Books Monthly children's books august 2016

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Camilla Reid: Lulu And The Noisy Baby

Published by Bloomsbury 11th August 2016


Lulu is the perfect character to introduce preschoolers to new experiences and here she is welcoming her new noisy baby brother. With an accessible, warm and reassuring text and interactive flaps to lift on every page, Lulu and the Noisy Baby offers a gentle introduction to the arrival of a new baby through the eyes of the older sibling Popular, trusted and reassuring, the Lulu picture, novelty and board books make the perfect companion for inquisitive little minds.


This super book is simply perfect for introducing preschool children to the idea of having a baby sister or brother - beautifully illustrated, full of fun, terrific!



Yasmeen Ismail: Nothing!

Published by Bloomsbury 11th August 2016


Mummy and Lila are going to visit Grandpa, but Lila is busy in her own imaginative world. Whenever Mummy asks her what she is doing, she always says, "Nothing!" Only the reader is allowed in to her colourful, crazy, creative world where she is wrestling an octopus, or racing along in a winged chariot, or flying with birds over a noisy jungle. But Grandpa has a plan to join Lila in her secret world. After all, playing is even more fun when you play together! Bursting with energy and colour, this is a joyous celebration of the imagination and creativity that will speak to child and adult alike. Yasmeen Ismail won the V&A Illustration Award 2014 and has been shortlisted for the Waterstone's Children's Book Prize. I'm a Girl! has been nominated for the Kate Greenaway Award.


I've reviewed a few of Yasmeen's books in Books Monthly in the past and loved them all - this one isno exception, it's a funny, charming, exciting story about a little girl who likes nothing better than to make her own entertainment and imagine herself into thrilling adventures. Superb!






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Cico Kidz: Let's Get Crafty With Cardboard & Paint

Published by Cico Kidz July 14th 2016


25 easy-to-achieve cardboard crafts for parents to make at home with children aged 2 and over. These fun, colourful crafts are designed to bring out a young child's creative side. The inventive ideas include a super space rocket, colourful rainstick and cardboard castle. The emphasis is on teamwork, with adults helping with the tricky steps, such as cutting out, and the young children doing the fun and messy parts, such as gluing, painting and decorating. As well as being enjoyable, these cardboard crafts will help to prepare children for school by developing their fine motor skills and encouraging them to concentrate on a task and complete it. The creative ideas will spark a child s imagination and for both parent and child there will be great rewards in finishing a project. Best of all, getting crafty means enjoying some fun-and messy- time together!


As I'm sitting writing this it's thirty degrees here in North Norfolk and the schools haven't yet broken up for the summer holidays... very soon, Mums and Dads will need to find ways of keeping their children entertained - Cico Books have the answer with this superbly creative book, a follow up to their equally brilliant Let's Get Crafty With Paper and Glue... Absolutely superb!


Dorling Kindersley: Lego Star Wars - Build Your Own Adventure

Published by Dorling Kindersley 1st August 2016


LEGO® Star Wars™ Build your own Adventure combines more than 50 inspirational LEGO ideas for building with enthralling story starters. Get inspired to build, then play out your own adventures using your LEGO bricks. Comes with a rebel pilot minifigure and bricks to build an exclusive Y-wing starfighter model that features in the book. From a podrace on Tatooine to a jailbreak on Bespin each chapter of LEGO Star Wars Build your own Adventure is packed with inspirational model ideas ideal for all ages and building abilities, with a mix of easy, medium and harder models.


With Star Wars now on a firmly permanent footing, including a new trilogy as well as standalone films in the offing, Lego Star Wars was never so popular as now. I cannot think of a single bad thing to say about Lego, and the combination of Lego and Star Wars is a win-win for me. Plenty of parts, loads of suggestions for what to create, and a minifugure thrown in for good measure - this is educational, exciting, adventurous, superb entertainment!


Dorling Kindersley: The Big NOISY Book of Things That Go

Published by Dorling Kindersley 1st July 2016


Packed with trucks, cars, ships, and planes DK's The Big Noisy Book of Things That Go is filled with amazing facts for young children. Discover every type of transport imaginable in this fun, informative visual guide, from trucks and diggers to aeroplanes and trains, kids will find out all about how things go on the road, at sea and in the air. The annotated high-resolution photographs show them in stunning detail everything there is to know about these vehicles. Including the latest breakthroughs in the world of transport, DK's The Big Noisy Book of Things That Go is the perfect book for any child who has been fascinated by any type of vehicle.


There's one very thick page, i.e. the front cover, and several pages of brilliantly illustrated vehicles and things that move... That one thick page is a bit of a disappointment, however, as it houses the mechanism that makes the noise when you press the button on the front bottom right corner. The illustrations and the information inside will delight children, they're informative, fun and exciting. However, the noise it makes is a little limited for such a big, thick page...

