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Adventures aplenty in new kids books

PUBLISHED: 10:50 02 February 2008 | UPDATED: 12:15 07 May 2010

From Water Horses to Bog Children, Night Monsters to Pirate Princes, there are books to excite every young reader with our selection of the latest children's releases. STACIA BRIGGS curls up with a good book (or 20).

From Water Horses to Bog Children, Night Monsters to Pirate Princes, there are books to excite every young reader with our selection of the latest children's releases. STACIA BRIGGS curls up with a good book (or 20).

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t Michael Rosen's Sad Book, Michael Rosen and Quentin Blake, £7.99.

Nearly nine years ago, Children's Laureate Michael Rosen said goodnight to his 18-year-old son Eddie, who was sleeping downstairs on the sofa because he felt unwell. He told him some jokes, tucked him in and then went to bed. At 6am, he woke up to check on Eddie and found that he had died in the night, a victim of meningitis. This incredibly touching, heartfelt book is Rosen's way of “explaining how sadness can make you feel to children, using language they understand and can relate to. “Sometimes I don't want to talk about it. Not to anyone. No one. No one at all. I just want to think about it on my own. Because it's mine. And no one else's.” Honest, moving and a beautiful tribute to a son of whom Rosen says: “I loved him very, very much. But he died anyway.” A wonderful way to introduce children to the idea that it's OK to be sad and that there are many, many ways to deal with sadness when it overwhelms you. Fantastic.

t Bog Child, Siobhan Dowd, £10.99.

Author Siobahn Dowd tragically died before the publication of this, her third novel (astonishingly, a fourth is due to be published next year). The 47-year-old had been battling breast cancer for several years and passed away last August. Her legacy is a set of thought-provoking, beautifully written books for older children - additionally, before her death she set up a trust for promoting literature among youth offenders and other disadvantaged young people into which her future royalties will be channelled. Bog Child tells the story of Fergus, an Irish lad who finds the body of a child while digging for peat in the mountains with his Uncle Tally. As Fergus tries to make sense of the mad world around him - his brother on hunger strike in prison, his growing feelings for friend Cora, his parents arguing over the Troubles - a little voice comes to him in his dreams and the mystery of the Bog Child unfurls. A dramatic and poignant tale from a sadly missed talent.

t The Thousand Nights and One Night, retold by David Walser, illustrations by Jan Pienkowski, £14.99.

Welcome to an ancient world of enchantment and adventure where animals talk, genies grant wishes and sorcerers and sultans rub shoulders with men. Based on the original 19th century English translation by Sir Richard Burton, David Walser retells these fantastic tales - but the real magic comes from Jan Pienkowski's gorgeous illustrations, which light up practically every page. Stories include old favourites, such as Aladdin, Sinbad the Sailor and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. For all ages (although the stories may be a little gory for tinies!).

t Mummy, Do You Love Me? Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Jan Fearnley, £10.99.

A timely release close to Mother's Day ensures this book will be tugging at the heartstrings of many Mummies. Little Chick discovers that his mother loves him even when he's muddy, evening when he ruins the rose she gives him, even when he's shouting…because he's her baby and she loves him “more than words can ever say”. Sweet pre-school bedtime reading which helps reinforce the concept of unconditional love.

t Sebastian Darke: Prince of Pirates, Philip Caveney, £9.99.

The second Sebastian Darke novel hits the shelves, and this time Sebastian, Max the buffalope and Cornelius the miniature warrior are setting sail in search of the fabled lost treasure of the Pirate King, Captain Calinestra. Before they arrive at x marks the spot, they must make it through the dark and mysterious forest of Geltane and survive an encounter with a powerful enchantress called Leonora, who holds a magical hold over Sebastian's senses. Feisty female sea captains, an infamous young pirate, ravenous sea creatures, giant lizards, furious sea battles and breathtaking action awaits them - a great return for Sebastian, suitable for confident readers.

t Molly and the Night Monster, Chris Wormell, £10.99.

From the creator of George and the Dragon (a fantastic book, if you haven't read it to your pre-schooler) comes this familiar tale of a small girl struggling with night monsters - albeit ones that don't actually exist. When Molly wakes up in the middle of the night and hears the sound of a step on the stair, her imagination runs wild. She imagines a crocodile, bear, hippo, elephant or giraffe may be creeping up the stairs to her bedroom. Worse still, she wonders if a night monster has come to gobble her up. For those of a nervous disposition, fear not - there's a hug at the end and it doesn't come from a mythical beast with a rumbling tum.

t The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone, Timothy Basil Ering, £5.99.

