My Top Children’s Book Choices 2020 Various Authors Various GenresVarious Ages
I present what I consider the top 17 children’s books I have had the pleasure of reviewing. Discover more about them in the links provided. Each is in no particular order and I’ve included a couple of activity books at the bottom. There are books for every age group.
Sammy’s New Food Week By Charlotte Olson Illustrated By Nick Roberts Rated: 4 stars ****
Charlotte Olson writes Suzie and Sammy books. They are a visual aid for young children and are simple stories to help in certain situations.
I thank Charlotte for contacting me after word of mouth or word of tweet from children’s author Nikki Saunders. I thank Charlotte for sending me a PDF copy of her book.
Discover the blurb, review, website and social media links and other titles. Available Now!
Follow Sammy as he tries a new food every day of the week. Monday, some yummy broccoli through to Sunday where Sammy tries some roast chicken. You never know, you might like to try something new too, just like Sammy has!
This is a fun book with bold illustrations and short book for young children and aimed primarily at those who find it challenging to try new foods. Each page has a friendly way, through story-telling and pictures of showing Sammy eating different type of food each day of the week from brocolli on Monday to apples on Wednesday to fish on Friday and many more all the way from Monday to Sunday.
The book focuses on 1 topic and is written in a non-complex way, making it easy for children to understand and to follow. It’s also great for those with shorter attention spans.
It would make a great conversation opener and through Sammy being shown trying all the different foods, it could be used as a resource for parents and in a wider context of techniques, in nurseries and schools for encouraging children to give new foods a try in a gentle, non-invasive way.
More Sammy and Suzie titles Dressing Up Day Moving House Visiting Grandparents Star Chart New Food Day Goes to a Funeral Going to the Hairdressers Bathtime Going to the Seaside Going to the Swimming Pool Going to the Park Toilet Time
The Butterfly Inside By Serena Lane Ferrari Illustrated By Georgia Vallicelli Rated: 5 stars *****
I am delighted to present my review of The Butterfly Inside. This is a beautifully illustrated picture book that will benefit so many young children up to at least age 5, and whisk them away on a great imaginative journey they are certain to relate to in this charming modern fairytale that will sit well in any nursery and primary school bookshelves. It is also great for reading for pleasure at home too.
I thank Serena Ferrari for posting a copy of her book to me.
One young elf. One big dream.
Every night Oliver dreams of becoming a butterfly. He wants to fly and flutter around the forest with all the other butterflies.
The butterfly within him, trapped in the prison of his elf body, is battling to come out. Despite Crow’s laughing, Oliver has many friends that support him in finding his power and path to trasformation.
Can Oliver hold onto his dream and become a Butterfly? Follow his journey in this magical modern fairytale to find out.
What child doesn’t wish they could be something else other than human? I know I certainly did. Oliver is an elf who wishes he was a butterfly. He takes a walk and tries to find the materials he needs to turn himself into a butterfly, meeting all sorts of creatures along the way who try to help in this charming story, that ends with beautiful colouring in pages.
The book encourages imagination, problem-solving, friendship, fun and teamwork.
I simply love the character and humour within this essentially, heartwarming book. The illustrations are bold and accompany the story very well. It’s full of positivity and optimism and fun that will brighten any child’s story-time.
For families, this is a beautiful book to share together, that children are sure to delight in.
For schools and nurseries, especially, there is enough in the story to either have a quiet story-time and/or incorporate it into a mini-beasts project that could create some fascinating discussions and artwork, I’m sure.
You will also find more books by Serena Lane Ferrari after the story, but then keep reading all the way to the very last page (more so if you’re and adult), it is incredibly poignant for what the author has to say…
Mini Reviews and Links for Children’s Books, Spanning Across Every Age
I have reviewed a number of excellent children’s books. I have now put them all together in a small collection here for you to hopefully be inspired and try out. You will find the books at Amazon, Waterstones and some Independent Bookshops. Full reviews and extra info can be found by clicking on the relevant links, marked “Here”. I have included books for all ages of children. I have started off with a terrific chapter books and then some books for younger children. I hope this brings some inspiration for what to try next.
Blaze Dog Detective By Lin Anderson
When the famous fairy flag of the Clan MacLeod disappears from a locked room at Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye, the police immediately call in Blaze Dog Detective. After all his scenting skills on the island are legendary. With his team of Rosa, Rory and wee brother Laoch, Blaze leads the chase to rescue this magical flag before it can be spirited away from the island forever.
