Tips for teens, rewilding wonders and edible magic by various authors – children’s book reviews

The Usborne Teen Survival Guide by Caroline Young, The Boy Fitz Hammond and Laura WoodThe Usborne Teen Survival Guide by Caroline Young, The Boy Fitz Hammond and Laura Wood
The Usborne Teen Survival Guide by Caroline Young, The Boy Fitz Hammond and Laura Wood
Get a helping hand with the trials and tribulations of the teenage years, find inspiration to enjoy a lifelong love of science and nature, return to a fantasy world where edible magic is the hottest commodity and brace yourself for Brace and a turbo-powered adventure with a super collection of springtime children’s books.

Age 11 plus:

The Usborne Teen Survival Guide

Caroline Young, The Boy Fitz Hammond and Laura Wood

‘You are YOU, a real, unfiltered, unique and wonderful person. In fact, you are like nobody else, anywhere, so celebrate it!’ That’s the message that speaks loud and clear in this brilliant guide for youngsters experiencing the slings and arrows of misfortune during the notoriously turbulent teenage years.

Managing the pressures of school, friendships, puberty and family life is tricky for many young people so here is a helping hand... a book that takes an honest look at some of these issues, and offers plenty of tips and suggestions to help youngsters cope with anxiety and stress.

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Written in a teen-friendly style by Caroline Young, and illustrated by The Boy Fitz Hammond and Laura Wood – along with expert advice from clinical psychologist Dr Angharad Rudkin – this invaluable guide is a must-have tool for all young people... and their parents.

Friends, family, social media, exams, money, body worries, identity and school... there is so much to cope with when you’re a teen but the experts are here to help them through all the ups and downs with tips on a range of topics, from managing social media, eating well and building exercise into the day, to sleeping better, doing things you enjoy and socialising, staying safe and managing anxiety and stress.

In a time of many pressures on young people, this book – part of Usborne’s wisdom-filled Survival Guide series – offers both insight and sound friendly advice, and is published on May 9 to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Month.

(Usborne Publishing, paperback, £6.99)

Age 12 plus:

Explodapedia: Rewild

Ben Martynoga and Moose Allain

Science and the natural world certainly aren’t boring when you take lessons from the fun-filled pages of an amazing exploding encyclopedia!

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Explodapedia is a unique non-fiction science series from David Fickling Books which delivers everything you need to know... one book at a time. This exciting, innovative approach takes key topics and presents them in a way that is hugely entertaining and readable, whilst still providing reliable, serious, in-depth information that will help readers gain a true and lasting understanding of crucial subjects.

Packed with accessible and funny cartoon illustrations, and superb double-page spreads which seamlessly integrate facts and art, these touchstone books are the work of Dr Ben Martynoga, a neuroscientist and science writer, and artist and cartoonist Moose Allain.

In Explodapedia: Rewild, this dynamic author and illustrator team take an inspiring look at how we can rewild life so that nature – and humankind – flourishes for a long time to come. Through words and illustrations, they explore nature’s ability to heal the world in an approachable, compelling way, celebrating the incredible ways it keeps us alive, and looking at how we can welcome the wild on a personal and epic scale. River-nurturing wolves, tree-toppling beavers, climate warrior whales and even genetically-engineered woolly mammoths could all help us protect, revive and restore our planet to its full glory.

These richly detailed and thought-provoking books offer an appealing and fully accessible way to learn about fascinating discoveries as well as inspiring young readers to enjoy a lifelong love of science and nature.

(David Fickling Books, paperback, £7.99)

Age 9 plus:

The Beast of Farrowfell

Ravena Guron and Alessia Trunfio

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Welcome back to a deliciously imagined fantasy world where edible magic is the hottest commodity for thieves... and the adventures are so wild and entertaining that to miss the fun would be a crime!

The Beast of Farrowfell is the second book in an epic series from Ravena Guron, a British Indian biochemist turned lawyer turned middle grade author who brings her own captivating brand of energy and joy to the genre, and was highly commended in the FAB Prize, created by Faber to help discover new writers and illustrators of colour.

