Author Archives: bookloverjo

Perfect Picture Books for Gifts

Yesterday I shared with you my top Christmas book selection, but if you’re looking for a picture book to gift that can be shared all year round then today I have a round up of the most beautiful and giftable books. Each of these have been exquisitely produced with sumptuous spreads and contain the most beautiful storytelling. So if you’re looking for a special gift this Christmas then let me invite you to take a look.

The Boy, His Stories and How They Came To Be – Oliver Jeffers

‘The Boy, His Stories and How They Came to Be,’ is a stunning collection of Oliver Jeffers classic picture book series featuring the boy. For the first time, ‘How to Catch a Star,’ ‘Lost and Found,’ ‘The Way Back Home,’ and ‘Up and Down,’ have been brought together in one edition. Within this book Oliver has shared his sketchbook pages from each of these stories and we discover insightful gems of information, like the true story of the boy and the penguin, discover how a starfish was inspiration for an ending of one of his stories and how a trilogy turned into four books from a sketch of the boy on stilts.  Stunningly produced in hardback, I particularly love how the texture of the sketch pages is different from the rest of the book, it feels like you’re peering over Oliver’s shoulders looking into his actual sketchbooks. This is a real treasure trove of a book and would make a perfect gift not only for a child but for any lover of picture books, especially those with a fondness for understanding the process of idea development and how picture books are created.

Look – Fiona Woodcock

I’m a huge fan of Fiona Woodcock’s stunning picture books, ‘Hiding Heidi,’ and ‘Poppy and the Blooms,’ both featured in my top picture books choices for the last two years. Fiona has an incredible talent for producing books with engaging storytelling and exquisite illustrations and ‘Look,’ is equallys as divine. What makes this book so special is that Fiona uses just words containing two Os to tell the story of a brother and sister and their eventful visit to the zoo.  Fun and creative it is a wonderful book to share with your child and together you can think of so many different ways to tell this story. Bold, vibrant illustrations bounce off the page creating a visual masterpiece which is bound to excite and entertain younger readers.

Once Upon A Wild Wood – Chris Riddell

‘Once Upon a Wild Wood,’ is an inventive and entertaining twist on a classic fairytale featuring beloved characters old and new.  When Little Green Raincape is invited to Rapunzel’s party she must undertake a long journey deep through the wild woods, the way is long and dark and beset by danger. But Green is a smart girl, she isn’t foolish enough to eat an apple offered by a kindly old lady or accept directions from a friendly troll. Yet on her way she can’t help but intervene when she meets the Beast who is desperately missing his true love or help rescue the seven dwarves from being a witch’s  Sunday dinner. Each spread is a feast for the eyes, Chris’s illustrations are filled with intricate details to engage and entertain the reader. Funny, feisty and filled with fairytale magic, a real classic in the making.

Peter Pan – J.M. Barrie, retold by Caryl Hart, Illustrated by Sarah Warburton

Caryl Hart and Sarah Warburton have worked their magic once again and created a stunning and delightful retelling of J.M Barrie’s much beloved classic, ‘Peter Pan.’ Loving told in beautiful, lyrical rhymes Caryl’s glorious storytelling weaves a spell over the reader as we get lost in this wonderful story filled with excitement, magic and adventure. Sublimely produced, Sarah’s artwork whisks us away to the magical world of Neverland – a land of singing mermaids, lost boys and the dastardliest of villains Captain Hook. This is a story that will capture the hearts and imagination of children (and grown ups) and will become a much loved part of your bookshelf that you will want to hold on to long after your child has grown up.

The Girls – Lauren Ace & Jenny Lovlie

‘The Girls,’ is an unique and thoughtful picture book that celebrates the power and strength of female friendship. We go on a journey with four friends who are distinctly different, strong individually but together they can achieve anything they want. They are there for each other throughout their lives, in good times and in bad and no matter how far from each other they may be, their bonds remains unbreakable. Lauren’s joyous storytelling is matched by Jenny’s delightful illustrations which are bursting with warmth and emotion. Refreshingly diverse, this is a story that at his heart has a very simple but powerful message about the enduring nature of friendship. Buy it to inspire a young girl in your life or give it to your best friend to say thank you for their friendship but above all enjoy it for the beautiful book that it is.

