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Yvette Fielding among our October pick of 6 books for children

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Children's books for October reviewed by CAROLINE FRANKLIN

This year has flown by and here we are – Hallowe’en just around the corner and Christmas card catalogues coming through the door .

By the time you read this my summer holiday will be over – I went back to beautiful Gower in South Wales where cave men lived long ago, the hollows in the limestone cliffs and below the ground providing what then passed for good accommodation. There are legends, too, as you would expect. The enormous Arthur’s Stone on Cefn Bryn has its own story, whilst the strange Worm’s Head which dominates one end of Rhossili bay and the small islet of Burry Holm at the other end each have tales to tell. I have never yet found one of the gold doubloons which are said to be found on Rhossili, but I don’t give up hope, for I shall certainly go back to the bay with its history of shipwrecks, survivors and wreckers. Meanwhile there are tales to be found in books and here are ideas for the younger members of the family’s autumn reading.

Red Lorry Yellow Lorry
Red Lorry Yellow Lorry

Those of you who have been given exercises to improve singing may be familiar with endlessly warbling “red lorry yellow lorry red lorry yellow lorry.” Michelle Robinson and Jez Tuya’s Red Lorry, Yellow Lorry has absolutely nothing to do with singing, but a great deal to do with being a book which will be popular with the very young. Lots of large lorries of different kinds doing their jobs (sheep lorry, ladder raising lorry, biffing, braking lorry, etc) all in bright colours and keeping going all through the day until the night comes and the lorries beep tight and go to their garage homes.

Simple, colourful and superb enjoyment. Age range 3 plus.

Published by Andersen Press at £12.99 (HB)

The Howling Hag Mystery
The Howling Hag Mystery

What an excellent title for a book to read in Hallowe’en month. The Howling Hag Mystery by Nicki Thornton deals with Raven Charming, her friend Morti and a talented, magically speaking cat, Nightshade. Raven longs to follow in the footsteps of her mum and elder sister, Rookery, who are both witches, but as she says: “My affinity hasn’t kicked in yet.”

That’s a pity for there is something going on in her hometown and it seems that trickery is to blame. Magic could help find the answer, but Raven isn’t keen on magic becoming too available because if it does, as she says, “people would go around demanding miracles for breakfast!” Nevertheless, when a murder occurs, something must be done and it is up to three friends to find out if there really is a howling hag causing the trouble.

How they go about it makes this a thrillingly magical story for children of 10+. Published by Chicken House at £6.99 (PB)

Lost in the Museum
Lost in the Museum

If your children have not yet been given Lost In The Museum, for it has been out some time, then buy a copy and give yourself hours of peace. The story follows the plight of young Stevie, a small girl who is lost in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. To help her find her way back to her family, she must go through many rooms of the museum and as she goes, the reader is given objects to find. At the end of the book there is more information about the different galleries Stevie visited, ranging from Greek and Roman art, Islamic art, European paintings and several more, each with their own fascinating pictures and items relating to the particular gallery. Here there is information about Chamenda, the horrific destroyer of evil, the secret message written around the rim of an ancient jug, the golden griffins and why blind Orion turned his face to the sun.

Educational and fascinating as well as having to find the myriad objects, this will keep children very happily occupied for some time. Age range: 9 plus.

Published by Dorling Kindersley at £9.99 (HB).

It Can't be True
It Can't be True

Have you heard of The Great Red Spot? I hadn’t. The answer can be found in It Can’t Be True which is packed with amazing facts about the world we live in. From how strong is an ant (it is able to carry 50 times its own weight) to the very oldest tree (a Great Basin bristlecone pine in California has had more than 5065 birthdays), the facts fill page after page. I wasn’t too keen on learning that the biggest measured spider had a leg span of 28 cm (11 inches AAAAAGH!!) but the fact that a snow leopard could clear seven large family cars in one leap left me full of admiration for the beautiful creature. This is a book for all the family to dip into and if it leaves you wanting more, there is a companion volume It Can’t Be True – Animals from which you can discover which fish ties itself in knots and which animal has a tongue as long as 15 scoops of icecream. Both books are fascinating and will leave the reader knowing far more about the wonderful world we live in.

Age range: 9 – 99.

Published by Dorling Kindersley at £12.99 each (HB).

The Ash House
The Ash House

‘Weird’ is certainly the word to describe The Ash House by Angharad Walker. Two more words are ‘immensely readable’ for this strange tale of the children who live in a place where they have no recollection of their past will keep its readers guessing as to what the ending will be.

A young boy who is undergoing hospital treatment and has dreadful spasms of pain is told that he is being sent to the Ash House, run by the Head. He assumes this will be for medical reasons, but when he arrives he is met by a strange boy called Freedom, known as Dom, and is given the name of Solitude (‘Sol’). He is discouraged from trying to escape and when he protests is told that this is a ‘Nastiness’. The Head is away, but Sol soon meets the Doctor and then wishes he hadn’t. A good book for Hallowe’en – or any other time of year.

Age range: 10 plus.

Published by Chicken House at £7.99 (PB)

The House in the Woods
The House in the Woods

It seemed such a fun idea – to go to the old house in the woods and try out the Ouija board on Hallowe’en. However, the three friends get more than a few shivers and instead become embroiled in a tale of horror. Yvette Fielding’s The House in the Woods, published this month, is not one for the fainthearted, but for those who like their fiction scary, this is exactly their cup of tea.

When Eve tells her uncle Rufus what has happened, he reveals that he has secretly made a machine which enables him to speak to ghosts. The ghost who is trying to attract the children’s attention is that of a soldier killed in the war who is desperately trying to convey information which will be vital for the future safety of the country.

For young readers who enjoy chilling and menacing stories with more than the odd ghost, this is a must and is a story to keep them riveted to the very last pages when a set of co-ordinates hidden on a stone reveal an unexpected secret.

Age range: 11 plus.

Published by Andersen Press at £7.99 (PB)

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