Book Monitor - books from across the world

Engaging reads for children, from Books go Walkabout

Around the World with Friends by Philip Waechter

Raccoon finishes his book and is ready for his own adventure—he wants thrills, excitement, and to cross the ocean! He borrows everything he needs from his friends, who insist on coming along. They sail through rapids, collect sweet blackberries, chase away bees, and play soccer, until a little rain and thoughts of home bring their excursion to an end. That, thinks Raccoon, was the most thrilling magnificent adventure with friends I’ve ever had.

In this heart-warming follow-up to A Perfect Wonderful Day with Friends, Waechter shows how life is better when you bring along your friends and take what the day brings.

Such a feel good factor about this book as Bear sets out on his adventure to travel around the world. With his friends he gest into all the action, but actually without ever going far from home. An adventure on your doorstep.

‘For a first world trip, that wasn’t bad, ‘ says Crow.

It was a proper adventure!’ adds Fox.

The rapids were a real thrill!’ says Racoon.’

Philip Waechter is the author and illustrator and gives a really good feel about the characters through their actions and in the illustrations. He lives as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator in Frankfurt am Main.

Gecko Press releases this beautiful book in July 2024, to join an excellent portfolio of books.

I am always delighted to receive books which are such good quality and so inspirational, perfect for reading and sharing together.

Sue Martin Children Literacy Specialist

The Raven’s Song by Zana Fraillon and Bren MacDibble

Really excited by this book! It spans time. Is it really true that we are not the only ones alive in this universe?

Shelby and Davy’s lives are limited to seven hundred hectares, waiting (along with the 348 other people assigned to their seven hundred) for the earth to heal. But a hole in the perimeter fence leads Shelby and
Davy out into the wilds, where they come across an abandoned city, and a lonely old man leaving desperate messages to try to save his friends.
Decades earlier, Phoenix, Walter, and their sisters, are free to explore the wilds and the bog near their home. Phoenix, like his mother and his brother, has the gift of sight. When his younger brother Walter, brings home 12 raven feathers – the same day that Phoenix sees a raven standing at the foot of his bed. Phoenix knows that something bad is going to happen. But nobody could have predicted the pandemic that is about to it, or the way it will send all of their lives out of control.

Zana Fraillon and Bren MacDibble live in Australia and have co written this novel, which brings a really exciting way of engaging with the characters.

Old Barn Books, based in the UK work with Allen and Unwin Publishers from Australia. There are packs of teacher notes linked to curriculum areas for use in schools and a huge number of leads into research and exploration. It’s so much more than just a book.

Sue Martin Children’s Literacy Specialist

The Pinchers and the Dog Chase by Anders Sparring and Per Gustavsson

The first in a funny chapter book crime series about a well-behaved child who doesn’t fit in to his family of criminals—featuring a prison break, a diamond heist, and a lie that saves the day.

Theo is good at most things. He can almost count to a thousand, knows several French words, and can operate the washing machine. But he can’t lie or steal. “You must try harder,” says his mother sternly.

The Pincher Family love to steal things. It’s what they are born for! When his parents leave to visit the diamond exhibition, Theo’s heart sinks. After breaking Grandma out of prison (his little sister needs someone to read her bedtime story), Theo sees no alternative but to stop his parents stealing the diamond. His shout of “Stop! Police!” brings them only delight—Theo’s lie has shown he is a true Pincher.

A mix of adventure, silliness, and everyday family life, and with bright and funny illustrations, this is a perfect chapter book for beginning and reluctant readers.

Gecko Press are exciting publishers and have a wonderful portfolio of children’s books from all over the world.

Such a brilliant book, engaging and fun story, a real page turner. Perfect for children starting out on chapter books, the illustrations are really good and will help to develop imagination and use of exciting adjectives.

Sue Martin Children’s Literacy Specialist

Welcome to AI by Matthieu Dugal and Owen Davey

The most complete guide to AI for youngsters, covering everything from Ancient Greece to ChatGPT. A book filled with info about AI that starts to make sense as how it can benefit us all without taking over, or will it?

In this fun, simple and vibrant non-fiction book, technoscience expert Matthieu Dugal, creator of documentary AI: To be or not to be, shares the epic history of artificial intelligence and gives answers to the biggest head-scratchers: Illustrator Owen Davey brings the complex world to life through his illustrations.

  • How does AI already help us, at home and at school?
  • Which robots from your favourite movies may soon be in the real world?
  • What are avatars?
  • Which inventors are creating new technologies?
  • How do algorithms work?
  • …and why can’t AI cook pasta and drain it at the right time?

