year’s worth of reading. A woman is knitting a toy cat as a Christmas present for her daughter. ‘Why was I made?’ asks the cat – a question it repeats lots of times on an adventure that takes it out of the house and into the snow. Everything questioned – the stars, the wind, the river – has a different answer but it’s the sun’s that satisfies the little cat. David Lucas’s illustrations, predominantly purple, pink and blue, and often framed by patterned borders, conjure up a sense of things hand-made, and the story will set children thinking about life and love.
Longlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | In The Storm Whale in Winter Benji Davies creates a story of love and courage that is tender, touching and feels utterly true. As winter draws in Noi misses the little whale he befriended last summer; no matter how often he looks out to sea, there’s never any sign. But the storm whale returns when Noi needs him most, rescuing the little boy when he is stranded on the ice-bound sea. In a book of light and dark the contrast between cosy interiors and the snowstorm that rages outside is breath-taking, and there’s an extraordinary silent beauty to the underwater images of the whale family. The reunions - between boy and whale, and boy and his father - are heart-warming, and a final image joyfully unites them all. A book that deserves a place on every shelf. ~ Andrea Reece
It might be the middle of summer, but the Little Princess demands SNOW. Lots of festive fun with our feisty princess and perfect for toddlers and parents to share together particuarly as children will learn they can't always have everything they want. When the Queen goes on a trip and sends back a photo of her feeding some penguins, Little Princess decides she wants snow too. The whole palace tries all kind of things - from sandmen instead of snowmen to mudballs instead of snowballs. But this little royal won't be satisfied until she gets what she wants... and sometimes not even then!
Out walking, Elmer the Elephant is in a reflective mood, taking his time to soak up the sounds, smells and sights around him. He spots shapes in the clouds and in the sandstone rocks, he listens to the noise of the river crashing over a waterfall, notices the raindrops in a spider's web that look like sparkling diamonds and smells the scent of wild flowers. The other animals hurry past, far too busy to stop and enjoy these natural wonders. Fortunately Elmer meets his cousin Wilbur and they both stand happily together to watch the night-time draw in. This is a gentle introduction to mindfulness, a celebration of being in the moment and making time to appreciate the world around us.
A wonderful adventure for a bold little penguin is beautifully told in Tony Mitton’s elegant and witty rhyming text. Determined to explore the world around him, the little penguin sets off in to the icy and watery landscape. Meeting whales and sea lions is fun but soon the little penguin realises that what he most wants is to be back with his own family. Alison Brown’s illustrations make the frozen landscape of the Antarctic come alive.
Ruth Brown has taken Anna Sewell’s classic Black Beauty, one of the best-loved books of all time and turned it into a handsome picture book. Her painterly style is just right for Beauty’s story and her rich, full-spread illustrations perfectly capture the major incidents in the horse’s life, from the peace and quiet of his carefree days as a foal through the drama of his escape from the stable fire, and the misery of his later years pulling carts through London’s busy streets. The story still has important lessons for readers about the treatment of animals, and Ruth Brown is faithful to that element of Sewell’s book too. This will be enjoyed equally by those new to the original and those who already love Black Beauty’s story.
December 2018 Book of the Month | Santa turns to modern gadgets to deliver his presents in this gentle, humorous story. He still uses reindeer, though the sleigh has been updated to a nice old open-topped car, but resorts to a jet-pack in busy cities - well, it makes parking much easier - and he keeps a check on deliveries via an iPad. His best laid plans go wrong though when he drops it but fortunately the little girl he’s delivering to is a digital native and can fix it for him. The story may hinge on modern technology for its drama but there’s a charmingly vintage feel to Angela Perrini’s illustrations and the final message - one of kindness and generosity- is thoroughly traditional.
Take the very young on a trip into the high mountains in this excellent first information book. Each page features a stunning pop-up depicting one of the animals native to the mountains, from wolf to bear, from Bald Eagle to a Rainbow Trout, particularly beautiful and dramatic in rich reds and greens. The animals are introduced via lines of verse while elsewhere on the page short lines of text convey interesting and intriguing facts. The pop-ups are not only beautiful but sturdy enough to stand repeated readings, and this is a book to inspire the very young.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2018 | | Festive cheer fuels this bouncy rhyming text as it celebrates the excitement of getting and decorating the tree for Christmas. From choosing the right pine tree, decorating it with lights and baubles in an atmosphere of friendship and sharing and finally transforming it a Christmas tree for all to enjoy, all the magic of Christmas is gathered in these words and pictures.
This absolutely stunning book turns the alphabet into a wild exploration of the animal world as readers are presented with 26 different creatures across colourful pages, all featuring pop ups or peep through cut outs to make this unforgettable. Questions to readers, as well as its ingenious layout, make it a superb interactive reading experience – ‘Who is prettier than an ant?’ asks the text: ‘A butterfly’ is the answer. ‘Who has more legs than a butterfly?’ a caterpillar, and so on. Some of the questions are delightfully quirky: ‘Who is more wobbly than an iguana?’ (Can you guess?), but each one, combined with the striking artwork will draw the reader into the wonderful world of the Animalphabet.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2018 | | Daddy Penguin, along with all the other daddy Penguins, is looking after the egg with his baby in it while Mama Penguin goes off to find food. When he drifts away from the Dad Huddle he and the egg are swept away on a huge adventure across the snowy waste. Can Daddy Penguin keep the egg safe all that time? And, when the baby is born, can he get the beautiful baby back home before Mama comes home! Debi Gliori unfolds a dramatic and entertaining adventure against a beautifully atmospheric background. a perfect bedtime story.
This funny, heart-warming picture book will put everyone in the right mood for Christmas. Bear’s plans for a nice, simple festive season are interrupted by the arrival of Frog. Frog thinks he’s come to the Christmas Extravaganza Hotel and is ready to enjoy all the attractions its brochure promises, from supersonic sleigh rides and singing Christmas trees to an all-you-can-eat North Pole breakfast. The trouble is, he’s misread the map and is as far from the hotel as it’s possible to get. When kind, generous Bear offers to provide a special Christmas break instead, it results in comfort and joy all round. This fresh, original story delivers the true Christmas message about love and sharing and is totally charming.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2018 | As befits its subtitle ‘A Children’s Book of Mindfulness’, Happy is a sensitive and calming introduction for young readers on how to engage with the beauty of the world to help them to deal with the big emotions of life. Through its poetic text matched with warmly domestic illustrations it takes readers on a journey from ‘Mindfulness’ to ‘Happiness’ allowing space to reflex on topics such as ‘Listening’, ‘Relaxing, ‘Feeling’, ‘Loving’ and ‘Smelling’
Christmas without presents or Easter without eggs? - unthinkable! Whilst Santa has his army of elves to help him, the poor eggs-hausted Easter Bunny has to do all the work himself. He makes the eggs, delivers the eggs and doesn't even get a thank you. So the fed up Easter Bunny plans a cunning chocolate vendetta to cause havoc in Santa's factory and spoil all the presents....but fortunately Father Christmas is partial to a little chocolate. What's Christmas without chocolate after all?
There’s a real feel of Christmas magic to this delightful picture book. Like many children, Mia’s parents live apart and as Christmas approaches she’s really missing her daddy. Then she spots a mysterious post-box – turning the knob on the front opens the door to a wonderful world, where she can take the reindeer express and fly all the way to see her daddy. Many of the pages feature little doors and delicate cut-outs allowing readers to peep into the next page, and the illustrations – predominantly pink, red and green - conjure up a sense of cinnamon and gingerbread. Mia is home again for Christmas, warm in the knowledge that love reaches everyone, no matter how far away they are.
