Book review: Christmas is coming at Piccadilly Press

Christmas can’t come too early for kids... and Piccadilly Press have a sack full of ideal book gifts on Santa’s sledge this year!

By Pam Norfolk
Thursday, 8th November 2012, 9:00 am

An independent publisher, they have been specialising in teen fiction and non-fiction, children’s fiction, picture books and parenting books for 29 years and have a wide choice of reading for youngsters aged from two to sixteen.

So take a look through just some of their superb books and give children a festive treat as the page gets ready to turn on another year of reading.

Age 2 plus:

It’s Time for Bed by Adèle Geras and Sophy Williams

There’s nothing like a book at bedtime to calm and soothe toddlers and this beautifully illustrated and reassuring picture book has all the makings of a modern classic. Williams’ exquisitely tender drawings complement an endearing story full of comfort and love, the ideal wind-down for active pre-schoolers. When Mother says it’s bedtime, Little Hare announces that he can’t go to sleep until Mouse does, so his mother sings a lullaby for Mouse. Then all the other animals and toys need lullabies too. As Mother sings, we follow the daytime activities of the woodland animals and toys until it is Little Hare’s own bedtime with a special ‘Goodnight, sleep tight.’ The perfect book to end a busy day, calm tantrums and leave parents and toddlers with a peaceful glow.

(paperback, £6.99)

Age 5 plus:

Princess Katie’s Kittens: Suki in the Snow by Julie Sykes

Every little girl’s dream... a princess, a palace, six cute kittens and a book that really does sparkle! Suki has crept into Princess Katie’s luggage to join her on her skiing holiday. But Suki soon misses the other kittens and when she tries to make her own way home, Katie and her friend Becky have a race against time to find the little white kitten. She’s lost in the snow, night will be falling soon and it might be too late to save her. Julie Sykes combines exciting adventures with adorable characters, and lots of helpful tips on real-life pet care, to create a series purrfectly pitched for little girls aged five and over. Warm, wise and wonderful, all the books contain important messages as well as bundles of furry fun.

(paperback, £4.99)

Age 6 plus:

Bella Donna: Cat Magic by Ruth Symes

They say you should never work with children and animals but author Ruth Symes and illustrator Marion Lindsay have discovered they are a perfect combination! Here they team them up with some wonderfully bewitching witchcraft for a series of animal magic and mayhem which will cast a spell over little girls. Where is Pegatha? Young witch Bella Donna’s favourite cat goes missing and Bella tries out every spell she can think of to find her. All the other witches in Coven Road get on their broomsticks to join the search, but with no luck. There’s only one explanation – someone must have put a spell on Pegatha. But who, and why? Marion Lindsay’s endearing, expressive drawings add extra shine to a warm, reassuring and uplifting series which never loses its sense of fun, magic and adventure.

(paperback, £5.99)

Super Soccer Boy and the Monster Mutants by Judy Brown

What boy can resist a story featuring football, superheroes and monsters? Judy Brown has an unerring instinct for exactly the kind of humour that is irresistible to young boys and her funny, wacky hero Harry Gribble is the perfect hero for reluctant young readers with his madcap humour and outlandish antics. Plants are growing out of control in Middletown and beginning to attack people who mysteriously turn green! It’s not long before these green mutants start behaving oddly, and even sprouting leaves. Are they becoming plants too? Harry Gribble, also known as Super Soccer Boy, needs all his skills to stop the town turning into a jungle. Can Super Soccer Boy tackle these mental mutants? This colourful book is packed with Brown’s own illustrations which help to give the story a visual flow. Young boys who claim they would rather play soccer than read about it are going to get a surprise kick out of this brilliant story which is really on the ball when it comes to fun and games.

(paperback, £4.99)

Downtown Dinosaurs: Dinosaurs in Disguise by Jeanne Willis and Arthur Robins

Author Jeanne Willis and illustrator Arthur Robins return with more dinosaur drama in the funniest kids’ series since the Cretaceous Period! T. Rex Flint Beastwood is furious. Dippy has gone missing in the forest, just when Flint needed him to clean his toenails! But when Darwin the stegosaurus goes missing too, the herbivores send out a search party. They soon find it’s dangerous in the woods with Flint’s deadly carnivore gang and a scary new dinosaur. So they come up with a brilliant idea – to disguise themselves as trees! And as the two groups descend on No Man’s Land, it’s bound to end in disaster... Every picture, every page tells a story in this funny, charming and deliciously daft romp through the woods with a pack of loony and lovable dinosaurs. Little boys (and little girls too!) will be laughing all the way to bed as they snuggle up for a chapter of the Downtown Dinosaurs.

(paperback, £5.99)

Age 8 plus:

Alien Schoolboy’s Guide to Earthlings by Ros Asquith

Ros Asquith’s sparkling series just gets better and better, and boy, oh boy, what have we here this time? It’s a one-off chance to look at life from an alien point of view, a truly terrifying look at one of the most ridiculous places in the Universe. Flowkwee, visiting Earth in schoolboy disguise, has put together this A-Z guide to help other bamboozled aliens get to grips with the primitive planet, its strange language and its hideous inhabitants. There are entertaining entries on everything from ‘jumper’ (a very disappointing item of clothing which hardly moves at all, let alone jumps) to chocolate (Flowkwee loves sweets and chocolates, especially the lovely crunchy wrappers!) With illustrations as zany as the A to Z guide, this imaginative and clever book contains the secret ingredient for all little boys – the chuckle factor! The jokes are wicked, the concept is utterly ingenious and reading between the exuberant energy and hilarious humour of this book, parents and kids will discover hidden gems of acute observation on the irrationality and uniquely bizarre nature of human life.

(paperback, £6.99)

Age 12 plus:

Neptune’s Tears by Susan Waggoner

Step into the future and join Susan Waggoner as she takes teen readers on a thrilling ride featuring love against the odds. Neptune’s Tears, fast becoming an international hit, is a modern take on Romeo and Juliet, a tale of star-crossed lovers launched on an adventure that soars through time and space.

It’s 2218 and Zee McAdams is in her second year as a healing ‘empath’ at a busy London hospital. When a mysterious young man becomes her patient, Zee’s hard won calm is pierced. Her attraction is complicated by the fact that David Sutton is an alien, a group whose presence – and purpose – on Earth is deeply mistrusted.

When London and other cities experience a wave of anarchist attacks, Zee and David are brought even closer together. The more time Zee spends with David, the more she likes him – and the more questions she has. Even as their relationship deepens, Zee knows that David is still hiding something from her. Will Zee have the courage to follow her heart, no matter what the dangers and no matter where it takes her?

Fast-paced, original, captivating and ambitious in its scope, Waggoner’s intelligent story offers a futuristic vision that both excites and terrifies. Young love, mystery and suspense combine in a scintillating sci-fi adventure, all the elements that, for a teenager, make reading a book a joy rather than a chore.

(paperback, £6.99)