Grrrrr! by Rob Biddulph
Published by Harper Collins £6.99 paperback

A charming picture book from the award winning author/illustrator of Blown Away. The story of a bear called Fred, who always wins the ‘Best Bear in the Wood’ contest. To achieve this he has to be best at fishing, hula-hooping, scaring humans and growling at which Fred excels. A new bear comes to live in the wood and threatens to beat Fred. The rhyming story and bright colourful pictures make this lovely book about friendship a delightful read for young children.

Fact Feed by Penelope Arlon et al
Published by Scholastic £6.99 paperback

The subtitle of this book is ‘The Ultimate Book of Randomly Awesome Trivia’ and that is just what it is. It has sections on science and technology, the natural world and everyday life.

In full colour, with mostly photographic illustrations, it is full of the most astonishing facts. Such as - in 1990 60,000 trainers washed off a ship. Researchers are still tracking them to find out more about ocean currents. Bristlecone pines are the world’s oldest living things, they can be 5,000 years old. Astronauts sometimes find returning to earth’s gravity after space travel tricky because they often forget that things don’t float so they drop them. The longest subway in the world is the Seoul Subway in South Korea at 584 miles (940km).

This is a fascinating book for any age of person with curiosity. It is presented in a clear, colourful and fun way and is a great ‘dip into’ read.

The Nowhere Emporium by Ross MacKenzie
Published by Kelpies £6.99 paperback

One day in a street in Glasgow, between a butcher’s shop and the ironmongers there appears a shop. No one has seen it before and is it full of the most wonderful collection of all sorts of things. Daniel Holmes lives in a children’s home in the city where he is bullied by a gang of boys led by Spud Harper.

One day whilst running away from the bullies he runs out into the road and should have been run down but is miraculously saved by the owner of the mysterious shop, The Nowhere Emporium, one Lucien Silver. The shop is like a Tardis, full of wonder and capable of time travel. It can appear in any time in any place. Everyone who visits it leaves a little bit of their imagination, although not enough to miss.

After initial wariness Daniel finds himself a new home in the emporium and a new friend in Lucien’s daughter, Ellie. Of course, there is a ‘baddie’ called Vindictus Sharpe and the book turns into a great adventure story with a battle of magic powers.

This great read has been shortlisted for the Blue Peter Award.

The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold illustrated by Emily Gravett
Published by Bloomsbury £7.99 paperback

This is a lovely chapter book from the wonderful imagination of the author of Fizzlebert Stump (another great book if you have not read it!) Many children have imaginary friends at some point. Imagine if the imaginary friends of all the children in a neighbourhood got together. They would be able to see each other and talk and best of all look out for their children. That is just what happens in this book.

It is a great story with a bit of adventure about a girl called Amanda and her imaginary friend Rudger, a boy. Together they are brave, feisty and full of fun and character. An adventure would not be and adventure without a bad character up to no good. This one is a Mr Bunting who is an imaginary baddy who eats imaginary friends. He has a creepy girl sidekick and they turn up all over the place creating mayhem.

The characters are believable, even the imaginary ones, and the illustrations make this a very special book. They are integrated with the text and add significantly to the readers experience. The book is funny, a bit creepy, very imaginative and a great read.

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
Published by Macmillan £7.99 paperback

This wonderful book has just won the Costa Prize for Best Children’s Book and best book across all categories. It is set in Victorian England as fourteen year old Faith’s family, father, mother and younger brother, Howard, are moving from their home to a remote island. Faith’s father wants to participate in an archaeological dig.

It is clear from the outset that he has a valuable collection of flora and fauna and he seems more attached to his collection than his daughter who is a clever girl. Even while the move is taking place we learn that claims of fraud have been made against Faith’s father and he may be running away from his critics. At first the family are welcomed to the island but very quickly find themselves ostracised.

Faith’s father is and intolerant and unsympathetic character. When he is found dead it is assumed that he committed suicide in the wake of the accusations but Faith thinks otherwise and suspects he has been murdered. One of his specimens, kept in a secret cave turns out to be the Lie Tree which gathers whispered lies and bears fruit that reveals hidden secrets.

The start is slow, imaginative as the time and place are drawn out for the reader. Once all the pieces are in place the story picks up pace and almost rushes along to its thrilling conclusion. It is clever, sad, funny and almost gothic. A great read for any age, young adult and adult.

The Wild Beyond by Piers Torday
Published by Quercus £6.99 paperback

This is the last book in the Wild Trilogy and it is a truly great read. It is the story of a boy named Kester who is thirteen years old. In the first two books he has saved his capital city from certain destruction, rescued the last wild animals in the world and in this book, with his friends, loyal Polly and street-wise Aida, he must save the world.

Kester is a ‘wildness’, he can communicate with animals. The friends discover from a blue whale that the secret of life is on a desert island, the directions to get there are in the hands of mouse, who has disappeared. There is a risk Mouse has met with the characters who are out to destroy everything, Facto and the evil Selwyn Stone.

This is a rumbustious fantasy, action packed adventure story. There is an ecological message but it is subtle and never overdone. The characters are wonderful, funny and smart. It has a completely brilliant ending. You could read any of the three books in the trilogy but if you read one you will want to read the rest!

Book recommendations by Morag Watkins