We reviewed some of the best new books to keep kids entertained over half-term

October 17, 2019 2:30:26 PM

You have a long half-term break ahead of you all, and there’s only so much screen time anyone in the family can handle. Everyone is going to need a book-break at some point or another.

Nudge your little ones in the direction of these imaginative worlds and watch the week fly by…

My Hair by Hannah Lee, illustrated by Allen Fatimaharan (Faber & Faber, £6.99)

My Hair is the story book debut for writer Hannah Lee and illustrator Allen Fatimaharan and tells the story of a little girl’s search for the perfect party hairstyle. The story captures the excitement of preparing for a birthday, down to the last detail, and the hairstyles of friends and family are explored and celebrated from dreadlocks to bantu knots. The author’s love of her own black hair shines through.

Crossfire by Malorie Blackman (Penguin, £14.99)

When the first Noughts & Crosses book was published in 2001, it took insane amounts of willpower to not read it cover to cover, then flip back to the front and start again. Containing a dystopia in which Crosses (those with dark skin) rule over Noughts (light skinned), it’s a perfect blueprint for YA fiction that changes you, and makes you reevaluate the world you’ve grown up in. Eighteen years on, Malorie Blackman has returned to Callum and Sephy’s cosmos with a fifth story: Crossfire, in which the next generation is still grappling with the decisions and consequences of their off-limits love. A kidnapping, a questionable politician, a dead gangster and a troubled sister vie for your attention. Pacy and timely, it’s still easy to devour in one.

The Runaway Pea by Kjartan Poskitt and Alex Willmore (Simon & Schuster UK, £6.99)

Kjartan Poskitt is known for his Killer Puzzles, Murderous Maths and the Agatha Parrot book series, and Alex Willmore has illustrated books including It’s My Sausage, Stop, Fox! and Adorabull, but this book is their first venture together. It’s time for tea and a runaway pea has bounced off the plate and plans to have fun. The pea ‘pings’, ‘splats’ and ‘twangs’ from one sticky kitchen situation to another until he begins to wonder if he has made a mistake leaving the plate. Simple, funny rhyming text, graphic sound effects and vibrant illustrations make this story a pleasure to read aloud.

Hamish And The Monster Patrol by Danny Wallace (Simon & Schuster UK, £6.99)

Hamish Ellerby and his fearless monster-busting friends must once again save the town of Starkley from impending doom, in the latest instalment in the Hamish series from comedian Danny Wallace. Half-deserted, the whole town has been placed in lockdown with just days to go until the arrival of an unknown menace heading its way across the ocean. For once, Hamish and his pals in the PDF (or Pause Defence Force) are left struggling to come up with a plan, but discover a vital clue to the whereabouts of Alice’s mysterious, missing grandma Lydia, that could help Starkley fend off its foe. Hamish and Alice must head to the Amazon and join forces with the Monster Patrol – with Wallace creating yet more crazy characters in the form of Kit and his sidekick fish monster Smasha, excellently brought to life by illustrator Jamie Littler.

The Wizards Of Once: Knock Three Times by Cressida Cowell (Hodder Children’s Books, £12.99)

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#WizardsofOnce Knock Three Times is out in two weeks time

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A flying door, enchanted fork and a 13-eyed monster with a tentacle beard are just some of the weird and wonderful creations brought to life by Cressida Cowell in her fantasy adventure, The Wizards Of Once. This third instalment of the latest children’s series by the author of the How To Train Your Dragon books, sees plucky heroes Wish and Xar return with a madcap adventure to rid their land of evil witches. But their quest to find the ingredients for a witch-busting spell is their most dangerous yet and brings them face-to-face with the fearsome Nuckalavee. A little confusing at the start, the story soon finds its pace, with Cowell’s unique warm and witty writing proving as enchanting as ever.

Explorers by Nellie Huang and illustrator Jessamy Hawke (DK, £16.99)

Little explorers will be amazed and inspired by the adventurers featured in this book and how they have shaped the world today. From the explorers of Ancient Greece and the era of Christopher Columbus to astronauts and modern-day travel bloggers, author Nellie Huang tells the stories of more than 50 adventurers. Alongside the likes of Sir Francis Drake and James Cook, it also features less well-known intrepid explorers from around the world, all of whom have pushed boundaries. They all have one thing in common – enormous courage. French botanist Jeanne Baret was the first woman to sail around the world, but had to go undercover as a man to be allowed on naval ships. And present-day explorer and Paralympic gold medallist Karen Darke was the first paraplegic woman to hand-cycle through the Himalayas. Illustrator Jessamy Hawke helps bring these incredible human feats to life and shows what determination and a sense of adventure can achieve.

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