Book reviews: An Egyptian odyssey, a wacky witch school and a parallel universe

As the Bank Holiday weekend approaches, Nosy Crow children's books have a fun selection of titles to keep youngsters out of mischief!

So You Think Youve Got It Bad? A Kids Life in Ancient Egypt by Chae Strathie and Marisa Morea
So You Think Youve Got It Bad? A Kids Life in Ancient Egypt by Chae Strathie and Marisa Morea

Discover what life was like for a child in ancient Egypt, flip your way through some treasures of the British Museum, head off on a science-inspired mystery, meet a cranky crocodile, and make your own adventures on a slot-together farm.

Age 5 plus:

So You Think You’ve Got It Bad? A Kid’s Life in Ancient Egypt by Chae Strathie and Marisa Morea

What’s your favourite pet… a jackal, a baboon, or maybe even a lion?

If you think that sounds terrifyingly dangerous, take a peek (if you dare!) at what life was like for a child in ancient Egypt.

Award-winning author Chae Strathie looks beyond the attraction of all those cool pyramids, palm trees and glorious sunny days to reveal that a kid’s lot in Egypt thousands of years ago was actually super tough, very smelly and extremely hard work.

So You Think You’ve Got It Bad?, a brilliant book full of laughs, facts and fun, is part of an exclusive partnership between the British Museum and children’s publisher Nosy Crow to create a broad range of books covering ages from 0 to 12.

The collection includes board books, non-fiction, craft and activity titles inspired by the vast and unparalleled collection of objects in the museum collection, and celebrating different cultures around the world.

Immaculately researched, this fascinating journey of discovery has been developed in association with one of the world’s leading Egyptologists, and brought to life with Strathie’s wonderful wit, and the rich, humorous illustrations of Marisa Morea.

Children will be flummoxed and flabbergasted to learn how difficult life really was, from dodging Deathstalker scorpions and cleaning up cow dung, to fetching water from the well, eating roast hedgehog and goatburgers, and being slammed in the stocks for being naughty at school!

And imagine living in a home with no running water, sleeping on the roof of your house, washing clothes in a river full of crocodiles, or drinking bird blood when you are feeling out of sorts.

From clothes and hairstyles, discipline and diet, health and medicine to family life, education, chores jobs, fun, games, and what goes on in the home, we see a child’s life in ancient Egypt (sometimes almost literally!) laid bare.

With a glossary at the back to explain some of the more baffling words and terms in the book, Strathie’s fine line in laugh-out-loud humour and Morea’s gallery of comical, vibrant illustrations, this is a child’s eye-wateringly funny (and yukky) view of the world 3,000 years ago!

(Nosy Crow, hardback, £12.99)

Age 8 plus:

The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day by Christopher Edge

Imagine waking up on your birthday to find that all your family have disappeared and the world outside has turned to darkness.

Award-winning author Christopher Edge, who grew up in Manchester, is back to entertain, educate and bewilder young readers with another mind-bending mystery in his fascinating science-based, super-intelligent and inventive series which includes The Many Worlds of Albie Bright and The Jamie Drake Equation.

In Edge’s trademark style, The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day comes packed with intriguing scientific facts – including the basics of quantum physics made understandable – and an intensely human and emotional story about a girl struggling to cope with the age-old conundrum of sibling rivalry.

How do you know you really exist? It’s Maisie’s birthday and she can’t wait to open her presents. Academically gifted far beyond her years, she is hoping for the things she needs to build her own nuclear reactor.

But when she wakes up to an empty house with no sign of her mum, dad or 15-year-old sister Lily, and opens the front door to see nothing but a terrifying, all-consuming blackness staring back at her, Maisie realises this isn’t going to be any ordinary day.

Trapped in an ever-shifting reality, Maisie knows that she will have to use the laws of the universe and the love of her family to survive but, as the house begins to erase itself around her, even that might not be enough.

