The cell network, a princely classic and our inner awesome by various authors – children’s book reviews –
Age 9 plus:
Thirty Trillion Cells: How Your Body Really Works
Isabel Thomas and Dawn Cooper
‘What a piece of work is a man!’ wrote William Shakespeare and there is no more intricate part of the amazing human body than its network of tiny, but hugely important, cells.
And with an incredible thirty trillion cells working together to form one unique human being, these minute particles are the building blocks of rocks and rockets, cars and clouds... and of all living creatures.
Award-winning science and nature writer Isabel Thomas tackles the topic of one of the body’s most vital components with her customary child-friendly verve and accessibility as we are invited to travel through our body systems to find out how we move, grow, breathes, sense, think and feel.
With Dawn Cooper’s stunning illustrations putting vibrancy and colour into Thomas’s in-depth look at the crucial building blocks of life, children get the inside story on everything from individual cells to complex systems.
Discover why you get butterflies in your stomach, how your brain is more complex than the most powerful computer, and why you are home to more bacteria cells than there are stars in the Milky Way.
Thirty Trillion Cells takes readers closer to the very core of the human body than they have likely ever been before as they learn exactly what they are made of, and the ageing and dying of cells which are all natural parts of a human life.
Packed with fascinating facts, and lively artwork which puts the human body firmly in focus, this is a book that is just as beautiful to look at it as it is fun to read.
(Welbeck Editions, hardback, £14.99)
Age 6 plus:
The Little Prince
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Chris Riddell and translated by Ros and Chloe Schwartz
The strange but beautiful tale of a meeting between a pilot whose plane has crash-landed in the desert and a little prince who is visiting Earth from another planet has become a timeless classic in the eighty years since it was first published.
And now French writer and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s extraordinary, philosophical bestseller, The Little Prince, springs to stunning and colourful life again under the magical pen, ink and imagination of former Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell, regarded as one of the most celebrated illustrators of the 21st century.
A long-time admirer of Saint-Exupéry, Riddell reveals that illustrating The Little Prince was ‘a true passion project.’ He said his approach had been to ‘take the narrator’s point of view and recreate his original drawings and illustrate him creating them.’ This allowed him to become the third person in the story, observing the pilot and the little prince, and setting himself free to imagine his world with as much detail as he could.
Saint-Exupéry disappeared whilst flying a mission for the Free French Forces in the Rhone valley in 1944 and was never seen again but now his heartwarming story has been perfectly matched with Riddell’s masterful and otherworldly illustrations.
After crash-landing in the Sahara Desert, a lonely pilot knows he is going to have to make a complicated engine repair on his own. And his life depends on it because he has barely enough drinking water to last a week. But then he encounters an extraordinary little fellow... a little prince who is visiting Earth from his own planet and who tells him a series of wise and enchanting stories. Their strange and moving meeting will illuminate many of life’s universal truths as he comes to learn what it means to be human from a child who is not.
With the loving, insightful, perplexed-by-grown-ups Little Prince at its heart, this tenderly told story explores timeless themes of loneliness, friendship, sadness, love and childhood. New readers will love meeting characters such as the coquettish Rose, the knowledgeable Fox and the complex Lamplighter, complete with their fresh and wonderful recreation by a true master of his art.
Packed with Riddell’s exquisite and memorable artwork, and printed in full colour in a sumptuous hardback and jacketed edition with gold ribbon marker, this gorgeous gift book will be treasured by families for generations to come.
(Macmillan Children’s Books, hardback, £25)
Age 9 plus:
Wonder: The Natural History Museum Poetry Book
The wonders of the natural world are an endless source of inspiration for artists, writers... and poets! So what could be better than an anthology – covering everything from the depths of space to the very centre of the Earth – which has been created in a special partnership with the Natural History Museum?
This beautiful, evocative collection – compiled by bestselling anthologist Ana Sampson – includes poems about the solar system, planet earth, oceans and rivers, birds, dinosaurs, fossils, wildlife, flowers, fungi, insects, explorers and palaeontologists.
Each verse section, inspired by the treasures found in the museum, offers an introduction and some footnotes about particularly interesting species as well as featuring botanical drawings and engravings from the museum’s collections.
The museum itself has a collection of over eighty million objects and behind the scenes of its twenty-eight galleries are miles of preserved specimens, libraries of rare books and artworks, wonders gathered on some of the most famous voyages in history, rooms packed with pressed plants, warehouses teeming with stuffed animals and freezers full of DNA.
The museum is also a state-of-the-art centre for discovery with over three hundred resident scientists and over ten thousand visiting researchers each year, investigating everything from dinosaurs to life on other planets.
