Whether you are travelling abroad this summer or staycationing in the UK, summer and reading go together like the proverbial fish and chips.
Reading is a great way for your children to have some downtime away from a screen and can transport them to exotic lands from the comfort of their own sofas or beds. It’s also worth packing a few new books in your bags if you are going away to keep your little ones entertained. So, here are my recommended reads for your children over the summer holidays. I hope you find something your child enjoys.
Be Calmer, Llama- Gareth Lucas illustrator), Little Tiger Press Limited (publisher)
We have a few llamas who could be calmer in this house!! This is a brilliant counting down book (and we love a bit of subtle maths here!): it’s packed full of the most adorable illustrations and aims to calm your little ones down (hooray!). Not only that but it has the most super-fun and tactile llamas around which your little ones will have their sticky little fingers all over in no time! Five busy llamas are learning to calm down and, one by one, they each undertake an activity which helps to soothe and relax them. My twins couldn’t help trying a few of these techniques themselves while we read (giving themselves a cuddle was my absolute favourite!) and I am sure that your little reader will want to do the same, with or without encouragement. The artwork is gorgeous, depicting the sweetest animals in the most soothing of colour tones. I think this would be a superb book to pack to take with you on any holidays you are going on (in the UK or abroad) because it gently encourages a wind down after a busy day and its calming verse would provide familiarity.
My World in 100 Words: Seaside
This is the ultimate board book for the seaside this summer. With sturdy cardboard pages which contain bright and colourful illustrations, it is a fabulous book to pop in your beach bag and read under a shady umbrella at the seaside. Each two-page spread is grouped into categories, with a seaside theme in mind, and contains some superb vocabulary for each category. Your little one can learn lots of different words relating to sand play, or what to take to the beach, what they might discover in a rock pool, the names of various sea creatures and much more. Each word is accompanied by the sweetest illustration of that particular word and the drawings are done in such bold and eye-catching colours that your little one cannot fail to be mesmerised. This book is such a fantastic resource for early learning and building vocabulary for your young reader and its brilliant, handy size means that you can easily take it on your travels with you.
Have you Heard Of? Ru Paul Charles and Have you Heard Of? Dolly Parton – Una Woods (illustrator), Pat-a-Cake (registered trademark of Hodder & Stoughton) (publisher)
What a gloriously vibrant and fun new series of interactive board books, aimed to introduce your little ones to the life and work of important people in popular culture, history, literature, art, activism, science and much more. And what a way to begin by introducing your pre-schooler to Ru Paul Charles and Dolly Parton (I have a huge soft spot for her!). These books are the perfect introduction to iconic people, pitching the level of detail and information just right for the age-range. Not only do these sturdy board books contain wonderful snippets of information about each inspirational figure but they combine it with the brilliant interactive pages with fun lift the flaps and even a moving wheel. Your little ones can discover the differences that these inspirational people have made in the world through their actions yet also have fun playing while they are doing so. The illustrations are absolutely superb – bright and bold and designed to draw your young reader into the book. We also love the questions that the books asks the young readers – do you like music?…..what kind of clothes do you like to wear?… what would you like to be when you grow up? … so that the books can also be used as a conversation starter. They are also a great size to fit into your bag so would be a great addition to any summer reading this year. We cannot wait for more in this series.
Under the Same Sky – Britta Teckentrup (author and illustrator), Caterpillar Books (imprint of Little Tiger) (publisher)
Whenever I see a new book by Britta Teckentrup, I just know it is going to be beautiful. And this peek-through board book just does not disappoint. We may all be different but we all look up to see the same sky. Although we don’t all look the same and we might be in different places, we share so many of the same habits, hopes and dreams. This book combines the most beautiful and lilting rhyming text, full of hope and happiness for a united world, with some of the most visually stunning artwork. The colour tones used are also outstanding, perfectly depicting the scenery and awe-inspiring environment of the natural world and the animals it beautifully features. The cardboard cut-out shapes change after each rhyming couplet, providing much interest and intrigue for exploring little fingers and hands and encouraging young readers to develop their fine motor skills. Not only is this one of the most adorable texts to read with your little one, full of emotion and warmth, it is a visual masterpiece all bound up in a cute-sized sturdy book and just ready and waiting for you to pack it into your nappy bag and take it on your adventures with you.
Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam – Pirates Ahoy! – Tracey Corderoy (author), Steven Lenton (illustrator), Nosy Crow Limited (publisher)
I may have mentioned this before but we are HUGE Shifty and Sam fans in this house so my four year old twins were sooooo excited when we got this latest book to review. It’s a bold statement but they have declared it their favourite yet. Maybe it is the combination of the ‘goodie’ pirates and the ‘baddie’ pirates, or the fantastic artwork, or the brilliant swashbuckling storyline but, whatever, I am inclined to agree with them. The baking barkers are back better than ever in this tale of Captain Chucklebeard and his pirate party. Shifty and Sam climb aboard his ship to provide the sweet delights for the celebration but the Captain’s treasure goes missing. Could it be the party band? Are they merely bad pirates in disguise? It’s up to Shifty and Sam to save the day!! We love these doggy detectives and their canine capers. The illustrations are always so wonderful in this series. The colour palette used in this book, in particular, is brilliant and perfect for a sunny summer read at the beach with its gorgeous images of ships and seas. The characters are all so brilliantly portrayed in the drawings, which are hugely bright and fun. One of our favourite things to do is to spot the spider on each page: he ends up in some hilarious places in this book. Never mind Captain Chucklebeard’s pile of gold, we think the true treasure is this book.
Dinos Don’t Give Up – Smriti Halls (author), Richard Merritt (illustrator), Little Tiger Press Limited (publisher)
Who doesn’t love a vibrant rhyming dino book with a fabulous message?! Little Diplodocus dino Dinah was a legend in the dinosaur world. Dinah might have been small but she was mighty. She was good at everything. Nothing was a challenge to her, and medals and trophies were her thing. Until that is, a surfing competition was announced in dino bay and all the other dinosaurs rushed to enter with Dinah. She was sure she would win – how hard could it be?! It turned out though that surfing wasn’t Dinah’s thing, and covered in seaweed and wet through, she was washed ashore, last. Poor Dinah. But the best thing about Dinah? After a cuddle from her friends, she didn’t mind not winning and even went to congratulate the dino who came first. Then what did she do? She rushed out to sea to try again, because the best thing to do is pick yourself up again and simply have fun!! Yey to Dinah. This book could not have been more well-timed in our house with the arrival of sports day at school. This was such a timely reminder that it is about taking part and having fun and keeping on trying, even if you don’t win. What a great message. This book is such a super summer read, with its beach-side setting and its gorgeous summer colours. The illustrations are fantastic: full of gorgeously cute dinosaurs, with colourful and bright two-page spreads echoing the fun of the story.