From escaping an expanding universe in the kitchen to encountering a black hole on the stairs, Maisie gradually discovers that reality is not what it seems. And as objects in each room trigger memories of what seems to be her real birthday and her troubled relationship with Lily, Maisie begins to piece together the puzzle of what is really happening.

From parallel universes and atomic building blocks to second chances at life and the realities of family relationships, Edge delivers a beautiful story that puts a warm, beating heart into the cold facts of science.

(Nosy Crow, paperback, £6.99)

Age 5 plus:

Unicorn Academy: Ava and Star by Julie Sykes and Lucy Truman

Meet a girl on the horns of a dilemma when her pet unicorn runs out of sky berries!

Author Julie Sykes and illustrator Lucy Truman work their special magic on a sparkling new series from Nosy Crow featuring every young girl’s dream… a school where your best friend is a unicorn!

Imagine a school where you meet your own unicorn, learn to talk to them and have amazing adventures together. That’s what happens for the girls at Unicorn Academy on beautiful Unicorn Island.

Ava and her gorgeous unicorn Star, who has yellow and purple mane curling over a white coat, love their garden at Unicorn Academy. It’s where they grow their very own magical plants. When the sky berries that the unicorns need to survive disappear, Ava and Star will need all their skills and courage to help their friends. Can they find more of the special berries before every unicorn’s magic starts to fade?

Sykes’ warm, exciting and drama-filled story is brought to life by Truman’s lively black and white illustrations and is perfectly pitched for young readers looking for adventures in a magical world of friendships, school life and unicorns.

All the books in this collectible Unicorn Academy series come with sparkly holographic foil covers… so what are you waiting for? Other currently available books are Sophia and Rainbow, and Scarlett and Blaze, and then look out for Isabel and Cloud, Layla and Dancer, Olivia and Snowflake, coming this summer.

Special books for special young readers!

(Nosy Crow, paperback, £5.99)

Age 5 plus:

Get Me Out of Witch School by Em Lynas and Jamie Littler

Witch school isn’t all dark arts… just ask the adorable Daisy Wart!

Former primary school teacher Em Lynas and multi-talented Jamie Littler make a welcome return to the fun and games of Toadspit Towers in the second book of their bewitching and already much-loved Witch School series which began with You Can’t Make Me Go To Witch School.

Adorable Daisy Wart has become Twinkle Toadspit. She has a new name, a new hat, a whole new magical life and is the witchiest witch of all. But she is still not totally in control of her powers and still very much wants to be an amazing Shakespearean actress.

So how can Twinkle do all her school stuff, save Toadspit Towers with her witchy awesomeness, and perform in a travelling show? By doing all the magic spells really, really fast and without practising first, that’s how. Even if it means chaos, disaster, a lot of mess and some very tricky situations, the show must go on!

Spellbindingly magical, brimming with mischief and mayhem, and guaranteed to make all the family laugh out loud, Twinkle’s comical adventures – given extra life by Littler’s lively and anarchic illustrations – are perfect for all aspiring young witches and wizards!

(Nosy Crow, paperback, £6.99)

Age 2 plus:

Make and Play: Farm by Joey Chou

Spring is here and it’s time to get down to the farm!

Make and Play: Farm is the latest book in Nosy Crow’s innovative activity series featuring unique spiral bound board books which let youngsters build their own scenes to inspire imaginative and educational play.

In this new outdoor-themed play book, featuring the stunning artwork of hugely talented Joey Chou, children can assemble their very own farmyard. The 20 colourful, press-out farm figures – from the farmer and his family to a host of horses, cows, sheep and pigs, a scarecrow and a tractor – are simply slotted together to create a busy scene and allow young imaginations take flight.

And after putting together the pieces, the fun doesn’t stop there! Children can then sing the classic farm song and get creative with crafts inspired by the great outdoors, including making animal masks and horse handprints, playing a farmyard game, making yummy snacks like fruit salad and vegetable skewers, and learning how to grow your own vegetables.

