Author Archives: bookloverjo

Irresistible Illustrated Fiction

Regular readers of the blog will know I’m a huge fan of illustrated fiction books. They are perfect for newly confident readers allowing them to gain confidence without being overwhelmed by pages of text. Here is my round up of my favourite recent releases all guaranteed to enthral and entertain younger readers. They would make wonderful additions to any primary school library.

Agent Weasel and the Fiendish Fox Gang – Nick East

Watch out dastardly criminals there’s a new secret agent in the woods. His name is Weasel, Agent Weasel. He likes his hot chocolate shaken but not stirred and he always ready to crack the most trickiest of cases when the head of WI6, H gets in touch. But Weasel is about to face his most dastardly challenge yet when the Fiendish Fox Gang’s plan for woodland domination causes criminal chaos everywhere he turns. Can he foil their evil plans before it’s too late. Nick East has created a hero who will keep us massively entertained with his comedy capers as he tries to outwit those fiendish foxes in the most unconventional ways. His hilarious and detailed illustrations capture the humour and carnage perfectly as Weasel tries spectacularly hard to get the gang just where he wants them. Everything about this book will  appeal to children, from the wonderfully illustrated front cover, to the brilliant mix of humour and mystery inside, this is a real treat of a book. I look forward to this next book in this series.

The Classroom Cat – Pamela Butchart & Becka Moor

‘Wigglesbottom Primary,’ is back with another three adventures guaranteed to have you giggling under your school desk. This series has been phenomenally successful in school and I have had to buy multiple copies for the library. A school where the unexpected is just waiting for you around the corner, with all sorts of shenanigans waiting to be discovered. From the cat that’s is trying to give the children a warning, rumours that a puddle crisp will make you seriously ill flying around and Joel’s imaginary friend joining them on a school trip, there is so much fun to be had. This series is a perfect blend of silliness and fun, it puts a huge smile on my face every time I read a new adventure. Pamela excels in telling school stories that are effortlessly diverse and ridiculously funny, which Becka captures superbly in her hilarious and brilliantly observed illustrations. If you haven’t already read this series you are seriously missing out, they really deserve to be top of the class.

The Great Raspberry Mix-Up – Harriet Whitehorn & Alex G. Griffiths

I’m a huge fan of Harriet’s ‘Violet,’ mysteries so I was really intrigued to see what she had instore for us in the first book in the brand new series of ‘Freddie’s Magic Bakery.’ Pitched at a slightly younger market this capitalises on our obsession as a nation with a baking after the success of a certain baking series. Meet Freddie the most amazing baker in town, where people queue round the block to get their hands on his divine patisserie. When the grand hotel announces a baking competition everyone is sure that Freddie will win but rival baker Bernard Macaroon is determined to succeed at any cost. A charming tale that is bound to delight younger readers with it’s marvellous storytelling and fun illustrations, I mean who wouldn’t want to take a helter-skelter ride to work.

 

The Truth Pixie Goes To School – Matt Haig & Chris Mould

Last Christmas Matt Haig and Chris Mould came along and well they didn’t (in the tradition of Wham) give you their heart but they did deliver one of the most heart-warming tales of the season. I adored, ‘The Truth Pixie,’ and when I shared it at my library sessions the children were totally captivated by this magical tale. When the Truth Pixie goes to school she soon discovers that this isn’t a place where truth is welcomed and so finds herself in deep trouble more often than that. But when she faces the wrath of the bully she sees what everyone else doesn’t that they are insecure and are only mean to make themselves feel better. Poor Aada finds school exceptionally tricky with Pixie at her side. Can she find a way to make friends and be true to herself. Heartfelt and humorous in equal measures, this book is another absolute triumph and I can’t wait to bring back the magic to the children at school when I share this wonderful story.

The Jolley-Rogers and the Pirate Piper – Jonny Duddle

The ‘Jolley-Rogers,’ series is a masterclass in writing and illustrating that I absolutely adore, Jonny is brilliantly funny and enteraining and this series has gone from strength to strength. With a twist on the Pied Piper story Matilda and Jim Lad find themselves caught up in their trickiest adventure yet when the children of Dull-on-Sea are lured away by a piratical pirate after the town refused to pay him for ridding them of their rat infestation. Full of twists and turns they have to use all of their sea-faring cunning to outwit this dastardly and dreadful pirate. Full of so much humour and fun this is a joy to read from start to finish, Jonny’s illustrations are so wonderfully witty and intricated, every time I read one of his books I spy more brilliant details that deserve to be savoured. Like all of the other books in this series, it is bound to be a huge hit at school.

