Newest Emerging Readers Reviews

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Nickerbacher by Terry John Barto

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Nickerbacher is doing his dragonly duty as all dragons do. That dragonly duty is, of course, princess-guarding. That's what dragons are for, after all. But Gwendolyn isn't any princess. She finds the whole princessing thing quite boring really and she is much less interested in fairy tales than she is in watching comedy on The Late Knight Show. Nickerbacher likes The Late Knight Show too - in fact, it's his favourite TV show because he wants to be a stand-up comedian himself. He tries out his jokes on Princess Gwendolyn but they don't always come off quite as Nickerbacher intended. Full Review


Rory Branagan Detective by Andrew Clover and Ralph Lazar

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Ten-year-old Rory Branagan isn't just a normal kid. He's a detective and he has a mystery to solve – why did his dad disappear when he was three? Rory doesn't know where to start but, then, Cassidy moves in next door and he discovers he has an accomplice who is full of ideas. This is just as well as they soon discover a very serious crime: Corner Boy's dad has been poisoned and is at risk of dying but no-one else will believe he's in danger. It's up to Rory and Cassidy to uncover the truth and save a life. Full Review


Horace & Harriet Take on the Town by Clare Elsom

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When Harriet, aged seven and a quarter, decides to go to Princes Park to practise 'Going to the Park on Her Own' (i.e. with her Grandad walking at least thirty steps behind) she can't believe her eyes. The statue of Lord Commander Horatio Fredrick Wallington Nincompoop Maximus Pimpleberry the Third (or Horace for short) starts to move. He not only moves but stamps his foot, shouts something that would get him in serious trouble with Harriet's mum, and climbs down from his pillar. Understandably Harriet can't resist following and quickly finds herself dragged all around the town as Horace searches for a new – and more suitable – home. His sights are firmly set on the Mayor's mansion and it, therefore, falls to Harriet to persuade him that there must be a better alternative. Sadly, Horace's visits to the museum, cinema, train station, playground, bank and library all cause mayhem. Luckily, however, a competition in the park reveals the perfect answer. Full Review

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Bee Boy: Clash of the Killer Queens by Tony De Saulles

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Young Mel's friend has left and the beehive is now his to look after. Unfortunately Mel lives in a tower block and not all of his neighbours agree that it is the correct place for a hive. Things change when Mel suddenly realises he has an amazing superpower; he can become a bee. Full Review

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Night Zookeeper: The Giraffes of Whispering Wood by Joshua Davidson

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A straight-laced student makes one defiant act of creativity and has a world of magic and imagination opened up for him. Will is the new Night Zookeeper and his tenure in the role of protector to a magical world starts with the repulsion of a dangerous invasion.

Joshua Davidson has written about the Night Zookeeper before and there are online cartoons devoted to the character but this marks a new launch and a new series. This is not just a book but a whole online event with huge educational tie-ins and a push to get children using their own imagination. The story itself mirrors what the author is trying to achieve in real life; the power of the imagination makes everything better. Full Review

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I Can Read With My Eyes Shut by Dr Seuss

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The more that you read,
The more things you will know.
The more that you learn,
The more places you'll go.

This is a classic Dr Seuss quote from this book, and one that I painstakingly stickered onto the wall of my children's school library! The book is very silly, as Dr Seuss always is, but is also a good rhyming ode to the joys of reading. Full Review

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Words and Your Heart by Kate Jane Neal

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Trolling, bullying, cyber-shaming, whatever-it's-called-this-week-ing – all act as proof that the adage about sticks and stones is actually a lot of piffle. In a world where we all have hearts, we should have a heart that what we say to other people is positive. We can examine our world and the sound it makes through communication, we can make each other smile, laugh, sing and be happy together, and bit by bit the world can be a better place. And hang the 'no, after you' attitude some people would have in response. There, I've given the entire plot of this book away in my summary, but that's not really an issue.Full Review

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Red and Lulu by Matt Tavares

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Meet Red and Lulu. They're a committed couple of cardinals, and they have lived for some time in someone's garden, safely in an evergreen tree. It seems to them that every year people mention their home in a lovely song, which tells the tree thy leaves are so unchanging. But one year, just as the seasons turn for the cold of winter, the tree vanishes, taking Lulu with it… Full Review

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Search and Find A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Sarah Powell and Louise Pigott

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Recently I got to applaud a book that branched away from the Where's Wally? style volume, and taught the explorer about a non-fiction subject as they went a-searching. Well, it seems tweaking the form is going to be a big thing, for this book tries yet another different approach – to teach us about a fictional story. They've started at the deep end, with a book hastening towards being two centuries old, and one that has been adapted countless times before now, yet always has people returning to it at a certain time of the year for its ageless lesson. But does the rich content of Dickens, even at his most populist, survive this quirky variation? Full Review

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Scrambled Eggs Super by Dr Seuss

