Monthly Archives: November 2017

Fascinating Fact Books – For Older Readers

2017 has brought with it a wealth of glorious new non-fiction books for children. Earlier this month I shared my top picks for younger readers with some wonderfully interactive information books and today I will be sharing my favourite choices for older readers. Each of these books are wonderfully informative and feature the most vibrant illustrations and photographs to capture the imaginations of the reader.

Flying Colours: A Guide to Flags From Around the World – Robert G. Fresson

‘Flying Colours’ is one of the most beautiful and interesting information books that I have ever come across. I’ve always had a thing for flags, I used to spend hours as a child pouring over my atlas memorising the different flags of the world. But this brilliant book takes it up to a whole new level by exploring the patterns, colours and crests of flags as they have developed, reflecting the entire history of a country. Did you know that the American flag has had 28 variations since its conception? Or that the Spanish flag had purple bands to represent overthrowing the monarchy? And that the white band on the flag of Thailand represents purity and Buddhism. There is so much more to discover inside this glorious book. I loved the muted, rich palette used in the illustrations which gives this book a really vintage feel. Sublime illustrations matched with the most compelling facts make this book a real treat for inquisitive minds.


Horses Wild and Tame – Iris Volant & Jarom Vogel

‘Horses Wild and Tame’ is another visual extravaganza of an information book from Flying Eye Books. Tracking the important role that horses have played in our history, it takes the reader all the way from prehistoric times, through medieval ages to World War One. See how horses have evolved from their ancient relatives, discover famous horses in legends and stores and understand the bond that they have with humans. Each spread is exquisitely illustrated and features an array of captivating facts about these incredible creatures. A must have for horse fans this is a really unusual and beautiful examination of our equine friends.

The Histronauts – Frances Durkin & Grace Cooke

I’m always looking for new graphic novels to fill my library, so when the b small publishing got in touch to tell me about a brand new series they were launching called ‘The Histronauts’ I was immediately intrigued. The Histronauts aka Luna, Nani, Newton and Hero travel back in time to uncover the secrets of the past. By combining an exciting mix of story, facts and activities the reader becomes fully engaged in their journey of discovery. In the first two books they visit Ancient Egypt and the Roman Empire to explore dazzling tombs and ride in a speeding chariot as they take the reader on this breathless trip around the past. Wonderfully appealing and packed with so much to do and see I predict that these will be a huge hit in my school library.

13 1/2 Incredible Thing You Need To Know About Everything – DK Books

DK Books have done it again, another blockbuster book packed with the most incredible information about the most spectacular amount of topics. It doesn’t just give you a top 10 of facts, oh no you get 13 1/2 with the half fact being a misconception or half-truth that you may have heard and it in its place it gives you the actual TRUTH! Awesome photography meets fabulous facts in this comprehensive and entertaining guide to information. Who wouldn’t want to know everything about shark attacks, moon suits, stealthy stingers to name just a few. If you have a child who can’t get enough of facts then this is the book for them, a real treasure trove of mind blowing curiosities.

Thank you to b small publishing, Cicada Books, DK Books and Flying Eye Books for these glorious reads. All of these books are available to buy from any good bookshop and click on the title to buy online.


Cover Reveal – The Eye of the North by Sinéad O’Hart

I’m really excited to be sharing with you today the cover of Sinéad O’Hart’s captivating debut, The ‘Eye of the North’. This wonderful story will be published on the 8th February 2018 by Stripes publishing.

So without further ado here it is…….

Illustrated by Sara Mulvanny with cover design by Sophie Bransby it really is a joy to behold, such a vibrant and eye-catching cover. I absolutely love how this glorious cover sums up perfectly the epic adventure that Emmeline Widget finds herself on in the hunt to discover the truth about the disappearance her parents. Imagine if you will, dastardly villains, terrifying sea monsters and an unforgettable dangerous journey where unlikely friendship are formed and this just gives you a flavour of the brilliance of ‘The Eye of the North.’ I was totally entranced and swept away by this extraordinary, thrilling tale that moved at such a swift pace that it left me breathless. It held me tight in it’s grip with it’s wonderfully compelling  storytelling all the way through to its dramatic and exhilarating finale. Intrigued? Let’s find out more……

The Eye of the North

For as long as she could remember, Emmeline Widget had been sure her scientists parents were trying to kill her. But when they mysteriously disappear, Emmeline finds herself flung into an epic adventure that takes her beyond the barriers of her world and deep into the frozen north. Along the trail she befriends an assorted cast of characters, and together they face the dangerous and the deadly. Not everybody wants Emmeline to succeed, Doctor Siegfried Bauer is resolute on summoning a mythical beast from the depths of the ice. And he is not the only one….The Northwitch has laid claim to the creature, too. Can Emmeline face one of the greatest legends of all time and live to tell that tale?

