Saturday 25 November 2017

A superb selection of summer reading for little bookworms

Want to keep your children engrossed all summer? Justine Carbery has the definitive holiday book guide

Isobel Conachy (6) enjoying her new book 'The Day The Cayons Come Home'. Photo: David Conachy.
Isobel Conachy (6) enjoying her new book 'The Day The Cayons Come Home'. Photo: David Conachy.

As a mother of three boys, I know how invaluable it is to foster a love of reading, particularly in today's world of technological distractions. Recent scientific research shows that reading is the most important indicator of the future success and happiness of a child. How much better for them to while away long hours in planes, trains and automobiles than with a good book? How lovely to read a story away from the heat of the midday sun, or escape to an imaginary faraway land when rain is spattering the roof of a tent. How special are those moments when you cuddle up close and turn the pages of a beautifully illustrated book. So don't forget to pack these wonderful titles, and even the most reluctant readers will be unable to resist.


For anyone with a young child, Little Blue Truck (Nosy Crow €8.99), by Alice Schertle, is a must. With catchy rhymes, gorgeous illustrations and chime-in animal sounds, it's a perfect book to read aloud. Tidy (Two Hoots €15.99), by Emily Gravett, is a quirky rhyming woodland story about the perils of being too tidy. Pete the badger is a little OCD. He wants the forest to be all neat and tidy but ends up realising that nature needs to be left to its own devices.

Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's books have been family favourites for more than 20 years, and now Macmillan Children's Books has published eight of their classic and much-loved stories with fresh new cover designs to entertain a new generation of fans of The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo's Child and Room on the Broom. Box (Nosy Crow €12.99) by Min Flyte is a charming picture book with flaps and fold-out pages. It's full of gorgeous patterns and colours to thrill young readers' imaginations.

I love There is a Tribe of Kids (Two Hoots €10.50), by Lane Smith, who takes us on an adventure through the natural world, following a child through the jungle, under the ocean and into the sky - a beautiful book. Let's See Ireland (O'Brien €12.99) is an attractive, new Irish picture book, full of vibrant illustrations, about Molly, who is going on a road trip all around the country. 


This summer there are plenty of great activity books to keep our young readers entertained. Larry the Leprechaun and his family are travelling around Ireland visiting some exciting places in Philip Barrett's Irish re-imagining of the Where's Wally series, Where's Larry This Time? (O'Brien €9.99).

The new Where's Wally? The Colouring Book (Walker €10.99) by Martin Handford is jam-packed with black and white spreads. For emerging readers I recommend the Claude books by Alex T Smith, which challenge those ready to move on from picture books with easy-to-follow text, a playful layout and humorous illustrations. In Claude Going for Gold (Hodder €4.99), the fetching red beret-wearing dog and his charming best friend, Sir Bobblysock, find themselves taking part in a Very Exciting Sports Competition.

Captain Pug (Bloomsbury €8.75), by Laura James, is another great new book for those who are ready for something meatier than a picture book. Adorable Captain Pug is going on a seafaring adventure but, unfortunately, he is afraid of water. The Adventures of Alfie Onion (Walker €6.99), by Vivian French, is about Magnifico Onion, the seventh son of a seventh son, and his younger brother Alfie Onion (the real hero), who set off on a fairytale-like adventure, complete with talking animals, ogres and trolls.

From the hilarious David Walliams comes The World's Worst Children (HarperCollins €14.99), 10 cautionary tales about five naughty boys and five mischievous girls - probably his best to date. Kids will love these short tales. A stunning book for children of all ages is Naturama (Gill €19.99), by architect, environmentalist and writer Michael Fewer, with breathtaking illustrations and information on Ireland's flora and fauna throughout the changing seasons. 


For the more independent reader there are rich pickings. Knights of the Borrowed Dark (Penguin €8.99), by Dave Rudden, is about 13-year-old Denizen Hardwick (13), an orphan who lives at Crosscaper Orphange, until he is taken in by a secret society of warriors fighting primordial evil and finds he has superpowers.

Derek Landy is back with the second book in his Demon Road trilogy - Desolation (HarperCollins €15.99) and Shane Hegarty's funny and action-packed Dartmouth series continues with Chaos Descends (HarperCollins €13.99). Gerard Siggins's Rugby Flyer (O'Brien €8.99) and Corkman Kieran Crowley's Mighty Dynamo (Macmillan €8.99) will appeal to the boys, while fun reads for the girls include Sarah Webb's Aurora & Popcorn Dolphin (Walker €6.99) and Dork Diaries; and Drama Queen (Simon & Schuster €8.99), by best-selling author Rachel Renee Russell, who also brings us her new series, The Misadventures of Max Crumbly (€13.99). Murder Most Unladylike (Penguin €8.99), by Robin Stevens, is an entertaining mix of boarding school story, Agatha Christie mystery and a friendship tale involving two girl detectives.

The Wordsmith (Little Island €8.99), by Patricia Forde, is an engaging post-apocalyptic tale with a great heroine, Lette, and an interesting plot, while Arrivals (O'Brien €8.99), by Brian Gallagher, is a Canadian murder mystery set in 1928: teenager Ciara Farrelly visits her dead grandfather's Ontario home and uncovers a secret from his childhood. Gavriel Savit's Anna and the Swallow Man (Penguin €12.99), set in World War Two, is a beautiful read, and Kate DiCamillo's Raymie Nightingale (Walker €11.99), about unlikely friendships, perseverance and growing up, is super. Sheila Flanagan's The Crystal Run (Hachette €16.99) will appeal to youngsters who enjoy reading about dangerous quests.

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