Amazing Animal Tales – Little Tiger and Baby Koala – Anne Rooney (author), Carolina Rabei (illustrator), Oxford University Press (publisher)
Did you know that baby tigers are born with blue eyes which change to gold in colour over time? Or that a newborn koala weighs about the same as ten honeybees? These heart-warming stories of baby animals living with their families in the wild are just adorable. Baby Koala’s home is under threat from bush-fires and she must learn to be bold and brave while Little Tiger’s curious nature can lead him into some tricky situations sometimes. Within each beautifully illustrated story, your child can lift the flaps to fold out two-page spreads full of facts about these fascinating and wonderful animals. We love the measurements used, encouraging your child to compare themselves to the animals and introducing and firming up a love for maths at an early age. These books are exquisitely illustrated with sweeping brushstrokes and gorgeous colour palettes which will draw your child into the pages of the story. Part picture book, part non-fiction, these books are a beautiful summer read, particularly if you are jetting off to a part of the world where these animals can be found in their natural habitats (you lucky things!).
Pip and Posy: The Friendly Snail – Camilla Reid (author), Axel Scheffler (illustrator), Nosy Crow Ltd (publisher)
We love a Pip and Posy book in this house so we were very excited about this book which is out now in paperback. We read it for the first time in the most perfect place: outside on a sunny day on the grass in a beautiful RHS garden. This might just be our favourite Pip and Posy! Outside, in the garden, Pip is doing some gardening and comes across a friendly little snail but when Posy’s noisy games frighten the snail, Pip gets cross with his best friend. However, a big bird tries to eat the bird when Pip isn’t looking and Posy shouts out loud again. This time though, her noise saves the little snail. Pip realises that, sometimes, being noisy can actually be a good thing. This book is beautifully illustrated with gorgeous spreads of summertime in the garden and sweet depictions of the animals and insects. We love the message (we have two very noisy children in this house!) that it is good to value and celebrate each other’s differences and that there are times when being noisy can be just as good as being quiet. We love it here. Hooray!
What Do You See When You Look at a Tree? Emma Carlisle (author and illustrator) Big Picture Press (imprint of Bonnier Books) (publisher)
What a beautiful celebration of nature and the natural world this book is. The illustrations are exquisite, depicting the beautiful trees it mentions in all their glorious detail. To match the stunning illustrations, there is a lilting rhyme which has such a calming vibe when you read it out loud that it cannot fail to have your children transfixed. But what I love most about this book is all of the questions that it poses. I love that it asks your children to think about how long a tree has been around and what other children might have climbed it, or sheltered within it, or wrapped their arms around it. It is on the one hand so thought-provoking but on the other asks your child to really ‘be’ in the moment, looking at all the details of a tree that they can see. I love how it really emphasises what a beautiful, living, breathing thing a tree is and that we should respect that. I love how the book encourages your children to think about their future too, to think about what they might like to be and what kind of adventures they might like to go on. I love how the book comes full circle as it starts with a small girl who grows beside the trees and ends with her returning to her favourite tree as an adult. The fact section at the back of the book is also brilliant (and, again, magnificently drawn), giving chunks of information about trees and how they talk to each other and have families and networks. There is also a wonderful two page spread encouraging children (and, let’s face it, as an adult I could do with adhering to more of this) to try and be more like a tree: to be patient, to rest, to take care of ourselves, to work as a community, to celebrate our own uniqueness and to explore the world but still stay grounded. This is a very unique book. I genuinely think that I have learnt as much from it as the children. It’s a superb book to read at this time of year when the trees are in all their glorious bloom. Calming and beautiful with its watercolour illustrations, this book is a great reminder for us all to stop, slow down and listen to the world around us.
The Enormous Morning – Louise Greig (author). Lizzy Stewart (illustrator), Farshore (imprint of Harper Collins) (publisher)
This book literally bursts with colour, vitality and wonder. It wraps itself around your heart, filling you and your little ones with the possibility and promise of what a morning can bring. The descriptive words used in this story are just magical, every sight, colour, smell and sound is described in the most evocative and beautiful of ways. I love how this story builds, just as a morning grows and magically and wonderfully develops into the day. Pia begins to notice everything, every sight and sound, every glorious colour, every wonderful animal and insect from the natural world. As the world awakes and the environment surrounding Pia and her Rabbit and her papa bursts to life, so too does Pia’s imagination and sense of wonder. This is such a magical book encapsulating all the excitement and promise that a morning brings and how cuddles and laughter and colour and mindful moments can make it an ‘enormous morning’. The book is literally filled with light and love and is a joy to read both lyrically and visually. The pages are packed with vibrant illustrations of nature in all her glory and it makes you happy just turning each two-fold spread. This is a wonderful read for this time of year in particular when the blooms are bursting, the insects are lazily buzzing and there is such warmth and promise in your world. This is the way a child should see each morning. We can learn such a lot from this book.
Wild Summer – Sean Taylor and Alex Morss (authors), Cinyee Chiu (illustrator),Happy Yak (imprint of Quarto) (publisher)
The perfect summer picture book read is right here! And how apt this year with the scorching temperatures we have had in the UK: “Lots of plants and animals need to cool down..” Yes, yes they do! Part fact, part fiction, this picture book follows the story of a little girl and her grandpa as they explore the environment around them in the heat of summer. We love the story which explores the natural world and how the plants and animals survive and adapt in the season that we know as summer. There are also fact pages at the back of the book which help your little reader explore the concept of summer before focussing in on some land animals and plants which have adapted and evolved to cope with the warmer weather. The information is given in bite-sized chunks, completely appropriate for the attention span of its target audience. And the illustrations. Oh, the illustrations! Evoking long, hot, cornflower blue skies and sunny, cloudless days, meadows full of bright poppies and proud foxgloves (we have had sooooo many this year!) and butterflies flitting in the breeze.. just stunning. I think this might be our favourite of this series of books so far but then that might be because I think I am an artic tern myself!
