Books Monthly children's books october 2016

EMail me about Books Monthly

Home page    Adult Fiction    Crime & Thrillers    SF & Fantasy    Children's Books    Nonfiction   Military History    Nostalgia    Jerry Dowlen


Paul Nolan: The Age of Bronze

Published by Mogzilla 22nd September 2016


When a boy and girl wake up within a stone circle, their minds are blank. They find themselves about to be sacrificed by a Bronze Age tribe. Then the mysterious Foreseer arrives and saves them. He tells them that before they can return home to their own time, they have to steal a relic from the Beaker tribe and restore the stone circle to its former glory. Will they succeed? Or will they be cast in bronze forever? Paul Nolan is the acclaimed author of Demons of Dunkirk and Agent Two Face.


It's not until the final few pages that we learn the real name of the heroine of Paul's thrilling time travel extravaganza - it's Daisy! We don't learn the real name of our hero, but it doesn't matter a bit. This is a thrilling adventure set in the Bronze Age, filled with all of the dangers and threats to life you would expect of such a savage time. Paul captures the essence of Bronze Age living with the added bonus of a mysterious force that's brought our hero and heroine back through time and at the same time erased their memories of when and where they both come from. Superb!



Sungju Lee: Every Falling Star

Published by Amulet 20th September 2016


Every Falling Star, the first book to portray contemporary North Korea to a young audience, is the intense memoir of a North Korean boy named Sungju who was forced at age twelve to live on the streets and fend for himself. To survive, Sungju creates a gang and lives by thieving, fighting, begging, and stealing rides on cargo trains. Sungju richly recreates his scabrous story, depicting what it was like for a boy alone to create a new family with his gang, "his brothers," to daily be hungry and to fear arrest, imprisonment, and even execution. This riveting memoir allows young readers to learn about other cultures where freedoms they take for granted do not exist.


This super book is simply perfect for introducing children to the reality of life for children living outside the comfort and comparative peace of the Western world. Thought-provoking and eye-opening at the same time.



Ruth Frances Long: A Darkness At The End

Published by The O'Brien Press 12th September 2016


The final book in the contemporary fantasy trilogy set in Dublin: and Dubh Linn, the fae world that exists in the cracks and corners of reality. Angels, fae demons and humans are drawn into lethal conflict as the fate of the world hangs in the balance in the final installment in this urban fantasy. Holly, the fae matriarch, tries to sieze the power of heaven for herself, while Izzy has lost her memory and Jinx is dead ... or is he? Confronted with ancient powers, sacrifice and treachery. War is looming within the ranks of the Sidhe. The angels and the demons begin to draw lines, daring each other to transgress and start another war ... 'fantasy lovers will adore the twists and turns … it’s wonderful to see Irish mythology in the hands of someone who knows what they’re talking about and resists presenting the reader with a twee view of the country' Inis Magazine about A Crack in Everything


My first experience of Ruth Frances Long's extraordinarily good children's fantasy set in the mysts of Irish antiquity. This is the perfect introduction to the mythology of the fae and the Sidhe for older children. Riveting!





You are here: Books Monthly » The Children's Books Page »


Editor's note: as always, a large number of children's titles have arrived at the end of the month and are too late for inclusion in this month's issue - these will all be included in the November issue. One, in particular, from Bloomsbury, Classic Nursery Rhymes illustrated by Dorothy M Wheeler, looks rather special...


Chris Riddell: Ottoline and the Purple Fox

Published by Macmillan Children's Books 22nd September 2016


Ottoline is back in Ottoline and the Purple Fox, a brand new adventure from Children's Laureate, Chris Riddell. Ottoline and Mr Munroe love puzzles, clues and mysteries. One day, they meet an enigmatic purple fox, who offers to take them on a night-time urban safari. The fox shows them all the hidden animals of the city and Ottoline makes notes on them in her field notebook. Mr Munroe is making notes too - on the anonymous poems he finds stuck to lampposts on their journey. Who is the secretive poet, and how can he and Ottoline help them mend their broken heart? Includes a free fold-up-and-keep fortune teller!