At the heart of these tasty, action-packed adventures is twelve-year-old Jude Ripon, the youngest member of a family of magic-stealing masterminds in the town of Farrowfell, and a girl who is set on a (not always easy!) quest to become a true Ripon.

And now Jude is on another vigilante mission to save Farrowfell after a botched escapade. For the last four months, she and her older sister Moorley have been living with the Weston family. Jude is going to school every day, eating her vegetables and doing her homework. For the first time, Jude’s life seems normal. But adventure is calling her name.

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While unravelling their family’s illegal dealings with raw magic, Jude and Moorley discovered a seedier side to the Consortium and now they are eager to bring about justice, in their own way, through a series of heists. But in their escapades, they find something far darker bubbling in Farrowfell.

Reports of a strange, menacing beast are inciting terror. Could it be connected to the resurfacing of raw magic and the devious dealings of the Ripons? Can Jude, Moorley and the Westons band together to save Farrowfell?

Fizzing with comedy and energy, packed to the gills with magic and mystery, and given extra vim and vigour by the black-and-white illustrations of Italian artist Alessia Trunfio, this creative, world-building series creates an extra head of steam on each outing and with another adventure promised soon, all eyes will be firmly fixed on Farrowfell!

(Faber Children’s Books, paperback, £7.99)

Age 9 plus:

Mega Robo Bros: Nemesis

Neill Cameron

Brace yourself for another turbo-powered graphic novel adventure courtesy of David Fickling Books’ highly popular The Phoenix Presents series… and comic books creator Neill Cameron.

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Part of an amazing all-colour story strip series, Nemesis is the seventh book in a republished version of Mega Robo Bros, but now fully remastered and adapted into a new chunky format with lots of extra bonus content.

Packed with all-action fun, exhilarating drama and comedy, these supercharged tales of two robot brothers fighting evil enemies will delight young readers and help to encourage a love of books and good storytelling.

So travel to London in the future and meet Alex and Freddy who are just like any other brothers. They are always squabbling and forever finding new ways to drive their adoptive parents crazy. There’s only one difference... they are also the most powerful robots on Earth.

In this epic story, the Revolution malware is causing robots across London to attack humans, and Alex and Freddy are caught between their human friends and family, and the desire to help robots like themselves! But who could be behind this nefarious scheme? Before they know what’s happening, everything changes. Their old enemy, Wolfram, long-since believed dead, suddenly reappears, and uses his evil powers, and the robotic rebels of Steelhaven, to take over Freddy’s robotic systems and sends him to destroy London. Can Alex stop his brother... and save him from the corrupting evil power of the villainous Robot 23?

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With big explosions, family drama, and two madcap brothers saving the day, these superhero thrillers guarantee laughs on every page and are ideal for your own young techno wizards!

(David Fickling Books, paperback, £9.99)

Age 7 plus:

Beti and the Little Round House

Atinuke and Emily Hughes

Join a big-hearted and brave little girl called Beti in four magical, funny and beautifully illustrated stories set against the stunning backdrop of a wonderfully wild and exciting wood.

Atinuke, who was born in Nigeria and spent her childhood in both Africa and the UK, is a world-renowned storyteller who draws on her own experience of building and living in a round house to create an unforgettable new children’s book character for readers to take to their hearts.

As a traditional oral storyteller, and drawing upon her recent Yoruba ancestry, she visits schools and theatres all over the world and in this charming collection of stories – beautifully and tenderly illustrated by talented young Hawaiian artist Emily Hughes – Atinuke brings readers a truly magical sense of place.

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Beti lives in a little round house in the woods with Mam, Tad, Baby Jac, her cheeky goat Naughty and many other farm animals. Beti has chickens and horses and goats to look after, and fruit and vegetables to grow and forage. Beti loves the round house and with each changing season, there is always the promise of adventure, especially when her three best friends join in!

Brought to life by Hughes’ lush artwork, which features black and white vignettes and full-colour scenes, and written in Atinuke’s rhythmic, heartfelt style, each of the four stories celebrates community, friendship, the power of self-belief and the virtues of being in the wild.

