books monthly

april 2018 - children's books

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Ellie Snowdon: Great Bunny Bakes

Published by Simon and Schuster 8th March 2018


Aprons on, recipes at the ready - it's time for the biggest, bestest, bunniest baking competition. Only - who is this strangely dressed contestant?! Quentin is a wolf with a very unusual hobby. He loves to bake! So when he accidentally receives an invitation to take part in a Great Bunny Baking competition he'll do anything to enter. Masterfully disguised (ahem) as a bunny, Quentin sails through round after round with his peerless pastry and heavenly honeybun tower. But soon he has to contend with a jealous fellow contestant. And when he slips and drops his Showstopping Chocolate Cake it looks like all his work has been in vain . . . But all is not as it seems in this tale of hidden identity, bravura baking and unexpected kindnessAn irresistible picture book from fabulous new talent, Ellie Snowdon, with witty text and stunning classic-yet-contemporary illustrations.


Brilliantly funny story about a wolf who loves to bake - it reminded me of The Great British Bake Off - terrifically funny!




Thomas and Friends Character Encyclopedia

Published by Dorling Kindersley 1st February 2018


Learn all about Thomas the Tank Engine, Harold the Helicopter, Sir Topham Hatt, and all the other steam engines, diesels, vehicles, and characters from Sodor. Thomas & Friends Character Encyclopediaincludes a train toy and is packed with fun facts and details about each popular character - brand-new and best-loved alike - from the toys, TV shows, and movies, as well as information about the real trains and vehicles. With stunning full-colour images and essential information about every character, the Thomas & Friends Character Encyclopedia is a must-have for fans of all ages.


All of the characters from the brilliant, timeless Thomas The Tank Engine series are profiled in this magnifcent new book from Dorling Kindersley, and the box also contains a miniature of Thomas. My grandchildren will be fighting over that and nagging Mum and Dad to look at the book wth them. My children used to love Thomas, still do, in fact. Inspired - a seemingly endless fount of stories that delight the little people in your lives.


Sharlee Glenn: Library On Wheels

Published by Abrams 10th April 2018


If you can’t bring the man to the books, bring the books to the man.


Mary Lemist Titcomb (1852–1932) was always looking for ways to improve her library. As librarian at the Washington County Free Library in Maryland, Titcomb was concerned that the library was not reaching all the people it could. She was determined that everyone should have access to the library―not just adults and those who lived in town. Realizing its limitations and inability to reach the county’s 25,000 rural residents, including farmers and their families, Titcomb set about to change the library system forever with the introduction of book-deposit stations throughout the country, a children’s room in the library, and her most revolutionary idea of all―a horse-drawn Book Wagon. Soon book wagons were appearing in other parts of the country, and by 1922, the book wagon idea had received widespread support. The bookmobile was born!


An old-fashioned children's book of the kind we used to borrow way back in the 1950s - beautifully written account by Sharlee Glenn of the inspirational story of Mary Lemist Titcomb, who inaugurated mobile libraries in the United States. Having spent a large part of my two years with the Hertfordshire County Library Service in the 1960s, I can attest to the fact that this was one of the better ideas of the libraries, and it's heartbreaking to think that because of Conservative and Coaition cuts in the last seven years, many libraries and library services have had to be cut altogether here in the UK. This is a wonderful, beautifully illustrated slice of American social history.


Alexander McCall Smith (illus. Kate Hindley): Max Champion and the Great Race Car Robbery

Published by Bloomsbury 5th April 2018


Start your engines and get in gear for an action-packed story from the bestselling author of The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, Alexander McCall Smith, with fun and energetic illustrations by Kate Hindley. When Max finds an old car that has his last name - Champion - on the bonnet, he learns that his grandfather used to make some of the best cars around ... and race them! That is, until his ideas book and his favourite car, Arabella, were stolen by greedy rival Mr Grabber. Can Max find a way to get back what Grandfather Gus lost? And will Arabella ever be seen again?


One of my favourite authors takes on a children's adventure story featuring a car race and a mystery associated with it. Superb!