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Peter T. Hooper doesn't mean to show off, but he is very good at cooking. Some would say he is The Best capital T, capital B. And his signature dish is scrambled eggs. You might think that's quite an easy dish, one with which it's a little hard to showcase one's prowess, but not so. For Peter T. Hooper, what makes his scrambled eggs so super is the choice of egg itself, and he will go out of his way to procure the best of the best from whatever nest. Full Review

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Yertle The Turtle and Other Stories by Dr Seuss

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The three stories in this book, Yertle the Turtle, Gertrude McFuzz and The Big Brag are classic Dr Seuss. They fit together well because they all have a moral or learning from them, be it treat those beneath you well, or don't try to compare yourself to others. Full Review

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Mr Penguin and the Lost Treasure by Alex T Smith

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Mr Penguin is a brand new Professional Adventurer. He has a dashing hat, a large magnifying glass and an important looking office in his igloo to prove it. All he needs now is an adventure to go on. Just as he is beginning to despair of ever being asked to solve a mystery Boudicca Bones from the museum phones and asks for help. Can he and his trusty sidekick, Colin (the spider with expertise in martial arts!) find her missing treasure? Will the adventure become too dangerous for them? And will Mr Penguin ever have time to eat his fish finger sandwich packed lunch? Full Review

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Madge Eekal's Christmas by Colleen Jacey and Zed Jacey

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It was nearly Christmas and all the witches except Madge Eekal were busy putting up their festive lights. Madge's pet dragon, Ashon, wanted to know what had happened to their fairy lights. The truth was that Madge had tried to get them to work, but it seemed that the fairies were on strike: she couldn't get them to work. Ashon knew that it would, of course, have been much easier if they had electricity, like everyone else and that decided Madge - they would make their own electricity. She knew the perfect spell. Ashon was doubtful... and rightly so as it turned out. Full Review

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Nibbles: The Dinosaur Guide by Emma Yarlett

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Some of you may already be aware of Nibbles. He is a little monster that likes to nibble everything. Nibbles nibbles socks, Nibbles nibbles clocks, but the thing that Nibbles likes to nibble most is books! Therefore, putting him in a book is not the safest place as he will try and eat his way out. Whilst the first book saw the tyke getting into trouble in fairy tales, this time it is non-fiction that has whetted his appetite and in particular a book all about dinosaurs. Full Review

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Dragons: Father and Son by Alexandre Lacroix and Ronan Badel

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You know dragons. They're there to look splendid and fierce, and to burn down human villages in rampages, with or without treasure in mind. But they need to be trained in that. And our father dragon has just tasked his son dragon with that very errand - to go and torch a human house. The lad is reluctant to cook anything more severe than lunch - what could possibly happen? Full Review

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Toto: The Dog-Gone Amazing Story of The Wizard of Oz by Michael Morpurgo and Emma Chichester Clark

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The timeless story that we all know as The Wizard of Oz is given a twist in this original interpretation by master story-crafter Michael Morpurgo. It's the tale of a character that seems to be so often overlooked in the well-known story: Dorothy's faithful dog, Toto. We hear the whole story from his point of view, told in first person narrative from the moment the tornado sweeps across Dorothy's Kansas farm. Toto continues to tell the story as it happens to him in a witty and charming manner as their house is lifted into the air and whisked away to the mysterious land of Oz. Of course, Toto and Dorothy meet the absurd but loveable scarecrow without a brain, tin man without a heart and lion who lacks courage, and together they set off along the yellow brick road to find the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, hoping that he might help Toto and Dorothy return home. Along the way, the tin man, scarecrow and lion learn that what they think they are missing might have been there all along. Full Review

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The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith, Peter Bently and Steven Lenton

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A dog is for life, not just for Christmas, as we were constantly told when I was young – I dare say people are still saying it, but it was quite prevalent way back then. I'm sure many people reading this will know that the Dearlys end up with 101 Dalmatians for Christmas themselves, and it must be debatable whether they stayed in the same house as them all come the new year. But what is beyond doubt is that the getting of so many cute pups was full of drama – drama that fills this young reader to bursting, and drama that comes in illustrations like these with no end of charm. Full Review

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The Twelve Days of Christmas (Magnificent Creatures) by Anna Wright

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One of the problems a Christmas-themed book has is in making itself relevant at other times of the year. This charming little encapsulation of the well-known yuletide poem (known in English in 1780, but older than that, trivia fans) gets round that by (a) being a counting book for the very young that they could gain from on any date they chose, and (b) just being really pleasing to look at. Full Review

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Walt Disney's Cinderella: Illustrated by Mary Blair (Walt Disney Classics) by Cynthia Ryland and Mary Blair

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I'm sure almost all my readers are au fait with the story of Cinderella, and of how she went from the gutter to the stars in one romantic swoop. It's only a good thing the relevant people didn't have foot fetishes or phobias, for then the tale would have been utterly different. Disney made it slightly different, of course, when they made the animated classic based on the legend, and this book, complete with art from the time the film was being made, is evidence of just how the look and the emotion of the piece were intended to be. Full Review