Surprising sizes, lost legends and a moon mission by various authors – children’s book reviews –

Size Wise: A Fact-Filled Look at Life-Size Wonders by Camilla de la Bedoyere and Vasilisa RomanenkoSize Wise: A Fact-Filled Look at Life-Size Wonders by Camilla de la Bedoyere and Vasilisa Romanenko
Size Wise: A Fact-Filled Look at Life-Size Wonders by Camilla de la Bedoyere and Vasilisa Romanenko
Enjoy a life-size close-up of the big and small stars of the natural world, immerse yourself in the mist and magic of Britain’s fascinating heroes and monsters, join a star-struck space traveller for a lunar adventure, and spread your wings for another sky-high escapade with an extraordinary hero in an eclectic mix of super new children’s books.

Age 8 plus:

Size Wise: A Fact-Filled Look at Life-Size Wonders

Camilla de la Bedoyere and Vasilisa Romanenko

The natural world is home to some amazingly big and incredibly small wonders, and now you can take a close look at them in their actual life-size through the pages of this bold and beautifully illustrated book.

From colossal squids to snowflakes, Size Wise lets young readers measure up against the most colossal or minuscule things in nature with facts and figures across each fascinating spread, and all brought to life by Vasilisa Romanenko’s dazzlingly rendered lifelike artwork.

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Written by Camilla de la Bedoyere, whose work is informed by her academic background in the sciences, the book showcases everything from giant tigers and enormous elephants to minute crystals and tiny grains of sand.

Readers will love exploring nature’s array of large and small gems including eyes, wings, tentacles, sand, snowflakes, flowers and much more and observe them at real-life size or zoomed in for extra interest. Marvel at the dinner-plate-sized eye of the colossal squid, the rainforest flowers you can sit inside, the fingernail-width pygmy butterfly, and find out what sand really looks like when magnified.

The book is simply brimming with captivating information about these incredible things, and there are fascinating size comparisons and extra facts. With awesome discoveries, guaranteed to take your breath away, this book offers an unforgettable journey into our astonishing planet.

(Buster Books, hardback, £12.99)

Age 9 plus:

Storyland: Discover the magical myths and lost legends of Britain

Amy Jeffs

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Immerse yourself in mist and magic, and discover heroes and monsters right on your doorstep, with a thrilling book that was created for adults but has now been retold for children so they too can marvel at Britain’s fascinating and age-old myths and legends.

Based on her bestselling Storyland: A Mythology of Britain, Amy Jeffs – an author, printmaker and art historian specialising in the Middle Ages – brings youngsters a beautiful gift book packed with landscapes which they can recognise but populated with everything from goddesses, Trojans and giants to runaway servants and power-hungry kings.

Many of us have heard of Thor, Medusa and Hercules... but what about the myths which are closer to home? Learn about the Trojan heroes who wrestled giants, the Syrian sisters who found refuge on our lands, the dragons who slept in hollow hills, and the kings who communed with the dead.

Travelling across the wildest of landscapes – as far north as Orkney and way down to Cornwall in the south – children will learn how Britain got its name, build Stonehenge with the young Merlin, chase hounds up the mountains of Wales, ride stags into the forests of Scotland, and sail with Trojans along the rivers of Britain, discovering a land bursting with thrilling adventures.

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Full of enchantment, beauty and discovery, and brimming with Jeffs’ striking lino cut illustrations, this stunning book is the perfect way to dazzle children with home-grown tales of magic and adventure... and introduce them to an unforgettable array of dragons and demons, kings and princesses, giants and prophets.

Simply wizard!

(Wren & Rook, hardback, £14.99)

Age 9 plus:

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Chalice of the Gods

Rick Riordan

Fans of outstanding US author and global bestseller Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson & the Olympians fantasy series – which brings Greek mythology alive for contemporary readers – will be sky high with joy when they land on this brand new epic adventure.

For those yet to be initiated into this bestselling phenomenon, the novels are set in a world with the Greek gods in the 21st century, and follow the protagonist Percy Jackson, a young demigod who must prevent the Titans, led by Kronos (Cronus), from destroying the world.