Joy – Corrinne Averiss & Isabelle Follath

For me the most special part of Christmas is about spending time with loved ones. As long as I have my family (and pigs in blankets and lots of sprouts) on Christmas Day then I will be happy. So what better book to share at Christmas than ‘Joy,’ a story of a little girl called Fern whose Nanna seems to have lost her joy for life. Determined to restore her Nanna’s happiness, Fern assembles her very best collecting kit including a fishing net, a box and a saucepan and sets off to find some joy to bring back to her Nanna. Poor Fern is distraught when capturing joy evades her, how will she ever put a smile back on her Nanna’s face. Isabelle’s sumptuous illustrations cleverly capture the stark difference between the emotions using a contrasting palette. A true celebration of the bond between a child and their grandparents. Emotional, funny and ultimately uplifting this is a delightful tale filled with hopes, dreams and joy.


Thank you to Harper Collins, Little Tiger, Macmillan, Nosy Crow and Words and Pictures for sending me copies of these glorious books. All of these books are available to buy now online (click on the title) or from any good bookshop.


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

To shamelessly steal a quote from a song but ‘it really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas’, slightly changing the next line to ‘books in every store.’ So if you like nothing better than settling down with a Christmas book or two, or if you’re looking for inspiration for gifts let me share with you today some of my favourites from this year’s releases.

The Truth Pixie – Matt Haig & Chris Mould

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a seasonal treat from the brilliant collaboration of Matt Haig and Chris Mould, this is the fourth year we’ve been treated to one of their glorious tales and this year is even more magical. The Truth Pixie first made an appearance in the first of Matt and Chris’s gorgeous trilogy, ‘A Boy Called Christmas,’ and quite literally stole our hearts with her inability to stop telling the truth. The problem when you can’t be like the rest of the world, life becomes tricky, you can’t blend in when you’re cursed to stand out. In the darkest of times, the Truth Pixie begins to realise there is still light and when she discovers someone who likes her for being (and despite) herself, she finally learns to love herself. Matt’s brilliantly observed storytelling is matched by Chris’s truly genius illustrations.  Heart-warming and humorous in equal measures and the perfect size to pop in a stocking, ‘The Truth Pixie,’ is the story that everyone needs in their life this Christmas.

Christmas Gremlins – Adam & Charlotte Guillain, & Chris Chatterton

Those naughty gremlins are back and this time they are up to some crazy Christmas tricks that will delight and entertain younger readers. Can you find out what those mischief makers are up to this time? Lift the flaps to discover gremlins scoffing the turkey, wrapping up the dog, blocking the chimney so Santa can’t get down and lots more fiendish festive mayhem they are causing. Chris Chattertons’ illustrations capture brilliantly the chaos and carnage that the gremlins cause, making children and grown ups gasp with delight at their cheekiness. Told in brilliant bouncing rhymes this is a joy to read aloud and has caused so much laughter and excitement when I’ve shared it at storytime in school.

The Christmas Extravaganza Hotel – Tracey Corderoy & Tony Neal

Bear is all set for a nice, calm Christmas when he is disturbed by a festive loving frog who has accidentally travelled to the wrong side of the world in search of a Christmas Extravaganza. He’s expecting singing trees, supersonic sleigh rides and an all-you-can-eat North Pole breakfast bar and instead he’s met by bear who lives in an ordinary cabin not a fabulous hotel. Determined not to disappoint the devastated frog, bear sets out to show him that a Christmas can be just as happy without all the extravagant trimmings. In a world that has gone completely commercial with Christmas, this is a timely reminder that it can be a time to remember to pause and enjoy the simple things in life. Gloriously told with lively and funny illustrations, this story is as warm and comforting as a hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows – a real Christmas treat.

