Wednesday 10 April 2024

CHILDREN'S BOOKS: Online safety, an island mystery and dinosaur danger

Meet a teenager finding it hard to fit in at school, set sail for some sea-soaked adventures, share fun with a 65million-year-old baby dinosaur, become well versed with a stunning collection of nature poems, and fall in love with a dog who looks after orphaned chimpanzees with a springtime selection of children’s books

Age 10 plus
Like a Girl
Rebecca Westcott

YOU can’t run and you can’t hide when you’re online... so where do you go? Rebecca Westcott, an author and a deputy head working with children and teenagers with autism and social, emotional and mental health problems, addresses some of the most pressing problems facing young people today in this powerful, honest and hard-hitting teen novel. Like a Girl speaks loudly to teenagers about finding the courage to be yourself in the face of online and in-school peer pressure in this sharp and perceptive, and yet grippingly entertaining and moving story starring a fourteen-year-old who finds it hard to fit in at school.

Eden McCoy is struggling at Woodford High. All she’s good at is running and she doesn’t even dare join the track team. Her priority is to stay in the shadows and avoid the Glossies, a ruthless clique of girls who use social media to punish and humiliate their targets, led by their queen Bea and her sidekick Mikki. But one day, Eden breaks her vow to stay unnoticed... she beats track star Mikki in a race. This bold move captures the attention of Bea who decides Eden needs to either prove her loyalty and become one of the Glossies... or suffer the consequences. And so The Testing begins. As Eden is challenged to play a cruel prank on another kid or have that same act inflicted on her, her will is pushed to the limit. The only thing keeping her afloat is an unexpected connection with a boy called Riley, a fellow runner who messages her online. But how deep does The Testing run? And how long until Eden breaks?

Inspired by research into real teen opinions about the risks and benefits of social media, Westcott explores the joy to be found in running, sports and exercise... as well as the rewards that come from a sense of community, real friendship and solidarity. Through the medium of storytelling, readers observe the different ways that girls can be ‘put in boxes’ and the pressures placed on them to act in a way that society or their peers expect of them. Leavened by a touching mother-daughter relationship at its heart, Like a Girl also delivers an empowering message about being true to yourself and seeking true friends. Top class teen reading...
(Scholastic, paperback, £8.99)

Age 9 plus
Mysteries at Sea: The Royal Jewel Plot
A.M. Howell

A MYSTERY at sea, a race against time, and a plot involving the King of England make for a thrilling, sea-salted adventure on the ocean wave in the second book of a twisting, turning and heart-pounding maritime series from one of middle-grade’s most exciting authors. Inspired by her own childhood travels on the ocean waves, including crossing the equator, sailing the Atlantic several times, and inching through the Panama Canal, award-winning author A.M. Howell sets sail in fine fashion with these gripping adventures which unravel mysteries aboard ships crossing the globe in the 1930s. It’s 1936 and Alice and Sonny, who are now part of the same family, are excited for their summer trip, sailing on the luxurious steam yacht, the Lady Rose. They’re even more excited when they find out the King of England is going to be on board too with his American friend Mrs Wallis Simpson! There’s also a precious jewel on the boat... a rare opal, kept in a tank protected by a poisonous octopus. Until one morning, Alice discovers that the opal and octopus are both missing. The search is on to retrieve the priceless gem, before the ship reaches its destination, and everyone on board finds themselves in serious trouble. As Alice and Sonny's investigations take them closer to the truth, they realise that everyone on the Lady Rose seems to have a secret, maybe even the King himself...

Set against the alluring backdrop of life at sea, and featuring real ships, historical figures and events, Howell brings the history of the period to vivid life in another wind-lashed story brimming with atmosphere, authentic detail and derring-do. With sparkling artwork by Marco Guadalupi, a plot involving secrets, searches and subterfuge, a captivating cast of characters, and Howell’s gift for breathless, fast-paced action, youngsters will be looking forward to the final port of call for this dazzling nautical adventure series
(Usborne Publishing, paperback, £7.99)

Age 9 plus
The Island at the Edge of Night
Lucy Strange

WHO doesn’t love a chilling, thrilling adventure, set on a remote, windswept island, and featuring a load of spooky secrets and menacing mysteries? The Island at the Edge of Night is the stunning new action novel from highly-acclaimed, Waterstones Prize-shortlisted author Lucy Strange whose gift is to bring us gorgeous but gritty Gothic tales threaded through with magical realism, and fizzing with surprises and suspense. In this stunning new adventure, inspired by the wild, otherworldly magic of the remote islands of Scotland, we meet Faye Fitzgerald who has been abandoned at a boarding school on a bleak, treeless and remote Scottish island. Faye soon discovers that she and the six other pupils are the first to attend Auk Island School and have been sent there for doing something wicked. It’s a desolate and battered place, seemingly at the world’s end, but what is it that Faye has done? She remembers so little of the night everything changed, the night that robbed her of being able to speak. Faye might be bold enough to explore the sinister mysteries of the prison-like island but has she the courage to face the secrets deep within herself? Strange is a master of atmospherics and this dazzling magical realist tale simmers and shimmers, and twists and turns against a truly spine-tingling and irresistible backdrop. With messages about family, friendship, love, facing your fears, and the healing power of nature, this green-themed odyssey is a must for middle-grade readers.
(Chicken House, paperback, £7.99)

Age 9 plus
Alex Neptune, Zombie Fighter
David Owen and George Ermos

INDIANA Jones meets Pirates of the Caribbean in another ultimate treasure-hunting, puzzle-solving ocean adventure from David Owen, the exciting author whose YA debut novel, Panther, was longlisted for the Carnegie Medal. Zombie Fighter is the spooky new adventure in Owen’s thrilling, all-action and fun-filled Alex Neptune series which was inspired by his self-confessed love for nail-biting heists, fantastical monsters and heartfelt friendships. At its core is Alex, the boy born with the power of the ocean in his hands and here we find that a creepy fog has rolled into Haven Bay which leads to Alex, and his friends Zoey and Anil, being ambushed by terrifying crab-riding zombies. The zombies are controlled by the evil spirit of Brineblood the pirate and the only weapon that can stop Brineblood’s zombie army is a powerful trident... but it has been broken into three pieces. Alex, Zoey and Anil must enter three deadly worlds, which have been magically trapped in bottles to retrieve the hidden pieces, all before the zombies can catch them. But with some penguins, an octopus and a frozen dragon on their side, how can they go wrong? With the power of the sea at the centre of a fast-flowing story, the weirdest cast of characters this side of the tide, eco themes that speak as loudly as the crashing of the waves in Haven Bay and the fantastic illustrations of George Ermos, this sparkling maritime odyssey is must reading for all adventure lovers!
(Usborne Publishing, paperback, £7.99)

