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A warm-hearted picture book about a special friendship in which free spirited Emily tempts anxious and pampered Frederick to brave the outdoors and enjoy some wonderful and unexpected adventures. Emma Chichester Clark’s illustrations capture the magic of the children’s friendship and play perfectly.
There are life lessons galore for young readers of this hugely appealing picture book. Little dragon Fergal is a bit anxious about going off to summer camp – he’s never been before – and when he arrives, he’s so determined to make his mark that he doesn’t notice he’s being a bit selfish and upsetting the other little dragons. Fortunately, the camp leader can sort things out and give Fergal some useful advice: he needn’t be best at everything, he just needs to relax and be himself and everything else will follow. It’s an important message for all young children and it’s fun to learn it with Fergal and his little friends, as colourful and companionable a group as you could hope to meet. Look out for the first Fergal story too, Fergal is Fuming, which is just as good at prompting conversations about feelings and behaviour.
Roger Paxton is an ordinary kind of boy and a very reluctant hero – which is unfortunate as he’s tasked with saving the world from a massive goblin invasion. At least he’s got a good team on his side, including the marvellous and utterly fearless dwarf captain Mossbelly Macfearsome. This is a wonderfully raucous bit of fantasy adventure full of thrilling scenes, some irresistible characters, and very entertaining details (I love the fact that the goblins smell of burnt toast and fart into bottles to make their drinks fizzy). The story is set at Hallowe’en and this would make a terrific October read, but it would be fun to share at any time of the year. You could go on from this to Terry Pratchett, it’s that much fun.
Book Band: Purple Ideal for ages 6+ | Short, but action-packed, Chitra Soundar’s story has all the ingredients to make a tasty, satisfying story. There’s a magic lamp, seven wishes and a genie, and it all culminates with a delicious birthday cake. Manju and her cat Cumin are puzzling about what to give Manju’s mum for her birthday when they discover a magic lamp. A genie grants them seven wishes – surely they can conjure up the perfect present now, but it proves harder than they think and takes all seven wishes to get a gift that’s just right. In the new Bloomsbury Young Readers series this is a fun, accessible story perfect for children just getting ready to read on their own. A Tips for Grown Ups section and suggestions of fun further activities are helpful, an added bonus.
Uncle Gobb is back for a third utterly ridiculous, absolutely hilarious and totally originally told adventure. Michael Rosen and Neal Layton use a brilliant integration of words and pictures to tell this meandering and many-layered story which engages readers with the complexity and creativity of storytelling.
August 2019 Book of the Month | Climbing up into Andy Griffith’s and Terry Denton’s ever-growing treehouse guarantees a burst of brilliant, zany, fast-moving comic adventure. In this episode – which picks up on their World Book Day mini-book – illustrator Terry gets to be the narrator, with some alarming results. Indeed, Andy is forced to rescue them by using the old ‘it was all a dream’ ending, which in turn leads to them being pursued and arrested by the Story Police. As always, the story is told through a combination of words and pictures, both equally inventive, entertaining and surreal. It’s no wonder that these stories are so loved by readers, long may the treehouse continue to sprout new storeys.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month August 2019 | Temper tantrums are brilliantly visualised in this witty story about how Ravi deals with his. Poor Ravi! The youngest and smallest in the family he is always the slowest and the shortest and the last one to get what he wants. It makes him feel terrible! And when Ravi feels terrible he ROARS. His face goes red, he grows two furry ears, sharp teeth and a stripey tail. Now he can get what he wants but there is a price to pay: will anyone want to play with him? Tom Percival’s illustrations keep the message light hearted without trivialising it.
Jo Simmons’ new book had me laughing out loud more than once and kids will love it too. Due to numerous family crises, Tom’s super-important 11th birthday party is on hold, so he takes matters into his own hands planning a party and ways to cheer up his family. If I tell you that this involves a DIY gladiatorial contest, some chicken whispering, and bacon sarnies raining down from the sky, you’ll realise why the eventual party really is unforgettable. An absolute hoot and great on the dynamics of family life too.
Chris Judge’s Beast – enormous, black, hairy – is an irresistible character, and hugely comic. Here he’s presented with a special challenge: opening his door to get his newspaper, he finds an egg. He’s never been given an egg before and isn’t very sure how to look after it but tries his best in scenes that will have young children squealing with laughter (especially those with a baby brother or sister). Fortunately, the egg accidentally lands in hospital where kindly Dr Yoko provides useful advice. More fun and games follows when to the Beast’s huge surprises, the egg hatches. Though very silly indeed the story is perfectly told, maintaining suspense and delivering its surprises with eggspert comic timing, and will bear multiple readings.
David Solomons is utterly brilliant, and My Cousin is a Time Traveller is a work of comedy genius. It’s full of pitch-perfect observational humour, with a plot that magnifies real fears (machines taking over the world) to ridiculous and hilarious levels (led by toasters and a washer-dryer*); and it packs more and better superhero in-jokes into one chapter than the Marvel film franchise has managed in its entire oeuvre. And there’s a terrifically exciting story too. Simply the best entertainment to be had between two covers. *after all, there’s more technology in the average washing machine than there was in the Apollo space programme that sent a rocket to the Moon.
Here’s another laugh-out-loud adventure story starring everyone’s favourite caped potato superhero. It’s carnival time in the supermarket and all the veggies are lending a hand except – you guessed it – Evil Pea. He’s determined to suck all the fun and the colour from the carnival – literally, with his dastardly Colour-Suck-A-Thon-5000 machine. Can Supertato save the day? You betcha! Adventures don’t come dafter or more colourful and this is premium entertainment for all the family.
It’s time for more fabulous underwater adventures with everyone’s favourite little mermaids, Beattie, Mimi and Zelda, ably assisted by Steve the talking seahorse of course. As this latest escapade opens, we find them trying to break into the kingdom of Frostopia in the freezing waters of Antarctica on the trail of water witch Maritza Mist of Maritza Mist’s Water Witch Catalogue fame. In this they may just be helped by new character, Mermaid Bay’s most promising young spy Meri Pebble. Frothy, fast-moving, fashion-conscious fun this is certain to delight Bad Mermaid fans old and new, and it’s not hard to see why the books have found such a devoted following amongst young readers. Illustrations by Jason Cockroft increase the undersea glamour.