Milly-Molly-Mandy first burst onto the scene way back in the 1920s and Joyce Lankester Brisley’s stories, now reissued as very pretty little hardbacks and with her illustrations newly coloured, have retained all of their charm. This book contains seven individual stories, each of which details a little domestic adventure, the kinds of things that would be very familiar to children at the beginning of the last century – picnics, family parties, playing out with friends – but which for modern readers will convey a distinct and fascinating sense of youthful freedom and security. Milly-Molly-Mandy and her associates little-friend-Susan and Billy Blunt have lots of fun in a world that is wonderfully safe and reassuring, and these cosy stories are just perfect for newly independent readers.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month November 2018 | Christmas is coming and there is war in the shops! In every supermarket in the town all the Christmas treats are being smashed up as soon as they get into the shops. Beautifully decorated cakes and biscuits have been sent flying and even Christmas puddings have been heaved off the shelves. Who’s the spoilsport who is ruining Christmas? The trusty Mince Spies are sent in to watch the shelves and they soon discover the surprising culprits! It takes the intervention of Santa Claus himself to make everyone feel better and for Christmas to become fun again! A thoroughly ridiculous and hugely enjoyable Christmas adventure.
Readers meet some very strange creatures in this strikingly illustrated information book. There’s a Hairy Frog, which shares a defence tactic with Wolverine; the Pacific Barreleye, which with its see-through head may be the spookiest of the deep-sea ‘spookfish’; and the Pangolin, protected by armour-like scales. Their physical appearances are vividly described in Marilyn Singer’s text which explains too how their peculiar features or behaviour keep these animals safe. Full page colour illustrations by Paul Daviz present the creatures in all their weird and wonderful glory. Children will be amazed at how practical and fantastic the natural world can be, and inspired to protect the animals featured, many of whom are threatened by the creature described on page 46, the human.
There are all sorts of different animals in this collection of new stories by favourite children's authors and lots of different settings for their adventures; young readers will love them all. Linda Chapman's opening story features snow leopards in Mongolia, while Candy Gourlay's is all about pandas in China. Michael Broad describes a special Christmas truce between moose and wolves, while closer to home, Leila Rasheed sprinkles a bit of Christmas magic over the story of a kitten finding a new home. Whether funny, surprising, exciting or thought-provoking, each story is perfectly told. Just the thing to go under the tree, or to share at bedtime as the nights draw in.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2018 | | Award-winning illustrator Shirley Hughes is regarded as a national treasure for her touching and realistic picture books of contemporary pre-school life. This delightful anthology is full of Christmassy and wintery poems and stories all brought to life by her familiar illustrations of families enjoying seasonal delights. The perfect for book for the season.
October 2018 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month November 2018 | Rich in an atmospheric seascape and with a quest at its heart, The Antlered Ship is an engaging and adventurous story that will encourage all children to keep on asking questions about the world they live in. When the beautiful ship with the huge antlers on its prow comes into port Marco the Fox is busy contemplating the mysteries of the world. Marco asks himself questions such as Why do some songs make you happy and others make you sad? Why don’t trees ever talk? and How deep does the sun go when it sinks into the sea? None of his fox friends have any answers. So, when he sees the ship he decides to join the curious crew of deer and pigeons in the hope that a sea voyage to far off lands will help him find the answers. After an eventful journey, Marco discovers that questions often have several answers and that sharing and travelling and living with others can be one way of finding answers.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month November 2018 | Everyone who has ever had a pet will love this funny and charming story about a little boy and the hamster he gets for Christmas. Leo needs cheering up and, with Christmas coming, he takes the opportunity to ask for the one thing that he thinks will make him happy: a pet hamster. Luckily, Dad has Father Christmas’s number on his phone so Leo can order it direct – and get some help from spell-check! But when the hamster comes Leo can see that his new pet is not altogether happy. Hampstead the Hamster needs a present too!
This is a perfect book for anyone who likes gazing up into the skies above our head and wondering … A foldout, concertina poster format allows readers to soar billions of kilometres above earth and explore our solar system; floating 380,000 kilometres up is the moon, a bit lower are astronauts and cosmonauts working hard on the International Space Station. Beneath the Karman Line, the imaginary line that marks the start of space, the skies are just as busy with man-made machines and birds flying on their journeys. It’s endlessly fascinating, Yuval Zommer’s bold, bright illustrations are full of action, storks and spaceships, meteoroids and window cleaners equally beautifully represented while Charlotte Guillain’s enthusiasm for her subjects is infectious. Eye-opening, mind-expanding!
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month November 2018 | Stunning, large scale illustrations capture some of the most thrilling places to visit in the world. Broad in its vision and range, this incredible Atlas includes both natural and man made places. The juxtaposition of the two is an excellent way of celebrating both. Readers can be amazed by Pantanal, the astonishing tropical Brazilian wetland with its vibrant and original wildlife. And they can be equally impressed by the Great Wall of China or Machu Picchu, two man made structures that have survived over hundreds of years. Examples of Wonders of the World are taken from all around the world making this an exceptional journey of exploration and adventure in a visual format that makes it fun to visit and re-visit looking for cleverly illustrated details on every spread.
December 2018 Book of the Month | Irrepressible young dog Junior is back with a dog’s-eye view of Christmas, or as he knows it Crisp-Mouth.This will be his first Crisp-Mouth, but he’s heard all about it from one of the old dogs at the dog’s home, and now settled with the Khatchadorians is very excited at the prospect of filling his mouth with canine crispy crackers! His enthusiasm knows no bounds, and it proves a real struggle to be good, especially as Junior consistently gets things WRONG… Junior’s breathless narrative style and Richard Wilson’s illustrations make this super-readable, and newly confident readers will love this funny story and its bouncy, endlessly optimistic narrator.
All of Joyce Lankester Brisley’s Milly-Molly-Mandy stories start Once upon a time … and always what follows are charmingly described, detailed little domestic adventures, such as being sent on an errand, riding Grandad’s pony Twinkletoes or playing in the puddles in the lane. The stories are just the right length for newly independent readers, and will prove as enchanting to children today as they did when they were first published way back in the 1920s, though modern readers might need to consult their elders for explanations of strange things such as kippers, grocers and threepenny pieces. Milly-Molly-Mandy’s world is safe and wonderfully reassuring, Lankester Brisley’s ingenuous, warm-hearted storytelling still a treat and it’s lovely to see these attractive new editions with the author’s own illustrations carefully coloured up.
Adapted from one of Tove Jansson's classic Moomintroll stories, this funny tale of misunderstanding is perfect Christmas reading. The Moomintrolls are all tucked up in bed, sleeping their long winter sleep when the Hemulen falls into their attic and tells them they need to get ready for Christmas. With no experience of Christmas, the Moomintrolls are a bit rattled, but manage to prepare everything in time – tree, presents, a feast. They share it with the little creatures of Moominvalley, who appreciate it all very much indeed. Funny, cosy and reassuring, this will put everyone in the mood for Christmas.
