Sky-high discoveries, robot mischief and hidden wonders by various authors - book reviews


Enjoy the hustle and bustle of a busy airport, meet a crazy babysitting robot, peep beneath surface of the world, and join in a singalong with the aliens who love underpants in a fun and factual collection of summertime children’s books.

Enjoy the hustle and bustle of a busy airport, meet a crazy babysitting robot, peep beneath surface of the world, and join in a singalong with the aliens who love underpants in a fun and factual collection of summertime children’s books.

Age 3 plus:


Jonny Marx and Cinta Villalobos

Young imaginations will be taking flight as they head for the skies in the pages of charming and chunky, big and bold board book from ever-inventive publisher 360 Degrees.

A non-fiction imprint of the Little Tiger Group, 360 Degrees offers a stimulating and creative approach to presenting facts and Airport, a colourful, interactive board book full of flaps to lift and amazing facts to discover, sends youngsters on an exciting journey to a busy, bustling airport.

From the lively commotion of baggage check-in and the rules and queues of security, to the runway where dozens of aircraft are waiting to depart, boarding the plane, soaring above mountain tops, and the thrill of take-off and landing, you can learn all about the terminal and the adventure of flying.

But the journey doesn’t end there for young readers as there are more than fifty things to spot along the way… including a paper plane in every scene, a jet-setting family to find and follow, a hidden teddy bear, a smiley backpack, a lost passport and a dog who has come to say goodbye to his owners.

And to make the high-flying experience even more fun, there’s a fabulous fold-out finale to bring youngsters back down to earth!

This entertaining airport-themed book – packed with Cinta Villalobos’ enchanting illustrations and dozens of intriguing flaps – is the ideal way to introduce first-time flyers to what is involved in air travel, and will help youngsters understand what to expect when arriving at the airport.

A sky-high adventure for little travellers!

(360 Degrees, board book, £9.99)

Age 9 plus:

Killer Vending Machines Wrecked My Lunch

Matt Brown and Paco Sordo

Vicious vending machines, robot wars, madcap comedy and catastrophic chaos… could there be a more potent and perfect recipe for fun reading!

The award-winning Matt Brown, who has worked as a radio producer, DJ and TV presenter, is back with a hilarious new novel in his brilliant series charting the adventures (well, mainly misadventures!) of the pupils at Dreary Inkling Primary School’s Year Six class.

Drishya Samode has always loved building robots so when Dreary Inkling Primary School gets some new high-tech vending machines that can walk, talk and have eyes, Drishya is very excited.

But after a freak electrical surge hits the school, something strange seems to happen to the machines and they turn into killer robots. And now the vending machines are on the rampage! Can dynamic Drishya step in to save the day, the school and lunch… and unite the Tech-Heads and the Cool Girls at the same time?

If your youngsters are addicted to crazy capers and laugh-out-loud humour, then this brilliantly bonkers, irreverent and off-the-wall series is certainly guaranteed to push all the right comedy buttons.

Fully illustrated throughout by Paco Sordo’s anarchic black-and-white pictures, the madcap mishaps of Dreary Inkling’s daft and daring pupils are always guaranteed to win top marks!

(Usborne, paperback, £6.99)

Age 7 plus:

My Babysitter Is a Robot

Dave Cousins and Catalina Echeverri

There’s a robot on the rampage and it’s making life a nightmare for a pair of terrible twins!

My Babysitter Is a Robot is the first book in a fully illustrated, laugh-out-loud new series from Dave Cousins, the master of slapstick comedy, and talented children’s books illustrator Catalina Echeverri.

It is packed with chaos, outlandish fun, a cast of brilliant characters, and an out-of-control robot babysitter programmed to do all the things that Jake and Jess hate… like walking home from school.

When their inventor Grandma creates a robot babysitter for twins Jake and Jess, chaos can only ensue! Robin the robot is embarrassing, clumsy and, worst of all, programmed to pick them up from school, help them bake cakes and make them do their homework. They are also pretty sure he thinks their dog is a baby.

The twins decide they have to do something before everyone realises that Robin is a robot. But getting rid of their new babysitter will mean putting aside their sibling squabbles and working together, which might be an even bigger challenge...

Echeverri’s high-energy illustrations add extra zest to a story perfectly pitched for reluctant young readers and with the multi-talented Cousins orchestrating all the action, this fun-packed series looks set to take Artificial Intelligence to exhilarating new heights of anarchy.

Expect mishaps, mischief, mayhem… and some hilarious malfunctions!

(Stripes, paperback, £5.99)

Age 6 plus:

The Lion King: Disney Animated Classics

Adapted by Lily Murray

As excitement mounts for the July launch of a ‘live-action’ remake of Disney’s eternally popular film, The Lion King, why not enjoy the story as you have never before seen it!