James Nicol: A Witch Alone

Published by Chicken House 5th April 2018


During an eventful holiday in Kingsport, Arianwyn is recruited for an important mission: to retrieve the Book of Quiet Glyphs from its hiding place in the Great Wood. But as she returns home to Lull, feyling refugees gather outside the town walls and hex plagues the forest. As tensions lead to fall-outs with her friends, town squabbles and magical mishaps, Arianwyn faces a sobering truth: she alone can find the Book, and wield its secrets ...


Stunning children's fantasy that will whet the appetite for full-blown adult fantasy. Amazingly good!








Suzanne Barton: The Butterfly Dance

Published by Bloomsbury 8th March 2018


Caterpillars Dotty and Stripe do everything together. They play, they eat leaves and do all sorts of caterpiller-y things, and then one day, after spinning themselves into snuggly cocoons, they wake up as beautiful butterflies! But soon they realise that, for the first time ever, they look different. Should Dotty only play with butterflies that look like her? And Stripe only play with butterflies that look like him? A stunningly illustrated story about friendship and and being happy with who you are, from the author/illustrator of Waterstones Children's Book Prize shortlisted The Dawn Chorus. opportunity for children to learn about how the life of a butterfly evolves, but it's a super story, one that will catch the imagination of toddlers, I'm sure.



Katrina Chapman & Nick Sharratt: Car, Car, Truck, Jeep

Published Bloomsbury 8th March 2018


This book is bursting with cars, buses, planes, trains, trucks, diggers and many more things that go. Add to that a text that is read aloud to the tune of 'Baa, Baa, Black Sheep' and ... What a combination!

Car, car, truck, jeep,
have you any fuel?
Yes, sir, yes, sir,
three tanks full.

One for the red bus,
one for the train,
and one for the pilot
in her jumbo jet plane.


With bold, colourful illustrations the repetition in this super book is exactly what little children need to learn about the things they will encounter in their lives.


Kristyna Litten: Ziggy and the Moonlight Show

Published by Simon and Schuster 22nd February 2018


A touching story by the author of Blue & Bertie and Norton and Alpha

All week long Ziggy looks forward to the spectacular Moonlight Show on Saturday night. But this Saturday she discovers that a stripy bird has lost her chick, and immediately offers to help. But the black and white shapes in the reeds are only a chorus of croaking frogs, and the stripes in the grass turn out to be a scary snake! Lost in a dark forest, far from home, Ziggy starts to wonder whether she and Bird will ever find the lost chick. And how will they find their way back in time for the magical Moonlight Show?

A world of animals, colours, patterns and shapes awaits in this stunning new book.


...The illustrations are a little too dark for my taste, I would have thought that little children preferred bright, vibrant colours, but that's probably just me. The illustrations are superb, delightful, and the story is terrific.


Pixie Britton: Kill or Cure

Published by Matador 28th February 2018


Kill or Cure is a YA romance-infused sci-fi novel.
It focuses on human relationships in an undead, apocalyptic world.
A girl who will stop at nothing to protect her brother.

In a dystopian world ravaged by infection, society as we know it has fallen to the mouths of the dead. The remaining fragments of civilisation survive in walled compounds, scattered in the depths of the countryside. When her little brother becomes sick with a suspected flu virus, Alyx Silverthorne will do anything to keep Tommy alive.

With limited medical supplies and only herbal alternatives, his prospects of surviving this mystery illness are bleak. But saving Tommy is just the beginning. The infected are not the only monsters that exist in this new world, and human nature can be more destructive than the dead.

In a race against time, Alyx and her best friend Will stop at nothing to protect him, even from the same people that swore to protect them all.

Kill or Cure is a dynamic, multifaceted story of teenage love and gut wrenching loss in a dystopian world.


Perfect YA SF novel that will hook older teens onto the genre.


