What a bumper month for children’s books! We have stack of new picture books (with some classics thrown in there too). It includes books from some of our favourite author/illustrator combos (Jane Godwin and Anna Walker with Tilly and Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler with The Smeds and The Smoos) and they don’t disappoint. We’re also exploring a selection of illustrated books for slightly older (primary school-aged) readers (or “Young Readers”, since this is all a matter of perspective!). Enjoy the October 2019 Children’s Book Roundup!
Tilly – Jane Godwin and Anna Walker
We have been fans of Tilly from the moment we saw the cover! “Is that another Go Go!” Hannah exclaimed excitedly the moment she caught a glimpse of the front cover. She was referring to Go Go and the Silver Shoes by the same author and illustrator duo and one of her absolute most favourite books. In any case, no, this isn’t a book featuring Go Go. This is Tilly and Tilly has become an instant favourite in this household.
The illustrations in Tilly are wonderful, captivating. They are warm, detailed and full of story. It is Anna Walker’s distinctive style that made Hannah immediately think of Go Go.
The story itself has also captivated Hannah completely. Hannah feels this story.
Tilly’s family in their big house is a hive of activity. They play lots of hide and seek and there are plenty of places to hide, but there is one hiding place that no-one else knows about – the inside of the step to her room at the top of the house. This is where Tilly hides her precious things: a smooth stone she found, a letter she had never delivered, four small wooden dolls. But one day the house has been renovated. Tilly arrives to see the stair has been carpeted over. Her treasures trapped. No-one had ever known about Tilly’s treasures and now she couldn’t find the words to tell them.
Tilly has captivated Hannah and I can already see that this will be one of her favourite books from her childhood.
You can find Tilly here.
The Return of Thelma the Unicorn – Aaron Blabey
Fans across the world are missing Thelma the Unicorn, and so, with a little push from her loyal best bud Otis, Thelma dons the glitter and carrot horn once again and…Thelma the Unicorn is back! Otis is a standout, lovable best bud. Who could help but fall for the guy?
You can find The Return of Thelma The Unicorn here.
The Girl and the Dinosaur – Hollie Hughes and Sarah Massini
Marianne spends her time foraging on the beach. She works alone, searching for dinosaur bones. Slowly, bone by stony bone, she pieces together a dinosaur skeleton. She goes to sleep at night with a single special wish: that the dinosaur comes to life. So her adventures begin. Her dinosaur takes her bobbing among the boats and the dishes in the sea. Her dinosaur friend takes her to a forest full of fairies, unicorns, giants and creatures long forgot. Then on to a land in the sky – a magical moonlit island where night and daydreams fly. This is a place where anything is possible and nothing is as it seems. A land full of dreaming children and their dinosaurs. As Marianne arrives back in her bed and wakes from her sleep, she heads to the beach to forage some more, but now alongside the other children, foraging for their magical adventure too.
The Girl and the Dinosaur is a magical and marvellous story of Marianne’s adventures, full of imagined worlds. The fabulous story and captivating illustrations sweep you in to this magical adventure.
The Tiny Star – Mem Fox and Freya Blackwood
“Once upon a time, although this happens all the time, a tiny star fell to earth and turned in to a baby!” So begins the story of a life from tiny baby to adult, and as the years pass, to tiny once again… so tiny it disappeared altogether. In their grief, the family comfort each other and cry with each other. However the tiny star hadn’t vanished at all. It had merely returned to its home in the heavens and there it remained, to rest. When they see it twinkling in the night sky, hearts are lightened, hearts begin to mend.
The Smeds and The Smoos – Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
Young aliens, Janet and Bill, meet and fall in love. The trouble is Janet is a Smed and Bill is a Smoo, and everyone knows that Smeds and Snoos can’t be friends.
With delightfully ugly aliens and fabulous rhyme, this out-of-this-world take on a well-known premise is another smashing book from this powerhouse duo.
You can find The Smeds and The Smoos here.
Where’s Wally? Double Trouble At The Museum – Martin Handford
As a child of the 80’s a small wave of nostalgia swept over me when I first glimpsed the cover of this Where’s Wally book.
In Double Trouble At The Museum, not only is their Wally to find on each page, but also all of Wally’s fiends, some hidden items and differences between each pair of scenes.
A few decades later, Where’s Wally is still a fun way to while away a few hours. Erm… for the kids I mean, of course!
