THE MOST WONDERFUL GIFT IN THE WORLD – Mark Sperring, Lucy Fleming

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RELEASED: 01/10/2020
PUBLISHER: Little Tiger
GENRE: Picture Book, Children’s, Christmas

On Christmas morning, a magnificent, red-wrapped gift sits underneath the tree. But it isn’t for Esme. And it isn’t for Bear. So they set out to find the rightful owner. Little do they know that it’s the greatest gift in all the world. 

A heartwarming Christmas tale about the magic of friendship.

The Most Wonderful Gift in the World has become one of my favourite Christmas books.

I was immediately drawn to this book from the cover, which is adorable, and the description just sounded like a lovely tale of friendship and Christmas magic. I was not let down in the slightest when I read this book because it lived up to and exceeded all expectations. The illustrations inside are even more lovely and the story was even more heartwarming than I could’ve imagined! If I could find one fault with the book it’s that I’d like it to be printed on matte paper. Other than that, I can’t think of one reason not to love this book!

There are so many picture books about friendship, but this one really stands out as something special as it really shows what friendship is. The story is perfect for Christmas with its setting and meaning, and I for one will be reading it lots over the festive period!


Thank you to Charlie at Little Tiger for my copy!

I LOVE YOU MORE THAN CHRISTMAS – Ellie Hattie, Tim Warnes

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RELEASED: 01/10/2020
PUBLISHER: Little Tiger
GENRE: Children’s, Picture Book, Christmas

Little Bear LOVES Christmas. So do Mummy Bear and Daddy Bear. It’s so magical. It’s so heartwarming. It’s so wonderful! Could there be anything in the world that they all love more?

A festive celebration of the true meaning of Christmas.

I Love You More Than Christmas reminded me very much of a classic children’s picture book with the style of illustrations and volume of text – it’s definitely one to be read aloud and shared with little readers.

This book is a celebration of all things festive with references to so many things that people love at this time of year. Little Bear’s excitement and happiness really does shine throughout.

I think the thing that put me off giving this book a higher rating is that I was just left a bit disappointed; the cover is so beautiful and I expected the illustrations to captivate me a bit more, although they are lovely. That being said, I would still recommend this one as a family Christmas story to share the true meaning of Christmas. It was a really sweet way of reminding us of the importance of family and love.


Thanks to Charlie at Little Tiger for my copy!

CAN’T SEE SANTA – Mandy Archer, Chris Jevons

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RELEASED: 01/10/2020
PUBLISHER: Little Tiger
GENRE: Children’s, Christmas, Picture Book

It’s Christmas Eve and Mouse is looking for Santa everywhere! With over 40 flaps to lift and a surprise ending, this funny, festive book will keep children entertained for hours. It’s the perfect Christmas gift!

My favourite thing about Can’t See Santa is the illustrations; they’re bold and engaging, but full of little details and lovely to look at! In some ways I think it’s a shame that it’s a lift-the-flap book as I can only imagine the damage that little fingers will do to it because of how many flaps there are and some of them are quite tricky to open! I can just imagine this beautiful book getting ruined! That said, they do make for a really fun reading experience as there are so many little things to discover!

The story itself is really sweet, and has a very important message about going to sleep on Christmas Eve! I think this would be a really nice book to read to children at that time as an encouragement for them to sleep even though it’s such an exciting time of year!


Thank you to Charlie at Little Tiger for my copy!

PEAS ON EARTH – Jonny Marx, Lindsey Sagar

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RELEASED: 01/10/2020
PUBLISHER: Little Tiger
GENRE: Children’s, Picture Book, Board Book, Christmas

Five little festive peas cannot wait for Christmas in this yuletide countdown with board pieces and a dazzling finale!

There’s nothing better than a fun festive children’s book, and Peas on Earth is just that! Using rhyme, bold illustrations and some really cute peas, this little book is a fun way of counting. One aspect I like is how it’s a sturdy board book – it’s engaging with the peep through holes and the stand out peas, but it won’t get damaged easily!

I think this would make the perfect Christmas gift for little people. The colours really stand out and there’s just the right amount of detail to keep children interested in looking at the illustrations along with the text. I’d highly recommend checking this one out!


Thank you to Charlie at Little Tiger for my copy!

THE BARNABUS PROJECT – The Fan Brothers

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RELEASED: 06/10/2020
PUBLISHER: Frances Lincoln
GENRE: Children’s, Picture Book

Deep underground beneath Perfect Pets, where children can buy genetically engineered “perfect” creatures, there is a secret lab. Barnabus and his friends live in this lab, but none of them is perfect. They are all Failed Projects. Barnabus has never been outside his tiny bell jar, yet he dreams of one day seeing the world above ground that his pal Pip the cockroach has told him about: a world with green hills and trees, and buildings that reach all the way to the sky, lit with their own stars. But Barnabus may have to reach the outside world sooner than he thought, because the Green Rubber Suits are about to recycle all Failed Projects . . . and Barnabus doesn’t want to be made into a fluffier pet with bigger eyes. He just wants to be himself. So he decides it’s time for he and the others to escape. With his little trunk and a lot of cooperation and courage, Barnabus sets out to find freedom – and a place where he and his friends can finally be accepted for who they are.

