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New children's books for April 2017

Written by · Published Mar 29, 2017

Busy Day, The Sleepy Dinosaur, Porridge the Tartan Cat and the Brawsome Bagpipes

Board books

Farm, by Stella Baggott

This Usborne board book is bold, bright and cheery with fold out pages of farm animals, plus the odd tractor.

Busy Day, by Emma Dodd

“What a busy day Dog is having! After waking up, he goes out to the field to chat to one of his friends, Horse. Then he meets the pigs, and they all have fun rolling about in mud. Now Dog needs to clean up, so he joins the ducks in the nearby pond. Splash! After his swim, Dog dries off by running after Cat in a game of chase. They pass their owner Vicky, who is quietly enjoying a picnic on the grass. Soon it is Dog’s turn to eat, so he dashes into the kitchen for his dinner. Phew! After such a busy day, no wonder Dog is ready for bed. Goodnight, Dog!”

Picture books

Superbat, by Matt Carr

“Pat the bat decides to be special - a SUPERBAT! But all his bat friends have amazing hearing. All of them can fly. And all bats can find their way in the dark. Pat is starting to think that he will never stand out - until a family of mice see him for what he really is - a HERO!”

The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson & Helen Oxenbury

A poor little rabbit runs away from his burrow when he hears the shout of the Giant Jumperee. He asks cat to help and so follows a brilliant cumulative tale.

The tale simply rolls along with Donaldson’s musicality, and Helen Oxenbury’s animals are full of character. The watercolour landscape looks idyllic. Such stuff as dreams are made of, and the best picture book of the decade.

Mine, Mine, Mine! Said the Porcupine, by Alex English & Emma Levey

A story in rhyme about a little boy who tempts a selfish porcupine into sharing his toys, this book is a delight from start to finish. Emma Levey’s illustrations are full of humour, expression and colour. Perfect all round.

Hilda and the Runaway Baby, by Daisy Hirst

Both an endearingly bonkers story of Hilda, a pig whose quietude is invaded by a runaway pram, and an endearingly bonkers story of a daredevil baby whose curiosity leads him into danger. It’s very unusual, very funny and beautifully produced.

The Bossier Baby, by Marla Frazee

Written in spoof corporatise, this witty sequel to The Boss Baby sees the arrival of a new and more demanding CEO, in the shape of a baby sister. With her black babygro accessorized by a single string of pearls, she is a formidable opponent.

If I knew anyone whose toddler was about to be demoted, I’d buy them this book. So clever, so funny, so true.

Dear Dinosaur, by Chae Strathie & Nicola O’Byrne

“After a trip to the museum, Max writes a letter to his favourite dinosaur, the mighty T. Rex - and the T. Rex writes back! So begins a very unusual friendship in this interactive picture book with letters and cards to open, and dinosaur facts to discover along the way.”

Lots of nice twiddly bits to open up and pore over.

Beginner reads

Tom’s Tooth, by Sam Hay & Melanie Sharp

“Tom wiggles and jiggles his wobbly tooth until it’s out. He’s so happy but, at bedtime, he cannot find it. Can his brother and sister help?”

This book has a limited word count, a clear font and a good joke about the tooth fairy. Just right for children who are starting out on their reading journey.

The Sleepy Dinosaur, by Karen Wallace

“This sleepy dinosaur just cannot find the perfect place to sleep - until he’s snuggled up in bed!”

This is a fun story for young dinosaur fans who are beginning to read on their own. The dinosaurs are cute, and the few simple words are repeated.

The Magic Pudding Pot, by Kay Woodward

The traditional tale features a little boy and porridge, whereas this twist on the original features a little girl and sticky toffee pudding. What could possibly go wrong?

It’s a bit tricky for children just starting out, but it’s familiar and funny, and they’ll have fun picking out the “Cook little pot, cook”.

Short chapter books

Porridge the Tartan Cat and the Brawsome Bagpipes, by Alan Dapré

This is the first of a new series about a tartan cat who lives in a house by Loch Loch with the McFun family. Young readers may need some help because although it is very funny, with loads of illustrations, there are 24 chapters. What about taking turns?

Dory Fantasmagory, by Abby Hanlon

“Meet Dory - an irresistible scamp with a huge imagination. Dory’s the youngest in her family, which STINKS because it means everyone’s always too busy to play with her. Or worse! They call her too little to join in.

“Luckily Dory has plenty of friends to keep her company - even if everyone else says they’re just imaginary. And Dory has a lot to do: outsmarting the monsters that live in her house, escaping from prison (aka time-out) and exacting revenge on her sister’s favourite doll.”

Disco!, by Alan MacDonald

“Join Bertie as he gets tricked into accompanying Angela Nicely to the school disco, becomes Royston Rich’s slave for the day and cooks up a great escape for Gran and her friends on an ultra-dull trip to the seaside!”

This is the latest escapade of Dirty Bertie, the scamp who charms his fans and outwits his enemies.