The Fairy Dogmother – Caroline Crowe (author), Richard Merritt (illustrator), Little Tiger Press Ltd (publisher)
A delightful canine caper of a take on the traditional Cinderella fairytale (or should that be fairy tail?!!), this book is fresh and fun. Cinders lives at Woofington’s Dog Shelter surrounded by his fabulous friends, a full belly and in relative comfort. When his fairy dogmother, Priscilla Paws, appears one day, he really struggles with what he should wish for. A problem shared is a problem halved so Cinders asks his furry friends what they would wish for and they all come up with a hilarious list of suggestions. Just in time, Cinders thinks of the perfect wish for all of his friends! And, no spoilers, but what a selfless, kind wish it is. We love this book, not least for the gorgeous message of kindness and love but because the brilliant twist at the end of the book ensuring true happiness for our loveable canine Cinders. We also love the laugh out loud illustrations of the playful pups and the brilliantly vibrant colours used throughout the story. This is a wonderful story of friendship and fun and is perfect for any animal lover.
No Sleep for Bear – Duncan Beedie (author and illustrator), Templar Books (imprint of Bonnier Books UK) (publisher)
Winter is fast approaching and everybody in the forest knows that bears have to hibernate over winter so bear settles down in his cave for a nice, long sleep. Except that he finds that he just cannot nod off. The harder he tries and the more crazy ideas he comes up with (like hanging from the ceiling like a bat (you know that one is not going to end well!), the more wide awake he feels. Until, that is, one night when he comes across a lovely green frog who shows him all about the importance of learning to relax (I think I need to take a leaf from frog’s book!). As Bear sits with his friend and listens to the nature around him and the gentle rhythm of his breathing, he nods off, right where he is. Which is great for Bear. But not so great for all the other forest animals who are woken by the sound of his snoring!! This is a laugh out loud picture book, full of irresistible illustrations of the adorable forest animals and full of humour and warmth. It will resonate with practically every parent out there when they are faced with fidgety, wide-awake children at bedtime. I think it would be a super book to take away on holiday with you to help provide a relaxing, calming wind-down to bedtime. It’s certainly a favourite in our house at the moment.
The Journey – Jonny Marx (author), Hanako Clulow (illustrator), Caterpillar Books (imprint of Little Tiger) (publisher)
How amazing and mind-blowing is this? Every year, thousands of zebras sense a change in weather patterns and begin a journey towards more fertile grasslands in order to find food. One herd in Namibia makes the longest migration (of over 150 miles) of any African land mammal in just two weeks! Wow! This beautifully illustrated picture book takes you on a picture wonderland of a journey across the African landscape. The rhyming verse tells the story of the zebras’ mammoth journey and the perils and dangers that they face along the way. It also introduces your children to lots of other African animals and birds which can be found in the same landscape. Not only is this book visually stunning with a lilting verse which captivates your young reader, it also contains a two page spread at the back of the book which details some further fascinating facts about the plains zebra (did you know that a zebra’s kick is powerful enough to kill a lion?!) and introduces your child to the names of the wonderful animals it mentions throughout the story. The drawings of these animals and the illustrations of the landscape are just breath-taking, a real treat for both you and your child. This book is a wonderful summer read, teaching your child about the summer migration of these gorgeous African animals. I’d love to team it up with a safari trip with the children – I can but dream!!
Somewhere – Jeanne Willis (author), Anastasia Suvorova (illustrator), Nosy Crow Ltd (publisher)
Do you often find asking your child question after question? Without really hearing the response. At the bottom of Oscar’s garden is a wonderland of a place called Nowhere where extraordinary things can happen. Oscar can play without a coat, fly a kite, build a magical castle, all without grown ups worrying him and asking him what he is doing and frustrating him with his questions. But Nowhere starts to feel a bit lonely and Oscar meets a little ginger cat who he starts asking lots of questions of and who ultimately leads him back to the safety of somewhere. This is a really sweet story which is illustrate in the most beautiful brushstrokes of colour and form. My children love the interactive pages with their cut out pages making the story even more wonderful and engaging. Like all Nosy Crow books, there is a QR code to scan to hear the story out loud. This is truly the most amazing feature of Nosy Crow books, it’s like having two books in one. This read aloud version is a favourite of ours at the moment too. A lovely summer read to provide comfort and feelings of the warmth of home for your little ones – I think it would be a great one to pack in your bag in case of any feelings of homesickness.
We Are The Shapes – Kevin Jenner (author and illustrator), Happy Yak (imprint of Quarto) (publisher)
I love a book which promotes a love of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) without your children even realising it. And this book is so clever. Meet the Squares. They’re even, supportive, reliable and honest. Meet the Triangles. They are edgy, creative and odd. The problem is that these two shapes do NOT get on. In fact, they are downright rude to each other (there are lots of funny asides here) and they cannot play together nicely. In rolls Circle and he is asked to pick a side. Is he team Square or team Triangle? The thing with Circles though is that they don’t have sides. They just roll with things. Circle is an optimist. He believes that if the Squares and the Triangles all work together then they can set aside their differences and achieve anything. He’s almost right. Luckily though, he comes up with the brightest of ideas to get everyone agreeing. What comes in a square box, is shaped like a circle and can be cut up into triangles? Why, pizza of course! And who doesn’t love a pizza!? We loved this book. It’s funny, it’s clever and it introduces (or reinforces) basic 2-d shapes to your children without them even realising it. What’s not to love? The illustrations are so cute – simple yet hilariously funny – and really help bring to life the story and the characters of the different shapes. A super summer read to keep your little ones’ brains ticking over during the long summer holidays.
Supermouse and the Volcano of Doom – M N Tahl (author), Mark Chambers (illustrator), Little Tiger Press Ltd (publisher)
Oh, how we love a superhero story in this house. Especially ones involving Peter Parmesan, aka Supermouse! Mount Fondue is about to explode all over Mouseopolis, can Supermouse save the day and rescue the city from the stinky cheese? It looks like it might just be too much for one mouse to handle but luckily The League of Remarkable Rodents become his new best friends by rescuing Supermouse from the molten mass of melted cheese. De brie was everywhere (sorry, I just had to put at least one cheese joke in there!) but the humble heroes manage to save the day… until the next time! We absolutely loved this sticky tale of mayhem and adventure. Full of brilliant illustrations and hugely engaging lift the flaps and peep through pages to maximise fun and engagement, this book is a huge hit. The storyline is full of adventure, the pages are colourful and the drawings are so super, full of intricate detail and cute rodents. We hope you enjoy every cheese-filled twist, turn and lift the flap as much as we have.
