A rugby rampage, cartoons chaos and monstrous myths by various authors - book reviews -

Learn to love the game of rugby, share laughs as cartoons spring to life, discover some of the most exciting stories ever told, and marvel at adventures starring roaring dinosaurs and daring knights in a glittering array of children’s books.

Friday, 6th August 2021, 12:30 pm
Rampaging Rugby
Rampaging Rugby

Age 7 plus:

Stupendous Sports: Rampaging Rugby

Robin Bennett and Matt Cherry

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For over two hundred years, the game of rugby has been thrilling both players and spectators.

From Tahiti to Tonga, Scotland to Spain and Kazakhstan to Kurdistan, this raucous, rampaging sport has won hearts, minds and sports fans, and is now attracting girls, as well as boys, to get rucking and mauling.

In the first in a series of fantastic chapter books from award-winning independent children’s and YA publisher, Firefly Press, the spotlight is firmly on rugby with cartoons, player tips, irreverent explanations, fascinating facts and funny stories to bring the game to life.

The aim of the series is to teach kids about sports, but with a light touch that highlights the spirit of the game as well as the rules. Launching alongside this title is the Stupendous Sports website (www.stupendoussports.com) which promotes the fun side of sports for children, with giveaways, special offers and guest appearances from sporting stars.

In Rampaging Rugby, written by rugby-mad Robin Bennett, illustrated by Matt Cherry, and with a foreword and pro tips by Conrad Smith, ex-All Black and double World Cup winner, youngsters enjoy tips your coach won’t tell you, loads of facts, and some intriguing offbeat stories.

Did you know that rugby started when Webb Ellis picked up a football during a game and ran with it (he cheated, basically!), that basketball was created by a rugby coach who wanted an indoor sport to keep his players fit off-season, and that rugby is played in 119 countries and has over 400 million fans?

Stupendous Sports aims to do for Wednesday afternoon sport what Horrible Histories did for Year 7 History, so what are you waiting for… the whistle has blown and the game is on!

(Firefly Press, paperback, £6.99)

Age 8 plus:

The Cartoons That Came to Life

Tom Ellen and Phil Corbett

Imagine if your book of cartoons came to life!

That’s exactly what happens in this raucous romp from the top double act of author Tom Ellen and illustrator Phil Corbett who combine their skills to bring youngsters a big-hearted, comic-style adventure full of thrills, spills and laughter.

Finn loves drawing comic strips featuring his two cartoon heroes, Arley and Tapper. But after being teased at school, he finds he can’t draw them any more… and is shocked to see them climbing out of his sketchbook for real.

With the help of his friend Isha, Finn needs to find a way to draw them back to their comic world… and quickly!

There are lots of giggles to enjoy and a big helping of slapstick fun in this action-packed, madcap adventure but Ellen also tackles some serious subjects – like children’s insecurities, worries and the debilitating effect of anxiety – with the lightest of touches.

Ideal for reluctant readers and guaranteed to keep youngsters glued to the page (unlike those pesky cartoon heroes!), this is a joy for any child who loves mayhem and mischief!

(Chicken House, paperback, £6.99)

Age 6 plus:

Myths, Monsters and Mayhem in Ancient Greece

James Davies

Discover some of the oldest and most exciting stories ever told in this richly detailed and fabulously illustrated comic book from Welsh author and illustrator James Davies.

The Greek myths are simply amazing stories of deadly monsters, heroes and gods and, like many other ancient civilisations, the Greeks told fantastical stories to teach lessons about right and wrong, tell the history of their gods and explain the world around them… from why the seasons change to where human beings come from.

And this striking collection – brimming with Davies’ uniquely bold, graphic style illustrations influenced by old cartoons and retro picture books – is the perfect introduction to the world of the gods, containing six tales full of love, loss, greed, envy and bravery.

Journey down to the Underworld with Orpheus, open Pandora’s famous Box and join Theseus in his quest to defeat the dreaded Minotaur as you enter a world like no other. Bursting with awesome facts, eye-opening illustrations and humour, Davies’ retelling of the Greek myths will delight readers of all ages.

(Big Picture Press, hardback, £14.99)

Age 7 plus:

Dino Knights: Panterra in Peril

Jeff Norton and Jeff Crosby

Pick two favourite themes – dangerous dinosaurs and daring knights – blend them together, and what do you have? Dino Knights of course!

In the first of his fabulous, action-packed chapter book series, Jeff Norton transports youngsters to a thrilling medieval land where dinosaurs still roam and brave knights ride into adventures on the back of roaring dinosaurs.

Norton, loved for his stories which create compelling characters, awesome escapades, and immersive worlds, is on his best form in this tale starring lowly stable boy Henry Fairchild who races into action on the back of a T-rex.

When Henry’s homeland is threatened, and his master Lord Harding is thrown into danger, Henry's gift at making the dinos obey him means the Dino Knights really need him. But will they accept a stable boy into their elite group?

After minimal training, Henry is launched into battle and his quick wits, daring and kindness win the day.

