Book review: A summer of fun and adventure with Nosy Crow books

My Evil Twin is a Supervillain
My Evil Twin is a Supervillain

From animal magic to supervillains, children’s publisher Nosy Crow has a sizzling collection of books to keep boredom at bay this summer.

Winner of the 2017 Independent Publishers Guild Children’s Publisher of the Year Award, Nosy Crow is one of the country’s fastest growing publishing companies, aiming to create books and apps that encourage children to read for pleasure.

And young readers will certainly be spoilt for choice as they pick their favourite reads for the upcoming holidays.

Age 8 plus:
My Evil Twin is a Supervillain
David Solomons


The ultimate tale of sibling rivalry goes cosmic again in the third out-of-this-world adventure from an author with his sights set firmly on the stars.

David Solomons, who has been writing screenplays for many years, plays to an understandably rapt audience in this entertaining comedy series featuring a boy who has a troublesome twin in a parallel world.

My Brother Is a Superhero, the first book in the series, won the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize and the British Book Industry Awards Children’s Book of the Year, and the adventures of the terrible twins continue to go from strength to strength.

Solomons knows his audience well and the beguiling mix of high-octane action, sizzling suspense, laugh-out-loud humour and genuine heart-warming emotion is leaving an army of addicted young readers gasping, guffawing and gulping in equal measure.

When Stellar, Luke’s super-powered twin from another dimension, crash-lands Zorbon’s spaceship in IKEA, it’s not just Scandinavian furniture that is put out of joint. Luke is highly suspicious. No one travels through time and space without a plan, and in the case of Stellar, that plan is usually EVIL. So what does he really want?

From his superhero hair to his rocket-powered shoes, Stellar is up to no good so Luke is furious when his evil (and unbelievably irritating) twin turns up at his treehouse and starts to recruit their geeky older brother brother Zack for a superhero mission back in his world to defeat Gorgon the World-Eater. Who does he think he is?

Luckily for Luke, Zack has got some mock exams he would really like to take before saving Stellar’s world so Luke has time to investigate his almost definitely evil twin’s true purpose. And what Luke discovers is even more villainous than he suspected. But even worse, it seems that two Lukes are definitely not better than one and their proximity is unwittingly playing cosmic Jenga with the very fabric of existence!

Solomons has his finger firmly on the pulse of middle grade readers as he packs his super-charged space odyssey with energy, outrageous plot twists, dollops of brilliant satirical humour and moments of heart-melting emotion.

Cosmic capers for discerning young readers!

(Nosy Crow, paperback, £6.99)


Age 6 plus:
National Trust: Complete Night Explorer’s Kit
Robyn Swift and Sara Lynn Cramb


The holidays are almost here so get ready to head off on some wild adventures!

Inspire your youngsters to enjoy the outdoors with two super interactive books which have been produced by Nosy Crow in partnership with the National Trust.

It is no secret that youngsters today are spending increasingly less time outdoors which means they are not connecting sufficiently with nature and learning to love – and look after – the natural world.

So here are two books which aim to inspire all kinds of adventures in the outdoors whether that is close to home or further afield. Fascinating information, all fact-checked by National Trust rangers, is combined with fun, vibrant illustrations and exciting activities in two attractive guides.

Perfect for any budding wildlife adventurers, the Complete Night Explorer’s Kit, which comes in a plastic backpack with shoulder straps, encourages children to get outside and discover nature once the sun has gone down. The activity pack also includes a quality LED torch, a fold-out constellation guide to the night sky, glow-in-the-dark star stickers and an 80-page guide book.

Children will love lighting the way with the torch and spotting any nocturnal creatures on a night-time nature walk. And it’s not only animals that come out when it’s dark… readers can also learn to navigate the night sky with the constellation guide and then go home to sleep under the glow of their star stickers!

The explorer’s guidebook is packed with information that will both surprise and delight, and the fun activities are ideal to try out on a night-time adventure or on family camping trips. So what are you waiting for… strap on your backpack and head for the dark side!

(Nosy Crow, paperback, £12.99)


Age 8 plus:
National Trust: Go Wild in the Woods
Goldie Hawk and Rachael Saunders


The second book in this nature-loving partnership between the National Trust and Nosy Crow is a super pocket-sized survival guide which lets youngsters go wild in the woods.

This ultimate adventure handbook teaches young adventurers the essentials… what to pack, how to build a shelter, how to craft your own tools, how to cook food over a campfire, and even how to get drinking water from wee!

Children will also learn exactly what NOT to do, from eating poisonous mushrooms to starting a forest fire. Packed with handy (and humorous!) tips and with fun games to play in the woods, advice on tracking animals, and a useful chapter on first aid, this is the perfect book for little adventurers and anyone who loves the great outdoors.

