Animal magic, flying high and a whale called Hope by various authors - book reviews -

Discover weird and wonderful animals, take flight with a young scientist, journey across the ocean with a blue whale, and raise your teacups to two wacky picture book stars in a super selection of new children’s books.

Amazing Animals
Amazing Animals

Age 7 plus:

Amazing Animals: 100+ Creatures That Will Boggle Your Mind

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Sabrina Weiss and Paul Daviz

If you fancy an armchair tour of some of our planet’s most amazing creatures, open the pages of this fact-packed book and discover the miraculous magic of nature!

Amazing Animals: 100+ Creatures That Will Boggle Your Mind is the fourth title in an acclaimed Our Amazing World series from What on Earth Publishing which specialises in the art of telling stories through timelines. For every question their informative books answer, they spark another one, helping to encourage young readers into a lifelong love of enquiring and discovering.

And this intriguing, colourful, fact-filled exploration of diverse wildlife reveals that animals come in all sorts of weird and wonderful shapes and sizes… from playful dolphins and the record-breaking tongues of chameleons to sleepy koalas and stinky cheetahs.

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Written by Sabrina Weiss, a journalist covering science, the environment and technology, and beautifully illustrated by Paul Daviz, Amazing Animals provides a breathtaking tour of creatures from air, land and sea.

Learn about the dashing dance of the peacock spider, the South African oryx that can heat its body to 45 degrees Celsius to avoid sweating, and a fish that keeps its babies safe in its own mouth as the secrets of the creatures’ survival, the incredible habitats they call home and the environmental threats putting their existence in danger are uncovered.

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A lavish, central folding page offers a world map which reveals the locations of all the animals included in the book, alongside incredible facts, bite-size information, a helpful glossary and an index.

An unforgettable, globe-trotting adventure for animal lovers and budding environmentalists, and an exciting new addition to Amazing Islands, Amazing Treasures and Amazing Rivers.

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(What on Earth Books, hardback, £14.99)

Age 8 plus:

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Diary of an Accidental Witch: Flying High

Perdita and Honor Cargill, and Katie Saunders

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Bea-ware… there’s a trainee witch in town and she’s casting a spell over readers young and old! Magic is in the air from the moment you open the pages of the second book of a brilliantly funny and enchanting series created by the bewitching minds of daughter and mother partnership, Honor and Perdita Cargill. Illustrated throughout by talented artist Katie Saunders, this perfect potion of magic, mayhem and mischief is billed as The Worst Witch meets Tom Gates, and delivers gags and giggles on every page. Bea Black is all settled into her new life in Little Spellshire, a town with a magical secret. She’s made tonnes of friends at witch school, learned how to levitate frogs (just about) and been working hard on polishing up her broom skills. So when the Winter Solstice Grand Tournament rolls round, she’s ready to rise to the next challenge and fly high. But then Ms Sparks decides that this year’s tournament will be a bit – er – different. That is, it won’t be an Extraordinary Grand Tournament at all, but rather a very ordinary sports day with Spellshire Academy! With magic firmly forbidden and rivalry reaching new heights, who will emerge victorious? And more importantly, will Bea’s friendship with her best non-witchy friend Ash survive the competition? The Cargills make a truly wizard writing team as Bea’s exceedingly different (and hilarious!) life at witch school comes with a cauldron full of comedy and a very special brand of heartwarming magic.

(Little Tiger Press, paperback, £6.99)

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Age 7 plus:

Monster Max and the Marmalade Ghost

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Robin Bennett and Tom Tinn-Disbury

Turning into a monster is not to be sneezed at… and nobody knows that better than madcap Max! Welcome to the second monstrously funny adventure starring a (slightly scruffy) schoolboy who turns into a monster when he burps – and back into a boy when he sneezes. There are laughs aplenty in this fabulously silly and slapstick series from fun-loving author Robin Bennett and rising star illustrator Tom Tinn-Disbury. In this new outing for the daffy duo of Max and his pal Peregrine, we find them volunteering at an old people’s home where strange things start to happen. One resident is walking on the ceiling, one is riding their wheelchair through walls, and Reggie says his marmalade is haunted (although no one listens). Can Max and his friends work out what’s happening to protect his family and the local community from the Marmalade Ghost? Max always tries to ‘protect and do good stuff’ and it is this theme of responsibility and caring for family and friends that lies at the heart of the series. With warm and witty plotlines, a cast of quirky, lovable characters and Tinn-Disbury’s anarchic illustrations, these are stories to both amuse and inspire.

