Hope for the future, poetry in motion and vampire rules by various authors - book reviews -

Follow in the footsteps of inspirational hero Captain Sir Tom Moore, share the love for everyone’s favourite pets, enjoy a visual exploration of chemistry, meet a girl who is in training to be a vampire, and board a very special train for a thrilling mystery adventure with a super new collection of autumn children’s books.

Friday, 15th October 2021, 12:30 pm
One Hundred Reasons To Hope
One Hundred Reasons To Hope

Age 7 plus:

One Hundred Reasons To Hope

Danielle Brown, Adam Larkum, Captain Tom Moore and Hannah Ingram-Moore

‘For all those finding it difficult: the sun will shine on you again and the clouds will go away. Remember that tomorrow will be a good day.’

Captain Sir Tom Moore captured the hearts of a nation as he walked 100 laps of his garden to raise money for the NHS but this hero of the pandemic also wished to celebrate many other inspirational stories from what was and still is an uncertain time, and with his blessing, these one hundred stories make a book of hope for the future.

These true stories of everyday heroes across the nation – beautifully illustrated by Adam Larkum – are introduced by Captain Sir Tom’s daughter, Hannah Ingram-Moore, and have been written by Paralympian Danielle Brown to show just how extraordinarily well we can work together.

The book includes well-known stories such as Joe Wicks’ family workouts, as well as equally astonishing tales of everyday heroes, like dancing binmen and fancy-dress postal workers, who brought joy to their neighbourhoods.

These are stories of courage and community, of everyday kindness and perseverance. From the scientists racing to find a vaccine, to frontline workers putting themselves at risk, from clapping together to celebrate keyworkers, to breathing cleaner air, discover one hundred stories that will help you hope that tomorrow will be a good day.

A £1 donation will be made to the Captain Tom Foundation for all hardback print sales in the UK and Ireland. The foundation was created to inspire hope where it is needed most, combating loneliness, helping those facing bereavement, and supporting hospices.

(Puffin, hardback, £14.99)

Age 5 to 95:

Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats

T.S. Eliot, illustrated by Júlia Sardà

When it comes to favourite pets, cats and dogs will always reign!

And when it comes to poetry, T.S. Eliot’s beloved cat poems, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, are still the all-time winners. So team up these enchanting rhymes with the glorious illustrations of Spanish artist Júlia Sardà and you have the perfect gift for cat lovers of every age.

‘The naming of Cats is a difficult matter, It isn't just one of your holiday games; You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.’

So begins one of the best-known poetry collections of all time… an unforgettable tribute to cats, some sane, some mad, some good and some bad. Meet magical Mr Mistoffelees, sleepy Old Deuteronomy and curious Rum Tum Tugger but you’ll be lucky to meet Macavity because Macavity’s not there!

This stunning new full-colour, large-format version – brimming with Sardà’s highly original and vibrant interpretation of Eliot’s cats – is ideal for reading with children and the perfect companion to another stunning Faber book, Christopher Reid’s Old Toffer’s Book of Consequential Dogs, which is published on the 80th anniversary of the first edition of Eliot’s Old Possum’s Cats.

Lavishly illustrated by Sara Ogilvie and originally conceived by Eliot himself, these doggy poems have been lovingly penned by former Faber poetry editor, master poet and Costa-winner Reid and are as witty, varied and exquisitely compiled as Eliot’s cats. Created in an appealing child-friendly large format, these canine-flavoured odes are guaranteed to win the hearts of dog lovers from every generation.

(Faber & Faber, hardback, £14.99 each)

Age 9 plus:

The Week at World’s End

Emma Carroll

Not for nothing has Emma Carroll become known as the queen of historical fiction. And this stunning, hotly anticipated standalone story from the award-winning author is the perfect example of how to turn real history into a thrilling adventure. In Britain in 1962, nothing ever happens in World’s End Close so when Stevie discovers a runaway girl in her coal shed, the first thing she does is fetch her best friend, Ray. Both are dying for adventure and when the girl begs for help, they readily agree. The girl, Anna, is on the run from people who are trying to poison her. Meanwhile, the Americans and Russians are arguing over missiles in Cuba. As the threat of war grows, Anna’s behaviour becomes more mysterious and Stevie unearths a dark family secret. Carroll does a magnificent job of bringing to life the uncertain times of 1962 whilst delivering a powerful and atmospheric adventure steeped in the close bonds of family and friendship. Utterly enthralling!

