Children’s books reviewed

Mini artists

Josephine Seblon

Thames & Hudson

Review: Lauren O’Connor-May

This book is a great resource for artsy activities, especially if you want to entice your little ones away from tech devices or keep them busy during the holidays.

The book contains 20 simple art projects for children but it also gives compact lessons on art history and styles.

The projects are simple and interesting and will teach kids to think outside the box.

Tales from Shakespeare

Michael Morpurgo


Review: Lauren O’Connor-May

Shakespeare’s most popular plays are retold as children’s stories in this colourful compendium.

Retold by well-known British author Michael Morpugo and illustrated by several different illustrators, this book was a quick favourite at our home and my seven-year-old, who cannot yet read fluently, even took it along to a party.

Which Way Round the Galaxy

Cressida Cowell


Review: Lauren O’Connor-May

Cressida Cowell’s magical adventure stories are always off the wall and this book is no exception.

This is the second book in a new series, about a group of quirky kids who go on an intergalactic adventure; it is a little spooky and a lot crazy.

This is the author of the very popular and hilarious How to Train Your Dragon series but be warned – Cowell’s colourful writing style is wildly different from the movies, so if that’s what you are looking for, you won’t find it in these books.

How the Grinch Lost Christmas

Alastair Heim and Aristides Ruiz


Review: Lauren O’Connor-May

Rarely is a copycat as good as the original but Alastair Heim and Aristides Ruiz come very, very close.

In this follow-up to Dr Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas, a reformed large-hearted Grinch is excited for Christmas and enters Whoville’s Christmas tree competition.

Being his extra self, the Grinch is certain he will win but instead finds his old Grinchy ways resurfacing when he loses.

My kids liked the book but adult me, who still remembers most of the original off by heart, felt it was a little anticlimactic and didn’t have the same tension build that makes the original such a feels-filled favourite.

Not So Fast Songololo

Niki Daly


Review: Lauren O’Connor-May

This simple but super sweet story from the 1980s is being reprinted for a fourth time. This is not surprising since the book has won awards both locally and abroad.

The main protagonist’s name changes, depending on the imprint, but in this version, Shepherd, a young boy in a large family accompanies his grandmother to the shops.

The book’s appeal is in the subtle ways it shows the deeply loving relationship between Shepherd and his grandmother.

Initially, my children didn’t give this book a second look, most likely because it didn’t look modern, but when they eventually picked it up, it was universally liked and declared a favourite.

Diary of A Wimpy Kid No Brainer

Jeff Kinney

Penguin Random House

Review: Lauren O’Connor-May

The Wimpy Kid series is hugely popular with mine and, as I discovered shortly after this latest book found a home with us, everyone else’s children.

Even my eldest daughter, who is turning 18, couldn’t wait to get her hands on it and took it to school where one of her friends laughed out loud when he saw it. He was laughing with her though because apparently he has the whole collection.

When asked why the series was such a favourite with him, he said it was relatable. This concerned me because what are our kids learning at school if a book about over-the-top shenanigans in the classroom is “relatable”?

If you haven’t read the books yet, it’s about the meandering mental wonderings of a young boy who relates his hilarious school, family and social experiences in an illustrated diary.

The back cover’s “laughter guaranteed” stamp is not an idle boast.