Age 9 plus
Me and Aaron Ramsey
Manon Steffan Ros

WHEN an accident shatters a family’s footballing dreams, picking up the pieces proves to be harder than schoolboy Sam could ever have imagined. Welsh novelist, playwright and screenwriter, Manon Steffan Ros, Carnegie-winning author of The Blue Book of Nebo, pulls on our heartstrings again with this moving middle-grade story about family, misfortune and football. Sam and his dad both love football, which is always there for them however tough real life becomes. But when Dad’s dreams of football stardom go horribly wrong, Sam’s love for the Welsh footballing legend Aaron Ramsey becomes tangled with his troubled relationship with his father. With the one interest they share taken away from them, what will emerge from the complicated relationship between father and son? Ros’s insightful novel explores themes of family relationships, football, friendship, physical disability and illiteracy with warmth and understanding. An emotive story with hope at its heart.
(Firefly Press, paperback, £7.99)

Age 8 plus
Mission: Microraptor
Philip Kavvadias and Euan Cook

WHAT happens when you bring back a microraptor from extinction? The answer lies in this brilliantly funny new series from exciting debut author Philip Kavvadias who is not just passionate about getting kids reading, but actually knows how to do it! Billed as Jurassic Park meets Wimpy Kid, Mission: Microraptor is packed full of humour, action and adventure, and stars two twelve-year-old boys, a tiny flying dinosaur, and a seemingly mission impossible to keep her safe. Falling behind their classmates on a school trip to the Alps, Finn and Milo stumble on an egg buried in ice. Later that night, they are amazed when it hatches and a 65million-year-old baby is born! Artemis (Arty) is a microraptor, a small, winged dinosaur brought back from extinction. She’s amazing, what could possibly go wrong? But keeping her safe proves hard because wicked scientists will do anything to get their hands on her, and soon Finn and Milo must run for their lives in a dark, mysterious forest and with a squad of army-trained mercenaries searching for them... There are giggles and guffaws galore to enjoy from first page to last in this high-tech, fast-paced, eco-themed adventure which has a secret dinosaur at its heart, explores some real-life survival skills, and is brought to life by the atmospheric illustrations of Euan Cook.
(Chicken House, paperback, £7.99)

Age 7 plus
Outside In: Nature Poems
Daniel Thompson and Julia Murray

AS Spring starts to finally spring, encourage your children to connect with the joys of nature and the great outdoors with this stunning collection of nature poems. Outside In: Nature Poems is written by poet, storyteller, film maker and musician, Daniel Thompson, author of Being You: Poems of Positivity which was the 2023 City Kids Green Awards Winner and selected for the Reading Agency’s 2023 summer reading challenge. Thompson has been an Amazon bestseller in both humorous poetry for children and children’s philosophy, and is passionate about encouraging children to explore the philosophical principles behind self-belief and inner positivity. This new warm-hearted and endearing collection of 50 poems aims to spark a love of nature, bring calm and happiness and let the outside in. Beautifully illustrated by New Zealand artist Julia Murray, the poems are ideal for children to read alone or enjoy with the whole family. And with enchanting verse about the seasons, senses, wildlife, weather and the joys of mud, it’s the perfect gift book for children to treasure.
(Collins, hardback, £9.99)

Age 7 plus
Jack-Jack, A Dog in Africa
Ben Garrod and Charli Vince

ENJOY a dog’s eye view of his amazing world in the first book of delightfully cute and funny new fiction series written by Ben Garrod, Professor of Evolutionary Biology and Science Engagement at the University of East Anglia. Garrod was inspired to pen The Adventures of a Dog Called Jack-Jack after filming the hit BBC2 series, Baby Chimp Rescue in Africa, falling in love with Jack, and bringing him back to the UK where the two are now inseparable. So meet Jack-Jack who is not just any old dog... he’s the world’s coolest dog, looks after orphaned chimpanzees in Africa and he’s about to embark on his biggest adventure ever! Jack-Jack spends his days playing with baby chimps but when he meets Ben, he suddenly has more baths than ever (after previously none), waves goodbye to his pet fleas, and prepares to fly thousands of miles. I’ve never been on a lead or in a car, so what will an aeroplane be like? With the richly detailed and fun-filled black and white illustrations of Charli Vince on every page, Jack-Jack’s adventures as a snack-loving, exercise-shy hound like no other are set to win the hearts of all young (and old!) animal lovers!
(Zephyr, paperback, £7.99)

Age 7 plus
Island Vet: Pirates and Sea Monsters
Gill Lewis and Irina Avgustinovich

A NEW school and a new island home far away from the big city may sound daunting but when your mum’s a vet anything can happen! Acclaimed, award-winning children’s author and former vet Gill Lewis works her special brand of animal magic on the first book of an illustrated Island Vet series following Tia and her mum’s exciting new life on Gull Haven Island. Tia’s mum finds there are a lot of animals who need her help on the island and when she’s called away to help a sickly cow on a nearby island and gets trapped there in a storm, Tia has to step up and care for the animals staying in the surgery. It’s a big responsibility and then she has to deal with a mysterious creature that washes up on the shore after the storm. Their new life on the Haven Islands is clearly going to be full of adventures! Teamed with the beautifully emotive illustrations of Irina Avgustinovich, and published in Barrington Stoke’s trademark dyslexia-friendly format, this series is ideal for young animal lovers and is sure to delight readers of every age.
(Barrington Stoke, paperback, £7.99)

Age 5 plus
Porky Pies
Ross Montgomery and Marisa Morea

THE pig who cried wolf finally gets his comeuppance in a hilarious twist on two classic fairy tales from bestselling children’s author and master of comedy Ross Montgomery. Filled with Marisa Morea’s colourful and characterful illustrations, an addictive sense of fun, and messages about the consequences of getting caught in a lie, Porky Pies is the latest book in publisher Barrington Stoke’s super-readable Little Gems series which brings together leading authors and illustrators. Porky Pies is always telling lies, trying to terrify his brothers and sisters into believing that the Big Bad Wolf is back. But when the biggest fibber in the litter tries to plan his most daring prank yet, the joke is on him this time. So who will have the last laugh? This action-packed adventure, which delivers a witty and wonderful twist on The Three Little Pigs and The Boy Who Cried Wolf, includes some extra giggles inside the cover and comes with a host of clever design and finishing techniques, like dyslexia-friendly fonts, to create easy-to-read, first chapter books in a format ideal for little hands. A fun-filled escapade which – without needing to tell a lie – guarantees readers will have the last laugh!
(Barrington Stoke, paperback, £6.99)