(Faber & Faber, hardback, £12.99)

Age 9 plus:

The Stardust That Made Us

Colin Stuart and Ximo Abadía

Imagine that Nature has an unseen cookbook full of different recipes and you might find that learning chemistry is fun! In their third stunning STEM book, the top team of author Colin Stuart and illustrator Ximo Abadía embark on a visual exploration of chemistry, atoms, elements and the universe, and come up with a scientific wonder that that will enthral children. Their ‘nature recipes’ can make everything from fish to fingernails and sand to Saturn, and all feature the ‘ingredients’ that are known as chemical elements, organised in a grid called the periodic table. With stunning, surrealist illustrations and an easy-to-read informative text, this is the ideal inspiration for budding young scientists.

(Big Picture Press, hardback, £16.99)

Age 9 plus:

Rules for Vampires

Alex Foukes and Sara Ogilvie

Straighten your cape and sharpen your claws! If Lemony Snickett and Skulduggery Pleasant tickle your spook buds then dive into this wickedly dark and funny debut novel from exciting new author Alex Foukes who is aided and abetted here by award-winning illustrator Sara Ogilvie. Star of this gorgeously gothic tale is the hilarious Leo, a vampire girl who finds that being a vampire is harder than it looks, particularly when you have protect the balance between the worlds of the Living and the Undead. Hauntingly humorous and frantically fast for the season of Halloween!

(Simon & Schuster Children’s Books, paperback, £7.99)

Age 9 plus:

Adventures of Trains: Danger at Dead Man’s Pass

M.G. Leonard, Sam Sedgman and Elisa Paganelli

Full steam ahead for more thrilling Adventures on Trains as schoolboy Harrison (Hal) Beck investigates an ancient family curse high in the German mountains. Authors M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman, and illustrator Elisa Paganelli, whisk youngsters away to lofty mountain peak Brocken in a dynamic mystery series that has become must-reading for action fans and train buffs. So take the night train to Berlin, go undercover with Hal and his Uncle Nat, and don’t look back until the last page has turned at the mysterious journey’s end. One of the wildest and most wonderful reading journeys you will make this year… and just the latest in a fabulous adventure series that has all the bells and whistles any rail fan could want!

(Macmillan, paperback, £7.99)

Age 9 plus:

Maggie Blue and the Dark World

Anna Goodall

Finding light in a dark world has never been more relevant than it is today and Anna Goodall’s coruscating middle-grade debut novel, Maggie Blue and the Dark World, burns brightly for youngsters who have been struggling to cope with the pandemic. This thrilling and thought-provoking story stars a troubled, angry 12-year-old girl thrust into a terrifying adventure and discovering the power of friendship, courage and simply being yourself. With wit, humour and themes of friendship, this is the perfect package for every child that craves an all-round, cracking adventure story!

(Guppy Books, paperback, £7.99)

Age 8 plus:

Eddie Albert and the Amazing Animal Gang: The Amsterdam Adventure

Paul O’Grady

Animal lover, TV celebrity and comedian Paul O’Grady makes his debut as a children’s books author and scores top marks with this laugh-out-loud, action-packed adventure starring a pint-size Dr Dolittle who can talk to the animals. Somewhat-unhappy and never-quite-fitting in 10-year-old Eddie Albert has a secret unknown to anyone else… he can speak to animals, including his pet dog Butch, his hamster and his two zany goldfish who believe they were once pirates. But when Eddie is sent to stay with his eccentric aunt in Amsterdam, he discovers that she has the same gift. Cue for a cosmopolitan comic crime caper full of cinematic action and big-hearted messages about friendship and the magic of animals. First of a series that promises to be a menagerie of mayhem and fun!

(HarperCollins Children’s Books, hardback, £12.99)

Age 7 plus:

Mr Penguin and the Tomb of Doom

Alex T. Smith

Indiana Jones meets Hercule Poirot in this brilliantly funny series for early readers from an author and illustrator at the top of his game. The ever-inventive Alex T. Smith brings us the hilarious Mr Penguin and his trusty sidekick Colin (the spider) and in their fourth adventure, the dynamic duo head into the heat of the Egyptian desert on their most important mission yet to find a kidnapped friend. With a stunning gallery of black and orange illustrations, a baffling mystery and adventures galore, there’s a belly laugh round every corner on the track to the great pyramids!

