Book reviews: Tales of the unexplained and fashion fun

Real-Life Mysteries by Susan Martineau and Vicky Barker
Real-Life Mysteries by Susan Martineau and Vicky Barker

Mystery, history and fashion take centre stage in three exciting new children’s books from a small publisher with big ambitions.

Run by Catherine Bruzzone and Sam Hutchinson, b small has been in business since 1990 and has about 200 titles on its list. Its speciality is bilingual books and colourful, fun activity books for young children.

And there is plenty to keep young minds busy and buzzing with three new titles that explore some fascinating real-life histories, and the intriguing lifestyles and fashions of yesteryear.

Age 7 plus:

Real-Life Mysteries by Susan Martineau and Vicky Barker

History is full of unexplained mysteries… could you be the one to crack these baffling cases?

Well here’s your chance to discover history and explore the unexplained by reading through a selection of weird and wonderful case files, including clues, theories and witnesses, and then trying to uncover the truth yourself.

Have you ever wondered what exactly does go bump in the night? Does the hairy man-ape Bigfoot really exist? Are the strange flying objects people see in the sky actually UFOs? And are ghosts just figures conjured up by our brains?

From mysteries like Shackleton's ghostly companion to the Loch Ness Monster and friends, read the amazing evidence about these mysterious cases and make up your own mind. Whether you conclude the mysteries are myth-busting or myth-confirming, this is a brilliant, thought-provoking book that will set young brains in motion.

Things aren’t always what they seem… or are they?

(b small publishing, paperback, £7.99)

Age 7 plus:

Dress-up Jane Austen and Dress-up Russian Revolution (Fashion Paper Dolls) by Catherine Bruzzone and Hennie Haworth

And if your youngsters like to get hands-on with their history studies, these two inventive and sumptuously illustrated books are perfectly cut out for them.

Dress-up Jane Austen and Dress-up Russian Revolution, both created by Catherine Bruzzone and Hennie Haworth, feature beautiful fashion dolls for children to dress in an array of stunning outfits.

In Dress-up Jane Austen, youngsters only need a pair of scissors to make the early 19th century spring to life. History and fashion fans can learn about life in the Regency period, then cut out the fourteen extravagant outfits and dress their paper dolls in the style of Jane Austen.

Get the dolls dressed up for a grand ball and a walk round a country estate or deck them out for a society wedding. Discover what a well-dressed woman put on to go riding, why everyone wore hats and marvel at the ball gowns, pantaloons and petticoats.

Dress-up Russian Revolution lets children steep themselves in the contrasting lives of the rich and poor during the Russian Revolution. Learn about the incredible wealth of the Russian royal family with their fancy dress balls and magnificent clothes. Turn the pages to read about the industrial age and the hard life of Russia’s peasants, and then dress the dolls in their seasonal outfits.

What did the Tsar and Tsarina wear at their engagement? How did a peasant dress in summer and winter? And why did Lenin wear a red ribbon? There are sixteen colourful costumes for both women and men, including furry hats, felt boots and jewelled kaftans.

There are hours of dressing-up fun and fascinating facts to enjoy as history comes to life at the turn of every page.

(b small publishing, paperback, £7.99 each)