Santa’s Wonderful Workshop – Elys Dolan

‘Santa’s Wonderful Workshop,’ gives us an unique and highly hilarious countdown to Christmas where anything and everything can (and does) happen. Santa has some extraordinary ideas of how to deal with the chief elf’s news that there will be more children than ever this year. Surely the solution has to be to bring in extra helpers, but when that’s in the form of some troublesome penguins and a terrifying polar bear it all goes terribly wrong. Mr Johnson the snowman next door is furious with all the extra noise, the tooth fairy is cross at Santa for continuously eating candy canes and when the heating breaks down they all end up with flu. What more could possibly go wrong? Packed with witty observations, brilliantly funny illustrations there is so much to see and do in this madcap adventure. Elys has an amazing knack for creating these wonderful works of art and imagination that keep children coming back for more. An absolute festive masterpiece I just loved it!

Jingle Spells – James Brown

Trixie is different from your average witch, she shuns Halloween celebrations instead her absolute favourite time of the year Christmas. How can she possible make her friends see what a magical time it is, she decides they need a Santa intervention. But the problem is when you’re a witch everyone thinks you’re bad, so Trixie finds that she is firmly on the naughty list and her request to visit Santa in Lapland is denied. Undeterred she decides to set off in search for Santa and discovers to her horror that Christmas is in danger of not happening this year. It’s up to Trixie to find a way to save Christmas before it’s too late! I really enjoyed this twist on a traditional Christmas tale, I think it’s a lovely story which shows children that we shouldn’t make assumptions about people we don’t know. Beautifully illustrated and filled with Christmas magic, this is an enchanting and entertaining tale.

How to Hide a Lion at Christmas – Helen Stephens

Iris and her lion are back in another charming tale that is bound to put a smile on your face. When Mum insists that lion can’t come away at Christmas with them Iris is so upset, her lion goes everywhere with her, she can’t possibly leave him at home. But as the family set off on the train, lion has other ideas and is determined not to be separated from his beloved Iris. Secretly stowed away in the luggage rack lion watches over sad Iris and wishes he could comfort her. The problem with luggage racks are they’re rather cosy and lion falls fast asleep missing Iris and her family leave the train. Can lion find his way back to Iris in time for Christmas? Lovingly told with bold, vibrant illustrations this is a wonderful addition to this delightful series.

Sammy Claws: The Christmas Cat – Lucy Rowland & Paula Bowles

It’s Christmas Eve and Sammy Claws, Santa’s pet cat wants to help but watching everyone looking so busy is incredibly tidy and he soon finds himself fast asleep. When he wakes up, he’s in a panic and rushes to help but instead causes chaos and carnage at every turn. Now Santa will never let him ride on his sleigh. Slinking off for nap to stay out of trouble, Sammy finds himself wrapped up and in Santa’s sack. But when two robbers plot to steal all of Santa’s presents, can Sammy redeem himself and save the day? Vibrant rhymes and stunning illustrations create a truly charming Christmas story that is a joy to read aloud. Each spread is filled with so many intricate and beautiful details that make this book a joy to behold. Fun, festive and fabulous this is a truly enjoyable Christmas read.

A Very Corgi Christmas – Sam Hay & Loretta Schauer

Belle the royal corgi is the only doggy at Buckingham Palace determined to join in with all of the Christmas fun despite her families protests that Christmas is NOT for corgis. Spying an opportunity to explore London and find those like her who want to embrace the Christmas spirit. But Belle finds it all a bit too much, it’s too hectic, loud and soon she is lost with no way of getting home. Luckily she is befriended by streetwise Pip who whisks her away on a magical tour of London. When it’s time to go home and leave Pip behind, Belle is sure that Christmas won’t be the same without him. What she needs is a Christmas miracle to bring them back together. An enchanting tale bursting with Christmas joy and magic, gorgeously told with engaging illustrations that’s bound to make you feel all warm and glowing inside.

