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SALLY MORRIS picks the best children’s books for all ages

Once Upon a Time by Natalia O’Hara, illustrated by Lauren O’Hara (Macmillan £12.99, 40 pp)

Be Wild Little Olivia Hope Illustration by Daniel Agneus (Bloomsbury £6.99)

Be Wild Little Olivia Hope Illustration by Daniel Agneus (Bloomsbury £6.99)

The Hot Dog by Mark Sperring, illustrated by Sophie Corrigan (Bloomsbury £6.99, 32pp)

The Hot Dog by Mark Sperring, illustrated by Sophie Corrigan (Bloomsbury £6.99, 32pp)

Brave Dave by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker Rees (Orchard £12.99, 32pp)

Brave Dave by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker Rees (Orchard £12.99, 32pp)

Wellington's Big Day by Steve Small (S&S £12.99 30pp)

Wellington’s Big Day by Steve Small (S&S £12.99 30pp)

The Royal Jumping Frog by Peter Bentley Illustrated by Claire Powell (Bloomsbury £6.99)

The Royal Jumping Frog by Peter Bentley Illustrated by Claire Powell (Bloomsbury £6.99)



By Natalia O’HaraIllustrated by Lorraine O’Hara (Macmillan £12.99, 40pp)

Perfect for summer vacations, this ingenious interactive book lets the reader choose from half a dozen options on nearly every page; Would you rather be a gentle knight or a powerful wizard living in a gingerbread house or an ice palace? The story changes with each choice, and the main character, in a red hooded cloak, can be either a boy or a girl. Put it in your suitcase every night for another story.


By Olivia HopeIllustrated by Daniel Agneus (Bloomsbury £6.99, 32pp)

Beyond the claustrophobic confines of confinement, this utterly charming book is a simple call to children to open up to all the possibilities the natural world has to offer. From dancing with fireflies to climbing trees and swinging with chimpanzees, the allure of limitless freedom is hypnotic. “Make the world your own playground, fill it with noisy sound.” Indeed, we should all do just that.


By Mark Sperring, illustrated by Sophie Corrigan (Bloomsbury £6.99, 32pp)

It’s a baking hot day at the beach, families are swimming and playing, except for a lone sausage hotdog and bun who wants to be a real dog and join in on all the fun. Then the Mustard Fairy arrives to grant her wish. . . This bold, rhyming story about making your dreams come true is a riot of silliness from beginning to sticky ending.


By Giles Andreae and Guy Parker Rees (Orchard £12.99, 32pp)

From the spirited creators of the classic Giraffes Can’t Dance comes this life-affirming lesson about little teddy bear Dave, who is in awe of his stronger, bolder, older brother, Clarence. Dave prefers subtle, artistic hobbies and, fearing ridicule, hides until he finds the courage to show Clarence and his friends how he spends his time. A fun book for all younger siblings to celebrate their individuality.


By Steve Small (S&S £12.99, 30pp)

Wellington the elephant is celebrating his fifth birthday and can’t wait to try out his new jacket that looks just like dad. But is it too big or is Wellington too small? Increasingly worried that she’s not growing fast enough, it takes a hectic day with her father and some words of wisdom from her grandfather to reassure her that growing up can’t be rushed and that she’s perfect the size she is. A pleasure.


from Peter BentleyIllustrated by Claire Powell (Bloomsbury £6.99, 32 pp)

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s original fairy tale, this wacky rhyming tale of a flea, a grasshopper and a frog (main picture) compete to see who can jump the highest and ask the king to judge, a win!

The illustrations are full of detail and there are refreshing modern updates (the Navy admiral is a woman) as brains trump craziness and braggarts get their looks.



By Caryl Lewis (Macmillan £7.99, 288 pp)

This gloriously uplifting adventure inspires to believe in dreams despite a challenging world. Marty’s eccentric grandfather and management provide protection as he struggles with bullies and his mother’s mental health issues. Grandpa’s gift of a special pumpkin seed for Marty’s birthday seems strange, but it grows so big that Grandpa has a life-changing idea that could help Marty believe in himself.


By Lisa Evans (David Fickling Books £12.99, 272 pp)

If a wish came true, what would you like? It’s this dilemma that confronts wheelchair-bound Ed, his younger sister Rooney and new friend Willard when they’re forced to spend a half-term weekend with elderly neighbor Roseanne and her foul-smelling (talking) cat. Finding birthday candles that grant lit wishes leads to witchcraft and mayhem. Fabulous.


