Book reviews: Enjoy sun, fun and time travel with Oxford University Press

Head back to 1985 with a pair of schoolgirls or splash out with a naughty fairy as Oxford University Press get into their summer gear.

Thursday, 9th June 2016, 10:00 am
Updated Monday, 13th June 2016, 1:09 pm
Enjoy sun, fun and time travel with Oxford University Press
Enjoy sun, fun and time travel with Oxford University Press

Novelist Jess Bright is on cracking form with a beautiful and perceptive time travelling adventure, Dr KittyCat, the first aid feline, is back on the road, Nixie, the bad, bad fairy, casts a spectacular spell and Steve Antony’s picture book monster has a giant-size twist in his tail.

Age 9 plus:

Back in the Day by Jess Bright

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Imagine being at school with your mum… when she was the same age as you!

That’s just what happens to 13-year-old Daisy Hillman when she is transported back to 1985. The adventure should be fun but for Daisy it’s more than just about checking out her mum’s weird hair styles and clothes. Her mum died in a car crash when Daisy was only four… should she save her from the fate that lies ahead?

Jess Bright, whose beautiful debut novel Sister, Sister won the hearts and minds of young readers, returns with a thoughtful, warm and wise time-travelling story that puts family and friendship firmly in the spotlight.

After nine years of being ‘on the shelf’ since mum died, Daisy’s dad has met someone else. Even though she knows Mary is not a nasty person, Daisy just wants everything to stay just as it was before and can’t help feeling consumed by a ‘white-hot rage.’

At school, Daisy has sidelined her former best friend Izzy to join Celia and her gang, a group of girls who like intimidating others in that popular ‘girl clique way.’

But when Izzy and Daisy are sent off to get some equipment out of the PE cupboard, they find an old box of prom stuff and pass through a time portal back to 1985 where they meet their 13-year-old mums.

Daisy always wanted to meet her mum Annie again and this could be just the chance she needs to save her from the car crash. But class swot Izzy says they must not change anything in their mothers’ past as it might mean they won’t even get born.

But how can Daisy not warn her mum? If there’s a chance that she can save her, surely she has got to take it…

Intriguing and gripping, Back in the Day blends retro fun and adventure in the most entertaining way without losing sight of serious issues like honesty, the enduring strength of family ties and the value of real friendship.

Packed with all the gossip and giggles, feuds and fears of teenage girls of any generation, this is an emotionally powerful and intelligent story that will resonate with both mothers and daughters.

(OUP, paperback, £6.99)

Age 5-7:

Dr KittyCat is Ready to Rescue: Nutmeg the Guinea Pig by Jane Clarke

Cool, calm Dr KittyCat, the meowing medic, and her trusty helper Peanut, a quick-thinking paramedic mouse, are heading off on another emergency to rescue furry friends in need!

The two caring and adorably cute little creatures are the stars of Jane Clarke’s original, warm-hearted and entertaining series which follows their adventures as they chase round the countryside to dispense help and advice.

Full of fascinating first aid facts, all verified by a qualified paramedic, these gentle stories have instant appeal to little children who love animal stories and have a penchant for fun medical dramas.

In their new first aid foray, the sun is shining and the little animals are having fun at Nutmeg the Guinea Pig’s picnic birthday party at the park when Nutmeg starts to feel dizzy and unwell. Fortunately Dr KittyCat and Peanut are close at hand in their ‘vanbulance’ and promise to be there in a whisker. Will Dr KittyCat and Peanut be able to make her feel better? For

Nutmeg that would be the best present of all!

These gorgeous, glossy, eye-catching books are packed with two-tone illustrations which mix photography and hand-drawn elements, and the reassuring medical stories are ideal for the five to seven age group.

With some real-life medical tips in the back of the book, this is a canny cat and mouse team for whom medicine is not just a game!

(OUP, paperback, £5.99)

Age 5 plus:

Nixie: Splashy Summer Swim by Cas Lester and Ali Pye

Bumblebees’ bottoms! Yes, Nixie, the naughty fairy, is buzzing back with more of her wonderful wonky wand disasters.

Author Cas Lester spent many years working in children’s television with CBBC, and this star-dusted children’s series featuring naughty but incredibly nice Nixie packs a hilarious dramatic punch with its anarchic antics and madcap magic.

In her latest adventure, bad, bad Nixie is up to her eyes in froggy fiascos and water fights. When it’s a super-hot sunny day, there’s only one thing to do with all your friends… have a mega water fight. And for Nixie, this is the perfect opportunity to come up with some of her ingenious inventions to make the fairies’ swimming party really go with a splash, and a bang.

Oh no! Her wonky wand is up to its usual tricks and soon the peaceful pond becomes a frog-leaping fiasco. Nixie’s in big trouble yet again… will she be frog-marched into disgrace?

Brought to life by Ali Pye’s action-packed black-and-white illustrations, which add an extra sprinkling of stardust, these warm and comical stories give little girls a refreshing new slant on the wonderful world of fairies and are perfect for either reading alone or enjoying as a bedtime story.

A funny, feisty fairy with plenty of mischief in her magic!

(OUP, paperback, £5.99)

Age one plus:

Monster in the Hood by Steve Antony

Beware the monster in the hood… he’s got his one, big, beady eye on you!

Steve Antony, the talented children’s author and illustrator, dishes up a delicious cautionary tale with a magical monster twist as his fertile imagination moves into storytelling overdrive.

Sammy Squirrel, Henri Hedgehog, and Marvin Mouse have read the signs and heard all the warnings about the Monster in the Hood. He’s grumbly and rumbly, and not only that… he has a large orange eye, huge shaggy hands, a big scary mouth and he’s frighteningly hungry. Our intrepid heroes are not scared… but should they be? Turn the pages and discover that things are not always what they seem.Antony’s clever use of words and pictures builds up a thrilling sense of anticipation as the animal friends defy the warnings of a group of rats, bats

and cats on the run from the monster, and enjoy the smiles on the faces of your little ones as the simple and unexpected truth is revealed.

There is plenty of fun and humour to be found here, as well as important messages for little ones to digest about friendship, loneliness and expectations. Picture book magic for inquisitive toddlers…

(OUP, paperback, £6.99)