October is such a wonderful month in the bookish world… not only can you cosy up with an amazing autumnal story but it’s also the time to settle down with a wonderfully witchy read or a fang-tastically fun adventure in the run up to Halloween. So, sit yourself down with a mug of something warm and take a look at our top spooktacularly seasonal books we’ve picked for you this month…
Fingerwiggly Ghosts – Usborne Publishing Limited (publisher)
WOOOO WOOOOO (best ghost impression!)! This board book is just the definition of sweet spook and Halloween cuteness for your little one.
I can’t cope with how adorable it is. Little children, or big children (aka adults!!) can push their little fingers through the cut-out holes in this cardboard book so they become the wiggly ghost arms of two sweet little ghost friends as they go trick or treating on Halloween night. The two little wiggly ghosts are easily scared and there are lots of surprises along the journey as the friends wiffle their way through the dark forest towards a creepy house which is surrounded by pumpkins, bats, cats and broomsticks…. What might be inside?! With a sweet (non-scary), rhyming story, this fun Halloween book follows the delightful duo on their trick or treating adventure and your child will have great fun telling the story with their own fingers as the little arms of the ghosts. The illustrations in the book are joyous: cute Halloween-themed spreads of spookiness combine with seasonal colour tones to make this such an eye-catching read. A perfect size to take with you out and about, sturdy, adorable in the extreme, interactive and lots of fun, this is a wonderful first Halloween book for very little children.
Would you Rather? Halloween – Donna David (author), Eamonn O’Neill (illustrator), Macmillan Children’s Books (publisher)
We are huge fans of the bouncy rhyming books that Donna David writes and this seasonal beauty is no exception. This Halloween book engages the youngest of audiences in this joyful, vibrant and playful picture book. This book invites your young reader to play the game “would you rather” and make a choice between all sorts of spooky and creepy creatures. Would you rather be a vampire (have silky sheets to rest your head), or a mummy (sleep inside a golden bed)? Would you rather be a brilliant bat or a scurrying spider? With its bouncing, rhyming text, this is a colourful book all about Halloween monsters but without any of the scare-factor. The rhyming text makes for a brilliant read aloud, joyfully following the laugh out loud questions and fun illustrations across brightly-coloured pages. What will your little one choose to be in this super-silly spook-fest of a story?!
We loved the fold out page at the end of the book with the vibrantly coloured cute monsters and there is even a page at the back of the book showing children how to create their own “would you rather?” game. We also love the hints and tips for carers which are provided at the back of the book about how to read this book together and about discussion points that might stem from this fangtasically fun book. My children particularly like trying to spot extra items in the detailed drawings and coming up with their own hilarious (and somewhat disgusting in some cases!!!) would you rather questions. Bold, bright, bouncy and fun, this is the perfect Halloween treat for your little monster and a super way for them to join in the fun without feeling scared in any way.
- Hardcover Book
- David, Donna (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 32 Pages - 09/14/2023 (Publication Date) - Macmillan Children's Books (Publisher)
Hubble Bubble Granny Trouble – Tracey Corderoy (author), Joe Berger (illustrator), Nosy Crow Ltd (publisher)
Fizz and fun abound in this wonderfully witchy collection of three superb, spooky-themed books. The collection contains: Hubble Bubble Granny Trouble; Whizz Pop Granny Stop; and Spells-a-Popping Granny’s Shopping, all of which are hugely funny and have been requested on repeat by my twins lately.
The little girl in the books has a Granny who is a teensy bit different. She wears strange clothes, dons a pointed hat, has a menagerie of creepy creatures in her house and always has a “helping kit” (aka spell book) on hand. Sometimes, the little girl just wishes that her Granny could be “normal” …. But then life would not be as fun and Granny would certainly not be as happy! For life is full of big surprises, lots of special treats and a cauldron full of fun when your Granny is a witch!
The bouncing rhyme of the stories makes this collection such a superb seasonal read aloud with your children. There is nothing scary or terrifying contained within the books; they are a portrayal of a fun, happy, mischievous life of a wonderful witch. Filled with fizz, whizz and lots of warmth and wit, my children have adored these books. The illustrations are brilliant, with the bright colour tones emphasising the sparkle and fun of Granny and the drawings providing that sense of mischief and magic as well as warmth and humour. This collection has certainly cast its spell over us!
Fox’s Favourite Autumn – Fiona Barker (author), Christine Pym (illustrator), Scholastic (publisher)
From the dazzling duo behind I Definitely Don’t Like Winter (which my twins adored!) comes this superbly seasonal read.