Go Wild in the Woods is a truly inspirational book, helping to cultivate a real curiosity about the natural world, encouraging children to enjoy the diversity to be found in woodland, to respect and care for nature, and to stay safe whilst out and about.

The wildest, most wonderful way to enjoy the summer!

(Nosy Crow, hardback, £7.99)


Age 6 plus:
Zoe’s Rescue Zoo: The Picky Puffin
Amelia Cobb and Sophy Williams


Has picky puffin Piper picked the wrong home?

Zoe’s Rescue Zoo, a lively series with a charismatic cast, has become a firm family favourite, serving up magical adventures, fascinating facts about creatures great and small, and starring a pint-sized a ‘Dr Dolittle’ who can talk to the animals.

Zoe loves living at her uncle’s rescue zoo and when Great-Uncle Horace brings back lost and homeless animals from his travels around the globe, it falls to Zoe and her mum, the zoo vet, to settle them into their new home.

Zoe is especially good at this because she can understand what they say and talk to them too… but that has to remain a secret! Puffins are Zoe’s favourite ever creature so when baby puffin Piper arrives at the rescue zoo, Zoe is very happy to help her settle in.

But Piper turns out to be very picky! She doesn’t like her enclosure, her burrow, and not even her food. Can Zoe and her best friend at the zoo, a cheeky grey mouse lemur called Meep, work out what is making Piper the puffin so picky, and come up with a plan to make her feel happy in her new home?

Brimming with award-winning illustrator Sophy Williams’ chirpy and charming black and white illustrations, and with plots full of mischief, mystery and mishaps, these are the perfect books for story time or for newly confident readers.

(Nosy Crow, paperback, £5.99)


Age 6 plus:
A Sheep Dog Called Sky
Helen Peters and Ellie Snowdon


Inspired by her own childhood on an old-fashioned farm in Sussex, Helen Peters knows that rural life has its ups and downs…

And her wonderful Jasmine Green series, which stars a little girl, her brother Manu and their parents, features stories and exciting adventures based on the real-life experiences of families who live and work on a farm, often surrounded by animals and mud.

Jasmine’s dad is a farmer, and her mum is a large-animal vet, so Jasmine spends a lot of time caring for animals and keeping them out of trouble. Unfortunately, this often means she gets into hot water herself. When a sick and starving sheep dog puppy is abandoned on the farm, he urgently needs Jasmine’s help to survive. But although he soon adores her, Jasmine doesn’t know if Sky’s cruel treatment means he might never trust people again. And it’s not until she gets into terrible danger herself that she finds out...

A Sheep Dog Called Sky is the third book in the series and Jasmine’s latest adventure is brimming with the same warmth, drama and heartfelt emotions as the earlier books, A Piglet Called Truffle and A Duckling Called Button.

Beautifully illustrated by Ellie Snowdon, this gentle but engaging story teaches younger children about caring for animals and about the fun and pitfalls of living on a farm. Full of heart and adventure, discovery and animal delights, this is animal magic for a new generation.

(Nosy Crow, paperback, £5.99)


Age 6 plus:
Wigglesbottom Primary: Super Dog
Pamela Butchart and Becka Moor


If only all schools could be as much fun as Wigglesbottom Primary!

Teacher Pamela Butchart, who won the Blue Peter Best Book Award of 2015 with The Spy Who Loved School Dinners, revels in her ‘insider’ knowledge of schools in this brilliant, knockabout series which blends anarchy and adventure in perfect harmony.

With the help of talented illustrator Becka Moor’s fantastic illustrations, Wigglesbottom Primary: Super Dog features three perfectly pitched school stories which will have children chortling and teachers running for cover.

Anything can happen at madcap Wigglesbottom Primary and it always does! Is that a superhero dog on the school roof? Yes! Is the lunchtime mashed potato really, really weird? Yes!

Does Susie Keys own an alien egg? Yes! So what are Class 2R going to do about it all? Have a lot of fun! And what is long-suffering class teacher Miss Riley going to do about it all? Try to pretend it’s not happening perhaps?

Moor provides the suitably anarchic and eye-catching illustrations for Butchart’s super, easy-to-read stories which come packed with chaos and crazy antics, and give a star role to the kind of zany school that is heaven-sent for any little mischief-maker!

(Nosy Crow, paperback, £5.99)


Age three plus:
The Prince and the Pee
Greg Gormley and Chris Mould


Little ones will enjoy watching the ‘pees and queues’ in this super silly adventure story from a dynamic picture book duo.

