Books for kids...

Pairs In The Garden by Smiriti Prasadam-Halls and Lorna Scobie
(Frances Lincoln, €8.20) 

This board book is entertaining and educational for three-year-olds and upwards. Each highly decorative page teems with garden creatures and various challenges. Find, for example, 10 ants, and on the same page find matching pairs of caterpillars behind lift-the-flaps. Half the fun is trying to remember what is behind each flap, and as a bonus — learning to count to 10. Hours of fun.

Captain McGrew Wants You For His Crew by Mark Sperring (Bloomsbury, €8.20)

Four youngsters spot a pirate who has advertised for new crew members. They take on more than expected as the work proves back breaking. 

Captain McGrew is a hard taskmaster so no excuses and no slacking allowed. The anchor has to be pulled up, the rigging climbed, the deck cleaned and pirate treasure unearthed. 

Captain McGrew doesn’t lift a finger to help. Least impressed is their cat who has tagged along and is horrified when McGrew wants them all to remain as permanent crew. 

Brash, colourful illustrations by Ed Leaves add to the fun. Suitable for age four and upwards.

We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan (Bloomsbury, €15.20 HB) 

This inspiring novel, written in free verse, tells in alternate chapters the story of Nicu and Jess.

They are literally poles apart in character and when they meet in a reparation scheme for young offenders, communication between them is nil.

Gradually they find that maybe they have more in common than they think. Jess comes from a troubled home where her mother is abused by her boyfriend.

Nicu is a 15-year old Romanian who is the butt of school jokes and incessant bullying. Very slowly their relationship develops, but is complicated by Nicu’s arranged marriage. 

As they are drawn closer to each other, the only logical way out for them seems to be to run away together — all of which leads to a surprising twist in the tail.

Suitable for age 12 and upwards.

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