Book review: Autumn books from Nosy Crow

Independent children’s books publisher Nosy Crow reckon they really do have something to crow about, and their autumn titles are certainly guaranteed to attract flocks of younger readers.

By Pam Norfolk
Tuesday, 23rd October 2012, 10:00 am

Nosy Crow publish high-quality, commercial fiction and non-fiction books and innovative, creative apps for children aged from 0 to 14 from both well-known authors and illustrators and new talent.

They pride themselves on great illustration, great design, great audio, great video, great animation and really great writing.

From unruly witchy grannies to pea-hating princesses, there is something for every young taste in a wonderful selection of picture books whilst older readers can get to grips with the adventures of a very quirky family and the flip side of friendships.

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The Princess and the Peas by Caryl Hart and Sarah Warburton

Told in hilarious rhyme by award-winning author Caryl Hart, a rising star in the children’s book world, and illustrated by the talented Sarah Warburton, The Princess and the Peas will strike a chord with all those little ones who’d really rather not encounter a pea – or anything resembling a vegetable in fact.

Lily-Rose May will do anything to avoid eating her peas and is certainly not going to fall for any of her father’s tricks of pea smoothies or cupcakes (and who can blame her?). The doctor diagnoses a very serious case of Princess-itus and packs her off to the palace to live the charmed life of a Princess.

But, unfortunately for Lily-Rose May, life as a Princess isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…

Witty, winsome and wonderful, The Princess and the Peas is an original and truly captivating take on the classic fairy tale. Charming, funny and lively artwork proves the perfect match for rib-tickling rhymes and hidden jokes.

The ideal book for fussy young eaters and their harassed parents.

(hardback, £10.99)

Whizz Pop, Granny Stop! by Tracey Corderoy and Joe Berger

And if it’s witches that make your broomstick fly, the brilliant children’s author Tracey Corderoy and illustrious illustrator Joe Berger have come together again for another fantastic instalment from the little girl whose granny is (whisper it!) a witch.

In a theme that will no doubt be familiar to lots of children, the little girl in Granny Stop is having a birthday party and is keen to discover the merits of doing things herself (without the help of Granny’s magic).

And while a home-made cake and dress might not be perfect, when you’ve made it yourself, that’s all that matters!

This visually exciting picture book is a riot of colour and action. The adventures of a group of big, bold characters are sure to steal youngsters’ hearts and all is revealed with Corderoy’s trademark funny rhyme. Beautifully produced, Whizz Pop, Granny Stop! is perfect for little people who are keen to be independent.

(hardback, £10.99)

The Grunts in Trouble by Philip Ardagh and Axel Scheffler

The seven-plus age group is a key stage in reading development so books that tempt with both story and pictures are worth their weight in gold.

Author Philip Ardagh and illustrator Axel Scheffler press all the right buttons with a new series featuring the outrageously comic Grunt family and their hilarious ragbag assortment of neighbours.

Mr and Mrs Grunt, who are neither clean nor clever, live with Sunny, their adopted (in fact, abducted son, he was stolen from a washing line when he was a baby) in a donkey-drawn caravan somewhere or other at some time that is a bit like now but not exactly now.

Sunny is an odd-looking boy, what with his left ear being higher than his right ear and that kind of sticky-up hair which never goes flat, even if you massage glue into it, tape it into place and then jump on it.

Not far away from wherever it is they live resides Lord Bigg of Bigg Manor, Bigg-hater Larry Smalls, Mimi the Bigg Manor boot boy (yup, she’s a girl) ... and a swarm of bees.

Not surprisingly, this unusual family find themselves in frankly improbable but very funny adventures involving bendy railings, double-barrelled shotguns, full-fat yoghurt and a beard of bees.

Children will love the antics of this amazingly weird family and the extra special illustrations that bring the story to life. The adventures of the Grunts are set to run and run...

(hardback, £7.99)

My Best Friend and other Enemies by Catherine Wilkins

For girls in the age nine-plus category, Catherine Wilkins’ funny but wise story about the ups and downs of friendship is sure to touch a nerve and win plenty of sympathy votes.

Jessica and Natalie have been best friends since their finger-painting days. They have shared everything, including a sense of humour that has led to some of the most hilarious times ever.

Nothing can change that, not even the arrival at school of new girl Amelia who is out cause trouble, big trouble.

But friendships can be tested and when Natalie goes off with Amelia, Jessica finds herself left out of all the fun including trips to fast-food outlets, cheesy boy-band gigs and crazy sleepovers. Worst of all, she’s not invited to join their secret gang, Cool Awesome Chicks (C.A.C.).

Hurt but determined not to take it lying down, Jessica has a plan, and a secret weapon – her felt-tips. The pen is mightier than the sword, after all, and having a sense of humour wins Jessica far more friends than she loses.

Every girl knows the misery of being dumped by a friend and Wilkins’ warm, witty and perceptively honest story is guaranteed to charm and inspire.

(paperback, £6.99)

Olivia’s Enchanted Summer by Lyn Gardner

The fourth book in Lyn Gardner’s thrilling and colourful stage-school series transports us to the excitement of the legendary Edinburgh Festival.

Aimed at the nine-plus age group, Gardner’s books sparkle with action and drama as young readers follow the adventures of a group of girls who dream of making it big in the world of stage and screen.

School’s out for summer and Olivia Marvell, daughter of the famous Swan Circus high-wire walker Jack Marvell, and her friends are going to be spending August in Edinburgh, home to the world-famous Fringe Festival.

They can’t wait to get there, to stay in the beautiful city and soak up the festival atmosphere, while the Swan Circus performs every day to wild applause and rapturous reviews.

But the run doesn’t go smoothly, the circus ends up homeless, it keeps raining and there’s a thief on the prowl determined to steal the show.

As the festival draws to a close, can anything turn Olivia’s soggy summer into an enchanted one?

Gardner, a theatre critic for The Guardian, has created a thoroughly entertaining series with its enticing mix of adventure, stage dreams and feelgood fun.

(paperback, £5.99)