1 Splat The Cat
By Rob Scotton
Dhs45. Ages 3-6.
Scotton’s talent definitely lies more in illustration than story-writing. The pleasant but predictable story follows the classic ‘first day at school’ pattern, with Splat the Cat waking up nervous as can be, but loving school before the day is out. Although there’s nothing essentially wrong with the plot, it is the pictures that really bring the book to life. Scotton’s sketches combine lines that look soft enough to touch, with details so sharp they’re almost like photographs, and the overall effect is beautiful, making this a book your kids will want to keep forever.
2 Coleen Style Queen: Rock That Frock!
By Coleen McLoughlin
Dhs42. Ages 6-9.
When we saw that it was written by the wife of English footballer Wayne Rooney, we were all ready to write this book off – but it’s actually better than expected. The heavy focus on clothes makes it great for little fashionistas, but there is a reasonable plotline too. McLoughlin’s Liverpudlian dialect shines through in parts, with more ‘mates’ and ‘wickeds’ than you’d find at Anfield on a rainy Saturday afternoon – and with sentences like, ‘There’s something about sunny days that makes me want to spend money,’ we think it’s probably a good thing that she’s not in Dubai.
3 The Legend Of The Worst Boy In The World
By Eoin Colfer
Dhs35. Ages 6-9.
Written by the author of the Artemis Fowl series and set in Ireland, this is a lovely story about a little boy and his three pesky brothers. Every week nine-year-old Will, the protagonist, has a ‘moaning session’ with his grandfather, an eccentric lighthouse keeper whose own tales of woe nearly always beat Will’s – and not just because they tend to involve jungle animals… Then one week Will shares such an awful experience that he finally wins the contest – and learns how sweet his grandfather is in the process. A charming book with pleasingly old-fashioned, Quentin Blake-style illustrations provided by Tony Ross.
4 Astrosaurs Academy
By Steve Cole
Dhs38. Ages 6-9.
Based on the premise that dinosaurs are not actually extinct, but rather left Earth on dung-powered spaceships to avoid being blown up by a meteor, this book is great fun. There is an educational element, with a guide to the pronunciation of dinosaurs’ names, but for the most part it’s fictitious, telling the story of a group of young dinosaurs who go to boarding school together and have adventures at every turn. Illustrations on each page, and type large enough that kids can read by themselves, make this good for children who are starting to grow out of bedtime stories.
5 The Amazing Spider-Man Pop-up Book
By Templar Publishing
Dhs113. Ages 8-12.
Classic bold Marvel artwork meets modern-day metallic kapows in this 3D extravaganza. The price may be steeper than the walls Spidey has to climb, but the investment is worth it for the quality and complexity of the pop-ups alone – in fact, there are so many bells and whistles that it would be impossible to notice them all on the first read. The type is very small, so it’s not suitable for young kids unless they’re being read to, but for big kids (like the Time Out team) it will make for endless hours of fun and fascination.
By Emily Sands
Dhs135. Ages 8-12.
The scrapbook feel and use of different fonts, graphics and countless folding fact sheets and pull-out extras make this the perfect gift for Egypt-obsessed children. At once an educational tome and the most loveable book we’ve come across in a long time, the book charts the adventures of amateur Egyptologist Emily Sands in the 1920s. A combination of the jewel-adorned front cover, temperature tables, maps, samples of ‘mummy cloth’, hieroglyphic guides and an eerie conclusion are guaranteed to keep enthusiasts hooked and enchanted right to the very end.
7 Star Of Silver Spires
By Ann Bryant
Dhs38. Ages 8-12.
Told in the first person by a Year 7 pupil, this book addresses many of the fears and worries of pre-teen girls. The story is about a boarding school student who is very musically gifted, but too shy to enter the school talent contest. Bryant explores self-esteem issues well (even including tips on how to handle stage fright at the back) and also looks at how to handle the knowledge that one of your peers is cheating. A downside of the book is that you might find your daughter starts uttering phrases such as ‘It was, like, so totally cool’ even more than she already does…
All books available from Magrudy’s, Deira City Centre (04 295 7744).