Age 3 plus
A Midsummer Night’s Drama
Louie Stowell and Isobel Lundie

WELCOME to a drama like no other at The Glade Theatre... a special place where budding bards can hone their skills and discover that all the world’s a stage! A Midsummer Night’s Drama is the first picture book in a brilliantly creative Shakesbearean Tales series from the top team of children’s author Louie Stowell and talented illustrator Isobel Lundie. These charming books, based on Shakespeare’s plays, introduce a cast of lovable animal characters and offer an endearing introduction to the world of theatre. So meet star of the show Bill Bear who loves staging plays with his friends in their woodland theatre. Bill writes brilliant plays for The Glade Theatre and his latest play is a huge success, but then the problems start... Bill’s brain is so busy that he just can’t sleep! Can his animal friends come up with a plan to get him off to sleep? Stowell’s comical and clever story encapsulates the ups and downs of dealing with drama of every kind while Lundie’s atmospheric and richly detailed illustrations bring The Glade Theatre to life. Parents everywhere will recognise the drama of getting an over-excited little bear off to dreamland while the funny and reassuring story addresses some of the big emotions felt by little ones. The second act can’t come soon enough!
(Little Tiger Press, hardback, £12.99)

Age 3 plus
High Top: Sole Mates
Tom Lacey

KIDS will be laughing their socks off when they get their hands on the new adventure in a simply shoeper comedy series! The High Top books are the brainchild of Tom Lacey, the pseudonym of a group of creative ‘sole’ mates who, between them, have written and illustrated numerous bestselling books on both sides of the Atlantic. So welcome to Shoe Town where the residents are all footloose, and meet High Top, the sneaker who is everybody’s friend. High Top just LOVES love and he knows how to show it...  in increasingly creative ways! But when the irrepressible young sneaker embarks on a plan to ensure his friends are left in no doubt of his feelings for them, will the course of true love run smooth? Or will High Top be left with his laces in a knot? Giggles and guffaws are guaranteed as High Top’s hilarious antics land him in a knot with his footwear friends. With an irrepressibly energetic hero striding out on a series of madcap adventures, and a gallery of colourful shoes, pumps and boots keeping young readers on their toes, this series is destined to run and run! 
(Little Tiger Press, paperback, £7.99)

Age 3 plus
Heavy Metal Badger
Duncan Beedie

SOMETIMES you just have to let the music out! Creative author and illustrator Duncan Beedie has fun with a rock-and-roll-loving badger in this strumming, thrumming, thumping good picture book which is alive with the sound of music. Badger is ready to ROCK! The music inside him is ready to burst out. He just needs to find a band. But a recorder class isn’t right and neither is the church choir. And as for the marching band, he has to beat a hasty retreat. Will Badger ever find his musical tribe? Maybe, just maybe, it’s been there all along! With Beedie’s funny and playful illustrations keeping perfectly in tune with the beat of his rhyming story, all the laugh-out-loud chaos to enjoy as Badger looks for a musical home, and tons of rock-themed references, puns and visual jokes, this empowering rock anthem is the perfect celebration of identity, self-expression... and the sheer joy of music!
(Little Tiger Press, paperback, £7.99)

Age 2 plus
Addie Ant Goes on an Adventure
Maren Morris, Karina Argow
and Kelly Anne Dalton

JOIN an adventurous Ant as she leaves her cosy home in the Tomato Bed and steps out into the brave new world beyond the garden shed in a beautiful picture book that celebrates the glories of nature. Addie Ant Goes on an Adventure is co-authored by acclaimed US singer-songwriter Maren Morris and her best friend, former schoolteacher Karina Argow, and lavishly illustrated by Kelly Anne Dalton. Set in a vast and magical garden full of insect friends, vegetables, blooming flowers and the abundance of nature, this delightful story charts one little ant’s journey for independence and all the while learning when to ask for help. Addie Ant travels from one garden bed to another on her first solo adventure. But as she forges her own path, she gets lost along the way and finds help and advice from her trusted garden pals, Lewis Ladybug, Beatrix Butterfly, and Cleo Cricket, in finding her way back home. A visual and verbal celebration of friendship, this imaginative and entertaining book is a stunning collaboration between Morris and Argow, combining clever wordplay alongside themes of independence, friendship and inclusivity, and all brought to life by Dalton’s enchanting, full-colour illustrations. A dazzling book that does exactly what the authors aimed for... instils in children ‘a deep love for the world around them.’
(Chronicle Books, hardback, £13.99)

Age 2 plus
How Many Dinosaurs
Is Too Many?
Lou Peacock and Nicola Slater

‘One day, I got a dinosaur, but very soon I knew one dinosaur was not enough and so I wanted... two!’ 

MEET a riotous bunch of cheeky dinosaurs in an adorable cautionary tale about friendship, fun and counting to ten! Author Lou Peacock and illustrator Nicola Slater work their special magic on this colourful and comical picture book which comes with a jaunty rhyming text and bright, stylish artwork full of zingy neon detail. When a dinosaur comes to play, you’re sure to have lots of fun. But wouldn’t 2...3...4 ...or even 10 dinosaurs be better still? Or would they be too big, too messy and just a little bit too naughty? Perhaps one very special dinosaur is just perfect after all! Little ones will love watching the increasing chaos as each favourite dinosaur joins the party and with giggles galore guaranteed right through to the last page, and a free Stories Aloud QR code audio recording to enjoy, this is a dinosaur get-together your youngsters won’t want to miss!
(Nosy Crow, paperback, £7.99)

Age 2 plus
Jane Foster’s I Love Yellow
Jane Foster

I LOVE yellow! Yellow is the best! I have yellow shorts and a matching yellow vest! Add colour to your child’s life – and maybe even your own! – with this stylish and humorous board book celebration of all things yellow. Perfect for teaching little ones about colours, I Love Yellow is the creation of acclaimed artist and leading textile designer Jane Foster and with a rhyming text, adorable characters and sunshine-bright artwork, this eye-catching book is guaranteed to appeal to readers of all ages... whatever their favourite colour. Early learning fun that is perfect for sharing, and a stylish alternative to traditional first board books.
(Templar Publishing, board book, £7.99)

Tuesday 9 April 2024

The Revels

Stacey Thomas

‘I am no witch... I have not sold my soul to the Devil for powers. What I am has never openly been whispered of, yet it is enough that people would hang for it.’

