Book reviews for kids

We select the best books for your child's library

What The Ladybird Heard

By Julia Donaldson, Dhs72
Ages 2-5
First of all, hats off to Lydia Monks, the illustrator of this pretty book for tots. The cute, detailed pictures of a farm are occasionally highlighted with photo graphics – for example the leafy bit of the tree is an actual photo of leaves, cut into a puffy cloud shape. Not only is this nice to look at, but we reckon it will help develop kids’ visual awareness as they learn to recognise textures by eye as well as by touch. This is boosted by the fact that the quiet main character, the ladybird, is glittery. The words, meanwhile, are written by the author of The Gruffalo and they follow a catchy rhythm and rhyme pattern – great for getting your little one to read along with you. A fab book showing that, 10 years after The Gruffalo was first published, Donaldson’s still got it.
Grade: B+

Animal Tales

By Michael Morpurgo, Dhs40
Ages 6-8
Containing three of Morpurgo’s classic stories – ‘Colly’s Barn’, ‘Conker’ and ‘Jo-Jo The Melon Monkey’ – this volume would make a lovely gift for an animal-obsessed youngster. We must admit, our favourite is the first story and, unfortunately, the other two are not quite as enjoyable – not least because the illustrations are done by different artists. The pictures in ‘Colly’s Barn’ are done by Ian Andrew, who we love. But, all in all, it’s a great little book for children who are beginning independent reading.
Grade: B

Arabian Star

By Julia Johnson, Dhs65
Ages 7-9
It’s always interesting reviewing books written by local authors. All too often, they are poorly written, with glaring typos and little or no research. Not so with Julia Johnson, and nowhere is this more apparent than here, in her latest offering. The plot, about a boy who gets lost at sea on a tiny homemade raft before being rescued by a nearby ship, almost takes second place to detailed explanations of the way oil tankers function. This engineering focus, combined with the use of several long words, means that it’s suited to more developed and technically minded readers, but Henry Climent’s illustrations and the book’s creative graphic design also deserve praise. A book to make the Middle East proud.
Grade: B+

The Gooey, Chewy, Rumble, Plop Book

By Steve Alton and Nick Sharratt, Dhs90
Ages 7-10
After we emitted an embarrassingly high-pitched squeal upon accidentally touching the life-sized, sticky tongue on the book’s cover, the entire Time Out team became fans of this hilarious pop-up book, which explains the journey food makes from our mouths to the toilet (which is itself illustrated in glorious pop-up form). There are so many flaps and pull tabs that it’ll take several reads to spot everything, although some of the parts are very big and we can’t help but suspect the book could get damaged in a short space of time. But that is our only complaint – other than that, it’s a fantastic book that was clearly created with love and more than a sprinkle of toilet humour. The perfect way to get kids into biology.
Grade: A

The Usborne Cookbook For Boys

By Abigail Wheatley, Dhs75
Ages 9+
Spiral-bound for that scrapbooky, ready-for-action feel, this is a fantastic beginners’ cookbook for the oft-neglected schoolboy market. It’s packed full of useful tips on things such as how to measure and the fact that grubby lads should wash their hands before handling food, although the tips’ success is rather reliant upon boys actually taking the time to read the introduction. Recipes range from how to make toast to impressive mains like roast chicken. Wheatley urges readers to adapt recipes to their own tastes, making it great for budding chefs who want to experiment.
Grade: A

By Royal Demand

By Charlie Higson, Dhs85
Ages 11+
This is an action-packed thriller based on the escapades of a school-aged James Bond in the tumultuous era between WWI and WWII. From shootouts to getting lost on a foggy, blizzard-swept mountain, the masterfully spun action scenes are so gripping and intensely paced that kids will lose all sense of time and surroundings as the book sucks them in. Even the jollier passages are laced with a perpetual sense of danger, personified by the mysterious trilby-wearing spy shadowing James. The plot does assume a certain level of political and historical awareness, revolving around the tussle for power between Germany, Russia and Britain, but so as long as they can grasp this, it’s a must-read for adventure lovers.
Grade: A+
All books available from Bookworm, branches can be found at The Meadows (04 368 9822) and in Jumeirah (04 394 5770)

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