Children’s books

Vanishing Trick by Ros Asquith (Frances Lincoln; €9.80) is a collection of modern verse to dip into at bedtime or on a long boring drive.

The key note of the collection is variety, wit and sheer fun. 

We may consider our lives dull and featureless. Try being a dragon where. Life is dull for a dragon,/ a dragon, time drags on. 

Frighten kid, eat princess. Breathe fire, cause distress … Or consider the very human poem of a chaotic egg and spoon race which sees teacher at her wits end to ensure that nobody cheats — all of which doesn’t help the honest, studious little girl who follows the rules faithfully, and of course finishes last. 

And finally, who could imagine basing a poem on the names of various fonts on a keyboard! For age eight and up.

Dark Hunter, The Headless Huntsman by Benjamin Hulme-Cross (Bloomsbury; €8.23) 

Mr Blood is the Dark Hunter who, with the help of two brave youngsters, Edgar and Mary, seeks out evils of all kinds -vampires, ghosts and other night-time horrors. 

But what can he do about a headless hunstman, and why do the townspeople shout angrily at the town councillors? 

The big problem for The Dark Hunter is that a ghost cannot be killed. This series of Hulme-Cross’s short stories is excellent for young reluctant readers who like a good scare.

Storm Horse by Nick Garlick (Chicken House; €9.60) 

When his father dies, young Flip has to move to Mossum, a lonely island far north from his Amsterdam home. He is not welcomed by a grim Uncle Andries who hated his recently deceased brother. 

Flip’s new life on a farm is akin to hard labour, but he knuckles down and makes friends with his new sister Renske and a wraithlike girl he christens Ghost Girl. His greatest friend is a horse he rescues from a storm-tossed sea and then sacrifices everything to keep it on his uncle’s farm. 

The farm itself is in financial difficulty, bullies make Flip’s life difficult, while Uncle Andries rails against providing for this new arrival. This is an inspiring story of endurance, bravery, friendship and resilience. For age 12 and up.


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