The pieces are simple to take apart and press back into the book for easy storage, ensuring that they will offer hours of play and last for years to come.

With its crafts, play fun and motor-skill activities, this super-creative book is ideal for children to play with alone or as a shared project with parents, and ideal for keeping little hands busy this spring.

(Nosy Crow, board book, £7.99)

Age 2 plus:

British Museum: Mixed-Up Masterpieces, Amusing Animals

Animals come in all shapes and forms… so imagine what fun it would be to mix and match them!

Take a trip to the British Museum and ‘flip’ your way through some of its greatest treasures with this intriguing and entertaining photographic mix-up book featuring fascinating animal figures from the museum’s huge collection of amazing objects, ceramics and sculptures.

Mixed-Up Masterpieces, Amusing Animals is another exciting book in the exclusive partnership between the museum and Nosy Crow.

This innovative book allows young readers to solve the puzzle by matching up the correct animals on the split pages – and then mix them all up again to create two thousand hilarious combinations.

From an Italian bronze pig dating back to 100BC and an ancient Egyptian terracotta horse, to an early 17th century Indian terrapin and a mid-19th century Brazilian ceramic cow, this book is full of amazing objects that provide hours of madcap mix-up fun.

The final page features the full menagerie of marvellous animals and reveals how old they are. There is also a QR code at the end which parents can scan to learn more about the artefacts featured in the book.

Mixing and matching is flipping good fun!

(Nosy Crow, hardback, £9.99)

Age 2 plus:

What’s Next Door? by Nicola O’Byrne

If Carter the crocodile can’t find his way home, he might just eat you!

Carter the cranky croc is in a strop and he needs little readers to help him work his way through an obstacle course of stormy seas, icy weathers and red hot deserts in this enchanting, interactive picture book from talented author and illustrator Nicola O’Byrne.

We first met this hilarious crocodile hero in Open Very Carefully and now he’s back to entertain us… and he’s not happy. With intriguing and cleverly designed cut-outs, little ones are encouraged to create a door in the page and use their imagination to guide Carter on an action-packed journey.

All Carter wants to do is find his way home, but he can’t get there by himself. With churning seas full of crabby crabs, freezing cold blizzards and a land too hot to do anything, will the cantankerous croc and the little friends he makes along the way ever find their way home?

Youngsters will love helping Carter as they draw a door with their finger, jiggle and upturn the book to help him squeeze through the holes, rub his tummy to warm him up and fan him with their hands when he’s too hot.

Brimming with interactive fun, exciting landscapes, brilliant illustrations and a wonderfully crotchety croc, this is the ideal picture book to share with your little ones.

(Nosy Crow, paperback, £6.99)

Age 2 plus:

The Knight Who Said ‘No!’ by Lucy Rowland and Kate Hindley

Ned the little knight always does what he’s told… until the day he finally says ‘No!’

An unlikely friendship, a scary dragon and a boy who discovers that not saying yes all the time has surprising results take starring roles in a funny, rhyming romp from picture book top team, author Lucy Rowland and illustrator Kate Hindley.

Ned is the only child in the castle and he ALWAYS does exactly what he’s told. When his parents ask him to pick up his toys, dig up the cabbages or go to bed on time, he does it all with a smile. And when the dragon swoops into town every night, he always runs inside just as he is ordered. But one morning, he wakes up feeling hot and prickly and instead of saying ‘yes,’ he says “NO!”

He won’t help his dad find his shield, his arrow or his bow, and he certainly won’t let the busy butcher get past. And that night, when the dangerous dragon circles the sky, Ned shakes his fist and refuses to go inside. But the dragon isn’t as fierce as everyone thought and soon Ned finds a very good – but unlikely – new friend!

Rowland’s addictive rhyme and Hindley’s bright, busy and whimsical illustrations make this playful story a joy from start to finish as Ned discovers the warmth of friendship and the fun of sharing and caring.

A delightfully mischievous adventure with a soft centre…

(Nosy Crow, paperback, £6.99)