With Jeff Crosby’s atmospheric black and white illustrations to bring Norton’s world-building to vivid life, a gallery of amazing characters, a map, playful heraldic chapter headings and a dinosaur field guide, this exciting story of bravery, loyalty, friendship and family is perfect for all fearless young adventurers.

(Scallywag Press, paperback, £6.99)

Age 6 plus:

Mega Robo Bros: Power Up

Neill Cameron

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

Part of an amazing all-colour story strip series, Power Up is 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 action-packed fun and comedy, this supercharged tale of two robot brothers facing a Machiavellian rogue robot will delight young readers and help to encourage a love of books and good storytelling.

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

In this epic story, Alex and Freddy soon discover that they are not the only super-powered robots around. The evil Robot 23 is hatching sinister plans to take over country. No one is safe and the lives of the brothers will soon be far from peaceful. Get ready for giant robot beefeaters, flying tube trains and rocket-powered sibling rivalry as battle commences!

And in Double Threat, the republished version of Mega Robo Rumble, there’s a new enemy in town and he’s determined to take down the Mega Robo Bros.

Duty calls Alex and Freddy because they are now agents of R.A.I.D., an elite government unit that protects the world from robotic attacks. This new and terrifying giant drill-bot is destroying London and if that’s not enough to deal with, Freddy has somehow become an internet celebrity. Can the brothers save the day as the mysterious robot from Team Robotix, genius inventors, is twisted with rage and intent on ruthlessly exacting his revenge on R.A.I.D?

With flying tube trains, sibling rivalry, big explosions, family drama and two madcap brothers saving the day, these superhero thrillers are ideal for your own young techno wizards…

(David Fickling Books, paperback, £8.99 each)

Age 5 plus:

Seven Sisters

Ayisha Malik and Erika Meza

Warring sisters learn to celebrate their differences in an enchanting illustrated story from creative storyteller Ayisha Malik and Mexican illustrator Erika Meza.

High up in the trees seven sisters swing, swoop and swirl – each totally different and brilliant in their own way but too busy arguing and fighting to accept each other’s likes and wants. Consequently the treetops are full of music, colour, life and noisy disagreements! Until one day the ground trembles and the trees shake. Birds fly from their nests and insects scuttle about. Something is changing but no one knows what...

As each sister learns to accept their differences, and to understand that it isn’t a place or its space but its people that made a home, their world starts to possess a brighter and more inclusive harmony.

With Meza’s stunning illustrations and Malik’s creative, inspirational story, Seven Sisters is a beautiful gift book that speaks loudly to children everywhere.

(Little Tiger Press, hardback, £12.99)

Age 5 plus:

Lottie Loves Nature: Bird Alert

Jane Clarke and James Brown

Nature isn’t just fascinating… it’s positively awesome!

Join a girl who loves every little thing on our planet in this inventive and entertaining children’s fiction series which makes learning an adventure full of knockabout fun and comes from Five Quills, a small independent publisher with big ideas about books for younger readers.

Five Quills is on a mission to fill its books with lively illustrations and carefully written stories, making them perfect for reading aloud and sharing with both new and experienced readers.

Lottie Loves Nature: Bird Alert stars Lottie Boffin, twin sister of Al Boffin, the star of author Jane Clarke and illustrator James Brown’s brilliant Al’s Awesome Science series which explores science principles through fun stories and (often hilariously messy!) experiments.

Lottie loves wildlife and dreams of becoming a nature show presenter like Samira Breeze, host of her favourite programme Every Little Thing. And in her new eco-adventure, Lottie wants to help wildlife and is taking a bird count to see how many types of birds visit her garden. She finds sparrows nesting in the ivy, but the neighbour’s cat is on the prowl and is trying to reach the little fledglings. Lottie must save the birds!

Expect lots of fascinating facts and plenty of mishaps as Clarke works her storytelling magic while Brown’s charismatic black and white illustrations add extra comedy and energy to this inspirational series.

With lots of amazing birds to enjoy, conservation tips, and instructions on how to make fat cakes and a bird bath, this is the perfect way to have fun while learning!

(Five Quills, paperback, £6.99)

Age 2 plus:

10 Silly Children

Jon Lander

And now for something completely different… a book for very sensible children only!

If you think that sounds silly, then you’d be correct because the ten children inside this glorious picture book are behaving in some VERY silly ways.

10 Silly Children comes from the creative mind of author and illustrator Jon Lander whose trademark freehand artwork using watercolours and ink are loved for their sense of spontaneity and originality.

And youngsters will love this freewheeling story with its lift-the-flap fun and joyous celebration of all things silly as we discover just what slapstick fun is hidden behind every seemingly peaceful, sedate scene.

The ten children appear to be behaving sensibly… painting quietly, helping with the washing, brushing their teeth and tending to their plants. But what is under the flap? Are they making a mess? Dressing up a lion? Brushing the teeth of a crocodile? How silly, close that flap as quick as you can!

Ideal for teaching children their first ten numbers, 10 Silly Children is guaranteed to hold their attention with the interactive flap-out page design, the minimal use of illustration, and the use of repetitive and simple phrases.

It would be silly not to join in the fun!

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