The Dog That Saved Christmas – Nicola Davies & Mike Byrne

‘The Dog That Saved Christmas,’ is a heart-warming and insightful story of Jake, a boy who is different from the other children at school. He struggles with changes and uncertainty in his routine and the all consuming time of Christmas is even more difficult for him to bear. But life changes for Jake when he finds a stray dog on the street and he makes a connection with Susan in a way he has never managed with anyone else before. This is such a beautiful read, it celebrates how animals can be the key to unlocking emotions and creating bonds with children who may find it tricky to create relationships in the traditional way. I think it’s important for children to recognise that Christmas isn’t always a joyful time for everyone, for some it’s an incredibly difficult period of time for many reasons. At the heart of this Christmas story is hope, the hope that small positive changes in your life can help make this time enjoyable even when it hasn’t been in the past. Thoughtfully told with wonderfully warm illustrations that capture the relationship between Jake and Susan perfectly.


Thank you to Barrington Stoke, Egmont, Little Tiger, Nosy Crow, OUP, Simon and Schuster and Scholastic for sending me copies of these festive treats. ‘The Truth Pixie,’ courtesy of my brilliant local library in Whitchurch. All of these books are available to buy now online (click on the titles to buy) or from any good bookshop.

If you want to bring some festive cheer into a child who is in care this Christmas please consider supporting the Booktrust’s Festive Parcel scheme, from £10 you can ensure a child gets a book sent to them.


With Christmas rapidly approaching (20 days and counting) I’m now fully immersed in my Christmas reads. Despite an enticing pile of January releases waiting in the wings, I’m wrapping myself in a cosy blanket with a hot chocolate and allowing myself to be transported to snowy worlds filled with magic. Today I’m joining in with the blog tour for, ‘The Night I Met Father Christmas,’ written by Ben Miller and illustrated by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini.  Daniela’s beautiful black and while illustrations give this book a real classic feel. This book has been lovingly produced with the most glorious cover sprinkled with gold, promising an enchanting Christmas tale with stunning endpapers giving this book a real giftable appeal.

Jackson’s faith in Father Christmas is rocked one year when a friend tells him that he doesn’t actually exist. Confused and dismayed Jackson starts to question everything he has ever believed, how can Father Christmas possibly deliver all the presents in one night and who eats the mince pies and drinks the brandy? Horrified that this might be true, Jackson hatches a plan to prove once and for all that Father Christmas does exist and to discover how it all began. Pretending to be asleep he lies in wait for Santa to come down the chimney and is surprised by what he encounters. As Father Christmas shares his story with Jackson, we discover an unexpected past filled with sadness and misery in his tale of an orphan elf called Torvil. ‘The NIght I Met Father Christmas,’ is a story to share at Christmas to help us to remember and celebrate the true spirit of giving and sharing especially with others less fortunate at this special time.

Today on the blog I am pleased to share with you an extract from, ‘The Night I Met Father Christmas,’ which comes at a significant point in the story when an encounter with a reindeer changes the course of direction in Torvil’s life.

Blog Tour

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

Thank you to Eve and Simon & Schuster for inviting me to join in with the blog tour and for sending me a copy of this festive treat. ‘The Night I Met Father Christmas,’ is available to buy now online or from any good bookshop.

Our Castle By the Sea – Lucy Strange

December hasn’t even arrived but already my head is firmly in January releases. There is a small lull in the publishing world where we all take our collective breaths taking a pause before throwing ourselves headlong into the 2019 releases. The first book of 2019 that I am going to share with you is the highly-anticipated second book from Lucy Strange, ‘Our Castle By the Sea.’ I was totally enchanted by Lucy’s moving debut, ‘The Secret of Nightingale Wood,’ an exquisitely told story, filled with intrigue and adventure so was eager to read this.

