Here's what to read with the kids this month
‘Let’s take a deep breath and think about encouraging the children to read a book they love in this New Year,’ says children’s book reviewer CAROLINE FRANKLIN
Grandma Marge is coming for a visit and you can guess what that means. In Alice B McGinty’s Bathe the Cat everything has to be cleaned, including everything on four and two legs. Dad is going mad and while the children are rushing about cleaning, he is doing important things like scrubbing the goldfish with a toothbrush. This cheerful, happy book is packed with pictures of an ever more frantic dad and the frenzied activity until the moment when at last Grandma Marge arrives and everything is happy. Very good to enjoy with a small person. Age range: 3 plus.
Published by Chronicle Books at £12.99 (HB)
Esme is a small cave girl with a BIG voice in Esme’s Rock and she’s a girl with a mission! She wants to give her young friend, Morris, an enormous surprise on his birthday and, having packed him off to a mud spa, she gets to work. One thing you can be sure of – Esme has the voice to get everyone (including mammoths) together to paint ‘Happy Birthday’ on a GIANT rock – but will they run out of time before Morris gets back?
Colourful and jolly, this is a book to enjoy sharing with a small member of the family. Age range: 2/4.
Published by Oxford University Press at £6.99 (PB)
The House By The Lake is the story of a house which, in a quiet way, is on the front line of history.
The first occupants are a family who live a quiet, happy life until soldiers come and tell them they must leave. A new family comes, but again war means they have to run away for their safety. Over the years the house provides a haven for those with no other home, but when they all leave it remains, deteriorating and unloved. Then another family move in and all is happy, but time goes by and the house and its ageing owner fall into disrepair.Once more it is saved, this time by a young man, Thomas Harding, who wrote its astonishing and moving story. This is a book which will encourage any child to use his or her imagination whilst enjoying this tale of a home and its hundred years of history.
Age range: 6-11. Published by Walker Books at £12.99 HB
Morgan is a kitten living in London during the Second World War. Although there is plenty of food to be found, there are dangers, too and Morgan’s mother and sister are killed. Eventually he is taken in by a publisher and finds a new life in which he works out how to encourage the trembling would-be authors bringing in their work for consideration. Things worsen in the city, there are many kittens needing care and Morgan works out a way to teach them all his tricks. Having learned the lessons, one by one they are sent off concealed in pockets, even in an umbrella or a hat belonging to the authors, to their new homes.
The Book Cat by Polly Faber, set in a time when bombs were falling all over London is a touching, often funny, delightful read.
Age range: 8 plus. Published by Faber and Faber at £12.99 HB
With 13 new levels, Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton’s The 143-Storey Treehouse will please all past fans. Its pages full of madcap cartoons and even more zany tales will make children laugh out loud from the first wacky page to the final word (which happens to be ‘axolotl’!) What’s more there’s another 13 levels coming in 2022!
Under ‘crazy’ my thesaurus lists, among others, ‘screwball’, ‘screwy’ and ‘unconventional’. Yup this Treehouse book is all those and more. Great fun.
Age range: 8 plus. Published by Macmillan at £12.99 (HB)
It was in 2013, while working as a sports shop assistant, that author Mitch Johnson found a crumpled Asian sachet between a pair of glossy football boots and began to wonder about the manufacturers of such products. The answer was in the sweatshops of Asia and Johnson calculated it would take a footballer 100 seconds to earn the equivalent of many sweatshop workers’ monthly wage. He “sensed a story to be told” and that story is Kick, the story of Budi, a young boy who dreams of being a great footballer, only for his dreams to crash around him.
Not only that, but Budi has attracted the attention of the most dangerous man in Jakarta. Kick is not only a story of football, but one of family and friendship and incorruptibility. Such characters as Budi who dreams and has a desire for a better world is, says Mitch Johnson, what the world needs.
Winner of the Branford Boase Award, this story will give every young footballer something to think about. Age range: 10-12
Published by Usborne Books at £7.99 (PB)