Awww, Autumn is Fox’s favourite time of the year! There is so much fun to be had – there are leaves to crunch and kick and apples and blackberries to gorge on (yum). But as the days get shorter, Fox realises that Autumn is slipping away. He’s not happy about it. He wants to make it stay. He definitely doesn’t want Winter to arrive! Your little ones can join Fox on his desperate and futile journey (imagine sticking 643 leaves back on a tree!!) to try and do everything he can to stop Autumn slipping away and the seasons changing. Will Fox eventually learn that every season has its own magic when it is shared with friends?!
This is an absolutely adorable seasonal story filled with humour, friendship, love and laughter. We adore the heart-warming ending! The illustrations are the cutest; bold and bright, sharing the sweetest moments of friendship and fun and the most hilarious moments of frustration and futility. They are colourful and bring the adorable woodland creatures to life in the most wonderful of ways. The message of friendship and love is super sweet and we love how the book emphasises to young readers that change doesn’t have to always be a bad thing. This is an awesome Autumnal adventure, we hope you enjoy it as much as us.
Wildsmith – Into the Dark Forest (book one) and Wildsmith – City of Secrets (book two), Liz Flanagan (author), Joe Todd-Stanton (illustrator), Uclan publishing (publisher)
These books have absolutely everything I would have wanted in a chapter book as a child! Magical beasts, baddies, mystery, adventure, a rich storyline and lots of superb illustrations. I can’t wait for my eldest daughter to read them because I know she is going to love them. And with all that magic, what better time to snuggle down with them than during the half-term Halloween holidays.
These brilliant books follow the adventures of Rowan, a young girl who has had to flee her city because of the ravages of war. Rowan and her mother go to her grandpa’s house in the Dark Forest and although she misses her home and her father terribly, she begins to make new friends in this strange new place. She begins to learn that her grandpa has special powers and that she might just have them too. And she is going to have to use those powers, with the help of her new friends, both human and mystical, to save the magical beasts of the Dark Forest.
In the second book, Rowan is charged with saving a young Pegasus and danger and peril come even closer than ever. Rowan will begin to question her new friends and will begin to wonder who to trust as her family is betrayed. As the war still wages, Rowan’s family is split up and she has to make some difficult decisions to keep Mouse, her beautiful Pegasus safe.
These books are an absolute joy to read. The are packed full of adventure and magic, with dragons, wolves and witches and a whole manner of mystical beasts, they are perfect seasonal stories for this time of year. They are filled with rich and fantastical adventures with brilliant characters and wonderfully imaginative storylines. Combined with the plentiful black and white illustrations superbly bringing the tales to life, these make for some of the best chapter book magical adventure stories we have read.
The Pug who wanted to be a Witch – Bella Swift (author and illustrator), Hachette Children’s Books (publisher)
Peggy the Pug is making magic in this gorgeous seasonal read. Peggy and her best friend and owner, Chloe, are so excited to meet the new neighbours on the block who have moved in next door. Chloe hopes that there is a playmate for her to make friends with and Peggy is desperate to have a dog to run around with. But when a surly girl called Emma moves in with her VERY mischievous kitten, Lucky, it seems that neither of the best friend’s wishes are going to come true.
Lucky seems to bring bad luck for poor Peggy because the kitten keeps getting the loveable pup into trouble with the neighbours and pushing Chloe’s attempts at friendship with Emma further away. So, Peggy decides to take matters into her paws and become a witch to make a spell and cause the cheeky kitten to disappear. But Peggy learns that Emma’s behaviour is not all that it seems and she realises that a different kind of magic is needed – the magic of friendship. Will it be too late for Lucky though? Has she disappeared forever?
This is such a sweet book about the power of friendship and my twins have really enjoyed Peggy’s capers. The black and white illustrations are plentiful and completely adorable. Combined with the larger font size, this makes for a brilliant seasonally spooky story for those starting out on their independent reading journey, or those children who are ready for a longer story than a chapter book. A pawsome animal-filled adventure which will have your reader spell bound.
Solve Your Own Mystery – The Transylvanian Express (recommended reading age 7 plus) – Gareth P. Jones (author), Louise Forshaw (illustrator), Little Tiger (publisher)
My eldest daughter and I just love these choose your own adventure books. This is the second in this series that we have read (but it can totally be read as a standalone book) and we loved every fun twist and turn. This is the premise: one puzzling mystery. Several slippery and spooky suspects. Endless possibilities. Such fun! So, do you think you would like to try and solve the mystery of the missing Night Mayor Franklefink who appears to have vanished aboard the decadent Transylvanian Express? Go on, you will love it!!