This suspenseful, poignant and magical story about following your dreams and finding where you truly belong will draw readers into a surreal, lushly detailed world in which perfection really means being true to yourself and your friends.

Books by The Fan Brothers are always beautifully illustrated with a lovely story and The Barnabus Project is no exception. I adore the illustrations which are just entrancing and the meaning of the story about being yourself is put across in the perfect way.

Barnabus is such an adorable character, and I love that although he’s a “failed project” he’s happy with being himself and wouldn’t want to change. I also think that the message about not judging others comes across really well in this story.

I’d highly recommend The Barnabus Project for fans of stunning artwork and for people looking for a picture book with a really heartfelt message that’s very important.


Thank you to Quarto via NetGalley for this title.

THE BEAR, THE PIANO AND LITTLE BEAR’S CONCERT – David Litchfield

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RELEASED: 01/09/2020
PUBLISHER: Frances Lincoln
GENRE: Picture Book, Children’s Book

You probably remember the story of the bear who found the piano in the woods and grew up to become a huge star. He played his music in front of millions of adoring fans and all of his wildest dreams came true. But now, the audiences are smaller, the pianos less grand, and the applause is dying away. So Bear decides to retire. Back in the woods, he is sad that his dream is over but he soon has something to distract him: Little Bear! When Little Bear stumbles upon his piano in the woods, she can’t believe it when her father says that no one wants to hear his music anymore. So she comes up with a plan to prove him wrong.

The final book in the award-winning, best-selling trilogy shows that while fame and fortune might be temporary, the best songs stay in your heart forever.

I was so so excited to get my hands on a finished copy of this book; I had a sneak peek via NetGalley but digital just didn’t do justice to how beautiful David Litchfield’s illustrations are! 

I genuinely squealed when I received a parcel the other day containing this book and immediately tore open the packaging to reveal this stunning picture book! I’ve been a massive fan of David’s for a long time; his illustrations just make a book that extra bit special. The Bear and the Piano is a very popular series, and rightly so. I loved the first book, loved the second, and, not surprisingly, loved the third!

The Bear, the Piano and Little Bear’s Concert is just so lovingly crafted, pulls at your heartstrings and leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy. I was not disappointed by this book at all. In fact, the sole thing I didn’t like is the fact that it is the final book in the series!


Thank you to Chris at Quarto for sending me a copy of this book!

MEESHA MAKES FRIENDS – Tom Percival

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RELEASED: 9/7/2020
PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury
GENRE: Children’s, Picture Book

Meesha loves making things … but there’s one thing she finds difficult to make – friends. She doesn’t know quite what to do, what to say or when to say it, and she struggles reading and responding to social cues. But one day she discovers that she has a special talent that will help her to navigate challenging social situations and help her to make friends. A warm and affectionate look at the joys and difficulties of making and keeping friends, relating to others, and finding your place in the world. Wonderfully empowering and emotionally resonant, Tom Percival’s Big Bright Feelings series is the perfect springboard for conversations about mental and emotional health, positive self-image, building self-confidence and managing feelings. Every child’s bookshelf should contain his books.

One of my auto buy author/illustrators is Tom Percival; I’ve loved every single one of his books, both for the stories and the gorgeous illustrations. During lockdown, I was very excited to see that Bloomsbury had put his new book Meesha Makes Friends up on NetGalley and it really didn’t disappoint! I can’t wait to get a physical copy to really be able to appreciate the illustrations and how the book flows.

Meesha Makes Friends is another important story showing how it can be a little bit tricky to make friends sometimes and feel like we fit in, but it also shows how we can learn to overcome these challenges. I think that this is another important book from Tom Percival for children to read, especially those who are maybe a little quieter and find fitting in difficult. It’s engaging with a strong story and illustrations that really capture it perfectly.


Thank you to Bloomsbury via NetGalley for the ebook of this title

 

 

 

CLEVER CAKES – Michael Rosen, Ashley King

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RELEASED: 15/03/2020
PUBLISHER: Barrington Stoke
GENRE: Young Reader, Fairy Tale, Dyslexia Friendly

It pays to be able to think on your feet, especially if you’re about to be eaten alive or cheated out of a valuable prize! And in these hilarious comical adventures by storytelling legend Michael Rosen, two clever kids are more than a match for a hungry grizzly bear and a bored and arrogant king! Read along as two super-smart kids triumph in these perfectly packaged fairy tales with a twist …

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Ashley King’s illustrations, so of course when I was offered a copy of this book I immediately said yes please! His style of illustrating goes hand in hand with fairy tales and adventures, and coupled with Michael Rosen’s storytelling it makes for a very enjoyable little book!

