Family Newsletters
sponsord by
Amazing baby
« Back

Books we love


The Bear and the Piano

The Bear and the Piano

David Litchfield
Frances Lincoln Childrens Books
ISBN: 9781847807182

The Bear and the Piano

This beautifully illustrated story - which has also won a Waterstones Book Prize award - describes how a bear discovers something in the wood that makes 'an awful sound'. It is a piano and eventually, the bear learns how to play it and brings together all the woodland creatures. However, he is soon making his name in the world of people - but never forgets his roots and the creatures that first heard him and eventually returns. Beautifully-presented and warm story of belonging.

Read more
Winnie's Big Bad Robot

Winnie's Big Bad Robot

Valerie Thomas
Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780192738721

Winnie's Big Bad Robot

Winnie the Witch and her cat Wilbur are in trouble again! Winnie has made a robot in her art class and decided to make it a real one. Unfortunately, when the robot seizes Winnie's wand with the robot spell inside, everything it touches becomes a robot - even Winnie! Can Wilbur put things right? Gorgeously details illustrations that Winnie fans will love!

Read more



ISBN: 9780192736017

Winnie the witch, in her distinctive stripy stockings and crooked hat, is back and this time, she's off to a fancy dress party for Cousin Cuthbert, but what should she wear?

Winnie decides on a pirate outfit, while her poor cat Wilbur is dressed as a parrot, and when they arrive they discover that lots of children have dressed as pirates, too. Suddenly, she has a whole crew and a treasure map and, with a bit of magic, they have a ship, as well!

More magic and mayhem follow as they discover the treasure island, chase off some pirates who have got there before, dig up an empty treasure chest, and fly home in the sailing ship. Luckily, they don't return home empty-handed as Winnie's magic steps in once again, and a terrific party ensues. Being a pirate is fun, but being a witch, Winnie decides, is much more fun.

The ever-popular Winnie books, with Korky Paul's distinctive and detailed illustrations accompanied by short sections of text, is ideal for early readers who are ready to start reading short stories themselves.

Read more
Cudweed's Time Machine

Cudweed's Time Machine

Marcus Sedgwick
Orion Children's Books (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )
ISBN: 9781444004847

Cudweed's Time Machine

Orion Books' Early Reader series, featuring blue titles that are perfect for reading and sharing together and red titles promoting the start of independent reading, has attracted some well-known authors and some great stories have resulted.

This story, Cudweed's Time Machine, finds a boy called Cudweed him test driving, without permission, his inventor father's time machine! Of course doing anything without permission is exciting and daring but using a time machine? Well it just spells trouble with a capital T!

For Cudweed and Fellah who just want to travel to teatime, there are Roman soldiers, pirates and more to escape from before they can even try to make sure they are home in time for chocolate cake - will they manage to make the time machine work or will they be stranded without cake?

This is an hilarious story with short, snappy sentences and chapters that are perfect for emerging readers.

Reviewed by Louise Ellis-Barrett

Read more
My Humongous Hamster

My Humongous Hamster

Lorna Freytag
Piccadilly Press Ltd
ISBN: 9781848123144

My Humongous Hamster

In My Humongous Hamster, a child imagines what might happen if his hamster grew and grew.

It's a story of imaginative consequences: what would happen if hamster kept on eating, and growing. Would he eat trees as if they were broccoli? How far could he see? Where would he sleep? What if he got angry - would he be scary? And would he miss his young owner?

Children might want to talk about what might happen if their own or imagined pet grew and grew?

The story, which is told from a child's perspective, is supported with some great images of what a world occupied by a giant-sized hamster might look like.

Read more
Grendel: A Cautionary Tale About Chocolate

Grendel: A Cautionary Tale About Chocolate



ISBN: 9871406339093

Grendel: A Cautionary Tale About Chocolate

Grendel, with a traditional mythological monster name, is actually the cutest little monster you have ever seen, with a face that goes from glee to glum in an instant.