IN 1645, England was a country torn apart by escalating tensions between Catholics and Protestants, and a bitter civil war pitting Parliamentary forces against the Royalists who supported King Charles I.

But just as deadly were the suspicions, fears and rumours that abounded about the evil powers of witchcraft. And in a land already notorious for its witch trials, one young man must carefully guard his dark secret... an ability to communicate with the dead.

Welcome to the thrilling and atmospheric world of 17th century England conjured up by debut historical novelist Stacey Thomas, an exciting new author who was awarded the Clare Mackintosh Scholarship for Black Writers and was one of the three winners of HarperCollins’s 2021 inaugural Killing It Competition for Undiscovered Writers. Thomas (pictured below), who was inspired to pen The Revels by her research into in King James I’s unhealthy obsession with witchcraft and demonology, adds an inventive twist, and an alluring thread of supernatural, to a period of history that was steeped in political upheaval, superstition and religious bigotry.

The result is a chilling and thrilling rollercoaster journey into the life and loves of aspiring young playwright Nicholas Pearce who is apprenticed to a former witch-hunter and faces the moral dilemma of heeding the voices of the dead... or ignoring them and failing to save other innocents.

When his half-brother Francis dies fighting for the Royalist cause – much to the dismay and chagrin of their wealthy merchant father – 17-year-old Nicholas Pearce is forced to give up his hopes of becoming a playwright and is instead apprenticed to assizes Judge William (Will) Percival.

Although witch-hunting was abolished by King James I nearly twenty years ago, there are still influential men who believe that women who seek too much independence, power and influence are witches and Parliament, which is currently waging war on King Charles, feels duty-bound to enforce England’s religious beliefs.

For Nicholas – now heir to the Pearce family fortune – the rising political tensions and the desire of the old witch-hunters to see off the Devil in his many forms, bring a danger that he has always tried to keep hidden... his gift of hearing the ‘almost musical’ voices of the dead. When the dead ‘sing,’ their refrain pulls at his insides as though he is ‘unplied yarn,’ achieved only through ‘knot magic,’ a power regarded as the most potent and abhorrent in witchcraft. It’s a gift that would see Nicholas hanged for witchcraft and so he must bear, unshared, the burden of the dead’s testimonies.

On a trip to the York Assizes, Judge Percival and Nicholas are hosted by the city’s Lord Mayor and his daughter Althamia, a strong-willed young woman who has an interest in healing and taxidermy, and has set her sights on becoming a physician, an ambition that leaves her wide open to accusations of witchcraft. As the spark between Nicholas and Althamia ignites, and Will Percival finally bows to the pressure to resume his old profession of witch-hunting, Nicholas cannot help but hear the terrible testimonies of the condemned witches. Will he find the courage to speak up and save innocent lives... even if it means putting himself in great danger? Like the ‘witch knots’ that bind together the strands of this gripping story, Thomas’s narrative weaves a dark and menacing road through the terrors and turbulence of an age in which a wrong word, a wrong ambition, or even being a member of the wrong sex, can condemn a woman – or man – to death.

Written in a lyrical prose that reflects the speech and language of the 17th century, The Revels explores how deeply-held religious beliefs fed into the fear of witchcraft... a fear that could quickly grow from mild suspicion to paranoia. Plunged into this all-consuming maelstrom is would-be playwright Nicholas whose theatrical brain can see the parallels between the stage dramas he knows and loves, and the more potent and perilous theatrics of showpiece witch trials.

Harbouring his own supernatural secrets, Nicholas is coerced by other, more powerful men into playing ‘a part’ in the persecution of innocents... one of whom could well be Althamia, the brave and ambitious woman he has grown to admire and love. With its fascinating backdrop, a cast of compelling characters, and a moral conundrum that will leave readers on the edge of their seats, Thomas’s debut has well and truly set the stage for one of this year’s most original historical novels.
(HQ, paperback, £9.99)

Monday 8 April 2024

The In Crowd

Charlotte Vassell

THE discovery of a woman’s body floating face down in the Thames is just the start of a police investigation that will open up two cold cases.

With a two-pronged missing persons mystery to solve – and the romantic frissons of a new relationship bringing a welcome distraction – Detective Inspector Caius Beauchamp will need all the help he can get from his trusty murder investigation team.

If you like your crime mysteries to have all the complex detective work and exquisitely drawn characters of Agatha Christie, but with an original and insightful voice, an acidly satirical edge, and a decidedly 21st century vibe, then treat yourself to the second of Charlotte Vassell’s fun, original and entertaining whodunit series.

And after the runaway success of her debut novel, The Other Half, Vassell (pictured below) delivers another gripping, high-energy police procedural mystery set within a London super-rich and powerful milieu in which only a chosen few born into staggering wealth can comfortably exist, and which is pretty much unimaginable to the ‘oiks’ who live on the other side of the class divide. It’s a tale of two worlds rubbing shoulders, full of wickedly incisive social commentary, plenty of twists and turns, and a cast of goodies and baddies that could only have been conjured up by a writer who also trained to tread the boards.

On the last Saturday in August, politicos, socialites and other members of the in crowd are trading tidbits of gossip and sips of Pimm’s under the tasteful bunting of a Richmond garden party. They would never guess that the police are just a stone’s throw away, pulling a body out of the river Thames.

A men’s rowing team discovered the body and the drowning appears to be a tragic accident until Detective Caius Beauchamp gets an unexpected tip. It seems the victim, Lynne Rodgers, had enemies in high places, so did being on the wrong side of them get her killed?

Many years before, the chief executive of a clothing manufacturer walked off with a multi-million dollar corporate retirement fund and disappeared without a trace. But finding Lynne’s body has reopened that cold case.

Meanwhile, Caius has his own evening at the theatre – and an auspicious meeting with beautiful young society milliner Calliope (Callie) Foster – turned upside down by the discovery of a dead body just a few seats away. Martin Hartley was an amateur sleuth who was investigating the mysterious disappearance two decades ago of Eliza Chapel, a 14-year-old student at a girls’ boarding school in Cornwall. It means a second cold case will have to be reopened.

As Caius – along with his chirpy fellow officers, DS Matt Cheung and DC Amy Noakes – investigates these parallel missing persons cases, he soon finds himself ensnared in the unexpected political machinations of a duke-in-waiting, and the fully expected bad behaviour of London’s rich and powerful upper class.