The residents aboard the sumptuous train are all headed to Castle Ursprung, hoping to be invited into the home of the legendary vampire, Count Fledermaus. But while the train is on its journey, Night Mayor Franklefink disappears from the train and it is up to you, young reader, and your detective boss, the illustrious yeti, Klaus Solstaag, to try and find him. What should you do first? Should you interrogate his arch nemesis, Bramwell Stoker, or should you take a look where he was last seen? Maybe his monster wife, Enormelda, has decided to turn against him? Or perhaps Franklefink’s colleague, Sandra Rigmarole, has something to do with it? It’s up to you to find your path through the story! With so many varied options and storylines to take, you are sure to solve the mystery differently every time. With with gnomes and goblin mayhem, monsters and ogres, this is a page-turner of a seasonal Halloween whodunnit story. My daughter has absolutely loved being master of her own destiny in this book and has re-read the story in lots of different ways to come up with different outcomes (which has, quite frankly, blown her mind!). The black and white illustrations are plentiful and extremely funny, making this a brilliant chapter book both visually and conceptually. I hope your little one enjoys playing detective!
- Jones, Gareth P. (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 216 Pages - 10/12/2023 (Publication Date) - Little Tiger (Publisher)
A Hedgehog Called Snuffle – Helen Peters (author), Ellie Snowden (illustrator), Nosy Crow Ltd (publisher)
Do you know, one of the best things I love about books is how much you can learn while being transported to a different and wonderful place in your own imagination. I mean, I thought I knew a fair amount about hedgehogs but apparently not! We learned lots of fascinating facts about them through this book. Not least all about the sweet sounds that they make!
Jasmine and her best friend Tom find an injured baby hedgehog one Autumn and they are delighted to be hand-rearing it and nursing it back to health. They even decide to prepare an assembly at school about how to help hedgehogs and incentivise the whole village (well, almost the whole village!) to make a hedgehog highway so the spiky snufflekins can wander freely from garden to garden. But as Snuffle begins to feel better, the little hedgehog gets bolder, until, on the afternoon of Bonfire Night, Snuffle escapes. Darkness descends and everyone gets ready for their Bonfire Night celebrations and starts lighting their fires. Can Jasmine and Tom find Snuffle before it is too late?!
We have loved the other books in this animal-filled series centering around Jasmine and Oak Tree Farm and this one is a gorgeous, and very important, seasonal read. It highlights the plight of hedgehogs and makes children more aware of their vulnerability and the dos and don’ts surrounding them, particularly during the Autumn and Winter. The black and white illustrations are wonderful, really bringing to life the story and the personalities of the humans and animals involved. For any little animal lover, this is an Autumnal must-read.
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Peters, Helen (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 110 Pages - 09/14/2023 (Publication Date) - Nosy Crow Ltd (Publisher)
Sherlock Bones and the Horror of the Haunted Castle – Tim Collins (author), John Bigwood (illustrator), Buster Books (an imprint of Michael O’Mara Books Limited) (publisher) (recommended age range 7-9 year olds)
Whoooowhooooo (my best ghost impression!!) – Sherlock Bones and Dr. Catson are BACK!!! Having absolutely ADORED the previous books in this fun, fast-paced detective puzzle book series, my eldest daughter and I were so excited to receive this, the fourth adventure in the series, and couldn’t wait to get stuck into it. All of the books can be read as standalone stories though so don’t worry if you have never heard of these puzzle adventure books before.
This book is a superbly spooky read for this time of the year, publishing at the end of September, in time for Halloween reading. In this tale, a wealthy hound is haunted by a ghostly figure in a castle that she has just inherited in the Catpathian Mountains, Transylvania. She and her husband call in Bones and Catson for help. But Bones is a pragmatist- he doesn’t believe in ghosts – surely there must be a rational explanation?! But there are certainly some spooky goings on in the corridors of the castle, and when books and sauce-pans start flying around, he has to admit that some strange is happening! The spooky spectre is still at large, the staff are unfriendly and Bones gets suddenly called back to London, so poor Catson is left in the creepy castle to solve the mystery herself. Can the clever Catson unmask the gruesome ghost and survive to tell the tale?
Not only does this book have a superb storyline, with lots of twists and turns and hilarious puns but it contains 28 games and puzzles for your reader to crack along the way. With its delightfully fun plot, engaging story and series of puzzles and games to solve, your young reader will really immerse themselves in this book. There are mazes, search and find puzzles, maths problems, spot the differences and lots of other fun puzzles to help your young reader solve the mystery, as well as lots of fantastic and humour-filled black and white illustrations interspersed throughout this spooky story. Completely absorbing, totally engaging and very clever (with its puzzles and games and nods to the traditional Sherlock Holmes stories and famous real-life geography) we have loved this adventure and we cannot wait for the next one! A ticket to Transylvania awaits your reader, they will love tagging along on this spooky adventure.