Clever Cakes has two stories that are engaging and full of fun whilst having that style of a fairy tale that keeps you reading. I think it’s one of the best Little Gems books that I’ve read; it’s bold and makes you want to read. I’d highly recommend it for fans of Michael and Ashley, and it’s a brilliant choice for a Barrington Stoke book to keep younger readers entertained at storytime!


Thank you to Kirstin at Barrington Stoke for my copy of this book!

 

THE VANISHING TRICK – Jenni Spangler

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RELEASED: 30/04/2020
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster
GENRE: Middle Grade, Magical Realism, Mystery

Step into a world of secrets, folklore and illusions, where nothing is as it seems and magic is at play…

Madame Augustina Pinchbeck, travels the country conjuring the spirits of dearly departed loved ones… for a price. Whilst her ability to contact ghosts is a game of smoke and mirrors, there is real magic behind her tricks too – if you know where to look.

Through a magical trade, she persuades children to part with precious objects, promising to use her powers to help them. But Pinchbeck is a deceiver, instead turning their items into enchanted Cabinets that bind the children to her and into which she can vanish and summon them at will.

When Pinchbeck captures orphan Leander, events are set into motion that see him and his new friends Charlotte and Felix, in a race against time to break Pinchbeck’s spell, before one of them vanishes forever…

Without a doubt, this is one of the most spine-tingling, gripping middle-grade books that I have ever read, and it’s one that I’d urge all fans of a good mysterious and eerie tale to read!

I knew that I’d enjoy The Vanishing Trick; it sounded right up my street. However, what I didn’t expect was for it to be a no-hesitation 5* read that would stay with me for weeks afterwards. I really struggled to want to read anything else straight after reading this because it was THAT GOOD. It very much reminded me of the books I’d read when I was younger, set in Victorian-esque eras, full of magic and intrigue, and for this it really felt like home to be reading it!

The writing is exquisite; it’s atmospheric and realistic. The characters jump off the page and were really fun to get to know. A special mention has to be made to Madame Pinchbeck, who is such a dark character and wonderfully crafted. As a fellow book blogger suggested on Twitter, she’s very much like Tangled’s Mother Gothel and I couldn’t agree more!

I can’t wait to get a finished copy so I can see the illustrations too; from what I’m seeing being released in the run up to publication, Chris Mould has done a stellar job bringing this cast of characters to life!


Thank you to Simon & Schuster via NetGalley for the eBook of this title!

GARGANTIS – Thomas Taylor

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RELEASED: 07/05/2020
PUBLISHER: Walker
GENRE: Children’s Fiction, Magical Realism, Middle Grade

There’s a storm raging in Eerie-on-Sea. Has the mighty Gargantis come back from the deep…?

When an ancient bottle is found washed up on the beach after a ferocious electrical storm, all the residents of Eerie-on-Sea seem to want it … but should they in fact fear it? Legend has it that the bottle contains an extraordinary secret that spells doom for the whole of Eerie-on-Sea. Could it be true that the vast sea creature Gargantis has awoken from her slumbers, and is causing the large cracks that are appearing all across the town? Finding themselves entrusted with the bottle, Herbie and Violet discover they will need to ride the terrible storm and pacify the creature if they want to save Eerie-on-Sea from sliding into the ocean and being lost for ever.

Malamander was one of my favourite books of last year, and arguably one of my favourite middle grade books of all time! So, Walker announcing that they’ve joined NetGalley and seeing this was one of their first titles on there had me pressing that request button so very quickly!

Gargantis sees us return to Eerie-on-Sea with Herbert Lemon and Violet Parma and you’d think that there are only so many mysteries and adventures to be had in such a small seaside town, but nope! There is another legendary monster to be discovered and with a whole host of characters and twists and turns, Gargantis will have you on the edge of your seat!

Thomas Taylor’s writing is just wonderful and it really draws you in; Herbie as a narrator is loveable and there’s so much character to him. I love how it just flows along and you get totally swept up in the story, just like with Malamander! I am so excited to hear that there is a book three coming…the only downside is having to wait!

I’d highly recommend Gargantis (if you haven’t read Malamander yet, go and read that too!). It’s just one of those books that’s guaranteed to make you want to read; it’s a definite page-turner! Last of all, I apologise for this review being short and sweet; no words can do justice to this series! It’s just one of those that I implore you to read if you love a good children’s adventure/mystery, and I have no doubt that you’ll love it too!


Thank you to Walker via NetGalley for the proof of this title!