England is at war, yet again and for Petra her ordinary life is completely transformed.  Just as their lighthouse is repainted to be camouflaged from the enemy, Petra discovers that she needs to find a way to blend in so that she doesn’t stand out because her mother Mutti, is German, making her an immediate figure of suspicion and hate in their previously close and friendly community. Those that once would talk to her, now turn their backs and there is no outcry when her Mother is taken away from her family to live in an interment camp. There is nowhere for Petra to turn, the rest of her family are caught up in their own secrets and slowly they are torn apart estranged from each other emotionally. In the darkest of times how can a small, afraid girl like Petra reunitel her family and save them from further pain and tragedy.

Lucy demonstrates quite clearly in this story how quickly patriotism can turn into hate. How easy it is for our hearts and minds to be influenced by the words of others. By capturing Petra’s dismay and confusion as these events unfold we see how terrifying and isolating that division can be on those who find themselves suddenly enemies in their own home. We also discover the greatest depths of human compassion and the lengths people  go to, to protect the ones we love. Both Petra’s sister and father become embroiled in their own web of lies because they are blinded by their love. You can sense throughout this book Petra’s increasingly loneliness, as her family try to protect her from the truth, you feel that despite being with them she is truly alone. For me the character of Petra stands out as she has to reach to the very bottom of her reserves to find the courage to stand against those who are wrong, despite nobody believing her. She is selfless when those around her are selfish, focusing on what they believe in. By weaving an ancient legend of the Daughter of the Stone through this tale, Lucy brings lightness and hope when you feel that all is lost. Compelling and thought-provoking, this thrilling adventure places you directly in the centre of the war offering an thoughtful insight into the damaging and heart-breaking impact of war.

Thank you to Lucy and Chicken House for sending me a copy of this enticing book. ‘Our Castle By the Sea,’ is released on the 3rd January and is available to pre-order now online or from any good bookshop.

How Winston Delivered Christmas – Alex T. Smith

I must confess to being a huge fan of Christmas, I do try and restrain myself by holding back on the flurry of festivities until the first day of December. But come Saturday I will be listening to Christmas Music on repeat, sprinkling every room with a touch of yuletide bling whilst shamelessly reading every sort of Christmas story I can get my hands on. I even manage to squeeze in a few Christmas romances, but don’t give away my secret (she says ignoring the huge review pile). So forgive me for sharing with you a Christmas book today but I do have a very good reason, because come the first day of Advent children of all ages will delight at opening this thing of beauty. Not for me a calendar filled with chocolate instead I have a story with twenty four and a half chapters to guide me all the way to Christmas morning, in the glorious, ‘How Winston Delivered Christmas,’ by Alex T. Smith.

Winston is a homeless young mouse, who discovers a letter bound for Santa from a young boy called Oliver. Unknown to Oliver a mysterious wind had caught his letter, which he thought was securely in the letterbox and deposited it right on Winston.  Despite being down on his luck, Winston is alarmed that this letter won’t reach Santa on time and on Christmas morning there will be a very disappointed child. Undeterred by the seemingly epic task that now lay before him, Winston is determined to complete this mission by personally delivering the letter to Santa. Along the way he encounters some new friends who show him how kindness and a good heart can go a long way to making the impossible seem possible. Divided into exactly 24 and a half chapters, children are invited to join Winston on this wondrous countdown to Christmas every day, following him on this extraordinary adventure.

Exquisitely produced and filled with sumptuous spreads, every page of this book is a festive joy. Alex T. Smith is renowned for his intricately detailed illustrations full of humour and heart, and this book is exceptional. I love how each chapter ends with an activity for the children to share from making Christmas gifts, creating pom-pom robins to showing you how to rustle up your very own festive food, there is so much to see and do in this gorgeous book. By sharing this book with your children you can create a new Christmas tradition revisiting every year and remembering the anticipation and excitement of Winston’s journey. So why not forget the chocolates this year and treat yourself to this delightful and charming extravaganza of a read.

