'Grumbug' by Adam Stower                                                                                                           Age 3+ 

"BEWARE of Munch Mountain – you know who lives there!  When Oliver’s little sister, Dolly, chases after a naughty squirrel, Oliver and Troll set off to fetch her home.  But her track leads them right up Munch Mountain. Who or WHAT will they find at the top?"  


Another adventure for the cake making Troll & Oliver – how can you not love the duo who run a cafe for trolls in the forest?!  An easy to follow narrative, interspersed with rhyme and humour, this is a great story to read aloud. Oliver is fearless in his search for his sweet little sister, Dolly, but the tension builds with Troll being a little more cautious, even though ‘armed’ with cake....what will they find at the top of the mountain? And just who is the Grumbug?! The wonderful illustrations bring the story to life; Adam Stower is just brilliant at capturing the expressions of these delightful characters and the thread of humour ensures the story isn’t too scary for even the littlest readers!


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grumbug 2

Greenling by Levi Pinfold,                                                                                                                     Age 5+                                                                                                                                              

"What is this growing on Barleycorn land, and is it intended for Barleycorn hands?

Mr and Mrs Barleycorn live a quiet life, alone and quite forgotten by the world. But something is growing on Barleycorn land, something that Mr Barleycorn decides would be best to take.  And with this, for better or worse, he brings the outside...inside."


A modern day fable connecting humans with the fragile environment around them.  A must for older readers, this story would be a great way to prompt discussions about conservation and for those who are interested in the natural world. Younger readers will need guidance, but will still enjoy the idea of Mr Barleycorn finding the Greenling, who makes the inside of their farmhouse come alive with a beautiful fruit & vegetable laden garden!  It is slightly unsettling in some ways but possibly this is the intention, to demonstrate the importance of the theme, and the power of nature.  The story also cleverly shows human ignorance and how we cannot ignore what we are doing to our planet.  Written and illustrated by a previous Kate Greenaway Medal winner, Levi Pinfold, the illustrations in this book are quite simply beautiful and so detailed you could look at them again and again, and still see something new.


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The Jolley-Rogers and the Cave of Doom by Jonny Duddle                                                    Age5+                                                                    

"A magical haul of treasure has bewitched the Jolley-Rogers and it’s up to Matilda to help them escape. But first there’s the small problem of the sea witches...."


The second in the series, this is an entertaining, quirky and totally engaging story, full of brilliant illustrations. For young readers who are looking for something adventurous & funny and also a fantastic story to share and read aloud. Boys and girls alike will love the family of pirates, the Jolley -Rogers, aided bravely by Jim Lad’s best friend Matilda and of course, Bones the pirate dog.  The story is captured in the fantastic pictures throughout the book, and for younger readers this helps visualise what is happening. There’s lots of opportunity to practise your pirate voice and edge of your seat moments, which are kept light-hearted with the added humour.


It all starts with three witches brewing a potion (Macbeth anyone?!) and the reader is instantly drawn into the story, wondering why they’re casting their spell.  The pirate-obsessed witches are great characters, speaking in rhyme (mostly...when they can be bothered..) and their visit to Dull-On-Sea is particularly funny – they even visit the library!  A great modern-day swashbuckling adventure with Matilda coming to the rescue of her pirate friends, even using the ‘magical interweb’ to try and help; but will she be a match for the witches set on keeping their pirate prisoners....?  


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jolly rogers

A Dog in No-Man’s Land by Damian Kelleher                                                                   Age9+                                                                                    

“I’ve never seen a dog as clever as that. Reckon he’d do anything for you, that dog would.”  Billy looked across at Scruff and smiled. The dog sat up, alert, tail thumping the ground.  “I reckon he would, too,” said Billy.


An emotive tale of an under-age boy, Billy, going off to fight in World War One.  Whilst journeying to fight in the Trenches, Billy rescues a mongrel dog left for dead and nurses him back to health, even though the rations are meagre.   Named Scruff, the dog is soon charming all the ‘Tommies’ and ultimately becomes a saviour, not just to Billy, but to many of the wounded soldiers as an ambulance dog.


The story is beautifully told and illustrated, bringing to life the shadow cast by the war and the suffering caused, but in no way gratuitously so that this can be read by a wider audience.  Historically researched with the support of the Imperial War Museum, the story becomes interactive with the addition of letters that can be read throughout detailing the correspondence between Billy and his mother.  I wouldn’t have been surprised to discover this was a true story, so ‘real’ did the narrative feel throughout – the author has clearly spent a lot of time reading the experiences of those who fought in WW1. Wartime animal stories are more familiar at this time, but I particularly enjoyed this one which conveys the friendship and camaraderie very simply, educating the reader about animals in wartime and brilliantly showing the loyalty between a man and his dog.

Dog in no mans land