The Hat Full of Secrets – Karl Newson (author), Wazza Pink (illustrator), Stripes Publishing Limited (imprint of Little Tiger) (publisher)
What a gorgeous first chapter book, full of fizzing excitement, oodles of adventure, marvellous memories and lots of love. We adore these fully colour-illustrated books in our house, they are the perfect transition from picture books to chapter books and this latest story might be our favourite yet. Young Henry has a secret. It’s a big one. He doesn’t know what to do with it so when his Granddad suggests he should keep it under his hat, he thinks that is a brilliant idea. There’s only one small problem. He doesn’t have a hat! So, Granddad gives him his old Jones hat. But the hat has some very old secrets inside. Secrets that belong to Henry’s Grandad and they fly out of the hat and all around. Henry and his Granddad go off on a wonderful bonding adventure in search of the secrets and Henry is blown away by the life and amazing adventures of his elderly relative. This is such a gorgeous story, packed full of history and wonderful memories, love and imagination. The writing is full of such warmth and love that it will transport your young reader to a place in time where they really feel like they are part of the memories and adventure of the story. The full colour illustrations on every page are just glorious: so vibrant, so full of excitement and magic and so wonderful in the depictions of the feelings of Henry and Granddad. We absolutely LOVED the ending of this chapter book too. We certainly did not see it coming. Hats off to this author/illustrator/publisher combo, we love this book.
Aziza’s Secret Fairy Door and the Mermaid’s Treasure – Lola Morayo (author), Cory Reid (illustrator), Macmillan Children’s Books (publisher)
Inspired by fairies and creatures from mythology around the world, this is the latest in the series of these fun chapter adventure books. Aziza is packing for her holiday, camping with her family, when she spots a trail of sand, seashells and fairy dust leading right up to the secret fairy door. Stepping through it into the magical kingdom of Shimmerton, she finds herself on Shimmerton’s golden beach where a salty adventure beneath the waves awaits her. With the help of her friends Tiko and Peri, and a mermaid named Sirena, Aziza has to save Shimmerton from the ancient shell-walker who has been woken up by the cheeky Gigglers. The shell walker keeps growing in size, collecting items all around it – can Aziza and her friends work out how to get it back to sleep and save Shimmerton? With larger print and sweet black and white illustrations, this book makes a wonderful and engaging chapter book read. The messages of kindness, inclusion and examples of ‘doing the right’ thing are lovely themes throughout the book and make this fun-filled adventure even more endearing.
The Smallest Kitten – Holly Webb (author), Sophy Williams (illustrator), Stripes Publishing Limited (imprint of Little Tiger) (publisher)
The dedication of this book is: “To twins – and parents of twins – everywhere!” so I knew that I would have to get my hands on a copy, not least because we have some big fans of Holly Webb (and kittens) in our house! Twins Zara and Amina move house and adopt a young kitten but the young sisters have very different ideas about how to look after the newly named Pixie. The dynamic begins to change between the two girls and a rift begins to grow after they start a new school and develop new friendships. When this culminates in a big argument at their birthday party, poor Pixie runs off to hide, scared of the girls and all the commotion. Can Zara and Amina put their differences aside and communicate with each other to find her? You will have to read the story to find out! This is another super sweet book with a lovely storyline of warmth and love ultimately shining through. My daughter loved all the black and white illustrations of the very adorable little Pixie. The cute drawings are interspersed throughout the text to make this an engaging and brilliant first chapter book.
The Whale Watchers – Dougie Poynter (author), Amberin Huq (illustrator), Owlet Press Limited (publisher)
Did you know that only 9% of plastic is recycled?! Or that micro-plastics in the ocean can interfere with the amount of carbon in the ocean? Or that some whales are blue but all whales are green because they play a very important role in the eco-system of the ocean and earth?! These are just some of the amazing facts that my daughter and I have learned from this fantastic chapter book. Written for children aged 7 plus, this book follows the story of Finn and his mother, who is a marine biologist, and his little brother Jesse when they go to spend the summer holidays off the coast of the north of Scotland to study the whales that live in the sea there. Finn is less than excited about the prospect of a whole summer in rainy, cold Scotland, staring out to sea but when he quite literally bumps into Skye, a local girl with binoculars round her neck and a cute dog at her feet, he unexpectedly finds himself being swept up in waves of adventure where he becomes a beach hero. Throughout the story, he begins to realise that every little action does make a difference – whether that be taking your own drinks bottle and sandwiches, or partaking in a beach clean – and that when humans pull together, they really are a formidable force. The length of this book is just excellent for its target audience and, combined with the gorgeous black and white illustrations and differing font shape and size, this book would also be superb for any reluctant reader. This is a perfect summer book to keep children engaged and interested in reading during the summer holidays. I can also see this book being a wonderful text for use in schools, for any topic on the environment. Not only is there a wonderful story but the back of the book contains lots of information on whales, the oceans, careers in marine biology and conservation, and the environment and what we can all do to help, particularly with the problem of single use plastic. It’s absolutely fascinating and I think your young readers will whaley love it!!
Remarkably Ruby – Terri Libenson (author and illustrator), Balzar & Bray (imprint of HarperCollins Publishers) (publisher)
This book is the next title in the best-selling Emmie & Friends series written and illustrated by the New York Times bestselling author, Terri Libenson. This was the first in the series that I have read and I REALLY enjoyed it. Ruby, also unfortunately nick-named Baked Bean Girl because of the effect of her nervous tummy, is a loner at school. Remarkably tall for her age and socially awkward, she has to try and navigate the tricky world of middle school without her best friend Mia who unceremoniously dumped her as a friend. Mia is obsessed with running for class president, is hugely concerned with how she looks at school and doesn’t want to be embarrassed by her old friend. She’s a perfectionist through and through. As things start to take a turn for the better for Ruby when she joins a poetry club at school and navigates her way with some fun new friendships, things take a turn for the worse for Mia because her perfectionist attitude and self-centredness begin to rub up her friends the wrong way. The girls have an almighty blow-up fight and they are forced to spend time together again. Time together where they work together. Time together where they come to realise some things about themselves and each other. Mia realises that Ruby isn’t to blame for her being less than perfect and that perfection isn’t the best thing to strive to achieve after all. I love how clever this book is. I confess, I honestly didn’t see the end coming at all! This is a fantastic graphic novel, full of fun and humour, but it also tackles some very serious issues about school life and attitudes of middle school children. The illustrations are superb, accurately reflecting the emotions of the children involved and making the book an engaging and, at times, hilariously funny read. I will certainly be checking out the other books in this series.