Oi Puppies! – Kes Gray and Jim Field
Just how many puppies are there? “Quite a lot of puppies,” gulped the dog. And of course the puppies are too busy being puppies to sit. And so it begins. Spot is hanging from cat’s whiskers, Lollie is chewing on frogs swimming trunks. Then there is Buster’s on a Duster, Jock’s on a clock, Riddle is on a fiddle.
There is lots of fun and silly rhyme here!
Midnight Ninja – Sam Lloyd
At bedtime the boy with a ginger cat turns into a midnight ninja, catching naughty baddies. With a super cool hide out full of gizmos: a laser watch, x-ray specs, a long telescope. The alarm rings out in ninja headquarters. “Socks are going missing from clothes lines everywhere. We think a naughty baddy has hidden them in their lair.” Midnight ninja is on the case. Midnight ninja back flips and leaps. He climbs the temple wall to the big bad spider king but CRASH!. Midnight ninja has tripped and woken the spider king. Lucky ginger cat knows just what to do.
The Gruffalo’s Child – Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
Despite having a much loved copy of The Gruffalo, this is our first introduction to the sequel: The Gruffalo’s Child.
No gruffalo should ever set foot in the deep dark wood. The Big Bad Mouse will be after you, the Gruffalo warns. Even so, one snowy night, feeling bored, the Gruffalo’s child ventures out to see for himself. And find a mouse he does, but a small, tasty looking one. Can mouse trick a gruffalo again?
This special 15 year anniversary edition includes a wrap-around play scene (from the dust cover) and press out characters – great for acting out scenes and making up your own. It also includes other activities and a song.
Moonfish – Graeme Base
The illustrations in Moonfish are phenomenal, true to Graeme Base’s reputation. Each page is both a work of art and a story in itself; intricately detailed depictions of a mystical underwater world.
An old couple find a tiny orphan fish in among the reeds and raise him as their own. However, the other fish at school tease him. He is different. He grows big like the moon – Moonfish.
Moonfish sets out on a journey to find where he belongs. Only when challenged does he become who he really is.
A great book for primary schoolers, and for their parents that grew up with another Graeme Base classic, Animalia.
The Underhills: A Tooth Fairy Story – Bob Graham
When Mum and Dad Underhill get the call out for an urgent molar pick up on Main Street. April and Esme are dropped off at their grandparents place – a delightful, discarded teapot by the airport fence. With chocolates on their pillows and mixing fairy cakes together, Grandma and Grandad’s place is always fun. Mum calls in with a job for the girls and Grandma. “Small girl. Red coat. Arriving on flight 417 from Ghana. Name of Akuba. Baby tooth out. Somewhere in pocket.”
“And remember,” said Dad, “Akuba must never see you. You are spirits of the air”
So off they go, April, Esme and Grandma, hanging out on the signs hanging from the ceiling of the terminal with the angels and cupids until they can spot Akuba and complete their exciting mission.
The Corner of My Eye – Colin Thompson
Sally’s grandfather has lost something. The trouble is, he can’t remember what. The family says he’s lost his marbles, but he knows exactly where they are: in a blue biscuit tin from the coronation of George the Sixth.
Sally dedicatedly tries to find the lost thing, bringing him items, hoping to jog his memory of what he’s lost. Finally grandfather puts his finger on what it is he’s lost. Colour. It’s the colour. The colour is gone from everything.
The story explores what it is like to lose your confidence with the onset of memory loss with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, with the narrative leaving you feeling a little fuzzy and disoriented yourself.
The detailed, quirky illustrations are a sight to behold.
Sulwe – Lupita Nyong’o and Vashti Harrison
Sulwe is the colour of midnight. Darker than anyone in her family and anyone at school. Sulwe’s name means star and she dreams of being light and bright like her sister and mum. Her mum tells her she is beautiful inside and out. But everyone’s mum says that, don’t they, thinks Sulwe. So Sulwe journeys to find the brightness within her.
No One Likes a Fart (hardback book and plush toy box set) – Zoe Foster Blake and Adam Nickel
Fart jokes abound in this story of the plight of an unwanted fart but just beneath the surface is sweet message about friendship, difference and acceptance.
I first wrote about No One Likes A Fart in my Dad’s Guide to Books for Toddlers – The 2017 Christmas Gift Supplement. As if it needed more uncouth appeal, this box set comes with a hardcover book and a fart plush toy. So. Much. Kid. Appeal.
You can find the No One Like a Fart hardback book and plush toy box set on the Penguin website.
1, 2, Boo! – Paul Howard
A brother and sister go trick or treating and see all manner of strange and spooky things. Five noisy wizard’s owls. Six creepy spiders.