A map, a castle, a secret passage, adventure, cute dogs, robbers, police, a mystery to be solved, this children’s book has it all. There is wonderful mix of mild trepidation and humour and a terrific energy throughout. With all that and excellent characterisation and plot that has red herrings, can you discover who stole the Fairy Flag in Skye? Blaze is actually a real dog in Skye and you can find out more about the book and see some more cute pics by clicking Here
She Wolf By Dan Smith
Northumbria 866. Washed ashore on a frozen English beach, Ylva’s survived. She will not cry. She’s meant to be strong. She’s a Viking.
But when her mother dies at the hand of a three-fingered man, and the wolves of the forest circle closer, Ylva will need more than the memory of her mother’s stories to stay alive. Can she shape her own legend? Will it end in revenge – or is there another way?
Quick Review – Primary Schools and Booktrust rate it highly as do I with 5 stars. Immerse yourself in a book that deals with bereavement and courage as you meet Ylva, Locki, Thor and Odin. Discover this immersive and intriguing adventure, which is excellently paced and pitched for older primary aged children. Click Herefor more info about it, plus links to Dan Smith’s website and social media.
Red Snow by Larraine Harrison
Twelve-year-old Megan though she knew everything there was to know about her mother’s death, but she was wrong.
Why will no one tell her what really happened and why has she become her father’s carer?
The boy next door has a dangerous secret that could help Megan, but will she be strong enough to pursue it to the end?
A story of danger, hope and perseverance.
Red Snow is great for 8 or 9 year olds plus. Full of atmosphere and emotion, readers meet 12 year old Megan Townsend who tries to follow her neighbour – Ryan into the woods. It is sinister and intriguing as Megan pursues the truth about her mother and was there a big cat in the woods? It is also about Megan being inquisitive and Ryan’s peculiar habits. It is sympathetically written in a child friendly manner, with themes of being a carer, bereavement, loneliness, friendship, family; with an excellent ending that will see everything resolved. Find out more by clicking Here
The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty
Bronte Mettlestone has been brought up in a very sensible way by her Aunt Isabelle and the Butler. So when her absent parents are killed by pirates and she’s sent on a whirlwind visit to her other ten aunts, she takes it all in her stride. But Bronte’s outwardly sensible nature holds a core of steel and courage, and through her adventures, with water sprites, avalanches, elves and dragons, Bronte shows herself to be the kind of heroine we would all wish to be. This wonderful novel is witty, lively and full of magic and surprises – everything readers young and old could ask for. The kind of novel where you need to make a pot of tea (preferably cloudberry), find a really comfy sofa in front of a roaring fire, and settle in for a magical journey of your own.
Let your imagination run wild with this book and find out what the Extremely Unfortunate Events of Bronte Mettlestone are. She’s brave and courageous. She has aunts in Scotland and yet she also ends up in many other kingdoms in this wonderfully written book that children will have their imaginations captured by. There are pirates, a strange library and fantastical creatures that is all just so well pitched for children to sweep them along within exciting chapters that exceeded expectations. Find out more by clickingHere
The Treasure at the Top of the Mountain By Clive Mantle
Clive Mantle has said: “I have woven a tale of adventure in the past and present against the wondrous backdrop of Nepal and its people. I am thrilled that the story I wrote for my own son to pass on the flame has now found a wider audience, who will hopefully have their imaginations stimulated as mine was as a young boy”.
In the first of The Adventures of Freddie Malone series, The Treasure at the Top of the World Freddie receives an intriguing and unusual thirteenth birthday present from his Uncle Patrick. The ancient world map goes straight up on his wall, but Freddie fast discovers that the map is much more than just a decorative historic artefact. Freddie, and his best friend, Connor, are soon plunged into a mountainous adventure, on a path that leads to a long buried mystery, pursued by ruthless adversaries who’ll go to any lengths to get what they want.
This is more than just a tale to tell, it’s an impressively written adventure of a lifetime. This a story of (in no particular order) adventure, social and land geography, history, present day, travel and friendship and overcoming bullying. This is a book that will excite, inform and captivate children.
There are relics and treasures to be had, people to meet and a country to explore, all within the safety and comfort of your own home. This is an impressive story with adventure, once you’ve met Freddie Malone, who is celebrating his birthday and his magical present transports him to Nepal to meet mountaineers and more…
There is a lovely map and pictures and additional supporting info after the terrific story.
Find out more by clicking Here
Star Child – The Age of Akra – Book 1 –
There are 5 in the series. I have reviewed 3.
