Children's books: The Crow’s Tale, The Barrel Burglary, The 50 States

The Crow’s Tale by Naomi Howarth (Frances Lincoln €17.60)

In the dark depths of winter, far, far away, snow started falling. The bears, bedraggled birds and many other creatures are freezing and very hungry — something must be done or they will all die of hunger. Who will venture on the long journey up to the sky to meet the Sun and plead with him to melt the ice. Colourful, Courageous Rainbow Crow takes on this task, but will Mister Sun take pity on the starving creatures below on the earth?

This is one of those timeless, irresistible books that will be passed on to entertain generations of children. The beautiful illustrations complement this imaginative story. Suitable for age six and upwards.

The Barrel Burglary by Terry Deary (Bloomsbury €6.70) Another amusing tale of World War Two as young Jack teams up with his granddad to try to do something positive during the blitz. 

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Granddad, according to himself, is a much valued member of the Home Guard in Sunderland and Jack never misses their hilarious meetings. 

However, there is now genuine fear that the local factory will be bombed in the next air-raid, so Jack and Granddad hatch an audacious plan to minimise the damage that will be caused. Good fun for reluctant readers.

The 50 States by Gabrielle Balkan, illustrated by Sol Linero (Wide Eyed €27.00) For students of Americana this is a large informative volume with double-spreads teeming with facts about each of the states. 

Each state has a minisection of key facts which lists cities, time zones and the etymology of its name. Moments to Remember gives a chronology of historical highlights, while noted natives are pictured with brief biographical details. 

Alaska, for instance, is an Aleut word meaning Great Land, and was purchased from Russia in 1867 for two cents an acre. The great Yukon gold rush of 1897 inspired Jack London to write his famous Call Of The Wild. And, apart from a glossary of thumbnail sketches of all the American presidents which looks like figures from the Wii, this is an excellent blending of atlas, encyclopedia and fun.


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