Newest Emerging Readers Reviews

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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...

The Story of Space by Catherine Barr, Steve Williams and Amy Husband

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

I have no actual idea how I first got an interest in space. Perhaps it's there because I'm so old to almost coincide with the last Apollo astronauts being on the moon (and that's pretty old, it's been so long) and it kind of rubbed off on me. Perhaps in fact all young children are interested in space anyway, and don't need any impetus or reason to look up in wonder. But if they do, this is the newest way of nudging the newer child towards a keenness for all things celestial. And it's a pretty good way indeed. Full review...

Norman the Norman from Normandy (Little Gems) by Philip Ardagh and Tom Morgan-Jones

5star.jpg Dyslexia Friendly

Meet Norman. Norman the Norman, from Normandy. Not Big Bad Norman the Norman from Normandy, and not Norma the Norman from Normandy – and not even Nora the Norman from, well it doesn't say, but my guess is Normandy. Norman isn't very big at all – he's just a little boy, and he's not bad. Or at least he doesn't think he is. But because his father, Big Bad Norman, is buried in three parts (don't ask), and little baby Norman has inherited Big Bad Norman's big bad Norman sword, he's going to visit the three parts – but only good will happen… Right? Full review...

Patrick and the President by Ryan Tubridy and P J Lynch

4star.jpg Emerging Readers

Meet Patrick. Such a direction is a little facetious here, because it's who he's going to meet that's the key. He lives in New Ross, County Wexford, and his school has been chosen to perform as a choir for the much-anticipated arrival of President J F Kennedy, as the man traces the path of his Irish ancestry, in what (in addition to stop-overs in England and Italy on the same trip) was to be his last state visit abroad. But surely just being one among three hundred on such an auspicious, yet brief, occasion is not enough for such an enterprising lad? Well, no, for his connected parents have got another trick up their sleeve for him… Full review...

Taking Flight: How the Wright Brothers Conquered the Skies by Adam Hancher

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Flight. It happens all around us, wherever we may be, and many are the young audience members for this book who have taken to the air already. But it was once something impossible to take for granted, and this book easily takes us back to those days. It presents us with danger, determination, and a certain pair of American brothers going all out to get both their names in the history books and their feet in the skies… Full review...

Message from the Moon by Hilda Offen

4star.jpg Children's Rhymes and Verse

Yes, that is really a 'Message from the Moon' you receive courtesy of this book. You also get the point of view of the sea itself, as well as children seeing the city night from their bedroom window and other people witnessing geese flying over, and you even get a message from a snail. The range of verses in this book is however but one of its many qualities… Full review...

SuperDad's Day Off by Phil Earle

4.5star.jpg Dyslexia Friendly

Stanley's dad is tired. It can be exhausting work being a Superhero. For six days of the week he saves the world from disasters and defeats the baddies as Dynamo Dan. Stanley decides his poor dad needs a day off and is determined to make sure that he gets a proper rest. So they head off to the park for some much needed Dad and Son bonding time. However people don't seem to understand that even Superheroes need time to recuperate. The requests for help keep on coming so what can poor Stanley do other than step in to save the day. Full review...

The Big Book of Beasts (Big Books) by Yuval Zommer

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

One of the many issues people have with the TV nature programme, such as Planet Earth II, is the obvious one of all the blood and guts it features – yes, in amongst all the cutesy, comical animal life are creatures eating other creatures (normally the cutesy, comical ones, what's worse). You'll be pleased to know, however, that this book is very light on death and destruction. Yes, here are lions sharing some chunks of meat (while the females that caught and killed it sit and wait their turn), here are salmon seemingly willingly flying towards brown bears, and here is a red fox stashing a dead mouse while in a time of plenty, but there is so little to make this even a PG book – it will be perfect for the home shelf or that in a primary school. Full review...

The Story of the Dancing Frog by Quentin Blake

4.5star.jpg Dyslexia Friendly

When Jo's Great Aunt Gertrude's sea captain husband is drowned at sea she is grief-stricken and, in despair, she goes for a walk alone. During this walk she notices a small frog on a lily-pad. But he is no ordinary frog - he's a dancing frog and the two quickly become good friends. Soon the duo are touring the world with their routine, spreading joy and fun - and carrying out the occasional rescue - wherever they go. Full review...