She’s back - Tracy Beaker, star of the dumping ground and daydreamer extraordinaire, and what a joy that is! She may be grown up and with a daughter of her own, Jess, but she’s still our Tracy: generous, quick to lose her temper but just as quick to apologise, always hoping for the best and coping with the worst. Life with Tracy is all highs and lows, and it’s wonderfully described by Jess – the new boyfriend who seems set to make Tracy’s dreams come true, the special relationship between mother and daughter, and their version of happy ever after. Funny, touching, true, the story will appeal to Tracy Beaker fans old and new.
Clever, funny and on occasion just plain daft, this is the perfect stocking filler for kids and Terry Pratchett fans alike. Open the pages and find eleven short stories which have been fabulously illustrated by Mark Beech. The text marches up hill and down dale, in between, over and under the illustrations, shouting, bursting, capering across the page so the story and illustrations become a glorious Christmas pudding mix of a read, give it a stir and get ready to duck as the tales take flight. The stories made me chuckle, in fact as soon as I had read the first offering, ‘Father Christmas’s Fake Beard’, I promptly insisted my husband read it too (it’s always the sign of a good book when I do that!). Yes this is a kids book, and yes I fully expect that adults will get just as much enjoyment from the stories as the children. A Terry Pratchett book was always on my Christmas list, I treat each and every one of them with love… set a new fan in motion, or delight a well established one - this is a proper little gem.
When the Whales Walked tackles a big, complex subject – the evolution of life on Earth – and succeeds in explaining it clearly, vividly and in way that will catch the imagination of young readers. It examines thirteen case studies, each describing the evolution of a different group of animals, from the earliest fish right up to modern Homo Sapiens. It explains the history of each group with the help of illustrations and diagrams, challenging children to spot the patterns in the ways that different animals have evolved. There’s a timeline of life on Earth, diagrams to explain the evolutionary tree and a cladogram, all there to help make the subject crystal clear. A book that thoroughly respects the intelligence and inquisitiveness of its readers and rewards their attention.
Irish TV presenter Ryan Tubridy and award-winning illustrator Chris Judge team up on this jolly and utterly charming story which claims to document the creation of the first Christmas jumper. Central character is little ewe Hillary who stands out amongst the other sheep because of her multi-coloured coat. Like that other patchwork hero Elmer, Hillary is friendly, kind and very popular, so everyone is thrilled when she is chosen to provide the wool for a jumper for Father Christmas and flown to the North Pole in his sleigh. Reading this is like putting on a festive sweater, and will leave you warm, tickled and all set for a happy Christmas.
Young readers will very much enjoy Holly Webb’s typically touching new story, in which a mischievous cat works magic across the generations. Bel is staying with her grandma in her new home, an old house converted into flats for the elderly. Sneaking out early to enjoy an unexpected snowfall, she befriends a cheeky white cat but is surprised when she meets his owner, a young girl the same age as herself, but very different. In fact Bel has travelled back in time and because of her magical meeting with Snow and Charlotte, a young girl’s life is saved. Filled with warmth and love and with a neat balance between jeopardy and security, this is rounded off in the most satisfying way possible. A snowy treat!
It’s impossible not to be inspired by this picture book and the great women featured in it: their stories are told across bright spreads, which are enticing to look at, and packed with information all presented in a way that will make readers excited about the remarkable achievements described. It’s a varied line up of subjects, including a scientist, a writer, an athlete, an explorer and fashion designer alongside civil rights campaigner and even secret agent! Each page explains what these pioneering women did, and shows that everyone has the potential to change the world – just follow your heart and don’t listen when people say you can’t do something!
Little mouse Winston stars in a perfect Christmas adventure. Even for a mouse, he’s small but Winston’s got a big heart and when he finds a lost letter for Father Christmas he’s determined to see it delivered. His expedition is full of challenges, but along the way he’s helped by some equally warm-hearted and generous animals, including a beautiful white cat and a rat who ‘works’ at the famous Fortesque’s department store. Winston’s good deed is rewarded and the little mouse finds a warm bed and a new family for Christmas. The book is divided into 24 ½ chapters – one a day for 1st – 24th December plus a treat for Christmas morning! Interspersed are festive craft activities too and there can’t be a better book to set readers up for Christmas. Alex T Smith’s illustrations are gorgeous – big, busy and dramatic scenes but always with our little hero centre stage.
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.
September 2018 Non-Fiction Book of the Month | This sumptuous book, packed with gorgeous full and double-page illustrations by Thomas Hegbrook, will appeal to a very broad audience. Its subject – of course – is the Moon, our nearest and most familiar neighbour in space, and a source of fascination to mankind for thousands of years. Chapters cover both what we know of the moon, and what we’ve imagined; there are detailed and fascinating explanations of the moon’s physical relationship to Earth, and lots too on the Apollo missions and space exploration. Also included are different cultures’ moon myths, and examples of the beautiful poetry it has inspired. And there are quirky, unexpected facts – it seems the moon really can affect our behaviour for example. A book to intrigue and inform.
October 2018 Book of the Month | The Timmy Failure books are works of absolute comic genius and Stephan Pastis succeeds with each new story in making the adventures of Timmy and his sidekick Total the polar bear funnier, even more satisfying, and still more poignant; never more so than this the last in the series. Timmy has decided to retire from detective work but has a new project: he’s writing the script for his form’s Christmas film show, and has decided it will chronicle his own greatness. Meanwhile he is also negotiating a new relationship with his dad, now permanently on the scene, and helping reunite Total with his long lost polar bear family. The gap between what’s real and what’s real in Timmy’s imagination has never been more acute, or more affecting. The story will have readers crying with laughter, while the ending may well bring tears of a different kind. Totally great.
October 2018 Book of the Month | | The Nothing to See Here Hotel offers a 5 star reading experience for youngsters, hilarious but still exciting adventures, a fabulous setting and a cast of totally eccentric but utterly lovable characters. The hotel you see is not for humans, but magical creatures – a scenario offering all sorts of possibilities, exploited brilliantly by writer Steven Butler and illustrator Steven Lenton. In this second book, preparations for the annual Trogmanay celebrations are threatened, first by the arrival of a family of yetis (in magical snowstorm), then by something that seems a lot less friendly. Can Frankie, son of the owners and our hero, sort things out before the Trollidays are ruined? No matter how much snow and ice the yetis bring, reading this provides a real sense of warmth, and everyone will want to be part of the hotel’s community.
October 2018 Book of the Month | | Tales of the rabbit secret service that loyally serves her majesty from burrows beneath Buckingham Palace, this charming series is going from strength to strength. Someone has stolen the queen’s favourite jewel – a priceless diamond that also seems able to comfort those who possess it. The Royal Rabbits are determined to retrieve it, none more so than young Shylo, who was asleep on the job when the theft occurred. A rich, beautiful and vain tigress could be the culprit, but the diamond is Russian and a team of cunning Kremlin minks are out to steal it back, and you can bet those rotten Ratzis are involved too. Humour (including the occasional bit of social satire) and proper adventure are perfectly balanced and Shylo gets more interesting a character as the stories progress. Delightful, and Kate Hindley’s illustrations make it even more special.