Nura and the Immortal Palace – M.T. Khan (author), Walker Books Ltd
One of the most sparkling, innovative, fantastical and brilliant books we have read this year. This book takes the idea of childhood fantasy and folklore and smashes it out of the ballpark! Nura spends her childhood working arduously down the mica mines, navigating narrow and dangerous conditions to mine a mineral for a pittance of a wage. She helps her mother support her three younger siblings but it seems as if they never have enough money so when she thinks that if she just digs a little bit deeper to try and find the fabled treasure, the Demon’s Tongue, her reckless behaviour puts her life and the life of her friends in jeopardy as the tunnel they are working in collapses. Her best friend Faisal is trapped and she risks everything to try and find him. What she finds instead is that she becomes trapped in a glittering realm filled with beauty and pink seas… but all that glitters is not gold. This is the realm of the jinn. The jinn are creatures of magic and trickery, treacherous and not to be trusted. But they have taken her best friend and she will stop at nothing to get him back. She, too, is tricked into being imprisoned in the jinn world inside the Sijj Palace and she begins to realise that the humans and the jinns just might have more in common than she first realised. Will she ever be able to return to her own world? Will humans and jinns ever be able to come together? This book is absolutely un-put-downable. I was caught up in a world of colours, honey dripped sweets and sparkle. But it was combined with a world filled with exploitation, mistrust, mind-games and, at times, despair. The book sensitively handles the all-too-real world of child labour and danger, exploitation, greed, extreme poverty and despair and yet also portrays such a sense of determination, power and hope in its main characters that the reader does not feel overwhelmed. The world of the jinn is so detailed and descriptive, sweeping you up in its splendour and gaudiness and you can almost feel yourself walking down the corridors of the hotel or popping a gulab jamun in your mouth. This book will take you on an adventure of a lifetime, filled with magic, splendour, trickery and a little glitter. But most of all hope. We found the author’s note at the back of the book fascinating but extremely moving, telling the reader all about the millions of children worldwide who are the victims of child labour and exploitation. A real eye-opener.
Carnival of the Hunted-Kieran Larwood (author), Sam Usher (illustrator), Faber & Faber Limited (publisher)
I was blown away by the first book in this series, “Carnival of the Lost”, so you can imagine my excitement when this second book dropped through my front door for review! And it does not disappoint. Kieran Larwood is one of my favourite-ever middle grade fiction writers. His writing is so unique, the world he creates so innovative and captivating – think: Charles Dickens writes fantasy for children meets carnivalesque steampunk meets PJ Barnum’s all rolled up into one fast-paced, gripping adventure and you might be there. Sort of. I might lack the descriptive talents to tell you how fabulous this book is, but I will certainly give it a go! Set back in the grimy underworld of London in the 1860s, something sinister is hunting in the sleazy world of the sideshow acts. People are going missing… falling prey to a strange and elite club of hunters wearing animal masks and goggle eyes. The half feline, Inji, and her armadillo-like brother, Sil, together with their friend the psychic Glyph, are almost taken by the gang but are rescued by the heroine Sheba the wolf girl and Pyewacket the witch’s imp whom we were introduced to in the first book. Together, they form the Carnival and try to discover the horrifying truth behind these huntings. Will they manage to find out who, or what, is behind these brutal kidnappings? No spoilers here but I did not see the ending coming! I cannot rate this book highly enough. You definitely don’t need to have read the first book for it to make sense, it can be read as a complete and thoroughly gripping standalone. It’s a fast-paced page turner, full of grime and greed, carnival and colour, mystery and mayhem: descriptions of Victorian London as its very best (or worst!). The brilliant black and white gothic illustrations by Sam Usher just top this book off, adding atmosphere and fabulous detail to what I think is one of the best middle grade series by one of the best authors. I am praying for many more!
Spellstoppers – Cat Gray (author), Usborne Publishing Limited (publisher)
This book is magical storytelling at its absolute fizz-whanging best! Filled with electric excitement (and I mean this quite literally), fabulous friendships and magical mayhem, this book is a perfect summer read to whisk your child away on the most marvellous, magical adventure. Poor old Max has spent years thinking he is cursed because whenever he touches anything electrical, it short circuits! Fed up of wearing wellies and rubber gloves, he is sent to the secret seaside town of Yowling to stay with his mysterious Grandad. There, he realises that what he has is not a curse, but a terrific talent: he is a spellstopper (someone with the rare ability to fix enchanted items). If only he could learn how to master and control his talent. At first, he enjoys the magic of the sleepy seaside town and its inhabitants as he makes friends with his Grandad’s apprentice, a girl called Kit, but on meeting the villainous and terrifying Leandra, the keeper of a magical, malfunctioning castle, his summer takes a sinister turn. When Max’s Grandad is kidnapped by Leandra and taken to the castle to try and fix it, Max realises that he is going to have to pull off a daring rescue mission and the biggest spellstop ever known!! With the help of his new friends he has made in the village, can he manage it? Can he control his talents and have belief in himself? Jam packed full of electrical currents, seas full of flesh-eating creatures, owls of evil-intent, green fog choking the village and much more, this book is an absolute must-read. It’s a book to make you truly believe in the power of love and friendship, but, most of all, in magic!
The Secret of Ragnar’s Gold – Mark Dawson (co-author), Allan Buroughs (co-author), Ben Mantle (illustrator), Welbeck Flame (publisher)
Oooooo, I have been so looking forward to this next instalment of The After-School Detective Club after the first book in the series crashed onto the shore of the reading scene like a gigantic wave and left ripples of excitement for the next book. Well, your wait is finally over! The After School Detective Club is back in a tale of terrific treasure, mysterious beasts, vanished Vikings and haunted castles. This time, loveable Joe, stretcher of the truth and seeker of adventures, concocts a scheme for his friends to get together without any grown-ups to spend their half term holidays at the mysterious Ufford Castle. It’s not long before the gang, Max, Lucy, Charlie and Sherlock, are hot on the trail of a legendary stash of Viking treasure left behind hundreds of years ago by the Viking king Ragnar Lothbrok. But they aren’t the only ones looking for the treasure! There are strange noises in the castle and a strange beast in the woods. Are these really the ghostly goings on of previous inhabitants of the castle, and is the legend of the beastly Black Shuck all it appears? My lips are sealed. This book is a must for any adventure loving reader. It’s packed full of Suffolk history, intrigue, mystery, suspense and superb characterisations. The black and white illustrations are a fabulous enhancement to the storyline, really bringing out the personalities of The After School Detective Club and bringing to life the action-packed adventure. Fast paced and engaging, this book is a brilliant summer holiday read, particularly if you happen to be staycationing in Suffolk!