Every page of this exquisite book is rich in humour and filled with touching observations on the family’s wild and enchanting way of life through the four seasons, and will inspire young readers to reconnect with nature, and find happiness on their own doorsteps among the love of friends and family.

(Walker Books, hardback, £12.99)

Age 7 plus:

The Children’s Book of Wildlife Watching: Tips for Spotting Nature Outdoors

Dan Rouse and Abby Cook

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Enter the fascinating world of wildlife... and discover how to identify different creatures, where they live and what they eat!

The Children’s Book of Wildlife Watching – written by presenter, wildlife conservationist and ornithologist Dan Rouse, and packed with the gorgeous colour illustrations of Abby Cook – is the perfect fun and engaging wildlife-watching book for younger children.

Full of information, tips and craft activities to attract and help outdoor friends, the books helps children to make a difference to their local wildlife with hands-on activities, wonderful ideas and useful tips.

With an engaging introduction to animal conservation and protection, and plenty of advice from Rouse, young nature enthusiasts and eco warriors can get up-close to nature in a safe and responsible manner, whether it’s by studying minibeasts, pond dipping, creating a mammal tracker or getting involved in upcycling projects.

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Learn how to design your own garden, get advice on planting the right plants to create a safe space for animals... with its informative and child-friendly text, beautiful photographs and illustrations, and a range of hands-on projects to try out, this is the ideal book to encourage children to enjoy spending quality time in the great outdoors.

(DK Children’s Books, hardback, £9.99)

Age 7 plus:

Supersausage to the Rescue!

Rachel Morrisroe and Jenny Taylor

Readers moving on to chapter books will love getting their paws on the first book of a sparkling new young fiction series that packs in barking good laughs, heartwarming adventures, and superhero pets! The debut middle grade book for author Rachel Morrisroe, an inventive and original voice in the world of rhyming picture books, and illustrated by Preston-based Jenny Taylor who specialises in fun and quirky artwork, this engaging and high-energy Super Pets series sets off at a cracking pace. Nine-year-old Harry has always wanted a dog and when he sees Dottie at the local animal shelter he knows she’s the perfect puppy for him. What he doesn't realise is that Dottie is a dog with a difference... she can talk and fly! And Harry’s not the only one interested in Dottie. When Harry and Dottie receive a mysterious message from Agent Nibblebottom (an undercover squirrel) they are soon both scooped up in their very first mission with Rebecca Refractor and the SuperPets, a secret league of kids and very special pets who keep the world safe from harm. But the other SuperPets have been kidnapped by Sparkletta Crystal, can Super Sausage (aka Dottie) and Harry stop the evil supervillain in her tracks before it’s too late? Packed with friendship, fun, silly superhero antics and Taylor’s adorable illustrations, Supersausage to the Rescue! is guaranteed to leave animal-loving youngsters straining at the leash for the next Super Pets adventure!

(Puffin, paperback, £7.99)

Age 7 plus:

Michael the Incredible Super-Sleuth Sausage Dog

Terrie Chilvers and Tim Budgen

And get ready for more sausage dog antics as Michael the Amazing Mind-Reading Sausage Dog faces a woof time on the trail of a dognapper in the second book of a laugh-out-loud series from author and illustrator team, Terrie Chilvers and Tim Budgen. These brilliant young fiction books are in a Blue Peter Book Club selected series that is delighting readers with its super-silly fun and a hilariously self-important doggy hero. Michael the Amazing Mind-Reading Sausage Dog has made it to Hollywood from small beginnings but life as a global su-paw-star isn’t working out quite like Michael had planned. With the ratings for his TV series, An Audience with Michael, at rock bottom, and his rival, Steve the Stunt Sausage Dog, getting his own show on another channel, the last thing he needs is his latest guest. Susan the Chocolate Labrador does a terribly boring peanut-balancing act but when she gets kidnapped, Michael jumps at the chance to increase his TV ratings and wow his fans by becoming not just a mind-reading sausage dog, but a detective mastermind as well... oh, and he should probably try and save Susan from her kidnappers too. Slapstick, pun-packed comedy doesn’t come better than this outlandish outing with a delectable diva doggy!