Following up the excellent A Year Full of Stories, Angela McAllister has travelled the world again to collect together wonderful folktales, this time with an animal theme. There are tales of tigers, pandas and jackals, of buffalos, bears and coyotes, as well as cheetahs, warthogs and ostriches, all of them told in the direct, robust prose of the best storytellers. Great for reading on your own and just the right length for bedtime, each story will capture the reader’s or listener’s imagination, and quite often leave them with something to think about too. Aitch’s watercolour illustrations highlight the stories’ individuality, but give them a universal feel too and it’s as lovely to look at as it is to read. ~ Andrea Reece
December 2018 Book of the Month | Shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Awards 2019, Best Story category | Beautifully written in prose that sparkles like the snow that provides its backdrop, this fantasy novel is practically perfect in every way. Young orphan Seren (it’s Welsh for star) is travelling alone through a winter’s night to her godfather and his family. They live in a big house in the heart of Wales and though she’s never met them before, a lifelong reader, she knows how this sort of story should go. Waiting for her next train on a freezing platform she meets a stranger. He’s flustered, clearly frightened of something, and leaves a bulky parcel in her care before disappearing. When she finally arrives at her destination, to find that her godfather, his wife and young son Tomos are absent, and that there's only a skeleton staff of servants to meet her, she assembles the contents of the parcel to stave off boredom and loneliness. It’s a clockwork crow – an awkward, clumsy-looking thing, yet magic: wound up it comes alive. Psammead-grumpy the crow becomes her ally and together they embark on a dangerous adventure to find out what has happened to Tomos, who disappeared mysteriously one frosty night a year ago. The story is rich with the sense of old magic and fairytale, yet is a totally original and particular bit of storytelling. At a time when books often sprawl over 300 pages or more, it is wonderfully concise too, and even better for that. A delight, and thankfully there should be more adventures for Seren to come. This review originally appeared in Books for Keeps.
December 2018 Book of the Month | This special adventure for Hetty Feather plunges young readers into a Victorian Christmas celebration, and introduces them to or reunites them with some other favourite Wilson characters too, including Clover Moon and Rose Rivers. Hetty’s Christmas at the Foundling Hospital seems set to be horrible: she gets into a fight with arch enemy Sheila and is locked into a cupboard for the day as punishment, but the new governor, kind Miss Smith rescues her and takes her to tea with her friends the Rivers – a setting Hetty feels is straight out of The Arabian Nights. The afternoon’s activities will delight readers too, while Hetty, of course, is fiercely herself, commenting astutely on everything around her. A festive treat!
I If you want to guarantee smiles and laughter on Christmas morning, stick a copy of Hamish and the Terrible Terrible Christmas under the tree. It features three self-contained stories starring Hamish, Elliott and Alice, stars of Wallace’s Worldstopper series, and as with the longer novels each story serves up a brilliant helping of comedy and excitement live from Starkley. Officially Starkley may be the fourth most boring town in Britain but as fans of these books know, it’s often the scene for bizarre happenings and a magnet for marauding creatures including the beastly Terribles. Plenty of scope therefore for wild adventure and that combined with Danny Wallace’s humour make this irresistible reading. Jamie Littler’s illustrations are the icing on the Christmas cake.
This fascinating book tells the true stories of more than 100 inventive, positive young people who dreamed big and somehow changed the world for the better. It’s divided into seven sections: STEM, film and music, the environment, sports, business, art and literature, and politics. Some of those featured will already be well known to readers, for example, Mark Zuckerberg, Taylor Swift, Malala Yousafzai, but most of the others won’t be, yet all the stories are equally inspiring because they prove that with good ideas, determination and dedication, young people really can make a difference. Best of all it includes practical suggestions on how children can be heroes in their everyday lives. Full colour illustrations make it even more appealing and attractive.
November 2018 Book of the Month | Max Einstein is a genius; aged 12 she’s already enrolled herself at university, where she’s careful to score perfect Cs in every test (she doesn’t want to stand out). She’s also an orphan who lives in a squat. Two very different groups of people have plans for Max though – the CMI (Change Makers Institute) and the equally mysterious but far more sinister Corp. Whisked away to study with other super-brainy kids, she’s challenged to bring about real change for good. The spirit of Einstein runs through this – it’s endorsed by the Einstein Archives – and in particular his belief that the imagination is more important than knowledge. Max uses her imagination and compassion together to dream up ways to improve the world. If anyone’s going to save the planet it will have to be the next generation, and this book could be the inspiration they need. As with lots of Patterson’s children’s books, this is smart, funny and fast moving, with real heart beneath the slick packaging.
October 2018 Book of the Month | This is a reinvention of the most radiant, vital kind; an inspirational re-working of The Twelve Dancing Princesses to devour over and over, and to share aloud. Following the death of his wife, Queen Laurelia, King Alberto “became the sort of person who ate a whole cake without offering anyone else a slice, and who punished his girls for things that weren’t their fault at all.” While Queen Laurelia had “been the one watching them, nurturing their imaginations, their educations”, the King takes away his daughters’ freedoms in the name of keeping them safe. The palace is transformed into a tomb, and “only melancholy was allowed to illuminate the girls’ days”. But brave, clever Frida stands up to her father. “This isn’t fair, and you know it,” she protests. “You cannot tell us how to grieve”. And then, with the grace and strength of a lioness and the potency of her imagination, Frida leads her sisters in a fight to re-find life. The writing pirouettes with the lithe power of a devoted dancer, with Angela Barrett’s elegant illustrations in perfect accord. What a sumptuous, stirring celebration of sisterhood this is.
Award-winner Katherine Rundell has already taken readers on thrilling journeys over rooftops, across the Russian steppes and of course deep into the forest. She understands absolutely children's longing for wild adventure and no-one is better suited to write new stories for Kipling's Jungle Book characters. This very handsome book, which features beautiful colour illustrations by Kristjana S Williams, tells five different stories, and with each perfectly-imagined episode adds to what we love about Kipling's unforgettable characters, including Bagheera, Baloo, Shere Khan and Kaa. It opens too with a story about one of the most interesting characters, Mowgli's fierce wolf-mother Raksha, who has long deserved more time in the spotlight. These are stories of bravery and cunning, full of excitement and danger, but most of all they are stories of loyalty and community, and by the time they reach the end, readers will be daydreaming themselves into the jungle family. Mowgli links all the stories, and has his own of course, and is exactly the same impetuous, selfish, boasting but warm-hearted, generous boy drawn so vividly by Kipling. In fact the book does exactly what sequels should but seldom manage - it tells us new stories that grow out of the originals, and enhance and enrich them.
September 2018 Book of the Month | Exciting news for all Harry Potter fans, Bloomsbury has published a paperback edition of the number one bestselling Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling and illustrated by by the awesomely talented Kate Greenaway Medal winner, Jim Kay. Prepare to be spellbound by Jim Kay's dazzling depiction of the wizarding world and much loved characters. This is where the adventure begins, as Harry Potter discovers that he is no ordinary boy but a wizard of great reknown, as well as expected at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Moreover, at Hogwarts, he encounters "He Who Must Not Be Named", a master of magic whose ambition is more dark and terrifying than Harry can possibly imagine.
Sisters Imogen and Isabel Greenberg make brilliant use of the comic book/graphic novel format to tell stories of Athena, probably the most appealing of all the Greek goddesses, weaving different myths into one coherent adventure. It starts as Athena springs from Zeus's head fully armed and 'ready to do battle in the world'; next is the story of her relationship with Athens and, more crucially, rivalry with Poseidon, then interventions in human lives with Perseus and Arachne (the latter a good learning experience for the goddess), before the lead up to the Trojan war and finally the wanderings of Odysseus. The stories are unbeatable and text and illustrations do them full justice. A terrific introduction to the world of Greek mythology and a great bit of storytelling.