 

Cinder & Sparks: Magic at Midnight – Lindsey Kelk & Pippa Curnick

Okay so we’re all familiar with the Cinderella story, the tale of a downtrodden girl, her talking pet dog and her fairy godmother Brian. Oh hang on a minute no that’s not the version we know! Fear not Lindsey has brought this well loved tale up to date in a modern retelling which will truly capture the imaginations of younger readers. Unlike her stepsisters Cinderella doesn’t have the latest phone or time to sit around staring at her reflection in the mirror, not when she has a mountain of dishes to wash. But a chance encounter with Brian who turns out to be the worst fairy godmother ever, changes her life completely but not the way you expect. Instead of bringing beauty and glamour into her life, he causes total chaos and Cinderella is about to turn her story upside down. Pippa’s beautiful illustrations are filled with warmth and humour, they wonderfully enhance this mixed up fairytale. With magic and chipolatas aplenty this is bound to entertain and amuse younger readers.

Thanks to Canongate, Hachette, Nosy Crow, OUP and Templar for sending me gifted copies of these books in exchange for a review. You can buy all of these books now online (click on the title to purchase) or from any good bookshop.

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Scoop McLaren Detective Editor – Helen Castles

As much as I’m intrigued by the title of a book, it’s usually the cover that speaks to me the most. I spotted ‘Scoop McLaren,’ on Twitter and was immediately captivated by Beatriz Castro’s illustrations, it really made me want to find out what a mouse, a seagull and some frogs would have in common. So it was a lovely surprise to get a copy in the post. I’m a huge mystery fan but I do have a stash of mysteries waiting to be read but my ten year old daughter read it and raved about it. So here I am today on the blog tour for the first book in a brand new series, ‘Scoop McClaren Detective Editor,’ by Helen Castles.

Scoop Maclaren is horrified when a new online newspaper is launched in direct competition to ‘Click,’ her very own creation. ‘The Dark News,’ offers something that no other newspaper can, the news before it actually happens. Launched at exactly one minute past midnight every night, it predicts plagues of frogs, torrential weather and children turning into stone, causing huge commotion in the town of Higgity Harbour. Scoop alongside her sidekick Evie is determined to expose the editor, the evil Sonny Fink and prevent them from destroying her beloved town completely. But with confusion and chaos at every turn how can they ever hope to uncover the truth and bring this dastardly villain to justice?

I have to say that this book really surprised me, the plot was fast paced and packed with twists and turns that will keep even the best young detective guessing. It had for me a real Jessica Fletcher kind of vibe going on with a seemingly sleepy seaside town facing a totally unexpected crime and I suspect like Jessica wherever Scoop goes a mystery will reappear.  Helen has assembled an interesting cast of characters who I feel that readers will find really appealing. It feels like a fresh and original series that I can see being hugely popular at school, I can’t wait to see what Scoop has instore for us in the future.

Blog Tour

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

Thank you to New Frontier publishing for sending me a copy of this fab mystery. ‘Scoop Maclaren Detective Editor,’ is available to buy online now or from any good bookshop.

 

Princess BMX – Marie Basting, illustrated by Flavia Sorrentino

 

Today it’s my stop on the, ‘Princess BMX,’ blog tour a fun and magical debut from Marie Basting, illustrated by Flavia Sorrentino. Princess Avariella Petulia Winifred Pandoro D’Allessandro of Biscotti is so bored of being a princess, she can’t bear having to be good all day and would much rather be sliding down the stairs in a potato sack than be dressed in a frilly frock smiling at the crowds. Convinced she will die of boredom Ava’s live changes in the most unexpected of ways when she accidentally discovers a portal to a different world so unlike the fairytale kingdom she has grown up in. And then she spies a BMX bike something she has only ever seen in books and she’s immediately drawn to this thrilling and exciting sport. Packed full of thrills and spills, Ava is a modern day princess who readers are bound to love. Fierce and loyal, she finds herself caught up in a quest to save her brother and defeat her banished aunt the truly evil Odette. Joyful word building meets compelling storytelling in this fun and entertaining debut, a must for those who love to break the rules and challenge the status quo.