The foreshadowing of a dark future threatens the seven nations. Mai is selected to train with the mysterious elemental master Sah Dohba who will prepare her to become the protector of the desert lands. Her brother Long, steps forward to travel with her as her chaperone to the Valley of a Thousand Thoughts.
A chance encounter brings them together with Akra, the Starchild. The trio travels on into a battle with the elements. Sandstorms. Deadly creatures. Starvation. Then a chance meeting with powerful earthfollower, sets them on a new path where they must each find the strength to face a terrifying foe from the Underworld.
This is the beginning of a new children’s fantasy series for children of ages 7+ The cover is exciting with its dragon, suggesting adventure and action. There are 5 in all in this series.
Covering themes such as child rivalry, there is bravery, action, adventure and emotion within these books, all suitable for ages 7/8 plus. Children who like Marvel and Ninjago and dragons and creatures in faraway lands will enjoy this. It’s an excellent series to get stuck into and to spark children’s imaginations. Check out more by clickingHere
Judy Blume books are great and have stood the test of time pretty well. I wrote an article as to why her books are still relevant and to showcase her books. Her books span right across children of all ages. Click for the articleHere
Toletis by Rafa Ruiz
Toletis is another book that is perfect for children of all ages.
Claudia and Tutan are on a mission to turn their little valley town, set deep in the mountains, luscious green again. The odds are stacked against them. Can they succeed… with some very unusual help?
This is a book that provides, within Toletis, a positive role model. He has a deep interest in the natural world and has lots of fun, whilst playing in the world around him. He meets characters like the Treene-weenies and learns Wobbegong language along the way. He also has a great friend in Tutan. There are great illustrations throughout, humour, great storytelling throughout, that this makes perfect reading for those who also like The Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Tom Gates, Storey Treehouse series. Find out much more about this terrific book by clicking Here
Izzy’s Magical Football Adventure By Emma Larkin
Izzy is a seven-year-old girl who lives in Ireland and loves all sport, especially Gaelic Football.
Izzy plays football with her brothers on a regular basis in their back garden and dreams of playing for her county in the All Ireland Ladies Football Final in Croke Park when she is older.
One day, Izzy puts on her great grandmother’s bracelet, which is made of old All Ireland medals that her great grandmother won a long time ago, and something unexpected and magical happens, which may make Izzy’s Croke Park dream a reality sooner than she expected…………….
Are you missing out on football? Whether you are or not, this is a great book of sibling rivalry and inspiration. Meet Izzy, she likes football and dreams of playing for her county one day, but doesn’t see how that can happen, until a discovery is made about relative. This is an excellent, positive book of possibilities. Find out more by clickingHere
Geronimo Stilton – Stop Acting Around By Geronimo Stilton
Geronimo Stilton is Getting into the movies when he is invited by an old filmmaker friend, director E.J. Sprocket, to visit the set Block Cheddar 4, starring Jack Vole. Convinced that this could make for an interesting article, he brings Thea, Benjamin, and Pandora along. But soon they discover that it’s not all glitz and glamour as strange happenings have been plaguing production, causing the film to go off course. Will Geronimo’s acting career be over before it starts? Is there a MOLE on the set? As E.J. would say, “That’s show business for ya baby!”
Geronimo Stilton books have been around awhile in libraries and book shops and they are nicely still going strong. They are graphic novels, with the story told in a well layed-out and illustrated form and often depict an eye-catching cover, with a good paced plot. Stop Acting Around takes Geronimo (a mouse) on-set of a big movie to meet his favourite actor – Jack Vole and reckons this would make for a great article. All is well until disaster strikes when 10 cans of film are mysteriously destroyed. The book has plenty of action and there is mild trepidation when there’s a rickety bridge to get across a ravine and down an old mine as the mystery continues as to what happened to the film reels and unexpected discoveries.
The Hidden Spaceship by Serena Lane Ferrari
When Amelia and Noah stumble across a spaceship, an out-of-this-world adventure begins. The friends have a very special mission – to help the Earth’s eco-system. They must go on a daunting journey on another planet, find a treasure chest, and complete their quest. What secret does the treasure chest hold?
There’s a song, a spaceship and humans Amelia and Noah, who embark on an adventure to a distant planet. There’s bright, bold pictures and a great story and characters like the alien Ualalumpa. The book, throughout the story, tells children about the eco-system in a way that is child-friendly and understandable. There are treasures to find that are more magical and wonderful than even gold or jewels. To find out more about this out of this world adventure, please clickHere
The Cockatoo From Timbucktoo By William AE Ford
Join Kian the cockatoo on his adventures around the world!