Desperate times are certainly here in Greg Gormley’s hilarious tale of derring-do and needing the loo, a funny, action-packed adventure guaranteed to strike a (painful!) chord with anyone – of any age – who ever forgot to ‘go’ before they set off!

Chris Mould’s expressive and comical illustrations provide the perfect backdrop for a story brimming with mischief, mayhem, and a hilarious surprise on the last page that is sure to delight young readers.

Prince Freddie is taking a holiday but just as he is relaxing on the beach and slurping the lemoniest lemonade ever, his trusty horse Sir Rushington appears and tells him a ferocious dragon is attacking Crumbly Castle and that they must leave at once. So he gulps down the rest of his lemonade and off they trot.

Unfortunately for Freddie, he soon realises he forgot to go before he left and now he really, REALLY needs a pee. But what with scary ogres, damsels in distress, and massive queues for the only toilet in the forest, it doesn’t look like Freddie will ever get to go. So when the dragon blocks his path, and accidentally sets fire to the castle, things don’t look too good. Luckily, Prince Freddie is able to have a pee AND put out the fire in one go… but a twist in the horse’s tale could delay the hero’s return to his holiday!

No child will be able to resist returning time and time again to this brilliant cautionary tale which Gormley and Mould have pitched perfectly to tickle the funny bones of everyone in the family. With a crazy caper to join in, and a gallery of funny, frantic illustrations, there won’t be a moment to lose on every page.

The perfect book for any child who ever asked ‘Are we nearly there yet?’

(Nosy Crow, paperback, £6.99)


Age three plus:
Troll Stroll
Elli Woollard and David Barrow


Make way for a hungry troll in search of a tasty child!

Rhyming queen Elli Woollard, whose wonderful array of children’s books always come with an addictive spirit of fun and adventure, is on top form in this clever, cautionary picture book with a hidden bite in its tail.

Troll is fed up with eating boring old goats so off he strolls in search of some scrumptious children to eat. The first thing he sees is a nice juicy boy on his bike but the quick-thinking lad insists that the four children in the car behind him would be FAR tastier… and the Troll simply adores meals when they are delivered on wheels! But wait, all those children in the school bus behind the car would be yummier still... Just as he is about to get his slobbersome chops on the school bus kids, he spots a huge digger bursting with children… and they are looking hungry too. Maybe it’s time for that terrible Troll to make a quick exit!

Woollard’s rhyming extravaganza is positively bursting out all over with quirky fun and no child will be able to resist the wonderfully charismatic and entertaining illustrations by David Barrow who was shortlisted for the Waterstone’s Prize.

Ideal to read out loud at home or share with a classful of friends…

(Nosy Crow, paperback, £6.99)


Age two plus:
How to Look After Your Dinosaur
Jason Cockcroft


New pets come in all shapes and sizes… but a baby dinosaur popping out of an egg might not be all that it’s cracked up to be!

There’s plenty of Jurassic fun and games in a ‘prehistoric’ picture book adventure from Jason Cockcroft, an illustrator who is also an accomplished watercolour artist and portrait painter.

What would you do if a dinosaur turned up on your doorstep? Well, that's exactly what happens to the little boy in this brilliantly illustrated, witty picture book. He must learn exactly how to look after his dinosaur… what to feed it for breakfast, where to take it for walks and, most importantly of all, how to deal with its dinosaur-sized poo!

This fun-filled story about caring for a dinosaur with giant-sized needs (and giant-sized poos!) offers a laugh on every page but also gently explores the value of friendship and some of the real-life responsibilities that come with being a pet owner.

Packed with engaging pictures, full of colour and energy, this is a story that will have little ones laughing and giggling all the way to the pet store!

(Nosy Crow, paperback, £6.99)


Age 2 plus:
Axel Scheffler’s Flip Flap Ocean


Award-winning illustrator Axel Scheffler, best known for his partnership with Julia Donaldson on international bestseller The Gruffalo, makes a welcome return with the fifth book in his much-loved Flip Flap series.

This new surprise-packed, flip-the-pages masterpiece features amazing aquatic combinations to create a book full of crazy, mixed-up creatures. The ingenious split pages are the catalyst to turn familiar creatures into some very strange – and hilarious – creatures!

With a clever, rhyming text and brilliantly cheeky and characterful illustrations from Scheffler, little ones will love simply flipping the pages to create some seriously silly animals that live under the ocean.

What do you get if you cross a squid with a fish? It’s a squish, of course! And how about a shark and a turtle? Why, that’s a shurtle! And a crab and a whale? Well, naturally that’s a crale!
Scheffler provides over 121 possible underwater creations, silly names and strange noises to make the whole family giggle in this elegantly produced and highly imaginative Flip Flap book which is just perfect for pre-schoolers.