With classic and modern poems mirroring our incredible planet – dinosaurs great and small, funky fossils, spectacular space, creepy crawlies, amazing mammals, brilliant birds and powerful rivers and oceans – youngsters can get a taste of the work of poets like Neil Gaiman, Paul Cookson, Kate Wakeling, Robert Macfarlane, Grace Nichols and Brian Moses.
The perfect celebration of nature, the planet and poetry!
(Macmillan Children’s Books, paperback, £9.99)
Age 10 plus:
You Have the Power: Find Your Strength and Believe You Can
Leah Williamson and Suzanne Wrack
Captaining the England Lionesses to victory in the UEFA Women’s Euro Championships last summer was one of the proudest moments in the life of Leah Williamson. But it wasn’t the end of the story for this footballing hero because now Leah is determined to help other girls to find their inner strength, believe in themselves and take control of their lives. And as a defender for Arsenal and the first captain in the men’s or women’s senior teams to lead England to a European victory, Leah is uniquely positioned to motivate and inspire younger generations. You Have the Power, an empowering guide for children written with journalist Suzanne Wrack, is filled with stories from Leah’s own life and contains lots of brilliant advice to show young girls how to find their own strength and empower themselves to follow their dreams. By proving that you can be a leader at any age, and that huge things can happen when you believe in yourself, Leah’s life and career demonstrate that youngsters can achieve anything they put your mind to, both on and off the pitch, no matter what other people say. Positively the best guide to inspire, empower and motivate!
(Macmillan Children’s Books, paperback, £9.99)
Age 9 plus:
Circus Maximus: Rider of the Storm
Breathtaking horses, pulsating action, deadly danger, simmering, shimmering mysteries… and a Roman emperor hell-bent on revenge!
If you hanker for truly extraordinary adventures – classics in more ways than one – then head off to Rome and share more thrills and spills of the ancient sport of charioteering alongside a courageous girl who dares to take on the best… and win.
In the third book of her heart-pounding debut series, classics scholar and Latin teacher Annelise Gray once again brings the Roman world to life with a vibrancy and breathtaking authenticity that cannot fail to capture hearts and minds.
A magical blend of real history and dazzling fiction transports us back to the perilous reign of the brutal Emperor Caligula in the first century AD whilst delivering a terrific and inspirational adventure starring Dido, the only girl charioteer ever to have chalked up a victory at the majestic but brutal Circus Maximus.
But it was a win that cost her dear because Caligula was intent on wreaking revenge. So Dido is reconciled to leaving the racing track and staying at home with her racehorse trainer uncle Scorpus and Parmenion, a one-time charioteer. But a storm is brewing and it brings with it a fiery black stallion, uncannily like Dido’s beloved Porcellus. Word arrives from Rome that her cousin, Abibaal, a talented young charioteer, has been recruited to compete for the evil emperor, Caligula. To save young and impetuous Abibaal, Dido must return to the great Circus Maximus track where she once drove to glory herself, reunite with old friends, face being pursued by old enemies, not least the vengeful Caligula, decide what she is prepared to risk to save the ones she loves most... and face the toughest, most dangerous race of her life.
Ben Hur meets National Velvet as the intelligent, loyal and passionate Dido must once more summon up the blood to fight deadly battles in a world dominated by men whilst clinging on to hope, courage and redemption in the face of revenge, betrayal and cruelty.
With an exciting cast of human and horse characters, and a story that celebrates the close bonds of family, Gray’s gripping adventure gallops along as fast as the prize stallions of the Circus Maximus whilst delivering intriguing snippets of real history and steeping readers in the sights and sounds of the Roman Empire.
So saddle up, take the reins and enjoy an extraordinary and exhilarating ride!
(Zephyr, hardback, £14.99)
Age 8 plus:
Find Your Calm: A fill-in journal to quiet your busy mind
Catherine Veitch, Sarah Davis and Jessica Smith
Everyone has an inner awesome... but if you are finding it hard to unleash, dive into the pages of this stylish fill-in journal and find help to bridge that elusive ‘confidence’ gap. Find Your Calm, written by former teacher Catherine Veitch and creatively illustrated by Jessica Smith, helps youngsters to keep track of their daily life and their dreams for the future, as well as providing advice to increase their sense of calm. Developed with child psychotherapist Sarah Davis, and packed with inspirational quotes and fun activities, as well as tips and tricks for staying calm under pressure, this journal is a great way to understand stress triggers and anxiety. There are recording/logging spreads for day-to-day activities, writing prompts, aspirational planning-ahead features, and lots of space for kids to express themselves in multiple ways. Find Your Calm also explores mental health topics and has a strong focus on mindfulness, creating healthy habits and self-expression, and is the ideal tool for kids who find it hard to understand and express their emotions, hopes and anxieties. So whether you’re looking for tips on staying calm in difficult moments or want to try some mindfulness, this clever and carefully created book could be just what you’re looking for!
