Children's book reviews

Song of the Golden Hare by Jackie Morris
(Frances Lincoln; €15.80 HB)

A young brother and sister belong to a family whose ancient knowledge of hares is almost magical. When it is time for the old Golden queen to retire to the Island of the Golden Hares the children follow the hares to keep them safe on their way to the crowning of the next Golden Hare and especially to hear their unique songs. But there are hunters who covet her for other reasons. Can the children, along with creatures in the sea, prevent the carnage? This beautiful story and its superbly atmospheric illustrations is a book for keeps.

The War Game by Terry Deary (Bloomsbury; €5.90) is another fascinating story from Deary’s popular First World War series. Young Albert Watson marches with the British troops as they set off towards the trenches in the biting winter cold. Worse is to come in the freezing trenches of no man’s land, just yards from the German trenches. Despite the fears of the constant bombardment something extraordinary happens on Christmas night. The guns are silent and the sound of carols cross the wasteland. An inspiring read for age nine and upwards.

A Boy Called Hope by Lara Williamson (Usborne; €8.35). This is an intriguing character-driven account of Dan Hope who ironically seems to wallow in despair rather than live up to his family name. When Dan’s sister who he has nicknamed Ninja, reports that their father who deserted them years ago has just landed a job on telly, Dan dares to hope that this may lead to a family reconciliation. Dan may well mourn his lost father, but his mother has formed a new relationship with Dave, a decent bloke who doesn’t deserve the treatment about to be meted out to him as Dan tries to discredit him. The story, slow-moving at times, is alive with eccentric and larger than life characters, including and a marvellously named dog called Charles Scallybones. The relationships are the strength of this unusual and moving story.


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