books monthly november 2017 children's books

Two superb interactive titles from Carlton Books head this month's grand selection of children's books...

Home Page

Acker Bilk Sleeve Notes

Adult Fiction

  Crime and Thrillers
  Science Fiction & Fantasy

  Children's books

  Nonfiction & Reference

New from Pen and Sword...

  The Nostalgia Page

  The Jerry Dowlen Column

Katherine Rundell (illus. Emily Sutton): One Christas Wish

Published by Bloomsbury 5th October 2017


It's Christmas Eve and Theo - left at home with a babysitter - sees an odd-looking star out of his window and decides to make a wish. He wishes that he had some friends to keep him company. Moments later the Christmas decorations begin to disentangle themselves from the tree behind him, ready to wreak a little havoc ... Written with generous helpings of warmth and humour, this is a story about treasuring the people and values that really matter at this time of year from master storyteller and bestselling children's author Katherine Rundell. Emily Sutton's breathtaking illustrations perfectly capture the magic of Christmas in stunning detail.


Beautifully illustrated and written - this is the first of many Christmas books that will come my way in the coming weeks and is certainly in the running for the very best. I can't fault it! The winning combination of Katherine Rundell and Emily Sutton is unbeatable...


Garth Jennings & Sara Ogilvie: The Wildest Cowboy

Published by Macmillan Children's Books 21st September 2017


Way out in the West there's a town they call Fear
And only the roughest and toughest live here . . . When cheerful salesman, Bingo B Brown, rolls his wagon full of Wild West goodies into town, he's met with a stony silence. This is clearly no place for novelty bow ties and elastic lassos. Not even Bingo's dancing dog can raise a smile! But this town is not just joyless, it's dangerous. And as Bingo soon discovers, the people of the town are not just scary, they're also scared. It isn't long before Bingo and his dog discover why, as they come face to face with the Wildest Cowboy in the West! Saddle up for a spectacular ride with a wildly talented pairing: film director and author, Garth Jennings and star illustrator, Sara Ogilvie. The Wildest Cowboy is a funny and uplifting adventure story in which fun wins out over fear. Featuring a dramatic train chase, rattlesnake socks and a dancing dog.


Old-fashioned cartoon drawings make this a real winner - so colourful!






Caroline Rowlands: Jurassic World Special Edition

Published by Carlton 10th August 2017


This new title features a brilliant overview of the Jurassic Park trilogy and Jurassic World, and includes genetically engineered, terror-inspiring dinosaurs from the whole series, including new profiles for Tyrannosaurus rex, Indominus rex and Velociraptor, as well as other favourites from the original films. Uses the most advanced Augmented Reality: walk a lifesize Jurassic Park dinosaur across your floor, photograph friends with favourite dinosaurs from across the movie series and connect with another device in dual user mode to roam and explore. It's a must for every dinosaur fan and avid followers of the series.


This book is amazing! You download an app onto your smartphone, activate it, scan the appropriate symbol on selected pages inside the book, and within seconds you can have a dinosaur sitting on your dining rook table, or, in the case of the pteranodon, flying around the room. The dinosaurs roar... this is a book in every sense, and then some! Some smartphones (mine, for example) might struggle in terms of space for the app, which is over 100MB, I think, but the vast majority should have little trouble, and it is well worth it. This is quite possibly the future of books, and pioneering Carlton are to be congratulated for producing something so spectacular! All children love dinosaurs, and this is a brilliant way of bringing them to life. As I said, an amazing book...

Owen Williams: Alien Augmented Reality Survival Manual

Published by Carlton 15th October 2017


A book like no other. An experience you'll never forget. The Alien movie franchise has been shocking audiences for more than 35 years, and the series is set to continue into the future...which is where this book comes from. This special interactive edition has been beamed back to us from the future reality witnessed in the movies. Alien: Augmented Reality Survival Manual was written for new recruits of the U.S. Colonial Marines to impart knowledge of identification and combat of Xenomorphs. Protecting yourself and mankind against this significant and ever-growing threat is the goal. Study a Xenomorph autopsy, witness an Alien egg hatch in real-time, and see the deadly attacks of a face-hugger first-hand. For new recruits, you will also get to see what the life of a USCM pilot is like, and witness 'on the scene' footage of the marines in action, in the form of movie excerpts. Whether it's the first day of your USCM training, or you're a hardened marine veteran, Alien: Augmented Reality Survival Manual is vital to shore up your knowledge of the Xenomorph threat, and ensure your prolonged survival as you travel the stars to protect the United Americas Colonies and interests.


This second augmented reality book from Carlton should maybe come with an age warning, because it brings to life some of the most scary moments from the Alien movie series, all of which, I think, are classified 18 (Prometheus may be 15). Maybe I shouldn't have included it on the children's books page, but rather it should have gone on the SF page. Another app, and this time, you will see scenes from some of the movies etc., which may be quite scary for some children. I haven't seen all of the Alien fils, only the first and Prometheus, the latter I enjoyed immensely. But there are scary bits. This one's maybe for older children and adults. The technology is brilliant, though - another winner from Carlton Publishing.


Kerr Thomson: The Rise of Wolves

Published by Chicken House 2nd November 2017


Innis Munro is walking home across the bleak wilderness of Nin Island when he hears the chilling howl of a wolf. But there are no wolves on the island - not since they were hunted to extinction, centuries ago. He decides to investigate his island home and accepts an ancient challenge: he who jumps the Bonnie Laddie's Leap wins a fortune. As the wolves rise from the darkness of history, and long-buried secrets resurface, Innis's adventure truly begins ...



