Book review: To outer space and back with Oxford University Press

How about a slice of unearthly fun, a beastly Boxtroll activity book and a bewitching adventure featuring a big, bad robot?

By Pam Norfolk
Friday, 26th September 2014, 10:00 am
To outer space and back with Oxford University Press
To outer space and back with Oxford University Press

Oxford University Press have an out-of-this world selection of brilliant children’s books for a brave new season of reading, including a tasty treat from daring, dynamic author and illustrator duo Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre.

Age 7 plus:

Cakes in Space by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre

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Lock away your mixing bowl, hide the baking tins and starting weighing up the enemy… killer cupcakes, batty Battenbergs and marauding muffins!

Yes, writing legend Philip Reeve and his picture perfect partner Sarah McIntyre are back with another amazing adventure packed with eccentric characters and zany humour.

The creators of the much-acclaimed Oliver and the Seawigs have cooked up a delicious concoction of food and fun with their new book, Cakes in Space, a jammy dodger journey into the unknown with time-travelling, galaxy girl Astra.

Astra and family are all snoring in their sleeping pods aboard their spaceship and heading for a new life on the faraway planet Nova Mundi.

But Astra is actually wide awake and along with her robot friend Pilbeam, she goes off exploring only to discover that the ship is in deep trouble. It has been knocked off course and invaded by a gang of Poglites, an alien salvage crew searching for spoonage (they just love collecting spoons!).

However, even the Poglites need Astra’s help when they discover something far more sinister lurking in the canteen. They’re cakes but no one would ever describe these cakey monstrosities as sweet.

Now Astra and Pilbeam are the only ones standing in the way of the ship’s destruction…

Cakes in Space, featuring pages of Reeve’s laugh-out-loud escapades and an eye-catching riot of two-tone illustrative colour from the pen of Sarah McIntyre, offers a visual and narrative feast for children aged seven and over.

So why not jet off into space… and live to tell the terrific tale!

(OUP, hardback, £8.99)

Age 3 plus:

The Boxtrolls: Make Your Own Boxtroll Punch-out Activity Book by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel

As blockbuster movie The Boxtrolls hits the big screens, now is the perfect time to create your very own crafty creatures!

Oxford University Press are celebrating the release of The Boxtrolls, a hilarious animated film, with some exciting tie-in publications, including this ingenious activity book.

The Boxtrolls, a community of quirky, mischievous creatures, have lovingly raised an orphaned human boy named Eggs in their amazing cavernous home beneath the streets of Cheesebridge. When the town’s villain Archibald Snatcher comes up with a plot to get rid of the Boxtrolls, Eggs decides to venture above ground and ‘into the light’ where he meets and teams up with fabulously feisty Winnifred. Together, they devise a daring plan to save Eggs’ family.

Inside this punch-out activity book is everything you need to create your own collection of characters. Just pop out the pieces, fold at the lines and lock in the tabs. In no time, you’ll have your own Eggs, Fish, Oil Can and other curious critters. The perforated models are easy and fun to assemble.

A gift that’s sure to pack a punch with any Boxtroll fan…

(OUP, paperback, £4.99)

Winnie’s Big Bad Robot by Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul

The adventures of Winnie the Witch and her black cat have provided spellbinding, bite-size stories for 27 years and now her creator Valerie Thomas has put the two madcap stars centre stage for a fantastic picture book.

Brilliantly illustrated in Korky Paul’s distinctive and charismatic style, Winnie and Wilbur’s escapades are always mad, bad and dangerously hilarious and now there’s a big, brash outing for Winnie in a colourful story written just for the family’s youngest members.

When Winnie the Witch makes a cardboard robot she is very proud of her creation and decides to turn it into a real robot. Beep, beep! But when the naughty robot takes Winnie’s wand, things start to get totally out of control. It’s up to Wilbur, Winnie’s lovable cat, to stop the magical mayhem and save the day.

Scatterbrained Winnie is not as simple as she seems and always conjures up some important life lessons amidst all the frantic fun and chaotic capers.

Little children will love Korky Paul’s highly detailed and playful illustrations and Valerie Thomas’ robotic rollercoaster of a story.

Guaranteed to cast a spell…

(OUP, hardback, £11.99)