I am delighted to welcome Marie to the blog today with a special interview she did with Dakota Rose Tucker, a young BMXer.

(photo credit BMX Widow)

1 Can you please tell me a little about yourself and how long you’ve been riding BMX?

My name is Dakota. I am 6 years old, nearly 7, and I started riding BMX just before I was 5.

2. How long have you been racing competitively? Can you tell us more about what this involves? (Are you part of a club? How often do you train and where? What does training involve?)

I started racing as a novice for one season before turning to expert. I race in the South West region for my home club ‘Exeter Eagles’, but also belong to a National Race Team called ‘Absolute’, where we attend the British Cycling National Series each year. I have also raced in Europe in their UEC European Cup, and travelled to Verona in Italy, Zolder in Belgium and Sarrians in France. This year I also qualified to race in the World Championships, a single, annual race held each year in a nominated country for the top riders in the World. I represented Team USA due to my dual nationality, whilst still being a bit too young to race under team GB. I train most days on a variety of tracks with a mixture of training regimes with riders of all ages.

3. Can you tell us more about the races and meets you attend? (Do you travel all over the country? What is it like to be part of the BMXing community?)

We travel all across the country to different tracks, spanning from Cornwall to Glasgow, where almost every weekend a different race is on somewhere in the Country. Being part of a BMX community feels enjoyable because you have friends all around you, who look out for each other, and look after people. The BMX community is really special. It makes the world feel small with the amount of friends I have got all over the world. This year the racing has taken me to America and Europe, making new friends, learning of different cultures and making memorable adventures with my family.

4. Who are your BMXing heroes? (Would particularly like to hear about the girls and women.)

Stumbling along a YouTube video of Caroline Buchanan one day got my attention to want to be like her and started this whole journey. She kindly gave me a signed race plate for my fifth birthday which got me hooked. The great thing about this sport, which is unlike most others is how close you can get to your heroes. I have been lucky enough to meet my heroes; (Elite Riders) Alise Willoughby, Felicia Stancil, Bethany Shriever, Laura Smulders, Saya Sakakibara, (Local Riders) Freya Challice, Ruby Moore’s and Betsy Bax.

5. What makes a good BMXer? (Thinking here about attitude, mindset etc)

A good BMX rider is someone who is never afraid, who always makes moves and keeps strong. Racing will always have its challenges, but with persistence and hard work good results will come.

6. Why BMX racing and not freestyle?

I always enjoyed riding my bike from the age of 4. I love watching motorsport and racing, and the adrenalin I get from racing makes me want to always be faster. Freestyle is a bit different but I’m sure is just as fun.

7. What is your biggest BMXing achievement? What about your future goals?

My biggest achievement is qualifying for the World Championships in Zolder, Belgium in July 2019, and also being South West Number 1 and British Number 4. My future goals will be to improve on my results and develop my techniques and skills to become an even better rider.

8. How can someone who knows nothing about BMX get involved in the sport?

BMX is available for all abilities, and there are lots of tracks around the country. Join a club, hire a bike, give it a go, and the sky is the limit.

9. Is there anything else you’d like to share about yourself or BMX?

BMX has taken me to places I otherwise probably wouldn’t have visited. It’s taught me about courage, confidence and teamwork. The sport is so much more than just riding a bike. It brings people together, creates times of fun and laughter, and most of all memories that I’ll cherish forever.

Blog Tour

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

Thank you to Laura and Chicken House books for inviting me to join in with the blog tour and for sending me a gifted copy of the book. ‘Princess BMX,’ is available to buy now online or from any good bookshop.

 

I, Cosmo – Carlie Sorosiak

Today I am delighted to be kicking off the blog tour for the wonderful, ‘I, Cosmo,’ by Carlie Sorosiak, a heart-warming and bitter sweet tale of family life. Cosmo senses that something is going wrong with his family, he can see that his brother Max is struggling and he can hear the constant arguing between Mum and Dad. He knows he has to find a way to keep his family together as he can’t bear to be separated from Max. With nobody else seeming to have a plan, it’s up to Cosmo to find a way to stop his family disintegrating. And the fact that Cosmo is a Golden Retriever isn’t going to stop him from trying to save the day. But how can one dog make a difference when even the grown ups can’t figure out a way through this pain and bitterness?