Winner of The Costa Children's Book Award 2017 After crashing hundreds of miles from civilisation in the Amazon rainforest, Fred, Con, Lila and Max are utterly alone and in grave danger. They have no food, no water and no chance of being rescued. But they are alive and they have hope. As they negotiatethe wild jungle they begin to find signs that something - someone - has been there before them. Could there possibly be a way out after all? The Costa Judges say: ‘A masterful, delicious read from start to finish.’ Download a Teacher Resource pack from Blooomsbury Children's Publishing, based on The Explorer. A modern classic of an adventure that will not only transport you away from the classroom to the Amazon, but also spark the imaginations of all of the young explorers in your class. (And yes, we know there are many!) The lessons in this pack serve as a mini scheme of work with literacy objectives, providing material for five or more KS2 lessons – perfect for classes of any ability in years five to six. Even better, the final outcome of these lessons is for each child in your class to let their creative talents loose and produce some writing of their own – following in Katherine Rundell’s adventurous footsteps!
Best-selling Goth Girl is back for an action-packed new adventure in this stunningly produced volume by former Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell which has the additional delight of a mini-book, Fable of a Faun, tucked into it. Lord Goth is turning Ghastly-Gorm Hall into the venue for Gothstock, a sensational music festival that will match his home. Naturally, Ada Goth is thrilled at the thought but will it all go to plan? In both words and pictures Chris Riddell creates an amazing cast of characters and the most original escapades in which they are all entangled.
A truly wonderful kick of escapism, ‘Truckers: The First Book of the Nomes’ may be aimed at children, however you don't have to be a kid to read this (adults can get just as much enjoyment, possibly even a little more). These books are also known as the ‘The Bromeliad Trilogy’, the reason for which will become abundantly clear as you read further into the trilogy. Masklin, Grimma and their rapidly diminishing band of four inch high Nomes (they aren't shrinking in height, but numbers) leave their home in order to survive. They find themselves in a department store, among Nomes who no longer recognise that there are outsiders, or even an outside. When they discover that the department store is closing down and being knocked down, can they persuade the rest of the Nomes that they need to leave? Terry Pratchett has the ability to make words sing together, in such a way, that they make you stop and think. He may excel in fantasy, yet it’s fantasy firmly based in fact, and it’s fantasy that makes you look at life from a new perspective. ‘Truckers’ is eye opening, laugh inducing and sometimes jaw dropping stuff and I absolutely loved it.
Divided into seasons, and woven through with Zoe's own stories and memories, this book reveals her favourite events - big or small - throughout the year and how to celebrate them in style. From practical ideas for how to feed your guests and hacks for unexpected get-togethers to simple but impressive DIYs and those personal touches people will remember, Cordially Invited is Zoe's blueprint for making an event and a memory out of each day.
October 2018 Book of the Month | | Susin Nielsen’s new novel features unforgettable central characters, and is beautifully written; her ear for dialogue – young teen to teen, young teen to parent, young teen to emergency services – pitch perfect. Despite being a story of homelessness and poverty, it will leave readers cheered and thoroughly reassured about the strength and resilience of the human spirit. Twelve-year old Felix lives with his mother Astrid, only rarely seeing his dad. Astrid has a flexible attitude to truth and Felix has developed a chart to measure the lies she tells as they navigate their lives. These range from ‘the invisible lie’, through the ‘no-one gets hurt’ to the biggest, the ‘someone might lose an eye’ lie. As they struggle to cope living in a (stolen) camper van, Astrid uses her panoply of lies to the full and Felix reluctantly goes along with it, ready to support his mother even when it’s really difficult. Nielsen gives him good friends, and a talent for memorising facts, both of which help to set up a better future for him. Both painful and funny, this is a book that will have readers alternatively shouting at its central characters, and cheering them on.
In this mind-blowingly beautiful book comprising twenty-five tales, visionary artist and writer Shaun Tan turns his attention to the relationship between humans and animals in varied urban contexts. A rhino on a motorway. An owl at the side of a hospital patient. An eagle spied at multiple international airports. Giant snails declared “indecent” by the public. Dreamlike, mysterious and poignant, this is a book to pore over. Both words and illustrations lend themselves to multiple readings, each experience unearthing alternate interpretations, new discoveries, fresh ways of seeing the world. What a sublimely strange feat this is.
October 2018 Book of the Month | | The dazzlingly brilliant Chris Riddell brings his magical illustration talents to J.K. Rowling's gloriously inventive The Tales of Beedle the Bard in a fully illustrated colour edition of this essential classic for Harry Potter fans. Full of magic and trickery, these classic tales both entertain and instruct, and remain as captivating to young wizards today as they were when Beedle first put quill to parchment in the fifteenth century. A world of magical adventure awaits! Visit Bloomsbury's Harry Potter website for magical downloads, games, videos, and more Harry Potter fun!
Amy Wilson continues to make her mark as an author of sparklingly original fantasy adventures for the young, and Snowglobe makes magical reading. Clementine’s mother disappeared when she was just two, and now ten years later, Clem is a shy, lonely girl, bullied at school for some unpindownable otherness. Wandering alone through the small town where she and her father live, she discovers a strange old house, and in it an even stranger woman. In rooms filled with enchanted snowglobes Clem makes a friend, and is offered the chance to bring back her mother too, if she is brave enough. A story of spells and sibling rivalries, of embracing who you are no matter what others think, and as much about loyalty, steadfastness and love as The Snow Queen or Tam Lin, this story will envelop readers in its beautiful icy world.
Set in a land evocative of Russian folk tales, a land frozen in a “winter that came and never left”, this atmospheric adventure swirls with middle grade magic. Three sisters and their brother are parentless in a wintry wilderness when a mysterious man appears. A stranger who doesn’t sink into the snow as others do. A stranger who jokes that Oskar must be cursed to have three sisters. Soon after, Oskar vanishes, as do the other boys of their village, and Mila is convinced that he’s been taken by the fabled bear of her Papa’s tales, and so she bravely ventures north, desperate to find him beyond the winter world they’re bound in. Elaborately embroidered with lyrical conjurations of landscape, and a sense of grief and sorrow, above all else this exudes sisterly strength and comes recommended for fans of traditional tales, and those who enjoyed The Wolf Wilder.
October 2018 Debut of the Month | | Karolina is a living doll who’s been transported from the Land of the Dolls on a “kind wind” following a cruel war with the rats. She wakes “in her new world with a glass heart”, in the workshop of a dollmaker in Krakow, Poland. When Karolina speaks to him, the Dollmaker is certain that he’s lost his mind. He made her, after all, “and I can’t make something that comes to life,” he reasons. But Karolina explains that “gardeners do it all the time with flowers”. Through shimmering, lyrical language, and Karolina’s consummate compassion, we are witness to a transformation in the crotchety widower Dollmaker. He begins to smile, to make friends, to feel light and hope. And then, when darkness descends on their city in the form of the Nazis, together they must use their newfound magic to save their friends, no matter what. The author does not shirk from relating the brutal realities of the Jewish experience in Nazi-occupied Poland, yet the overriding message is one of hope and love, and the wondrousness of acts of kindness. This is a sublimely big-souled book, with an exquisite ambiance of timelessness.