A huge thank you to the Christmas elves (aka Alex, Clare and Macmillan) for sending me a personalised copy of this stunning book. ‘How Winston Delivered Christmas,’ is available to buy now online or from any good bookshop.

Irresistible Illustrated Fiction

Regular visitors to the blog will know I’m a huge fan of illustrated fiction books, they are just perfect for newly confident readers allowing them to gain confidence without being overwhelmed by pages of text. Here are some absolute gems that I’ve read recently all guaranteed to enthral and entertain younger readers. If you’re looking for inspiration to encourage the young reader in your life or Christmas gift ideas, read on!


Knights and Bikes – Gabrielle Kent, illustrated by Rex Crowle & Luke Newell

‘Knights and Bikes,’ is one of those books that comes hurtling in to your life with terrific speed causing you to gasp and laugh out loud in equal measures. This is simply one of the most intriguing and compelling adventures that I have read this year, it completely captured my imagination. I have so much love for the crazy antics of Demelza and Nessa who must uncover the strange mystery that lingers over Penfurzy Island. Gabrielle lovingly mixes retro splashes with modern storytelling as her feisty duo wrestle with possessed diggers, flee angry statues and outwit puzzling ghosts in a bid to save Demelza’s home. With only the help of a pet goose, a broken game gauntlet, their trusty bikes, oh and a quest mixtape, our dynamic duo must succeed where so many have failed before. I love the quirky illustrations they really give this book an unusual edge and fill the story with so much fun and energy. Fast-paced and furious, this is a must have read of the year.

You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yeti – Steven Butler & Steven Lenton

‘The Nothing To See Here Hotel,’ staff are back with another adventure that proves to be even more wonderfully weird and wacky than the first. Guests are welcomed to enjoy the biggest celebration in the magical calendar, the summer festival of Trogmanay, a time for fireworks, music and mountains of food. But the hotels plans are disturbed by the arrival of a yeti family masquerading as a freak snowstorm, causing havoc to all their plans. And as more mysterious guests turn up something sinister is lurking all around the hotel causing chaos and confusion at every turn. Steven’s Butler’s madcap and humorous tale is captured brilliantly by Steven Lenton’s with witty and gruesome illustrations featuring the most dark and delightful details. This fabulous, frenetic story stands out from the crowd, with its many comic moments and its original storytelling, oh and this time they’ve thrown in an even bigger twist which I failed miserably to spot. Entertaining and endearing I can’t wait to return for another stay at this monstrously magic hotel.

The Phantom Portrait – Sarah Todd Taylor & Nicola Kinnear

Max the Detective Cat is back in another fabulous feline mystery in ‘The Phantom Portrait.’ This time Max becomes embroiled in a case involving unusual events occurring at Lord Fawley’s castle, when the theatre group are invited to perform at his daughter’s birthday party. The grand reopening of the castle’s theatre seems to unsettle the past with strange ghostly figures appearing terrifying the guests. But Max with the help of the sassy and smart Oscar, begin to suspect that something is not as it seems and are determined to sniff out the truth.  Sarah’s beautiful storytelling mixed with her vivid engaging descriptions transport the reader directly into the story. Cleverly concealment of clues causes just the right amount of confusion to prevent us from realising the truth behind the ghostly appearances and missing diamonds. Nicola’s illustrations are a complete joy, she captures the curiosity and cheekiness of Max and Oscar brilliantly. I was utterly charmed by Sarah’s delightful storytelling and wonderful characterisation which combined with Nicola’s gorgeous illustrations make for a really enjoyable and entertaining read.


