Book review: Autumn shades of reading with Walker Books

Turn over the pages of a golden selection of new and vibrant children’s reads as Walker Books get into their autumn gear.

Tuesday, 13th October 2015, 10:00 am
Autumn shades of reading with Walker Books
Autumn shades of reading with Walker Books

A captivating classic from two well-respected picture book creators is top of the tree closely followed by a brilliant pop-up pirate ship adventure, an irresistible peep-through fairytale extravaganza, a subtle story about family and friendship, and an epic debut exploring the timelessness of first love.

Age 3 plus:

Say It!

Charlotte Zolotow and Charlotte Voake by Say it with words…

To celebrate autumn – and the unique relationship between mothers and daughters – here is a beautifully tender and reassuring picture book.

Hearts are guaranteed to melt as youngsters share the joy and warmth of this nostalgic book, which first appeared in America in 1980 and has now been republished by Walker to enchant a new generation of parents and children.

Charlotte Zolotow, an author, editor, publisher and educator who died in 2013 aged 98, had one of the most distinguished reputations in the field of children’s literature in the US. She wrote more than seventy books, many of which are classics, such as Mr Rabbit and the Lovely Present and William’s Doll.

The gorgeous illustrations, with their bold, painterly brush strokes and atmospheric autumn shades of amber, red, orange and brown, are the work of Surrey-based Charlotte Voake who was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal.

On a golden, windy autumn day, a mother and a daughter go walking among the swirling leaves. As they share little adventures together, like seeing a kitten, noticing the leaves’ colours and watching the setting sun colouring the clouds, the little girl keeps urging her mother to ‘Say it.’ And what those words are isn’t revealed until the very last page of the book...

There is a moving emotional intensity to Zolotow’s portrayal of the magical bond of love between parents and children which will appeal to generations young and old.

A picture classic just made for sharing at bedtime …

(Walker, hardback, £11.99)

Age 3 plus:

Maisy’s Pirate Ship: A Pop-up-and-Play Book by Lucy Cousins

Ahoy, me hearties, here’s a little treasure! Adorable mouse pirate Captain Maisy is setting sail and heading off on the high seas.

The new title in award-winning Lucy Cousins’ amazingly inventive Maisy’s Pop-up-and-Play Book series contains a stunning fold-out 3D pirate ship and press-out figures to let children make their own adventures for the crazy crew.

Whether they are brushing up on sword-fighting skills, discovering treasure or watching out for the sea monsters, little ones will find plenty of swashbuckling fun in this ingenious interactive book.

Perfect for pint-sized pirates, the book can easily be transported to keep children entertained on the go and when they have finished playing, the press-out characters can be stowed in a special keep-safe pocket at the end.

And if you want to share more fun and adventures with amazing Maisy, visit her entertaining website at for activities, newsletters, games and more.

Don’t miss the boat…

(Walker, hardback, £11.99)

Age 3 plus:

Fairytales for Mr Barker by Jessica Ahlberg

There’s a ‘hole’ lot of fun just waiting to be discovered in a fabulous new fairytale book from talented author and illustrator Jessica Ahlberg.

What child could resist peeping through the special holes in a story that blends some of the best fairy stories into one exciting adventure for a little girl and her dog?

With its sturdy pages, enchanting illustrations and intriguing windows and peep-holes, this magical, colourful journey of surprises is destined to be every little girl’s favourite.

‘Once upon a time, there was a troll,’ says Lucy but her dog, Mr Barker, isn’t listening. He is off through the window on his own fairytale adventure. With Goldilocks in trouble from the three bears, the little pigs in danger of having their house blown down and Jack fleeing from the Giant’s beanstalk house, Lucy will have to help them all make a quick escape. But will their story end happily ever after?

Jessica Ahlberg, daughter of Allan and Janet Ahlberg, creators of the classic The Jolly Postman, is following in the family tradition of producing beautiful books that children will want to treasure forever.

A charming, offbeat story for all little fairytale fans…

(Walker, hardback, £10)

Age 5 plus:

A Book of Feelings by Amanda McCardie and Salvatore Rubbino

Jealous, sad, angry, hurt… just some of the many feelings that young children find it difficult to understand and express.

Sometimes a story can speak a thousand words that are hard to articulate, so sit back and let your youngsters share the wise and gentle reassurance of Amanda McCardie’s clever picture book.

McCardie, who has studied infant observation and child development, uses the exploits of a typical brother and sister to explore the nuances of children’s behaviour in a way that they can understand and recognise.

In a story that will spark interest and plenty of discussion, we meet Sam and Kate and their dog, Fuzzy Bean. Sam and Kate know what makes them happy… cuddling mum, reading a story with dad, swimming, running and dancing. But, like Fuzzy Bean, they don’t feel happy all the time and as their story progresses, we see them feeling grumpy, embarrassed, shy, nervous, frightened, sad and jealous. Both words and pictures portray the children in many different situations at home and at school, and show how they change over time, how emotions can escalate, and how we can deal with them by helping each other.

This beautiful, fun-filled and sensitively written story, an invaluable tool for parents struggling to cope with children’s changing moods, is brought to life by Salvatore Rubbino’s eye-catching, lively and expressive illustrations.

No home – or school – should be without this invaluable book.

(Walker, hardback, £11.99)

Age 9 plus:

Sunny Days and Moon Cakes by Sarah Webb

Twice shortlisted for the Queen of Teen award, Sarah Webb returns with the second book in her heartwarming series The Songbird Cafe Girls.

In the follow-up to Mollie Cinnamon is Not a Cupcake, Webb features a young girl with selective mutism, an anxiety order which causes sufferers to become terrified of speaking to people other than close family members.

Friendship and family take a central role in this sensitive story of Chinese girl Sunny who lives with her adopted family in a castle on beautiful Little Bird Island.

The island has been Sunny’s home since she and her little sister Min arrived there from China. She loves baking and drawing but her life would be so much happier if only her anxiety didn’t make her throat close up and stop her from speaking to her friends. Could a trip to China be the key to unlocking Sunny’s voice?

Webb works her special magic in this warm and gentle story which blends fun and adventure with important, real-life issues.

(Walker, paperback, £5.99)

Age 12 plus:

The Next Together by Lauren James

How many times can you lose the person you love?

Debut writer Lauren James’ sensational debut novel takes romance to a new level as a pair of captivating young lovers battle time and fate to stay together for eternity.

Katherine and Matthew are destined to be born again and again. Each time their presence changes history for the better and each time they fall hopelessly in love, only to be tragically separated. But can you bear to lose the person you love time and time again because for Matthew and Katherine, it really is again and again, over and over, century after century. So why are they destined to keep coming back, how many times must they die to save the world and what else must they achieve before they can be left to live and love in peace? Maybe the next together will be different…

Funny, unique, filled with passion and danger, and utterly addictive, The Next Together is one of this year’s best young adult romances. James knows her audience and writes with the assurance and well-honed imagination of a seasoned novelist.

No self-respecting teen would want to miss it!

(Walker, paperback, £7.99)