With bright illustrations and fun rhyming, 1, 2 Boo! has become one of the board books Hannah likes to “read” it to her little brother and they both have a squawk and a giggle.
Pearl: The Brave Unicorn (#5) – Sally Odgers and Adele K Thomas
Pearl is a unicorn. Her magic often goes a little amiss, though. But really, that just adds to the fun she has with her besties, Olive the ogre and Tweet the firebird.
It’s Olive’s birthday and Pearl sets her magic to getting a few special things together for a party. Never mind that the cake appears in the lake, soggy and wet, and when trying to magic up a party hat for Olive she accidentally makes one so big they have to use it as a tent instead. But during all these preparations, Olive has gone missing. Pearl will have to muster all of her bravery, as well as her magic, to save her friend.
You can find Pearl: The Brave Unicorn here.
Ella Diaries: Time to Shine (#17) – Meredith Costain and Danielle McDonald
Ella’s diaries contain the daily dramas of being an 11 year old girl in primary school girl. In Time to Shine, Ella, Zoe and Many have been selected by their teacher to do a special project of their choosing and present it to their class. They plan an amazing cooking video, but everything goes wrong. failed recipes, fights.. will they pull through to present their project?
Filled with pictures and written in diary format, Ella Diaries hold stacks of appeal for primary school girls.
You can find Ella Diaries: Time to Shine here.
The Bad Guys: Episode 10 – Aaron Blabey
I’m a big Aaron Blabey fan. One of the first books we ever bought for Hannah was Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley. Shortly after we discovered the brilliant Pig the Pug series, then Guff, and more recently Thelma the Unicorn. Throughout all of these books, one thing is consistent – Blabey gets kids. He understands their sense of humour and speaks their language. At the same time, he does it in a way that brings us adults along for the ride. This combination has always made his books thoroughly enjoyable to read with Hannah.
I am thrilled this month to be introduced to Blabey’s acclaimed series for young readers – The Bad Guys. I’m late to the party – this being the 10th in the series. Despite this, the plot was easy to pick up and I was soon up to speed with the plight of Mr Wolf and his friends. The book is packed with action and comedy – two sure-fire ways to engage a young reader. It appears to resolve a long-running battle between Mr Fox’s crew and some aliens who want to take over the world. Having read Episode 10, I’m now pretty keen to go back to the start and read the adventure in full!
There is a very good reason that Aaron Blabey has over 14 million books in print worldwide. Place The Bad Guys (or any of the above-mentioned Blabey books) in the hands of a young reader and you’ll figure out pretty quickly what that reason is.
You can find The Bad Guys: Episode 10 here.
The Top Secret Interdimensional Notes of Buttons McGinty Book 2 – Rhys Darby
In this second Buttons McGinty book, Buttons is in search of his missing parents, travelling through space and time with his friends to solve the mysteries and find them.
This book is loads of fun! It is a funny and engaging story, with pictures and mysteries with Morse Code and cryptic hieroglyphics for added interest and appeal. We want more Buttons!
You can find The Top Secret Interdimensional Notes of Buttons McGinty Book 2 here.
Rocky Lobstar Book 1 – Rove McManus
Hilarious! So entertaining and well-written, in fact, that I very much enjoyed reading this myself. That’s always a bonus!
Rocky Lobster is part boy, part lobster and he is the star performer in a traveling carnival show. It’s a show filled with a host of performers, from the Gator Girl to the contortionist. The problem is, they don’t seem to be drawing the crowd they need. Can Rocky and his friends turn this around and fill those seats or is he destined to live in some aquarium’s grotty touch pool?
A great first book in this series. We’ll be looking out for Book 2!
You can find Rocky Lobstar Book 1 here.
Trim: The Cartographer’s Cat (The Ship’s cat who helped Flinders map Australia) – Matthew Flinders, Philippa Sandall and Gillian Dooley
It might seem like a strange concept – a biography of a cat who lived a fairly short life in the early 1800s. But Trim was no ordinary cat, and his life (though short) was packed full of adventure and significance. Trim was the first feline to circumnavigate Australia (in the company of the also-reasonably-significant Matthew Flinders). As a small kitten Trim demonstrated characteristics of tenacity and strength, which endeared him to the great cartographer. His legend is such that there are six statues of him around the world!
Trim: The Cartographer’s Cat uses first-hand recounts from Matthew Flinders himself, as well as historical research, to piece together the life of this remarkable feline into an engaging tale. Well worth a read, especially for those little people who are keen to find out about a key part of Australia’s history from a very unique perspective.