Books for children

Fast Forward by Judi Curtin
(O’Brien Press — World Book Day publication which can be obtained free using tokens which are available in most schools.)

This story features two friends Beth and Molly on another time travel adventure.

No danger of creating a paradox here as Beth’s more prosaic objective is to win a super new mobile phone by going forward two days in time to note the number of items in a crafty shopowner’s competition.

However, complication ensues when they meet a very disappointed young boy who has just missed out on winning the same phone. They also discover that nobody has attended new girl Heather’s party — leaving her absolutely devastated. This will be a major test of the friends generosity.

Full of humour and suspense, this is a terrific introduction for readers from eight upwards.

Zeki Can Swim by Anna McQuinn (Alanna Books, €9.40) 

Zeki is the famous Lulu’s young brother, and while his beloved sister ‘loves the library’, Zeki is about to have his first swimming lesson.

Zeki is accompanied by a loving father who oversees the activity from the donning of the swim nappy and swim trunks to the shower and soaping after the swim.

After all the kicking, splashing and singing there is no problem getting Zeki to sleep at home. A delightful multicultural mixture of fun, nurture and best practice water–safety. Suitable for age one and up.

The Night Gardener by The Fan Brothers (Frances Lincoln, €15.30 HB)

This is an atmospheric blend of magic and realism. Young William wakes one morning to find a tree sculpted in the shape of an owl. Soon new shapes appear — cats, rabbits, elephants and a terrifying dragon. 

When William spots an unfamiliar figure he follows him and strikes up a friendship. The mysterious Night Gardener teaches William about topiary so when spring comes round again William will be ready for his work. 

The illustrations changing from grey graphite to colour mirror the change in the neighbours’ attitudes to one another.

Suitable for age five and up.

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