Forest Life and Woodland Creatures by DK

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

This book knows that if you're going to learn about forest life and the animals, plants and trees in it, then you're only going to be itching to go and explore the woods for yourself. It's for a very young audience, so always expects an adult hand to guide you – but provides a warm companion itself through several quick and easy tasks, and a few lessons. The balance between carrot and stick, or duty and reward, is great – but what exactly is the edutainment going to provide, and what will it demand of us? Full review...

Sharks and Other Sea Creatures by DK

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Never before have I found much cause to point out the sort of lower-case, almost-a-subtitle wording on the front of a book. I say that because very little of this is about sharks – so if you have a youngster intending to come here and learn all their bloodthirsty imagination can hold, then they may well be disappointed. If you take it on board that the 'other sea creatures' make up the bulk of the book, then all well and good. And even better, if you expect yourself to make the bulk of said creatures… Full review...

Life on Earth: Farm: With 100 Questions and 70 Lift-flaps! by Heather Alexander and Andres Lozano

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

I'm sure I was full of questions when I was a nipper – which means I was too full of questions. Parents just don't need to be deflecting questions all the time, do they? Living on the edge of a village in the middle of nowhere as I did, I knew quite a lot about farms and farming – that different animals gave different results, that different vehicles meant different things and that the crops behind our house changed. But for the inner city child, there is a chance they have never met a cow or seen a silo. This colourful book, bright in both senses of the word, will allow the very young reader the opportunity of their own fantasy trip to the working countryside. Full review...

Life on Earth: Human Body: With 100 Questions and 70 Lift-flaps! by Heather Alexander and Andres Lozano

5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

I wonder how much time I've saved in not being a parent – and therefore not having had to answer such pesky questions as why is the sky blue, where did I come from, where does my wee come from, what is earwax, and why do I have a spleen? Still, apart from the first two, those questions and the answers to them and more are in this book, which is a lovely primer for biology, and a great source of quick facts for the very young, all presented with an addictive lift-the-flap approach. Full review...

Amazing Animal Babies by Chris Packham and Jason Cockcroft

3.5star.jpg Emerging Readers

Many children love animals, but they love baby animals even more. Would you rather watch a dog or watch a puppy? A cat or a kitten? A meerkat or a smaller meerkat? The answer is a no brainer to most children who enjoy the wide-eyed stumbling of youth that is not dissimilar to their own. However, someone needs to give them the facts about baby animals and who better than wildlife presenter Chris Packham? Full review...

The Midnight Mystery (Dotty Detective, Book 3) by Clara Vulliamy

4star.jpg Emerging Readers

If you haven't already, meet Dot. She's an ace child detective, inspired by her favourite TV programme, and her pet dog and best friend from school. But at least one of those is left behind this time, as Dot and the rest of her class go to an adventure camp playground for a couple of nights. Daytimes are spent being sporty and adventurous, as are the evenings supposed to be, but someone seems intent on ruining things for Dot. What is the evil and bragging Laura up to? Full review...

Pigeon P.I. by Meg McLaren

3star.jpg Emerging Readers

The world of birds is in a flap. They're being nabbed – plucked from the air (or at least from their cages). Murray MacMurray, the brilliant pigeon private eye, doesn't want anything to do with crime now his old partner has flown the roost, but an eager and bright young thing might just about persuade him to take up the case. But both will have to be plucky to survive the dangers it leads to… Full review...

Bruno by Catharina Valckx and Nicolas Hubesch

4star.jpg Emerging Readers

Meet Bruno. No, not that Bruno – for pity's sake, this is a book for the under-eights and not a character from teen comedy movies. No, Bruno is a quite unmistakeable cat, in a bright blue cloth cap, and this is a book regarding various days in his life that he thinks are of note – whether they're the day the power goes out, or a day that would be completely uninteresting were it not for a joke from his best friend. But don't you dare make the mistake of thinking this sounds mundane – here is a background couple, of a hippo and a crocodile, just walking past the heroes. Here is said best friend, an elderly pony, forced somehow to walk backwards. Here is when Bruno is playing host to a turtle dove addicted to jam, who is forced to hide when a wet wolf gate-crashes. I think you'll agree that any day spent reading this book will not be a boring one. Full review...