When his Mum gives him a chocolate egg and he finds a paper inside which says 'You have three wishes', he simply wishes for MORE chocolate. When that actually works, he decides he must be sensible and rather than wish the whole world was chocolate, he settled for wishing everything he touched turned to chocolate.

Children who have been introduced to the Greek myth of King Midas will know just what is coming! When first his beloved pet dog and then his beloved Mum are turned to chocolate and then begin to melt in the hot sun, poor Grendel learns very rapidly what things are much more important than chocolate. But Grendel thinks very carefully and uses his third wish very wisely and now Mum cannot believe the change in Grendel, who really is her good little monster now.

A delightful, witty tale.

Reviewed by Joy Court

Read more
Nursery Rhymes: Split-Page Book

Nursery Rhymes: Split-Page Book

Hilary Robinson
Hodder Children's Books
ISBN: 9781444904642

Nursery Rhymes: Split-Page Book

Following on from Mixed Up Fairy Tales comes Mixed up Nursery Rhymes, a book of nursery rhymes like no other.

Each page of nursery rhymes is split into three sections so it is possible for readers to mix up different Nursery Rhymes; the outcome of this can be very humorous nonsense, for example when Jack and Jill sit in a corner, eating a Christmas pie they pull out a night gown.

The book is appropriate for children aged five to seven years, who have some knowledge of nursery rhymes. This is a fun and enjoyable book which would probably be best enjoyed with a small group or by independent readers. Children love playing with the book and playing with all the possible outcomes of nursery rhymes they know.

Reviewed by Catherine Langthorne

Read more
Lulu and the Treasure Hunt (Wagtail Town)

Lulu and the Treasure Hunt (Wagtail Town)

Emma Chichester Clark
HarperCollins
ISBN: 9780007425174

Lulu and the Treasure Hunt (Wagtail Town)

This is the second title to feature Lulu and her friends in Wagtail Town. As with the first, the action centres around incidents that could feature in the life of a young child - and though Lulu and her companions are all little dogs, they are recognisably children in their actions and reactions.

Here, Lulu is faced with the dilemma of being asked to take care of Bonnie. But Bonnie is the smallest in the class and proves unable to keep up in the Treasure Hunt. Lulu is desperate reach at least one clue first, but this means abandoning Bonnie. Eventually, a solution presents itself.

The language is direct using dialogue and simple sentence structure to move the action on briskly. Although the Wagtail Town Tales are appearing as picture books, they have all the hallmarks of 'first chapter books' and would be ideal for young readers who are beginning to develop reading stamina.

Read more
Churchill's Tale of Tails

Churchill's Tale of Tails

Anca Sandu
Jonathan Cape Ltd
ISBN: 9781780080093

Churchill's Tale of Tails

This is a funny and touching tale about friendship which also explores generosity and kindness and reminds children of the value of both friendship and being nice to one another.

Churchill is a very happy pig with a fabulous tail, of which is he enormously proud, so he is devastated when one day it goes missing. His friends rally round to help him find a new tale and Churchill enjoys discovering these alternative tails so much that he neglects his friends - until his real tail is returned.

There is loads of humour in this picture book, especially Churchill's ever-changing expressions and the variety of tails he tries.

Read more
The Tales of Olga Da Polga

The Tales of Olga Da Polga

Michael Bond
Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780192731944

The Tales of Olga Da Polga

Michael Bond, the creator of Paddington Bear, has returned to Peru (Paddington Bear's country of origin) for his new lead character, a little guinea pig called Olga da Polga who has a head full of stories and a nose for adventure.

When she is bought from the pet shop, Olga da Polga doesn't really know what to expect but in her new home but the adventures soon follows. She has to save herself from the family's cat, escape from her cage and quickly get to know the local wildlife.

Once out in the open, however, Olga da Polga realises that the great outdoors isn't all it's cracked up to be... but can she get back to her new home in one piece?

This is a warm story about an endearing little pet who is bound to capture the hearts of boys and girls alike.

