Book review: Animal magic and a fairy tale vet top the Puffin Books bill

Puffin Books are over 70 years old but their exciting selection of summer reads proves that they are still the publishing world’s high-flyers.

Monday, 14th July 2014, 10:00 am
Animal magic and a fairy tale vet top the Puffin Books bill
Animal magic and a fairy tale vet top the Puffin Books bill

The children’s imprint of Penguin, Puffin publishes a wide range of fiction, picture books and children’s classics and some of the world’s favourite authors including Roald Dahl, Jacqueline Wilson, Rick Riordan, Cathy Cassidy and Eoin Colfer.

Their summertime highlights feature quirky and inventive picture books for pre-schoolers and the first of a brilliant new series about an animal-loving girl who becomes vet to amazing mythical creatures.

Age 2 plus:

Where Bear? by Sophy Henn

Big is beautiful and simple is clever in a bewitching debut picture book from a highly talented author and illustrator.

Sophy Henn’s exquisite drawings and moving story about a little boy and his bear and their hunt for a place called home is guaranteed to capture both hearts and minds.

When a pet bear cub grows and grows into an enormous bear, the little boy realises sadly that it’s time to find a place where his friend can be big and bearish. But where does a bear who has outgrown his home go to live? The zoo means living behind bars, a circus is too dangerous, the woods are too scary and a cave is too dark. Will they ever find the perfect home?

Using warmth, wit, a wonderful array of home truths and her beguiling illustrations, Henn explores what love and friendship really means.

A journey of delight for readers young… and old!

(Puffin, hardback, £11.99)

Age 3 plus:

Sir Scallywag and the Deadly Dragon Poo by Giles Andreae and Korky Paul

Two perfect teams… an inspired author and an ingenious illustrator, a nifty little knight and some outrageous adventures.

If you didn’t catch Sir Scallywag’s first outing to track down King Colin’s golden underpants, then now is the time to join him on the scent of an epic but malodorous mission to defeat a beastly baron.

Written by award-winning author Giles Andreae and illustrated by the outstandingly talented Korky Paul, this raucous, rhyming story is the second adventure for our pint-size hero and will delight any small child with a penchant for deadly dragon poo.

Lazy King Colin and his queen like nothing better than lying in bed and guzzling loads of sweets and have spent their kingdom’s fortune on a giant sweet machine. But Baron Greedyguts has heard about the sweet machine and plans to capture it by bombing King Colin’s castle with stinky dragon poo. Fortunately the king has got wind of his plan and there is only one knight who can help… even if he’s only six years old. Sir Scallywag and his trusty steed Doofus come to the rescue by turning the giant sweet machine into a giant poo machine.

Korky Paul’s high-energy and colourful illustrations are the perfect match for an exuberant and fun-filled rhyming story with important messages about greed and sharing.

No child should grow up without having shared the explosive exploits of the daring Sir Scallywag…

(Puffin, paperback, £6.99)

Kicking a Ball by Allan Ahlberg and Sébastien Braun

Kids have had a ball this summer with wall-to-wall World Cup football so what better time to celebrate the joys of playing the sport yourself?

First written as a poem, Kicking a Ball is a tribute to the ‘beautiful game’ and the sheer euphoria of one little boy’s love affair with football.

Ahlberg’s addictive, rhyming story will appeal to any child who can’t see a ball without wanting to kick it, head it, shoot it or boot it. ‘Not eating an ice-cream or riding a bike. No – kicking a ball is what I like. Not reading a book or writing a letter. No – kicking a ball is twenty times better!’

Brought to life with bright and busy illustrations by artist Sébastien Braun, Kicking a Ball takes young readers on one football-mad boy’s circular journey from childhood to fatherhood with wistful humour, warmth and genuine affection.

Guaranteed to be perfectly on target with all young footballers…

(Puffin, paperback, £6.99)

Max the Brave by Ed Vere

A little kitten and his big, bold adventure make colourful reading in debut author and illustrator Ed Vere’s marvellously minimalist picture book.

Meet Max, the loveable kitten who is fed up of being dressed in ribbons. He wants to be a brave and fearless kitten who chases mice. But to be a mouse-catcher, Max needs to know what a mouse is, so off he goes to find out and meets some ordinary – and extraordinary – creatures along the way.

There is a wonderful sense of nostalgic charm to Ed Vere’s remarkable artwork which captures so perfectly the innocence and inquisitiveness of childhood.

With its flashes of ironic humour, straightforward prose and a character cat with big, soulful eyes whose journey towards independence is played out against a brightly coloured, fuss-free and visually striking backdrop, the story of madcap Max will be a favourite bedtime read.

A unique picture book from a refreshing new talent…

(Puffin, hardback, £11.99)

Age 7 plus:

Hattie B, Magical Vet: The Dragon’s Song by Claire Taylor-Smith

If there is one thing guaranteed to win the hearts of little girls everywhere, it’s a book full of fun, friendship and animal magic.

And who better to send imaginations into overdrive than ten-year-old Hattie Bright, better known as Hattie B, who discovers a magic kingdom and a world of fairy tale creatures.

The Dragon’s Song is the first book in a bewitching new series inspired by a little girl called Harriet who once asked: ‘Where do unicorns and dragons go when they are unwell?’ Her mother Lindsay Taylor and their friend Suzanne Smith thought long and hard and suddenly realised… a magical vet of course!

With this twinkle of an idea, they met the writer Claire Baker and together they created the amazing Kingdom of Bellua, and the pen name Claire Taylor-Smith. And with some captivating illustrations by Lorena Alvarez to bring the story to life, the dream team was complete.

Hattie B is a happy, normal girl until her tenth birthday when something extraordinary happens. She is swept into the magical Kingdom of Bellua where she meets a little pink dragon who desperately needs her help. Evil King Ivar of the Imps has stolen the dragon’s magical voice and it seems Hattie is the only one who can help her get it back.

Heroic Hattie and her enthralling rescue missions are set to be a must-read for girls who love animals and adventure. Her sense of adventure, daring deeds and acts of kindness lend these stories a special warmth and charm which will appeal to both children and parents.

(Puffin, paperback, £4.99)