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(Firefly Press, paperback, £6.99)

Age 5 plus:

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Ada Twist, Scientist: The Why Files: Exploring Flight!

Andrea Beaty, Dr Theanne Griffith and David Roberts

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Reach for the sky with this fantastic new addition to the bestselling Questioneers series, a full-colour non-fiction early reader series based on the new Ada Twist, Scientist Netflix series! One question always leads to another when you are sharing adventures with the irrepressibly curious Ada Twist. A scientist to her very core, Ada asks why again and again, and her questions always lead youngsters on a fascinating journey of discovery in Andrea Beaty and David Roberts’ brilliant The Questioneers books. Here the author and illustrator team join forces with brain scientist Dr Theanne Griffith to guide youngsters through the science behind flight. Why do aeroplanes look the way they do, why can’t birds fly when they are first born, and why do some paper planes fly further than others? Ada Twist, Scientist: The Why Files is the perfect resource for all these questions and more. Discover everything there is to know about flight from information about creatures that fly and the history of aircraft to modern technology which allows us to soar through the air faster than ever. Based on the bestselling series and the new Netflix show, and filled with both fun and facts, this is the ideal book to entertain, educate and empower the scientists of tomorrow.

(Amulet Books, hardback, £8.99)

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Age 4 plus:

Ada Twist, Scientist: Brainstorm Book

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And the eternally curious Ada takes the starring role again in a bright and busy sticker book full of mazes, puzzles and colouring pages for budding pre-school scientists. The Questioneers Brainstorm Book comes with more than 400 stickers and four fabulous, double-sided, pull-out posters, and is brimming with facts and fun. This collectible package, also based on the new Netflix show, includes creative activities and challenges, colourful stickers of Ada Twist and her friends, and some of her wackiest science experiments. With lots to learn, enjoy and discover, this is the perfect gift for fans of the bestselling book series, the new Ada Twist, Scientist Netflix show, and your own young thinkers and questioners!

(Abrams Books for Young Readers, paperback, £9.99)

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Age 3 plus:

Hope the Whale

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Illustrated by Laura Chamberlain

Follow the amazing life journey of a blue whale called Hope in a beautiful new picture book that has been created in consultation with the Natural History Museum. This magical story was inspired by the museum’s famous blue whale which was found stranded off the Irish coast in 1891 but sadly died shortly afterwards, despite the efforts of local fishermen. Given the name Hope, her skeleton was taken to Natural History Museum in London and has become one of its most loved exhibits. With the stunning illustrations of children’s books designer Laura Chamberlain, the book takes youngsters on an epic adventure across the North Atlantic Ocean to track Hope’s annual migration from north to south. Told through the eyes of one little boy, this enchanting story reimagines Hope’s life. Every year he looks out for Hope on her swim from the icy seas of the Arctic to the warm tropics until one day, she appears with her own baby whale at her side. Chamberlain’s ethereal underwater illustrations and spreads bring to glorious life this inspirational picture book about one of our planet's most magnificent creatures. And with a fact-packed fold-out at the back and information about the real Hope the whale, this is a book for all the family to love and treasure.

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(Macmillan Children’s Books, paperback, £7.99)

Age 3 plus:

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My Mum is a Lioness

Swapna Haddow and Dapo Adeola

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When your mum pounces for cuddles and kisses, and wants to gobble you up… it could be because she’s a lioness! Little ones will be roaring with laughter when they get their hands on this fast, furious and funny tale of about a boy with a wild imagination. Open your arms – and your hearts – to the second endearing picture book from exciting creative duo, award-winning author Swapna Haddow, and talented illustrator Dapo Adeola who brought us the brilliant My Dad is a Grizzly Bear. Run! Hide! My mum is a lioness and she’s on the prowl. Is Mum a lioness? She loves her ‘cubs,’ she can run faster than anything, and she can catch you in a single pounce. And she always makes sure you can hear her incredibly loud, proud roar. What else could Mum be but a lioness? But sometimes, especially when her young ones are upset or scared, a lovely, warm, protective lioness hug is just what is needed! Enjoy a riot of vibrant storytelling, big, bold and beautiful illustration, and the comfort and joy of family love in this caring, sharing book just made for bedtime reading.