Read more
Elizabeth the Jubilee Fairy: Special

Elizabeth the Jubilee Fairy: Special

Daisy Meadows
Orchard Books
ISBN: 9781408323847

Elizabeth the Jubilee Fairy: Special

The Rainbow Magic series has introduced this special story as part of this month’s celebrations for the Queen’s Jubilee!

Elizabeth the Jubilee Fairy is in charge of making every jubilee perfect! But when Jack Frost steals Elizabeth's Diamond Sceptre, both fairy and human celebrations are headed for catastrophe.

It will take two special human girls, Kirsty and Rachel, all their luck and courage to track down the sceptre and get the Jubilee celebrations back on track.


Read more
Sir Scallywag and the Golden Underpants

Sir Scallywag and the Golden Underpants

Giles Andreae
Puffin
ISBN: 9780141330693

Sir Scallywag and the Golden Underpants

The creator of Purple Ronnie and the illustrator of Winnie the Witch have been brought together to create this fabulously funny story about a king, a knight, a naughty giant and a rather nice pair of golden undergarments!

King Colin was a mighty king of England, who wasn’t clever or bold -
'What made King Colin special
Were his Underpants of gold.'

When a giant steals away with these powerful pants, a brave and bold knight called Sir Scallywag is sent to retrieve them – and even though Sir Scallywag is only six years old, he manages to get the better of the giant.

This is a wonderfully energetic romp and children will love the story about a king and his bare bottom but what really makes this book a treat are the illustrations which are full of fantastic details and humour. Look out for the king's hairy butt, the washing strung out across the battlements of the castle, the horses' baleful expressions and the numerous spiders and other creepy crawlies....

Read more
Horrid Henry's Rainy Day

Horrid Henry's Rainy Day

Francesca Simon
Orion Children's Books (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )
ISBN: 9781444001136

Horrid Henry's Rainy Day

Although he'd probably hate the idea, the irrepressible Horrid Henry is become available as early readers in these well-packaged books from Orion.

A number of Horrid Henry stories are being given a fresh look and colour illustrations to support children as they develop confidence in reading.

In this story Horrid Henry, bored and fed up on a rainy day, decides to write his will. The only trouble is, he decides it is a lot more fun getting stuff from Mum and Dad than giving away his own treasures . . .

As in all the best Horrid Henry stories, there are plenty of horrible thoughts, bad decisions and unpopular actions within its pages, but that's just what makes these stories so good!

The clear, well-spaced text, simple story-line and colour illustrations are all designed to support children who are developing confidence as readers.

Read more
Claude at the Circus

Claude at the Circus

Alex T Smith
Hodder Children's Books
ISBN: 9780340999035

Claude at the Circus

Roll up! Roll up! Come and enjoy all the fun and thrills of the circus with a very small dog, and a sock, in Claude at the Circus!

Claude is a small dog with a big appetite for adventure. One day he and his friend Sir Bobblysock (who is a sock) decide to visit the park.

Now, when you and I decide to visit a park, we might want to play on the swings a bit and then have an icecream. When Claude and Sir Bobblysock visit the park, however, they end up having a lot more fun than that.

First, there's jogging with some funny-looking people, then sleeping in a flowerbed, saving a runaway baby and finally being the star act in the local circus.

Claude discovers he is the only dog in the world who can climb a trapeze, sit on the high wire and dunk a biscuit in his tea, and be fired from a cannon to arrive home just in time for tea….

Expect thrills, a few spills and lots of custard pies!

Read more
Scaredy Squirrel Has a Birthday Party

Scaredy Squirrel Has a Birthday Party

Melanie Watt
Catnip Publishing Ltd
ISBN: 9781846471346

Scaredy Squirrel Has a Birthday Party

It’s birthday time for Scaredy Squirrel but he plans to celebrate in a very small way as a big party could bring many unpleasant surprises, such as clownfish, ants, Big Foot and confetti. Despite Scaredy Squirrel's incredibly detailed and careful organisation things don't go quite to plan and he finds that birthdays can be fun and even bring some very pleasant surprises. Maybe next year his birthday plans will be very different - his planning cycle has already started. Reviewed by Dorne Fraser, librarian.

