Book review: Monsters, shy cats and fun-loving Wally with Walker Books

Monsters, shy cats and fun-loving Wally with Walker Books
Monsters, shy cats and fun-loving Wally with Walker Books

Come rain or shine, the half-term holiday won’t be boring with a sparkling selection of titles from Walker Books.

Walker is the world’s leading, employee-owned independent publisher of children’s books and this month it is rolling out a bumper bundle of fun, from colouring and activity books to enchanting picture books and an all-action thriller.

Age 5 plus:

Have You Seen My Monster? by Steve Light

Learning comes in all shapes… but talented author and illustrator Steve Light makes it a true art form in this innovative activity book.

In the fantastic follow-up to Light’s much-acclaimed Have You Seen My Dragon? we are transported to a fun-filled country fair where shapes take centre stage.

A little girl is on a quest is to find a friendly, furry little monster in a landscape filled with all sorts of exciting shapes, from ovals and hexagons to high-flying kites, which turn up in the most unexpected places.

Light’s atmospheric black-and-white illustrations, illuminated by vivid splashes of colour to subconsciously reinforce the intriguing shape forms, make learning an inspirational adventure.

He gives youngsters twenty shapes to identify, including squares, triangles, trapezoids and ellipses, all hidden among popular fair attractions like the fun house and the Ferris wheel. And then there is that elusive monster! Is he judging the pies, or maybe he’s at the monster truck rally.

Through a simple but clever process, Have You Seen My Monster? provides both lively fun and stimulating challenges as youngsters make their monstrously enthralling search-and-find journey of discovery.

(Walker, hardback, £11.99)

Age 4 plus:

Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light

And now available in paperback is Steve Light’s brilliantly entertaining and educational Have You Seen My Dragon? search-and-find number book.

Packed with Light’s trademark black-and-white illustrations featuring a fascinating, ornately drawn cityscape, children must help a boy find his dragon while counting objects from hot dogs to traffic lights.

As the boy travels all over town searching for his dragon friend, youngsters spot the magnificent beast as well as an array of big-city landmarks such as buses, taxis, manhole covers, books and bicycles.

With his flashes of both humour and colour, Light comes up with a highly original and counting book full of wonder, charm… and learning.

(Walker, paperback, £6.99)

Age 5 plus:

Where’s Wally? The Sticker Book! by Martin Handford

He’s here, there and everywhere! And he’s just waiting for you to get stuck in…

Yes, Wally – much-loved star of Martin Handford’s fantastic Where’s Wally books – is back with his very own funky sticker book.

This crafty little book is bursting with over 1,000 stickers and some stupendous fun. The sticker sheets echo themes of the classic Wally scenes from the original books, such as The Airport and The Riddle of the Pyramids. At the start of each new sticker section, Wally and each of his friends introduce the reader to creative ideas that they can do with the stickers. Make mini crowd scenes, put together sensational stories, decorate your diary, make Wally wrapping paper, create cut-out characters and you can even build a board game!

And the entertainment doesn’t stop there. Wally fans will also be inspired to create their own Where’s Wally hunt with the character-based stickers that can be hidden in all manner of places. Invite other Wally-watcher friends to join in the search and give them an ‘I found Wally!’ sticker!

You’ll never be stuck for ideas with this clever, crafty version of Wally…

(Walker, paperback, £7.99)

Age 3 plus:

Miss Hazeltine’s Home for Shy and Fearful Cats by Alicia Potter and Birgitta Sif

Raise your paw if you are a cat lover?

Feline fans young and old will love this gorgeous, cat-fest picture book featuring our furry friends in every shape and size.

This terrific tale about conquering fear is the work of two rising stars of the picture book world, Kate Greenaway shortlisted illustrator Birgitta Sif and acclaimed new author Alicia Potter.

It’s a book filled with stunning illustrations and those archetypal scaredy cats… cats terrified of mice, cats frightened of birds, cats that can’t pounce and cats that won’t purr. Miss Hazeltine takes them all into her Home for Shy and Fearful Cats and she teaches them everything she knows including bird basics, how not to fear the broom, how to hold your tails high, arch your backs and think good thoughts. But under the bed hides nervous little Crumb... will Miss Hazeltine be able to help the most shy and fearful kitty cat of them all?

Potter’s imaginative and heart-warming story about conquering your fears, being brave and finding your moment to shine sends out important messages to little ones facing their own confidence struggles.

The purr-fect picture book for cat lovers of every age…

(Walker, hardback, £11.99)

Age 5 plus:

Heather Has Two Mummies by Lesléa Newman and Laura Cornell

Back by public demand is this delightful and relevant modern classic to teach a new generation the importance of a loving family life in all its shapes and forms.

Unavailable since 2009, Heather Has Two Mummies has been revitalised in an updated, beautifully illustrated, fresh funny and light-hearted new edition for young readers.