(Firefly Press, paperback, £6.99)

Age 6 plus:

Tasty Tales

Anna Lena Feunekes

Who knew that history could make you hungry? Youngsters will love getting their teeth into this juicy book of Tasty Tales written and illustrated by self-taught Netherlands-based artist Anna Lena Feunekes who brings a deliciously tactile flavour to her work. In this delightful picture book, packed with facts and fables about our favourite foods, Feunekes travels the world on a plate and comes up with some fascinating dishes. Drawing inspiration from both history and lore, the book explores the mouth-watering stories behind some of the world’s favourite foods. From a plant-loving pirate to an Ethiopian goat, and from the crescent of the croissant to a tofu trailblazer, Tasty Tales offers a fascinating, sometimes surprising, but always appetising, journey across historical periods and diverse cultures. These incredible origin stories celebrate how ingredients and dishes have travelled the globe to be shared and loved in new and exciting ways... and how food truly connects us all. Employing her penchant for creating art and finding interesting stories, Feunekes’ culinary odyssey is a unique blend of fact and fairy tale, and with intricately detailed four-colour illustrations – plus recipes to inspire culinary adventures – this is a beautifully created book to read and treasure.

(UCLan Publishing, paperback, £8.99)

Age 5 plus:

Lola Loves Walkies

Jake Hope and James Brown

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Follow a little girl on a colourful hop, skip and jump journey though nature and the seasons in this beautifully imagined picture book from the top team of passionate libraries advocate Jake Hope and illustrator James Brown. Former Reading and Learning Development Manager for Lancashire Libraries, Hope has judged nearly every major children’s book award in the UK but here he brings us his own creation, Lola Loves Walkies, a charming and gentle story which celebrates the friendship, fun and the joys of the great outdoors. Coming, ready or not! Our mysterious protagonist Lola loves kisses and cuddles, her friends and having fun, but what she loves most of all is walkies! Join Lola as she plays hide and seek, leaps in and out of the long grass, and watches her doggy pals fetching sticks on an adventure which delivers a wonderful twist in its fluffy bobtail! Witty, warm, lusciously illustrated by James Brown, and brimming with seasonal changes and youthful energy, this delightful walk in the park is the perfect book hug.

(UCLan Publishing, paperback, £7.99)

Age 3 plus:

Don't Ever Laugh at a Ladybird

Harriet Evans and Michael Slack

Youngsters are going wild for these fantastic pop-up books which bring all their favourite creatures to vibrant and colourful life! In the third outing in author Harriet Evans and illustrator Michael Slack’s fun-filled Creature Feature Pop-up series, we meet a whole host of favourite insects and garden creatures. ‘Size isn’t all that matters; if you’re little, you’re not least, As you will soon discover when you meet a minibeast!’ Say hello to a grumpy ladybird, a shy snail and a baking bee, but don’t bother the bugs or ‘creep out’ the creepy-crawlies in this ingenious book which comes packed with clever puns to get all the family giggling. And with spectacular pop-ups to enjoy on every page of this flittering, fluttering book, Slack’s wacky and wonderful illustrations and Evans’ witty, wise-cracking text, Don't Ever Laugh at a Ladybird is the perfect book ‘garden bait’ to encourage your child to read along!

(Little Tiger Press, board book, £10.99)

Age 3 plus:

Holey Moley

Bethan Clarke and Anders Frang

I am a mole and I live in a...?! Get ready to have your brain befuddled and your funny bone tickled as exciting debut author Bethan Clarke and rising star illustrator Anders Frang from Denmark combine their creative talents on an outrageously anarchic picture book. Holey Moley will have young readers giggling and guessing as rhymes and wordplay put the comedy and complexity of language at centre stage. Gus the Goat loves guessing, and (rather irritatingly) interrupting ... oh, and he also loves rhyming. So, when he meets Mavis Mole, he can’t stop himself trying to guess where she lives. Is it in a hole? In a bowl? In a sausage roll? No, not quite... and will Mole EVER get a word in edgeways? If silliness wins prizes from young readers, then this wonderfully nonsensical story is topping the shortlist as Clarke blends her rollicking rhyming skills with the deadpan humour of Frang’s stylish, contemporary illustrations. Perfectly created to inspire a love of language, nonsense and puns, and with a delightful final twist at the end, this is a story to share and enjoy time and time again.

