Book reviews: Daring raids and supersonic space pirates with OUP children's books

It's a red letter month for Oxford University Press as superstar Scarlet McCall raises the roof in a new action-packed series for young readers.
Daring raids and supersonic space pirates with OUP childrens booksDaring raids and supersonic space pirates with OUP childrens books
Daring raids and supersonic space pirates with OUP childrens books

Cat burglar Scarlet, a dynamic space-travelling duo and a cat and mouse medical team are just some of a dazzling cast of characters heading our way.

Age 9 plus:

The Scarlet Files: Cat Burglar​ by Tamsin Cooke

In at the deep end and no surfacing until the last page has turned!

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Young readers won’t have a moment’s pause when they join in the high octane action with feisty, funny Scarlet McCall, an ordinary schoolgirl by day and an extraordinary cat burglar by night.

The amazing Scarlet is the super, sizzling star of The Scarlet Files, a fantastic new adventure series from debut author Tamsin Cooke who spent most of her teenage years in Lancaster.

Cooke doesn’t put a fast-paced foot wrong in this breathless, super-charged story which packs in everything from kidnappings, ancient Aztec mythology and wild animals to techno wizardry, laugh-out-loud humour and deadly dangerous missions.

Thirteen-year-old Scarlet McCall has had to sacrifice a lot – friends, a normal life and the social scene – but working with her father means she must keep her head down and become as unobtrusive as possible.

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Because Scarlet and her dad have made it their business to return stolen art treasures to their rightful owners, and that means heading out at night on daring missions with high-tech gear like grappling hooks and night vision goggles.

But when they take an ancient Aztec bracelet, Scarlet’s world turns upside down. Dad goes missing and mysterious, magical powers erupt inside Scarlet, including shape-shifting into wild creatures from Aztec mythology.

Before long, she is being hunted by sinister, scary people who will stop at nothing to possess the bracelet. Searching for her kidnapped dad, Scarlet must discover who to trust before it’s all too late.

Red-hot Scarlet is a brilliant contemporary heroine; determined, resourceful and fearless, she makes her own judgments and her own decisions. Her wildly imaginative adventures make this book a thrilling journey from start to finish and ensure that this series will be one of the most talked about action debuts this year.

(OUP, paperback, £6.99)

Age 5 plus:

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Dr KittyCat is Ready to Rescue: Willow the Duckling by Jane Clarke

They’re on the road again… the cat and mouse team for whom medicine is not just a game!

Cool, calm Dr KittyCat, the meowing medic, and her trusty helper Peanut, a mouse on a mercy mission, are heading off again in their ‘vanbulance’ to rescue furry friends in need.

The two caring and adorably cute little creatures are stars of Jane Clarke’s original, warm-hearted and educational series which follows their adventures as they chase round the countryside to dispense help and advice.

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The stories feature simple medical dramas set in a community of cute animals. Combining fun and lovable characters, all brought to life by distinctive, two-tone illustrations which mix photography and hand-drawn elements, the adventures include fascinating first aid facts, all verified by a qualified paramedic.

In the latest episode, we find the little animals rehearsing for the Thistletown Talent Show when Willow the Duckling is suddenly taken ill. If it’s the nasty fur and feather flu, it could mean the end of the show for Willow. She is desperate to perform on stage like the others, but will Dr KittyCat and Peanut be able to find out for sure what is wrong with her and make her better before the curtain goes up?

These gentle, reassuring and nurturing stories, full of fascinating first aid detail, have instant appeal to little children who love animals and are ideal for the inquisitive five to seven age group.

Medical dramas for your budding doctors and nurses!

(OUP, paperback, £4.99)

Age 2 plus:

Intergalactic Ed and the Space Pirates by Ella Denton and Jamie Littler

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Cosmic calamities and interplanetary plunderers… super space traveller Ed is heading off on an intergalactic adventure!

What little astronaut could resist a trip round the planets with irresistible turbo-charged boy Ed and his space cat extraordinaire Sputnik, the rocket-fuelled duo whose picture books antics are the talk of the universe.

Ed and Sputnik are firing on all cylinders as they zoom into outer reaches to try to stop the Space Pirates from stealing the moon. Will they manage to outwit the ghastly galactic crew, or will they end up walking the dreaded Space Plank?

Ella Denton’s brilliantly energetic and fun-packed story is brought to life by the busy, bold and eye-catching artwork of talented illustrator Jamie Littler.

The best space team in the galaxy… by light years!

(OUP, paperback, £6.99)

Age one plus:

Bob & Flo: Hide and Seek by Rebecca Ashdown

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A penguin’s disappearing act steals the show in a gorgeous picture book from award-winning author and illustrator Rebecca Ashdown.

Making friends at nursery school can be a daunting experience but this warm and reassuring story featuring three adorable little penguins will have everyone feeling at home.

When Bob arrives at nursery, half-hidden under his umbrella, it gives his friends Flo and Sam an idea. They will all play a game of hide and seek. Bob is first to hide but his hiding skills need a bit of practice and he’s not sure exactly how to play the game. So Flo and Sam decide to do some pretend baking to give Bob enough time to find a really good place to hide. And it works! When Bob emerges from his hiding place, it’s just in time for the three friends to tuck into their pretend slices of cake.

Ashdown gives us a funny but revealing toddler’s-eye view of the world to help young children to steer a course through their early days at nursery and their first friendships.

The perfect introduction to fun, friendships and a world of discovery.

(OUP, paperback, £6.99)