I love everything about this book, it’s truly marvellous to see the world through the eyes of Cosmo a wise, old dog who has witnessed the highs and lows of his family. The inextricable bond he has with Max is completely joyful, we see him pushing himself to his very limits in his quest to deliver his master plan. Sensitively and thoughtfully told it offers a real insight into the damage that lies and secrecy can cause. Because no matter how much you try to hide them, they seep out causing damaging ripples that can cause incredible hurt. By trying to protect the ones you love you can inadvertently create even more sorrow. Playing against this background of warring parents, we see how Cosmo adores Max, their relationship is totally endearing. Cosmo gives Max a sense of purpose, providing a distraction from his woes and gives him hope and security where none seems possible. But this is far from being overly sentimental, it is a realistic portrayal of family life with an intriguing twist that Cosmo sees everything – there is no hiding from him. My heart was so full of joy whilst reading this story despite the fact it’s mingled with sadness, it’s still filled with so much love. An original, moving story which will stay with me for a long time.

Thank you to Karen and Nosy Crow for inviting me to join in with the blog tour and for sending me a gifted copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. ‘I, Cosmo,’ is available to buy now online or from any good bookshop.

Blog Tour

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

Cover Reveal – Shadowsea Peter Bunzl

I’m really excited to be able to reveal for you today, the cover and title of the fourth and final Cogheart Adventure by Peter Bunzl, ‘Shadowsea,’ which will be published on the 9th January 2020 by Usborne. Following on from, ‘Cogheart’, ‘Moonlocket‘ and ‘Sky Circus‘, we embark on another enthralling adventure with Lily, Robert and Malkin.  The lovely team at Usborne have created this incredible animated cover for the reveal today so you’re in for a huge treat!!

So without further ado here it is…….

This stunning cover has once again been designed by Katharine Millichope at Usborne, and illustrated by the brilliant Rebecca Stadlanter. I love how this animated cover hints at the murkiness lying in the depths of the ocean as we see Lily, Robert and Malkin plunged into another dark and perilous mystery. Let’s find out what Peter has instore for us in this stunning adventure.

Shadowsea

SECRETS NEVER STAY SUBMERGED FOR LONG

Swept into the bright hustle and bustle of New York, Lily, Robert and Malkin discover shadowy secrets lie beneath its surface. For there are chilling goings-on in their hotel…

A strange boy held captive, haunted by an undersea mystery; and a revengeful villain with a treacherous plan.

Searching for clues, Robert and Lily are plunged into deep water… But can they reveal the deadly truth before the secrets submerge them?

Join Lily, Robert and Malkin on a fantastic voyage of terror and triumph, in the fourth and final Cogheart Adventure…

Peter Bunzl

(photo credit Thomas Butler)

Peter grew up in South London in a rambling Victorian house with three cats, two dogs, one sister, an antique-dealer dad and an artist mum. He is a BAFTA-winning animator, as well as a writer and film-maker. Like Lily and Robert, he loves adventures and reading penny dreadfuls, but wishes dearly that he had a mechanical fox called Malkin. Shadowsea is his fourth novel.

Thank you to Peter and Usborne for inviting me to host the cover reveal. ‘Shadowsea,’ is available to pre-order now online or from any good bookshop.

 

July Reads

And so after what seems like the longest school year ever the summer holidays are finally here. Having been struck down by a horrible infection over the last two weeks I’ve been forced to just sit down a read, so have managed to squeeze in quite a few books which I’m sharing with you today. I have something for everyone from 7 years with Emma Read’s debut, ‘Milton the Mighty,’ all the way up to 100 years with Laura Wood’s delightful, ‘Under A Dancing Star.’ So I digress, I’m sure you’re here for the books not an update about my general health (I’m nearly recovered now in case you’re wondering) so let’s let the books do the talking.

Top Marks For Murder – Robin Stevens

For me a new ‘Murder Most Unladylike’, book is always a highlight of my book calendar so I was thrilled to get my hand on an early copy of, ‘Top Marks For Murder.’ Sadly I was yet again forced to wait until my fellow Detective Society member had read it first as she insisted she would be much quicker, which was entirely true as she devoured it in three hours. After our sojourn to the theatre, Wells and Wong are back to their stomping ground of Deepdean where inevitably they find themselves deeply embroiled in a murder during the school’s fiftieth anniversary weekend, with parents all around there’s no chance of a cover up and the scandal is threatening to close their beloved Deepdean. Horrified at the thought of being separated forever our dynamic duo are on the case but this time Robin has made it as difficult as possible for them (and us the reader) to unravel the truth amongst a plethora of old grudges, family secrets and bitter rivalries. This series has gone from strength to strength gaining quite rightly an army of detective society members who are desperate to read the next adventure and this one is definitely worth the wait. So notebooks at the ready it’s time to discover can you solve this clever and complex mystery, I know I failed miserably yet again!