Geraldine Krasinski: Touch and Feel Baby Animals

Published by Twirl 30th August 2016


Get ready for a multisensory treat! Beginning readers can run their fingers through the fleece of a woolly lamb, touch the soft fur of a baby polar bear and even feel the smooth shell of a baby turtle. With textures on every colourful spread, this book will keep children busy learning through touch. What s more, they will enjoy lifting the flaps to find out all about their favourite baby animals. Which baby animals hatch from eggs? What do they eat? This and much more is in this fact-filled book and texture-rich book, just right for little eyes and hands!


This is an absolutely delightful book, full of textures which will enrich baby's tactile experiences instantly - the pictures are simply charming, and the look and feel of the book is quite superb.


Claire Fayers: The Accidental Pirates - Voyage to Magical North

Published by Macmillan Children's Books 30th June 2016


Twelve-year-old Brine Seaborne is a girl with a past . . . if only she could remember what it is. Found alone in a rowboat as a child, clutching a shard of the rare starshell needed for spell-casting, she's spent every day since housekeeping for an irritable magician and his obnoxious apprentice, Peter. But everything changes when Brine and Peter accidentally break the magician's starshell and need to flee the island. Lost at sea, they blunder into the path of the legendary pirate ship the Onion. Before you can say 'pieces of eight,' they're up to their necks in the pirates' quest to find Magical North, a place so shrouded in secrets and myth that most people don't even think it exists. If Brine is lucky, she may find out who her parents are and why they sent her out to sea. And if she's unlucky, everyone on the ship will be eaten by sea monsters. It really could go either way.


There are two things that every child loves when it comes to stories: dinosaurs... and pirates. This is a superbly crafted, hugely enjoyable pirate adventure, and you can't help but invest in the plight of Brine and Peter... great fun!


Gabrielle Zevin: Elsewhere

Published by Bloomsbury 14th July 2016


Welcome to Elsewhere. It is warm, with a breeze, and the beaches are marvelous. It's quiet and peaceful. You can't get sick or any older. Curious to see new paintings by Picasso? Swing by one of Elsewhere's museums. Need to talk to someone about your problems? Stop by Marilyn Monroe's psychiatric practice. Elsewhere is where fifteen-year-old Liz Hall ends up, after she has died. It is a place so like Earth, yet completely different. Here Liz will age backward from the day of her death until she becomes a baby again and returns to Earth. But Liz wants to turn sixteen, not fourteen again. She wants to get her driver's license. She wants to graduate from high school and go to college. And now that she's dead, Liz is being forced to live a life she doesn't want with a grandmother she has only just met. And it is not going well. How can Liz let go of the only life she has ever known and embrace a new one? Is it possible that a life lived in reverse is no different from a life lived forward? This moving, often funny book about grief, death, and loss will stay with the reader long after the last page is turned. "Elsewhere" is a 2006 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.


I've often wondered, like so many other billions of people, what it's like to die - in this charming, funny, sad, poignant story, Gabrielle seems to have a viable answer... It fits in nicely with my own belief in reincarnation, but even if you don't believe, even if you think that death is the end of everything for you, you'll still enjoy reading this quirky, lovely story.


Hollie Hughes: The Famishing Vanishing Mahoosive Mammoth

Published by Bloomsbury 14th July 2016


'I'm so famishing I'm vanishing!' The famishing vanishing mahoosive mammoth is a hairy beast who simply can't think of anything but his tummy. So how, then, can his friend Bug distract him? Find out in this hilarious rhyming picture book about one hairy mammoth with a ridiculously large appetite, and one loyal friend with a clever plan. With oodles of fun and laughter, it's the perfect picture book for all fans of Julia Donaldson, Neal Layton, Alex T. Smith and Lauren Child.


I love children's books that are written in rhyming couplets, like Rupert Bear always was. This one's a real treat and will keep your little ones wide-eyed with wonder.


Tom McLaughlin: Up, Up And Away

Published by Bloomsbury 14th July 2016


What does it take to build your very own planet? Orson is about to find out. He takes: A cup full of rocks, A dash of water, A sprinkling of metal, A lot of nothingness, A big bang ... And before long, BOOM! He has it - a tiny planet with rings around it, right there in his bedroom! But it seems that BUILDING a planet is the easy bit; taking care of it is a different thing altogether. Over time, Orson realises that his planet needs to be free and that sometimes you have to let go of the things that you love the most ... A heart-warming story about life's possibilities and disappointments with an uplifting ending that will resonate with all fans of Oliver Jeffers' work.


For me, this one requires an enormous suspension of disbelief...

