Book reviews: Gruffalo food, super sleuths and wizard words

The Gruffalo is back and he's hungry! Get ready to feast on an exciting new autumn collection of inspirational reads from Macmillan Children's Books.
Gruffalo food, super sleuths and wizard wordsGruffalo food, super sleuths and wizard words
Gruffalo food, super sleuths and wizard words

Age 5 plus:

Gruffalo Crumble and Other Recipes by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

There’s a rumble in the jungle… and it’s not from an angry lion!

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The hungry Gruffalo is in the deep, dark wood and he’s got a very, very big appetite. He’s going to need some tasty recipes to keep those hunger pangs at bay…

So get busy with these 24 mouth-watering dishes that are guaranteed to keep the Gruffalo satisfied and offer the perfect home-cooking fun for holidays, rainy days and Gruffalo parties.

Gruffalo Crumble and Other Recipes is packed full of sweet treats, healthy snacks and simple meals, and all are based on Julia Donaldson and Axel

Scheffler’s bestselling picture book The Gruffalo. Make your own owl ice cream, toadstool pizza, gingerbread mice, scrambled snake and roasted fox, and of course the magnificent Gruffalo crumble!

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

All the recipes are specially designed for adults to use with children, providing easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions and lots of hints and tips on what to do next.

A practical, exciting and imaginative way to introduce Gruffalo fans to cooking and baking, and the perfect gift for budding Bake Off stars!

(Macmillan, hardback, 9.99)

Age 6 plus:

Ottoline and the Purple Fox by Chris Riddell

The ever-inventive author and illustrator Chris Riddell makes a welcome return with his quirky, inquisitive heroine Miss Ottoline Brown.

Ottoline, a Mistress of Disguise with a fine line in detective work, fun and dark humour, is making a comeback to our bookshelves after a five-year absence and her adventures just get better and better.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Ottoline lives in a stylish apartment in Big City with her partner in crime, Mr Munroe, a small, hairy creature that came from a bog in Norway. Together they look after the Brown family’s eclectic collection of oddments, and dabble in a spot of detective work. In fact, no puzzle or mystery is ever too tricky for the two of them to solve.

In Ottoline and the Purple Fox, the intrepid sleuths meet an enigmatic purple fox who offers to take them on a night-time urban safari across Big City.

The fox shows them all the hidden animals of the city and Ottoline is soon busy making notes on them in her field notebook. Mr Munroe, meanwhile, is making notes too… on the anonymous love poems he finds stuck to lamp-posts on their journey. Who is the secretive, melancholy poet, and how can Mr Munroe and Ottoline help mend his broken heart?

Full of gorgeous, intricate black and white illustrations with a glorious dash of purple, this heartwarming and richly comical story is a seductive blend of friendship, fun and imagination, and includes an entertaining cast list at the front of the book and an exciting fold-up-and-keep fortune teller note tucked into the back.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A brilliant book for kids from every angle and from start to finish!

(Macmillan, hardback, £10.99)

Age 5 plus:

Little Legends: The Genie’s Curse and The Magic Looking Glass by Tom Percival

Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel and their fairy tale friends are going digital again as Tom Percival returns with two new exciting Little Legends adventures.

A magical blend of action stories and technology, these super little books – ideal for both new and confident readers – feature classic characters from fairy tales and legends enjoying everyday adventures in Tale Town, but all set against the most extraordinary backdrops.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

These all-action stories star favourite fairy tale heroes like Jack (of Beanstalk fame) and his talking chicken Betsy, Red (as in Red Riding Hood) and Anansi, the original Spider Man of West African legend.

They all live in Tale Town where the population is small but their adventures are epic thanks to Percival’s remarkable imagination and the innovative illustrations provided by Made in Me, a digital creative studio which explores new ways for technology and storytelling to inspire a new generation.

And now there’s a new way to enjoy the Little Legends adventures by downloading the free app at

In The Genie’s Curse, we meet up with Rapunzel who enjoys all the fun of being a princess. But everything goes wrong when she breaks a magical urn and blames it on her new friend Ella. It turns out that the urn was home to a very cross (and now very homeless) hermit genie who casts a spell making everyone blame Rapunzel for everything that goes wrong in Tale Town. With the help of her friends and a mysterious green monkey called Alphege,

Rapunzel must ‘undo what she has done’ and lift the curse.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

And in The Magic Looking Glass, there has been a robbery in Tale Town. Someone has stolen a cutting from the magical Story Tree and it’s up to twinsHansel and Gretel to get it back. With the help of their new friend Wolfie, a not very big or very bad wolf, they discover a secret fortress in the forest containing a Magic Looking Glass that promises to help them. But things are not always what they seem, especially when the Magic Looking Glass starts causing trouble! Can Wolfie and the twins find the Story Tree cutting and save the day, or will the Magic Looking Glass have the last laugh?

Fairy tale fun and all-action adventure for the digital generation!