The history of rock is chronicled through forty world-famous artists and groups in this stylishly designed and illustrated book. It begins with Elvis Presley, whirls through the psychedelic 60s and the protest songs of the 70s, then via glam rock and reggae takes us into the punk era, new wave and hip hop, leaving us with Beyoncé and Arcade Fire. It’s clearly a personal choice (Blur but not Oasis? And where are the queens of soul and disco?) but covers a huge range of styles and movements, and gives a real sense of the evolution of popular music. Each artist has a double page and they are represented via stylish, graphic illustrations accompanied by useful captions – dotted lines lead from Bob Dylan’s head to the words ‘Politically engaged’, while Elvis’s hips are labelled ‘provocative’. Fun, stylish and informative.
Shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award 2018 | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2018 | | Award winning Hilary McKay tells a captivating and deeply moving story of three young people growing up in the years before and during World War One. How their lives were totally changed by the War, how what really happened to the soldiers could never be talked about and how a girl like Clarry suddenly had opportunities because of the war are all touched on in a story that is also about universal adolescent relationships and the timeless concerns of being a teenager. Following their mother’s death at her birth, Clarry and her older brother Peter live a joyless life with their gloomy father. The pair live for their summer holidays in Cornwall with their grandparents which they share with their older cousin Rupert. Here, the trio are free to be themselves and to begin to break away from the constraints of family expectations. When war is declared Rupert enlists: his family is horrified and Clarry and Peter are left trying to work out where he might be, how they themselves should react to the war and, above all, whether Rupert is safe. Hilary McKay has a rare gift for novels about families and their interplay. Here, she weaves her story round one of the most powerful backdrops in history. And she does so with the lightest of touch which makes her history come alive. The Costa Judges said: ‘Chime, resonance and sparkle – a truly great read.’
December 2018 Book of the Month | Encompassing works from ancient sages, classic poets, well-known thinkers and emerging contemporary innovators from all walks of life, this involving, inclusive collection inspires, entertains, enthrals and emboldens. Alongside enjoying the work of widely-esteemed names (including Sappho, George Eliot, Sylvia Plath, Carol Ann Duffy, Jackie Kay, Christina Rosetti, Maya Angelou, Emily Dickinson and Margaret Atwood), it was a pleasure to discover contemporary poets whose work I shall seek out, among them Ruth Awola and Remi Graves, and lesser-known names from the past, for example Edith Södergran and Astrid Hjertenaes Andersen. If the diversity of voices is rich, so too are the themes, with growing up, friendship, love, nature, body image and protest covered in staggering depth and diversity. This varied chorus of bold, incisive voices makes for a collection to be savoured and shared.
December 2018 Book of the Month | | I relished the first two books in this series (The Dark Days Club and The Dark Days Pact) and this final Bath-set instalment is a fittingly thrilling feast of fantastical foe-fighting and illicit liaisons. Spirited Lady Helen might be in the throes of finalising her wedding plans, but she has far greater matters to attend to, such as defeating the Grand Deceiver. Alongside the high-stakes, high-octane action, the delicious duplicity of Helen’s double-life existence further flavours this novel with edge and intrigue. While “her aunt and uncle, along with the rest of society, were under the impression that she had spent the last six months enjoying the delights of Brighton and Bath”, Helen had, in fact, been engaged in “killing murderers, and becoming one half of the Grand Reclaimer with Lord Carlston” as a member of the demon-fighting Dark Days Club. Talking of whom, Helen’s relationship with Carlston is a frisson-fuelled delight, thronging with “will they? Won’t they?” tension. Wildly inventive, and driven by the vitalities and conflicts of an engaging heroine, this trilogy is a magnificent melange of history, fantasy and heart-pounding passion.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick for November 2018 | December 2018 Book of the Month | An outstanding book for everyone who has enjoyed We’re Going on a Bear Hunt or any of Helen Oxenbury’s other wonderful books from her board books capturing the smallest details of toddler life to her witty and sophisticated illustrations to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Distinguished children’s book critic Leonard S. Marcus takes reader’s behind the scenes of Oxenbury’s life as he recounts the major moments which mark out her career of such exceptional originality and sets it firmly within the publishing context of the period. The wealth of Oxenbury’s exquisite illustrations that have been reproduced in the highest possible quality make it a book that gives hours of enjoyment and inspiration.
November 2018 Book of the Month | Buckle up for an exhilarating, twisting, tormenting ride, Throne of Glass fans! The long-awaited conclusion to this expansive, thrill-a-minute extravaganza of high-stakes sass and skirmishes is here, and it certainly won’t disappoint the author’s legions of readers. Indomitable Aelin has dealt with everything that’s been thrown at her during her superhuman journey from slave to assassin to leader, but she now faces – of course! - her greatest, most tortuous challenge yet. Surrendering to the Queen of the Fae would mean dooming her loved ones’ destinies, but things aren’t looking hopeful from inside the iron coffin the Queen has her locked in, and she must muster every last drop of fight. There’s grit and glamour, gutsiness and conflict, not to mention the unexpected turns taken by characters readers are truly invested in. The sheer scale of this immense six book series means it’s quite a commitment to sign-up to, but its continued success shows that it’s a commitment fans of epic, female-fronted fantasy are gratified with making. As ever, the writing is crisp, direct, and dialogue-driven, with plenty of visual fireworks thrown in. A fitting finale, if ever there was one.
This perfect little package (a cute clothbound hardback sprinkled with glittery goodness) comprises two festive-themed stories that are packed with heart, wrapped in hope and perfectly embellished with Simini Blocker’s warm and witty illustrations. Set over several New Year Eves, the opener Midnights tells the tense “Will they? Won’t they?” story of best buddies Mags and Noel, whose lives are on the giddy brink of change. Kindred Spirits, originally published as a World Book Day book, is a funny tale of a friendship struck up between Star Wars fanatics sleeping outside a cinema before a new movie opens. Certainly a must-read for Rowell fans, this short and satisfying treat is also perfect for introducing newbies to her unique talent for creating believable characters and writing romance with real-life authenticity.
Adapted for a younger readership from the author’s celebrated adult book of the same name, this illustrated history of the Silk Roads, bound in a majestic gold and blue package, is the perfect present for fledging historians. The book’s journey leads armchair adventurers along thrilling, far-reaching roads, taking in the history of ancient Persia, Constantinople, Rome, Attila the Hun, the emergence of Islam, Viking slavery, Genghis Khan, Columbus - and more - from a holistic perspective. “You might even think of the Silk Roads as the world’s central nervous system, linking all the organs of the body together”, the author suggests in the introduction, and his engaging exploration of the interplay between politics, science, religion and trade certainly gives this book far greater tang than your standard textbook. Indeed, generously spiced with exquisite illustrations and maps that inform as they enthrall, young history buffs will undoubtedly devour this pitch-perfect treasure, and grown-ups will get much from it too.
Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2018 | Author of the Year, British Book Awards 2018 | | Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2018 | More than two decades after Northern Lights the first book of Pullman’s world-famous His Dark Materials trilogy, which has sold more than 17.5 million copies in over 40 languages comes, La Belle Sauvage, the first volume in his 'The Book of Dust' series. #BookofDust will return to the parallel world that has enthralled readers young and old. La Belle Sauvage is set 10 years before Northern Lights and centres on the much-beloved Lyra Belacqua. Alethiometers, dæmons, and the Magisterium all return to play their part. Since the ‘equel’ (as Pullman likes it to be known) to His Dark Materials was announced, fans around the globe have cheered the return of Lyra Belacqua, heroine of His Dark Materials. In a short film released by his publisher, Pullman revealed the ingredient for success behind His Dark Materials: Lyra’s ordinariness. He says: “When I wrote the first book of His Dark Materials - Northern Lights - I certainly didn't anticipate that so many people would find Lyra as interesting a character as I did.” “The thing about Lyra is that she's not a special child. She's not especially gifted or talented - she's a very ordinary child. When I was a teacher, I taught many girls who were like Lyra. They were brave, inquisitive, curious, disobedient: all those interesting things for storytellers. I think the reason that people have read this long and complicated story is because they're with Lyra. She doesn't know the things that are threatening her and she's in the same position as the reader, because the reader shares her sense of danger and excitement and curiosity about what's going to happen next. I hope the same thing will be true of Malcolm in La Belle Sauvage.” A Piece of Passion from Francesca Dow, Managing Director, Penguin Random House Children’s (UK): “La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One is a story for our time, with themes that resonate with our world today. It is a story for everybody: a much longed-for treat for established fans of His Dark Materials as they meet Lyra Belacqua again and the chance for new readers to step into the magical world of Philip Pullman for the first time. Pullman is a master storyteller, and Lyra has established herself firmly as one of the most-loved characters in literature, a worthy contemporary of the likes of Hermione Granger (Harry Potter series), Jean Louise ‘Scout’ Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird) and Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games). In this book, she is joined by a new hero readers will love: an ordinary boy who steps up to the challenge of a lifetime.” Photo credit: Philip Pullman at a press conference held in Convocation House to launch his new novel La Belle Sauvage. © Ant Upton_Photocall Productions.
As elegant and energising as a flute of fine champagne, this enchanting novel sees 17-year-old Cornish farmer’s daughter and aspiring writer Lou embrace the dizzy decadence of 1920’s aristocracy, with life-changing results. “You can learn an awful lot from books,” according to Lou, and it’s Lou’s love of books that first brings her into contact with the wealthy Cardew family and their “exotic creature” socialite friends. One night she steals across the causeway to empty Cardew House to savour the delights of the library and unexpectedly encounters charismatic Robert Cardew. Their first ablaze-with-banter meeting leaves Lou “hot and cross” but also piercing with “pleasure and longing”, for it’s given her a tantalising glimpse into another world. Then follows an invite from Robert’s fluttery sister, Cailtin, and a summer of extravagant parties opens up. Robert’s voluptuously glamorous fiancé and her “film-star handsome” brother have quite an impact, but it’s the Cardew siblings who weave their way into Lou’s heart. Exuberantly entertaining, breezily romantic and shimmering with the delicious anticipation of pastures new, this is jubilantly fine fiction in the vein of I Capture the Castle.
Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | A Julia Eccleshare Pick for November 2018 | Award-winning author Nicola Davies has a special talent for writing about the special bonds that can exist between children and animals. She also has a commitment to make sure that children of all kinds can find themselves in a story. In The Dog That Saved Christmas she brings the two strands together beautifully. The touching story tells of how Christmas is made happy for Jake by his friendship with a lost dog. For Jake, Christmas is not a time of fun but a time of huge anxiety as he copes with bright lights, loud noises and the unexpected behaviour of others and the changes in routines. But, when he finds a lost dog on the street, the two forge a very special bond. In the little dog Susan, Jake finds a companion who enables him to stay calm and to cope with the things he finds difficult. A beautiful story which is especially suitable for children finding reading stamina.
Interest Age YA Reading Age 8 | Alex Wheatle serves up an invigorating slice of teen life starring three kids growing up on his fictional Crongton estate. Briggy and Terror have been best friends for years but Terror’s romance with the gorgeous, super-cool Caldonia threatens to push them apart. So when Terror comes up with a ‘cadazy’ plan to rob the Crongton post office, for the sake of their friendship Briggy has no choice but to go along with it. As the boys plan their heist, normal life goes on, with tension at home making Briggy’s get-rich-quick dreams even more powerful. Sharp, funny, moving and written in rat-a-tat sentences that turn teen speak into a kind of poetry. Brilliant.
Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | The horrors of World War One and the huge demands it made on the young men who fought in it are explored in this thought-provoking and moving ghost story. It’s the end of the war but Tony and his mother have no reason to celebrate: Tony’s big brother Charlie was killed in France, shot by his own side as a deserter. His mother is heartbroken, but few of their neighbours are sympathetic and indeed, Tony’s old teacher presents him with a white feather. Tony can’t believe Charlie would run away and when he receives a final coded letter from his brother determines to find out what really happened. Economically told, this is a powerful story that raises issues of courage and responsibility.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2018 | | Catherine Johnson celebrates a hero of Arctic discovery whose story had been forgotten for many years largely because of the colour of his skin in this exciting telling of an important true story. Matthew Henson’s life at home was so hard that at eleven years old he ran away to make a new life for himself in New York. Always attracted by the sea he finds himself drawn into the world of the seafarers who are determined to find a route to the North Pole. Matt joins an expedition and, through a combination of his hard work, his commitment and some lucky breaks he travels across the frozen wastes. His sensitive building of relationships with the Inuit community plays a strong part in his success and in his ultimate and extraordinary achievement: to be the first man to reach the North Pole.
October 2018 Book of the Month | Interest Age Teen Reading Age 8 | | A heartfelt, hard-hitting, super-readable novella about the life-affirming, life-saving friendship that blossoms between a young teenager and her 59 year-old neighbour. All sweet-hearted Aman wanted was for her dad to stay a little longer, but he died before she had chance to read her special letter to him. While grappling with grief, she’s bullied by a bunch of older kids, but thankfully new neighbour Gurnam intervenes to scare them off. While Aman sees Gurnam as her “personal superhero”, she notices a sadness about him, but he won’t reveal the cause of his pain. The truth is revealed with poignant, page-turning urgency, leading to a shocking finale that sees Aman grasp a second vital chance to read her love-filled letter. There’s so much humanity and soul in this short gem of a story. While the content is YA, this is written for those with a reading age of 8+, in a lucid, gripping style that tells it like it is and gets to the core of the characters’ hearts. I relished every word.
Featuring artwork from the animated special, this fun-filled guide to all things Christmas is packed with craft activities, recipes and stickers galore.
Packed with fabulous photos and page after page of facts, stories and behind-the-scenes information on the making of the films, this is a treat for any Harry Potter devotee. Life at Hogwarts is its theme and it gives us close ups of school life, from the sorting ceremony to the teachers and lessons, and the school ghosts. It’s a fun way to test your knowledge of the Harry Potter world, while the information on how the scenes, props and costumes were created is fascinating. Little extras including a page of stickers and packs of pull out postcards make it even more fun.
Anyone who fancies becoming a nature detective needs a copy of this book. Over pages packed with colour illustrations and animal facts, it explains how to read the signs that wild creatures leave, whether that’s paw tracks, a tuft of fur, a hole in the ground, or a pile of poo. The first section is poo based, with pages called Faeces Fun and Who Dung It?, but lots of other things are covered too including where and how animals build their homes and how you can spot who’s been eating what. Text and illustrations are engaging and lively and this is a book as entertaining as it is informative.