(Welbeck Children’s Books, paperback, £9.99)
Age 8 plus:
Ultimate Football Heroes: Vinícius Júnior
Matt and Tom Oldfield
Discover the life stories of the world’s biggest and best footballers with this super series which follows their incredible journeys from childhood fan to superstar professional player. And in this new scintillating story, youngsters are on the trail of star Brazilian player Vinícius Júnior in an action-packed, footballing odyssey. Hailing from a poor family, Vini Jr saw football very much as a hobby rather than a career opportunity but there was no denying that the young boy from Brazil had bags of talent. Moving quickly through the ranks at Flamengo, he immediately caught the eye of the most successful European football club ever and soon joined Real Madrid. Discover how this winger honed his superior close control dribbling ability, added trickery, flair and flamboyance to his playing style, and scored the winning goal in a UEFA Champions League final at only 21 years of age! Written by sports writer brothers Matt and Tom Oldfield in a fast-paced, action-packed style, this new ultimate football hero story is guaranteed to be bang on goal with all aspiring young players!
(Dino Books, paperback, £6.99)
Age 7 plus:
Can You Get Rainbows in Space?
Dr Sheila Kanani and Liz Kay
Have you ever wondered how flamingos become pink, why some flames burn green, and why an octopus has blue blood?
Some of the weird, wonderful and – yes – colourful facts about nature are explored and explained in this truly kaleidoscopic science book which takes youngsters on a thrilling ride and allows them to enjoy seeing the world through a whole new spectrum!
Can You Get Rainbows in Space? has been written by Dr Sheila Kanani, a planetary physicist, science presenter, secondary school physics teacher, space comedian and published author, with a background in astrophysics and astronomy research.
Packed with fun and facts, this colourful compendium of space and science is brought to vibrant life by the stunning illustrations of Liz Kay from West Yorkshire as we travel through the rainbow and into the great blue yonder on an unforgettable, colour-filled adventure.
From tiny iridescent insects to the ‘blue moon,’ children will love to learn about the unique way hippos keep cool, why gold is useful in space and why a monkey’s bright red bottom is much more important than you might think!
Find out why blood is red, why carrots are orange, who invented the light bulb, why the world is ‘going green’ and what ultraviolet light is. Discover why a hippo’s sweat is red, how some animals are able to glow in the dark and how others change their colours to hide from predators. Do you know why leaves change colour in the autumn, why your veins look blue but your blood is red, and why the sea looks blue and why the language we use shapes the colours we see.
Using Dr Kanani’s accessible, bite-sized facts and Kay’s fabulous illustrations, this ingenious and inventive book is perfect for your curious youngsters to discover the answers to these questions, and it will even tell you exactly how to make a rainbow... in space!
(Puffin, hardback, £14.99)
Age 7 plus:
The Other Edie Trimmer
Two girls, one name, and a twist in time! Step into the past and get a taste of the sights, sounds and smells of Victorian London in an exciting new time-slip novel from one of Britain’s bestselling and most beloved children’s authors Jacqueline Wilson. Filled with Wilson’s customary extensive research, larger-than-life characters and dazzling storytelling, The Other Edie Trimmer is a joy from start to finish. ‘I seemed to be seeing double. I saw two Edies instead of one – but they weren’t the same.’ Edie is fascinated by Victorian times, and she is just desperate to be cast in the lead role of her drama club production of Oliver. When she’s given a real Victorian notebook she’s determined to write the best story ever, all about a girl in a workhouse. But when she starts writing, something strange happens. Edie finds herself in Victorian London. She feels the same, but everything around her is completely different to what she knows. Soon, she realises she’s living the life of another Edie Trimmer... and is in danger of being sent to a real workhouse! Will she forget everything she knows about her other life, and will she ever be able to make it back to her family? The Other Edie Trimmer is stamped all over with Wilson’s warmth, wit and wonderfully imaginative scene-setting as this tale of family and friendship delivers excitement and drama on every page. The ideal read for all history and adventure fans... and look out for the cameo appearance of familiar Victorian literary giant Charles Dickens!
(Puffin, hardback, £14.99)
Age 7 plus:
High: Soar to New Heights
Do you ever gaze at the skies and wonder what the world looks like to the birds, creatures and people who live or fly high above us?
