I have long been a fan of Barrington Stoke who publish super-readable books for children and young people. Each book has brilliant features which make them more accessible particularly to children with dyslexia or visual stress. In both my working and home life I’m well aware of the challenges being a reluctant or struggling reader presents, so it’s great to have something to offer those might who need a more accessible read. Bringing together award winning authors and illustrators, Barrington Stoke publish a whole range of brilliant stories and the three I’ve read recently are no exception.
McTavish Goes Wild by Meg Rosoff, illustrated by Grace Easton tells the story of the Peachey family and their delightful rescue dog McTavish. A wonderful spin on who is rescuing who, McTavish knows what’s best for the family and exactly where they should take their summer holiday. Like any family, each member has his or her preference but McTavish with brilliant doggy intelligence leads them on a fantastic journey of discovery through the countryside. This really is a delightful tale; I had a smile on my face the whole way through. Wonderfully observed and with lovely quirky illustrations, we see the Peachey family face the annual dilemma of how to keep everyone happy on holiday. Thankfully McTavish is on hand to help. I would love a dog like him to solve family disputes and remind everyone what’s important! This is the second book to feature McTavish and is aimed at children aged 8-12 years.
Hari and his Electric Feet by Alexander McCall Smith, illustrated by Sam Usher is a magical story aimed at 8-12 year olds, featuring Hari and his unique dancing talent. Discovering he can dance is one thing but when Hari and his good friend Mr Ram realise just how infectious it is, a wonderful adventure ensues. From the local street sellers to the farm animals to fighting politicians, everyone comes under Hari’s spell with lively illustrations capturing the movement. I love the idea of dance bringing such joy to people so much so that it even helps bring about world peace! Hari is a gorgeous character and you almost want to join in with his electric feet. If only world politics were that simple….
Mariella Queen of the Skies by Eoin Colfer, illustrated by Katy Halford tells the brilliant adventures of nine year old Mariella and her quest to escape bedtime. Full of inspired ideas and inventions she won’t rest till she has conquered sleep. Mariella discovers how to fly away from night time and spends her time visiting far off places and thinking of fabulous inventions. But it’s only when her ideas run out she realises that sleep is more important than she thought! Taking the familiar battle of avoiding bedtime, this story captures the imagination and wins hearts with a magnificent heroine in Mariella. And also reminds us sleep is essential no matter how smart you are and how many ideas you have! Featuring lovely colourful illustrations, this is one of the Little Gems series aimed at children aged 5-8 years.
Whether you’re looking for an accessible read or just a great story these books are a must-have addition to every bookshelf and library.
With thanks to Barrington Stoke for sending me these wonderful books to review.
Our Book of the Month is the first instalment in a fantastic new adventure series by Lauren St John, the award winning author of The White Giraffe series, Laura Marlin Mysteries and One Dollar Horse series. Published by Macmillan, it’s a great middle grade read and perfect for budding young detectives and animal lovers!
Kat Wolfe loves her new home in idyllic Bluebell Bay, especially as it comes with a resident wildcat. But when she starts pet-sitting for pocket money, she finds that beneath the town’s perfect surface lie some dark and dangerous secrets . . . After a pet owner vanishes from his clifftop mansion, Kat turns to her new friend, Harper Lamb, for help. What began as mystery-solving holiday fun quickly turns deadly for Wolfe and Lamb. Can they count on their unruly animals to save their lives?
Kat Wolfe Investigates begins with Kat and her mother, Dr Wolfe taking the decision to move from their London home after a break-in. When they arrive in their new idyllic home on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, it couldn’t be more perfect with a beautiful cottage, busy veterinary surgery for Dr Wolfe to run and a wildcat, Tiny, for Kat to try her cat-whispering talents on. Kat begins to make friends, starting a pet sitting agency and meeting computer-whizz Harper Lamb who is laid up with a broken leg and needs Kat to look after her horse. The plot thickens and it soon becomes clear all is not as it seems with disappearances, mysterious messages and worrying behaviour all around. Kat and Harper set-up their very own detective agency to get to the bottom of things, little realising the deadly dangerous plot they are about to become embroiled in….
Lauren St John’s writing always reminds me of the stories I read when I was young – in particular the Enid Blyton Adventure series and the Nancy Drew Mysteries. This is true of Kat Wolfe Investigates, a story with a great sense of adventure, transporting you to that place of excitement when you can’t wait to find out what happens next! Kat Wolfe makes a great heroine – persistent, loyal and caring. Add to this a droll fellow detective in Harper; lots of animal characters from capuchin monkeys to overweight dogs to vicious wildcats; the odd human here and there, and you have a wonderful array of possible heroes and villains! It’s a well-paced plot with some lovely moments where Kat shows her truly caring nature. The mother and daughter bond between Kat and Dr Wolfe is great to read. There are suitably tense action scenes with an edge-of-your-seat finale and a lovely satisfying ending which leaves the door open for the next adventure. I can’t wait to read it!
Find out more at www.laurenstjohn.com and www.panmacmillan.com
With thanks to Macmillan for a proof copy of this book to review.
Two more gorgeous board books are now available in the collaborative series between The British Museum and Nosy Crow. Each book is inspired by the vast British Museum collection and celebrates cultures from all over the world. As museums across the world are celebrated on International Museum Day, these books are a great way to introduce history to young children and perhaps even follow-up with a visit to the museum itself!
I’ve read some fantastic books over the last few weeks. Here are my highlights of brilliant middle grade and YA reads which are available now, written by brilliant authors who know just how to get children and young people reading whether through fascinating facts, humour and adventure, teen romance or important issues.
The Secret Diary of Thomas Snoop Tudor Boy Spy by Philip Ardagh and illustrated by Jamie Littler
Thomas Snoop is in training to become a spy. Entrusted with a top secret mission by the mysterious Lord Severn, right-hand man to the Tudor king, Thomas must travel to the magnificent Goldenhilt Hall – in the guise of a servant – in order to uncover traitors plotting against the crown. It will take all Thomas’s wits and cunning to uncover the traitors lurking at Goldenhilt Hall – and he must do so without being discovered himself…
I’ve read and enjoyed the previous books in this series and this new book doesn’t disappoint. With Philip Ardagh’s trademark wit and hilarity, we discover all about Tudor times through the eyes of Thomas Snoop and his diary entries. Mystery abounds as Thomas attempts to complete his mission and uncover the dastardly treacherous villains who threaten to destroy English freedom! I love Jamie Littler’s illustrating style, complimenting the narrative with humorous takes on the larger than life characters. Historical facts appear throughout the story, making Tudor Boy Spy informative and fun! This great series introduces history in an accessible way, encouraging young readers to think what life might have been like growing up in a different time period – with the added bonus of being really funny!
On International Nurses Day, it’s the perfect time to share this beautiful picture book. Peace Lily written by Hilary Robinson and illustrated by Martin Impey is the fourth and final picture book in their WW1 picture book series for children, published in the year of the Armistice Centenary marking the end of fighting. The book was published on International Women’s Day (8th March 2018) paying tribute to the contribution of women to the war effort.