How to be True – Daisy May Johnson (author), Pushkin Press (publisher)
This is a book about three things, so the story begins. A painting. Footnotes. And a small plant shop in Paris. But don’t believe everything you read. This is a book about so much more. Victoria sponges and macarons, nuns and thieves, ducks and dogs, combat training and disguise, to name but a few. It’s also a book about true friendship, true love, and finding your true self. For the main part, it is set in France, Paris to be precise, and the wonderful writing about that beautiful city is just magnificent! A real treat if you are holidaying in France this year. It’s also a story about a young girl named Edie who knows her own mind from a very young age. Who is passionate and loving and a young activist in the making. When Edie’s parents go off to protest around the world, Edie’s grandmother, Odette (who seemingly dislikes Edie (brackets are my version of footnotes!!)), sends Edie to learn how to be a proper young lady at the School of the Good Sister. Much to Edie’s surprise, the boarding school teaches her all manner of useful things, like how to blow poison darts and how to camouflage herself! On a return trip to Paris, the school is invited to stay at Odette’s chateau and Edie is nervous about going back home again. But things have changed and Edie’s grandmother opens up to her after an episode with a very persistent burglar. Soon, Edie and her friends become embroiled in an exciting mystery involving a priceless painting, family secrets and a tour around Paris. I just loved this book. Much like a delicious Victoria sponge (you’ll get the reference when you read the book!), I savoured every mouthful, ahem, I mean page. It was funny, it was heartfelt, it was poignant, it was delightfully descriptive. A five star read from me. My only comment being that as much as I loved the footnotes, I think you need to be a competent reader to not get distracted by them and lose the thread of the storyline at times so this is a book to be enjoyed with that in mind.
The Extraordinary Voyage of Katy Willacott – Sharon Gosling (author), Stripes Publishing Limited (imprint of Little Tiger), (publisher)
What a joy this book was to read! I could almost taste and smell the rainforest, see the constellations on a clear night sky above Katy’s house in Kew, and hear the storm raging aboard the SS Alerte. I went on Katy’s journey around the globe, deep into the rainforest of Brazil, from the comfort of my own home. “Extraordinary women doing extraordinary things”, so the book says, and Sharon Gosling is certainly an extraordinarily good storyteller. Young Katy feels stifled by her life living in Kew Gardens and helping out her mother. She wants more. She wants adventure. She wants to sail the seas and see the world. Unfortunately for Katy, she lives in a time when young girls are supposed to stay at home and be polite and her father thinks this is what Katy should do. She decides to prove him wrong though and she embarks on the journey of a lifetime, disguised as a cabin boy, aboard the SS Alerte. The ship is sailing to Brazil, taking an expedition put together to find meteorites that have landed in the Rainforest and led by the cruel and mean Sir Thomas Derby. If Katy thinks it is hard work grafting on the deck of the SS Alerte, it is nothing compared to the adventure and adversity she will have to face in the rainforest. She makes some amazing friendships along the way, not least with a jungle spirit kitten who just won’t leave her alone, and these people make her realise that her voyage is not just about finding a fallen star. She loves the rainforest and its people and is devastated by the rubber plantation owner’s actions and the hunters who are thoughtlessly decimating all the animals in sight. I won’t give any more away but this is a truly an action-packed adventure, full of wonderful messages, full of respect, full of love and friendship and full of talking points. There are so many areas to discuss: from the treatment of women in Victorian times, or the taking of specimens from native lands and putting them into museums, to the deforestation of the rainforest. An extraordinary book on so many levels.
Wishtree – Katherin Applegate (author), Charles Santoso (illustrator) Welbeck Flame (publisher)
Oh my goodness, this book has rooted itself in my heart alright. It made me laugh, it made me catch my breath and it made me cry. It’s a triumph. Written from the perspective of Red, an ancient oak tree, who sees so much of the world from where it stands tall, this is one of the most unique books I have read. Red is the neighbourhood’s wishing tree, people tie rags on a piece of cloth on Red’s branches and make their wishes. Not only is Red hugely important for the community because of this but also because so many animals seek refuge in Red’s gnarly hollows. Red thinks it understands the world and that it has seen it all in its ancient existence but when a new family moves in across from where Red is planted, Red witnesses just how cruel human nature can be and Red wants to do everything possible to help. But is time running out for Red? The owner of the land and the houses wants to chop Red down because Red’s roots are choking the drainage systems. Can Red grant one last wish? Will Red be saved? No spoilers here but this is the most heart-warming and deeply moving story. I loved the funny moments, particularly the chats between Red and Bongo (who said a tree and a crow can’t be BFFs?!). But what I loved more than anything was the warmth and depth of the writing and the unique perspective that the story is told from. It reminded me of “Charlotte’s Web”, which is one of my all-time favourite childhood classics. The black and white illustrations are adorable representations of the nature and animals that they are depicting and serve to make the story even more beautiful. I cannot wait to take this book on holiday to read it again with my eldest daughter. I know she will love it as much as I do.
The Consequence Girl – Alastair Chisholm (author), Nosy Crow (publisher)
What a breath-taking, fast-paced adventure story set in a fantastical sci-fi world this was. I could not put it down, I was so eager to find out what was going to happen next. But I am getting ahead of myself… let me set the scene for you. Cora lives in a world that she doesn’t understand. She lives a very secluded life on a mountainside and doesn’t know anybody other than “Seleen” who has brought her up. This world, Colony, is in ruins and has torn itself apart but no one really seems to know the reason why. Despite the chaos and oppression, certain people seem to be very interested in Cora and want to capture her…. Could it be anything to do with her unique gift of being able to look back at the past and ‘fix things’? Cora doesn’t know but she and Seleen and some friends they make along the way have to go on the run. Who can she trust? What should she do? Should she try and ‘fix’ the past and change the future? Should anyone have that power?! This book is such an exhilarating read, full of action and excitement, and yet it also poses some deep and thought-provoking questions about human nature and the decisions we make and actions we take. It is a brilliantly imagined moving read which your middle grade reader will zip through and enjoy this summer.