Enjoy discovering the wonders that exist miles above the Earth on a very special reading ‘flight’ which takes us up close to the amazing aviators, soaring seabirds, treetop dwellers, and mythical creatures of the cosmos.
The fascinating and diverse topics of nature, weather, astronomy, architecture, engineering, and mythology are all explored in the most exciting, accessible and colourful way inside the pages of talented Melbourne author and illustrator Jess McGeachin’s exceptionally entertaining and vibrantly illustrated book High.
Meet the creatures who live high in the treetops, the birds that ride the wind across the globe, the people who have braved the highest mountain summits, and the stories we tell to explain the night-time’s dazzling stars.
There is a whole world in the sky, waiting to be discovered as McGeachin – whose work is inspired by the natural world – takes youngsters on a thrilling journey from the tallest trees and across breathtakingly lofty skyscrapers to the mountain peaks that overshadow them all.
Through words and pictures, High also explores the efforts humans have made to venture high above the Earth, from early flying machines and buoyant balloons to space rockets and the chariots of the gods.
Linking seemingly diverse subject matter, McGeachin reveals how high places have a way of putting things into perspective and reminds us just how fragile our homes look from way up in the skies.
A fabulous, high-flying book that is guaranteed to give lift off to young imaginations!
(Welbeck Editions, hardback, £14.99)
Age 3 plus:
The King’s Hats
Sheila May Bird and Mark Beech
You have to take off your hat to author Sheila May Bird and illustrator Mark Beech as they work their special magic on a gloriously funny picture book celebration of the upcoming Coronation of King Charles III. ‘The King put on his heavy crown. It felt so hot and tight. His dear Mama had worn it well, On her it looked just right...’ Charles is now King of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, but he is finding his new crown just a little heavy to manage and he is worried that he might not be as beloved as his dear mama, Queen Elizabeth II. But his good friend Tom the gardener is on hand to show him that kings must wear all sorts of hats and that he must be brave and allow himself to be the king he was born to be. Bird’s jaunty, joyful rhyming text – capturing the chaos and comedy of all the roles the king might have to take on through the hats he will have to wear – is brilliantly brought to life by Beech’s exuberant illustrations which explode across the pages in a rainbow of colours. The crowning glory for young readers as the big day on May 6 draws closer!
(Welbeck Flame, paperback, £7.99)
Age 3 plus:
The Hotel for Bugs
Suzy Senior and Leire Martín
The insect world is buzzing when a smart new hotel for bugs opens in town! All guests are welcome... well, maybe not slimy slugs! Author Suzy Senior and illustrator, Leire Martín, much-loved and very talented creators of picture book Unicorn Club!, have fun with a new, laugh-out-loud, rhyming romp starring a cast of the most curious creatures this side of the bug world. With its joyously quirky and inclusive story about tolerance, embracing difference and speaking out against injustices, this is a fun ride from hotel opening right through to snuggling down into a four-poster bed. ‘The crowd started clapping and then with an ‘Oooh!’ They peeked through the entrance to get the first view Of huge bouncy sofas and soft, mossy rugs In the brand new and the fabulous Hotel for Bugs!’ It’s the grand opening of the Hotel for Bugs complete with a buffet, pool and spa... the ideal place for bugs to go on holiday. Then a slug turns up. He’s much too squishy and slimy and is NOT welcome at the Hotel for Bugs... until a small bug speaks up. A slug is no weirder than a dung beetle rolling poo or a butterfly tasting with its feet. Everybody should be welcome at the brand new and fabulous hotel for all! With Senior’s addictive verse perfectly matched to Martín’s brightly coloured and richly detailed illustrations, there is plenty for bug-finders big and small to spot in this beautiful, celebration of difference, tolerance and acceptance!
(Little Tiger Press, paperback, £7.99)
Age 3 plus:
Finding Floss: The colour-changing Cockapoo!
Cara Matheson and Mirna Imamovic
Getting lost can be scary for children so help put them on the road to understanding stranger danger with this charming picture book starring everyone’s favourite dog... a cockapoo! Author Cara Matheson and illustrator Mirna Imamovic work some special doggie magic on this story about a mischievous, colour-changing cockapoo who saves the day when a little girl loses her family at the fair. Floss the pet cockapoo is one of a kind... she can change colour making it seem impossible to find her. Mum reckons Floss is half-dog and half-chameleon... ‘a real cockapoo-meleon.’ Everybody in the mixed-race family who own Floss love her, but what happens when one of the family’s little girls is exploring the local funfair and can’t be found? It’s time for some of Floss’s colour-changing cockapoo mystery and magic! Matheson’s lively rhyming verse is the perfect blend with Imamovic’s joyful springtime colour palette while little ones will love poring over each page and spotting the colour-changing pet in every picture. Finding Floss is not just a bright and beautiful celebration of the bond between a child and their pet, but also a clever way to deliver important messages to children about what to do if they ever get lost.
