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Books we love


Trying to find books that are engaging and the right age range for a child can be tricky, so we've put together some suggestions to help you find the best books for young children.



You, Me and Thing 4: the Mummy That Went Moo

You, Me and Thing 4: the Mummy That Went Moo

Karen McCombie
Faber & Faber
ISBN: 9780571272631

Why we love this book

The You, Me and Thing books - there are now four in the series - are a treat for both boy and girl readers.

As well as a strong environmental theme - 'Thing' lost his home when the local wood was cut down to make room for houses - the stories feature some great boy/girl teamwork and bundles of trouble in the form of 'Thing', the star of the books who is small, furry and has wings but can't fly. Thing also spits out sparks of magic and no one ever knows what effect they are going to have....

As well as the adventures in each story, which generally involve keeping Thing out of mischief, the series emphasis teamwork, anti-bullying and taking care of other creatures.

Each chapter is nicely paced with decent-sized text and quality black and white illustrations. These all help deliver a polished and enticing package that will keep children hooked on Thing's adventures.

Recommended. Ages 7+ / 138 pages / Reviewed by ReadingZone


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ISBN: 9780857560117

Why we love this book

Archie is an ordinary boy to whom extraordinary things happen. Every day, something odd occurs to him. This is the latest in a number of Archie adventure stories.

Archie arrives at school to find the dinner lady with her arm stuck in a drain but after a series of accidents, he becomes the one who is in deep trouble....

In just one week at school, Archie is accused of murder (wrongly, of course), gets trapped in the staff cloakroom without any clothes, gets mistaken for a dog and somehow manages to turn himself into a dog. Not to mention the poisonous spider and the Health and Safety Inspector who gets a toilet stuck on his head . . .

Lucky for Archie, his best friend Cyd is always there to sort out the mess. And somehow, almost by accident, everything turns out all right in the end.


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ISBN: 9781849920520

Why we love this book

A Boy and a Bear in a Boat has recently won the main award for debut writers, the Branford Boase Award. As the title suggests, the story is about A Boy and a Bear in a Boat who find themselves at sea together, equipped with a suitcase, a comic book and a ukulele. Their journey doesn't quite go to plan; surprises include storms, sponges, and a starring role for a disgusting (possibly radioactive) sandwich, but there are also acres of boredom to contend with.

We never find out where the boy and the bear have come from, nor where they are going to; so the book is very unusual in focusing on the central part of the story - there is no beginning, nor ending, and the book could be read as a metaphorical journey of a creative talent, not knowing where his characters will go or how his story will end.

What the story delivers is a warm and intelligent look at two characters, isolated in a small boat, who need to get along. Gradually, the boy and the bear come to understand each other and to accept who they are and whatever, and wherever, this journey will take them.

304 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.


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Jeanne Willis

ISBN: 9781848122406

Why we love this book

This is the first in the hilarious Downtown Dinosaurs series by the talented Jeanne Willis, better know for her picture books, and put simply is the tale of two communities of dinosaurs - herbivores and carnivores - trying to outwit each other, helped or hindered by many of the trappings of human life.

In the first story (two more have followed), the two dinosaur teams squaring up for the newly-launched Dinosaur Olympics are, naturally, the herbivores versus the carnivores, who make for very challenging opposition (especially as they like to eat their opponents...)

Throw in a bumptious mayor called Boris, a gangsta T-Rex called Flint Beastwood and one of the new human characters - a very hairy one called Ozzie - and you have a complete disaster waiting to happen, which duly unfolds as cheating, eating and sleeping dino's bash their way through each Olympic-style event.

Hilarious - and just as funny for the adult sharing the book as for the child listening.

Ages 8+ / 192 pages / Reviewed by ReadingZone.


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Llama Drama (Awesome Animals)

Llama Drama (Awesome Animals)

Rose Impey
HarperCollins
ISBN: 9780007494781

Why we love this book

Llama Drama is one of the latest titles in the popular 'Awesome Animals' series, featuring settings as diverse as the Kalahari Desert and the Wild West. Written by top children's authors, 'Awesome Animals' is made up of several mini-series - Meerkat Madness, Penguin Pandemonium, Panda Panic, Raccoon Rampage, Koala Calamity and Otter Chaos. And now Llama Drama. So if children enjoy this book there are plenty more to go.

The curtain opens onto a farm in Texas, where we meet Farmer Palmer's young llamas - Leo (boaster), Lamar (poseur), Latisha (bossy), Liberty (escapologist) and Lewie. Against all the odds Loopy Lewie, the showtime supremo, the drama llama, is chosen to be the new Guard Llama, protector of the sheep from the dastardly Captain Cornelius Columbus Coyote. How he does this is a lesson in playing to your strengths and believing in yourself.