The Unexpected Tale of the Bad Brothers – Clare Povey (author), Usborne Publishing Limited (publisher)
If you are holidaying in Paris or France this summer, this is THE book you need to take with you. Set in the Paris of the 1920’s, this book takes you on a thrilling adventure around France’s capital city when villainy is bubbling and riots and public disorder are being incited. Paris is dangerous and burning, tensions are high and Bastien Bonlivre and his friends are in trouble once again. This is book is the sequel to The Unexpected Tale of Bastien Bonlivre but I read it as a standalone story. Whilst you can happily read it as such, I do think your child would get even more enjoyment from it if they have read the first book in advance of this so that they can understand the references to the plot in the first book. However, it is by no means a pre-requisite and I really enjoyed this fast-paced adventure through the twisty turning streets of Paris. Bastien’s lifelong enemy, Olivier Odieux, has managed to avoid a jail sentence and manages to break his brother out of jail. Together, they are looking to destroy Bastien and the secrets he possesses. Paris is in danger, fires are burning, people are angry and you can almost feel the rebellion about to combust. Set against this backdrop, Bastien and his friends need to uncover the secret hidden in his notebook and find out who is behind the chaos in the city. Will they manage it? This was a delightful mystery, full of villainy and danger, suspense and intrigue and, ultimately, relationships of friendship, love and humanity. I loved the backdrop of the French capital city: I could almost feel myself there, so detailed was the descriptive writing. There is also a glossary of French words used at the back of the book so your young reader can learn a little bit of another language along the way. Win, win! A super summer holiday read.
Lifesize Baby Animals – Sophy Henn (author and illustrator), Farshore (imprint of Harper Collins) (publisher) (recommended reading age -3 plus)
OH MY GOODNESS. Cuteness overload! I cannot cope. This book is just adorable on every level. The concept is amazing – step into the book to see how your little ones measure up against some of the world’s most fabulous baby animals – and my children’s minds have been blown by actually being able to compare themselves against lifesize parts, or the whole, of a baby animal. From fluffy grey (you read that right!) flamingo babies to the eye of a baby blue whale, or baby zebra seahorses to baby black bears, this book is mind-blowing and really helps and encourages children to be able to visualise their baby animal counterparts. It is filled with some fascinating facts about the animals (like Daddy seahorses who birth up to 2000 babies – eeek, can you imagine?!) it features and culminates with a fantastic pull out spread of a lifesize baby African elephant. Right at the back of the book there is a two-page spread which details the exact sizes of the animals it features but also puts this into accessible terms for children by explaining how many LIFESIZE books that is. How amazing is that?! We have so much love for this book. It’s fascinating, its accessible, its interactive, its colourful, it encourages measurement and it is the perfect introduction to digestible facts about animals for young children. If you are planning on visiting any habitats where the animals in this book are featured, this book would be the perfect read beforehand. The illustrations of the animals depicted are simply stunning: bold and beautiful and full of cuteness. If you are looking for a truly wild adventure this summer, this is the book for your little ones.
Special Delivery – A Book’s Journey Around the World – Polly Faber (author), Klas Fahlen (illustrator), Nosy Crow Ltd (publisher)
What a fascinating book! A book about a book’s journey to becoming a book! I like what they did there! This is a superbly illustrated bright and beautiful book about how a book ends up in its little reader’s hands. With its unique blend of fact and fiction, the story begins forty days before Jay’s birthday and his Gran has ordered him a very special present – a book. We follow the book’s journey from the other side of the world, checked and passed along, carried and driven by various people along the way, all the way back to Jay’s house. My children love meeting the different characters along the journey and learning about the special jobs that they do to move the book’s journey along. The ending is so adorable with Jay and his Gran sharing a beautiful moment together. Not only is the story so endearing and fascinating at the same time but we also love the two-page spread at the back of the book which provides your young readers with some jaw-dropping facts containing some mind-blowing numbers (like the weight of the longest trucks in the world being as heavy as 30 Asian elephants!!). Even if you aren’t travelling anywhere this summer, this book will take you on a globe-trotting adventure round the world.
The World’s Most Ridiculous Animals – Philip Bunting (author and illustrator), Happy Yak (imprint of Quarto) (publisher) (recommended reading age – 7-9 years)
The second in this delightful series, this book features some of Earth’s most weird and wonderful animals. It focuses on animals that have unwittingly been shaped by their environment and have developed physical characteristics to cope with that or have adapted their behaviours somehow. So, let’s take a look….. There’s the Sea Angels that behave more like little devils, the Pygmy Slow Loris (code latin name: donotticklum) and a shaggy shark called a Tasslled Wobbegong! Each page has had my children in stitches because of the hilarious detailed drawings of the animals, the funny annotations and the laugh out loud made-up Latin names for them (our favourites being ‘flotus trumpus’ for the manatee and his ‘parp paddle’ and ‘sonic notahedghogium’ for the Lowland streaked tenrec). Each page is filled with colourful and fun drawings and annotations of the craziest creatures on the planet and contains fascinating, quirky and sometimes downright freaky facts about the absurd animals it throws a spotlight on. We also love the serious messages of diversity and conservation in amongst all of the fun and the uplifting message it leaves the reader with at the end of the book: “Every one of us is pretty marvellous (and just a little bit ridiculous) in our own particular way.” Love it. One of our favourite non-fiction picks of the year!
How to be a Doctor and Other Life-Saving Jobs – Dr Punam Krishan (author), Sol Linero (illustrator), Nosy Crow Ltd (publisher)
Have you ever asked your children what they would like to be when they grow up? (Current count: one superhero, one artist and one horse-riding vet!) This wonderful work of non-fiction takes your young reader through various questions all about a life in medicine. It explains what a doctor is and some of the equipment that they use, the history of medicine, how you might become a doctor, what happens if there is a medical emergency, what happens during an operation and much more. We also love the questions that it poses your child, such as whether they enjoy doing science experiments and suggests different jobs for them if they do (I wish there had been something like this when I was choosing my career!!) and there are even suggestions at the back of the book of ways that children can get involved. We were really interested in the other life-saving jobs that the book mentions and felt this was very useful and inclusive. This book is brightly coloured and wonderfully illustrated and the drawings match the text brilliantly, making the book and its contents even more engaging. The perfect book for inquisitive young minds, particularly if your child has ever shown an interest in saving lives. We are also going to use it to take into hospital when my youngest daughter has an operation later in the summer (even though she has read snippets of most of it already).