I'm a huge fan of Chris Riddell and the Ottoline series - this latest book, The Purple Fox, is a truly handsome book in hardback, and showcases the brilliance of Chris in a way that you don't get to appreciate in books by other authors that he's ilustrated. This is Chris's creation from start to finish.Ottoline is instantly recognisable in ever single picture - as is Mr Munroe, of course, and we're no nearer knowing what he is in this fourth outing than we were in the first - the images are simply superb and thought-provoking, and enhance the story in a quite entrancing way. Ottoline's adventures are extraordinary, as are the creatures and characters she meets along the way. There are a couple of other authors that produce stories in a similar fashion, but Chris Riddell is the best on all fronts. Out of this world! The previous three titles in this magnificent series are also available as beautifully illustrated paperbacks - including my favourite (until The Purple Fox, that is), which is Ottoline Goes To School... they are all brilliant and well worth collecting!



Ali Benjamin: The Things About Jellyfish

Published by Macmillan Children's Books 22nd September 2016


It's peculiar how no-words can be better than words. How silence can say more than noise, or a person's absence can occupy even more space than their presence did. Suzy is twelve when her best friend, Franny, drowns one summer at the beach. It takes two days for the news to reach Suzy, and it's not something that she can accept: Franny has always been a strong swimmer, from the day they met in swim class when they were just five. How can someone all of a sudden, just no longer be there? Suzy realizes that they must have got it wrong: Franny didn't just drown - she was stung by a poisonous jellyfish. This makes a lot more sense to Suzy's logical mind than a random drowning - cause: a jellyfish sting; effect: death. Suzy's journey to acceptance is quiet - she resolves to either say something important, or say nothing at all. But it's also bursting with bittersweet humour, heart-breaking honesty, big ideas and small details. The Thing About Jellyfish is an astonishing debut novel from Ali Benjamin, and is perfect for fans of Wonder, Counting By 7s and My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece.


Ali handles the concept of a child dealing with the death of a best friend with sentivity and wonder. A magical, thought-provoking journey through the stages of grief. Superb.


Rose Collins: The Night Before Christmas

Published by Nurserybox Books 7th December 2015


It was the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring,
Not even a … BEAR ?

Clement Clarke Moore's much loved poem is brought beautifully to life in this gorgeous picture book with a twist- as Santa visits a family of bears on Christmas Eve.

Share the Christmas magic and experience a whole new retelling of the timeless Christmas classic.

With beautifully illustrated pages, The Night Before Christmas is the perfect gift for any child.


On the face of it this looks like another beautifully illustrated version of the classic poem - but there are subtle differences, as Father Christmas delivers gifts to a family of Bears. Hilarious and original, the illustrations are wonderfully colourful and rich. An ideal Christmas gift for a discerning young reader.


William Ritter: Ghostly Echoes

Published by Algonquin Young Readers 26th September 2016


Jenny Cavanaugh, the ghostly lady of 926 Augur Lane, has enlisted the investigative services of her fellow residents to solve a decade-old murder—her own. Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, Detective R. F. Jackaby, dive into the cold case, starting with a search for Jenny’s fiancé, who went missing the night she died. But when a new, gruesome murder closely mirrors the events of ten years prior, Abigail and Jackaby realize that Jenny’s case isn’t so cold after all, and her killer may be far more dangerous than they suspected.

Fantasy and folklore mix with mad science as Abigail’s race to unravel the mystery leads her across the cold cobblestones of nineteenth-century New England, down to the mythical underworld, and deep into her colleagues’ grim histories to battle the most deadly foe she has ever faced.


There's It's easy to forget that the eastern states of the USA have a vibrant and fascinating Victorian history - this is, I think, the third or fourth in this series of adventures, and there are echoes of various British Victorian adventures, that's inevitable. The atmosphere is superb, and the characters are fantastic. I believe adults and older children alike will love this.

Moira Young: The Road To Ever After

Published by Macmillan Children's Books 20th October 2016


Davy David, an orphan, lives by his wits in the dead-end town of Brownvale. When a stray dog called George turns Davy's life upside down just days before Christmas, he sets in motion a chain of events which forces them to flee. A mischievous wind blows the two of them to a boarded-up museum on the outskirts of town where they meet the elderly recluse, Miss Flint. She has planned one last adventure before her time is up and hires the reluctant Davy and George to escort her. A magical adventure about an unlikely friendship and an unforgettable journey.


This is an absolutely delightful book, drawing you in to a magical adventure that awakens memories of stories by people such as E Nesbit. Truly magical.