(Little Tiger Press, paperback, £7.99)

Age 3 plus:

Goodnight Sun

Eoin McLaughlin and Morag Hood

The whole world knows that eventually the sun MUST go down... but try telling that to the sun! Little ones will love this fun and vibrant picture book which imagines a cheeky sun who wants to shine when it’s time he should be going to sleep. Created by twice UKLA-winning illustrator Morag Hood and bestselling author Eoin McLaughlin, Goodnight Sun is bursting with colour and features a livewire sun who finds any excuse to stay up... painting rainbows, drinking the sea, and even hiding behind mountains. But even the sun must go to bed! Brought to life by Hood’s trademark eye-catching artwork, which zings with colour and high-octane energy, McLaughlin’s delightful bedtime story delivers a good giggle, fun facts about the sun, and some fun-filled encouragement to let go of the day... and sink into a good night’s sleep!

(Faber Children’s Books, paperback, £7.99)

Age 2 plus:

How it Works: Shark

Molly Littleboy and David Semple

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Did you know sharks were around before dinosaurs and trees existed? Dive into this fabulously fintastic peep-through book, which was written by Molly Littleboy and colourfully illustrated by David Semple, and comes packed full to the gills with brilliant BITE-sized shark facts. Sharks are incredible creatures and powerful predators, and curious young readers will love learning all about them... from their super senses and incredible speed to their VERY questionable eating habits! This chunky board book – with beautiful silver-foiled page edges – has been specially designed for little hands, with interactive, peep-through pages to grasp and explore, and lots of accessible information. This super-simple introduction to sharks is perfect for early-learners and there’s the added fun of looking out for Mouse on every spread. Also available in the How it Works series are How it Works: Tractor, How it Works: Rocket, How it Works: The Body, How it Works: Dinosaur and How it Works: Digger. Guaranteed to keep the youngest of readers engaged, informed and inspired!

(Little Tiger Press, board book, £7.99)

Age 2 plus:

Frida the Rock-and-Roll Moth

Kim Hillyard

Meet a rock-and-roll moth who is shying from the light in a beautiful, empathetic picture book from author and illustrator Kim Hillyard whose gift is to create positive, endearing stories that are designed to empower and inspire young readers and help them navigate the world around them. In Frida the Rock-and-Roll Moth – a loud and lovely tale about finding your confidence – we meet four-legged Frida, a musical moth who just loves to rock out. She puts on her pointy boots and plays her purple guitar really LOUD! But when the Big Bright Light is switched on, more moths appear, ready to rock together, and Frida starts to feel that everyone is much better than her. Perhaps she isn’t so rock-and-roll after all? With the help of her biggest fan, Auntie Edna, Frida learns to reclaim her style, find her confidence, and get up and rock on once more! Brimming with positivity and upbeat vibes, this gorgeous picture book – with its explosion of colour and heartwarming messages – will inspire little ones to find what makes them feel good and let their inner confidence shine.

(Ladybird, paperback, £7.99)

Age six months plus:

That’s not my... Shark!

Fiona Watt and Rachel Wells

Let little ones will love getting their teeth into the exciting new book in Usborne’s award-winning That’s Not My... series, a much-loved favourite with both parents and children. The bestselling touchy-feely series has over 70 titles and has sold over 20 million books worldwide. The simple text, bold, colourful illustrations and tactile patches are irresistible to babies and toddlers who love turning the pages and touching the fun and ‘feely’ patches. Written by Fiona Watt and illustrated by Rachel Wells, this new title features different textured patches on every spread as little ones feel their way through a cast of five smiley sharks ‘swimming’ across every page. These beautifully colourful and carefully created board books allow the youngest family members to have a hand in all the fun of reading as they follow the story and look for the little white mouse on every page. Specially designed to develop sensory and language awareness, these distinctive That’s Not My… board books really are a vividly visual and hands-on treat for inquisitive babies and toddlers. Touchy-feely genius at a stroke!

(Usborne Publishing, board book, £6.99)

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