And in this sixth epic adventure, we discover that even though Percy has saved the world multiple times, the modern-day son of the moody sea god Poseidon is still hoping for a regular final year at school. It’s just too bad then that the Greek gods have other plans, and three new quests for Percy to complete. First up... the cupbearer of the gods, Ganymede, is missing his golden chalice. Not only is this embarrassing (why do the gods keep losing their magical items?), it’s also potentially disastrous. One sip from the cup will turn any mortal into a powerful god and the old gods do not take kindly to newbies. Can Percy and his friends, Annabeth and Grover, find the chalice before it falls into the wrong hands? And even if they do, will they be able to resist its awesome power?

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This gripping new adventure sees Percy on another enthralling, high-octane and thrilling mission, full of legendary heroes, mythical creatures, ancient Greek gods and enduring friendship, and guaranteed to keep young readers hooked from first page to last.

(Puffin, hardback, £16.99)

Age 9 plus:


Chris Bradford and Charlotte Grange

Left alone and with no shelter after a meteor crashes into the moon, a young space dweller must find a way to survive before her oxygen runs out. Star-struck young readers will be over the moon when they get their hands on this heart-thumping, outer-space adventure from top-selling children’s author, Chris Bradford, and illustrator Charlotte Grange. Luna loves living on the moon. She enjoys helping her father – a Moon Miner – on his searches for precious minerals and rocks. But when a devastating meteor strike destroys the Hub, their base, Luna is left stranded and alone on the moon. With no shelter and few supplies, she must find a way to survive. The problem is that any hope of rescue is at least three days and 400,000 kilometres away... and her oxygen is fast running out! Bradford, creator of the hugely popular Young Samurai and Bodyguard series, is a master of authentic and thrilling adventures and Lunar delivers not just his familiar nail-biting action drama but a story threaded through with fascinating facts about the m oon and space travel. Brought to life by Grange’s atmospheric black-and-white illustrations, and published in Barrington Stoke’s trademark dyslexia-friendly format, this is a moon mission you won’t want to miss!

(Barrington Stoke, paperback, £7.99)

Age 9 plus:

The Boy With Wings: Clash of the Superkids

Lenny Henry and Keenon Ferrell

Spread your wings for another sky-high adventure with an extraordinary hero in the funny and acutely perceptive follow up to comedy legend Lenny Henry and New York-based illustrator and animator Keenon Ferrell’s wonderfully inclusive novel The Boy With Wings. When Tunde sprouted wings, he learned that he was all that stands between Earth and total destruction. Luckily, for him, his pals got his back and with his new powers, Tunde was ready to fly in the face of danger. But now Tunde is on his next super-powered mission. So it’s wings? Check. A super-cool, super-secret past? Check. An impossible mission to save the world from a super evil enemy? Check. Tunde’s parents have taken him to a top-secret testing facility called The Complex but he’s nervous about meeting others like him who have superpowers. Soon trying to make new friends is the least of his worries. There’s something much scarier going on and it’s going take more than just the boy with wings to stop it. Now that flight isn’t an option, the only choice is to fight! Co-founder of Comic Relief, Henry is a strong advocate for diversity and this action-packed adventure speaks loudly to youngsters about family, friendship, and courage. Filled with the author’s trademark wit and sense of fun, but also with his empathy and keen eye for the concerns of minority ethnic groups, this is a wonderfully entertaining story which will have youngsters giggling and guffawing from first page to last.

(Macmillan Children’s Books, hardback, £12.99)

Age 7 plus:

Agent 9: Mind Control!

James Burks

New threats, new foes and a new partner! Adventure-loving readers will be purring with joy when they get their hands on the second book of an outrageously funny graphic novel series from James Burks, the talented US movie and television show animator and author. Leading the feline fun and cat-orchestrated chaos is Agent 9 of the Super-Secret Spy Service... a fearless feline operative who seems to court danger, daring, and some unfortunate destruction! Here we find Agent 9 back in action at the Super-Secret Spy Service, and it couldn’t come at a better time. The next assignment? Stopping the Wolf, a cunning canine who has been hired by the sinister organisation DiViSiON to hunt down the final pieces of a mind-control device. It’s a mission of such paramount importance that Nine must do the unthinkable... work with a partner! S4 teams up Agent 9 with Traps, a mouse who specialises in covert operations (and knitting too). Unfortunately, the partnership gets off to a rocky start and despite their best efforts, the Wolf always seems to be one step ahead. With time running out and DiViSiON’s plans to take over the world nearly complete, can Nine overcome the toughest challenge yet... being part of a team? Fast, furious and hair-raisingly hilarious, Agent 9’s madcap, spy thriller-style adventures are guaranteed to leave youngsters gasping for breath and crying with laughter. With comedy and chaos on every page, Burks’ special brand of one-liners, and lots of brilliant illustrations to enjoy, readers will already be counting down to the next outing for Agent 9!

