Book review: Children’s books from Macmillan

With the superb selection of children’s books available from Macmillan this summer, there won’t be a dull moment for young readers.

Hottest in a ‘cool’ line-up are:

Phenomenal! The Small Book of Big Words by Jonathan Meres

Forget the dry old tome on the library shelf and dip into this hilarious alternative dictionary which contains only the most amazing words in the English language.

Master of comedy Jonathan Meres introduces children aged nine and over to a wonderfully weird and wacky collection of words that they will want to repeat over and over again.

Alongside such beauties as loquacious, ignominious and taciturn there are brilliant explanations, examples and the quirkiest of illustrations.

Take ‘discombobulated,’ meaning ‘thrown into confusion’ ... its examples of usage here are the strange and surreal phrases ‘the lion is discombobulated by the skateboarding wildebeest’ and ‘my parents are discombobulated when I suddenly start speaking Swedish.’

So if you want to impress friends, confuse parents and baffle even the best of teachers, take a leaf out of the simply awesome Phenomenal! and make sure you always have the last word...

(Macmillan, paperback, £5.99)

The World’s Windiest Baby by Steve Hartley

Lancashire author Steve Hartley leads a sensible sort of life but, like many adults, he just loves to be silly...

So here he is again with the fantastic finale to Danny Baker’s revolting records which include the windiest baby, the biggest underpant-hat and the tallest pizza tower.

Like many young boys, Danny dreams of making it into the record books. Fed up of mega-boring lessons about how paint dries and his mum’s ‘pamper parties,’ he’s looking for something more exciting from life.

Ever the optimist, he writes to Mr Bibby, Keeper of the Great Big Book of World Records, with side-splitting accounts of his chaotic endeavours but he’s going to have to think of something better than the world’s most infectious yawn.

Cue another load of Danny’s attempts to smash a load of madcap records, with a little help from baby brother Joey whose burps can knock cats out of trees...

Laugh-out-loud, infectious fun for children aged seven and over...and if you want to enjoy more of the author’s silly antics, log onto his website at

(Macmillan, paperback, £4.99)

Puppy Party by Anna Wilson

Animal lover Anna Wilson really knows how to charm her young readers so an invite to her Puppy Party just can’t be turned down...

Mum has given Summer two weeks to plan a surprise party for her glamorous older sister April and when she realises that it is also her Labrador puppy Honey’s birthday that week, she decides to plan a joint party.

She doesn’t want any spoilsports to scupper her plans so very conveniently doesn’t mention the ‘puppy’ part of the party to anyone except her best friend Molly Cook.

Not surprisingly, when party day arrives, utter mayhem slowly starts to unfold... someone tries a dog biscuit thinking it’s a trendy new kind of crisp while Honey and her doggy guests tug at the tablecloth, tearing open presents and trashing the house.

Meanwhile April , who has been told to keep away until the last minute, is becoming more and more ‘over dramatical’ and suspicious. How will she react to the canine takeover of her special day?

Author of Kitten Kaboodle, Kitten Smitten, Kitten Cupid and Monkey Business, Wilson’s latest animal extravaganza will be lapped up by pet lovers aged seven and over.

(Macmillan, paperback, £5.99)

The Princess and the Sleep Stealer by Elissa Elwick

Bedtime stories don’t come sweeter than Elissa Elwick’s magical tale of fantasy and adventure which features the bewitching Princess Luna, Sleep Keeper of the little town of Papier.

Every night, she leans out of her castle window and sprinkles sleepy dust down to the houses below, sending everyone gently to sleep until morning.

But disaster strikes when the dust disappears! Where has it gone? And with time rapidly running out, will the princess get it back before bedtime?

Featuring sleep-stealing pirates, a friendly dragon and a heroic princess, not to mention a moonlit race over sugar mountains and through liquorice trees, there’s a world of fun in this sparkling story.

Full of eye-catching and colourful pictures and with a simple but vivid text, The Princess and the Sleep Stealer is guaranteed to give your little ones a gentle send-off to dreamland.

(Macmillan, paperback, £5.99)

Cats Ahoy by Peter Bently and Jim Field

With his trademark humour and mastery of rhyme floating the boat, author Peter Bently joins talented illustrator Jim Field on a super swashbuckling voyage ideal for the very youngest readers.

When Alfonso the cat hears there’s a boat coming into harbour carrying its largest ever catch, he hatches a very fishy plan.

It’s brave, it’s bold and it involves a ghost pirate ship, some rather gullible fishermen and cats … LOTS of cats.

With pirate plunder, cutlass-waving cats, a huge haul of haddock and the biggest, brightest and boldest pictures you are likely to see this side of the ocean, this is a top-class, high seas adventure.

(Macmillan, paperback, £5.99)