Sinéad O’Hart


Sinéad O’Hart’ lives in County Meath, near Dublin with her husband and their daughter. She has a degree in Medieval Studies. a PhD in Old and Middle English Language and Literature and can read Middle English with perfect fluency. The Eye of the North is Sinéad’s first book. You can find out more by visiting her website of following her on Twitter.

Thank you to Beth and Stripes publishing for inviting me to host the cover reveal, ‘The Eye of the North’ is available to pre-order from any good bookshop or online.


Dinosaurium – Curated by Chris Wormell & Lily Murray

Today on the blog I’m kicking off the ‘Dinosaurium’ blog tour and I’m really excited to share with you a video interview with the illustrator of this glorious book, Chris Wormell. This fascinating interview looks at the creation of ‘Dinosaurium’, exploring the process of imagining the different dinosaurs and how Chris created the dinosaurs ensuring they are as factually  accurate as possible. I loved hearing Chris’s thoughts about working on this book and seeing the methods he used to bring the illustrations to life before my eyes. Sit back and enjoy this extraordinary interview….



‘Dinosaurium’ is another stunning addition to Big Picture Press ‘Welcome to the Museum’ Collection. It mixes perfectly an array of intricate and informative illustrations with the most fascinating facts that are overseen by palaeontology experts to bring you the most current knowledge about these creatures. It transports you millions of years back in time to discover a wide range of dinosaurs from the most well know Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus-Rex to the more obscure of the species Troodontidae and Orinthomimosauria. It is has to be one of the most insightful and comprehensive guides to dinosaurs for children that I have ever seen. Even the most avid of dinosaur fans are bound to discover something new within this incredible book.

Blog Tour

Why not join in with the rest of the blog tour for more guest posts and reviews.

 Thank you to Antonia and Big Picture Press for inviting me to join this blog tour and for allowing me to host this wonderful interview.  ‘Dinosaurium’ is available to buy now online or from any good bookshop.

Interactive Information Books

I really enjoy information books that allow you to interact and explore to find out facts and discover more about their subject. Today I’m sharing with you three very different books that all have one thing in common they invite the reader to get involved with some hands on learning.

Flip Flap Ocean – Axel Scheffler

‘Flip Flap Ocean’ is the newest addition to the ‘Flip Flap’ collection from Axel Scheffler and Nosy Crow. Aimed at younger readers, children are invited to discover different creatures that inhabit our oceans from sharks to turtles all the way to squids and jellyfish. There is an array of fascinating facts to discover. Did you know that squids squirt out ink when scared and that a whale is taller than a building? This brilliant book is so clever that it lets children create their very own creatures by mixing the flaps, so now we get to discover 121 new creatures including a shion, a tish, a squolphin and even a  whellfyish. Hilarious rhymes mixed with vibrant, bold illustrations make this a must have read for children who love to ask questions.


British Museum: Mixed Up Masterpieces, Funny Faces 

I’m really enjoying the collaboration between Nosy Crow and The British Museum especially in the latest fabulous creation, ‘Funny Faces’. Inside children are challenged to match up the faces correctly to identify artefacts which can be found inside The British Museum and then they can make their own variations resulting in some weird and wonderful faces. This book encourages the children to engage further with the artefacts by providing a QR code in the back of the book that allows them to discover more about these precious items. I think this wonderful book would work brilliantly to inspire young artists at home and in school and to help foster a love of history.


British Museum: Origami, Poems and Pictures

As a parent of children who love crafting, I’ve often failed miserably when my girls have brought ‘make and do’ books home from the library.  There’s nothing worse than an excited child wanting to make a puppet, a paper mache animal or cardboard robot and discovering you don’t have the exact item you require. So cleverly this stunning book on origami not only includes instructions for 13 origami models, it actually gives you 50 sheets of paper so they can actually have a go at recreating grasshoppers, cranes and frogs to name just a few. Not only that it offers children an insight into the culture of Japan by including the Japanese name of each item written in Japanese script and a beautiful haiku poem. It really is the most sublime book, an absolute joy to behold. It too features a QR code with videos containing step-by-step instructions on how to make the models. It would make the most perfect gift for any child who loves to be creative and express themselves.

Thanks to Nosy Crow for sending me copies of these wonderful book, they’re all available to buy from any good bookshops or click the titles to buy online.