Janik Coat: Llamaphones

Published by Abrams 6th March 2018


In Janik Coat's much-anticipated follow-up to Hippoposites and Rhymoceros, Llamaphones will feature witty words that may sound the same but are spelled differently--and have different meanings. Like the other books in the series, this one will feature surprising novelty features, including a touch-and-feel element, making homophones an easy and fun concept to learn.


Not sure which age group this is intended for... just a little too simplistic in my opinion, and the monochrome is not to my taste, I'm afraid, it's all a little too stark.







Sophy Henn: Storytime with Ted

Published by Bloomsbury 5th April 2018


Story time, Ted! Which story will Ted hear today? A magical story full of wizards and magic spells? An adventure story full of gigantic stomping dinosaurs? Or maybe a fairytale all about beanstalks and giants? Lift the flaps to find out what Ted's creative imagination can conjure up this time. With sturdy flaps to lift on every page, this bold and creative new book in the Ted series will delight preschoolers and is ideal for little hands.


Perfect tale for bedtime reading - the flaps are the size of the book, which is an excellent idea for those small hands and fingers.





Ally Sherrick: The Buried Crown

Published by Chicken House 5th April 2018


It's World War Two and Britain is on the brink of invasion. Londoner George has been sent to live in in the countryside while his brother and guardian, Charlie, fights overseas. But the war is closer than he thinks. An ancient burial ground nearby contains a priceless treasure, a magical Anglo-Saxon crown Hitler is desperate to possess. Alongside Kitty, the granddaughter of a Jewish archaeologist, George must find and protect the crown from the Nazi invaders before it's too late ...


The idea of young children being wrenched away from their parents during WW2 has always horrified me, but the concept of such children discovering adventure whilst away from their families goes some way towards mollfiying it. A superb adventure story along the lines of Enid Blyton when she was at the height of her powers.





Emma Shevah: What Lexie Did

Published by Chicken House 5th April 2018


Lexie lives in London with her colourful Greek-Cypriot family - and she's devoted to her fragile cousin of the same age, Eleni, who has a heart condition. But after the death of their grandmother, Lexie tells a terrible, instinctive, jealous lie about an heirloom necklace, a lie that splits the family apart. It's up to her to bring the family back together ... but after such a lie, can she find a way to tell the truth?


Lexie will always have to live with the consequences of the lie she told about the necklace - this poignant novel tells how she deals with the fall-out from a moment of madness.







Lucy Christopher: Storm-Wake

Published by Chicken House 5th April 2018


Moss has lived with her pa on a remote island for as long as she remembers. The Old World has disappeared beneath the waves - only Pa's magic, harnessing the wondrous stormflowers on the island, can save the sunken continents. But a storm is brewing, promising cataclysmic changes. Soon, two strange boys wash up on the shore. As the clouds swell and the ocean churns, Moss learns to open her eyes to the truth about her isolated world ...


Sea-based fantasy that draws on various myths and legends yet still retains an air of originality. Old-fashioned but extremely effective tale.







Morag Hood: The Steves

Published by Macmillan Children's Books 5th April 2018


When Steve meets Steve, neither can believe it. Surely one of them must be the first Steve, the best Steve, the Stevest Steve . . . The claims of each puffin become sillier and sillier as the argument descends into name-calling – until both Steves realize there’s really no need to fall out over a name. The feuding puffins perfectly reflect the sort of silly arguments children have – and The Steves shows just how pointless they are. The bold, brilliantly coloured, graphic illustrations will have you laughing out loud in this glorious book from Morag Hood, creator of the hilarious Colin and Lee, Carrot and Pea and I Am Bat.


Puffins take centre stage in this hiolarious knockabout!




Max Evans: Beyond The Odyssey

Published by Chicken House 5th April 2018


Elliot's life is spiralling out of control and his mum's health is worsening. The gods are determined to embark on the quest for the third chaos stone. But Elliot has heard of a mythical potion rumoured to cure all ills ... could he save his mum, even if it means sacrificing the fate of the world?


Max Evans turns in a perfect adventure that would have thrilled me to bits had it been around in the 1950s. I can't find anything bad to say about it - I loved it!



The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its twentieth 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.