Read more
Claude on Holiday

Claude on Holiday

Alex T. Smith
Hodder Children's Books
ISBN: 9780340999011

Claude on Holiday

Claude is a somewhat adventurous dog belonging to the busy Mr and Mrs Shinyshoes. Whenever they go out to work Claude embarks on an exciting adventure - in this book he visits the seaside. And, with a strong desire to find not just buried treasure but juicy bone flavoured ice cream too, Claude certainly has an eventful day. Pirates, sharks and a truly epic sandcastle also make an appearance.

The humour in this story comes partly from the wonderful illustrations (which only suffer slightly from a limited palette of red, pink, grey, black and white) and partly from Claude’s faithful companion, Sir Bobblysock. Sir Bobblysock is a sock, and though he doesn’t always get actively involved in Claude’s exploits he has no qualms about sharing his opinions with the reader.

Read more



ISBN: 9781408309834

Beautiful princesses, handsome princes, wicked witches and enchanted animals abound in this gorgeous gift book that includes retellings of ten of the most loved Grimm’s fairy tales, including Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel, Snow White and Rose Red, Rapunzel and the Frog Prince, among others.

The stories are simply told but retain the classic qualities of the original stories and can be either shared with children or read by a child who is a confident reader.

Emma Chichester Clark’s gorgeous illustrations will help sustain interest in the stories and children will enjoy looking for the details she includes such as the flower motifs on each page, while the occasional double page spread of illustrations are a real treat.

This is a book to treasure and one that is bound to become a real family favourite.

Read more
The Misadventures of Winnie the Witch

The Misadventures of Winnie the Witch

Laura Owen
Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780192732149

The Misadventures of Winnie the Witch

The Misadventures of Winnie the Witch is a treasury of eight illustrated stand-alone stories about Winnie for children age five to eight years. Winnie is never short of mad-cap schemes to put her magic to good use, and Wilbur the cat, her long-suffering best friend, is witness to most of them.

These stories range from Winnie’s Reinforced Knicker Emporium, where spiders sew up lacy trims, to an unexpected spot of waterskiing on Wilbur’s birthday.

Winnie the Witch has already got an established fan base for her picture books; these stories are intended for children who have moved on to independent reading, although they would also be enjoyed as shared reading with an adult.

Read more
Horrid Henry and the Zombie Vampire: Book 20

Horrid Henry and the Zombie Vampire: Book 20

Francesca Simon
Orion Children's Books (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )
ISBN: 9781842551356

Horrid Henry and the Zombie Vampire: Book 20

Horrid Henry and the Zombie Vampire includes four Horrid Henry stories in a special bind-up edition with an eye-catching 3D picture of Horrid Henry on the front cover.

Henry faces a host of challenges in these stories - how to avoid having to write a story, avoid eating a healthy meal and to see if he can persuade Perfect Peter to give him all his sweets and pocket money.

But the biggest challenge of all comes when Horrid Henry vows revenge against Perfect Peter during an overnight trip to the museum .... Is there such a thing as zombie vampire teachers?

Read more
Aliens: An Owner's Guide

Aliens: An Owner's Guide

Jonathan Emmett
Macmillan Children's Books
ISBN: 9780330517416

Aliens: An Owner's Guide

This handy guide (told in rhyme) will help you and your new alien to become friends. From hatching the egg to saying hello and toilet training (note: alien pee is acid, so this is important!), this guide has lots of handy tips to keep you and your alien alive – and friends!

Read more
Just One More

Just One More

Joy Cowley
Gecko Press
ISBN: 9781877467677

Just One More

There's a lot going on in these brilliant short stories by Joy Cowley. There's a very lazy Gonna bird who has to change his ways, a monster who finds being mean is making him poorly, a farmer whose shoes won't stop walking and a tough alligator with snippy-snappy jaws - and that's just for starters!

Our favourite is the story of the woggly hole dug by a woggly shovel that follows around the boy who dug it, until he discovers that woggly holes have a use.

