Newest Emerging Readers Reviews

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Peck, Hen, Peck! and Ben's Pet (Early Reader) by Jill Atkins and Barbara Vagnozzi

4star.jpg For Sharing

It probably sounds obvious, but you really shouldn't keep your pet chickens in a bag! Well, that's what I learned from this book which tells us first the story of Tom who puts his hen in a bag. The hen pecks through the bag, as hens are wont to do, and escapes! A simple and somewhat tragic tale! This is swiftly followed by a story about Ben's pet. Will it be another hen, I wondered? No, actually, after several incorrect guesses, we discover that Ben's pet is only a rabbit! Full review...

Buzz and Jump! Jump! (Early Reader) by Alice Hemming and Louise Forshaw

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After hearing a mysterious buzzing in the kitchen, mum traps a fly in a jar, but then she hears the buzzing again...what could be going on? Meanwhile, Ken the Kangaroo (who declares himself to be the best at jumping), is jumping everywhere he can. In this red level book, aimed generally at those who have completed their reception year in school, there are two simple, sweet stories in one book, perfect for those who are just learning to read. Full review...

Bamboo and I Wish (Early Reader) by Alice Hemming and Julia Seal

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With two stories in one book, there's plenty to like about this simple, and funny, early reader. The first story, Bamboo, deals with a cheeky panda who has run off to hide. Where can he be? The second story is about a wishing well which is granting wishes left, right and centre! Evaluated as a red level book, it sets itself as being about the right level for those around the end of their reception year. Full review...

Wilfred and Olbert’s Totally Wild Chase by Stephan Lomp

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Meet Wilfred and Osbert. They're not only the kind to completely flout the rules of the natural history explorer's club they belong to, but when they both spot an undiscovered butterfly together, they are the kind to fight tooth and claw to be the first to lay claim to it alone, and devil take the other one. What they don't know is that the drama that ensues when they're tailing this particular specimen will involve no end of peril – nearly drowning, almost being eaten by a lion, crashing a hot air balloon one of them just so happened to have in his pocket… This, then, is a fun and silly biology lesson – but that's only the best kind, surely? Full review...

Hidden World: Forest by Libby Walden and Stephanie Fizer Coleman

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Sometimes, less is more. But a wood doesn't understand that, does it – it just stretches on and on, expanding outwards and outwards, and upwards and upwards – it's quite a galling thing for a young person to understand. This book reverts to the very basic detail that will let the very young student get a grip on the life in the forest, whether they can actually see it for the trees in real life or not… Full review...

Town and Country (Turnaround Book) by Craig Shuttlewood

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I know I should have been working but I've just spent the last hour pouring over Town and Country. On the face of it there's a very simple idea here: on each double-page spread you get examples of what happens in towns and what happens in the countryside with regard to various activities, modes of transport and even things like beaches and snow. You turn the book one way for the country scene and then flip it over for what happens in the town. Down the side of each page there's a list of things for you to find, complete with a thumbnail of what it is you're looking for. Full review...

Mudpuddle Farm: Cock-A-Doodle-Doo by Michael Morpurgo and Shoo Rayner

5star.jpg Emerging Readers

This is an anthology book containing two titles from the Mudpuddle Farm series (Mossop's Last Chance and Albertine, Goose Queen). In the first of these we see all the animals work together to save the saggy old cat-puss from being fired. The second story sees our resident genius tested by an encounter with a crafty fox whilst the farmer decides to avoid all the fuss by going for a shave. Full review...

Walt Disney's Peter Pan: Illustrated by Mary Blair (Walt Disney Classics) by Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson and Mary Blair

3.5star.jpg Emerging Readers

I'll take it pretty much as read that you know the story of Peter Pan, the young boy who left his shadow behind, and in collecting it took three children with him to a fantasy world full of nasty men, danger and mystery. I know, the lad is totally irresponsible. You may well know it from panto, or from Disney – and it's the latter that this book is concerning. It's a very snappy capture of the story that won't take long at all to read, but it's what that text is paired with that makes it worth attention. Full review...

Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown and Rob Biddulph

4.5star.jpg Emerging Readers

Stanley was four feet tall, about a foot wide, and half an inch thick.

Yes, there's proof that this is the original text of this classic children's book – at least it's not been updated to metric. So while the illustrations are new, we get the real deal, with the young Stanley squished one night, to such an extent he can limbo under shut doors, get airmailed to America to visit relatives, become a kite for his younger brother to play with, and more. But then you don't need to update perfection. Full review...

The Ghost in Annie's Room (Little Gems) by Philippa Pearce and Cate James

4.5star.jpg Dyslexia Friendly

Emma is on a family holiday in an older relative's seaside cottage, where she is to sleep in the room in the attic. Her brother has passed on what he says he has overheard – that it is haunted. But even with the mementos of the person that once lived there all around her, and with a strange feeling of being watched, even with the stormy winds knocking tree limbs on to the window – Emma can sleep through it all. But that's not to say things will forever be that way… Full review...