Vassell’s addictive murder mystery plunges readers into a world of haves and have nots as she explores some of high society’s dark and rancid corners whilst fearlessly puncturing the pretensions, entitlement and conceit of the British class system, and exquisitely nailing the faux manners and mores of the filthy rich. And what a clever, complex story of tangled secrets, privilege, excess and corruption this is, unfolding seamlessly through the sharpest writing and an entertaining blend of descriptive language, lively dialogue and an irresistible brand of sardonic humour.

Alternating between the perspectives of the thoroughly likeable and very moral Caius and the delightful new-girl-on-the block-Callie, The In Crowd is both caustically funny and refreshingly different, serving up familiar tropes like red herrings, intriguing suspects and plot twists with wit, style and moments of unexpected high emotion. Add on a team of charismatic detectives with a fine line in banter and you have a clever concoction of crime fiction with a side serving of satire!
(Faber & Faber, hardback, £16.99)

Sunday 7 April 2024

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Heather Morris

OUT of one of the worst periods of human history comes an inspirational story of love, hope and survival… a beacon of light amidst the dark ruins of the Holocaust.

For three years before his death in 2006, Lale Sokolov poured out his incredible and heartbreaking account of life and love in the Auschwitz concentration camp to New Zealand-born author Heather Morris… a tale of the best and worst of humanity, and one that he had kept hidden for 60 years.

It’s a story that Morris (pictured below) brought to the world in 2018 as The Tattooist of Auschwitz, a remarkable novel that has been loved by over 13 million readers across the world and is soon to be a major Sky Original TV series starring Harvey Keitel and Melanie Lynskey and starting on May 2. At its heart is Lale Sokolov (born Ludwig Eisenberg to Jewish parents in Slovakia) who was assigned to an unenviable but privileged job… the camp’s T├Ątowierer, the tattooist charged with marking his fellow prisoners with a number that they would carry on their arm forever, and which would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust.

And waiting in line one day in 1942 – terrified and shaking – was a young woman with beautiful, dark brown eyes who caused his heart ‘simultaneously to stop and begin beating for the first time.’

She was Gita Fuhrmannova, also from Slovakia, and she would become the love of Lale’s life, the two surviving against all odds to spend the rest of their lives together.

I tattooed a number on her arm, she tattooed her name on my heart, he later told Morris.

After Gita’s death in 2003, Lale became part of Morris’ family in Australia as he shared his haunting memories, and for 12 years his story existed as a screenplay but now it has been released as an extraordinarily moving novel, giving power and immediacy to real people and real events.

Lale was a courageous, determined and remarkable man who used his privileged position at the camp to help others… saving part of his extra rations to feed starving prisoners, employing his multi-lingual talents, and giving hope and strength where there was none.

When he entered the grim portals of Auschwitz on the first transport from Slovakia in the spring of 1942, Lale Sokolov was a well-dressed charmer, a ladies’ man who had freely offered himself to the Nazis to spare the rest of his family. He had no idea of the horrors that lay in wait. Lale soon realised that to survive he must do as he’s told and ‘always observe,’ and he made a vow to himself. ‘I will live to leave this place. I will walk out a free man. If there is hell, I will see these murderers burn in it.’

Strong and able, he was looked up to and looked out for by his fellow prisoners, and after a spell as assistant to Pepan, a French tattooist who mysteriously disappeared one day, he took over the position of T├Ątowierer, gaining extra rations and a room of his own. Death and degradation still remained only a heartbeat away but after falling in love with Gita, who stole his heart at first glance, Lale’s life was given new purpose. With the help of an SS guard, he managed to smuggle letters to Gita in the Birkenau women’s camp and he traded goods with local villagers to buy more rations for those in need.

Through struggle and suffering, both Lale and Gita survived but when the Nazis began shipping prisoners out of Auschwitz in 1945, Gita disappeared without a trace. However, Lale never lost hope and made his way to Bratislava, a crossing place for concentration camp survivors on their way back to Czechoslovakia. He was rewarded when they met by chance in the middle of a street and they married in October 1945, setting up home in Bratislava where Lale launched a flourishing import business. But after being imprisoned by the government in 1948 for sending financial support to establish a Jewish state in Israel, Lale escaped and he and Gita fled to a new life in Melbourne where their son Gary was born in 1961.

Lale’s harrowing but unforgettable story is one of beauty and brutality, life and death, humanity and inhumanity, but through it all the flame of hope never dies. It is the beacon that sees him through the very worst of times and gives light to the rest of his days. An extraordinary story of an extraordinary love…
(Zaffre, paperback, £9.99)

Wednesday 3 April 2024

CHILDREN'S BOOKS: Magical gargoyles, funny friendships and double drama

Enjoy a heart-stopping adventure in the weird world of gargoyles, marvel at some of nature’s fascinating friendships, meet a drama-loving boy torn between school and home, and join two super sleuths for chaos, comedy and calamities with a sparkling springtime collection 

Age 9 plus
Gargoyles: Guardians of the Source
Tamsin Mori

‘Magic is neither good, nor bad – it simply multiplies the dreams you feed it. Be careful what you wish for...’

GET ready to make your own magic with a boy called Callen and a feisty gargoyle named Zariel as Tamsin Mori – who won the hearts of readers with her mesmerising Weather Weaver debut series – returns with another heart-stopping adventure. Guardians of the Source is the first of a simply magical new series which blends realism with fun, fantasy, chills and thrills, and comes from the talented Mori whose writing is inspired by fabulous myths and legends of her mother’s native Shetland Islands. At the centre of this brilliantly entertaining and original story is eleven-year-old Callen whose Dad has always been secretive about his past. Even so, when the family have to move into Gargoyle’s Rest, his father’s mysterious childhood home, the last thing Callen expects is a boarded-up mansion covered in gargoyles.