The Legend of Kevin – Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntyre

The ‘Legend of Kevin’ is another terrific tale from the incredibly talented Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre. Unlike previous collaborations this is the first book in a brand new series featuring our intrepid duo Max and Kevin. One day a fierce storm blows into Outermost West blowing Kevin, a flying pony with a penchant for custard creams smack bang into the life of Max. Landing on the balcony outside his flat and changing his life forever. Determined to look after the injured pony Max sneaks him into his bedroom convinced he can keep him secret from his family, even his nosy and delightful gothic sister Daisy – who demands to be called Elvira as she’s going through a phase. But overnight the rain is relentless and Bumbleford begins to flood and as the storm waters rise the peaceful town is washed out and besieged by incredibly naughty sea monkeys. It’s up to Max and Kevin to stop all the chaos and carnage, rescuing the townsfolk and outmanoeuvring those pesky monkeys. Funny, heart-warming storytelling meets fabulous illustrations filled with so much humorous details., this book is a joy to behold.

Isadora Moon Makes Winter Magic – Harriet Muncaster

Harriet Muncaster’s ‘Isadora Moon,’ series has been a complete sensation at school, children eagerly ask to borrow the books before they’ve even been returned to their shelves such is the demand to read all of these gorgeous stories. ‘Isadora Moon Makes Winter Magic,’ is the latest book in this brilliant collection which has been stunningly produced in hardback with silver sprayed edges, making it ultra giftable. I love how this series celebrates difference and encourages children to be themselves because well Isadora is half vampire, half fairy so is never quite sure where she fits in. Even magical creatures can have the same feelings and worries as other children and it’s reassuring for them to see this in stories.  Feeling upset and confused at not being invited to a friend’s birthday party, Isadora decides to create a friend of her own using some special snow but when the snow begins to melt can she save her new friend before he disappears. Packed with lots of fun activities, writing tips and things to do this is sure to delight and entertain.

Thanks to OUP and Simon & Schuster for sending me copies of these books to review and the children at my school for allowing me sneak peeks of ‘The Phantom Portrait’ and ‘Knights and Bikes,’ before I popped them on my school shelves. All of these books are available to buy online now (click on the link to buy) or from any good bookshop.

Fascinating Fact Books – National Non-Fiction November


To celebrate National Non-Fiction November I have chosen some fantastic fact books to inform and engage even the most curious of children. Each of these books have been specially chosen for their intricate details and exquisite illustrations which are bound to delight the most inquisitive child. Amongst a wealth of brilliant non-fiction titles published this year for me these really stand out for their quality of information and striking illustrations.

Politics For Beginners – Louie Stowell, Alex Frith, Rosie Hore illustrated by Kellan Stover

For me never has it felt like a more necessary time for children to understand the world of politics. In a world of ‘fake news’, 24 hour media and complex political situations, how can we expect our children to grasp the fundamentals of what is actually happening in our world when we are drowning in opposing opinions. Step forward the brilliantly informative, ‘Politics For Beginners,’ which strips back all of the confusion in this no-nonsense, clear guide to what politics is all about. Using bright, bold illustrations and easy to understand diagrams it covers diverse topics from elections and voting, political change and looks at different political ideologies like capitalism and socialism. It also carefully explores the really big questions we face in society in relation to terrorism, human rights and freedom of speech to name a few. This is definitely one of those book that needs to be in every primary and secondary school library, it’s an essential read for all children (and adults) to help make sense of the confusing world we live in.


The Skies Above My Eyes – Charlotte Guillain, illustrated by Yuval Zommer

Following on from the marvellous, ‘The Street Beneath My Feet,‘ Charlotte and Yuval are back with another collaboration uncovering what is going on in the skies above our eyes. 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. As we go about our daily life do we ever take the time to look up and think about all the things that we can see and beyond that the things we cannot see with the naked eye and need the help of a powerful telescope  to discover. Here we travel through the sky, up through the layers of atmosphere all the way to outer space, before zooming back down to solid ground. On the way we will spy skyscrapers, planes, space stations, tour the solar system and think about what lies beyond those places we have discovered. 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.

