Albert Einstein Hawking Chaudhury may be the only 12-year-old boy in history to have travelled in time in the company of a prehistoric tortoise and a hamster named Alan. It’s the result of being in possession of a time machine, which once saved his father’s life but now unfortunately finds him trapped in a cave sometime in the Cretaceous period, ‘being eyed up as potential lunch by a family of dinosaurs’. He has a lot of explaining to do in Time Travelling with a Tortoise by Ross Welford, a hair-raising and ingenious adventure in the multiverse.
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Once upon a time of traditional gender roles, there was a little mouse who lived with her husband in a big old house full of mouse-friendly nooks and crannies. In this beautiful neglected classic, The Mousewife by Rumer Godden, we meet the tiny homemaker as she bustles around collecting crumbs of food and creating a snuggly nest for the babies she hopes to have one day. She believes her house to be ‘the whole world,’ and yet yearns for something more. It will take the arrival of a mournful caged turtledove to open her mind to the wonders beyond the front door. Read full Review
It was a Tuesday when Aisha found out that the world was ending. Ostensibly just another day, but one containing the announcement that an asteroid is on course to collide with Earth within the year. Despite the best efforts of world governments, it cannot be deflected. ‘Make the most of what’s left,’ say resigned authority figures, and Aisha does just that in The Cats We Meet Along the Way by Nadia Mikail, as she heads across Malaysia in a camper van, in search of her missing sister and some long-awaited answers.
First published in 1949, the wondrous Little Boy Brown by Isobel Harris has been billed as the greatest book about childhood loneliness of all time. It tells the tale of four-and-a-half-year-old Little Boy Brown himself, who leads a cosseted existence in a Manhattan hotel. Although his life is one of privilege and comfort, the boy’s parents are rarely home and he has no siblings. His only friends are the hotel waiters, doormen, and most of all, Hilda the chambermaid. Here he recounts the wonderful day that she took him to her house for tea.
In 2020, as winter approached, Neil Gaiman made a special request to his legions of social media followers, asking them to share memories that reminded them of warmth. Answers ranged from the pleasure of a baked potato on a chilly night, to the less tangible comfort of a smile from a stranger. In a bid to draw attention to those left out in the cold, particularly those fleeing from war or persecution, he wove these ideas into a scarf, a film, and here, casting a welcome glow, is the book, What You Need to be Warm by Neil Gaiman.
Opening its doors for the first time on Easter Monday 1881, the beautiful Natural History Museum in London was conceived as nothing less than a ‘cathedral to nature.’ Today, its galleries continue to brim with treasures, from the tiniest specks of DNA to the bones of the colossal blue whale. In Wonder – The Natural History Museum Poetry Book by Ana Sampson, a glorious selection of poems inspired by the natural world is created, and even the great museum itself.
The letter, when it lands on Seb’s doormat, manages to be both celebratory and commanding. Sent on behalf of the HappyHead project, it congratulates 17-year-old Seb on being selected for a pioneering programme designed to eradicate teenage unhappiness. It’s an immersive 13-day course of challenges and assessments, and by the way, attendance is mandatory. A timely exploration of our 21st century preoccupation with happiness, HappyHead by Josh Silver launches us into a government-endorsed mental health bootcamp. What in the name of dystopian thrillers could go wrong?
In three weeks time, Imogen Stewart will turn eleven, an impressive age by any measure. She’ll be taller, cleverer, and probably quite sensible, but what she won’t be is a detective. Those days are behind her, her last solved mystery having taken place when she was nine. All she has to remind her are the newspaper clippings that detail her rescue of an imperilled penguin named Einstein. In The Case of the Fishy Detective by Iona Rangeley, we discover that Imogen’s detective days are far from over, as the charismatic Einstein waddles back into her life on a trail of herrings and havoc.
Once upon a medieval time, there was a fisherman, his wife, and their new-born baby boy, a family so impoverished that the couple had nothing to give their son as a christening gift. Concluding that actually the greatest gift they could confer would be the patronage of ‘an honest man to be his godfather’, the fisherman sets off to find one. Beginning the journey as a naive and unworldly soul, he is set to meet three of history’s greatest characters. Godfather Death by Sally Nicholls is a morality tale with a brilliant sucker punch.
All dedicated bookworms are familiar with the Victorian orphanage, looming large in children’s literature as a place of gruel and gruesomeness. Here we have something much much worse, the Home for Unfortunate Girls, an institution that houses girls with disabilities ‘that make it improper for them to be part of polite society.’ For 12-year-old Cosima and her officially ‘defective’ friends, years go by in ceaseless monotony. Until one fateful week in 1899, when they’re called upon to simultaneously foil a villain, stage a heist, and reveal family secrets, in the inspiring Cosima Unfortunate Steals A Star by Laura Noakes.