(Piccadilly Press, paperback, £8.99)

Age 5 plus:

Adventuremice: Mice on the Ice

Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre

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Youngsters love these meeces to pieces! The dream team of author Philip Reeve and illustrator Sarah McIntyre pool their talents for the new book in a simply delightful early reader series which has all the fun of TV hit Paw Patrol, and the charm and whimsy of classics like The Wind in the Willows. With its focus on fun, friendship and kindness, Adventuremice features Pedro, a timid little mouse who has proved himself to be brave enough to join the heroic team who protect the Mouse Islands from danger. And here we find Pedro finding life even more exciting because it has snowed and the Frost Fair is coming. It’s the most wonderful time of the year with ice skating, hot chocolate and yummy treats, Pedro can’t wait! But there’s so much ice that celebrating the Frost Fair might be trickier than normal... or even impossible. It’s up to Pedro and the Adventuremice to save the fair and bring joy to the town. Reeve’s lively, heartwarming and fun-filled storytelling delivers all those ingredients that children love – immersive adventures, lovable heroes, reassuring friendships, exciting action and plenty of smiles – and all brought to vibrant, colourful life by McIntyre’s exquisitely characterful illustrations. A warm and whiskery favourite with mouse lovers of every age!

(David Fickling Books, paperback, £6.99)

Age 5 plus:

Princess Katie’s Kittens: Suki in the Snow

Julie Sykes and Sam Loman

Welcome back to Starlight Palace for more princesses, kittens and sparkly fun! Princess Katie’s Kittens – an adorable series written by ace storyteller Julie Sykes and illustrated by creative artist Sam Loman – hits the spot perfectly for youngsters just moving on to chapter books. Stars of the show are Princess Katie who lives in a beautiful palace in the kingdom of Tula and her six playful little kittens. In her third adventure, Suki in the Snow, Princess Katie is excited about her winter holiday in the snowy mountains but she’s going to miss the kittens. Then Katie discovers that Suki sneaked into her luggage and has come along for an adventure! But being a small kitten in an unfamiliar place is very tricky and Suki finds that she has got lost. Can Katie and her best friend Becky find the kitten before night falls? With short chapters, endearing black and white illustrations, and some top tips about kitten care, these gorgeous books are ideal for newly confident readers. And look out for the other books in the series... Pixie at the Palace and Bella at the Ball which are out now.

(Piccadilly Press, paperback, £6.99)

Age 4 plus:

Say My Name

Joanna Ho and Khoa Le

Names define us... that’s the message that speaks loudly and clearly from the pages of this moving picture book from author Joanna Ho – who is of Chinese and Taiwanese heritage and passionate about equity in books and education – and illustrator Khoa Le who is based in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. Say My Name is written in Ho’s lyrical prose and brought to life with Le’s exquisite artwork, and celebrates the importance of names, exploring how they reveal our personal histories and weave an intricate story of both the past and the future. Names, and saying them correctly, are important as each one carries the hopes, dreams and traditions of those who came before us. Six captivating children connect with the reader and proudly celebrate their names, languages and backgrounds from Chinese, Tongan, Persian, Navajo, Mexican, and Ghanaian descent, honouring their ancestors and cultural histories. Only by learning how to say a person’s name, says Ho, can we feel confident in our culture and truly know each another.

(Harper360, hardback, £12.99)

Age 3 plus:

Winnie-the-Pooh at the Palace

Jeanne Willis and Mark Burgess

Join your favourite characters from the Hundred Acre Wood and introduce a new generation to the enchanting adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh!

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Authorised by the Trustees of The Pooh Properties and the Trustees of The Shepard Trust, A.A. Milne’s classic poem, Buckingham Palace from When We Were Very Young, has provided the inspiration for bestselling author Jeanne Willis’ gentle rhyming story celebrating the fun and warmth of friendship, and taking us into the wintry grounds of Buckingham Palace.