Stunning fantasy for young adults - this is the perfect introduction to the genre. There is something about wolves that make them ideal for fantasy adventures - Innis can hear them, but is he the only one and are they really there? Will make you think and really concentrate - excellent.


Sibeal Pounder: Witch Snitch

Published by Bloomsbury 5th October 2017


Tiga and friends are famous throughout Sinkville for their part in the Witch Wars competition, but there's so much more of Sinkville to discover! Now, Ritzy City's Top Witch Peggy Pigwiggle has asked Tiga and Fran to make a TV documentary about the most interesting witches in town - with Fluffanora helping out as fashion adviser. But whilst Tiga enjoys making the documentary, she can't help but feel there's something going on behind her back . This hilarious companion story sits alongside the main Witch Wars series as a standalone title, and is full of character profiles, facts and activities to fascinate fans and give them everything they need to create their very own Witch Wars party.


I'm afraid I don't know anything at all about Witch Wars but I don't think that really matters - there is hilarity and mayhem pouring off every page in this wonderful book!


Paul Howard: I Went To See Santa

Published by Bloosbury 5th October 2017


I went to see Santa and I got ... When a brother and sister go to see Santa, they compete to see who can be given the most bizarre and brilliant things. As they try to remember all the Christmas gifts, everything escalates until ... It's CHRISTMAS! MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE! A new take on an old favourite, children will love this laugh-out-loud, test-your-memory story, with reindeer, penguins, a gingerbread tree and much, much more! From the illustrator of the bestselling The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark and the hilarious follow-up to I Went to the Supermarket.


There are only eight or so weeks to go to Christmas - it really is time to start thinking about what you're going to get and for whom. For toddlers, this is a perfect little book, beautifully illustrated, and will introduce them to what they are about to experience in a way they will love!


Claire Freedman & Sue Hendra: Scary Hairy Party

Published by Bloomsbury 5th October 2017


You're invited to a party.
What fun! Hip, hip, hooray!
So come along to Monster's house
at three o'clock today.

Raymond the hairdresser is scarily busy. Everyone wants to look their best for Monster's party. But a series of disasters at Raymond's hair salon - Oops, too much hair gel! Oops, the dyes have been muddled! - leave his customers disappointed until ... they discover Monster's party has a very special theme! A very silly, slightly spooky story that is perfect for youngsters at Halloween! From a bestselling author (Aliens Love Underpants) and illustrator (Barry the Fish with Fingers, Supertato).


I'm not a fan of Halloween - there, I've said it. Halloween is something the shops have imported from the USA to make more money from us in the UK, and I'm afraid that to me, it's just a nuisance. This is a very silly, very funny book, but I'm trying to ignore the fact it's about Halloween...


Chris Priestley: Curse of the Werewolf Boy

Published by Bloomsbury 5th October 2017


'We shall be detectives, Sponge!' exclaimed Mildew. 'We shall solve the Mystery of the School Spoon!' Mildew and Sponge don't think much of Maudlin Towers, the blackened, gloom-laden, gargoyle-infested monstrosity that is their school. But when somebody steals the School Spoon and the teachers threaten to cancel the Christmas holidays until the culprit is found, our heroes must spring into action and solve the crime! But what starts out as a classic bit of detectivating quickly becomes weirder than they could have imagined. Who is the ghost in the attic? What's their history teacher doing with a time machine? And why do a crazy bunch of Vikings seem to think Mildew is a werewolf? Hugely funny, deliciously creepy and action-packed by turns, this brand new series from Chris Priestley is perfect for 8+ readers who like their mysteries with a bit of bite. Fans of Lemony Snicket and Chris Riddell will love Curse of the Werewolf Boy.


Madcap adventure featuring Mildew and Sponge - if the names don't make you laugh, there's something wrong with you!


S G Harvey: The Wand Tree - Book of Magic

Published by The Book Guild 28th September 2017


Following the disappearance of his mother, Joe Silva finds himself at a boarding school where he is unable to fit in and is often bullied by his peers. Not only does he find his younger years tough at school, his resentful father blames him for his mother’s disappearance and has little to do with him.
After living alone at boarding school for years with very little human contact, Joe is confronted with a surprise revelation from his mother’s parents, which inevitably changes his life. He discovers that he has a place at Trega’s School for Witches and Wizards.
As Joe discovers more about himself, he makes friends with other wizards that struggle to fit in and together they form bonds that help them battle against prejudices which surround them.
Writer S. G. Harvey took inspiration for the book from his grandparent’s farm – somewhere he spent a lot of time at as a child and that he always found a very magical place.
Reminiscent of the ‘Harry Potter’ phenomenon, S. G. Harvey gives the genre a more personal twist, focusing closely on the characters’ personal developments.


Suzanne Smith & Lindsay Taylor (Illus. Marnie Maurri): The Magical Ice Palace

Published by Simon & Schuster 19th October 2017


Doodle Girl uses her magic pencil to create adventures by transforming doodles into fantastical lands, full of amazing animals! On their latest outing, Doodle Girl and her friends find a curly, curvy shape. What is it supposed to be? Whilst trying to work it out, they find a sad, lonely mammoth high up on a mountain. What's he doing there? Will Doodle Girl be able to help him? And what is the curly curvy shape going to be? Find out in this gorgeous book, full of creativity and fun with a giant, free doodling poster.


Everyone doodles - don't they? When they're supposed to be concentrating in school lessons, or while they're supposed to be doing their homework? Brilliant book, hugely original, and with the added benefit of a giant doodling poster included. Superb fun!



The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its sixteenth year on the web, is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by Paul Norman. You can contact me here. If you wish to submit something for publication in the magazine, let me remind you there is no payment as I don't make any money from this publication. If you want to send me something to review, contact me via email and I'll let you know where to send it.