The Beetle Collector’s Handbook – M.G. Leonard, illustrated by Carim Nahaboo

Longlisted for the 2019 Blue Peter Book Awards, ‘The Beetle Collector’s Handbook,’ is inspired by the pages of M.G. Leonard’s wonderful, ‘Beetle Boy,’ trilogy. In the story Darkus Cuttle use this very book to discover everything they will ever need to know about beetles and now it has been brought to life in this glorious celebration of entomology. Beautifully produced and packed with the most exquisite and interesting facts which will blow the mind of even the most knowledgeable beetle lover, this is an absolute gem of a book. Complemented with detailed full colour illustrations this is bound to inspire a love and fascination of the beetle population. It cleverly links to the trilogy with scribbled notes and funny observations from Darkus and his father in the margins, opening with Darkus declaring that ‘this is my ABSOLUTE FAVOURITE BOOK in the world,’ which is a very high recommendation indeed. Featuring more than 50 beetles it is designed to inspire and amaze beetle lovers with its array of the most weird and wonderful  of these creatures.

A First Book of the Sea – Nicola Davies, illustrated by Emily Sutton

Nicola Davies and Emily Sutton are back with another stunning collaboration in the final book in the First Book series. ‘A First Book of the Sea,’ is a stunning poetry collection celebrating the sea and all its changing moods. I have always found the sea to be the most special of places, every time we have a day out or a holiday away, I still get a thrill of excitement at that first glimpse of the sea. It’s a place that restores my soul when it’s in the darkest of places and brings back so many memories of the fun filled days we’ve had as a family on the beach. Nicola and Emily have captured perfectly the joy of a place that offers a world to explore filled with rockpools, shells, pebbles, puffins and crabs. Then goes on to uncover the secrets that lie deep in our oceans from forgotten shipwrecks, to brooding sharks and our most deadly secret the plastic that suffocates and poisons the creatures of the oceans. Emily’s sumptuous watercolour spreads bring Nicola’s beautiful, evocative poems which together take us on this magnificent journey of discovery. This is a treasure trove of a book that blends perfectly poetry and information to delight and inform the reader.

Amazing People: Young Heroes – by Lula Bridgeport, illustrated by Federica Frenna, Isabel Muñoz & Julia Swaney

I have spent a lot of the last year being asked by parents where are all the books about inspirational boys with the plethora of female focused fact collections, so I was delighted to receive a copy of ‘Amazing People: Young Heroes,’ which features extraordinary young women and men from across the world. Like ‘Amazing Women,’ this collection feels very current and accessible for younger and older readers. It includes many contemporary young and instantly recognisable young people like Daniel Radcliffe, Taylor Swift and Mark Zuckerburg who provide a gateway to encourage readers to pick up this book and explore. Yet it still features those incredible children whose achievement and passion have had a significant impact in history from Bill Gates to Pelé, who have made great  strides in their respective fields. Stunningly produced with bold, contemporary illustrations and filled with engaging information this deserves a place on every child’s bookshelf. Featuring practical and inspiring advice on how children today can make a difference in the world from small to great acts, this books empowers children to believe that they can bring positive changes to our world.


Mountains of the World – Dieter Braun

‘Mountains of the World,’ is a stunningly, spectacular non-fiction book which examines the mountains that shape our world, from the peaks of the Himalayas to  worlds of ice and snow in the Transantarctic Mountain range. It examines the formation of these magnificent geographical features and humanities exploration of them as well as their relationship with them. These great peaks have always been fascinating to explorers offering the most thrilling and deadly experiences to those who wish to conquer the most fearsome of challenges. It also highlights the wildlife who live amongst them from snow leopards to condors, this is a visual journey through the vast mountains that dominate the landscapes of the world in which we live. This book is just perfect for spending hours poring over enjoying the beautiful illustrations whilst finding out lots of amazing facts.

Thank you to Flying Eye Books, Stripes, Scholastic, Usborne, Walker Books and Wren and Rook for sending me copies of these fabulous fact books. All of these books are available to buy now online (click the link in the titles) or from any good bookshop.