Book reviews: Funny friends, simple sums and creative colouring with Walker Books

Reading, writing and arithmetic! Walker, the world's leading independent publisher of children's books, puts the fun into learning this spring.

Friday, 1st April 2016, 10:00 am
Updated Saturday, 2nd April 2016, 5:44 am
Reading, writing and arithmetic! Walker, the worlds leading independent publisher of childrens books, puts the fun into learning this spring.

Take a trip to London with the amazing Maisy, join in adventures with two of the big city’s strangest pals, get colourful with Where’s Wally, share a hoot with an inventive owl, play swap with a pirate and meet two squabbling siblings.

Age 6 plus:

Mango & Bambang: Tapir All at Sea by Polly Faber and Clara Vulliamy

The most unlikely friendships can make the most wonderful stories…

Take Mango Allsorts, a little girl, and Bambang, her very unusual pet… an Asian tapir who is trying to adapt to life in the big city. Put them together and the fun begins!

Mango and Bambang’s extraordinary exploits continue in the second of this enchanting series, written by the versatile Polly Faber and illustrated by the talented Clara Vulliamy, and featuring four separate stories in each book.

Mango Allsorts is a girl good at all sorts of things, especially helping a tapir feel at home in a busy city. Their friendship continues to unfold and Bambang is getting braver every day. Join them for a new round of daring escapades with diamond rings and Rocket, a curly-tailed dog full of bounce, encounters with a heel-stamping, hand-clapping master of flamenco, Señor Churros, and a meeting with a dangerous old enemy who collects unusual items for her museum.

Published in a beautiful, high quality hardback with coloured edge pages, Tapir All at Sea is the ideal gift package for youngsters who are becoming confident at reading alone.

Faber’s words and Vulliamy’s illustrations are an addictive combination offering stories with a classic feel but packed with recognisable themes and settings.

Gently humorous, lively and easy to read, Mango and Bambang’s adventures and misadventures are picture perfect stories for a new generation of young readers.

(Walker, hardback, £8.99)

Age 5 plus:

Where’s Wally? The Colouring Book by Martin Handford

Get your pens poised, your brain into gear, your eyes focused… and join Wally for the ultimate colouring challenge!

Martin Handford’s perennial favourite Wally is set to keep hands and minds busy with a brilliant brain-busting book that combines a crazy colouring extravaganza with a quest to find his lost crayons (and plenty of other things too!).

Bring busy Where’s Wally scenes to life with your own colour schemes and search for hundreds of things along the way. What colours will you choose and can you find Wally and his lost colouring pencils in every scene too? And to make the hunt devilishly harder, the illustrations are all in black and white!

There are pages and pages of fun to enjoy and when the end of the book finally arrives, youngsters can read the checklists for even more things to flick back and find. The specially designed colouring paper will not bleed and there are sturdy front and back flaps for easy access.

So what are you waiting for? Artists and eagle eyes – young and old – will find hours (or possibly days and weeks!) of entertainment in Wally’s wonderful new world of colour.

(Walker, paperback, £8.99)

Age 3 plus:

Maisy Goes to London by Lucy Cousins

Who is the perfect companion when you go exploring? It’s the amazing Maisy of course!

Maisy the intrepid mouse and her menagerie of feathered and furry friends have been on a journey of discovery for several years now and their adventures have opened up the everyday world to thousands of little children.

Among other things, Maisy has learned what it’s like to go to nursery, on holiday, to hospital, a first sleepover, on a camping trip, to the library, how to swim… and now she’s off to learn about London and life in the big city.

Award-winning author and illustrator Lucy Cousins has turned learning new experiences into an exciting adventure courtesy of inquisitive mouse Maisy. These bright, busy and colourful books are packed with jaunty, eye-catching detail and fun characters.

Here Maisy and her friends visit London and find there is so much to see… Big Ben, Piccadilly Circus, Buckingham Palace and even the Globe Theatre. It’s very noisy in the city and they can have a picnic lunch in the park. Honk, honk, honk, what an exciting day it is for everybody!

The high-energy story points out several interesting features on each page, but leaves plenty of details for little ones to notice for themselves. And if you want to share more fun and adventures with Maisy, visit her entertaining website for activities, newsletters, games and more.

So go exploring with Maisy and discover the delights of sightseeing!

(Walker, hardback, £11.99)

Age 3 plus:

Swap by Steve Light

Learning comes in all shapes and forms… but talented author and illustrator Steve Light makes maths add up in this innovative and educational book.

With his flashes of quirky comedy, charisma and colour, Light comes up with a highly original book full of charm, invention… and the rudiments of mental arithmetic.

Using the simplest of text and some ingenious but down-to-earth thinking, we meet an unhappy sea captain with a broken-down ship and a pint-sized pirate with nothing more than a loose button.

The pirate’s big idea is to do a Swap and help the captain repair his decrepit vessel. One button for three teacups. SWAP! Two teacups for four coils of rope. SWAP! And so it goes, until the little swashbuckler – through simple sums – secures sails, anchors, a ship’s wheel and more. But can he really barter his way to a nifty new ship for the captain?

With a brilliant blue backdrop and Light’s intricate pen-and-ink illustrations, this clever tale of commerce, inventiveness and friendship provides an exciting first lesson in the basics of bartering and simple mental arithmetic.

Anchors aweigh, it’s time to put the magic into maths!

(Walker, hardback, £11.99)

Age 3 plus:

Hoot Owl Written by Sean Taylor and illustrated by Jean Jullien

Out of the darkness comes… Hoot Owl!

He’s the funny, flyaway star of masterful storyteller Sean Taylor and exciting, celebrated graphic artist Jean Jullien’s inventive new picture book… the only problem is that he keeps his fluffing his lines.

Hoot Owl is no ordinary owl… oh no! He’s a master of disguise and he will use his expert camouflage powers to trick his unsuspecting prey into succumbing to him. Tiny animals of the night, beware! But, somehow, Hoot Owl’s prey keeps escaping... perhaps he isn’t quite as masterful as he believes. Will he ever succeed in catching himself some dinner or is he just a twit twoo?

Hilarity, ridiculousness and very bad costume changes abound in this wildly inventive storytelling extravaganza. Bold, quirky illustrations are the perfect complement to an outrageously funny story about an owl with big aspirations but poor execution.

A feathered friend guaranteed to make little ones hoot with laughter…

(Walker, paperback, £6.99)

Age 3 plus:

Alphonse, That Is Not OK to Do by Daisy Hirst

Daisy Hirst is still walking tall after the success of her bold, fresh and original debut picture book, The Girl With the Parrot on Her Head.

And now the talented artist and writer is back with another resonant piece of storytelling and illustration which features two adorable brother and sister monsters and puts sibling relationships firmly in the spotlight.

Natalie mostly loves her little brother Alphonse being there – they name the pigeons, bounce toys off the bunk beds, have stories in the chair and make lots of fun things together. But, when Natalie catches Alphonse eating her favourite book, well, that is not OK and she makes her feelings clear. Unfortunately, Alphonse’s efforts to make amends go spectacularly wrong… so what will Natalie do now?

Both narratively and visually appealing, this creative, warm-hearted story will strike a chord with any child who has been exasperated by a sibling and offers important lessons about forgiveness and making up.

Monstrously clever!​

(Walker, hardback, £11.99)