Can a childhood song about a shining star help him find his way home?
From the Great Barrier Reef to the Great Wall of China to New York City wonders of the world are explored delightfully in this epic journey!
William has done it again! After sending children on an interactive, rhyming time travelling adventure with the award winning Timothy Mean and his Time Machine, he now sends them on a world adventure with a lost cockatoo who just wants to go home to be reunited with his mum and dad. Children just love the adventure of flying around the world in a book, the illustrations and the repetitive nature of this book, that makes it so interactive and fun. It is a wonderful and perfect book for these different days, where young children, including the early primary school years, will gain value from. Find out more by clicking Here
The Hangry Hamster by Grace McLuskey
Review and Blurb
Meet Billy. He has a hamster who is hangry and ends up running through London, past a lot of landmarks, which he ends up towering over, like no hamster ever has before. This book is action packed, very funny and brilliantly conceived. It is also about bonding with a pet. Please find out moreHere
Princess Poppy – Fantastic No Plastic By Janey Louise Jones
When Poppy is invited to a beach party by cousin Daisy in Camomile Cove, she has to help clean up the beach first. There is so much plastic refuse. Meanwhile, her puppy Sidney chokes on a discarded bag. Poppy joins the campaign to rid the planet of one use plastic waste and comes up with an enterprising idea. Poppy is her usual energetic and passionate self as she realises everyone can do a little bit to make a big difference.
Princess Poppy is a great story with a really good mix of positive environmental messages and general fun in the characters setting. These are great books for both boys and girls alike. There’s great illustrations by Jennie Poh and humour within this story about looking after the environment. The story takes place when there’s a competition to create a poster to create an object to replace with that from a plastic one. It also shows friendship and keeping earth tidy, as well as having fun with Sidney – a dog with a bundle of energy. Please find out moreHere
Bertie the Buffalo by Wendy H. Jones
Bertie the Buffalo is based on a true story of when a Water Buffalo escaped from a Buffalo Park in Fife, near Dundee, Scotland. A rhyming book about the adventures Bertie got up to and how he safely returned home, demonstrating how important each of us is no matter how insignificant we feel. Bertie felt that no one noticed him. But he didn’t need to think that as we are all special. We are all a part of one big family.
Inspired by a true story in Scotland, children will meet Bertie and all sorts of animals, including an alpaca along the way as Bertie the Buffalo ends up straying into unfamiliar territories as he finds himself outside of his usual field. The book is about not feeling small, even if you are small in stature, friendship and family, in this beautifully illustrated book that will take children on an adventure and find some kindness along the way. It also is a story with a moral within it. This book has been read by many children, usually for 4 year olds plus, but has been used my middle grade classes up to and including primary 5 too. Find out more by clickingHere
Happy World Book Day and I hope that everyone is having a fabulous day, however you are celebrating. There are many author events going on around the UK in public and community libraries as well as schools. There are also lots of other bookish events too that can be participated in as you read for pleasure. There are also other ways you can participate in World Book Day, if you cannot attend an event, such as, curling up with a good book and leaving an author a review on Waterstones and Amazon.
Today I am attending a World Book Day Event to hear a talk by rising star Alison Belsham, author of The Tattoo Thief and then it will be my turn to host an event up here in Scotland too on Monday with Liz Treacher – author of The Wrong Envelope and The Wrong Direction.
I also have some great books in my review pile for both adult and children that are being published between this month and summer.
In the pile I am currently reading are fiction and non-fiction books. In no particular order of publication or review dates, look out for book one of a new series by Ben Kane – Made in Battle, Forged in War; Us Three by Ruth Jones (yes, the actor/writer from Gavin and Stacey and author of Never Greener); Eileen – The Making of George Orwell, Eileen was his wife, but not much is known about her, until now…; Paper Sparrows; A Conspiracy of Bones – the latest book by Kathy Reichs; I return to reviewing again for Lesley Kelly for her book Murder at the Music Factory – the latest in the health of Strangers series (read as a series or stand alone); I return to The Bobby Girls series to review the latest book – The Bobby Girl’s Secrets to see what the police volunteers are up to in their second and newest book.
I return to Janey Louise Jones children’s books to see what else Princess Poppy has in store now she has worked out how to save the bees. This time she is tackling plastic. I also will be reviewing for a charity Helping Hands who have had the Duchess of York on board to craete books about how to tackle bullying, first days at school and strangers. There is a fantasy book to continue the series about Akra The Healing Stone, by Vacyn Taylor and a new book – Snow Child by a new author – Larraine Harrison.