Kyo Maclear: The Wish Tree (illus. Chris Turnham)

Published by Chronicle Books 27th September 2016


A truly touching and magic tale from an accomplished children's book author and an exciting debut illustrator. When Charles's brother and sister tell him there's no such thing as a wish tree, he and his trusty toboggan know better and they set out to find one. What they discover is that all you need to find a wish tree is a wish and some friends.


Beautifully illustrated and thought-provoking story - Charlie's search for a genuine wish tree takes him on a superb adventure that will capture the imaginations of young readers instantly.


Danielle Paige: Stealing Snow

Published by Bloomsbury Children's Books 6th October 2016


Seventeen-year-old Snow lives within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she doesn't belong there, but she has no memory of life outside, except for the strangest dreams. And then a mysterious, handsome man, an orderly in the hospital, opens a door - and Snow knows that she has to leave . She finds herself in icy Algid, her true home, with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai. As secret after secret is revealed, Snow discovers that she is on the run from a royal lineage she's destined to inherit, a father more powerful and ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change everything. Heroine or villain, queen or broken girl, frozen heart or true love, Snow must choose her fate. A wonderfully icy fantastical romance, with a strong heroine choosing her own destiny, Danielle Paige's irresistibly page-turning Snow Queen is like Maleficent and Frozen all grown up.


Modern children's fantasy in which Snow, a mental patient, is the heroine. How much of the adventure is real, and how much is created by Snow's mental state? That doesn't really matter - what matters is the pure fantasy, the adventures that Snow has, ostensibly having left the hospital. Absolutely brilliant.


Tom Percival: Little Legends The Magic Looking Glass & The Genie's Curse

Published by Macmillan Children's Books 8th September 2016


There's been a robbery in Tale Town! Someone has stolen a cutting from the magical Story Tree, and it's up to twins Hansel and Gretel to get it back. With the help of their new friend Wolfie, a not very big or very bad wolf, they discover a secret fortress in the forest, containing a Magic Looking Glass that promises to help them. But things are not always what they seem, especially when the Magic Looking Glass starts causing trouble! Can Wolfie and the twins find the Story Tree cutting and save the day, or will the Magic Looking Glass have the last laugh? The Magic Looking Glass is the fourth book in this brilliant new highly-illustrated series by Tom Percival, featuring all the fairy-tale characters you know and love having brand-new adventures!


Hansel and Gretel have forever been my favourite children's fairy story characters and here they are in their own series of fantastic adventures! Tom Percival's stories are magical and exciting, and the peppering of illustrations enhance the reading experience no end!


Gérard Lo Monaco: A Sea Voyage - A Pop-up story about all sorts of boats

Published by Thames & Hudson 29th September 2016


This inventive and beautifully produced pop-up book follows a couple and their small dog as they journey across the sea in a tiny sailing boat, encountering extraordinary boats from all around the world as they go. Gérard Lo Monaco is one of the world’s finest paper engineers, and this is reflected in the rich detail of the pop-up boats. The five Pantone colours give the book a contemporary feel with a touch of nostalgia that will appeal to children and adults alike.


The mechanisms of pop-up books are a complete mystery to me - this one is absolutely superb, and the "pop-ups" illustrate a terrific little story. Sheer magic!


Nanna Lambert: Peginoor

Published by Matador 28th August 2016


This is the story of a secret land called Peginoor, the land that lost objects travel to. Sometimes these objects are called to go because they are needed there, but sometimes they choose to go themselves because they feel unloved. Whilst staying with their grandparents, brother and sister Jack and Marcie find a strange code hidden on their grandad's allotment. This is the start of a fantastic journey which eventually leads them to the secret land of Peginoor itself. Peginoor turns out to be an amazing place filled with mystery, wisdom and resourcefulness - but is also a land where goodness and common sense are threatened by dark forces. Without realising it, the children find themselves in the midst of a battle, as it gradually starts to dawn on them that Peginoor is holding them both captive until they have found the object they're searching for...Peginoor is a story of surprises, bravery and learning. It will appeal to independent readers aged 9-11, or will suit being read aloud to children aged 7+.


Brilliant introduction to children's fantasy.


Kristina Stephenson: Molly Maybe and the Ghost Train

Published by Simon and Schuster 25th August 2016


Molly Maybe has a marvellous secret - she and her faithful sidekick, Waggy Burns, are the only ones who can travel to an amazing monster world which mirrors our own. Take a ride in the incredible mundervator with Molly and help her solve a crisis in Undermunder. There's a terrible smell in Smallsbury but Molly knows that it's not the drains! She ventures down into Undermunder and discovers three little monsters, who can't stop pumping out pony smells in fear. They've lost their kite and too scared of the ghastly ghost, the Ghoulie Gumpus to get it back. Will Molly be able to show them there's nothing to be scared of? Or is the Ghoulie Gumpus just too ghastly?