These are perfect stories to read at bedtime because they are very short but also very entertaining. They might even inspire you to write your own stories!

Read more
Oh, The Places You'll Go! (Dr. Seuss)

Oh, The Places You'll Go! (Dr. Seuss)

Dr. Seuss
HarperCollins
ISBN: 9780007413584

Oh, The Places You'll Go! (Dr. Seuss)

This Seussian classic tale is republished this month with an audio CD, read by Miranda Richardson. The story primes the reader that what lies ahead for each and every one of us is a journey - and it won't always be an easy one. While it has been many years since Seuss's stories were first published, their humour and vision still makes them some of the most enticing early reading books around.

Read more
Robert Crowther's Amazing Pop-Up Big Mac

Robert Crowther's Amazing Pop-Up Big Mac

Robert Crowther
Walker Books Ltd
ISBN: 9781406321852

Robert Crowther's Amazing Pop-Up Big Mac

This is a present that boys will adore - but don't forget about the girls because they will love it too.

The book has five pop-ups of huge machines - a bulldozer, tractor, dumper truck, forklift truck and tower crane that stand out as each page is turned, with information about each machine.

Best of all, each page includes smaller, folded items that turn into all kinds of objects that need to be lifted, loaded and dumped by the machines.

It's a wonder of engineering, and sturdy enough to last for many play sessions, but you might want to supervise - or simply to join in the fun!

Read more
The Heartless Robots

The Heartless Robots

Simon Bartram
Templar Publishing
ISBN: 9781848770317

The Heartless Robots

Bob, the Man on the Moon picture book has inspired this series of great stories about Bob and his sidekick, Barry and many children will recognise the characters from the earlier picture books.

Bob lives on Earth but visits the moon every day with his dog Barry to show visitors around.

In this story, Bob has created a Galaxobot robot that wins an invention competition for astronauts but his fellow-contender for the prize is furious that he lost. He takes his revenge on Bob's robot and alters its instructions. Instead of being kind, the new Galaxobot robots intend to take over the whole universe - and only Bob can stop them.

These stories have bags of humour and great story-lines, supported by Simon Bartram's black and white illustrations. Each book is about 80 pages long and ideal as early independent readers for children aged 6+. Boys, especially, will love these stories.

Read more



ISBN: 9781408803356

This book has oodles of slime and a huge slimey monster called the Slimosaur, making it a must-have read for every young boy and girl who likes dinosaurs, funny adventure stories and the Mr Gum books.

It is also is set in the Stone Ages so there are also loads of primitive puns – children play boulderball instead of football and toss the lizard to call 'heads or tails'

All in all, life is pretty good for the Urk tribe and young Stone Age hero Iggy, until the Slimosaur makes a return visit. The last time he came, he made off with eight or nine youngsters who were never seen again.

This time, the Urks decide to be proactive and offer one of their own as a sacrifice...

This is a great adventure story for young readers aged six years plus.

Read more



ISBN: 0385614896

This is a wonderful retelling by Anthony Browne of the Goldilocks fairy tale, which Browne gives a modern setting and a contemporary twist. A girl becomes lost after chasing her balloon and, weary of walking the forbidding inner city streets, she enters the house of the three bears which looks bright and welcoming.

However, all is not well in the world of the Bears in Browne’s story. Baby Bear is well looked after but lonely – his parents are too busy thinking about work – and when ‘Goldilocks’ runs safely into the arms of her mother at the end of the story, it is Baby Bear we are left feeling sorry for.

The story is beautifully presented with the Bear family’s world drawn in bright colours while ‘Goldilocks’ inhabits a bleak inner city landscape. The ending turns our usual convictions on their head, however, as we are shown it is the grey city world that has the warmth of a real home.

Read more

Reading Zone logo Family Zone menu Young Adult ChildrensZone SchoolZone Library zone

ReadingZone Book Shop



Book of the week

The Red Ribbon

Lucy Adlington

The Red Ribbon

~ 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.

Read more