Book review: Boredom-busting books for the long summer holidays

Come rain or shine, there is a book to keep youngsters busy this summer'¦
Book review: Boredom-busting books for the long summer holidaysBook review: Boredom-busting books for the long summer holidays
Book review: Boredom-busting books for the long summer holidays

Join The Beano comic star Dennis for activity ideas both indoors and outdoors, head off on an exciting rock painting adventure, solve some brilliant underwater puzzles, and discover why bees are causing a buzz.

Age 5 plus:

Painting Rocks!

Laura Baker

Painting isn’t just fun… it rocks!

Get out into the great outdoors with the latest craze sweeping the nation… decorating stones, pebbles and rocks, hiding them in public places for others to find and then hunting for other people’s painted rocks to keep or pass on again.

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And if you’re not sure what pictures or patterns to paint on your stones, here is the perfect book to get youngsters started and learn everything they need to know.

The stone painting hobby is all about getting creative and children can connect with the huge social media community to share finds and designs, and discover the joys of brightening someone’s day!

From preparing rocks to paint, to hiding and tracking your creations, this book will make sure you get the most out of this fun family activity. Packed full of ideas for cool designs, hints and tips on hiding and finding rocks and lots of info on the rock painting community, this book is a must-have for anyone who wants to get involved in this exciting new hobby.

You can use rocks or pebbles from your garden or buy big packs of them from supermarkets or homeware shops. All sorts of paints can be used but acrylic paints work best.

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For finer details on your rocks, you can use permanent markers. And if you are leaving the rocks in the wild, use a spray sealant or outdoor varnish from a craft or homeware shops.

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With advice on which rocks and shapes are best for your painting and pages of fantastic designs including funny faces, flags, animals, fruits, simple spots and stripes, smiley faces and rainbows, there are hours of creative fun to enjoy this summer.

Learn the best places to hide your rocks, where you might look for other people’s rocks and how to track your rock finds and even throw a rock painting party.

Stone painting and hunting is a journey of discovery.

So rock on and turn the summer into a rainbow of colour!

(Studio Press, paperback, £7.99)

Age 6 plus:

The Beano Book of Mischief, Mayhem and Fun

Matt Yeo

Banish the summer holiday boredom blues and join Dennis and his comical cohorts for over 100 super indoor and outdoor activities!

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Everyone has a little (or a lot) of mischief in them and The Beano Book of Mischief, Mayhem and Fun! was made with mischief in mind. Come rain or shine, this book will bring out the enjoyment in every situation.

Build your own catapult, periscope and miniature bow and arrow. Teach an old dog like Gnasher new tricks and learn about codes and ciphers. Make an awesome time capsule with an airtight box, create a crazy sock puppet and make it talk, find out how old a tree is by using a crafty trick, or make a barmy bird bath for the garden.

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Filled with nearly 200 pages of top-secret information, games, puzzles and activities, this is the perfect book for any boy or girl wanting to have naughty but nice fun and eager to discover more laughs and creative enjoyment than iPads and tech devices can offer.

The Beano Book of Mischief, Mayhem and Fun! is truly a back-to-basics compendium but with all the irresistible chaos of The Beano’s madcap stars and that much-loved sense of anarchy.

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There are games here for all weathers, each guaranteed to engage a child’s creativity and joie de vivre, encourage building and learning, and provide hours of good, healthy, old-fashioned fun!

(Studio Press, paperback, £14.99)

Age 6 plus:

Beano Builds: Secret Den and Beano Builds: Go-Kart

Frankie Jones

Have you ever wanted your very own secret den… or a go-kart that will get you away from all those pesky grown-ups?

Well now you can do both with two brilliant books inspired by The Beano’s madcap star Dennis the Menace who knows how to make a cardboard box into something fantastically epic!

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The Beano Builds series helps kids to transform everyday recyclable objects into the coolest Beano-themed creations, whether it’s a den where you make your own rules and can plot your pranks and read Beano in peace (and adults aren’t allowed!) or a go-kart that will help you make a quick exit.

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With jumbo stickers to decorate your creations and step-by-step instructions for four super DIY projects, each book not only engages kids’ creativity and imagination but also supports the important message that recycling is something we should be encouraging from a young age.

All you need are some BIG cardboard boxes, some basic craft supplies, loads of imagination and perhaps a little help from an adult (but only until the den or go-kart is built and then they are strictly out-of-bounds!).

With Beano Builds: Secret Den you can also make a gadgets chest, a bat mobile and a grown-up proximity alarm, and Beano Builds: Go-Kart includes instructions for a racing helmet, a racing flag and a racecourse.

And once you have built your fabulous creation, there are exciting Beano-themed games and puzzles to complete including mazes, word searches and board games.

Summer just got better with the best DIY projects in town!

(Studio Press, paperback, £6.99)

Age 6 plus:

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: A Puzzle Adventure

Aleksandra Artymowska

Dive in for a fantastic underwater adventure!

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Inspired by Jules Verne’s 19th century classic science fiction novel, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, this puzzle book is a treat for readers of all ages.

Polish artist Aleksandra Artymowska’s reimagining of the story is simply bursting with wild creatures, strange landscapes and mechanical contraptions… and it will take readers on a journey to some truly exciting places.

After an irresistible invite from Captain Nemo himself to search the seven seas, readers set sail through this super-sized adventure book which is written with an engaging narrative feel and contains hidden symbols and keys to uncover in a series of challenges on every spread.

This stunning puzzle book will both fascinate and amaze young readers as they travel deep beneath the waves on an incredible journey full of winding mazes, perplexing puzzles and hidden treasure just waiting to be found.

