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Selvi is a wild child who loves climbing in the beautiful mountains behind her home. She is often joined by Lokka, a leopard with a beautiful coat and huge golden eyes. When hunters come for Lokka, Selvi is determined to fight. But what can she do against such powerful enemies, especially when the friend she turns to for help is not all they seem to be...?
Interest Age 8-12 Reading Age 7 | Tanya Landman’s new story is a dream-come-true adventure that will thrill young horse lovers. Meg lives for her weekly riding lessons and dreams of owning a pony, though she knows that her parents could never afford the cost. I was in exactly that situation as a child and there’ll be many thousands of young girls (and maybe some boys) who’ll identify with Meg too, all of them longing for a pony of their own, all aware it will never happen. Imagine the vicarious pleasure to be had in Meg’s story then for, on her tenth birthday, she wakes up to find a pony standing in her front garden. The two immediately form a bond, and even though Merlin turns out to have an owner, a kind of miracle happens that means Meg can ride him whenever she wants. Landman catches Meg’s emotions beautifully, from the passion of her daydreams to the joy of finding Merlin, and the crashing despair at the thought of having to say goodbye. She describes Merlin’s reactions to Meg perfectly too, making this a very special girl-meets-pony story. This is number one in a series and I for one can’t wait for the next.
Richly rewarding for 7-year-olds to enjoy by themselves, and a joy to read aloud to 5+ year-olds, Iona Rangeley’s Einstein the Penguin debut is packed with comic capers, compassion and relatable family dynamics as it tells a wonderfully whimsical tale of an attempt to reunite a pair of flightless feathered friends. The adventure begins when the Stewart family decide to stave off December chills with a visit to London Zoo and find themselves drawn to a little penguin. Later that evening, said penguin (who turns out to be called Einstein) turns up at their front door with a rucksack. Naturally the Stewarts take him in, pending returning him to his rightful home. The question is, where is Einstein’s home? The initial investigations of would-be detective Imogen reveal that he wasn’t supposed to be in London Zoo at all. As Imogen ups her sleuthing game, her younger brother Arthur finds confidence and friendship through Einstein, and the family embark on an exhilarating quest. With charming, witty illustrations from David Tazzyman (he of Mr Gum fame), this delightful adventure makes a magnificent modern-day alternative to Paddington, and is perfect for sharing as a family.
Thea’s Christmas visit to Norway to try and connect with her absent father, Henry, looks set to be a disaster. Despite her hopes that her father will understand her yearning to be a writer and her need for a typewriter, Henry seems only interested in his new family and his woodwork. All Thea’s hopes are dashed. How she longs to go home to her mum and all their family Christmas traditions. But when Thea befriends a sleeping bear whom she has disturbed she unleashes a wonderful, wintery adventure. Finding friends who understand her love for the bear and her belief that it is harmless, Thea works out an ambitious plan to confuse the hunters and save the bear. The result is a many layered adventure story of courage, love and imagination.
November 2021 Book of the Month | Christmas is coming! First there is the wonder of snow and then there is all the hustle and bustle of getting ready for Christmas. Finally, it is Christmas eve and Mouse and Mole have to wait patiently for Father Christmas to arrive…Three charming short stories all matched with beautiful and warm hearted illustrations make this a perfect book to share at any time and especially in the run up to Christmas!
‘Inside Cat knows many windows, finds a view wherever it goes’. A busy mess of scribbled lines and big wide eyes, Inside Cat wonders, wanders, gazes through those many windows, all different shapes, out into the world outside. In contrast to the pale almost ghostly depictions of the interior, that outside world is vivid and colourful and full of intriguing sights, including ‘fluffy rats’ (or squirrels to you and me) and ‘roaring flies (a helicopter). Inside Cat thinks it knows all there is to know about the world outside, but a turn of the final page and wow! is it in for a surprise! Told in rhythmic, lilting rhyme, and exploring ideas of shape and perspective, this clever, superbly illustrated story is also a wonderful celebration of the imagination.
Albert the tortoise is woken up by the wind and finds himself very hungry. Unfortunately, before he can tuck in, his delicious breakfast has blown away, cucumber, tomatoes, lettuce, celery and carrots scattered across the garden. The insects kindly gather it up and bring it back, but each time they’re gone before slow Albert can say thank you. He eventually puts this right, and his method of expressing his thanks is highly imaginative, to say the least, and should have children in stitches! Albert is based on a real tortoise apparently (and his food has occasionally blown away we’re told) and there’s a page of fascinating tortoise facts as an added treat at the end.