(Macmillan, paperback, £5.99)

Age 10 plus:

Girls Can Vlog: Amazing Abby: Drama Queen by Emma Moss

Vlogger extraordinaire Abby and her online friends are back online, and ready for more digital adventures.

Emma Moss’ Girls Can Vlog series, which features fun, modern stories about the world of vlogging, are pitch-perfect fiction for aspirational vloggers, digital devotees and readers with a passion for all things online.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Video blogs – or vlogs as they are known to addicts – are all the rage among the new generation of savvy youngsters and Moss, herself a digital devotee, has created this insightful and entertaining four-book fiction series which explores the online life of four very different girls. Each entertaining story explores family life, young friendships, making the most of your creativity and being true to yourself.

Ever since Abby and her friends Lucy, Jessie and Hermione set up the Girls Can Vlog YouTube channel, Abby has been busier than ever. Not only is she vlogging at least once a week, but she also has a role in the school musical production of Grease. Abby has always found keeping up with her schoolwork tough but now it is virtually impossible, and to make things even worse she is developing a major crush on two different boys! If Abby’s parents find out about her slipping grades, will it mean the end for her acting and vlogging dreams?

With tips for making your own vlogs, a story packed with contemporary issues and plenty of giggles and gossip, this exciting story portrays the fun of vlogging and the power of friendship.

(Macmillan, paperback, £6.99)

Age 0-90:

A Poem for Every Night of the Year by Edited by Allie Esiri

Treat yourself – and your family – to a poem on every night of the year!

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A Poem For Every Night of the Year, lovingly compiled by Allie Esiri, is a magnificent collection of 366 poems, each with an introductory paragraph and each with a link to the date on which they appear.

This beautiful anthology is ideal for every age and taste with poems to share, enjoy and inspire, and to suit every possible mood or emotion. There are family favourites, exciting new contemporary voices and the unforgettable words of some of the greatest poets.

William Shakespeare celebrates midsummer night, Maya Angelou marks International Women’s Day and Lewis Carroll makes us laugh on April Fools’ Day. Poetic giants like Alfred, Lord Tennyson, W. B. Yeats, A. A. Milne and Christina Rossetti sit alongside Roger McGough, Carol Ann Duffy and Benjamin Zephaniah. The collection also takes readers on a journey through history, the seasons, the festivals and traditions from many countries, cultures and religions.

Perfect for reading aloud and sharing with all the family, this superb anthology contains a wealth of wisdom, words and wonder. A verbal feast for every day of the year!

(Macmillan, hardback, £16.99)

Age 9 plus:

Lost Magic: The Very Best of Brian Moses

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Children’s poet Brian Moses has been entertaining and inspiring youngsters and their teachers since 1988… indeed his percussion-filled school visits are legendary.

Lost Magic is a collection of his very best children’s poems and each beautifully crafted poem is guaranteed to win the hearts and minds of a new generation of readers.

There are over a hundred poems here, including favourites like Walking with My Iguana, The Lost Angels, Aliens Stole My Underpants, Behind the Staffroom Door, Lost Magic, The Sssnake Hotel, A Feather from an Angel, Cakes in the Staffroom and many more.

Poetry in motion!

(Macmillan, hardback, £12.99)

Age 7 plus:

100 Brilliant Poems for Children by Chosen by Paul Cookson

It’s never too early to get children interested in poetry… especially when the poems are this good!

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Essential poems for children, compiled by bestselling poet Paul Cookson, shows youngsters the magic of good verse in this inspirational and entertaining collection of 100 classic (and brilliant of course!) poems from Auden to Zephaniah.

Cookson spends most of his time visiting schools, performing his works and helping children to write their own poems, and here he puts all his energy into compiling some of the very best poems to help every child read and enjoy poetry.

And he has come up with a gorgeous pick-and-mix, packed with long-time favourites, song lyrics and brand new delights, as well as handy hints and starting points for reading, writing and performing.

Sit back and feel the rhythm!

(Macmillan, paperback, £6.99)

Age 3 plus:

The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield and The Fan Brothers

Head off into space with astronaut Chris Hadfield in a wonderfully warm and exciting picture book based on real events in his action-packed life.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The Darkest Dark is the debut picture book by Commander Chris Hadfield, author of An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, and was inspired by his decision to become an astronaut after watching the Apollo 11 moon landing when he was aged just nine.

Hadfield had to overcome his fears to fulfil his childhood dream to explore space and here he uses the medium of an enthralling story to help other youngsters battle their own personal fears and follow their dreams.

Young Chris is an astronaut. In fact, he’s a very busy astronaut. Saving the planet from aliens is much more important than taking baths or going to bed because at bedtime, the worst sort of alien appears… darkness. But when Chris watches the first televised moon landing, he discovers that there is a dark out in space that is much darker than he is used to. It’s the darkest dark ever, and he realises that the unknown can be… very exciting! With

spectacular colour illustrations by top team, The Fan Brothers, this gorgeous picture book offers both reassurance and a thrilling ride through space.

Hop aboard and enjoy a trip to the stars!

(Macmillan, hardback, £11.99)