Featuring some of the best-loved characters from the Hundred Acre Wood, and with all the comforting vibes of Milne’s classic tales, this adventure in rhyme comes in a beautiful hardback gift edition with a foiled jacket and Mark Burgess’ gorgeous colour illustrations in the style of E.H. Shepard.

On a day out to Buckingham Palace, Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends play in the snowy gardens, have a thrilling ride on a sledge, but then Pooh gets stuck in a snow drift. And when, Pooh’s friends manage to pull him out and dust him down, they make a surprising discovery... he’s wearing a wonderful golden crown! And what’s even better is that the discovery leads to an invitation to have tea with the King!

With heartwarming, fun-filled adventures to enjoy, and moments that capture the essence of Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends, this is the perfect introduction to a classic favourite.

(Macmillan Children’s Books, hardback, £12.99)

Age 3 plus:


Cori Doerrfeld

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Hiding your feelings can be very painful as a little boy discovers in US author and illustrator Cori Doerrfeld’s visually and verbally beautiful new book. This is a writer who certainly knows how to tug at our heartstrings whilst dispensing her worldly wisdom, and Beneath is the perfect book to encourage youngsters to talk about their feelings. Finn is in a horrible mood and doesn’t want to talk about it but after some persuading, he agrees to go for a hike with Grandpa. Throughout their forest walk, they see many different things... big, strong trees with networks of roots growing underneath, still water with schools of fish swimming below, and an expectant bird with eggs nestled under her. Grandpa explains that people also have hidden feelings beneath the surface and despite appearances, may be feeling exactly the same way you do. Beneath empowers troubled children to talk about, explore and understand their pent-up feelings, whether that’s a bereavement or other difficult times in their life. With its spare but reassuring words, and irresistibly enchanting illustrations, Beneath is the perfect go-to book for parents, teachers or carers trying to explain in the simplest, gentlest and most accessible way the power that comes from sharing your problems.

(Scallywag Press, hardback, £12.99)

Age 3 plus:

Heavy Metal Badger

Duncan Beedie

Sometimes you just have to let the music out! Creative author and illustrator Duncan Beedie has fun with a rock-and-roll-loving badger in this strumming, thrumming, thumping good picture book which is alive with the sound of music. Badger is ready to ROCK! The music inside him is ready to burst out. He just needs to find a band. But a recorder class isn’t right and neither is the church choir. And as for the marching band, he has to beat a hasty retreat. Will Badger ever find his musical tribe? Maybe, just maybe, it’s been there all along! With Beedie’s funny and playful illustrations keeping perfectly in tune with the beat of his rhyming story, all the laugh-out-loud chaos to enjoy as Badger looks for a musical home, and tons of rock-themed references, puns and visual jokes, this empowering rock anthem is the perfect celebration of identity, self-expression... and the sheer joy of music!

(Little Tiger Press, hardback, £12.99)

Age 3 plus:

The Great Storm Whale

Benji Davies

Enjoy a warm and wonderful new addition to award‑winning picture book creator Benji Davies’s eternally popular and bestselling Storm Whale series which celebrates the stories and love that are passed down through generations. The tender, timeless and beautifully wrought tale of a lonely little boy who finds a stranded whale on the beach after a storm made waves when it first appeared in 2013, quickly becoming a modern classic and a global bestseller. And after follow-ups, The Storm Whale in Winter and Grandma Bird, Davies brings us The Great Storm Whale with its gallery of stunning illustrations, a mesmerising sense of wonder and whimsy, and a dramatic story that captures perfectly how it feels to be a child caught up in a time of great peril. As a fearsome storm blows around Noi’s house, his grandma tells of an unforgettable friendship between a little girl and a whale, many storms ago. But as she finishes her tale of perseverance and new beginnings, Noi soon realises that it’s all part of their own story too. With every page a feast for the eyes and senses, this beautiful new book of cross-generational love is another one to read, enjoy and treasure.