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Find a sea snake hiding in the seaweed, look for fragments of ancient pottery lying amongst underwater volcanoes, spot the hammerhead sharks and steer the submarine Nautilus through a reef without passing any peckish piranhas! But will they ever find Captain Nemo’s elusive gold?

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Artymowska’s spectacular illustrations are filled with vibrant colours and intricate detail, with each spread offering exciting challenges and searches perfect for adventurous youngsters… and adults who love a challenge.

The perfect splash-and-grab gift for your own undersea adventurers!

(Big Picture Press, hardback, £14.99)

From Birth:

That’s not my bee...

Fiona Watt and Rachel Wells

The bees are causing a buzz this summer… and it’s all thanks to two super new board books from Usborne.

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Bees need our help to survive and Usborne are keen to encourage children to learn all about these vitally important insects with the help of fun but informative books guaranteed to keep youngsters flitting from page to page.

The youngest members of the family meet five quirky bees in an adorable addition to the much-loved That’s not my... series. Written by Fiona Watt and illustrated by Rachel Wells, this gorgeous new title – complete with fluffy, stripy cover – is an important educational addition to Usborne’s fantastic series of tactile books.

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Babies and toddlers will love getting hands-on with the brightly coloured and textured patches as they meet bees with sparkly wings, fuzzy tummies and shiny eyes and look for the little white mouse on every page.

This award-winning, touchy-feely series has been delighting parents and children for two decades, and has sold over 20 million books worldwide. The simple text, bold, colourful illustrations and touchy-feely patches are irresistible to little children and their parents, and what better than an up-close look at our beautiful but endangered bees?

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Specially designed to develop sensory and language awareness, these distinctive That’s not my… board books really are a vividly visual and hands-on treat for inquisitive babies and toddlers.

And this clever new bee book is guaranteed to fly off the shelves!

(Usborne, board book, £6.99)

Age 4 plus:

Why Do We Need Bees? (Lift-the-Flap First Questions and Answers)

Katie Daynes and Christine Pym

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Children have been getting a buzz out of bees since time began and now they can learn fascinating facts about their amazing life and work.

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Why do we need bees, how do they make honey and who’s who in a beehive are just some of the many questions we all want to know about bees and this imaginative and informative lift-the-flap book provides the answers in appealing and colourful style.

Inquisitive children will love lifting the flaps and meeting the drones, female worker bees and the famous queen bee, discovering how the bees spread pollen, how they collect sweet nectar, why they appear to dance and even why they buzz.

Beautifully designed with eye-catching, colourful illustrations, a simple text and chunky flaps to lift, the book also tells young children why the bees desperately need our help and how we can all help them to survive.

Ideal as a learning tool for parents, nurseries and school, Why Do We Need Bees? offers a hive of fun and important facts for both children and adults.

(Usborne, board book, £9.99)

Age 12 plus:

So Awkward Scrapbook

Anthony Macmurray and Julie Bower

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Join straight-A but clueless ‘super nerds’ Lily, Martha and Jas as they enter their first year of sixth form in this super cool, official tie-in book to series four of the hit CBBC show.

So Awkward has consistently featured in the top 10 requested programmes on the play back service throughout the last three series and this imaginative book, So Awkward Scrapbook, charts the life of the three girls and their friends as they navigate the trials and tribulations of being teenagers.

The sitcom is made by Channel X North, a division of Channel X, the production company run by Alan Marke and Jim Reid. Created by writer Julie Bower, the show focuses on three very academically bright, but socially awkward 13-year-old girls.

Lily Hampton, Jas Salford and Martha Fitzgerald, played by Cleo Demetriou, Ameerah Falzon-Ojo and Sophia Dall’aglio, are trying to fit in at school and deal with day-to-day life, boys and parental dramas. But they are an inseparable trio, bound together by brains, loyalty and embarrassment.

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While other girls their age are going to parties, netball practice and sleepovers, Lily, Martha and Jas are busy with chess club, homework and Friday nights in watching documentaries.

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The So Awkward Scrapbook follows the life of the threesome and their friends… all teens who are trying to make sense of life, boys and fitting in, while coping with embarrassing parents and incompetent teachers.

Written as a fun, teen lifestyle guide, written by the girls and their classmates – with some help from Mr Malone and Lily’s mum! – The Scrapbook also contains exclusive, never-before-seen content as well as info from the new series, including new characters and much-anticipated storylines.

So what are you waiting for?

Take a leaf out of Lily, Jas and Martha’s book this summer and share all the best tips, gossip, short stories and interactive quizzes!

(Studio Press, paperback, £12.99)

From Birth:

Jane Foster’s Summertime

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The lazy, hazy, playful days of summer spring to glorious life in a beautiful new board book by acclaimed artist and leading textile designer Jane Foster.

This celebration of all that summer means is the sparkling follow-up to Foster’s first seasonal book, Springtime, and is the perfect way to help little ones explore the exciting activities that make the summer months such fun.

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With bold, vibrant and eye-catching artwork, these cleverly created board books have a special appeal for design-conscious parents and are the perfect gift for holidays or a summer baby.

From sand castles, bright sunflowers and a polka dot swimming costume to tasty ice cream and traditional buckets and spades, this inventive book uses high-contrast images to introduce little children to each summertime topic.

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Foster’s images, featuring vivid colours and thick black lines, provide hours of early learning fun whilst also acting as a stylish alternative to traditional photographic board books.

The glossy illustrations are appealing to both the eye and little hands, and sturdy enough to withstand the roughest handling.

A special summer outing for the very youngest family members!

(Templar Publishing, board book, £6.99)