Train travel wonders, sky high adventure and classic comedy by various authors - book reviews -

Travel the world to discover the rich history of trains, meet a plucky little robin on a dangerous rescue mission, and take your seats for a hilarious performance of a classic Shakespeare play in an entertaining line-up of children’s books.

Thursday, 10th December 2020, 12:30 pm
Tales of the Rails

Age 8 plus:

Tales of the Rails: Legendary Train Routes of the World

Nathaniel Adams and Ryan Johnson

Hands up if you like trains?

There will be a bulging trainload of takers for this exciting visual journey through the rich history of rail travel as top team, author Nathaniel Adams and illustrator Ryan Johnson, take youngsters (and adults!) on a fantastic thrill ride.

Share the addictive sense of adventure as you are transported across the world, taking in thirteen impressive rails routes in the company of drivers, conductors, passengers and a cast of diverse characters on board who are waiting to guide you through the book.

Learn about Japan’s record-breaking Bullet train, then slow down a little on the Caledonian Sleeper to experience an overnight journey on one of Britain’s last sleeper carriages, and see if you can spot the bears out of the window during a trip through Canada’s wilderness.

Marvel at the famously steep rack-and-pinion Snowdon Mountain Railway which functions with a special ‘gripper’ rail, see the Northern Lights on the Arctic Circle Train, and cross Asia on the world’s staggeringly long (5,772 miles!) Trans-Siberian Railway.

Studying where and why these routes exist, and discovering facts about the people that keep the engines running, this beautifully illustrated, fun and fact-filled book is a nostalgic and heartfelt celebration of the golden age of train travel.

And with its stitch-bound cover, charming, easy-to-read format, and adventurous approach to learning, this is the perfect gift for train buffs of every age.

(Little Gestalten, hardback, £16.95)

Age 9 plus:

Tik Robin and the Krismas Goblin

Anthony Paul Sergeant and Erica Louise Sergeant

Let your imagination take flight with an enchanting story inspired by the beauty of nature, wildlife… and birds of every size, shape and colour.

Tik Robin and the Krismas Goblin – a wonderful, world-building novel about a little robin’s valiant battle to rescue his best friend – has been a ten-year labour of love for Tony Sergeant, a Lancashire author and former primary school teacher who is in remission from a two-year battle with CNS Lymphoma, a type of blood cancer.

With the help of his supportive wife Erica, who also illustrated the book cover, Tony has finished and published the story which, he says, he is now enjoying reading with his eldest son Edward who loves both the book and sharing wild adventures.

Star of the story is the adorable Tik Robin who is looking forward to Krismas in the town of Chestnuttington, one of the Six Settlements which are surrounded by the Lawless Lands, wild places where the law of nature is the only covenant to live by.

But these changing times are rife with conflict as wild creatures come to terms with the choice between a wild, free but albeit uncertain existence, or a tame, tedious yet altogether safer life within one of the settlements.

And out of myth and legend, an ancient foe has risen, threatening all life across the Six Settlements and lawless lands alike. In the Whispering Woods, Kyfe Rabbit knows every tree and every bush. It’s a place where he’s never been afraid… until now.

Something is stirring there and even though he has a deep mistrust for other creatures, he knows he must sound the alarm and get the message out. As creatures far and wide prepare to fight for survival, the reluctant Tik Robin is facing a desperate challenge of his own as he attempts to rescue his forlorn friend, Mickey Wren, from a life of brutal slavery.

Across the mountains and the moors, Tik’s quest becomes bigger than just a rescue bid as he discovers a shocking secret which could turn the tide in the war to come… either way, it’s going to be a Krismas to remember.

Packed with drama, danger, a delightful cast of animal and bird characters, and with a superbly imagined ‘other’ world of wildlife, this is a well-plotted story of friendship, resilience and courage which succeeds in inspiring both children and adults to love and engage with nature, and to keep on fighting to save our own planet.

And with three more books planned in the Tik Robin series, this is a story that is set to run far beyond the going down of the sun on the Whispering Woods.

(Edmenry Press, paperback, £7.99)

Age 8 plus:

Rock Bottom: A Midsummer Nightmare

Ross Montgomery and Mark Beech

If your Christmas plans have hit rock bottom, take a seat and enjoy a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream as you have never before seen it!

Award-winning children’s author Ross Montgomery puts cheer and charm into the Christmas season with this hilarious twist on Shakespeare’s classic comedy in a brilliant, illustrated caper that will have youngsters giggling all the way to the final curtain.

Nick is truly, madly in love with Jessie Stone, and she doesn’t even know his name. In a ploy to win her heart, he plans to star alongside her in the school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream but when he’s cast as the foolish Bottom instead of the romantic lead, his whole world comes crashing down.

Enter Robyn, school mischief-maker, who has some crafty tricks up her sleeve. With her help, Nick is sure he can get Jessie to notice him just as long as his grand plans don’t go up in smoke…

The course of true love certainly doesn’t run smooth in Montgomery’s fun-filled parody of the Bard’s famous play-within-a-play as friendship, true love, and a completely disastrous school Shakespeare production take centre stage.

With Mark Beech’s gallery of bold and anarchic black and white illustrations to bring the cast and action to life, and published in Barrington Stoke’s trademark dyslexia-friendly format, this is wonderful entertainment for both regular and reluctant readers.

(Barrington Stoke, paperback, £6.99)

Age 8 plus:

Queen of King Street

Tom McLaughlin

Learning to be ‘normal’ proves to be a harder task than one imagined in a right royal romp from author and illustrator Tom McLaughlin.

Queen of King Street is the author’s sparkling debut for dyslexia-friendly publisher Barrington Stoke and as someone who has struggled with the reading disorder, McLaughlin’s carefully produced book has a special place in his heart.

So head off to the palace and discover how the royals fare when the Queen’s prodigal brother gambles away the family fortune, leaving both the cupboards and the bank balances decidedly bare.

Unlucky Bertie has only gone and gambled away the family’s jewels, palaces, crowns and titles on a series of disastrous card games. It’s the last in a long line of disasters, and nobody is going to save the Montgomery family this time. But this is no ordinary family…this is the royal family, and Bertie is the Queen’s brother. So it’s goodbye to the palace and hello to a little house on King Street for these royals. Who knew that getting jobs, learning to live like normal people and fitting in with the neighbours could be so hard? It’s time to sink or swim!

With its clever political and satirical twist, a cast of characters you won’t forget in a hurry, lots of hilarious mishaps, and McLaughlin’s comical illustrations, Queen of King Street is guaranteed to please both commoners and royals!

(Barrington Stoke, paperback, £6.99)

Age 7 plus:

The Adventures of Harley and Lucy: The Marshland Rescue

Maria Atlan and Adriana Santos

Join a nervous former military dog as he prepares for retirement, and life with a brand new family.

Maria Atlan, a former military officer herself, and a writer of poetry, short stories, and all things conservation-related, brings young readers a delightful and thoughtful adventure story with animals and conservation at its beating heart.

Harley, a retired military service dog, is looking forward to starting a new life with the Lacey family, but when he arrives, he discovers he has a new sibling… a tiny, bushy tailed, tri-coloured cat called Lucy.

And even worse than a cat for a sister, is the news that the local developers are planning to tear down the Old Ashley Place marshlands, home to countless animals, to begin building work.

Can Harley and Lucy settle their differences in time to take part in an amazing animal escapade to save the marshland from destruction... and can cats and dogs ever become true friends?

With illustrations by Adriana Santos and an exciting, race-against-time story to enjoy, this is ideal reading for both animal and adventure lovers.

(Little Steps Publishing, paperback, £6.99)