Brain Bursts – Space – Noodle Fuel (text), Rich Wilson (illustrator), Caterpillar Books (imprint of Little Tiger) (publisher)
Did you know you can grow a few inches taller in space? I will leave you to figure out why! My twins are really into learning about the solar system and space at the moment so this is the perfect book, full of bite-sized pieces of brain-bursting information! Not only that but there are lots of very big numbers (these go over their heads but my seven year old is very impressed!), lots of laugh out loud jokes, a beautiful page of star maps, some out of this world activities and a top ten weird facts to peruse. If you didn’t know the difference between a black hole and a red dwarf or were confused between comets and meteors previously then you won’t be after you have looked at this book. The information is brilliantly set out in bite-sized blocks of text which is perfect for its target audience. The illustrations are humorous and engaging and really draw the reader into the text. An out of this world little boredom-buster and a super summer holiday read to keep your child’s brain active during the holidays.
Powered by Plants – Clive Gifford (author), Gosia Herba (illustrator), Wide Eyed Editions (imprint of Quarto) (publisher)
Coconuts at the forefront of pioneering research into earthquake-proof buildings? Willow trees providing people with relief from pain and headaches? Pineapple plants being turned into bags? Huh?! This book allows your young reader to learn about some of the most amazing and powerful plants on the planet. Split into sections -structures, robotics, energy, health, sustainability and materials – this book features in glorious and fascinating detail the most wondrous plants on Earth. These plants have inspired humans to make some of the most amazing things by learning a thing or two from the world of plants. By copying the plants, us humans have invented lots of ways of solving various problems we might come across. This book is mind-blowing – it is jaw-droppingly fascinating! It’s colourful, it’s vibrantly illustrated with humorous drawings, it’s packed full of awe-inspiring information set out in manageable sized paragraphs and it’s a hugely unique way of looking at the wonders of our natural world and instilling an interest in it in our young readers. It’s a real treat. With plants featured from around the world, it’s a super summer read – you might be lucky and find something about plants in a part of the world you are visiting this holiday period.
Hope on the Horizon – A Children’s Handbook on Empathy, Kindness and Making a Better World – Onjali Q Rauf (author), Isobel Lundie (illustrator), Pippa Curnick (cover illustrator), Wren & Rook (publisher) (recommended reading age: 9 plus)
What a gorgeously gorgeous book. What a title. What a cover. What a concept. A book you can dip in and out of, whenever you need it (current place of residence: my bedside table), or a book you can read from cover to cover in all its glorious detail. I love the note at the beginning of the book which explains that it will detail some incredibly difficult issues (such as discrimination, injustice and prejudice) at times and that if this becomes too much for the reader to think about or read about then they can skip over these but also to ask a trusted and favourite grown-up about them. I also love the introduction to the author and how it really feels like she really wants to know about you, the reader, too. With the help of her favourite characters from fiction and some hugely inspiring people, this book is a great guide to kindness, empathy, friendship and really fighting for things that matter. It’s also a great lesson in the power of hope and the greatness of the human spirit and kindness. Not only is it a hugely tactile book, with its rounded edges (that you just want to rub your fingers along) and wide pages, it is superbly illustrated with black and white drawings emphasising the words and emotions and breaking up some of the heavier thoughts and issues it contains. It’s intelligent, empowering and motivating on the one hand and yet gentle, down to earth and funny on the other. I love the reading and viewing lists mentioned at the back of the book. My hope for you? That you manage to get your hands on a copy for the child in your life.
Pip and Posy Sticker Activity Books – Best of Friends and Come On, Let’s Play! – Nosy Crow (publisher)
Grab your pens and colouring pencils and get set to have a world of adventures with best friends Pip and Posy! We love P&P in our house so I know that these sticker activity books will be a huge hit with my twins. Each page is filled with colour and fun: there are lots of photographs of the world of Pip and Posy to encourage your children to engage with each activity. The books are packed with all sorts of puzzles, lots of colouring, word games and over 100 stickers for your little ones to enjoy. There are patterns to decipher, pencil control games, badges to design, cupcakes to colour, spot the differences, codes to crack, mazes to complete and much, much more. So they will be practising their fine motor skills and learning without even realising it because they will be having too much fun. There are also questions posed and larger craft activities suggested making these sticker books such a fabulous boredom reliever for younger children. We are taking ours on the aeroplane to keep them busy during the flight but these would work just as well to keep your children occupied for train and car journeys too. There is so much to do to keep their little hands busy. Just don’t forget the pencils!
Find Tom in Time – Michelangelo’s Italy – Fatti Burke (illustrator), Nosy Crow Ltd (publisher)
Tom is lost again!! Can you help find him and his naughty feline friend, Digby, on every page of the book? He’s trapped in Renaissance Florence and your reader can have so much fun learning about the fascinating facts about Florence, Italy, during that time while also searching for other artefacts, people or animals (think a soldier with dirty armour, an artist painting upside down or a rat that has snuck onto the playing field!). Your child can immerse themselves in Michelangelo’s history by visiting his studio, shopping on the Ponte Vecchio and witnessing combat training all within the confines of this brilliant search and find book. It is superbly illustrated with captivating colours and jam-packed full of fascinating facts. There is even a glossary at the end of the book and solutions if you do get stuck. This is a superb-boredom buster and learning resource for older children. A wonderful addition to your armoury to take away on holidays! Be prepared for much competition and scouring of pages when trying to locate the various ‘can you spots’ though! There is so much to see and find that there is something for everyone. We love it.
Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach, read by James Acaster, The Witches, read by Lolly Adefope and George’s Marvellous Medicine, read by Romesh Ranganathan -Penguin RandomHouse UK Audio
Let’s face it, sometimes your children need some downtime in the car, or perhaps you don’t have the space to pack a lot of books on your holidays, or you just want someone else’s voice to listen to at bedtime…… this is where audiobooks really come into their own. I confess that before this year, it hadn’t really occurred to me to use audiobooks with my children but we have really got into them (once my twins got past the fact that they just had to listen, and there wasn’t anything to watch!). The publication of these fantastic new audiobook interpretations of some of Roald Dahl’s classic books are just absolutely brilliant. We have hugely enjoyed listening to them in the car on journeys and at bedtime for a calming winddown. The readers are fantastic – so well placed to read the books with such funny voices and bringing their own unique takes on the sounds and characters in the stories. James Acaster breaks into hilarious singing, Lolly Adefope has the screechiest witch’s cackle and Romesh’s ‘grandma’s’ voice brings my children out in fits of giggles!! Our current favourite is James and Giant Peach but it is a tough call. I can highly recommend these books as audio reads for the summer. A superb space saver if you are short of luggage-room.