- Collins, Tim (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 192 Pages - 09/28/2023 (Publication Date) - Buster Books (Publisher)
Meesh the Bad Demon – Michelle Lam (author and illustrator) – Faber & Faber (publishers)
What better way to get yourself in the mood for Halloween than with a fun fantasy graphic adventure all about demons!?
Meesh does not seem to fit in in Mount Magma, the demon city where she lives. She is bullied by the other demons, likes flowers, is no good in class and just adores watching Princess Nouna and fangirling all about the fairy princess.
But disaster strikes and the whole of the demon realm is threatened and Meesh is just the unlikely demon to try and save demon kind! She must journey to other worlds to try and save hers. And who does she meet first?! Why, Princess Nouna in the fairy realm of course! But Meesh quickly realises that things aren’t quite as rosy (or ruby!) in the fairy realm as she might have thought.
Meesh and Nouna make friends along their journey, uniting a surprising bunch of outcasts who all learn to believe in themselves.
Meesh eventually realises that if she just learns to embrace the demon that she is and learns to love herself then that just might unlock the key to saving the demon realm and the demons within it.
We really enjoyed this epic adventure through the underworld with Meesh and we are already looking forward to the next volume of Meesh’s journey. The illustrations are eye-catching and wonderfully atmospheric, really bringing this fantastic fantasy world to life. We particularly love the messages of the book about learning to accept yourself for what you are, the power of self belief and learning to love yourself. Delightful demons and fantastical fairies abound in this joyful adventure story.
Monster Support Group: The Mummy’s Curse – Laura Suarez (author and illustrator), Flying Eye Books (publisher) (age 7 plus)
We adored the first book in this brilliant and funny new graphic novel series, The Werewolf’s Curse, so we were desperate to read this second book and Laura Suarez has not let us down!
Meet Anatiti. She’s three thousand years old. And she isn’t very good at listening. She was once chosen by the gods to rule Ancient Egypt but she wasn’t very good at people telling her what to do. I mean, she was the pharaoh after all, right?! She tells the Monster Support Group though how her listening ears not being switched on and her pride might just have been her downfall! Because Anatiti not listening to her advisers *kinda*caused her death and the fact that she certainly wasn’t listening when it was explained to her how to make the crossing in the after life meant that she was cursed to live as a mummy trapped inside a tomb for eternity! Uh-oh!! After being found by an explorer and helped by his sweet daughter, Anatiti explains to the Monster Suppprt Group how she still didn’t take the right advice. Now, she has finally made her way to the village of Dreadbury and her sarcophagus stands in the small town’s museum – surely she is ready, at last, to take advice from others and learn to listen (and maybe there will be a blast from the past to help her on her way)?
This is such a clever and fun story which has at its heart friendship, acceptance, non-judgment and inner peace. It has such an uplifting message of friendship and support and combines this in a unique and hilariously funny way through its fast-paced storyline which provides brilliant talking points about Ancient Egypt, tomb-raiding and mythology along the way. We loved the themes around encouraging children to listen and realising that not everyone can be right all of the time.
The illustrations and comic style of the book are just fantastic – hugely engaging for its target audience with gorgeous colour tones and beautiful images throughout. There is so much detail on each two-page spread.
Quirky and charming, we have adored this book in this wonderfully spooky series about the stories behind everyone’s favourite monsters. We can’t wait for the next instalment! Funny, quirky, detailed and brilliantly supportive, these books are a definite must-read for this year.
The Taming of the Cat – Helen Cooper (author and illustrator), Faber & Faber Ltd (publisher)
Well, my eldest daughter and I adored this animal adventure which is perfect to read at this time of year.
In a delectable cheese shop lives a colony of mice. These mice live in constant fear of the vicious guard cat named Gorgonzola and her razor sharp claws and teeth. One such mouse is little Brie. Brie does not seem to fit in with the other mice. They ostracise him because he prefers to eat breadcrumbs and grains. Yet this little mouse has big ideas. His imagination takes him away from the squabbles of the colony through his storytelling (which they are much too busy to listen to). Brie’s imagination and gift for storytelling is what might just save his life.
For Gorgonzola may be fierce but she is also lonely. One night she captures Brie in her claws and she doesn’t let go. But before she eats Brie, he starts to talk to her. To get under her skin, to ignite her curiosity (for we all know that cats are curious!), to weave a magical web of storytelling around her. For Gorgonzola loves a tale and Brie cooks up a fantastical one for her. It’s about a runaway princess, a cat that can change into a panther, an enchanted feast, mountains, dragons, caverns and, of course, a quest…. Will it be enough to spare our marvellous mouse friend?