This fascinating and highly pore-overable book maps the United Kingdom not via contours or motorway networks, but through its people, habits and history. It takes readers on a journey round our green and pleasant land region by region, packing colour double page illustrations of the relevant bit of sceptred isle with representations of notable people who were born or lived there, of important things that happened there, of notable places and quirky local customs – well-dressing in Nottinghamshire, bog snorkelling in Llanwrtyd Wells, the spring cuckoo festival in Marsden. It lists each area’s favourite dish too, in short giving readers a true flavour of Great Britain. The text is lively and thoroughly engaging and the pictures are equally energetic.
November 2018 Book of the Month | The weird and wonderful creatures that inhabit the Harry Potter universe are a huge part of its appeal, fascinating fans or sending shivers down their spines. This book features some of the most amazing, including those that live in the Forbidden Forest and the Dark Lake, the dark creatures, and – of course – the dragons. Interspersed between pages of illustration and photographs, alongside information on how the creatures were created for the films, are beautiful, three dimensional dioramas, delicate layered paper cut-outs creating scenes of excitement and adventure, that themselves feel genuinely magical. A very handsome book.
Everyone needs a bit of certainty in their lives and filling out forms can be a really good way of laying out what you’re sure of. This book contains no less than 22 forms for children to fill out and fun as they are, each one will help them understand a bit more about their emotions, give them the space to step back and think about things, or enable them to articulate what is making them sad or indeed happy. It could help parents understand exactly how their children are feeling too, and working through the activities together might be a relaxed way into some important conversations. An unusual and original self-help book.
In the name of science, this book allows children to create gloopy, magic slime; turn milk sour; and investigate their own farts. Well, you can’t say you weren’t warned: seldom has a title so accurately reflected the contents of a book. Sticky and stinky as the 32 experiments are however, they teach proper science, and each one is accompanied by a page of clear explanation of the different processes involved. There’s a page recommending further reading and a useful glossary, and the unorthodox approach could well inspire lots more science learning. Grown-ups can be reassured that amongst other things, the ‘rules of the lab’ emphasise the importance of cleaning up afterwards.
This informative armchair guide will have readers on their feet and itching to try new activities. It features more than 60 different sports, in nine different sections: ball sports, racket sports, athletics and gymnastics, plus water sports, motor sports, target sports and combat sports, with a final section on sporting events rounding up anything left out, such as cycling, skiing and show-jumping. Entries tell you everything you need to know, with general descriptions, explanations of the rules, kit and positions, plus interesting facts. Bright bold illustrations, rather than photographs, fill the pages with life and movement making each spread really attractive to look at. It explains why humans value sports so much for being about play, teamwork and taking part. It reminds us too that sport doesn’t discriminate, something born out in the text and illustrations, which feature men and women from all backgrounds, able-bodied and Paralympians alike. Champion!
These books hit the back of the net every time as far as I’m concerned. Packed full of facts, information and insight on a range of school topics, but all of them explained through football. Subjects covered include biology, via close-ups on footballers’ feet (not nearly as nice as you’d think apparently); physics – why it pays to be small when you’re dribbling (Lionel Messi anyone?); history, includes a look at the creation of the rules of football, something that took place in Sheffield in 1857; while the chapter on English is all about how to be a successful commentator. It’s fascinating stuff, and really memorable too. Anyone who reads this will learn a lot, no matter their age, and they’ll laugh a lot too – much of it is very funny, and cartoons by Spike Gerrell add to the entertainment value. Top of the league reading!
Packed full of interesting facts and quirky details, presented in bite-sized chunks of text and vibrant illustrations The Awesome Book of Space lives up to its name. Adam Frost was the worthy winner of the Blue Peter Best Book of Facts 2016 with The Epic Book of Epicness and brings his eye-catching style and enthusiasm to the subject of space covering space travel, planets and stars but with plenty of bizarre facts too such as on Mars snowflakes are square, Russian cosmonauts change their pants once a week and the most likely day to see 'aliens' is the 4th July! With the 50th anniversary of the Moon landings in 2019 there will be many books published on this subject but for 5-9 year olds you'd struggle to find an more entertaining and informative source.
Shortlisted for the CLPE Children’s Poetry Award (CLiPPA) 2017 A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2018 | | Michael Rosen is the bestselling author of We're Going on a Bear Hunt, along with many other picture books and collections of poetry. Packed with silly rhymes, witty wordplay and thought-provoking story poems, this new collection of poems will delight children of all ages.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2018 | Illustrator and author Chris Riddell has created a rich anthology of poems from the past to the present all of which have a special meaning for him. Grouping them under headings including ‘Musings’, ‘Youth’, ‘Imaginings’, ‘Nature’ and ‘Endings’ he has added an illustration to each often giving an insight into his own reading of it. Passages from Shakespeare and classic poems such as John Keats’s Ode to a Nightingale and Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky sit comfortably alongside contemporary poems such as Rachel Rooney’s The Language of Cat and Jackie Kay’s Something Rhymed while the inclusion of the words of Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne and Nick Cave’s Love Letter adds a refreshing fresh touch.
Three Cheers for Women is a hugely inspirational book for children. It is full of facts, quotes and jokes brought together in a really fun way to ensure you remember them. You may even feel having read about some of these women that one of them was you in an earlier life? Joan of Arc perhaps - the teenage warrior, Florence Nightingale or even Marie Curie - probably the most famous female scientist of the 19th & 20th century. This book could even be the catalyst to what you want to be when you grow up - a pioneer and adventurer, a leader and world-changer, a scientist that finds a cure for cancer or an environmentalist that stops global warming Marcia Williams' much-loved comic-strip style will encourage even the most reluctant reader to enjoy this inspirational book packed with facts, quotes and jokes. So be inspired by these incredible women and think beyond the ordinary.
The higher Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton’s treehouse grows, the better. There are few books that reach such levels of absurd comedy and adventure, and the authors’ ability to weave the craziest adventures into satisfying plots is phenomenal. As the treehouse reaches 104 storeys, new additions include a stupid-hat level, and a money-making machine that also makes honey. They still have their books to write for Mr Big though, and as always are up against the delivery deadline. But Andy’s got toothache and can’t laugh because of the pain. Could a Joke Writer 2000™ pencil be the answer to their problems? 104 Storeys and 300+ pages of brilliant, ingenious cartoon adventure.
Books make perfect presents!
With so many books for children and teenagers published each year it's sometimes daunting to make that final choice for a present for those dear to you. Here at Lovereading4kids we've read 1,000s of books published this year and filtered that down to just the best (in our humble view). And don't forget most of the titles have a free Opening Extract to let you decide for yourself if the book is perfect.
In this Christmas category we have something for everyone. Our aim is to be a ‘one stop shop’ with books that are perfect to give and to share this Christmas for toddlers right up to teenagers.
And for even more choice why not have a look at some of the other special categories on the site.
The Little Gems are short chapter books for newly independent readers, all colourfully illustrated and with extra activities included and make great stocking fillers!
Our Children's Classics is perfect if you are looking for gifts to last a lifetime.
Picture Book Party from Walker Books - Picture Book must-haves! A glorious selection of the best picture books from throughout the year.
For boys and girls obsessed with facts, rather than fiction, we have a special section for them as well! Fascinating Facts!
If you're still stuck then our most visited area of the site is a must for you to look at. Book Awards is positively choking with stunning reads, all winners or shortlisted for big awards announced during 2018.
Check out the latest activities in our KidsZone.