(Simon & Schuster Children’s Books, paperback, £7.99)

Age 3 plus:

Cotton Cloud Refuses to Rain

Elizabeth F. Hill and Hannah George

A playful cloud who just wants to make people happy learns an important lesson about the need for harmony in nature in a gentle but powerfully resonant picture book from Canadian poet and author Elizabeth F. Hill and illustrator Hannah George. Cotton Cloud wants to be the best cloud ever! She will never rain, she says, because rain makes people sad, and sunshine lets people frolic in the lake and grow tall, green plants. But the endless sunshine dries up the lake, withers the plants and cracks the soil. Sun and Wind tell Cotton Cloud it is time for her to rain. But stubborn Cotton Cloud refuses to listen... until one day she looks down on the hot, tired people and sees they are no longer happy. Her heart swells with sorrow and as her tears turn into rain, the dry earth turns green again. The people laugh and dance happily in the rain, and Cotton Cloud realises the importance of her true purpose. Beautifully illustrated with George’s richly detailed and vibrant artwork, Hill’s heartwarming story is ideal for exploring themes of empathy, the water cycle, weather systems, cloud types, and the importance of the seasons. Every cotton cloud has a silver lining!

(Five Quills, paperback, £7.99)

Age 3 plus:

Where will the Sleepy Sheep Sleep?

David Metzenthen and Jonathan Bentley

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Get your mouth round tongue-twisters isn’t exactly a recipe for sleep in this fun and fluffy picture book from David Metzenthen, a writer for young people, and award-winning illustrator Jonathan Bentley. Do you think the sleepy sheep will sleep on top of this wild and windy hill Baah! No-o-o, this windy hill is far too high and wild for a sleepy sheep to sleep on! Do you think the sleepy sheep will sleep deep down in this steep and stony valley? Baah! No-o-o, this valley is far too deep, steep, and stony for a sleepy sheep to sleep in! So where will the sleepy sheep end up sleeping? Perfect for bedtime reading with the sheep’s sleepy eyes getting droopier with each page and each tongue-twisting teaser, Where will the Sleepy Sheep Sleep? is sure to be voted the best sleepiest sleep-time story for every tongue-twisting, fun-loving tot!

(Allen & Unwin Children’s Books, paperback, £7.99)

Age 3 plus:

Where’s Supertato: A Search-and-Find Book

Picture book superhero Supertato is back in town but he needs your help to track down his number one enemy ... the mean, green Evil Pea! This super-fun search-and-find book is the first TV tie-in title based on the popular BBC CBeebies TV series which launched in autumn last year and features lots of new challenges and hilarious escapades for award-winning duo Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet’s chunky superhero creation Supertato who is always there when the chips are down. So tuck into more wacky, calorie-consuming adventures amongst fridges, friends and foes as you sweep through the supermarket with Supertato and the veggies and help them tidy up toys, put on a party, and play hide-and-seek on a supermarket snow day. You can also meet the team, discover their catchphrases, and keep your eyes peeled for Banana who is hidden on every page. But don’t forget to look out for those mini peas! With big, bold and bright illustrations and lots of items and characters to search for and find, this serving of Supertato fun will leave little ones hungry for more!

(Simon & Schuster, paperback, £6.99)

Age 2 plus:

Would You Rather? Halloween

Donna David and Eamonn O’Neill

Would you rather be a spooky spider, or a brilliant bat? There are choices, choices, choices to enjoy in a super silly this-or-that choosing book... the perfect Halloween treat for little monsters everywhere! Would you rather have eight legs to scurry through the night? Or would you rather spread your wings and take a midnight flight? Spider or bat? Skeleton or monster? Cute cat or wily werewolf? Get ready to play Would You Rather: Halloween! in this laugh-out-loud rhyming book which offers pre-school readers a fun choice on each page. David’s bouncy, rhyming, read-aloud text takes youngsters on a delightful journey with loads to spot along the way while O’Neill’s bold, colourful illustrations are packed full of spooky fun. Add on an amazing fold-out game at the end and reading tips for grown-ups, and you’d be a ghoul to miss it!

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

Age 2 plus:

Spread Your Wings

Emma Dodd

‘The world is waiting for you, its endless skies above.’ Readers young and old will fall in love with another beautiful and heartfelt book from award-winning author and illustrator Emma Dodd which celebrates growing up, leaving the place you call home, and discovering new adventures. ‘As we snuggle here together, gazing at the sky, I know that soon the day will come when you’ll spread your wings and fly.’ A baby cockatoo learns that there is a big wide world out there to explore as Dodd spreads a golden glow over a book that works it magic through a stunning foiled cover and pages, an inspirational rhyming story, and a gallery of beautiful, emotive illustrations. Exquisitely created and brimming with love, Spread Your Wings is written with a large helping of warmth and wisdom, and makes the perfect gift for any time of year.

(Templar Publishing, hardback, £7.99)

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