This is just a few of the books sitting on my pile to date that you will start to see full reviews for soon. So, lots of books for you to look forward to exploring and to see what I think of. Coming up very soon are some children’s books and then an adult thriller that Lee Child and many other authors have a lot of praise for.
I of course thank all the authors, publishers and blog tour organisers for all these amazing opportunities to review and of course I thank just as equally, the readers of my blog as without everyone, my blog couldn’t exist.
The Cockatoo From Timbuktu By William A.E. Ford Illustrated by Ramile M. Imac Rated: 5 stars *****
About the Author
William has always had a passion for books, writing and story-telling. William’s favourite way to end a cosy evening is to spend time dreaming up and reading bed-time stories to his five wonderful children.
‘Timothy Mean and the Time Machine’ and ‘The Cockatoo from Timbuktu’ were inspired by the spark of his children’s colourful imaginations as they tirelessly created unique, laughter filled days from even the most mundane, everyday objects and situations!
Born in England, William currently lives in Oslo, Norway with his wife and five children.
‘Timothy Mean and the Time Machine’ won the Readers Favorite Children’s Sci-Fi / Fantasy 2019 Award. ‘The Cockatoo from Timbuktu’ is William’s second published picture book. Timothy Mean 2 is currently in production.
William welcomes enquiries from agents and publishers.
I am pleased to be returning to the work of William AE Ford to review his latest book – The Cockatoo From Timbucktu. A book where children have fun with the story, as well as taking in the educational elements in an inspired and fun way. This book would be great for schools, libraries or in the home. Read further to find out why…
If you are a fan of Julia Donaldson, you will love William A.E. Ford’s books. They are of that calibre. They are packed full of a rhyming story, big and bright illustrations that match the stories and with something that children will take away from them – fun and just enough knowledge along the way. These book are fun to interact with at home, in a library or in school or to curl up with at bedtime. However you like to read books, this is an exciting author I highly recommend…. Read further to find out why….
Join Kian the cockatoo on his adventures around the world!
Can a childhood song about a shining star help him find his way home?
From the Great Barrier Reef to the Great Wall of China to New York City wonders of the world are explored delightfully in this epic journey!
William has done it again! After sending children on an interactive, rhyming time travelling adventure with Timothy Mean and his Time Machine, he now sends them on a world adventure with a lost cockatoo who just wants to go home to be reunited with his mum and dad.
William A.E. Ford has shown again that his books are a valuable tool for the home, libraries and schools.
I have read it to quite a number of children and they love it. They love the illustrations, the story and the repetitive nature of the beginning of each page because they quickly grasp that they can become so involved in the story of saying those lines out loud (in unison if it is a class). The children love that they can trace with their finger across the map to follow the trail, Kian the cockatoo went. They also really like getting to know a bit about the world. I also had someone holding an atlas to show each country whilst going through the story, there are many things classes can do with this terrific story.
Follow the Cockatoo and also see if you can find the ladybird that follows on. Children have fun doing that. The Cockatoo starts off at a zoo with thoughts of home and travels through countries such as Antarctica, Australia, China, India, UK, USA, Africa, all in perfect and wonderful rhyme within this beautifully illustrated book. Each page is fully illustrated and perfect for children at home and within libraries and school classes.
This book has all the emotions and lots of fun. There is the sadness and loneliness of being lost and then lots of fun in-between. The book is also heartwarming and lovely. New books and new authors are exciting and this is one author in-particular that children from 3 to 6 years olds will enjoy.
This book is great for reading for pleasure and also for doing a bit of basic Geography with children and for talking about emotions and also for literacy – talking about the noticeable poetic rhyming.
The book also has a beautifully illustrated map before the story begins, showing where the cockatoo goes to and the animals it meets in each country. Children have fun following the dotted line around the world map. Each page thereafter takes each country individually and shows the main landmarks and animals around the world as part of the story.
There is a page of Fun Facts at the back of the book about cockatoos and Timbuktu, all very well laid out and easy to read and understand, to feed those curious minds of children.
I would like to thank William A.E. Ford for surprising me with his latest book. I had previously reviewed Timothy Mean and his Time Machine and he donated to the library I currently lead. He surprised me with the Cockatoo from Timbuktu for the library.
* My review is non-biased. I am once again impressed. It’s a very good book.