Newest Emerging Readers Reviews

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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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Walt Disney's Alice in Wonderland: Illustrated by Mary Blair (Walt Disney Classics) by Jon Scieszka and Mary Blair

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I'll take is as read you have some knowledge of the story of Alice in Wonderland – certainly when she got to be 150 years old a couple of years back there were no end of editions of her story. And as you know, 150 years is a heck of a lot of unbirthdays. But her story got to be slightly different, and if anything only more loved, courtesy of the Disney cartoon, and the fact that this book features artwork that was generated during the production of that film is the unique selling point. Full review...

Pug-a-Doodle-Do! by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre

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I was reading a book so utterly different to this the other day, it has to bear mention. It was an exceedingly academic book about graphic novels and comics for the YA audience, and it featured an essay picking up on the way books like the fill-in-bits-yourself entries in the Wimpy Kid and Dork Diaries series (such as this one) let you interact with the franchise, and also to create your own content. There was some weird high-falutin' academic language to describe such books – but you know what? I say (redacted) to that – let's just hang it and have fun. And this book, spinning off from the four books this partnership has so far been responsible for, is certainly a provider of that. Full review...

Nellie Choc-Ice, Penguin Explorer (Little Gems) by Jeremy Strong and Jamie Smith

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Meet Nellie Choc-Ice. Thus named by her grandparents (and grandparents have a habit in this book of making unusual names for their grandchildren, whichever species they belong to), she is a pretty little Macaroni penguin, complete with pink feet, bright yellow eyebrows and a woolly hat with the world's biggest pompom on the end. She has a habit of going exploring and finding out what's over the next ridge in the ice, and the next, and the next. But when disaster happens and the ice she is on is knocked off Antarctica by a submarine, even she can have no idea as to where she will end up… Full review...

Madeleine Finn and the Library Dog by Lisa Papp

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Madeleine Finn doesn't like to read - not anything. It's not really her fault, you know. Her teacher tries to encourage her, but some of the other kids giggle when she makes mistakes. And they pull faces of the type which would have given me my head in my hands to play with when I was a child. The words just don't seem to come out right for her. The other children are getting gold stars (I've never liked that system) but all Madeleine gets is a heart sticker which tells her to keep trying. She's got plenty of those. All week she tries her best but doesn't get the star she longs for. Full review...

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

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I was a big fan of dinosaurs when I was a nipper. Since then the science regarding them has evolved leaps and bounds. We've got in touch with them perhaps being feathered, and have assumed colours and noises they made – we can even extrapolate from their remains what their eyesight, hearing and so much more may have been like. But science will never stop, and the next generation will need to be on board with the job of discovering them, analysing them, and presenting them to a world that never seems to get enough of the nasty, superlative beasties of Hollywood renown. As you're the kind of person to ask questions, you may well ask 'how do you get that next generation ready for their place in the field and in the laboratory?' I would put this as the answer – even if it is made itself of a hundred questions. Full review...

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

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We're constantly being asked to save something. Save the hedgerows, save the elephant, save our seas. There's absolutely nothing wrong with any of those goals – some of them are larger than the others, and more demanding, but they are all worthy. But seeing as it's (a) the largest land feature we need to save, and (b) it's the most worthwhile to save, why not just go for the jugular – and try and save the Amazonian rainforest? Forget jugular, you'll be saving the jaguar; you'll be protecting the source of a lot of our food, spices and medicines – and when did a hedgerow near you have almost fifty different species of ant on a singular tree? The first step to saving anything is to understand it, to let us appreciate it, and this primer is how we get in touch with what's important about jungles so we can deem them worthwhile. Full review...

Cool Duck and Lots of Hats (Early Reader) by Elizabeth Dale and Giusi Capizzi

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Children are a little like Pokemon; you may not be able to house them in a Pokeball, but they are always evolving. Your little kiddo may have spent the first couple of years or so intent to sit on your lap and listen to you read a story, but at some point they are going to want to read themselves. This is not the moment to lend them your copy of Lord of the Rings as their own first books will actually be simpler stories than the books that you have shared together. You need to know your ducks and your hats before you can tackle what on Earth a Gruffalo is. Full review...

Where is Grandma? by Peter Schossow

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Meet Henry. He's a young lad being taken by a nanny to hospital to check up on his grandma, who's in having had an accident. It's a shame, then, that said nanny is so busy yacking into her phone to look after him, for he ends up going off on his own adventure to find his gran. And what an adventure – babies being born, people with stomach problems, chemo, beans stuck up their nose… all life is here in this hospital, and both that and the lad's mishap are clearly and very pleasantly conveyed. Full review...

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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...