Celebrated author Lesléa Newman and bestselling illustrator Laura Cornell tell the story of a little girl called Heather. Her favourite number is two… she has two arms, two legs, two pets and two lovely mummies, Mama Jane and Mama Kate. But when Heather goes to school for the first time, someone asks her about her daddy, and Heather doesn’t have a daddy. But then the class all draw portraits of their families, and not one single drawing is the same. Heather and her classmates realise that it doesn’t matter who makes up a family, the most important thing is that all the people in it love one another very much.

An endearing and thoughtful story packed with charming illustrations…

(Walker, hardback, £11.99)

Age 12 plus:

Lottery Boy by Michael Byrne

Begging on the streets of London is heartbreakingly tough, particularly when you are only twelve.

Former English teacher and now debut author Michael Byrne touches a raw nerve in this hard-hitting, fast-moving and gripping contemporary thriller with a powerful emotional intensity.

A young boy’s tale of loss, unbearable hope and an amazing stroke luck as he struggles to survive on London’s mean streets has shades of hit film Slumdog Millionaire.

Since his mother’s death, Bully has lost his old life. Living rough with his Staffordshire bull terrier Jack, he finds it difficult to imagine his future. But one day, in the last birthday card his mum ever gave him, he finds a winning lottery ticket, a final gift that suddenly offers such hope. But only if only he can get to his prize on time because just five days remain to claim his prize from Camelot. Bully’s struggle to survive has just got a whole lot harder. Word of his win has spread on the streets and ruthless thugs are after him. Everyone wants a piece of him and even if he does claim all that money, will he really be winning what he needs the most?

Packed with villains and heroes, Lottery Boy is a tale of our times, a tense and exciting rollercoaster adventure high on emotion and drama, and portraying an eye-opening side of our capital city that many youngsters will not even know about.

(Walker, paperback, £6.99)

Age 4 plus:

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: Colouring Book by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury

Join in the fun of Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury’s award-winning book, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, with this exciting colouring activity book.

You can colour in the bear hunt, make your own drawings, fill in dot-to-dots and make your own bear ears to cut out and wear.

Perfect to take on holiday or fill rainy days, this imaginative book features all the characters from the much-loved story and Oxenbury’s beautiful illustrations are as enchanting here as in the 25-year-old original.

Hours of fun in one little book…

(Walker, paperback, £4.99)

Age 4 plus:

Sticker Activity: London by Jennie Maizels

A visit to London wouldn’t be complete without this ‘capital’ activity book just bursting with games, puzzles and over 100 stickers.

Jennie Maizels’ Sticker Activity London is a wonderful way to explore the capital, whether you are planning a sightseeing trip, bringing home a souvenir or sending a gift. Complete mind-boggling quizzes, learn amazing facts about city sights and get creative with the colourful stickers.

Using the stickers, you can build Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral and even the Natural History Museum’s famous dinosaur skeleton, get to know the big shops and where theatres are and learn about the famous London Eye. With word searches, sudokus, crosswords, spot the differences and many more activities, children will be occupied for hours and learn about the city’s history and culture along the way.

(Walker, paperback, £4.99)

Age 3 plus:

Footpath Flowers by JonArno Lawson and Sydney Smith

Sometimes a story can be best told without words…

Take this clever and enchanting wordless picture book from award-winning Canadian poet JonArno Lawson… a silent but highly effective tribute to the importance of small things, small people and small gestures.

Using emotive black-and-white illustrations which slowly blossom into full colour, we see a little girl collect wild flowers while her distracted father pays her – and their surroundings – scant attention. Each flower the little girl gathers becomes a gift for a person or animal, and whether the gift is noticed or ignored, both giver and recipient are transformed by their encounter.

Using Lawson’s highly original concept, fellow Canadian Sydney Smith brings the story to glorious life with his superb illustrations, creating a quietly powerful testament to the joy that children can find in ordinary things and the mutual value of giving.

Proof that pictures can speak louder than words…

(Walker, hardback, £11.99)

Age 5 plus:

Ace Dragon Ltd by Russell Hoban and Quentin Blake

Imaginations take flight in this irresistible Russell Hoban and Quentin Blake classic story about a fire-breathing dragon that takes a boy on a fantastic sky-high adventure.

Hoban and Blake are the inimitable duo behind the hilarious tales of Captain Najork and they strike yet more reading gold in this picture perfect tale which has been brought back into print in a bigger format and even more colourful edition.

‘I can make fire come out of my nose and mouth,’ the dragon under the pavement tells John. ‘I can fly. I can spin gold into straw if you have any gold.’ John doesn’t have any gold, and he doesn’t need any straw. Well, not yet anyway. The dragon tells John that if he fights the dragon and wins, the dragon will take him flying. What a challenge! Where will it lead? John soon finds out, and he also finds out that you just never know when a bundle of straw might come in handy.

There’s sword-flashing excitement, a moon landing and plenty of magic as Hoban and Blake roll out their lovable characters, madcap antics and fabulous fun.

Words and pictures in anarchic harmony!

(Walker, hardback, £12.99)