Mudpuddle Farm: Hee-Haw Hooray by Michael Morpurgo and Shoo Rayner

4star.jpg Emerging Readers

Two collected stories from Mudpuddle Farm series – Nowt to Worry About and Tickety-Boo. How will the animals react when the sky goes strange and horrifying noises abound? Changes are afoot that could mark the end of Mudpuddle farm; or is it just a new beginning? Full review...

Search and Find: Pride & Prejudice: A Jane Austen Search and Find Book by Sarah Powell

4star.jpg Emerging Readers

Search and find books are usually aimed at children. They are a good bit of fun, but they are also a good study tool for adult readers alike. Jane Austen is a fantastic novelist, but her style of writing can be daunting for those not used to such heavy prose. It is very easy to become lost in the myriad of dialogue, characters and events. I find a good plot summary helps when approaching her works, this was especially so in the case of the perplexing and long-winded Emma. Full review...

Piggy Handsome: Guinea Pig Destined for Stardom! by Pip Jones and Adam Stower

3.5star.jpg Emerging Readers

Meet Piggy Handsome. He is a very bequiffed guinea pig, and he is frustrated that everyone in his long line of Handsome guinea pigs has become famous for something, except him. Annoyed that he has not even got his face in the local newspaper, he has complained to his friend Jeffry the Budgie more than once. But on this day, Jeff has a chance to solve the issue and get some peace and quiet for himself – there is a chip eating contest in town. But can Piggy get there in time, can he down a bowl of chips quickly enough to win, and what about the pair of idiot thieves that also have something on their mind? Full review...

Mudpuddle Farm: Alien Invasion by Michael Morpurgo and Shoo Rayner

4star.jpg Emerging Readers

This collected edition contains two stories from Mudpuddle Farm: Alien Invasion and Mum's the Word. When the bees swarm the animals panic over a new creature that appears in the farm. In the second story that greedy goat has vanished and when he returns something darned odd happens… Full review...

My Burptastic Body Book (Dirty Bertie) by David Roberts and Alan MacDonald

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Oh, to be young and innocent, and to be full of questions. Questions like 'is eating my bogies good for me', or 'why is poo brown', or 'what makes sweat smell'. You don't have to be a kid like Dirty Bertie to want to know the answers – respectively, no; it's down to dead bacteria; and it doesn't – it's other bacteria again. If you think you have a lad (or, let's face it, a lass) interested in learning such stuff, this book could well be the place to turn. Full review...

Best-loved Paddington Stories by Michael Bond and R W Alley

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With the sad passing of Michael Bond there is no time like the present to revisit some of the adventures of his most iconic creation; Paddington. As the character has proved so timeless regular re-issues of the books have appeared and Best-loved Paddington Stories brings three of these stories together. Does this collection really reflect the best that the bear has to offer or are they just three random tales stuck together with marmalade? Full review...

The Seaside Family by Enid Blyton

4.5star.jpg Emerging Readers

The Caravan Family (Mummy, Daddy, Mike, Belinda and Ann) are all ready for the holidays, and what better place to spend time together than at the seaside? They can play in the sea, picnic on the sand and generally enjoy each other's company. It will be marvellous. Full review...

National Trust: Complete Night Explorer's Kit by Robyn Swift and Sara Lynn Cramb

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

There is a misfortune to the modern world, in that we have killed off a common hobby from when I was a lad. Nowadays light pollution is so awful it's certainly not uncommon for people to hardly see any of the stars and to get to learn the constellations, and while I only went out to go 'meteor hunting', it's patently obvious that the chance to lie down and stargaze is a dying one. Elsewhere the nocturnal youth can struggle to have much opportunity to explore the night-time nature as this book suggests – it begins with setting up a tent in your back garden, and too many don't even get that chance, for want of possession of one. Yes, if this book is only read once in the daytime and never referred to again, due to lack of opportunity, it really will be a crying shame. Full review...

The World's Worst Children 2 by David Walliams and Tony Ross

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

I sometimes wonder if David Walliams gets sick of the comparisons with Roald Dahl that he gets. It's such an easy comparison to make, however, because both wrote very funny, and yet really very dark stories for children. They don't shy away from the nastiness, and ugliness in life and instead face it head on, and flip it around, and make you laugh along the way. This is a rollercoaster ride through a wide range of truly dreadful children who range from being a fussy eater, to a spoiled brat, to Harry, who never, ever did his homework! Yes, their dark deeds vary in despicableness, and along with dreadfulness galore there are fabulous illustrations, a large variety of fonts, unusual page layouts and a Royal introduction from the Queen... Full review...