By Lisa Thompson (School £6.99, 352 pp)

This wildly funny yet sensitive adventure sees Todd and sister Laurie booked into a “fancy” (ie, rundown) beach hotel by their bipolar dad, who’s out of medical care. When he falls ill, they team up with the owner’s daughter, Scout, to solve the mystery of a famous author who disappeared from the hotel years ago, but left clues as to why and where. Oh, and there’s probably a werewolf left. . .


By Emma Carroll (Macmillan £12.99, 288 pp)

Eva Ibbotson’s award-winning modern classic Journey to the River Sea evokes the lush power of the Amazon, and now this thrilling sequel, set in 1946, returns there with young Rosa, a Kindertransport child, waiting for her missing German about the news. family When naturalist Yara takes her on a quest to find a giant sloth, Rosa is drawn into a dangerous secret mission.

Meanwhile the Tempest rages

By Phil Earle (Andersen £7.99, 384pp)

At the start of World War II, Londoners were advised to put their pets down before the bombing began, but Noah promised his soldier dad to keep their beloved dog, Winnie, safe. So he and his friend Clem “borrowed” his father’s boat, along with a python, two cubs and a dachshund, and set sail in search of safety. Another gritty adventure full of heart, humor and historical accuracy from the magnificent Earl.


By Nizrana Farooq (Nosy Crow £7.99, 160pp)

Set in Serendib, Sri Lanka, Farooq’s wild tales imagine vanishing nature, violent criminals and involved child characters. Here, Selvy has bonded with Lokka, a rare mountain leopard, but the big cats are valuable to poachers, and someone has discovered Selvy’s secret.

Can he protect Lokka or will someone betray him? Edge of your seat excitement!


By Sophie Anderson (Usborne £7.99, 416 pp)

Young Lynette, one of the magical, singing birds, mourns her mother, who drowned in a flood blamed on her own kind. When her father is kidnapped, Lynette, whose magical powers have not yet arrived, is forced to join forces with a former friend, now sworn enemy, to rescue him. Based on Russian folklore, this richly imaginative story is a rewarding read.


By Hannah GoldIllustrated by Levi Pinfold (HarperCollins £12.99, 320 pp)

Sent to stay with her estranged grandmother in Los Angeles after her mother has an accident, Rio is scared and homesick.

When he discovers a photo of his mother in which the baby meets a gray whale named White Beak, he becomes obsessed with tracking down the missing whale in a symbolic quest to heal his mother. A powerful and deeply moving story.


By AF Steadman (S&S £12.99, 400pp)

This first in a fantasy series is perfect for fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. Teenager Skandar Smith wants to be one of the elite unicorn riders sent to a secret island where dangerous wild unicorns can only be tamed by matching a chosen child. But when he arrives, Skandar reveals a secret about himself that he can’t tell anyone, a secret that could cost him his life. . .



By E. Lockhart (Hotkey £12.99, 336pp)

This stand-alone prequel to the bestseller We Were Liars takes place again on the private island of the wealthy American Sinclair family, where their youngest daughter has drowned. Traumatized teenager Carrie, the eldest child, narrates this steamy story of a summer of secrets, sex, and horror when three young men come to stay. Are confessions always true? Seductive and sensational.


By Anne Cassidy (UCLan publishes £7.99, 172 pp)

In this thrilling, near-future dystopian thriller, Britain’s east coast has been hit by devastating floods, with its population torn between the murky waters and the safe, high-rise cities. Flooded Jade, whose grandfather entrusted her with a special key before his death, escapes the new flood with Bates, a mysterious boy and his accomplice. But what is his key?

NON Fiction


by Dr. Nick Crompton Illustrated by Gavin Scott (Nosy Crow £12.99, 64pp)

We all know that bees die after stinging. . . except they are not. And, as this fascinating and highly illustrated collection will tell you, there are plenty of other surprising facts about the mini creatures that we’ve misunderstood (or never knew in the first place). You may be happy not to encounter a cat-sized insect, but this book will inspire you to turn over rocks and rotting logs all summer long.


By Nicolette Jones (Nosy Crow £12.99, 160pp)

Albert Einstein said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge” and this inspirational collection of wise and wonderful words is a must for any age. More than 100 poems, speeches, song lyrics, and book excerpts from Martin Luther King to Mark Twain are grouped into eight sections on the various themes of childhood, happiness and sadness, kindness and courage, and every word should be cherished.

SALLY MORRIS picks the best children’s books for all ages

SourceSALLY MORRIS picks the best children’s books for all ages

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