Dad says all the house needs is ‘a bit of energy’ to bring it back to life but it’s enormous, the doors are nailed shut and the gardens are overgrown. What’s more, this crumbling mansion isn’t what it first appears to be and soon its long-forgotten magic starts returning. And when a disgruntled gargoyle wakes up in front of him, Callen must befriend Zariel and earn her trust before it’s too late because a dark threat is growing in the shadows and only a Gargoyle Guardian can stop it. Packed with magical realism, danger and fast-paced action, the first of these wild and wonderfully imagined Gargoyles stories delivers excitement and adventure all the way, but Mori also gently explores universal themes like protecting the planet, and the importance of family, friendship, remaining true to yourself. Beautifully written, and wrapped up in the magic of our precious natural world, this is an unmissable new series.
(UCLan Publishing, paperback, £8.99)

Age 10 plus
Moving Up
Christian Foley

MOVING up from primary to secondary school can be a daunting experience for many kids. The transition from being the bosses of the benches to the youngest in a massive playground can be a tough rite of passage. Add on the fact that classrooms are bigger and older students look like adults, the piles of homework, stressful exams and complicated friendships, and there could be some misgivings ahead. But whether you’re heading to secondary school later this year, or you've already started and are still adjusting, Moving Up – written by Christian Foley, educator, poet-in-residence, musician and all-round creative – is here to help you on your journey. From choosing your new school and facing your first day, right through to your final exams and your leaving party or prom, this handy guide book will be the perfect companion for transitioning to secondary, and help to make you feel confident, build strong friendships, achieve great things and generally be the greatest that you can be. Topics covered include leaving primary school, going to big school, getting lost, homework, exams, new challenges, older kids, friendships, relationships, bullying and social media. The perfect guide to a new world of learning.
(Scholastic, paperback, £7.99)

Age 9 plus
Nature’s Fascinating Friendships
Mike Hills and Kerry Hyndman

THERE'S teamwork at every turn in this doubly delightful visual and verbal exploration of how animals, plants and microscopic organisms develop fascinating friendships to survive and thrive in the natural world. Nature’s Fascinating Friendships is the stunning creation of writer and journalist Mike Hills and his map-maker and illustrator partner Kerry Hyndman who live on the west coast of Scotland with their daughter, and together enjoy exploring islands, lochs and mountains, and discovering fairy bridges and waterfalls. Full of fascinating facts and extraordinary artwork, the book takes readers on a colourful and informative journey to show the natural world in all its glory and demonstrate how plants and animals work together. Did you know pom pom crabs wear sea anemones as boxing gloves to fight off enemies, that greater honeybirds guide humans to hidden beehives and that bats use pitcher plants as sleeping bags? From ravens and wolves to trees and fungi, youngsters learn how these unlikely alliances are formed and find out all the incredible, funny, weird and disgusting reasons why these partnerships work. Every page and spread is beautifully illustrated by Hyndman, who says she loves making pictures that spark a sense of wonder in the natural world, while Hills packs in lots of intriguing and fun facts that are guaranteed to both surprise and inspire young readers. Nature at its most magnificent!
(Faber Children’s Books, hardback, £14.99)

Age 8 plus
Bigg School: Double Drama
Lisa Williamson and Jess Bradley

MOVING from primary to secondary school is a big leap for youngsters and brings with it many fears and anxieties, and highs and lows. It’s a topic that award-winning author Lisa Williamson tackles with warmth, enthusiasm, humour and empathy in the second book of her Bigg School series which follows a group of children starting life at the Henry Bigg Academy. Life isn’t easy for Dan Littleton since starting at the academy even though it appears that nothing much bothers him. He has made friends with a big group of lads, enjoys playing on his Xbox and likes teasing his desk neighbour Lola. But at home, his mum is chronically ill, his dad works all the hours he can and his little twin sisters Nia and Nelly drive him up the wall. Dan is constantly torn between his school life and being needed at home and worst of all, his mates are starting to notice. So when he wins the coveted part in the school’s production of The Wizard of Oz, he is thrilled. Finally, he has found a subject he really loves and seems to be really good at but it isn't long before his home and school life clash again and he must make some hard decisions if he’s to follow his heart. With Jess Bradley’s emotive illustrations expressing the conflicted inner world and worries of mixed-up Dan, this funny, relatable, tender and sometimes painfully honest story is a moving reflection of an ordinary youngster navigating friendships, home life and the ups and downs of growing up. Entertainment and reassurance in one perfectly created book.
(Guppy Books, paperback, £7.99)

Age 9 plus
Podkin and the Singing Spear
Kieran Larwood

KINSHIP comes first in the seventh stunning adventure in master storyteller Kieran Larwood’s The World of Podkin One-Ear, a spectacular rabbit world fantasy series which has readers longing for each new book as it appears. And it’s pleasing to report that Podkin and the Singing Spear once more delivers all those ingredients that children love... adventure, magic, danger, thrills and friendship. It’s two years since the Battle of Sparrowfast and Podkin, son of a rabbitkind warrior chieftain, is now Keeper of the Gifts... a tremendously important job but just a tiny bit boring. It doesn’t help that there are still three gifts missing and Podkin can’t stop himself from thinking about that. So when the Godseye Mirror begins to shimmer and shift revealing a motley crew of travellers is approaching, Podkin sees it as a sign that his world is about to be upended all over again. And it’s not long before Podkin and Uki finally meet... united in their hatred for the world of Scramashank, they have much in common. But what will these young warriors make of each other, and can they work together to unite the forces of good against terrible evil? In a restless world still under threat, we encounter the terrifying Crowskins who have hold of the Singing Spear, find out whether two rival clans will lay down their differences, and how kinship matters more than ever. Written with Larwood’s unique storytelling magic, and encompassing a breathtakingly imagined world full of memorable rabbit characters, this is middle grade fiction at its very best.
(Faber Children’s Books, paperback, £7.99)

Age 9 plus
Animal All-Stars
Clare Balding and The Boy Fitz Hammond

ON your marks, get set, go! Join the animal kingdom as some of their most amazing creatures go head-to-head in an all-stars competition. Children’s author, TV presenter and commentator Clare Balding teams up with illustrator The Boy Fitz Hammond to bring youngsters this hilarious guide through some incredible animal facts and figures. Who would win in a race... the Australian tiger beetle or the peregrine falcon? Who is the strongest... the extraordinary ant or the grumpy gorilla? Who has the best superpower... the headless cockroach or the jet-powered squid? From speed, agility and strength to hidden skills, such as problem-solving, endurance and super-sensory prowess, witness these Animal All-Stars compete to become champions in their field. Animal All-Stars is full of facts, stats and world records, all brought to life by rib-tickling illustrations and is the perfect gift for sport and animal lovers. So what are you waiting for... let the Games begin!
(‎Wren & Rook, paperback, £10.99)

Age 7 plus
Agents of S.U.I.T: From Badger to Worse
John Patrick Green, Christopher Hastings and Pat Lewis

