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Book reviews: A missing lollipop man, an orphan lamb and an amazing mum

The Phantom Lollipop Man! by Pamela Butchart and Thomas Flintham
The Phantom Lollipop Man! by Pamela Butchart and Thomas Flintham

Award-winning publisher Nosy Crow is getting ready for spring with a sparkling selection of reading and activity books for younger children.

From a laugh-out-loud school mystery and a farm tale full of animal magic to a mum who can do everything and a make-and-play book just perfect for Easter, there are books here to keep your youngsters entertained.

Age 5 plus:

The Phantom Lollipop Man! by Pamela Butchart and Thomas Flintham

When the school lollipop man disappears, Izzy and her pals reckon he is either off sick or has maybe left town for a trip to Rome.

But the possibilities are even scarier than the grumpy lollipop man who shouts and waves his stick if he doesn’t like the way they are crossing the road… what if he has been kidnapped, or turned into a phantom who is returning to spook them?

Get ready to laugh out loud as teacher-cum-author Pamela Butchart returns with the hilarious new book in the fun-filled Baby Aliens series which blends anarchy and adventure with important life messages.

Butchart, who won the Blue Peter Best Book Award of 2015 with The Spy Who Loved School Dinners, employs her ‘insider’ knowledge of schools in these knockabout, child-friendly stories which can’t fail to tickle the funny bones of young readers.

Izzy, Maisie and the gang are determined to find out where the lollipop man has gone. The new, smiley lollipop lady Mabel has no idea where he is and the women in the school office (who hate being asked questions even though answering questions is their job!) won’t tell them anything.

If he has just gone off to Blackpool for a long weekend like Maisie’s gran, why do they keep seeing a weird white wispy cloud around the school? And why do Izzy’s legs feel cold even though she’s got tights on? Could it be that the lollipop man has died, turned into a phantom and is now haunting them all?

Butchart delivers another brilliant comedy caper full of mischief and mayhem, and all brought to vivid life by Thomas Flintham’s lively black-and-white illustrations.

School just got scarily funny!

(Nosy Crow, paperback, £6.99)

Age 6 plus:

A Lamb Called Lucky by Helen Peters and Ellie Snowdon

Brought up 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, her best friend Tom and her 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!

In the fifth book in this warm-hearted and authentic series, we visit Oak Tree Farm at lambing time and find Jasmine with her hands full. She has two orphaned baby birds to care for, as well as a tiny motherless lamb which needs her attention. She is determined to look after little Lucky and keep him safe. But there are bigger dangers facing the flock, ones that come in the dead of night…

Jasmine’s latest exciting adventure is brimming with the warmth, drama and heartfelt emotion that have made Peters’ books such a success with young readers and animal lovers.

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 delights, this is animal magic for a new generation.

(Nosy Crow, paperback, £5.99)

Age 2 plus:

Superhero Mum by Timothy Knapman and Joe Berger

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and what better way to celebrate than spending a day with a Superhero Mum?

Versatile author Timothy Knapman and talented illustrator Joe Berger won everybody’s hearts with their playful and moving picture book, Superhero Dad, and now they are back to delight us again with this action-packed tribute to all those legions of much-loved, multi-tasking mums.

We all know that mums are brilliant and the mum in this story is no exception. She doesn’t wear a cape or fly to Earth from outer space, but she mends, mixes, makes and tames tangled hair. She runs for the bus so fast that it feels like flying, uses her super strength to carry her daughter’s boots, coat, bag AND scooter to the playground, and she can make bumps and bruises better with just a kiss. This mum really does have superpowers!

Little ones will love watching Supermum whizz through her chores while still finding time to have hugs, fun and frolics with her daughter.

Knapman’s warm, gentle and comical story – combined with Berger’s big, bright and busy illustrations – capture perfectly the love between a mother and her child, and her amazing ability to make the world a better place.

A Mother’s Day gift that speaks loudly of love…

(Nosy Crow, hardback, £11.99)

Age 2 plus:

Make and Play: Easter by Joey Chou

Easter is coming and it’s time to get busy!

Make and Play: Easter, a unique and innovative spiral bound board book, lets youngsters make their very own Easter decorations.

Featuring 25 unique and colourful designs, the press-out pieces can be simply slotted together to create bright and cheerful decorations or to build an imaginative Easter scene. From decorated eggs and colourful butterflies to adorable chicks and spring lambs, there is plenty here to keep little hands busy, and boredom at bay.

The pieces are simple to take apart and press back into the book for easy storage, ensuring that they will last for years to come. And there will still be time to join in some Easter songs and get stuck into some exciting craft ideas like baking Easter cookies and cakes, making an Easter bonnet, decorating your own eggs and creating an Easter tree.

With crafts, activities and Joey Chou’s enchanting artwork, this imaginative book is ideal for children to play with alone or as a shared project with parents.

(Nosy Crow, board book, £7.99)

Age 2 plus:

British Museum: Animals and First Words

Nosy Crow and the British Museum have combined their skills in a wonderfully quirky series of board books which aim to encourage the very youngest children to engage with early learning concepts.

The collection includes board books, non-fiction, craft and activity titles inspired by the vast and unparalleled range of exhibits in the museum, and celebrating different cultures around the world.

Animals and First Words, which follow on from 123, ABC, Colours and Opposites, feature amazing objects from the museum. Inquisitive toddlers will enjoy paintings, drawings and objects featuring different animals, and exploring vivid photographic images to learn simple first words.

These chunky, beautifully produced learning books create a stunning, offbeat mini-library for toddlers to collect and read time and time again. From a magnificent 19th century Indian gold and enamel elephant and an enchanting porcelain duck from Japan to a magnificent clay horse from 8th century China and a charming Mexican armadillo toy, these colourful and creative books are both a teaching tool and a visual delight.

(Nosy Crow, board book, £6.99 each)

Age birth plus:

Sing Along With Me! Five Little Ducks by Yu-hsuan Huang

Get your little ones singing – and maybe even dancing – to the tune of this innovative and entertaining board book!

Five Little Ducks is the latest nursery rhyme to get the exciting slider board book makeover from Nosy Crow. This interactive and highly popular series features perennially popular nursery rhymes and positively bursts with energy and lively illustrations.

Each book comes with five captivating slider mechanisms, and both an instrumental and vocal version of the nursery rhyme – all you need to do is scan the QR code on the first page for little ones to listen and sing along!

Pull and slide the simple mechanisms to help mother duck find her five missing little ducks and enjoy watching little faces as the ducklings make a super pop-up appearance on the last page!

(Nosy Crow, board book, £6.99)

Age from birth:

Can You Say It Too? Tweet! Tweet! by Sebastien Braun

Birds of a feather stick together in this adorable board book just made for little ones starting to talk.

Five bright and colourful spreads, lavishly illustrated by Sebastien Braun, offer big, recessed flaps for little hands to lift and discover some of our favourite garden birds.

Children will love uncovering and spotting each bird and then mimicking their familiar tweets, coos, pecks and caws.

With an exciting double flap to lift on the final page and a whole host of other garden animals and insects to enjoy, this is an entertaining – and educational – board book for the very young.

(Nosy Crow, board book, £6.99)