Saturday 5 March 2022

March releases to put a spring in your step...

Every Bunny Is a Yoga Bunny by Emily Ann Davison and Deborah Allwright
Published by: Nosy Crow, 3rd March

Yoga is a popular pastime in our house. With three wriggly, jiggly children, 7 bouncy bunnies, 5 flappy chickens and one squirmy puppy, a sense of calm can be hard to come by and it seems that Yo-Yo feels the same:

Yo-Yo is a fidgety bunny, a bouncy bunny and she just can't sit still. Even Grandpa's yoga classes aren't helping. But when Yo-Yo finds herself lost in a deep, shadowy forest, will Grandpa's yoga help her find her way home?

With stunning illustrations by Deborah Allwright, this is a book that both parents of little ones and little ones themselves will be able to relate to. Keeping those legs and bottoms still is soooo hard, even when you're trying to concentrate. But with a little bit of practise, yoga can really help to focus those busy minds and bodies.

Yo-Yo's energetic and engaging story introduces young readers to some lovely simple poses and breathing techniques which are revisited at the end of the book in a step-by-step instruction guide. There's a gorgeous bedtime ending which follows a challenging dilemma where Yo-Yo is able to apply her learning. It really is the perfect book to help stretch bodies, calm minds and bring families together, whether that's before bedtime or at any time during a busy day where there's a need to take five. It's a massive hit with my three, who actively ask to do yoga and if Yo-Yo can do it...then surely they can too!

The Story Shop: Blast Off! by Tracey Corderoy and Tony Neal
Published by: Little Tiger Press, 3rd March 2022

This new series from awesome author, Tracey Corderoy, is a story-lover's treat. Taking a similar format to Corderoy's other chapter books, The Grunt and the Grouch, Hubble Bubble and Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam, it contains three fabulous stories in one and yet cleverly follows one character's story shop adventure.

When a bold mouse visits Wilbur and Fred's story shop, he chooses an adventure that is out of this world. Blasting off into space, accompanied by Fred, he has a cheesy encounter on the moon, almost loses his tail in a game of Tiddlywonks and causes carnage on Planet Cog. Can Fred get him out of trouble before his adventure ends badly?

This series is a glorious celebration of imagination. With an endless array of themed story choices, there will hopefully be sequels galore where readers will never get bored. What story adventure would you choose?

The world-building , characters and illustrations are brilliant and engaging. Mouse's over confident attitude is hilarious whilst Fred brings everything back down to earth. The story plots are bold, bright and as captivating as a shooting star and, with each story being split into 3-4 chapters, they are the perfect length for emerging readers. 

Anyone who loves story will love this series. It's crazy, it's cool and this one is super spacey. But what will the next one be? Roarsome? Arrrggggggsome? You'll have to wait to find out. 

Libby and the Parisian Puzzle by Jo Clarke, illustrated by Becka Moor
Published by: Firefly Press, 3rd March 2022

Another of my much-anticipated reads of 2022 was Libby and the Parisian Puzzle written by Book Lover Jo. Set in a travelling school-yes, a travelling school!-this is a classic mystery story with an around-the-world twist.

When Libby joins her aunt's travelling school in Paris, she feels both excited and nervous. But, just as she is settling in, her aunt is arrested on suspicion of stealing jewels! Desperate to clear her aunt's name, Libby and her new friend Connie set out to find the real culprit...

This is a cleverly plotted mystery that's pitched perfectly towards younger middle grade detectives. Sitting alongside other young detective novels such as Anisha: Accidental Detective and Agent Zaiba Investigates, each are brilliant but feel different in their own right.  Jo Clarke's concept of a travelling school instantly appeals and there is a lovely flavour of Paris running through the novel: famous sights, delicious French patisserie and some simple French language. What's even more exciting is that subsequent novels in the series will immediately take on the vibe of future settings. 

Libby is a great main character. Her love of photography alongside her inquisitive nature makes her a natural detective and I love how she brings the more dubious Connie on board as her sidekick. Connie's role also develops brilliantly throughout the novel and she is definitely a dark-horse character I want to see more of. I also really like the presence of Libby's aunt and how the core of the story centres around the school. This means that while the travelling element reminds me very much of the older Adventures on Trains series, it maintains a cosy, familiar feel that provides a warm reassurance for 7-9s. 

With fantastic illustrations from Becka Moor, this novel twists and turns through the streets of Paris and keeps readers guessing until the final minute. Yet, there are enough seeded clues to begin piecing the puzzle together. It's a great start to what promises to be a fabulous series.

The Last Firefox by Lee Newbery, illustrated by Laura CatalΓ‘n

Published by: Puffin, 3rd March 2022

The first thing to say about Lee Newbury's debut novel, which is a Waterstones Book of the Month for March, is that the cover is simply stunning. Seeing it in the flesh took my breath away and the fiery orange colour scheme implies there's a cracker of a story inside. There really is! The Last Firefox is a joyful, wonderfully written adventure that will set your heart alight. 

Charlie Challinor finds it really hard to be bold and now he's about to start secondary school and become a big brother, life is feeling rather scary. But when he is unexpectedly charged with looking after a fox from another world, Charlie is forced to dig deep to find his bravery. Because this isn't just any fox, it's the last firefox and he has a sinister hunter on his tail. Can Charlie find a way to protect his flammable friend and find his own inner fire?

The hilarious opening to this novel sets the tone for what is ultimately a gentle, charming and genuinely heart-warming adventure. But it should come with a warning: Cadno the firefox will steal your heart! Perfect for both animal and adventure lovers, this is a tale of family, friendship and love that just happens to be  mixed with a crumbling castle, a magical portal and a very ominous villain. Yet, I loved how the magical element didn't take over. Charlie's world and Charlie's experiences remain central to the plot and, as a shy, underconfident child myself, I really resonated with his character. 

Without giving too much away, the story builds towards a great fiery finale with elements that reminded me a little bit of The Gruffalo's Child. There's also some cleverly plotted humour throughout, such as one of Charlie's dads being a firefighter (brilliantly apt) and Lippy's hamster food. It's cosy, cuddly, dark and sinister all at the same time but most of all this novel emanates as much light as Cadno himself-the sparks of which are bound to spread through readers of all ages and inspire their love of reading. 

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