SOUND the horn and clear the way because the Agents of S.U.I.T. are back for another side-splitting, super-sleuthing adventure! From Badger to Worse is the second book in a hilarious, full-colour graphic novel series from John Patrick Green – creator of the much-loved InvestiGators adventures – along with co-writer Christopher Hastings and illustrator Pat Lewis. Packed with fast-paced action, giggles on every page and a simply adorable bunch of animal characters, these stories are ideal for your young mischief-makers and reluctant readers. Here we join Bongo and Marsha, the super-spy Badgers (better known as the B-Team), who are on the case... and way over-budget! When S.U.I.T. (Special Undercover Investigation Teams) realises just how much money the Badgers waste with their gadgets, spy vehicles and custom toys, they are sent to Bora Bora to investigate a case the old-fashioned way. The bees – that’s ‘bee-ee-ee’ like the insect – who run the resort are hiding something under the tropical sands, and Marsha and Bongo are just the bumbling agents to crack this pineapple-flavoured case wide open. It’s time for the B-Team to show why they are so un-Blievably B-loved! If corny one-liners, chaos, comedy and calamities are your child’s idea of reading heaven, then this high-energy daffy detective series is the perfect gift book!
(Macmillan Children’s Books, hardback, £8.99)

Age 7 plus
Make Art with Nature
Pippa Pixley

CALLING all young artists and nature explorers... author and artist Pippa Pixley wants to put you in the picture! Pixley, whose work is inspired by nature, works her creative magic on this beautiful, hands-on book which shows children how to make amazing art with materials found in nature. Art through nature encourages children to explore outside and find natural materials to make art. Youngsters learn how to make incredible pieces of art using rocks, wood, berries, flowers, and leaves in this imaginative nature craft book. Find out how the earth beneath your feet can be used to make paints and pastels, and how flowers can be repurposed to create inks. Learn how to pour paint on to a canvas, how to put pencil to paper and draw, how bits of old paper can make a beautiful collage, and how different mediums can come together to create incredible prints through nature. A clear layout is divided into different art forms including drawing, collaging, painting and printing, so children can easily find the section they are looking for. Pixley also takes youngsters into the outdoors and shows them a wide range of artistic techniques from understanding basic colour theory to creating texture, movement and fluidity in their own work. Children will love learning how to master different art forms but also how to make their own art supplies whilst getting outside and exploring nature. And with easy-to-follow instructions and plenty of tips and techniques on how to draw, paint, print and collage, this is art with an outdoor flavour!
(DK Children’s Books, hardback, £14.99)

Age 7 plus
Looshkin: Honk if You See It!
Jamie Smart

YOUNGSTERS will be grinning and guffawing from first page to last with the wildest, craziest cat ever in the third turbo-charged book in comic genius Jamie Smart’s laugh-out-loud Looshkin comic-strip adventure series. Smart, one of the shining stars of a partnership between David Fickling Books and The Phoenix comic, is the extraordinarily talented illustrator behind the vibrant comic-strip Bunny vs Monkey books and now loopy Looshkin, the wonderfully accident-prone cat, is causing a fresh wave of laughter. You may think that your cat is mad, but it has got nothing on Looshkin! Here we meet up again with the maddest cat in the world as he defeats vampires with chicken nuggets, accidentally turns into a duck, becomes a high-flying entrepreneur and gets caught in a time warp... sometimes all at the same time! The result is an explosion of pure comic comedy joy. Guaranteed to make readers snort with laughter and packed with Smart’s ingenious illustrations, these manic, high-energy stories deliver a cat basket of furry sniggers and are ideal for fidgety readers who like their books to come with plenty of bold and busy pictures. Cat-astrophic cat antics at a stroke for your action kids!
(David Fickling Books, paperback, £9.99)

Age 5 plus
Ivy Newt and the Swamp Dragons
Derek Keilty and Madga Brol

ENTER the magical world of Miracula... and discover a truly bewitching adventure! Master storyteller Derek Keilty from Belfast weaves his world-building wonders in the third all-action adventure of his enchanting Ivy Newt chapter book series which stars an unstoppable and lovable young witch, and her shape-shifting familiar, a skinny grey wolf called Tom. Highly illustrated throughout by Polish-born Madga Brol, this exciting and entertaining adventure series is perfect for sharing or as a first reading book. Ivy Newt’s parents are the King and Queen of the Sand Witches and in this new adventure, Gran’s magic bubble bath accidentally creates pesky Ivy and Tom lookalikes who are intent on some serious mischief! All too soon, they have made dangerous doubles of the swamp dragons who launch a fiery attack on Miracula. Can the real Ivy and Tom stop them before everything goes up in smoke? Get ready for lots of laughs, pages of fast-paced action, a cast of superbly imagined characters, and themes of justice, helping each other, standing up to bullies and environmental awareness. Add on the extra zing and zest of Brol’s comical illustrations to enhance the atmosphere of wizardry, peril and fun, and you have the perfect book to launch youngsters into a lifetime of reading enjoyment.
(Scallywag Press, paperback, £7.99)

Age 4 plus
Tell Me About: Space
Tell Me About: Planet Earth
Emily Dodd and Chorkung

YOU'RE never too young to start learning about science! Little readers with curious minds will love getting to grips with some big science concepts in these clever and entertaining books from the book boffins at Templar Publishing. So add extra fuel to their knowledge with a fun exploration of space. Did you know that planet Earth spins like a spinning top, or that our Moon isn’t the only moon in the sky? 

And did you know that stars glow because they are burning really hot? And while we’re out in space, let’s also explore planet Earth! Did you know that water on planet Earth can turn into an invisible gas, that our Moon makes the ocean move, and that Earth is made from moving puzzle pieces? Space, and our own planet Earth, are pretty amazing so sit back and let expert scientist and CBeebies writer Emily Dodd tell you all about them. 

With bite-sized text, facts to make you say wow, and easy-to-understand explanations, big science topics are delivered in just the right size for readers aged four and over in these two fascinating books. Brilliantly illustrated by Chorkung, the books are ideal for readers who are starting to discover just how amazing the world is!
(Templar Publishing, hardback, £9.99 each)

Age 3 plus
Detective CATZ and the Missing Nut
Marjoke Henrichs

CATZ has all the gear he needs to be an ace detective... but will that be enough to find his friend’s most prized possession? Artist and theatre designer Marjoke Henrichs, whose sparkling debut picture book, No! Said Rabbit, was shortlisted for the Booktrust Storytime Prize, is back to steal our hearts with another beautifully created tale full of youthful joy, inspirational messages and exquisite illustrations. Catz is determined to prove himself as a detective and to find his friend Flossy the squirrel’s prize possession...  her biggest and best nut. But when Catz fails to find it, he also fails to notice all the good he has done along the way. And luckily our hero does not give up. Cheered on by his friends, a combination of new evidence and new determination enable him to focus and finally fulfil his dream! With its confidence-boosting storyline, and reminders of the rewards of patience and the power of kindness, little ones learn that being mindful of, and caring for, other people is just as important as personal success. And in her now trademark style, Henrichs brings humour to both her words and a gallery of lively, expressive and gorgeously colourful illustrations, creating an uplifting and exquisitely told story. 
(Scallywag Press, hardback, £12.99) 

Age 3 plus
When I Feel Brave
Britta Teckentrup

‘I am scared. I’m feeling numb. I am full of fear. What’s to come?’ 