All The Things That Could Go Wrong – Q & A Stewart Foster

This week is Anti-Bullying Week and I’m delighted to welcome Stewart Foster to the blog today with a special Q & A about his wonderfully insightful book, ‘All The Things That Could Go Wrong.’ This is a book that tells two very different stories about Dan and Alex who both find the reality of everyday life a struggle. Dan is consumed by rage after his brother left, and unable to deal with his emotions he torments Alex, honing in on his weaknesses and taking out his pain on him. For Alex life was incredibly difficult even before Dan started to make his life a misery, his severe OCD makes it hard for him to live a normal life. But their paths are unwittingly thrown together when their mums make a plan for them to meet outside of school and finish the raft that Dan started with his brother. This is a really interesting book as it gives us an insight into the mind of the bully Dan and tries to understand why he behaves horribly towards Alex, whilst showing the reader the devastating effect bullying has on Alex’s life.

Stewart Foster – Q & A

Can you tell me what inspired you to write ‘All the Things That Could Go Wrong,’ which had bullying as one of the main themes?

The actual moment that inspired the book came whilst I was being interviewed to teach at a school in Essex. I was waiting outside the interview room, looking at the school notice board. Amongst the usual school trips, recitals and sports team announcements , I saw a section on mental health. This section included advice on OCD, exam stress, anxiety, depression and bullying, and I suddenly thought, god, the pressures we put our kids under these days. At that point I wanted to write something hard-hitting and realistic for middle grade readers, but at the same time I wanted to give them hope.

          Why do you think books are a useful resource in dealing with bullying?

I was lucky enough to grow up watching Grange Hill. I children’s programme that really did tackle the issues of growing up in a state school. I’m not sure there is any like that for children to watch anymore. So I think reading, especially for middle-grade readers, is a great way for children to both get informed, but also forge their own opinions. The issue of bullying was covered brilliantly in ‘Wonder’ and it’s promoted discussion in many schools I’ve visited. If my writing can do the same, and perhaps enable readers to see the issue of bullying from both sides, then I’ll consider that a success.

              In your book we get to see the story not only from the viewpoint of the child who is being bullied Alex but also from the side of the bully Dan. Why did you decide to include Dan’s point of view?

    Ha, well I started to answer this question at the end of the last. The reason I did Dan (the bully) point of view, first person was that I wanted to experience what it might be like to be a bully, and put the reader in that position too. It was very hard at first, but that was because I was concentrating on the awful things he was doing, and not on what type of kid he was. I may be naive but I link to think that there are grains of good in everyone, and that sometimes we just have to learn to understand them to help the good come out.

             The theme of this year’s Anti-Bullying Week is ‘All Different, All Equal’ which aims to promote difference and equality in schools. How do you feel both Alex and Dan stand out in school and how to they deal with this?

   Alex both stands out because of his physical appearance but his unseen mental torture flies under the radar. His teachers haven’t got the time to truly understand and help him and because he’s quiet he doesn’t demand attention. Dan is similar but because he’s louder he’s actually demanding attention but at the same time, he is like Alex, he trying to work his way through his problems and somehow discover his own identity. I think we’re so lucky as middle-grade writers because the age group we write for and about are smouldering volcanoes. In Dan’s case, the volcano erupts whereas Alex’s keeps bubbling, bubbling, bubbling, but both have very uncomfortable rides.

  I felt that your book was really empathetic and insightful. Did you deliberately write it with this in mind so that children who read it and hadn’t been bullied would understand the experiences more clearly?

I only thing I did deliberately was to set out to write a story about bullying and I wanted it to be real. I think if I’d set out looking for children to emphasise and be deliberately insightful then the story would have become contrived, unconvincing and children would switch off. All the things carries to important a message for that to happen, so I just wrote what was in my heart and let it bypass my head. Personally, I learn quite subliminally and I guess that’s how I write too because I care massively about both bullying and OCD and I hope it’s that that comes through in the book.

              ‘Bubble Boy’ featured a boy called Joe who is very different, do you think it’s important for children to meet a diverse range of characters in their books?

    I’m glad you say the characters are very different from Joe, because whenever I start a new story I have to get rid of my best mate from the last book and make new friends in the next. For that reason alone it’s good to have very different characters to keep me interested, but I think also that children need to meet characters that they may not come across at home or in school. We live in a big world, but for the first part of our lives we live in pretty small communities and don’t stray far from them. Meeting different characters in novels is a great way for children to see how other children live in cities in their own countries or even on the other side of the world.