Polly and the Puffin: The New Friend by Jenny Colgan

4.5star.jpg Emerging Readers

Polly was just about to start Big School and, being honest, she wasn't keen. She couldn't wear her spotty wellies for one thing, but worst of all, she couldn't take Neil with her. We heard about Neil the rescued puffin in the first book in this series and although Neil now has a nest in the nearby lighthouse, he and Polly are still very close. When she gets to school Polly doesn't really feel like joining in any of the games: she's the lonely little figure on the edge of everything. Her teacher suggests that she and Ronita make friends: have you ever noticed how difficult it is to even speak when someone suggests something like that? Polly and Ronita don't make friends - they end up shouting at each other in a 'mine's bigger/better than yours' argument. What about? Well, birds of course. Ronita has a macaw. Full review...

Little People, Big Dreams: Marie Curie by Isabel Sanchez Vegara and Frau Isa

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Some little girls want to be princesses, but the girl who would become Marie Curie wanted to be a scientist. She was from a poor family in Warsaw but she was determined to do well and won a gold medal for her studies. In Poland, in the middle of the nineteenth century, only men were allowed to go to University, so Marie moved to Paris where she had to study in an unfamiliar language, but was soon the best maths and science student. It was here that she met and married Pierre Curie, another scientist and they jointly discovered radium and polonium: they would eventually win the Nobel Prize for Physics for this work. Marie was the first woman to receive the honour. Pierre was killed in a road accident, but Marie went on to win a second Nobel Prize, this time for Chemistry. Her work is still benefiting people today. Full review...

Little People, Big Dreams: Agatha Christie by Isabel Sanchez Vegara and Elisa Munso

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

As a child Agatha Christie and her mother would read a book together every afternoon, but there were early signs of what the future novelist would become: she always had a better idea about how the story should end. She would read in bed at night and detective novels were always her favourites. In the First World War Agatha, who was then in her early twenties, nursed wounded soldiers in hospitals: her experiences with poisons and toxic potions would be put to good use when her first detective novels were published just after the end of the war. Most people have heard of her first and most famous detective - Hercule Poirot - or of Miss Marple. Mrs Christie's novels were widely read and her plays were very popular in theatres. Full review...

Barking for Bagels by Michael Rosen and Tony Ross

4.5star.jpg For Sharing

Barking for Bagels is the story of Schnipp the dog, who loves her owners very much, though she does find their snickering a little annoying from time to time. One day, whilst out for a walk in the park, she starts to run away, and she finds that once she starts running she can't stop, and she runs and she runs until she finds Bessie the Bagel lady and thus discovers her new favourite food, and her new home. Full review...

How to be a Tiger by George Szirtes and Tim Archbold

4.5star.jpg Children's Rhymes and Verse

Wet again, yet again! Down it drips, little fingertips, tapping and snapping as if the rain were cross.
See the branches toss? See the puddles grow? Has it stopped raining? NO.

Yes, sometimes only a quote will do. After all, we do come to poetry for snappy concision, and that's what we get here… Full review...

Rabbit and Bear: The Pest in the Nest by Julian Gough and Jim Field

4star.jpg Emerging Readers

Rabbit was struggling. There he was having a nice, peaceful sleep in his friend Bear's cave when a terrible noise woke him. Was it thunder? No, it was Bear snoring. Very loudly. Rabbit tried putting his paws over his ears although that's not very successful when you have small paws and very big ears. But there was something good: when Rabbit went outside the cave he realised that spring had sprung. Suddenly he felt strong. After a winter spent in his friend Bear's cave it was time to go home to his burrow. Only there was a surprise lurking there - and it looked suspiciously like a snake. Full review...