A F Harrold: Fizzlebert Stump And The Great Supermarket Showdown

Published by Bloomsbury 11th August 2016


Is this is final hurrah for Fizzlebert Stump? Have the circus performers taken their final bow? Find out in the final book in this hilarious series that is perfect for fans of Mr Gum. When the ringmaster sells Fizz's circus to the mysterious Mr Pinkbottle, disaster strikes! All the acts who aren't fired are forced to work in his supermarket. Not an easy task at all if your only skill is plate-spinning or being a trapeze artist, or indeed a sea lion! Will the ex-circus performers adjust to their new lives as shop assistants, or will Fizz find a way to save them all?


I don't recall reading the previous titles in this series, but that doesn't matter, it's a standalone story and you don't really need to know what went before...


Jean McIntosh: MacBoo and The Monster of Scab Hill

Published by Matador 28th June 2016


In MacBoo and The Monster of Scab Hill, MacBoo is a student at the Lonely Dell Ghost Academy. During his first year he's had fun learning how to speak to animals and birds, but unfortunately he hasn't shown quite the same enthusiasm for other ghost subjects like gliding, becoming invisible and shapeshifting.When he fails his tests, the headmaster sends him away to Scab Hill Castle to practise his ghostly skills. He has seven days to practise and return to the Academy to take his tests again. If he fails a second time, he will face a bleak future. When MacBoo arrives at the castle he has a set of unpleasant surprises. First of all, he finds that he must share the castle with three other noisy and demanding creatures. How can he hope to concentrate on practising with such annoying companions? Then things get much worse. The castle is home to a fearsome monster who has been disturbed by the noise and threatens them. The four become allies as they make a bold plan to beat the monster. MacBoo now has to develop his skills to help defeat the monster. But can he succeed quickly enough and can he risk delaying his return to the Academy? MacBoo tries harder than ever before at being invisible and shape-shifting. It proves very difficult and it doesn't work out quite in the way he hoped. However, despite several problems, MacBoo carries out two daring rescues and eventually defeats the monster. He returns to the Academy triumphant. MacBoo and the Monster of Scab Hill is a children's novel. As MacBoo overcomes the difficulties he faces growing up in this magical world, children between the age of seven to nine should be able to enjoy and relate to the key themes.


I'm not always comfortable with children's adventure stories that deliberately set out to educate children as to how they should deal with and behave in certain situations - I think children should have sufficient awareness of the "themes" referred to that they can draw their own conclusions, otherwise, they might just as well be reading a textbook. Ditch the "relate to the key themes" bit and simply enjoy a well-written, well told, interesting, funny and enjoyable adventure story!


Elen Caldecott: The Marsh Road Mysteries - Cats and Curses

Published by Bloomsbury 11th August 2016


The fourth title in the brilliant mystery adventure series by Waterstones Book Prize shortlisted author, Elen Caldecott. For fans of the Laura Marlin Mysteries by Lauren St John. Meet Piotr, Minnie, Andrew, Flora and Sylvie - the Marsh Road Mystery solvers. It's a good day for Andrew. His mum is feeling better than she has done in ages and she's even going back to work at last. But things begin to go badly wrong when she signs for a mysterious package containing an ancient Egyptian mummified cat. Has the fated feline cursed the Marsh Road junk shop - or is there something else afoot? The five friends have a new case to solve.


This present-day Famous Five series is the perfect read for the summer holidays - I'd have lapped it up if I'd found it on the shelves in the children's library when I was eleven years old!

Jeanne Ryan: Nerve

Published by Simon and Schuster 28th July 2016


ARE YOU A WATCHER OR A PLAYER? Film tie-in edition of 2016's hottest YA film, starring Emma Roberts, Dave Franco & Juliette Lewis. Black Mirror meets Pretty Little Liars - perfect for fans of The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner.
A high-stakes online game of dares turns deadly.
When Vee is picked to be a player in NERVE, an anonymous game of dares broadcast live online, she discovers that the game knows her. It tempts her with amazing prizes taken from her ThisIsMe page and teams her up with her perfect boy: sizzling-hot Ian. At first it's exhilarating - Vee and Ian's fans cheer them on to riskier dares with higher stakes. But the game takes a twisted turn. Just how far will Vee go before she loses NERVE?
Debut author Jeanne Ryan delivers an unputdownable novel full of action, suspense and hot romance. Read the book before you check out the super intense film on July 27th.


Encapsulates modern teenage cults including social media to perfection - the tension is built carefully and expertly. I wasn't aware there was going to be a film but I can see the attraction. Having said that, it's a world apart from The Hunger Games, which is pure fantasy, whereas this is a high-class, high speed thriller. Excellent!





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.