We can’t see it and yet this technology is everywhere: it’s in computers, cars and virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa. And it’s already making decisions for us, for better and sometimes for worse

This fascinating guide delves deep into how these decisions are made behind the scenes, putting tricky ideas into easy-to-understand terms. Keep kids’ attention with colourful illustrations and easy-to-understand, well-researched facts to prepare them for an exciting AI-centric future.

A brilliant and timely book from Wide Eyed Books, imprint of Quarto group, definitely one to have as a way in to understand or just know the terminology!

Sue Martin Children’s Literacy Specialist

I Love Books by Mariajo Ilustrajo

*Winner of the Klaus Flugge Prize for Illustration 2023*

From the award-winning creator of Flooded and Lost comes a magical story about the joy of discovering a connection with books for the very first time.

This brightly illustrated adventure story is perfect for kids who claim to hate reading, as the enchanting narrative opens their eyes to a fantasy world created by words on a page.

In this spellbinding story, we meet a little girl excited for the end of term. No more school! However, she’s given the very unreasonable task of reading a whole book over the holidays. A whole book? but she HATES books. Luckily, her sister takes her to the library and says she has just the thing.

Slowly, the little girl is drawn into a world of adventure inside her own imagination, for the very first time. Even the greyscale world starts to fill with colour as she is carried away in the story. A little fennec fox leads her to meet fairytale witches and creatures as they find ingredients to cast a special spell at the end of her book. The little girl is dismayed to learn that this spell seemingly hasn’t changed a thing. However, the little fox points out that she is completely transformed: discovering the power of her imagination has changed her forever.

This charming and engaging picture book shows children how wonderful books can really be, leaving them with a lifelong affinity for reading. Discover adventure on every page and turn I Hate Books into I Love Books.

Mariajo Ilustrajo is an award-winning Spanish illustrator based in the UK. She completed her MA in Children’s Illustration from the prestigious Cambridge Anglia Ruskin course in April 2021. Her debut picture book, Flooded, won the Klaus Flugge Prize for Illustration 2023.

Super book from Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, a great way to help children find the magic of reading.

Sue Martin – Children’s Literacy Specialist

The Observologist by Giselle Clarkson

A stunningly intriguing book on another level of interesting ways for children to explore. For the ardent young explorer this is a highly illustrated, playful field guide for budding natural scientists and curious observers of the world right under our noses.

Observology is the study of looking. An observologist makes scientific expeditions, albeit very small ones, every day. They notice interesting details in the world around them. They are expert at finding tiny creatures, plants and fungi. They know that water snails glide upside down on the undersurface of the water; not all flies have wings; earthworms have bristles; butterflies taste with their feet. An observologist knows that there are extraordinary things to be found in even the most ordinary places.

The Observologist puts over 100 small creatures and features of the natural world under the microscope, piquing our curiosity with only the most interesting facts. Subjects range from slugs, ants and seeds, fungi and flies through to bees and bird poop.

But this is no everyday catalogue of creatures. It is an antidote to boredom, an invitation out of the digital world and screentime, an encouragement to observe our environment, with care and curiosity, wherever we are.

Facts combine with comics, detailed illustrations, science and funny stories in this unique, warm and fascinating account of the small things all around us. Graphic and comic illustrations with funny talking insects make this a playful and informative book for 7- to 11-year-olds and one to be treasured in the classroom.

Giselle Clarkson, author and illustrator based in New Zealand brings together her expertise in both comics and conservation background. Once you start thinking small, there’s no limit to what you can notice—right under your nose.

Gecko Press have an amazing list of titles, they follow what they believe in ‘Choosing  children’s books of good heart and strong character’. Follow their blog and sign up for their newsletter, you’ll love it.

My dilemma is whether to save this book for myself or give to my emerging scientist of a granddaughter ?

Sue Martin Children’s Literacy Specialist

Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr by Sara Khan

Join Raya and her mama and aba as they enjoy iftar, bake Ramadan cookies, do good deeds around their community and visit the mosque.

Raya is celebrating Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr with her family and inviting you along to learn more! It’s a time full of fun activities and celebrations, and a great opportunity to get closer to Allah. Learn about this special time as Raya makes Ramadan mubarak cards for her friends and has her hands decorated with henna!

And when the month of Ramadan is over, Raya, her mama and aba, aunts, uncles and cousins have a magical Eid celebration, playing games, opening presents and eating delicious food.

This bright and engaging picture book is the perfect way to introduce little ones to Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr. Author Sara Khan brings the celebrations to life, drawing on her own experiences with her daughter, also named Raya! This book also offers fun activities that parents and children can do together in the lead-up to the celebration, such as making a pop-up card and cookies. A fun fact file and colourful quiz follow the story, giving kids the opportunity to learn more about Allah, worship and the lunar calendar.