The Song That Sings Us is a dystopian novel with a difference. In the society Nicola Davies describes, a powerful, ruthless government is bent on destroying nature, but in this world some humans have always been able to understand animal thoughts. Imagine how different the world would be if we could listen to animal voices? No wonder the governing Automators want to destroy anyone who has this gift. At the centre of the story are three young people, siblings Harlon and twins Xeno and Ash; forced to flee their home when the Automators attack, leaving their ma alone to fight them off, the book follows their separate journeys, into a world of wild landscapes and even the heart of their enemy’s empire. Along the way, they are helped by desperate resistance fighters, and by animals themselves. Epic in scale, this adventure is full of fights, danger, near-misses and escapes as well as friendship and laughter. Davies has poured heart and soul into the book and its effect on readers will be huge. Full of hope and a sense of the power of singing with one voice, the book looks beautiful too with striking illustrations by Jackie Morris on the cover and as chapter heads.
Who better to welcome at Christmas than Elmer, the very embodiment of goodwill to all. In this special shaped board book Elmer and the young elephants are getting ready for Christmas Day. They’ve found their tree and decorated it, but the youngsters are cheekily still awake when Papa Red arrives on his sleigh. Elmer has to wait until they’re finally asleep to distribute the presents they’ve been left. With McKee’s trademark bright, bold colours, it’s lovely to look at and there’s a sense of fun on every page. A Christmas treat and a lovely introduction to Elmer for the very young.
It’s Christmas Eve so of course everyone is looking out for Santa. Are those reindeer antlers we can see through the window? Is that his red suit we can glimpse in the kitchen? Or his red hat behind the Christmas tree? The excitement grows from page to page as we open the special flaps to find – not Santa, but something equally festive. There he is on the final page though, and exactly where he should be! This little board book is lots of fun. The very young will love opening the flaps and joining in with the repeated refrain, ‘I’m going to catch Santa!’ There are Christmas treats on every page and that surprise pop-up ending will set everyone giggling. Peeks and pops and good cheer all round!
October 2021 Debut of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2021 | A whirlwind adventure unfolds from the moment that lonely Penny Black helps a mysterious furry creature escape from a mouse trap in her uncle’s post office. But the creature isn’t a mouse…nor is it a rat – as it is quick to tell Penny when it introduces itself as Wishyouwas as a Sorter. Second Class. Soon Penny finds herself swept off on a wild underground adventure following the mystery of missing letters and helping the army of Sorters, Deliverers and the rest return them to their rightful owners. Rich in word play, including the wonderful names of the hidden Post Office team, this is a magical and cleverly created world of make-believe.
This is the first story in a series about two children, Ellie and Blake, who can speak to and understand animals due to a magical telephone they find in the empty rooms of a house that the two families have just moved into. This first book introduces the characters, both animal and human, and the adventure starts. The book is written in chapters and is very visual. It is quite a fast-paced story, with Ellie and her mum’s circumstances described in just a couple of paragraphs. The divorce, the change of town and employment all take second place to the main plot. Ellie’s mother wants to open a café on the ground floor, and obviously mice on the premises is not going to be a positive addition, or part of her plan. Unlike many other children’s books that have talking animals, these animals are feisty and tough and not the sweet and docile cats and mice that are so often depicted. The idea of a biting mouse and a full-scale riot of protesting mice is quite graphic (and not for the mice haters of this world. In fact, it made me feel quite squeamish!) It is interesting how the author depicts the mice and the puppy in quite different ways; the mice being intelligent and controlling and the little Labrador puppy Choccy, being just a rather dim youngster. The main problem in the story is whose house is it and how are the new humans and cats going to co-exist? However, in the closing chapter, a new problem arises, a property developer and his daughter appear on the scene and with the possible redevelopment of their street and the threat of competition to the new cat café across the road, the plot thickens. The book finishes on a cliff hanger, with Shazza the homesick cockatoo being the next book in the series. Books that involve animals, especially talking ones is always a winner, and this story, written in a lively and descriptive fashion, will, I am sure, be well received. The layout of the story is clear and inviting with lots of detailed and amusing illustrations. The sentences are well structured with age-appropriate plot and vocabulary. I think this will be a popular read.