(Hodder Children’s Books, hardback, £9.99)

Age 6 plus:

The Secret Garden

Geraldine McCaughrean, Frances Hodgson Burnett and Margarita Kukhtina

Enjoy one of the world’s favourite bedtime stories in a beautifully retold, illustrated edition by Carnegie Medal-winning author Geraldine McCaughrean. Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic tale about the restorative power of nature comes as a sumptuous gift book with dazzling, full-colour artwork by Margarita Kukhtina. The story of spoiled and contrary child Mary Lennox, who is sent from India to live with her uncle at gloomy Misselthwaite Manor and with the help of a little robin, unlocks the wonder that lies beyond the garden walls, is sensitively imagined and updated for a contemporary audience by McCaughrean. With a cloth binding, foil cover, textured paper jacket and ribbon marker, there could be no better Christmas gift for your loved ones this year.

(Nosy Crow, hardback, £14.99)

Age 6 plus:

The Gloriumptious Worlds of Roald Dahl

Stella Caldwell, Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake

Explore the characters and creations of the world’s number one storyteller in this glorious tribute to the inspirational author Roald Dahl. Dive into your favourite stories, retold through never-before-seen letters, photographs, magic books, recipes, diary entries and newspaper clippings, and discover fascinating facts about the author and the worlds he created, from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to The Witches, Matilda and The BFG. Read Mrs Twit’s recipe for bird pie, become a giant expert with the BFG's spotter’s guide and discover Willy Wonka’s golden ticket. And don’t miss the bonus envelope packed with Dahl-inspired booklets, games and activity sheets to inspire and encourage your own budding storytellers!

(Welbeck, hardback, £16.99)

Age 6 plus:

Toto the Ninja Cat and the Legend of the Wildcat

Dermot O’Leary and Nick East

Head off for more mischief and mayhem with a magical moggie who sleeps all day and fights crime at night as Dermot O’Leary and illustrator Nick East return with amazing ninja cat, Toto, for another gigglesome, gob-smacking adventure starring the feline heroine who was inspired by O’Leary’s own rescue cats. Plenty of cat-astrophic antics guaranteed as the zany cat gang are sent to a bootcamp for naughty animals! An ideal gift, especially for newly confident readers.

(Hodder Children’s Books, hardback, £9.99)

Age 6 plus:

Unipiggle: Witch Emergency

Hannah Shaw

Welcome back to Twinkleland Kingdom where you can enjoy more madcap adventures and giggles galore as Hannah Shaw returns with her magical Unipiggle series for young readers. Princess Pea, who doesn’t like rules and loves getting muddy and having adventures with her royal pet, Unipiggle, finds herself in the midst of chaos when she discovers a dusty old magic book. Like a pig in muck, Shaw has fun, games and muddy magic with this wonderfully madcap and imaginative series which is filled with high-energy, full-colour illustrations, knockabout comedy, and lots of interactive extra material.

(Usborne, paperback, £5.99)

Age 4 plus:

The Good, the Bad and the Spooky

Jory John and Pete Oswald

Enjoy more food for thought as bestselling author and illustrator team, Jory John and Pete Oswald, sow the seeds of another tasty and inventive picture book! Based on their sensational The Bad Seed series, this entertaining new book features Halloween, the Bad Seed's favourite holiday, but what if he can’t find a show-stopping costume for the big night? Get ready for some trick-or-treating fun in this enchanting new adventure which includes two sticker sheets, perfect for decorating your own mini jack-o’-lantern!

(HarperCollins Children’s Books, paperback, £7.99)

Age 2 plus:

Winnie’s Best Friend

Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul

The madcap adventures of Winnie the Witch and her black cat Wilbur have provided spellbinding, bite-size stories for over three decades and now the two much-loved stars take centre stage in a story that goes back to the beginning of their friendship. With its universal theme of finding your very own best friend, lots of mad, bad and dangerously hilarious escapades, and Korky Paul’s anarchic colour illustrations to bring the crazy antics to life, this is the perfect introduction to the irresistible duo for a new generation of young readers. A super gift book for your own mischief-makers!

(OUP, hardback, £12.99)