AFTER her exploration of anger and rage in enchanting picture book, When I See Red, prolific children’s books author and illustrator Britta Teckentrup sets her perfectly honed sights on bravery and its constant companion, fear. Employing her trademark brand of wisdom, creativity and sensitivity, Teckentrup looks at what it means to be brave. Filled with evocative collage illustrations and dynamically positioned type, this new book features a young girl wandering through a forest and being startled by a bear. At first the bear is terrifying... it is huge and unknown but, as the girl moves through the forest, she becomes the bear’s companion and, by the time they reach the end of the forest, she is its friend. With a beautifully imagined narrative, and a gallery of stunning, atmospheric illustrations adding extra piquancy and power to the story, this gorgeous book offers important insights into the nature of fear, helps young readers understand why things are scary, and cleverly reveals the satisfaction to be gained from making friends with the very things that make them feel afraid. Picture book perfection.
(Prestel, hardback, 12.99)

Age 3 plus
The Library Mouse
Frances Tosdevin and Sophia O'Connor

DREAM team Frances Tosdevin and Sophia O'Connor – whose wonderfully descriptive and atmospheric The Bear and her Book series won hearts and minds – return with an adorable new picture book to inspire a new generation of readers. Star of the show is a little mouse called Quill who is a dreamer. He longs to write stories and share them with children in his beloved library but getting his words noticed seems impossible for such a small creature. Can he and his spider friend, Leggsy, find a way to make his voice stand out from the crowd... or will Quill’s stories remain forever unheard? Author Tosdevin’s beautifully emotive and lyrical rhyming story celebrates the power of words and books, and inspires everyone to write their own special story in their own words. Add on O’Connor’s gallery of stunning, hand-drawn illustrations, colourfully painted in loose, tonal brush strokes, and this is a journey of perfectly written discovery guaranteed to delight all budding young authors!
(UCLan Publishing, paperback, £7.99)

Age 3 plus
The Girl and the Mermaid
Hollie Hughes and Sarah Massini

MARVEL at the exquisite combination of pictures, words and imagination in this beautiful picture book from the bestselling creators of The Girl and the Dinosaur. Author Hollie Hughes and illustrator Sarah Massini work their special magic on The Girl and the Mermaid, an instant classic featuring an inspirational underwater adventure and a moving homage to the beauty and power of memory.  Alina and her granny live in a lighthouse by the sea... a home filled with the warmth of Granny’s magical stories. But Alina is worried. Granny’s memories and stories are starting to fade away, and she doesn’t know how to bring them back. Then one day, Alina meets a mermaid on the rocks near the lighthouse and she’s swept into a magical deep-sea adventure that will change everything. With Hughes’ rhyming narrative and Massini’s spectacular artwork, this is a gift book for all the family to enjoy.
(Bloomsbury Children’s Books, hardback, £12.99)

Age 2 plus
A Little World of Ants
Cara Rooney

LITTLE ones will be flipping and flapping with delight when they turn the pages of this busy and beautiful picture book from prize-winning debut talent Cara Rooney. An author and illustrator whose work portrays her own fascination for the natural world and childlike curiosity, Rooney explores the life of ants in the most colourful, vibrant and hands-on way. So get ready to meet some adorable ants in this entertaining lift-the-flap adventure which uses simple language and charming illustrations full of comical detail to tell the story. Ideal for encouraging exploration and a deeper understanding of these intriguing insects, A Little World of Ants is full of imaginative storytelling and pictures, and intriguing flaps, and is sure to be an instant hit with young children. The ideal gift for any nature-obsessed youngster who loves the amazing world of minibeasts.
(Two Hoots, hardback, £12.99)

Age 2 plus
Night Flight
Katie Cottle

LIGHT up your child’s story time with this breathtakingly beautiful and inspirational picture book which puts the wonderful world of wildlife at centre stage. Night Flight is the creation of Katie Cottle, a freelance illustrator and author who enjoys telling stories through drawing and finds her inspiration in nature. When Ellie moves from her quiet village to a bustling city, she finds that the many different birds she loves to watch are missing. She stares out of her window and searches the skies on walks but they are nowhere to be found. Then one night, she is visited by a giant starling which asks for her help. The birds are lost because of the shimmering glow from the city’s bright lights. Can Ellie help the birds find their way home? Using a palette of exquisite and earthy colours, Cottle reminds us of the harm to inflicted on birds by light pollution, and encourages youngsters to use their voice to help and preserve local wildlife. An empowering tale for all young eco-warriors.
(Puffin, paperback, £7.99)

Age 3 plus
Science Words for Little People:
Our Bodies & Coding
Helen Mortimer and Cristina Trapanese

YOU can rely on Oxford University Press to engage and entertain youngsters with brilliant books like this Science Words for Little People series which makes learning both friendly and inspirational. The books aim to build children’s confidence with vocabulary and ideas around various topics, and provide a foundation for learning in a way that feels good. Written by Helen Mortimer and illustrated by Cristina Trapanese, the same winning team that brought us Big Words for Little People, the books are special not just because they focus on science subjects in a child-friendly way, but because the Oxford book boffins pack them with educational goodness that helps children develop and grow. In Our Bodies, little ones will love exploring a day at the swimming pool and learning all about the human body from their head right down to their toes! 

From bones to brain, and from muscles to senses, there are all the words here that young children need to be able to explore the science of the body confidently. And in Coding, youngsters will love learning all about coding through familiar games and activities. From sequencing to puzzles, and from chain reactions to debugging and talking in code, little ones will learn all the words they need to be able to explore the science of coding. Filled with colour, fun and creativity, these super-clever books are specially designed to introduce children to the world of science and science-related vocabulary, giving them key words to talk about the different topics. Published in sturdy hardback, packed with fun characters, engaging questions and activities, and Trapanese’s playful artwork, the books are the perfect size and shape for reading together whilst exploring and enjoying the different concepts of science.
(Oxford University Press, hardback, £5.99 each)