Under A Dancing Star – Laura Wood

Despite getting my hands on an early copy of, ‘Under A Dancing Star,’ I had to force myself to wait to read it when I had the luxury of time to savour every page and just lose myself in Bea’s world. Following on from Laura’s triumphant and stunning Young Adult debut, ‘A Sky Painted Gold.‘ she has managed to create another truly divine story that I completely adored. Bea lives a very small existence, suffocated by her family who are desperate for her to marry well so that she can save the crumbling ancestral pile. Her ambitions and desires are squashed, her life is mapped out against her will until one decision to send her away for the summer offers her one last chance of adventure before her fate is sealed. Sent to live with her uncle in Italy, Bea experiences for the first time a place where her opinion is valued, new freedom and an opportunity to mingle with some bohemian artists who are far removed from her stiff upper lip family. When she meets Ben, she finally meets her match in both wit and intellect and sparks fly. When they’re challenged to enjoy a summer romance without falling in love, it changes them both in the most unexpected of ways. Deliciously romantic, sublimely imagined this is a story that truly stole my heart. Inspired by Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing,’ Laura captures the relationship between Bea and Ben so magnificently, emphasising the joy of the  funny and frustrating banter that flies between the pair. Aside from this, the reader feels the balmy heat of the long hot days and the beauty of the idyllic surroundings through the rich and elaborate descriptions that she creates. A dreamy and gorgeous read, I was totally enchanted by ‘Under A Dancing Star.’

Get Me Out of Here – Andy McNab & Phil Earle, illustrated by Robin Boyden

So regulars to the blog will know I’m a huge fan of Phil Earle’s writing, so when I heard he was teaming up with Andy McNab to write a new children’s adventure I was as excited as Danny is in this book to go on a Wild Out residential trip. That’s where the parallel end as Danny is beset on problems all around, where as I just needed to find some time to sit down and read it. What with having to raise £150 to pay for the trip and oh avoid his big brother who is determined to beat him into a pulp at every opportunity, life is tough. Fortunately by some small miracle and with only a few disaster along the way, Danny succeeds. But our dastardly writers (you know who I’m talking about Andy and Phil) decided to throw another spanner into the works when at the very last minute his brother has to come along too. Just when you think things can’t get any worse, they soon learn the camp leader is about 132 years old and they have to deal with compost loos, not to mention no WiFi. How will Danny every survive the trip and keep his mind and body in one piece. Fast-paced, bonkers and downright hilarious this book is packed with so many comic moments, I for one will never be able to look at stinging nettles in the same way again. Robin captures the carnage and chaos brilliantly in his hilarious illustrations. A rollercoaster of a ride with lots of laughs and nail biting moments, I thoroughly enjoyed, ‘Get Me Out of Here.’

New Class at Malory Towers – Enid Blyton, Patrice Lawrence, Lucy Mangan, Narinder Dhami and Rebecca Westcott, illustrated by Pippa Curnick

Enid Blyton’s ‘Malory Towers,’ series where the books that made me a reader. As a child growing up I read these books under cover by torchlight desperate to indulge in a midnight feast and play lacrosse, despite having no sporting ability. I felt I’d been dealt a cruel blow by not being allowed to go to boarding school, that is the power of books their ability to transform your hopes and dreams. So for me the chance to return to Malory Towers was filled with a real mixture of dread and excitement. What if it didn’t manage to conjure up this place that was magical to me in the same way? I’m delighted to tell you that this book completely surpassed my expectations. It captures all the joy of the original series but brings something fresh and new in these four short stories with a real mix of interesting characters. I’m not sure Darrell Rivers and co. have ever seen such an intriguing mix of girls and for that I will always be truly grateful. Naturally I have a soft spot for the bookworm Evelyn who is mercilessly teased by some of the girls but manages to show Darrell the magic that lies between the pages of the books. I would love to see more of these stories and I’m hoping the lovely guardians of the Blyton estate will commission some more. All of the Malory Towers series have been reissued with new covers from Pippa Curnick and I think they would make a glorious addition to any child’s beloved book collection.

