Making lists, monstrous laughs and rooms of mystery by various authors - book reviews -

Organise the world into a list of its best bits, tuck into the wit and wacky adventures of favourite storyteller David Walliams, and step into the mysterious rooms at a very strange fairground in a summer selection of new children’s books.

Age 8 plus:


Andrew Pettie and Andrés Lozano

Our world is simply awesome… but can you list the best bits?

If that sounds like an impossible task, let this gloriously geeky and gigglesome guide to the most extraordinary parts of the universe take you on a journey that you won’t forget!

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Listified! – an outstandingly clever and entertaining book which has been written by journalist, editor and author Andrew Pettie and fabulously illustrated by Andrés Lozano – comes from Britannica Books, an exciting reference imprint for young readers published by a creative partnership between What on Earth Publishing and the famous Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Their mission is to inspire children’s curiosity and passion for learning, offering engaging non-fiction books that you can trust, with experts behind every page, and this mind-blowing collection of three hundred unexpected and ingenious lists is truly a fun and fact-filled reading adventure.

Inquisitive young readers will be will surprised, amazed and amused by the imaginative lists that organise the best bits of the world.

Ever wondered which ten dinosaurs were the largest, and what they weighed… in cats? Or how much of your DNA you share with other animals… and bananas? Discover nine surprising things that have fallen out of the sky, which three animals don’t poo, the eleven languages that are now spoken by only one person and the five things scientists would need to clone a T-rex.

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Simply enter the ‘listiverse’ and then get ready to see the world in a whole new way, whether that’s erupting volcanoes, medieval machines, jumping spiders, exploding stars and everything in between.

Listified! organises them into quirky list form for curious children and their friends and family to enjoy with each presented from new and unexpected angles, and brought to life by Lozano’s imaginative and hilarious artwork.

From the human body and prehistoric creatures to planet Earth, outer space and the mysteries beyond, this exhilarating compendium of amazing facts and trivia delivers entertainment for all the family.

(Britannica Books, hardback, £18.99)

Age 8 plus:


David Walliams and Tony Ross

Tuck into the wit and wacky adventures that spill from the pen of multi-million bestselling author David Walliams in a monstrously marvellous new middle grade novel.

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From the heroics of a little girl with a penchant for jokes to breathtaking action and suspense-packed mystery, Walliams takes young readers on a thrilling ride through danger, rip-roaring action and comedy… in classic style.

And with the gloriously anarchic illustrations of Tony Ross to bring this terrific and timeless story to life, Megamonster is another high-energy, laugh-out-loud and imaginative outing for the army of Walliams fans.

On an island, in the middle of shark-infested waters, The Cruel School stands on top of a dormant volcano. The lessons are appalling, the school dinners are revolting and the teachers are terrifying… especially the mysterious science teacher Doctor Doktur.

When Larker is sent to the school for playing a prank, she quickly realises something very odd is going on… something involving the evil Doctor Doktur, a pair of strange spectacles, and a ‘Monsterfication Machine.’

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And ultimately the intrepid schoolgirl finds herself face to face with a real life Megamonster. There seems to be no escape… but for Larker, nothing is impossible. And with her love for jokes endearing her to everyone, she sets out to unravel the mysterious events at The Cruel School.

Walliams is on his best storytelling form in this action-packed, surreal adventure featuring a hilarious cast of characters, edge-of-the-seat suspense, and lots of mega-sized mysteries.

Get ready for an explosive rollercoaster ride!

(HarperCollinsChildren’sBooks, hardback, £14.99)

Age 9 plus:

Escape the Rooms

Stephen Mangan and Anita Mangan

Open the door and step into a thrilling, fun-filled adventure created by the sensational sibling team of much-loved actor Stephen Mangan and his talented artist sister Anita Mangan.

Escape the Rooms is Mangan’s debut children’s book and it’s a cracking tale of exciting adventures starring two unlikely friends who become trapped in mysterious rooms where they face mind-blowing riddles, dangerous traps and unbelievable characters as they try to get back home.

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Jack is struggling to cope with the recent death of his mother and the last thing he expected when he bungee-jumped at the fairground was to go plummeting right through the ground into the weird, wonderful Rooms.

And it’s there that he must solve a series of puzzles and negotiate some devilish traps alongside a mysterious, and very angry, girl called Cally to get out of the creepy Rooms. Throw in a murderous polar bear and hundreds of tiny yet ferocious lions, and youngsters can enjoy a hilarious, high-energy, helter-skelter adventure like no other.

Anita Mangan’s quirky and engaging illustrations are the perfect pairing for her brother’s witty and wonderful story which celebrates the rewards of friendship and is punctuated by moments of arresting pathos and heart-melting poignancy as Jack and Cally come to terms with personal loss.

(Scholastic, paperback, £6.99)

Age 10 plus:

Robin Hood: Jet Skis, Swamps & Smugglers

Robert Muchamore

He might be a modern-day Robin Hood… but he’s still out to catch the villains who are cheating the poor and vulnerable!

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Welcome back to international bestselling author Robert Muchamore’s contemporary take on the old legend of Sherwood Forest in the third book of an enthralling series that delivers a gripping formula of fun, action and thrills.

In their new action-packed mission, Robin and Marion are taking on the authorities again but there’s a price on Robin’s head, one that has attracted a gang of ruthless mercenaries who are determined to track him down and hand him over to evil underworld boss Guy Gisborne.

Robin is hiding out by the sea, but trouble has a way of finding him. Before long he is helping to rescue refugees and trying to avoid the attentions of Customs and immigration officials. Then he and Marion discover a people-smuggling operation… desperate people brought into the country to work in slave-like conditions making cheap goods.

It’s only a matter of time before the two of them are trying to find out who is behind it, and Robin is again making the headlines with spectacular raids on the rich and powerful.

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Brimming with guts, gusto, gags and gripping adventures, this is Robin Hood and his merry men as you’ve never before seen them… enjoy!

(Hot Key Books, paperback, £7.99)

Age 5 plus:

Bug Belly: Froggy Rescue

Paul Morton

Can a greedy frog resist a bug-a-licious snack? Never!

Welcome back to the wacky world of Bug Belly, the hilarious, hungry, accident-prone star of a fabulously funny fiction series from exciting Barnsley-based author and illustrator Paul Morton who has produced dozens of children’s board games, some for Disney and Pixar, as well as artwork for educational books.

Larger than life and lovably silly, this fiendishly funny frog with a ferocious appetite is an ingenious and inventive creation, and his frantic antics as uncle to all the little tadpoles and froglets in Top Pond will have youngsters laughing out loud.

The froglets are having a sleepover and wishing on shooting stars with their favourite uncle. Splish dreams of an exciting adventure, Splash wishes she wasn't afraid of water, and Splodge wants to FLY! If only Bug Belly's hungry tum hadn’t gone urgle-gurgle glump he wouldn't have missed Magpie swooping down on unsuspecting little Splodge.

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Now, Bug Belly and the froglets must cross Whispering Woods on a dangerous rescue mission. Will his cool gadgets be enough to fly safely up to rescue Splodge from Magpie’s nest, or will Bug Belly’s penchant for yummy snacks lead him straight into the hungry jaws of Sneaky Snake? Luckily, nobody in Top Pond has more ingenious plans than this Top Frog!

Illustrated throughout with Morton’s two-tone, high-octane pictures, and with action-packed adventures written in a wonderfully humorous and alliterative style, this series is ideal for reading aloud and a firm favourite both at home and in classrooms.

(Five Quills, paperback, £6.99)