BOOK REVIEWS: great reading for young minds.

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Books for 0 to 5

Award-winning author-illustrator and the first ever Children’s Laureate, Quentin Blake is always hugely popular with children and it’s easy to see why in Snuff, a tale of a hapless wannabe ‘Sir’.

What he lacks in ability Snuff sure makes up for in enthusiasm, but try as he might, he’s still struggling to become proper knight material. Sir Thomas Magpie sighs in despair as our blundering hero messes up yet again – can Snuff ever get it right? Useless at mending boots, not much cop at dancing and far too excitable to be a decent swordsman, things do not bode well. But then a cunning plan is needed to foil a gang of naughty boot thieves…

Delightfully daft Lily loved this book, especially Blake’s trademark quirky illustrations and the character names. She also identified with the importance of doing your best even when you’re not always being the best at something. Insisting on having the story read to her several nights in a row at bedtime, Snuff has become a firm favourite.

Books for 4-8 years

A Mouse Called Wolf by Dick King-Smith

The youngest of thirteen children, and half the size of his brothers and sisters, Wolf’s Mum decides that a splendid name is called for. Bestowing upon her baby the name Wolfgang Amadeus Mo, after something she’d seen on a chewed piece of sheet music, Mozart’s namesake is quickly abbreviated to ‘Wolf.’ Perhaps being so christened it is inevitable that the little mouse develops a passion for music, but Wolf has no idea just how valuable his musical talents are going to be…

A really beautiful story that smaller children will love to have read to them and older readers can enjoy reading for themselves, laughs, tension and tenderness are all part of an utterly enchanting journey. Part of a series that includes Mr Ape and Harriet’s Hare, Dick King-Smith’s superb animal stories should be a staple of every child’s bookshelves.

Dancing Dreams by Kitty Wells

A sweet story about Maddy and her ceramic cats that come to life, giving their owner special powers when they do so, Dancing Dreams is one of the Pocket Cat series. In this story Ollie and his feline friends help Maddy to help a new friend at Summer Ballet School.

While I found it somewhat saccharine and twee, there’s no denying that small girls adore the characters, and Lily was thrilled to learn that Dancing Dreams was part of a series.

A good choice for little girls who enjoy a bigger story than picture books offer, we read this aloud over the course of four nights.

The Spider Moon Book 1 by Kate Brown

Formatted as a comic annual, The Spider Moon is the story of how Bekka and her people face the end of their world and have to fight with all the recourses they can muster to try and save themselves from what they believe is their fate.

Fantastical and compelling, this is a book that will surely capture the imagination of young readers, keeping them gripped all the way through to the cliffhanger ending.

Brilliantly drawn cartoons and a comprehensive character breakdown at the back of the book, this would be a great present for a reader age 7+

Vicky Edwards