This was such a superb story. A story within a story that we just couldn’t put down. It is utterly enchanting with its stunning black and white illustrations and its wonderfully imaginative tale. We love the characterisations of brave Brie and the fierce (but soft on the inside) Gorgonzola and the gorgeous, blossoming friendship between these two animals.
Cheese, twitchy whiskers, friendship and imagination abound in this marvellous middle grade book. We highly recommend it.
Miss Mary-Kate Martin’s Guide to Monsters – The Wrath of the Woolington Wyrm – Karen Foxlee (author), Freda Chiu (illustrator), Pushkin Press (publisher)
My eldest daughter stole this book as soon as I had read it and when I asked her what she thought of it, she proclaimed that it was “magnificent”. And I quite agree. It’s a wonderful read for any time of year but especially now with the spooky season being upon us.
Dressed in her sparkly red shoes, carrying her sparkly red backpack containing her strawberry scented notebook, Mary-Kate accompanies her archaeologist mother to the English countryside to investigate some interesting old bones. But more than old bones is waiting for them in the not-so-sleepy village of Woolington. In fact, this village isn’t even vaguely peaceful- there are strange noises and the earth trembles and the locals are worried that it might have something to do with a terrifying old legend about a monster. A huge “wyrm” who is vengeful and angry and lives in the village’s ancient well. Surely there can be no truth in that silly old folk tale? Miss Mary-Kate is determined to find out what is going on. She might like things just so to help ease her anxiety but she is certainly not afraid to try and get to the bottom of this mystery of the Woolington Wyrm. With the help of local girl Arabella, a new friend she makes along the way, Mary-Kate might just uncover the truth behind this earth-shaking mystery.
Both my daughter and I adored this book. We loved the characters and all their charms: Arabella’s enthusiasm and happy-go-lucky attitude, Mary-Kate’s brave determination even in the face of her sometimes crippling anxiety, and the strong female character that her mother portrays as Professor Martin. The storyline is witty, fast-paced and thrilling and the brilliant black and white illustrations dotted throughout the book make this an even more engaging and thoroughly absorbing read. Five stars from us!
- Foxlee, Karen (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 288 Pages - 08/03/2023 (Publication Date) - Pushkin Children's Books (Publisher)
Alice Eclair Spy Extraordinaire- A Sprinkling of Danger – Sarah Todd Taylor (author), Nosy Crow Ltd (publisher)
We were so excited when this, the third book in the series, dropped onto our doormat for review because my eldest daughter and I have absolutely loved the other books in the series, all about Alice, a talented baker and spy extraordinaire!
In this book, your reader can immerse themselves in the splendour and glamour of the Palace of Versailles as Alice gets herself a job on a glitzy film set there. But Alice soon learns that the film industry is not as shiny and exciting as she first thought as Alice works tirelessly on this, her most dangerous mission yet. She’s on a hugely important mission to uncover an enemy spy but someone is not whisked (pun intended) away by Alice’s brilliant bakes and perfect patisseries. Someone is out to get Alice and it seems that they will stop at nothing to get her out of the way! With the freezing weather working against her as well, meaning she is stuck at the Palace, can Alice manage to whisk herself away from danger? Can she cook up a storm and find out just what is going on behind the scenes of the glamorous set and uncover the enemy spy?
With spoonfuls of spying and subterfuge, cupfuls of charm, lashings of glitz and glamour and a large dash of adventure and danger, this book is the perfect recipe for any adventure-loving reader to delve into. We adore Alice: her bravery, her ingenuity, her imagination, her capableness (and it was also nice to see the normality of her being upset and scared in this story). The plot is fast-paced, full of the perfect blend of fun and beautiful bakes set against a serious backdrop of potential world war and espionage and it is extremely addictive reading. Chefs hats off for this superb story. We hope for many more in the series.
The Midnight Switch – Samuel J Halpin (author), Usborne Publishing Limited (publisher)
Ooo, I was on the edge of my seat and couldn’t turn the pages fast enough in this spooky adventure story.
Welcome to Barrow. It’s rather a strange place: its history involves a creepy curse and some terrifying birds. Oh, and did I also mention the freaky floods and the infamous Barrow Bogwitch?! When Lewis and his family move to Barrow to help him try and get into a new school, Lewis doesn’t really believe all the fuss about curses and witches. But raucous rooks and their yellow eyes keep appearing at his window and then a strange girl from the past knocks on his door at midnight. The girl, whom they decide to call Moira, becomes Lewis’ friend and the two of them realise that their lives are inexplicably intertwined. They must unearth age-old secrets, dig into the past and try and crack the clues to break the curse before Lewis becomes forgotten about by all he loves. But the floods are coming and the Bogwitch is stirring …. Will the two friends manage to undo the curse before it is too late?