Milton the Mighty – Emma Read, illustrated by Alex G. Griffiths

Milton the false widow spider is more than happy with his existence feasting on ladybird juice and hanging out with his pals big hairy Ralph and spindly daddy-long-legs Audrey until a case of mistaken identity throws his life into chaos. Branded a deadly spider by an internet article sponsored con-incidentally (or maybe not0 by infestation company BugKill, Milton must find a way to expose the truth but the clock is ticking fast. His only hope appears to be Zoe the house-human is suspicious of these rumours but is worried about being branded a spider freak. Can Milton find a way to convince Zoe and her arachnophobic Dad to help save the day? Gently humorous Emma takes us on a journey of discovery to help challenge our spider phobias and fear of creepy-crawlies in this charming and entertaining debut. Milton is the exact type of hero the reader wants to root for with this mixture of fear and bravado and his less than convincing plans. Cleverly introducing children to the concept of fake news and exploring how easy prejudice and panic can set in, this is a brilliant story to ignite important conversations with children. Alex’s hilarious illustrations add an extra element to this story creating an accessible format for young readers embarking on middle grade stories for the first time. Original storytelling and fantastic characterisation make for a really fun debut.

 

Thank you to Chicken House Books, Hachette, Phil Earle, Puffin and Scholastic for sending me gifted copies of these books in exchange for an honest review. All of these books are available to buy now, except ‘Top Marks for Murder,’ which is released on August 8th. To buy or pre-order click on the links in the title.

Moon Landing 50th Anniversary

Unless you’ve been living in outer space you can’t have failed to notice that this week marks the 50th anniversary of the first ever moon landing. Our televisions are filled with documentaries recounting how we got to this significant moment in history, when Apollo 11 bravely launched into space resulting in Neil Armstrong being the first man to have walked on the moon. So there is a natural curiosity about how mankind was able to achieve this extraordinary goal with technology less able than the computer I am writing this blog on today. A plethora of books to celebrate the 50th anniversary have been released, each looking to take us on a different journey of discovery to understanding how we made it to the moon.

Neil Armstrong First Man on the Moon – Alex Woolf, illustrated by Luisa Uribe, George Ermos & Nina Jones

Most people are familiar with the name Neil Armstrong, after all he was the first man to step on the moon. But how did this man become the one chosen to take the most momentous steps in history? Long before that day Neil was dreaming of journeys above the clouds, from making model planes as a child to gaining his pilot’s licence aged just 15. This fabulous new book, the first in a brand new ‘Trailblazer,’ series is packed with little-know trivia and fascinating facts about Neil Armstong. Who knew that he nearly missed out on becoming one of the most famous men in history when he sent his astronaut application in late and that they were saved from being stuck on the moon by a felt tip pen? Lively black and white illustrations make for an engaging and informative biography.

Counting on Katherine – Helaine Becker, illustrated by Dow Phumiruk

While Neil Armstrong’s name is synonymous with space travel, until the film ‘Hidden Figures,’ was released little was known about the mathematicians who careful calculations made the moon landings possible. In particular the story of Katherine Johnson, an African-American who worked for NASA and despite being a mathematical genius faced racism and sexism to have her voice heard. Her determination and her desire to learn everything about the universe drove her to challenge the institutions that would hold her back. This picture book biography gives us an insight into Katherine a child who loved to count and was fascinated by the world around her and the journey she took to becoming a crucial part of America’s space programme. Beautifully illustrated with accessible information, this is a truly inspirational read.

How To Be An Astronaut – Dr Sheila Kanani, illustrated by Sol Linero

If you talk to children about what they want to be when they grow up, being an astronaut is bound to be a popular answer. But what do you need to do to become an astronaut and what other jobs are there in space? ‘How to be an Astronaut,’ aims to answer these questions in this bright and bold book bursting with interesting things to discover. Vibrant illustrations sit alongside insights such as the history of space exploration, what astronauts actually do on the space station and how the moon actually feels. There are so different space jobs to discover, from discovering new planets to becoming a spacecraft engineer this book uncovers the complexities behind space travels allowing us to understand how it truly happens. Encouraging children to embrace their passions and showing them a world of opportunities awaits, this book is a unique take on space exploration.