Sara Khan is an international bestselling Author and Art Director of Islamic Board Books for Toddlers and Young Children (Kube Publishing). She is a Linguist and Qualified Translator with a First-class BA (hons) in Linguistics and Arabic as well as a MA in Translation & Interpreting Studies. 

Words and Pictures are an imprint of the Quarto Group with an amazing portfolio of picture books.

Sue Martin Children’s Literacy Specialist

The Pinchers and the Diamond Heist by Anders Sparring and illustrated by Per Gustavsson

The family of Pinchers just love to steal. But Theo, their son just can’t do that. He doesn’t steal but he is really good at so many things which his family are seriously not bothered by. Theo just doesn’t fit in with a family of criminals.

The first book in this funny, chapter book, crime series for children aged 6- 9 years. It is packed with schemes and adventures from beginning to end, featuring a prison break, a diamond heist and a lie that saves the day.

The book is beautifully presented with text and illustrations on every page. The quality of the paper is wonderful, and the pale cream colour makes it accessible for all readers. Originally published in Sweden where the book sold over 300,000 copies, it is now translated into over thirty languages.

Super little video …

Anders Sparring, is the author of many children’s books and is also a screen writer and a stand up comedian based in Sweden

Per Gustavsson is an award winning illustrator and author of many popular children’s books. He is been a judge in the Astrid Lingren Memorial Award since 2019.

Gecko Press hand-picks books by some of the best writers and illustrators in the world—books of good heart and strong character, excellent in story, illustration and design. Lizard logo is really cool!

Delighted to receive this captivating book and perfect for me for a Friday night in front of the fire.

Sue Martin Children’s Literacy Specialist


Nikhil and Jay: Flying High

Nikhil and Jay: Flying High

By Chitra Soundar & Illustrated by Soofiya

The Nikhil and Jay series is perfect for children moving on from picture books to longer storybook. In this fourth book for early readers about the irrepressible British Asian brothers, Nikhil and Jay, the boys have four fun adventures at home.

Nikhil and Jay feel sorry for Appa when he falls and hurts his ankle, but they make him feel better by playing Dayan, the Indian Board Game; litter-picking at the Clean and Green Club is great fun when the boys do it in the park with all their friends; one windy day Nikhil, Jay, Amma and Appa make kites and decorate them – and have a fantastic time flying them; Jay doesn’t like tidying up but he discovers that putting away his toys can be a fun game when he does it together with Nikhil!

Chitra Soundar, author and storyteller has written over 40 books and is widely celebrated as a writer and storyteller. She lives between south London and Chennai, India.

Soffiya is the visual artist and illustrator of the Nikhil and Jay books. Her work explores ideas around race and gender. Her website has a great star wandering mouse!!

Otter-Barry Books are the publishers of this amazing series which provides early readers with just the right amount of text to image, and in globally diverse situations.

Sue Martin – Children’s Literacy Specialist

Books Go Walkabout

The Panda’s Child by Jackie Morris and Cathy Fisher


The Panda’s Child

From internationally bestselling author Jackie Morris and award-winning illustrator Cathy Fisher, a beautiful gift book with the resonance of a legend and a passion for the wild world

In a faraway forest a baby is lost and found, protected by a she-panda.
Nine years later another baby, the panda’s child, is in great danger, and only a boy and the spirit of the forest can save him.

Stunningly beautiful book! Illustrations portray the powerful story of being lost and found and the rescuer who turned the wicked plans of man upside down. A mysterious and appealing story full of fears and joys.

Jackie Morris is internationally admired for her imaginative and atmospheric picture books, illustrated with watercolours and often with a fantasy dimension. Her previous books include The Snow Leopard, The Ice Bear and Tell Me a Dragon. Her books The Seal Children, New Born Child and One Cheetah, One Cherry were published by Otter-Barry Books in 2016. In 2019 she was awarded the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal for her work on The Lost Words. Jackie Morris lives in St. David’s, Pembrokeshire.

Cathy Fisher graduated in the ’80s. She taught in art schools in Britain, Seychelles and then, as an artist, in Australia. She now lives in Wales, where she has worked in collaboration with author Nicola Davies. She was longlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal for Perfect and The Pond and was nominated for The New Girl. Her latest collaboration is with the acclaimed author and illustrator Jackie Morris. Illustrating with watercolours and mixed media, her pictures convey her deeply felt connection with nature and her observations of human behaviour and emotion.
This magical, powerful story by Jackie Morris, co-creator of The Lost Words, and award-winning illustrator Cathy Fisher, is a book for all ages to treasure, exploring our most vital connection with wild nature.

Sue Martin – Children’s Literacy Specialist

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