This is a cracker of a spooky story about magic and curses, and I loved every twist and turn. It’s quirky and magical, scary in places and creepy in others; it’s filled with friendship, family, history and folklore and we can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s the perfect Halloween read. Enjoy.
Di Island Crew Investigates- The Case of the Haunted Wardrobe – Kereen Getten (author), Leah Jacobs-Gordon (illustrator), Pushkin Press (publisher)
If you have a mystery book enthusiast or a young budding detective in your household then this is the Halloween read for them! You may remember from the first book that this is a fun, new mystery series featuring a band of would-be detectives set on a small island off the coast of Jamaica and it can’t fail to give you all the spooky feels.
Twelve year old Fayson Dawson has been dreaming of returning to Lighthouse Island and being reunited with her friends who form Di Island Crew. But the young detectives are together again they can’t stop squabbling about the membership of their detective agency. The Crew really need to stop the bickering though because there are more sinister things at play: a new case comes their way involving a haunted wardrobe that keeps making a spine-tingling noise. But what’s even spookier is that every member of the agency gets a letter threatening to tell everyone about their deepest secrets. Squabbles abound and tensions run high within the group and things are not quite as straightforward as they seem. Will Fayson be able to draw inspiration from her favourite mystery books and be able to crack the case whilst also protecting her friends?
I zipped through this mystery adventure and enjoyed every minute of it. The characterisations (I enjoyed the fact that not everyone is nice all of the time and that friends can bicker and still ultimately get along), Mrs Hammond’s moving story, the island life, the mystery and the sense of adventure. It’s a seasonally spooky book filled with eeriness, intrigue and mystery and we can’t wait for the next in Di Island Crew series!
- Getten, Kereen (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 192 Pages - 10/05/2023 (Publication Date) - Pushkin Children's Books (Publisher)
The Spirit Snatcher – Cat Gray (author), Usborne Publishing Ltd (publisher)
Snuggle down under your blankets and enjoy this spectacularly spooky read this Autumn….
Pip has just moved to London. It seems scary and imposing, and pretty weird if he is honest. And that is just the street he lives on! But still, Pip is desperate to fit in and blend into the background, unlike his eccentric parents. Until, that is, one morning after the night before – when he is visited by a strange mist- his Mum and Dad seem to be acting very oddly and only communicating via grunts. Pip has to get his parents back to how they used to be so he sets out to explore Elbow Alley and its rather unusual inhabitants. You see, his new neighbours include banshees, werewolves, vampires and ghosts … but worst of all, there is a spirit snatcher on the loose, sucking the personalities out of people. With his new friend and neighbour, Fliss, and her dog, Splodge, Pip sets out to uncover who the mysterious spirit-sucking monster is before time runs out. They will need to find and destroy it to save Pip’s parents but it always seems to be one step ahead of them. And Pip realises no one is safe when Fliss and her father fall prey to its monstrous ways. Will Pip have the courage to save his new friends and neighbours?
I absolutely adored this page-turner of a monstrous, magical mystery. It’s spectacularly spooky and amazingly atmospheric as well as being a gruesomely gripping read. It’s about friendship, it’s about believing in yourself and not caring too much what others think, it’s about community spirit, it’s about embracing differences … it’s a fangtastic, five star book which will be perfect for reading in the run up to Halloween.
Nimbus – Jan Eldredge (author), Devin Elle Kurtz (illustrator), Scholastic (publisher)
This is magical middle grade at its best! Wonderfully spooky and bubbling with witchcraft and monsters, I almost couldn’t turn the pages fast enough in this animal
adventure with a spooky twist.
Nimbus is a kitten who was abandoned at birth and then knocked over by a car. She hasn’t had the best start in life. But that all changed when she met Fletcher. Her human boy, Fletcher. Fletcher, who nursed her back to health and read The Hobbit to her every night.
But when a hideous nightmare demon is released in Fletcher’s house and causes all sorts of damage, Nimbus gets the blame and she is banished by Fletcher’s aunt. Wounded and alone once more, Nimbus meets a friendly, theatre-loving rat named Rhett who takes Nimbus to be looked after by a kind witch called Agatha. As soon as some of Nimbus’s strength returns, she realises that her encounter with the demon has left her with one yellow eye and one green eye because she has taken the demon’s magical power to walk through the dream world. Desperate to return to her beloved Fletcher, who she finds out is getting sicker by the minute, Nimbus realises she must have confidence in herself. She must learn to harness her new-found skills that her feline friends have taught her and face her destiny with bravery.
I adored this magical book. It’s creepy in places, with its talk of monsters and nightmares, but it is also so heart-warming and it is a beautiful animal adventure. I loved the characters of the different cats in the book and the blossoming relationship of Nimbus and Rhett. This is a sensationally spooky read for this Autumn.