Stanley and the Magic Lamp (Flat Stanley) by Jeff Brown and Rob Biddulph

3.5star.jpg Emerging Readers

It was far too recently that I picked up Flat Stanley and met with a character now fifty years old for the first time, and found out how he got to be flat and what happened as a result. Bizarrely, however, despite the success of that first book it was twenty full years before the author picked up the pen to give Stanley this sequel. Or perhaps it's not such a surprise – without giving too much away, the character had met with a certain change at the end of book one, and therefore wasn't exactly ready for more of the same. Well, over the decades there have been six official books by Jeff Brown, and this was the first instance where I could find out for myself if I was ready for more of the same… Full review...

The Story of the Car by Giles Chapman and Us Now

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Dinosaurs… farm machinery… science fiction… trains… cars. I can't think of many other subjects that inspired the young me to have a full non-fiction book about them on my juvenile shelves. Most of course I lost interest in with maturity. But the young child these days won't be much different, for good or bad, and so they will like as not want a book about broom-brooms for the shelf. And this is pretty much the go-to volume for such an interest. Full review...

In Focus: Cities by Libby Walden

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

The first book in this series promised 101 close-ups, cross sections and/or cutways, but here we're restricted to just ten. Why? Because the subject matters are so much bigger – one is home to 37 million people, of all things. Yes, we're talking cities, and while this book tries to follow the previous – different artist every page, an exclusive inside look within the volume, and a self-deceiving page count – we are definitely in new territory. We're seeking the trivial, the geographical and the cultural, all so that the inquisitive young student can find out the variety to be had in the world's metropolises. Full review...

My Book of Birds by Geraldo Valerio

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

I never really caught the bird-watching habit, even with the opportunity of growing up on the edge of a village in the middle of nowhere. It was in the family, too, but I resigned myself to never seeing much that was spectacular, and once you've seen one blackbird you've seen them all, was my thinking. If I'd had this book as a youngster, who knows – I may have come out of it differently, having been shown the diversity of the bird world in snippets of text, and some quite unusual illustrations… Full review...

The Hawk of the Castle: A Story of Medieval Falconry by Danna Smith and Bagram Ibatoulline

5star.jpg Children's Rhymes and Verse

I don't know why I was surprised by this book – I've read enough volumes for the young audiences to know that as far as subject matter is concerned, pretty much anything goes. But this is about falconry, of all things – the use of a once-wild and still pretty much free-spirited bird of prey to hunt down animals, either for the heck of it or for the pot. An attractive girl and her father get their hawk ready, and leave the castle with all the equipment in tow – bells to hear the landed bird and what it's captured, the hood to act as blinkers for it on the way there, the lure if necessary. The story concerns just one trip out, girl, father, hound – and hawk. But while that may surprise you as a subject matter of choice, it was the whole artistic approach that won me over here… Full review...

Beards From Outer Space by Gareth P Jones

4star.jpg Emerging Readers

You might not realise it but Earth is under constant alien attack. Luckily we humans don't need to worry because the Pet Defenders (a secret society of our domestic pets) are always on standby to keep us safe. The activities of the Pet Defenders are normally kept secret but Stripes Publishing are kindly allowing human children a brief glimpse into their exciting adventures. In Beards From Outer Space we are able to read how a dog and cat – secret agents Biskit and Mitzy – team up to rid the world of an army of alien beards. Full review...

The Old Woman from Friuli by Ghillian Potts and Ed Boxall

4star.jpg Emerging Readers

On top of a hill in Italy there was a castle and in that castle there lived a duke. Every day he would go up to the highest tower and look out at all that he could see and marvel that he owned it all.

Except that is for one small house, a sturdy house with stone walls and a solid wooden door, a garden and a field. Full review...

The Homeless Kitten by Holly Webb

4.5star.jpg Emerging Readers

Lily loves their rescue dog, Hugo. However, Lily also really wants a cat – or better still a kitten. She, therefore, can't believe her luck when Hugo sniffs out three abandoned kittens while out of his walk with Lily and her dad. Better still (from Lily's point of view at least) the animal shelter is full so Lily's mum and dad reluctantly offer to hand-rear the tiny kittens until they're old enough to be rehomed. Lily's in heaven looking after the kittens, especially the little fluffy white one whom she names Stanley. There is just one problem – it's going to break her heart when the time comes to say goodbye. Full review...

Lighter than Air: Sophie Blanchard, the First Woman Pilot by Matthew Clark Smith and Matt Tavares

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

We're in Paris, and – not to be too rude about things – we seem surrounded by idiots. For one, it seems they think the perfect place to experiment with manned hot air balloon flights is in the middle of the biggest city in the world. For another, they think only men could suffer the slightly colder and slightly thinner air experienced on such an adventure – women would never be able to cope. Meanwhile, a young girl is dreaming of flight, as so many are wont to do, completely unaware that she will soon marry one of the most famed balloonists. They will have joint journeys skyward, before his early demise – leaving the young woman, Sophie Blanchard, to go it alone and become the first female pilot. Full review...