This and the following book have brilliant, really colourful illustrations, and tell wonderful stories of a world beneath in which terrific monsters create havoc until Molly and Waggy intervene. Absolutely superb! The character's names are hilarious!


Kristina Stephenson: Molly Maybe - Monster Mission

Published by Simon and Schuster 25th August 2016


Molly Maybe has a marvellous secret - she and her faithful sidekick, Waggy Burns, are the only ones who can travel to an amazing monster world which mirrors our own. In the brilliant, new look edition of the first book in the Molly Maybe series, take a ride in the incredible mundervator with Molly and help her solve a crisis in Undermunder!


Anna Bogie, illus: Rebecca Elliott: Happy Hooves - Yuk!

Published by Fat Fox 22nd September 2016


The Happy Hooves gang are back! In this latest brilliant story about our favourite farmyard animals, Happy Hooves, Yuk! follows the animals as they each get invited to Pig's house who has cooked up some interesting (and often fairly yuk) culinary delights!It's funny, engaging, and will give some food for thought on what children can cook up next!


A charming story full of strange recipes...


Camilla de la Bedoyere: On the Trail of the Whale

Published by Miles Kelly Publishing 1st August 2016


Super Search Adventure On the Trail of the Whale is a wonderful activity fact book for children aged 5+. Otto the octopus needs help - his best friend Hula the humpback whale is nowhere to be found. This brilliantly creative story takes children on an adventure through the oceans packed with intriguing information, memorable animal characters, rhyming riddles and fun activities. Richard Watson's beautiful, bright illustrations will keep children enthralled with inventive details to spot everywhere. An additional wow-factor is provided by the foldout cover flaps, which create a panoramic artwork scene and reveal clever spaces for readers to chart their progress through the story.


Two brilliant books from Camilla: I can't think of a single toddler who doesn't love lifting the flaps to find out what lies beneath! The illustrations are superb and the storyies are simply cute and engaging. Children's picture books were never like this when I was a youngster, and I don't remember the children's library books we used to lend being anywhere near as complex, either, back in the 1960s! Absolutely enthralling!


Camilla de la Bedoyere: Where's The Bear?

Published by Miles Kelly Publishing 1st August 2016


Super Search Adventure Where is the Bear? is a wonderful activity fact book for children aged 5+. Suki the rabbit needs help! She's on a mission to deliver a present to a bear named Ping - but who is he, and where does he live? This brilliantly creative story takes children on a round-the-world adventure packed with intriguing information, memorable animal characters, rhyming riddles and fun activities. Emma Levey's beautiful, bright illustrations will keep children enthralled with inventive details to spot everywhere. An additional wow-factor is provided by the foldout cover flaps, which create a panoramic artwork scene and reveal clever spaces for readers to chart their progress through the story.


I know the name of the author from Guy, who was regularly on Time Team - althoough she may be no relation, of course. That aside, this is a brilliant Where's Spot kind of adventure, introducing some terrific characters, with strategically placed lift-the-flaps, and the illustrations themselves are simply superb.


Floella Benjamin: Coming To England

Published by Macmillan Children's Books 6th O ctober2016


A twentieth-anniversary edition of Floella Benjamin's classic memoir. Includes a new foreword by the author and some additional historical information. Beautifully illustrated by Michael Frith. Floella Benjamin was just a young girl when she, her sister and two brothers arrived in England in 1960 to join their parents, whom they had not seen for fifteen months. They had left the island paradise of Trinidad to make a new home in London - part of a whole generation of West Indians who were encouraged to move to Britain and help rebuild the country after the Second World War. Reunited with their mother, Floella was too overwhelmed at first to care about the cold weather and the noise and dirt from the traffic. But, as her new life began, she was shocked and distressed by the rejection she experienced. She soon realized that the only way to survive was to work twice as hard and be twice as good as anyone else. This inspirational story is a powerful reminder that courage and determination can overcome adversity.


I've included Floella's autobiography on the children's books page simply because it's published by Macmillan Children's books. Floella's story is one of a larger than life persona, and will enthrall young and old alike. Inspirational stuff.



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