Kevin the Vampire – A Most Mysterious Monster – Matt Brown (author), Flavia Sorrentino (illustrator), Nosy Crow Ltd (publisher)
Roll-up, roll-up, the Carnival Monstromo carriages are coming into town and a fang-filled fun adventure bursts into your life! We adored this frivolously fun read by Matt Brown.
Kevin is a villainous vampire who is almost 11. Except he isn’t villainous. He’s lovely, and caring, and open-minded. And he can’t even change himself into a bat yet! Susie is a human who is stuck slaving away for her mean and bad-tempered aunts in the most deathly boring town in the world. Until, that is, the Carnival Monstromo carriages roll into the dull town(s) of Lower Drudging and Kevin’s family accidentally wakes the sleeping monster who lives in the mountain. The screeching creature seems determined to wreck the village and terrify the townsfolk unless Kevin and Susie can manage to stop it. With the help of Brannie, Kevin’s favourite sherbet-lemon eating dragon, will Kevin be able to rescue Susie and the Mayor and help the villagers without angering the creature too much? Maybe the monsters aren’t the bad guys the humans think they are!
We laughed out loud at this fangtastically fun adventure. We adored the Monster Fact Files dotted throughout the book and the storyline which highlights the importance of friendship, acceptance and not judging by appearances. The black and white illustrations are superb, adding character and atmosphere to the humorous, monster-filled story. For fans of Monster Hunting for Beginners, this is a fang-filled, five star read for us and we can’t wait for the next in the series!
Bella Bright and the Ghost Game – Carolyn Ward (author), Beatriz Castro (illustrator), Welbeck Flame (imprint of Welbeck Children’s Limited) (publisher)
Hide and seek will never again be the same after you read this hair-raising book. And Oh my goodness, do NOT let the fun cover artwork on this book fool you- this is one spectacularly spooky story! I was genuinely scared at various stages in this book, making this the perfect spooky season read.
Bella Bright has just moved into the creepy Darkling House with her mother, a property renovator. On her first day at her new school, she is coerced into having a spooky sleepover on Halloween at the enormous and crumbling old house. Her friend Lex and the diabolical duo, Regan and Skylar, come over to spend the night while Bella’s mother is out until midnight. But when the old front door mysteriously slams shut and locks them in, the house shifts and groans and they hear a spine-tingling whisper inviting them to play hide and seek, they begin to realise that this will not quite be the fun night they had planned. The ghost of a cruel, young girl hides Bella’s three school friends around the house and Bella must seek them out before midnight strikes or Alice, the girl, will keep them as her playmates forever. Is Bella ready… because, even if she is not, she has to play the game!
Believe me, you will never look at insects in the same way after you read this story!! I don’t want to give anything away but this is truly a chilling, spook-tastic read of a book. I raced through the pages with my heart in my mouth, so powerful is the story. I also loved the way that the book explores friendships and the confidence to be yourself, as well as creating complex yet relateable characters, both alive and dead! Sensationally spooky, we loved it.
Bridget Vanderpuff and the Ghost Train– Martin Stewart (author) David Habben (illustrator), Zephyr (publisher)
Bridget is back!! Fun and frivolous, filled with lashings of love and exciting escapades, I adored the first book in this new series by Martin Stewart so my eldest daughter and I were very excited when this second book dropped onto our doormat for review. Even if you haven’t read the first book though, this story can very easily be read as a stand-alone.
Bridget and Mr Vanderpuff have been charged with baking the centrepiece for the Night of the Hungry Ghosts parade, the most spooky time of the year in the little village Belle-on-sea where they live. But poor Mr Vanderpuff is all out of ideas and Bridget’s best worst baker accolade is still working its charm and her “bakes” still aren’t working out as well as her inventions so she isn’t much help. When they are warned that something terrible is coming to town and then a ghostly, green coloured train is seen, Bridget realises that something sinister is going on. Then, when the librarian and the Mayor mysteriously go missing, Bridget and her best friend Tom start putting the clues together and investigating the train tracks, just before Mr Vanderpuff himself is whisked (pun intended!) away. Bridget has got her work cut out: she needs to solve the ghostly mystery, rescue the prisoners, save the parade and come up with a show stopping bake for the Night of the Hungry Ghosts parade, all before it is too late. Will the bold Bridget manage it?! Of course she will!
This is a brilliant addition to this new series and a great spooky, seasonal read. We love the hilarious escapades of the brave and capable Bridget and the mouth-wateringly delicious descriptions of the baking world. I loved the elements of spooky alongside the fun and my love for Bridget just grows and grows. She’s clever, fun, brave, inventive, loving, caring, capable and adventure-seeking. A girl who is both rescuer and rescuee all at the same time. I also loved the fun black and white illustrations dotted throughout the story, really bringing the adventures of Bridget and the world of Belle-on-Sea to life. And there are even yummy recipes at the back of the book. What’s not to love?! I cannot wait for the next book in the series which is out next June.