This book is aimed at readers gaining in confidence, ready to tackle more substantial chapter books. Ali Pye's quirky cartoon drawings add to this book's charm.

Ages 8+ / 192 pages / Reviewed by Christine Fitt: Children's Reading Enthuser


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Marcus Sedgwick

ISBN: 9781444005578

Why we love this book

Trolls, ogres, fairies, goblins and witches abound in this delightful new series from Marcus Sedgwick, author of the Raven Mysteries books.

Elf Girl and Raven Boy (we don't find out their real names) live in the forest, which is being torn down by a giant ogre and no one knows why. The two embark on a mission to find out why, but it means entering the terrifying Fright Forest and finding the wise witch, who also happens to have a terrible reputation for being very bad. On the way, they pick up a friendly rat and get chased by three trolls who want them for dinner.

Fright Forest is an adventurous and satisfying read with plenty of twists, turns and funny moments to keep readers aged eight years plus fully engaged. We also love the brilliant illustrations by Pete Williamson.


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ISBN: 0141383984

Why we love this book

Jill Murphy, author and illustrator of the Worst Witch series, has created a wonderful new character called Alfie in a heartwarming story that was inspired by a real life event when she lost her dog. Alfie is a strong character with plenty of appeal for all children, but especially children who like animals as the story is told through Alfie's perspective,


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ISBN: 0007317360

Why we love this book

This small bear from Darkest Peru has joined the ranks of Pooh Bear as a modern classic and to cement his reputation, the original story of Paddington's arrival in Britain (at Paddington Station) has been republished as a First Modern Classic. Many parents will remember Paddington's adventures from their own childhoods and these gently old fashioned stories are still ideal for bedtime reading.


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ISBN: 074759693X

Why we love this book

The ebullient and much-loved character Pongwiffy the witch has been brought back to life by Bloomsbury nearly 20 years after the first title was published. The humour and anarchy of the books will appeal to Horrid Henry and Roald Dahl fans as well as encouraging more reluctant readers to pick up the next book in the series.


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ISBN: 184121583X

Why we love this book

Clarice Bean is an endearing, sassy character that girls will identify with and sibling brothers will also enjoy listening too.


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ISBN: 1405241799

Why we love this book

Mr Gum, who we first met in 'You're a Bad Man, Mr Gum', is lazy, rude and hates dogs. Thankfully the books about him are funny, anarchic and wacky enough to appeal to a wide audience, boys and girls. This is the fifth in the series but each book can be read on its own.


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ISBN: 1405233257

Why we love this book

A lively, fun story from Anne Fine that plays on the clash of cultures and languages that ensues when a young Russian boy, Ivan, joins his new classmates.


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ISBN: 0571226833

Why we love this book

Humphrey is a classroom pet hampster who has also become quite a star with this gentle series of stories about friendships, mishaps and happy endings.


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ISBN: 1405050586

Why we love this book

A nicely illustrated, compact book. Ottoline is sent to boarding school where she and her very hairy friend Mr Munroe takes on the role of detectives to expose the school 'ghost'. See also 'Ottoline and the Yellow Cat'.


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ISBN: 1405208678

Why we love this book

The first in a series about the very unlucky Baudelaire siblings. The author warns the reader that it is a sad story, and so it is, but the unusual approach along with the authorial presence makes the books appealing to a wide audience, both boys and girls.


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ISBN: 0689837380

Why we love this book

Siblings discover a book that enables them to see 'faery folk' - and they are not as nice as fairy stories would have us believe. This nicely-produced series has attracted a loyal following of young readers and the first book has been made into a film.


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ISBN: 184738286X

Why we love this book

This is a new series targeting boy readers with stories based around the 'RSPCB' - 'Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Beasts'. The stories are engaging and adventurous with lots of details about beasts' habits and habitats.


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ISBN: 1904442900

Why we love this book

A gentle, imaginative story, ideal for this age range, about twins who find an 'angel' who needs help.


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ISBN: 0141323256

Why we love this book

The latest story about the 100-mile-an-hour dog provides the same mix of mayhem and humour but this time is told by the dog herself.


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ISBN: 0340950374

Why we love this book

We have had great reviews about this series from children who have read and loved the Hiccup the Viking books. You might want to start with the first title, 'How to Train Your Dragon'.


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Book of the week

The Wizards of Once

Cressida Cowell

The Wizards of Once

~ Babies & Toddlers
~ Pre School
~ Early Readers
~ Confident Readers
~ Young Adult

Meet the Author


Clara Vulliamy, daughter of 'Dogger' creator Shirley Hughes, tells us more about her DOTTY DETECTIVE books in which friends work together to solve mysteries at home and at school.

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