(Macmillan Children’s Books, paperback, £7.99)

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Age 3 plus:

Ready! Said Rabbit

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Marjoke Henrichs

Rabbit is going to the park… but will he ever be ready? Say hello again to the adorable little rabbit we first met in No! Said Rabbit, the sparkling debut book of artist and theatre designer Marjoke Henrichs which was shortlisted for the Booktrust Storytime Prize. Full of youthful joy and playfulness, and exquisitely illustrated throughout, this new adventure is guaranteed to strike a chord with harassed parents everywhere. It’s a lovely day to visit the park and play outside, but will Rabbit and Dad ever be ready to leave the house? Rabbit could take his ball to the park or his bear and truck. But his favourite elephant would be just perfect, too, if only he could find it. Oh, but here’s an interesting book to read... and a lovely picture to paint! It’s getting late with all this fussing about, but uh-oh… now Dad needs his jacket and his glasses. And wherever did his keys go? Henrichs brings a winning brand of ironic humour to both her words and a gallery of lively, expressive and gorgeously colourful illustrations in a story full of all-too-familiar dawdling and delaying. Simple lines and clever gouache washes bring to vivid life this winning tale of charm, drama, patience… and the love between a father and son.

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(Scallywag Press, hardback, £12.99)

Age 3 plus:

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We Are Family

Lucy Reynolds and Jenna Herman

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Families come in all shapes and sizes but each and every one is unique! Find your place in our wild and wonderful world… and learn lots of fun and fascinating animal facts in this beautifully empathetic and colourful picture book. We Are Family is the work of Lucy Reynolds and Jenna Herman who founded the publishing company Doodles & Scribbles in 2017 and are creating gorgeous books for little explorers. As mothers of young children, they aim to inspire little readers to notice and nurture the natural world, whilst being mindful of the rich complexity of experiences that surround and shape them. Here, youngsters discover that there are billions of creatures on this earth, but only one you. The book celebrates the many ways in which young grow up, the journey we all take to find our true place in the world and the diversity in the make-up of families. Edited with the help of Beth Cox, a specialist Inclusion and Equality Consultant, We Are Family approaches important topics with sensitivity and empathy whilst delivering both entertainment and education.

(Doodles and Scribbles, hardback, £12.99)

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Age 3 plus:

Teapot Trouble: A Duck and Tiny Horse Adventure

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Morag Hood

Everybody likes a reunion… particularly when it’s those two unlikely – and lovable – friends Duck and Tiny Horse! Yes, award-winning author and illustrator Morag Hood is back with her tiny, opinionated horse and daffy duck friends who starred in the wacky picture book Spaghetti Hunters. The ever-inventive, award-winning Hood can’t put a foot (or hoof) wrong when it comes to comical and creative thinking and this new super-silly adventure is one of her best yet. Something or someone is living inside Duck’s teapot! Who are they? What do they want? How will Tiny Horse and Duck get them out? Never fear, for Tiny Horse is here! Tiny Horse has a trampoline, she has a magnificent hat, she has a stick of celery. What more could anyone need to save the day? Teapot Trouble is full of the clever playfulness, imaginative power, and endearing mischievousness that we have come to expect from the creator of best-selling favourites like The Steves, I Am Bat, Aalfred and Aalbert, and Brenda is a Sheep. And with messages about kindness and friendship shining like a beacon from the pages, and eye-catching illustrations full of bold colours and Hood’s unique wit, this is picture book joy for all the family.

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(Two Hoots, hardback, £12.99)

Age 2 plus:

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Five Little Chicks: Lift the flaps to find the chicks

Lily Murray and Holly Surplice

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Spring must already be in the air if these chicks are causing a flap! Author Lily Murray and illustrator Holly Surplice team up for an enchanting and wonderfully colourful lift-the-flaps picture book based on the nursery rhyme Five Little Ducks. Five little chicks went out one day, Over the hills and far away, Mamma Hen said ‘Hurry back to me!,’ Now how many chicks can you see? Little ones will love joining a fluffy little family on a journey of discovery through the countryside. There’s so much to see as Mamma Hen and her brood wind through a flowery meadow, a bluebell wood, a field full of lambs and a busy farmyard. Along the way, they meet all kinds of baby animals and their parents. But wait… the chicks are disappearing one by one! Whatever are they up to? Lift a host of intriguing flaps to find the chicks, discover a fantastic surprise ending, and learn how to count as you hunt for the chicks. The picture perfect book for sharing with all the family!

(Templar, paperback, £6.99)