Field Trip to the Moon – Jeanne Willis, illustrated by John Hare

I’ve been on many trips with school but never before have I blasted off for an adventure to the moon. This quirky and humorous picture book takes a class to the moon where the humans in silver space suits are observed by the occupants, who are scared of these strange beings. One girl sits down to imagine who lives in a place like this and the occupants are entranced by her rainbow coloured sticks. But tragedy strikes when she becomes separated from the rest of the class. She soon discovers that reaching out a hand of friendship and embracing the unknown can lead to the most unexpected of discoveries. Jeanne’s gently lilting rhymes make this book a joy to read aloud, while John’s stunning illustrations invite the reader to use their imaginations to think about what lies beyond our world.

The Usborne Book of the Moon – Laura Cowan, illustrated by Diana Toledano & designed by Zoe Wray

One of the most disappointing aspects of the moon landing was the terrible discover that the moon after all is not made of cheese. But what do we actually know about the moon? Usborne takes us back in time to discover ancient legends about the moon’s creation, through the Space Race and offering us thoughts of a future world with a moon colony. This narrative non-fiction offers an insight into the role the moon has played through humanity, giving us gems such as moon rabbits, angry suns splattering the moon with mud and whites of eggs creating the moon and stars. I love how the illustrations vary when capturing the different essences of this book, it’s a real joy to pour over the pages. Fascinating facts mixed with ancient beliefs give this book a really distinctive feel that I found really appealing. Usborne have produced some brilliant resources to accompany this book.

Balloon to the Moon – Gill Arbuthnott, illustrated by Chris Nielsen

‘Balloon to the Moon,’ takes space travel back to its origins to October 1783 when the Montgolfier brothers became the first people to experience controlled flight with the help of a sheep, a duck and a rooster. Counting down through history to Neil Armstrong’s first steps and imagining a future world where we could go to space on holiday, this book has it all. In a world where we take air travel for granted, its hard to imagine that the original pioneers would have such a long lasting effect on our ability to travel through space. An in depth examination of the technologies, innovations and stories that led to the moon landings. Exquisitely produced this book has a real retro feel with its muted palette and sophisticated illustrations, it truly is a thing of beauty.

The Darkest Dark – Chris Hadfield & Kate Fillion, illustrated by Eric & Terry Fan

Inspired by the life of real-life astronaut, Commander Chris Hadfield tells the story of the moon landing through his eyes watched next door on the only television on their tiny island. It’s hard to imagine a world where you had to go next door to watch something unfold when everything we see now can be found at the touch of our fingertips. Yet for Chris who has this fear of the dark, a place where aliens are hiding away ready to spring upon him this opens his eyes up to a universe where the darkness we see is only the tip of the iceberg. He realises for the first time that his dreams of an astronaut and travelling space are a real life possibility and that he has the ability to make his dreams come true. A gently exploration of facing your fears and embracing your dreams, this is an uplifting and inspiring story sublimely illustrated with detailed pencil drawings.

The BIg Beyond – James Carter, illustrated by Aaron Cushley

‘The Big Beyond,’ captures the excitement and thrills of space travel through  beautiful narrative poetry which flows magnificently as it begins its examination of mankind’s thoughts about the world around us. Asking fundamental questions, how deep is space, how far are stars and does Mars have life like ours, this feels like stepping into a child’s curious mind. When reading aloud it allows the reader the fun of blasting off into space, then asking questions to create discussions whilst reflecting on everything we have achieved in space exploration. Vibrant illustrations meet playful rhymes in this delightful narrative non-fiction read.

Odd Science: Spectacular Space – James Olstein

‘Spectacular Space,’ is a quirky and informative guide that celebrates the moon landing by assembling weird and wacky facts about space that are wonderfully appealing to children. James takes mind-blowing information like one million Earths could fit inside our Sun and presents them concisely in a humorous and unforgettable way. This is more than just a homage to the moon landing, instead it seeks to inform and entertain with diverse and daft facts, who knew that there is a WiFi hotspot on the Moon, it means my children would be more than happy to go on holiday there! Stunningly produced, featuring retro illustrations that will appeal to both children and adults this is an absolute gem of a book.

 

Thanks to Big Picture Press, Macmillan, Nosy Crow, Pavilion Books, Stripes Publishing and Usborne for sending me gifted copies of these books in exchange for an honest review. All of these books are available to buy now online (click on the title) or from any good bookshop.