A magical adventure, a mysterious mansion, and a sad moon keeper by various authors - book reviews -

Roll up, roll up for a magical mystery in the streets of London, meet a budding architect on the hunt for treasure, and discover where teachers go after the school gates shut in an exciting and educational selection of new children’s books.

By Pam Norfolk
Thursday, 14th May 2020, 7:00 am
The Golden Butterfly
The Golden Butterfly

Roll up, roll up for a magical mystery in the streets of London, meet a budding architect on the hunt for treasure, and discover where teachers go after the school gates shut in an exciting and educational selection of new children’s books.

Age 9 plus:

The Golden Butterfly

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Sharon Gosling

Take your seats and turn down the lights as the curtain rises on a thrilling historical adventure set in the colourful world of stage magic and London’s eclectic theatre land.

Carlisle author Sharon Gosling takes middle-grade readers on an action-packed and atmospheric journey into a dazzling illusionist mystery, set at the turn of the 20th century and brimming with strange magic, cunning conundrums and deadly danger.

‘The Golden Butterfly danced in the air, beautiful and impossible, yet there before their eyes. Then the Magnificent Marko flicked his wand again. There was a shower of sparks, a bang and ... the Golden Butterfly vanished.’

It’s 1897 and since the Magnificent Marko dramatically departed the stage, no magician has come close to performing a trick as spectacular as his legendary Golden Butterfly. With her grandfather gone, Luciana, who is also a talented magician, feels that the world has lost its wonder.

Then the imposing leader of the Grand Society of Magicians appears, searching for something belonging to Marko, and Luciana is drawn into a world of danger and deception. As she battles to protect her grandfather’s greatest legacy, can she distinguish reality from illusion?

Gosling performs her own special sleight of hand in this mesmerising tale of bravery, friendship and female empowerment which blends gripping fantasy with some intriguing puzzles, a ruthless foe, and a beautiful coming-of-age odyssey.

Classy, enthralling and utterly bewitching, The Golden Butterfly will inspire young imaginations to take flight…

(Stripes, paperback, £6.99)

Age 6 plus:

Iggy Peck and the Mysterious Mansion

Andrea Beaty and David Roberts

One question always leads to another when you are sharing adventures with the irrepressibly curious Questioneers!

Iggy and his fellow Questioneers – Rosie Revere, Ada Twist, and Sofia Valdez – love looking for problems to solve, and their quest to find the answers always lead youngsters on a fascinating journey of discovery in Andrea Beaty and David Roberts’ brilliant series of educational books.

Problem-solving and the fun of scientific and technical experimentation are at the heart of these engaging chapter book stories which serve up adventure, humour and a cast of lovable characters.

An architect at his very core, Iggy Peck loves building and doing his own thing. When he’s not making houses out of food, his head is up in the clouds and dreaming of design. His parents are proud of his fabulous creations, though they’re sometimes surprised by his materials… not least a stinky tower he made from nappies when he was only two!

So he’s totally blown away when his friend Ada Twist’s Aunt Bernice inherits an old house from ice-cream mogul Herbert Sherbert that is filled with countless rooms from all his favourite architectural periods.

But something’s not quite right. Everyone says the house is haunted, and it seems that a number of priceless antiques – which were supposed to help Aunt Bernice pay for the house’s upkeep – have gone missing.

If they can’t find those antiques, Aunt Bernice might lose the house forever. It will take all of Iggy’s knowledge of architecture and the help of the other Questioneers solve the mystery and find the treasure!

Beaty’s clever, inspirational and exciting books – ideal for children to read alone or with adults – come packed with Roberts’ richly detailed and humorous artwork, and are guaranteed to entertain, inform and empower young readers.

(Amulet Books, hardback, £8.99)

Age 4 plus:

The Moon Keeper


The ever-changing face of the moon lies at the heart of a beautiful and reassuring debut picture book from exciting Johannesburg-born author and illustrator Zofia Gibbs, also known as Zosienka.

Through gentle, child-friendly storytelling and gorgeous illustrations, filled with subtle night time shades and heartfelt emotion, this magical book stars a lovable polar bear, the moon, and their very special connection.

Emile, a very conscientious polar bear, has a new job as moon keeper. He spends his evenings making sure the moon has everything it needs to shine its light over the night creatures. Night after night he keeps watch over the moon, clearing away the clouds and telling the fruit bats to move along when they play too close. Emile finds the moon nice to talk to in the stillness of the night but then something strange happens… the moon starts to change and slowly disappears.

As the moon’s phases change, the moon keeper worries that he is not taking proper care of the moon and that it’s his fault that it has disappeared. Then a big green bird lands next to Emile and, through friendship and observation, helps the unhappy polar bear understand that the moon comes and goes… like so much else in the world.

Illustrated with a classic feel and conveying important, topical messages about the ever-changing face of nature, the world and all within it, The Moon Keeper is the perfect book to teach youngsters about the moon’s phases, and a comforting, enchanting read to share at bedtime.

(Harper Collins, hardback, £12.99)

Age 3 plus:

Where do Teachers Go at Night? and Where ELSE do Teachers Go at Night?

Harriet Cuming and Sophie Norsa

We all know what teachers do when they stand in front of the class all day… but what do they do when the school gates shut?

Harriet Cuming, who knows a thing or two about teaching after spending 40 years in schools in Australia, Papua New Guinea and the UK, lets her imagination run riot around the world in two delightfully madcap, rhyming picture books.

Where do Teachers Go at Night? and Where ELSE do Teachers Go at Night? come from Little Steps, a classy imprint of early learning books by New Frontier Publishing, which is based in Australia and was established in 2002 with a mission to inspire, educate and uplift children.

In Where do Teachers Go at Night? we discover just where those tireless educators go when we’ve all gone home and they’ve turned out the light. From skinny-dipping in the Caribbean and riding elephants in Mumbai to climbing Mount Fuji and snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef, here is the truth of what our multi-talented teachers get up to behind our backs. And to cap it all, they still arrive before eight in the morning… and not even yawning!

And in Where ELSE do Teachers Go at Night? we discover more amazingly wonderful adventures with the crazy, inexhaustible teachers. From skating in Iceland and charming snakes in Marrakesh to shooting the Congo rapids and crescent sailing in Madagascar, these teachers are never still the whole night long. But are they REALLY arriving for class and not even yawning?

Artist Sophie Norsa’s gallery of vibrant, high-energy illustrations brings to life Cuming’s whirlwind, rhyming geography lesson in global destinations and gives youngsters a refreshingly human and colourful perspective on their teachers.

The perfect books to inspire youthful creativity, and bridge the gap between children and their understanding of school.

(Little Steps Publishing, paperback, £6.99)