The Lion King is the stunning new title in Disney Animated Classics, a sparkling series from Studio Press with each book presenting an enchanting retelling of Walt Disney’s iconic films as seen through the animator’s eye.

These beautiful hardback books with their premium cloth binding, ribbon marker to match the cover, gold foil stamping and illustrated endpapers, make the perfect gifts for all those who have been spellbound by the magic of Disney’s famous animated classic films.

The series includes Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Dumbo, Aladdin, and now The Lion King, some of the most popular films of all time spanning over eighty years.

A family favourite, The Lion King, with its deeply emotional core, memorable soundtrack and the magic of talking animals, is one of Disney’s best-loved films. Relive the star-dusted magic through Lily Murray’s retelling of the classic film, accompanied by paintings, story sketches and concept art from the original Disney Studio artists. Also featured is a foreword by Lissa Treiman of the Walt Disney Animation Studios.

And when the story is finished, youngsters can turn to the back of the book to learn more about the artists who worked on this fantastic film.

The Disney Animated Classics are sumptuously produced books, full of atmospheric retellings and fascinating illustrations, and perfect for both Disney fans and young collectors.

(Studio Press, hardback, £12.99)

Age 4 plus:

Walk This Underground World

Kate Baker and Sam Brewster

Take a trip around the world and explore below its surface to discover some of the hidden wonders that lie beneath our feet.

Youngsters will love lifting the flaps of this stunning hardback book as they journey all around the globe and deep underground to find amazing hidden worlds, teeming with life… from prairie dog towns and ant cities, to opal mines and treasure-filled tombs.

This round-the-world adventure exploring curious worlds comes from Big Picture Press, an imprint of the busy Bonnier Publishing group, which loves giving youngsters a spectacular view of the world and its wonders in an array of top quality and beautifully designed discovery books.

Walk This Underground World is the third book in the popular Walk This Wild World series and invites children to take a stroll in Montreal’s amazing underground shopping malls, see the ancient lands of Egypt’s pharaohs beneath the desert sands, and the army of workers on London’s busy Underground rail network.

Kate Baker’s beautiful rhyming text adds magic to the extraordinary revelations of each underground journey while Sam Brewster’s richly detailed illustrations bring a visual impact to the page-to-page journey.

Each spread is bursting with details and nuggets of information and has new surprises to discover in the cutaway artwork and under the flaps. With so much to see and explore, this is the ideal gift for all inquisitive young adventurers.

(Big Picture Press, hardback, £14.99)

Age 3 plus:

I Love My Teacher

Giles Andreae and Emma Dodd

With the end of term now in sight, here’s the perfect gift for your teacher!

Whether your little ones are looking for that special thank-you present for a favourite teacher, or they need some reassurance in time for starting school in September, I Love My Teacher is a beautifully created sharing and caring picture book.

Author Giles Andreae and illustrator Emma Dodd, creators of family favourites I Love My Daddy and I Love My Mummy, winner of the Booktrust Early Years Award, bring their magic touch to a colourful, gentle and fun-filled story which puts playfulness into lesson time.

It’s time for school! Put your coat on the hook, play with friends, and join in all the day’s activities. Start with show and tell, reading and writing, then playtime, making things and singing. Teacher is clever and smart but, best of all, she makes sure that every school day is fun!

The success of Andreae’s rhyming story is not just in its warmth and gentleness but in the power of its simple message that school isn’t scary… it’s an exciting adventure from those morning hellos to home-time goodbyes.

Cleverly created to reassure, encourage and enthuse…

(Orchard Books, paperback, £6.99)

Age 3 plus:

Songs from Aliens Love Underpants AND…

Claire Freedman and Ben Cort

The aliens who love underpants are twanging at the elastic and making madcap music in a funny and frantic singalong tale full of underwear adventures!

Our five favourite underpants-loving aliens are starring in a series of silly, catchy animated songs about their other great loves as this summer’s TV hit, based on the award-winning, bestselling series by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort, hits the screens.

Aliens Love Underpants AND…, an adaptation of the books , is exclusively on Sky TV and the Sky Kids app this July, just as the adorable aliens celebrate ten years of zany fun and out-of-this-world adventures.

The series of 12 animations, each two minutes long, star the pants-tastic aliens singing and dancing along to hilarious songs about cupcakes, spaceships, gobbledegook and more. With its madcap lyrics and dance moves, it is ideal for children aged three and over.

And now youngsters can enjoy reading the hilarious tales and singing along with the antics by scanning a QR code in the book and downloading three super-silly songs, Birthdays, Sports and Holidays.

A book full of tuneful underpants jokes that will never wear thin!

(Simon & Schuster, paperback, £6.99)

Age 3 plus:

The Only Way is Badger

Stella J Jones and Carmen Saldaňa

Badger thinks that the woodland would be better if all the animals and birds looked and sounded just like him. But what if he’s wrong?

