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Book Reviews: We round up the best holiday books for kids

0-4

Happy Birthday To You! by Nicola Slater

A board book with a difference. Press the buttons to hear animals play a bit of Happy Birthday on every page. At the end, there’s a big-band chorus finale and a light-up birthday cake!

Something Fishy by Polly Dunbar

The cat only wants some fish, not tiny clothes or toys. And what is that thing? A fabulously funny, feline take on the arrival of a new sibling.

Billy And The Beast by Nadia Shireen

How will Billy outwit the Terrible Beast trying to make her friends into soup? With the help of props in her hair and sidekick Fatcat, of course. Colourful and comic.

5-8

The Big Book Of The Blue by Yuval Zommer

A sparkling underwater introduction to crabs, crustaceans, sharks, jellies and more, from the superlative author-illustrator of The Big Book Of Beasts.

Ruby Red Shoes: A Very Aware Hare by Kate Knapp

A charming account of a white hare who cares for her garden, animals, her home and her beloved red shoes, this has the tenderness of a modern Beatrix Potter.

The Boy Who Grew Dragons by Andy Shepherd, Sara Ogilvie

Hilarious, warm and full of magic, this is a crazy tale of a boy, his grandad and a tree that grows dragons. Features delightful line drawings from the illustrator of The Detective Dog.

8-12

The Last Chance Hotel by Nicki Thornton

When Seth Seppi, the hapless kitchen boy at The Last Chance Hotel, prepares a very special dessert for a celebrated guest, he doesn’t expect Dr Thallomius to die. Seth, now the prime suspect, must somehow clear his name in this mash-up of murder mystery and fantasy that celebrates food and cooking, and is full of great characters, plot twists and intriguing detail.

Jelly by Jo Cotterill

The class clown and the school’s life and soul, Angelica — better known as Jelly — is also overweight enough to stand out. But she never shows how much her classmates’ comments get under her skin — no one would expect the irreverent, anarchic Jelly to pour her heart out in poetry. This is a deeply touching story of hidden depths, the hurtfulness of careless words, love and self-acceptance.

Twister by Juliette Forrest

Born in a cyclone, Twister lives up to her tempestuous name. Fierce and determined, she sets out to find her missing father, encountering a wood witch, a necklace with shape-changing powers, a strange new friend and an evil coat along the way. This is an unusual, gutsy and invigorating fantasy with a compelling narrative voice.

YOUNG ADULT

Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson

Jade is clever and creative so why is she always assumed, as a working-class black girl in a private school, to be ‘at risk’ of dropping out? She’s offered the chance to be mentored by a successful professional but just because Maxine is black doesn’t mean she and Jade have anything in common. A powerful novel about assumptions and identity.

Slay by Kim Curran

World-famous boy band Slay have a secret second career — they’re actually demon killers. When Milly’s opera-singer mother falls victim to an ancient force of evil, she doesn’t expect the hottest pop stars on the planet to come to her rescue… Supernatural and Buffy meet One Direction in this gloriously absurd, fast-paced summer read.