Secrets of the Vampire – Julie Lehrer, Elsa Whyte (authors), Laura Perez (illustrator), Wide Eyed Editions (imprint of Quarto) (publisher)
I am not going to lie, parts of this book terrify me! With an introduction by a vampire herself, your reader is beckoned into dark desires and repressed fears to follow the story and history of vampires.
With its eerie and yet strangely captivating illustrations, your Halloween enthusiast can delve into the dark world of vampires and be mesmerised by their ancestry.
Stepping into those dark shadows, you can delve back through the centuries, tracing the history of the vampire from ancient goddesses through to Dracula and, more recently, to Edward Cullen, the world’s most loveable eternal Prince Charming with a bite! You can learn about vampire symbols and emblems (I’d never heard about using poppy seeds before, nor the idea that hawthorn wards away evil).
The stunning illustrations are atmospheric and spine-tingling and not for the faint-hearted. I, at once, was drawn to them and repulsed by them at the same time!
This is a fang-tastic, brilliantly blood-thirsty complete guide to the history of the world’s most beloved bloodsuckers and would make a toe-curling, spine-tingling read for any horror enthusiast out there. Just make sure you have your cloves of garlic round your neck if you are reading it in the dark!!
The Big Book of Mysteries – Tom Adams (author), Yas Imamura (illustrator), Nosy Crow Ltd (publisher)
Do you believe in tales about demons and devils? Or ghost ships and vanishing villages? How about alien encounters or haunted houses? You might not think you do but you haven’t read this book yet! Or maybe these things can be explained in a rational way? Get ready to send shivers down your spine and have your jaw hang open in awe and wonder as you read all about some of the world’s most unfathomable mysteries. Have you heard the legend of Bigfoot, or the story about the vanishing of Amelia Earhart? What do you know about tales of alien abductions, or stories of mind-boggling natural phenomena? This book provides bite sized text blocks of information all about such spine-tingling mysteries and tries to explain the extraordinary….. unless, of course, the extraordinary cannot be explained!! You will just have to make up your own minds! I, for one, am still convinced of the existence of the Loch Ness Monster!! With its neon- coloured, laser-cut hardback cover, this book is a stunning visual representation of some of the paranormal and staggering stories it contains. I literally start singing the tune to the “X-Files” as soon as I see it (but, perhaps I am just showing my age there!). The illustrations are superb: impressively showcasing the gob-smacking events and stories that they are depicting. This is a fascinating book on so many levels and would be the perfect book for any young science-fiction enthusiast. The most riveting of reads at this time of year, we love it (and are slightly freaked out by it too -ha ha!).
Secrets of the Dead – Matt Ralphs (author), Gordy Wright (illustrator), Nosy Crow Ltd (publisher)
My youngest daughter is absolutely fascinated by mummies and loves “Mummies Unwrapped” (also published by Nosy Crow) so I knew that we needed to review a copy of this book. And even from the cover of this book, with its gorgeous gold writing, you are immediately drawn into the secrets of the past. The remains of our ancestors are all around us, from ancient Egyptian mummies to Otzi the Ice Man, European bog bodies to the most beautiful mummy in the world, found in western China, this morbidly fascinating book will take you on a journey around the globe, showing your reader what scientists and historical experts have uncovered about our ancestors’ lives from the bodies that they left behind. The book showcases some of the amazing discoveries that researchers have made, revealing fascinating secrets about the dead! The information is set out in text blocks spread out over each two-page spread and interspersed with beautiful artwork, not only depicting the dead but also fantastic landscapes, history and architecture, really bringing to life those secrets of the dead. There are jaw dropping facts contained within the book, as well as one or two pieces of information that might make your stomach turn (prepare to be a little horrified reading about the self-mummifying monks of Japan!!). There is a wonderful conclusion to the book, laying out what has been unravelled but also those secrets that have been kept (and which we will keep guessing) but also imbibing the reader with a sense of possibility and wonder, that there are new secrets to be uncovered one day. Maybe they will be the ones to find them? We also love the map at the back of the book, pictorially detailing where these mummies and human remains were found around the world. Produced in collaboration with The British Museum, this book is a superb read for any budding archaeologist or Indiana Jones fan out there. My daughter and I have been absolutely absorbed by it, in all its gruesome detail.
- Hardcover Book
- Matt Ralphs (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 64 Pages - 09/01/2022 (Publication Date) - Nosy Crow Ltd (Publisher)