             How important do you feel reading for pleasure is in developing empathy in children?

      Reading is a very intimate experience, it’s just you and the book and unlike watching a film you get to colour that book however you want. I don’t think reading for pleasure instils empathy, but as your question suggest, it develops what is already there. I’m not sure that in the early years a child could actually describe empathy, more that it comes out in their own behaviours and I’m pretty sure some of the great middle grade books are promoting this. Books offer children their own little private space, away from the influences of friends, school and TV.

A huge thank you to Stewart for inviting me to host this Q & A. You can find out more about Stewart by following him on Twitter and Facebook. ‘All The Things That Could Go Wrong’ is available to buy now online or from any good bookshop.

The Street Beneath My Feet – Charlotte Guillain & Yuval Zommer

‘The Street Beneath My Feet’ by Charlottel Guillain and Yuval Zommer has to be my favourite non-fiction book of the year. Cleverly constructed, this concertina double-sided format allows you to unravel the story of the ground beneath our feet or unfold the whole book on the floor for a hands on exploration. On one side we learn about everything that happens beneath the city street from electricity cables, to underground trains all the way right down to the very core of the earth. Flip the book over and we see the contrasting side in our journey through the different layers in the countryside. Here we discover badger sets, dinosaur fossils, metamorphic rocks and minerals.

Not only is it packed with fascinating facts from Charlotte Guillain which will excite the most inquisitive child it is also visually stunning, with the most sublime illustrations form Yuval Zommer. With so many intricate details to spot you can spend hours pouring over this book and it is bound to be enjoyed over and over again. Managing to make complex information interesting and engaging, it’s perfect for newly confident readers  it’s captivating whilst still being accessible. Younger readers can enjoy exploring the illustrations, it’s ideal for sharing and discovering together.

This would make an ideal gift for any child who loves to ask questions and devours information books, it’s an absolute joy to read!

Thank you to Words and Pictures for sending me a copy of this glorious book, ‘The Street Beneath My Feet’ is available to buy from any good bookshop or online.

Cover Reveal – The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day by Christopher Edge

I’m really excited to be sharing with you today the cover of the fantastically talented Christopher Edge’s new novel. ‘The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day’  will be published on the 5th April 2018 by Nosy Crow books.

So without further ado here it is…….

I love this stunning cover, the fabulous artwork has been created by Matt Saunders who was also responsible for the covers of ‘The Many Worlds of Albie Bright’ and ‘The Jamie Drake Equation’, although this is my absolute favourite of the three. I’m a huge fan of Matt’s work he has a really distinctive style that I’m immediately drawn to, it manages to convey so much in a single image. It is definitely one of those covers that demands to be picked up and read and I was intrigued to discover more about what lies inside. And luckily for me those lovely people at Nosy Crow have sent me a very early proof copy and I devoured it in one sitting. I had planned just to read a few chapters and the next thing I knew I had read the whole story as I became completely lost in Maisie’s world. Yet again Christopher has created an incredibly, smart extraordinary story, an unforgettable heart-breaking story that you’re bound to love. So what is ‘The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day’ all about then, well let me tell you.

The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day

How do you know that you really exist?

It’s Maisie’s tenth birthday and she can’t wait to open her presents. She’s hoping for the stuff she needs to build her own nuclear reactor. But when she wakes up in an empty house with no sign of her mum, dad or elder sister, Lily, and then opens the front door to see a dense, terrifying blackness staring back at her, Maisie quickly realises that this isn’t going to be any ordinary day…

Trapped in an ever-shifting reality, Maisie knows that she will have to use the laws of the universe and the love of her family to survive. But as the house begins to erase itself around her, even that might not be enough…


Christopher Edge

Christopher Edge grew up in Manchester where he spent most of his childhood in the local library, dreaming up stories. He now lives in Gloucestershire where he spends most of his time in the local library dreaming up more stories. Before becoming a writer, he worked as an English teacher, editor and publisher – any job that let him keep a book close to hand. He also works as a freelance publisher and education consultant and has written several publications about encouraging children to read.

To find out more about Christopher you can visit his website or follow him on Twitter

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders is an experienced freelance illustrator based in London. Often rooted in the realms of fantasy and magic his work is versatile and continually evolving. For Matt it’s not just about creating visually unique images it’s also about solving visual problems. His illustrious client list includes HBO (Game of Thrones), M&S and J K Rowling’s Pottermore.

To find out more about Matt you can visit his website or follow him on Twitter

Thank you to Clare and Nosy Crow Books for inviting me to host the cover reveal.