Mix or match, this is ingenious entertainment from the master of illustrative disguise!

(Nosy Crow, hardback, £8.99)


Age one plus:
Stick!
Irene Dickson


In the digital age of games, phones and screen entertainment, what a joy to discover a picture book that celebrates playing in the great outdoors!

Irene Dickson’s inspirational picture book for little readers comes with a suitably stylish retro feel and a gallery of simple, elegant illustrations of outdoor scenes familiar to every child who has enjoyed a walk with their family or friends.

A boy and his dog set off to play together one sunny day, taking nothing with them but a good, useful stick. And there are SO many things you can do with a stick. You can throw it, balance with it, float it down a stream, draw pictures in the sand and it will even help you make new friends. All it takes is a child’s zest for life and a bit of creativity!

Dickson’s bold, vibrantly coloured illustrations are full of life and vigour and reflect the delights of friendship, outdoor fun and ingenuity, inspiring little ones to head off on their own journey of discovery in the big wide world.

A breath of fresh air in today’s busy, bustling, online world!

(Nosy Crow, hardback, £11.99)


Age one plus:
Look, there’s a Submarine! and Look, there’s a Rocket!
Esther Aarts


Whether it’s adventures in the deepest ocean or high up in the sky, these two fun-filled, interactive board books are a voyage of discovery for inquisitive babies and toddlers.
The work of Esther Aarts, a Dutch illustrator whose beautiful illustrations have appeared in international newspapers, magazines and on greeting cards and T-shirts, Look, there’s a Submarine! and Look, there’s a Rocket! make exploration a hands-on adventure.

With their peekaboo cut-out holes, the books let little ones find the holes with their fingers as you read the story, and then enjoy watching as they peep through and turn the page to see what the holes become.

Join the diver and her cat to discover a turtle, an octopus with its eight legs, a red crab and an exciting shipwreck under the sea or journey through the stars with a little astronaut and his dog as they look out for planets, a robot, asteroids and even a naughty alien!

Perfect for sharing and with a gentle rhyming text encouraging children to say what they can spy in every scene, the books offer a ‘hole’ lot of fun… and the chance to explore the world time and time again.

(Nosy Crow, board books, £6.99 each)


Age six months plus:
Lois Looks for Bob at Home and Lois Looks for Bob at the Park
Gerry Turley


There’s no place like home – and the park – in these two beautifully playful board books from Gerry Turley, a Scottish illustrator and printmaker known for his sensitive depiction of animals.
Gorgeously illustrated and conceived, lift-the-flap books – first of an exciting new series – are gently reassuring for toddlers and babies. Starring Lois the black cat and her friend Bob, the yellow bird, all the action takes place in familiar settings like rooms at home and landmarks at the park.

Sturdy and appealing, and with their retro-cool look, the books feature enchanting stories with a cast of lovable animals and birds, and are destined to be a firm favourite with both parents and children.

In Lois Looks for Bob at Home, Bob has simply vanished so where can he be? Is he hiding behind the lamp, on the table, on the windowsill or in the kitchen cupboard? Lois will have to look high and low for flyaway Bob.

And in Lois Looks for Bob at the Park, the little black cat will have to peer under the bench, high up into the tree branches, inside the flower pot and behind the pram before she eventually discovers Bob enjoying a picnic.

These super sturdy, exquisitely illustrated board books have wonderful surprises and new animal friends to discover on every page, and are guaranteed to create a stir, and cause a flap, with every busy little adventure-seeker!

(Nosy Crow, board books, £6.99 each)


Age six months plus:
Blocks: Let’s Share
Irene Dickson


What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine too!

Sharing your toys is never easy when you’re only little so everyone is going to share the fun of this classic book which provides the building blocks for a timely and playful lesson for warring toddlers.

Experienced illustrator Irene Dickson, who is enjoying a new career path making beautiful picture books, has put all her creative energies into this stylishly illustrated board book debut with its enchanting, cut-out cover and warm and witty storyline.

This playtime, Ruby has red blocks and is going to build with them while Benji is also building with a super collection of blue blocks. The two youngsters both build and build until Benji takes one of Ruby’s red blocks and, in the tussle that follows, all the blocks crash down to the floor. But, not to worry, Benji now has red blocks, and Ruby has blue blocks, and together they can build and build. But look, here comes Guy, and Guy has got green blocks! Could there be more trouble ahead?

This cleverly devised, large-format book, full of bold images and playful concepts about the despair and delight of sharing your toys, is ideal for pre-schoolers who will love the eye-catching illustrations and the chaotic fall-out between Ruby and Benji.

A book about sharing that is also a joy to share.

(Nosy Crow, board book, £6.99)