(Owlet Press, paperback, £7.99)
Age 3 plus:
Mr Men Little Miss: Be Yourself and Sharing
Just because you’re little doesn’t mean you don’t have BIG emotions! Inspire, uplift and empower your pre-schoolers with this entertaining, educational and collectible illustrated Mr Men and Little Miss ‘Discover You’ series which helps little ones unpack big feelings.
Roger Hargreaves’ eternally popular Mr Men and Little Miss are the ideal characters to help children understand their own – sometimes puzzling – emotions and how to manage them. With engaging questions to encourage conversations and some tips from favourite characters to help children develop their emotional intelligence, these small, carefully created books gently explore big feelings with sensitivity and thought, allowing room for discussion, engagement and fun.
In Mr Men Little Miss: Be Yourself, an inspiring and engaging Mr Men Little Miss story about finding confidence in being you, we meet Mr Funny who is full of confidence... but you don’t have to be loud or funny to believe in yourself. You sometimes just need to realise that you’re liked and accepted for who you are, whether you’re as cheeky as Little Miss Naughty or as quiet as Mr Quiet!
In Mr Men Little Miss: Sharing, a heartwarming and engaging story about the joy of sharing, we discover Little Miss Sunshine and Mr Cool who love sharing even though sometimes it can be difficult to share. Mr Grumpy and Little Miss Stubborn find it particularly hard. Will they learn to enjoy sharing too with some help from their friends?
With colourful characters on every page, and gentle, reassuring messages about feelings and emotions, these clever little books are perfect additions to any home, nursery or school.
(Farshore, paperback, £4.99 each)
Age 2 plus:
The Storm Whale
The tender, timeless and beautifully wrought tale of a lonely little boy who finds a stranded whale on the beach after a storm makes a welcome tenth anniversary appearance for a new generation of young readers. Author, illustrator and animation director Benji Davies made waves with The Storm Whale, a breathtaking picture book which was awarded the inaugural Oscar's Book Prize and has gone on to become a modern classic and a much-loved global bestseller. Noi lives with his dad and six cats by the sea. With his dad working hard as a fisherman, Noi sometimes feels a bit lonely so when, one day, he finds a little whale washed up on the beach after a storm, he takes it home to care for it. At first, Noi tries to keep his new friend a secret, but there’s only so long you can keep a whale in the bath without your dad finding out. Noi is persuaded that the whale must go back to the sea where it belongs, but their friendship will stay with him forever. Davies’ stunning illustrations evoke a sense of wonder and whimsy while the moving story captures perfectly how it feels to be a child and explores themes of compassion, friendship and the power of small acts of kindness. With every page a feast for the eyes and senses, a note from the author on his inspiration for the book and a limited edition art print inside the back cover of some editions, this gorgeous anniversary hardback is a book to treasure.
(Simon & Schuster Children’s Books, hardback, £14.99)
Age 2 plus:
The Girl Who Loves Bugs
Lily Murray and Jenny Løvlie
There’s no escaping the joyous fun and laughter in this bug-filled picture book from the top team of superstar writer Lily Murray and Waterstones Prize-winning illustrator, Jenny Løvlie. After the resounding success of their picture book, A Dress With Pockets, the dynamic duo turn their sights on a little girl whose life and loves revolve around the (not always popular!) world of creepy-crawlies. Aimed at empowering young girls to always be curious, and inspired by the trailblazing life of Evelyn Cheesman, the first woman to run London Zoo’s Insect House, The Girl Who Loves Bugs is as hilarious as it is heart-warming. Evie loves bugs and she’s fed up of having to keep up with her mums and brother on walks when she would rather be peering under logs and examining snails. So, one day, she decides to bring the bugs inside so she can be with them all the time. The problem is, the family is coming to stay, even fearsome Great Gran, who doesn’t stand for any nonsense. And on the day of their arrival, Evie wakes up to find her bugs have escaped... all over the house! What is Great Gran going to say? Murray’s fabulous rhyming romp – with themes of following your dreams and the unconditional love of family – is matched perfectly with Løvlie’s array of busy, beautiful and bug-laden illustrations. With ideas and tips at the back of the book for looking after your own bugs (preferably outside!), this is the perfect picture book to unleash the adventurous spirit in all fun-loving girls.
(Macmillan Children’s Books, paperback, £7.99)