Recommended Reads


Hold on Tight, Stripy Horse by Jim Helmore, illustrated by Karen Wall (Egmont) ISBN: 978-1-4052-6

Another breathless romp of a story about the endearing Stripy Horse, by this award winning duo. The pace never lets up as the friends in the Bric-a-brac shop try to escape the weather. Lots of onomatopoeic  words, rhyme and alliteration as well as the metal parrot's constant utterings of appropriate adages such as Look before you leap.


Bold colours and text interwoven with the illustrations.



Box of Tricks written and illustrated by Katie Cleminson (Red Fox)

ISBN: 978-1-862-30627-1

For her birthday, Eva is given a very special present: A Box of Tricks!

A simple imaginative story from a new picture book author/illustrator. A lovely surprise at the end.


Wanda and the Alien written and illustrated by Sue Hendra (Red Fox)


ISBN: 978-1-849-41018-2


A story about friendship and being different, and I loved the surprise at the end. Minimal text and illustrated with bold block colours. The kind of book I wish I had written. Reading it is one of the simple pleasures of life.  


Don't Want to Go! written and illustrated by Shirley Hughes (The Bodley Head)

ISBN: 978-0-370-32962-8

Another beautiful picture book from this author/illustrator. The detailed and vibrant illustrations are masterpieces in themselves and have such an affectionate feel that fits perfectly with the simple tale of a child not wanting to be left with someone while mum is ill and dad must go to work, but in the end not wanting to go home either.



Martha No! written by Edward Hardy and illustrated by Deborah Allright (Egmont)    ISBN: 978-1-4052-4911-9



A simple story, written in rhyme which scans beautifully and is a delight to read out loud. Even the name of the main character has such satisfying rhythm - Martha Felicity Molly-Anne May. The illustrations are funny and full of movement and mayhem. Children would delight in this little girl's exploits.




Car Mad Jack - The Speedy Sportscar by Jenny Alexander  (Hodder)   

ISBN: 978-0-340-98151-1

One of a series about Car Mad Jack, this fast moving and imaginative story will have little boys engrossed as Jack travels his imaginary journeys in the various cars for sale in his dad's car supermarket. This time it's a red Farrari and Jack discovers how the car came to be made and why that appeals to buyers.  A satisfying ending with a surprise.        


The Seaside Adventure by Emily Bearn (Egmony) 


Another in the series about the two mice Tumtum and Nutmeg. This book has an old fashioned feel, a cross between Enid Blyton and Beatrix Potter, with fully anthropomorphic mice including a titled one who wears a waistcoat, drinks port and serves jam tarts and ginger cake for tea. There is a girl who wears a dress and a boy who exclaims Crikey!

It's a charming book, beautifully produced with an attractive cover and inside illustrations by Nick Price.  I was riveted from the first page.



Butterfly Summer by Anne-Marie Conway (Usborne)

ISBN: 978-1409538592

This is quite a long book (250 pages) targeting 10+ year old girls. A beautifully woven story of growing up, of relationships, and of coming to terms with family secrets. A real page-turner.

When Becky finds a photo in a box under her mum's bed, so begins the unraveling of a devastating mystery and Becky's only refuge is with her new friend in the Butterfly Garden.

A Girl Called Dog by Nicola Davies ( Corgi)

ISBN: 978-0-552-56301-7

A very touching story, the subject of child slavery beautifully handled, in this book about Dog and her escape from cruel Uncle and his pet shop. Along with her friends, Esme the coati and Carlos, the macaw, Dog sets out on a journey, only knowing the destination when she gets there.

All three characters are strong from the first page, and the author skillfully uses Carlos' limited bird vocabulary to speak for the mute child.  A joy to read.


Eating Things on Sticks by Anne Fine (Corgi Yearling)


ISBN: 978-0-440-86937-5

Rather than stay with Aunt Susan while the new kitchen is being fitted, Harry goes with Uncle Tristram to visit the new girlfriend, Morning Glory, at her island home. Full of odd characters and culminating in the Eating Things on Sticks Competition at the island fete, there's never a dull moment for Harry, despite the interminable rain.

This is a very funny book and an absolute delight to read. Should get all those non reading boys to change their minds.


Every Day  by David Levithan (Egmont)

ISBN: 978-1-4052-6442-6

Who could resist a book with this blurb: Every day I am someone else. I am myself - but I am also someone else. It has always been like this ...

This book was truly unputdownable.  A very thought-provoking premise. And what a mammoth task on the part of the author, creating umpteen characters ...


The Truth about Celia Frost by Paula Rawsthorne (Usborne)


ISBN: 978-1-409-5310-98

An exciting and fast-paced story from a debut author, winner of the 2010 SCBWI Undiscovered Voices competition. 

Celia Frost's life is ruled by fear - fear of a rare disorder that means she could bleed to death from the slightest cut. But is it true? And what other dreadful secret is her mum hiding? 


Trash by Andy Mulligan (David Fickling Books)

ISBN: 978-0385-61901-1

Three friends, Rafael, Gardo and Rat, spend their lives sifting rubbish on the city dump outside Manila. Usually all they find is glass and plastic, which they sell to eke out their living. They also find parcels of human excreta, or stupp,  from households without toilets. But one day they find something else...

An astonishing eye-opener of a book, which could only be written by someone who has seen  the appalling conditions in which these children live. But there's warmth and loyalty portrayed in this fast-moving story, and a tremendous resilience and sense of justice.

Highly recommended.