Georgie the Royal Prince Fairy, by Daisy Meadows

“Rachel and Kirsty are very excited to attend a special royal weekend organised by the Queen! But when the royal signet ring mysteriously disappears, the girls are in for another fantastic Rainbow Magic adventure! Help Kirsty and Rachel find the royal signet ring before it’s too late!”

I can’t believe that we’re actually promoting a Rainbow Magic book, but this title is from their “Early Reader” series which children devour. Can’t be bad?

Junior novels

The Night Spinner, by Abi Elphinstone

“In a ruined monastery in the northern wilderness, a Shadowmask called Wormhook sits in front of a spinning wheel. He is spinning a quilt of darkness known as the Veil. A masked figure then carries the Veil across the lands, slipping it through the windows of children’s bedrooms to poison their minds. To defeat the Shadowmasks, Moll must follow a clue left by the old magic: steal the last note of a witch’s song, take the feather as dark as night, and you’ll find what you need one hundred years deep.”

The third title in the brilliant Dreamsnatcher trilogy is another edge-of-your-seat Scottish fantasy/thriller with a feisty heroine.

Tales from Weird Street, by Anne Fine & Vicki Gausden

Three children are playing together, all neighbours on Weir Street, and each tells a story about their family. All of the stories contain the unexpected and are well-crafted and gripping.

Published by Barrington Stoke on their trademark thick cream paper and in their special font, this little book is easy to read, short (only 58 pages) but well worth it. Anne Fine’s writing is masterly.

The Unforgettable What’s His Name, by Paul Jennings & Craig Smith

“Even before all this happened I had never been like the other kids. I tried not to be seen. If I climbed a tree or hid among the bins, no one could find me. ‘Where’s What’s His Name?’ they’d say. Then, one weekend, I got what I wanted. First, I blended in with things. But on the second day I changed. I mean, really changed.”

An unforgettable book about shyness, from an Australian legend.

The Forever Court, by Dave Rudden

“Life is returning to normal for Denizen Hardwick. Well, the new normal, where he has to battle monsters in quiet Dublin bookshops and constantly struggle to contain the new powers he has been given by Mercy, the daughter of the Endless King. But Denizen may need those powers sooner than he thinks - not only are the Tenebrous stirring again but the Order of the Borrowed Dark face a new threat from much closer to home.”

The second in the Knights of the Borrowed Dark series.

The Scruffs: the good, the bad … and the scruffy!, by Hannah Shaw

The Perfect Pet, home to a menagerie of badly-groomed animals, is a shabby old shop owned by the soft-hearted and shortsighted Mr Straw, but run by the pets themselves. This is a fast moving, funny book about mischievous animals, written for children who are reading alone, but who lack the reading stamina for a walloping great tome.

Hannah Shaw has scattered her text liberally with black and white drawings, paw marks, flea tracks et al. She is jolly good at capturing the grubby bits of animal life for posterity. Another of her books to add to your “must-read” list is Stan Stinky.

Thunderstruck, by Ali Sparkes

“After ten-year-old Theo and Alisha are struck by lightning, their lives change forever - they can see ghosts! It’s amazing what several thousand volts skipping through your nervous system can do to you. But can the pair, together with their new ghostly friends, Doug and Lizzie, stop some sinister goings on at school before it’s too late?”

A great start to a new series of slightly creepy school adventure stories.

Just Call Me Spaghetti-Hoop Boy, by Lara Williamson

“It’s no secret that 11 year-old Adam Butters is adopted. But when he thinks his parents don’t want him any more, he decides to find his real mum. If he can just show her how amazing he is - how he can be superhero! - surely she’ll want him back. It takes a painful discovery for Adam to realise that you don’t need to be super to be a hero.”

This is an extraordinary book: poignant, funny and a wonderful read.

Junior non-fiction

Under the Sea, by Paul Boston

“Choose your mode of transport and set off on an adventure that will take you all the way across the city. Can you navigate huge roundabouts with sleeping sea dragons, or cross bridges guarded by gorillas? Negotiate pesky road obstructions by solving the maths problems correctly. Pick up hidden objects, collect bonus points, and use your mapping skills to zoom backwards and forwards through the book.”

This is a useful Where’s Wally-ish book in the Find Your Way series. It explains how to use co-ordinates, so it would be a great way to learn how to read a map.

New and Collected Poems for Children, by Carol Ann Duffy

“Carol Ann Duffy, the Poet Laureate, is one of our most read and best-loved poets both in and out of the classroom. This edition of her poems brings together work from her four award-winning collections for children, and sprinkles in a generous helping of new poems to match.”

Joke Book: hysterical historical jokes and facts, by Tony Robinson

Another exuberant book from Tony Robinson brings classic jokes to a new audience. How’s this?

Q: “How did the Vikings send secret messages?” A: “Norse code.”

The old ones really are the best!

Jo Dixon

I work for Suffolk Libraries Stock Team.