I love this quirky book - it's precisely the kind of tome you'd expect from Sweeney Todd director Tim Burton if he ever decided to put pen to paper and create a children's book. Dark and scrawled, the book takes readers on a journey with a young boy who lives in Cementland and who dreams of one day finding treasure. When at last he finds an exciting-looking chest, he's overjoyed to discover mounds of treasure. But when he looks closely, he's disappointed to see that the treasure appears to be specks of dust… what can it be? And why does the boy have to create his very own junk-pile-monster to protect the specks? A gloriously colourful ending to a purposefully shadowy book, this is fabulous entertainment for children aged five and above and is the perfect antidote to the mountains of sugary children's literature which you'll have ploughed through in the past.

t The Waterhorse, by Dick King-Smith, Audio CD ready by Nathaniel Parker, £9.99.

When eight-year-old Kirstie brings home a strange egg from the Scottish shore, her family never expects it to hatch. But the next day, Kirstie discovers a baby sea monster swimming in her bathtub. Part horse, part toad, part turtle and part crocodile, he's the oddest creature Kirstie's family has ever seen - only her grandfather knows what the beastie is really called; a Water Horse!

A magical retelling of the legend of the Loch Ness Monster, the Water Horse is a timeless tale which has recently been brought to the big screen in a fantastic film adaptation of Dick King Smith's clever story. Great for children aged six and above.

t Triskellion, Will Peterson, £6.99.

Rachel and Josh are sent from their New York home to stay with their Grandmother in Triskellion, a sinister English village with a genuinely dark heart beating beneath the thatched roofs. With the help of local boy Gabriel, the pair begin to unearth centuries-old secrets and make a shocking discovery about their family's past and their own future. With nail-biting suspense, a gripping mystery and a paranormal twist, this book will enthral readers aged nine and above.

t Guess How Much I Love You in the Spring, Sam McBratney, illustrated by Anita Jeram, £4.99.

If you're a fan of the classic Guess How Much I Love You, you'll love this new spring-themed board book for young readers. The two adorable hares who love each other more than to the moon and back are learning how things grow - Little Nutbrown Hare learns that a tadpole grows into a frog, a shoot into a big tree. He also learns that if everything grows and changes, he's destined to become Not So Little Nutbrown Hare in the near future. This is part of a range of seasonal range of Guess How Much I Love You books (the original has sold a staggering 18 million copies) which include a book about Summer. Pre-school readers will love this book with its rounded corners and card pages. Wonderful for sharing.

ALSO ON THE SHELVES

t Tangshan Tigers, Dan Lee, £4.99.

Author Dan Lee is not a man to annoy in a dark alley - he's a wing chun master and is also trained in kickboxing and ju-jitsu. In addition to being officially hardcore, he's written a new series of action-packed books for boys based at the Beijing International Academy where the Tangshan Tigers are training for victory. Can this elite martial arts squad fight the forces of criminal masterminds when they steal a priceless jade trophy? For ages seven plus.

t Best Dog Bonnie: The Little Dog with Big Ideas, Bel Mooney, £3.99.

Poor Harry, when his Mum told him they were getting a dog, he had visions of a huge, protective hound that would gain him kudos at the park. Instead, he gets a fluffy white Maltese dog with a pink bow in her hair. But Bonnie the dog is about to show Harry that appearances can be very deceptive. For confident, young readers.

t The Difficult Job of Keeping Time, Dyan Sheldon, £4.99.

Trish is scared of her mother's rages, Kiki is terrified of the teen gang running riot over the estate where they both live. Then the pair meet the mysterious Betty and before they know it, they are plunged into a time-travelling quest to save a historic church and the treasure below it. Themes include having the courage to overcome fears and learning from the past. For children aged nine plus.

t Ruthie and the Not So Teeny Tiny Lie, Laura Rankin, £5.99.

A beautifully illustrated picture book about the importance of honesty. Ruthie tells everyone in her class that the camera she found in the playground is hers, but by the end of the day she feels so guilty that she has to own up. A charming story about how honesty always wins the day for pre-schoolers.

t The Year in the City, Kathy Henderson, illustrated by Paul Howard, £5.99.

Join the hustle and bustle of city life, from frozen January to glittering December. This is a gorgeous looking book full of rich illustrations about the very different months of the year. And there's only one really bad grammar example in May to annoy me! For children aged five and above.

The Selfish Crocodile Counting Book, Faustin Charles, illustrated by Michael Terry, £3.99.

Join the selfish crocodile, happy hippos and their friends as they count from one to ten. Perfect for little hands to carry and turn the pages.

t Up on the Hill: Stories About Children in the Country, Nicola Davies, £4.99.

In these three enchanting stories about growing up in the country, three girls find that caring for the animals on their farms helps them cope with changes in their lives. Great for confident readers aged six and above.

t TIM Defender of the Earth, Sam Enthoven, £9.99.

Not to be confused with our Deputy Editor, Tim, the Tim in this book stands for Tyrannosaur: Improved Model. TIM is the product of a top secret military experiment who lives in a secret bunker under Trafalgar Square until the Government decide he's costing too much money. TIM has to make a break for it, enlisting the help of 14-year-old Chris and friend Anna on the way. Will TIM make a great escape? For readers aged 10 and above.

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