Books for children...

The Star Tree by Catherine Hyde (Frances Lincoln, €14.90 HB) Waking at midnight at Midsummer, young Mia sets out on a fabulous journey, first on her horse, then on owl-back, followed by a sea voyage in Little Red Hare’s boat.

After many adventures she reaches The Star Tree and having collected what she came for — a star — she returns home on a goose’s back. The star now takes the place of her nightlight as she drifts happily back to sleep.The story is just so beautiful and peaceful, and is really a fitting vehicle for Catherine Hyde’s magical illustrations. Suitable for age five and upwards.

Pet Dragon by MP Robertson (Frances Lincoln, €8.10) This is a really funny tongue-in-cheek manual for looking after a pet dragon. They are a strange lot, some green and slithery with ugly warts and huge toes. Their scaly teeth and necks are scary and horridly creepy to touch, so be aware. Worse still, watch out for vomiting dragons who may spit in your face.

Advice on choosing the breed carefully, feeding habits, grooming and healthcare, mirror the care we would take in having a puppy or kitten join the household. Fun all the way with superb illustrations by Sally Symes. Suitable for age six and upwards.

Bicycling to the Moon by Timo Parvela (Gecko Press, €9.20) Though Purdy The Cat’s ambition to cycle to the moon is a constant throughout, this is really a collection of short stories about a very unbalanced friendship. Purdy spends a lot of time either lolling around or dreaming impossible dreams. Barker, on the other hand, is the practical one who looks after the day-to-day running of the house but finds time to steer Purdy clear of dangerous situations. Barker is almost totally unappreciated, as when he gets his Christmas present — binoculars — they are almost for him. But he does gain a gentle revenge when he produces a pirate treasure map which leads to Purdy digging furiously and in vain to locate this untold wealth. The ground is now suitable for setting next year’s carrots! Hilarious at times. Suitable for age eight and upwards.


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