Author Stella J Jones and Spanish illustrator Carmen Saldaňa pool their talents for this enchanting picture book which teaches little ones about the importance of acceptance, difference and learning to say sorry with style, wit and an adorable cast of animal characters.

Badgers are best… or so Badger thinks. Badger sets out to convert his woodland neighbours into his way of thinking, acting and behaving. Soon the many creatures that don’t look or sound the same as him are gradually excluded from their shared patch of woodland. ‘If it’s not black and white then it’s just not right!’ he says. As he finds himself more and more alone, will Badger learn the error of his ways and learn to appreciate the glorious variety that his friends have to offer?

There are plenty of laughs to share as we watch Badger putting his friends through the hoops to try to prove their ‘badgeriness’ but there is also the dawning realisation that the different colours, shapes, voices and habits of the animals make it a wonderful place to live. And Badger’s story has an added message in its tail… don’t forget to say sorry!

With Saldaňa’s appealing and colourful illustrations and Jones’ warm and wise text, The Only Way is Badger is a clever, cautionary tale with characters to love and a poignant message about loving your friends for who they are, and not what they are.

(Little Tiger Press, paperback, £6.99)

Age 2 plus:

Brenda Is A Sheep

Morag Hood

A sheep is a sheep… except when it’s a wolf!

The ever-inventive, super-talented and award-winning author and illustrator Morag Hood is back to steal our hearts and pull the wool over our eyes with a brilliant picture book that delivers a devilishly clever twist on the classic wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing fable.

Brenda Is A Sheep is full of the clever playfulness, imaginative power and endearing mischievousness that we have come to expect from the creator of best-selling favourites The Steves, I Am Bat and Aalfred and Aalbert.

Brenda says she is a sheep, but why does she look so different from her fluffy friends? All the sheep adore Brenda. With her nice woolly jumper, sharp pointy teeth and cool grey fur, she’s the snazziest sheep around. But Brenda is also very hungry, and doesn’t much like the taste of grass… and soon she begins plotting the most delicious feast of all. She’s working hard on her mint sauce recipe, now she just needs the right thing to eat with it. Will the sheep notice that Brenda isn’t quite the same as them?

Hood, who uses collage and printing techniques, says she loves a freshly sharpened pencil, and this witty and enchanting story – which is guaranteed to entertain parents as well as children – certainly hits the mark.

With its bold use of colour, endearing cast of animal characters, and a laugh-out-loud, warm-hearted story about acceptance, Brenda Is A Sheep is a woolly-coated marvel!

(Two Hoots, hardback, £11.99)

Age 2 plus:

Count and Play with Barry the Fish with Fingers

Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet

Barry is back with those fishy fingers and he’s ready for a fun-filled countdown!

Award-winning duo Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet’s eternally popular tale of the inimitable and lovable Barry and his fishy friends has sold over 1.35 million copies in the last decade, and now the five-fingered hero is back to help youngsters learn to count.

Count and Play with Barry the Fish with Fingers comes in a sturdy board book format, ideal for little hands and packed to the gills with activities for children to share and enjoy as they count along with the extra special sea creature.

There’s never a dull moment under the sea when Barry’s around! He’s a very special fish with five great, sparkly fingers on each fin. He loves to finger paint, knit cosy scarves, play the piano and tickle his friends! Can you help Barry count his five favourite activities on his fingers and find out what he loves doing best?

Sea life with picture book hero Barry has never been so fin and fun-tastic for little ones as they discover some new activities and practise counting from one to five. With its big, bold illustrations, sparkly orange foil cover and five-fingered star player, this playful new book is sure to get a big thumbs up!

(Simon & Schuster, board book, £6.99)

Age one plus:

Let’s Find the Tiger

Illustrated by Alex Willmore

Tiger is hiding and he wants you to find him!

The youngest members of the family will love exploring the leafy jungle to find the tiger in a stylish and inventive touch-and-feel board book from the aptly named Little Tiger Press. With peep-through pages and sturdy felt flaps, this first book in a new series is perfect for curious little adventurers.

Let’s Find the Tiger lets little ones discover the wonder of a tactile story as they use their hands to find the array of animals hiding on each of the spreads, and then turn to the last page to discover the tiger in all his touchy-feely wonder!

With the repeated refrain ‘Could this be Tiger?,’ the simple story keeps babies and toddlers engaged, aids the development of word recognition, and is an entertaining introduction to jungle creatures like crocodiles, parrots, snakes and lemurs.

Youngsters will love getting their hands on this bright and beautiful board book with its wonderfully playful illustrations by Alex Willmore, enchanting interactive format, and an addictive spirit of discovery and adventure. A hands-on winner!

(Little Tiger Press, board book, £6.99)