BEAR FLIES HIGH, by Michael Rosen and Adrian Reynolds (Bloomsbury; €8.80 with CD), is a seaside escapade featuring big, jolly Bear. As he dances along the sand, he meets four youngsters who invite him to the fairground. The large, sunny-coloured spreads and jaunty, repetitive rhymes are perfect for toddlers.
Dirty Bertie, by Alan Macdonald and David Roberts (Stripes; €6.30), tells of the disasters that befall Bertie. Gran’s invitation to the Royal Garden Party, at Buckingham Palace, gobsmacks the family — especially when she decides to take Bertie as her companion. His excitement dampens when he finds the party is full of old people sipping tea. But one nice lady with a handbag asks if he’d like to see her corgis. Big mistake! Three lively stories of laugh-aloud destruction, for age six and upwards.
I was Jane Austen’s Best Friend, by Cora Harrison (Macmillan; €11.38 HB), is the perfect holiday book for girls aged 11 and upwards. The story is written in diary format, with random pencil sketches. Jenny Cooper and Jane Austen are cousins who attend Mrs Cawley’s boarding school — a dreadful place. When Jane becomes ill, Jenny’s concern drives her to slip out one night to send a letter to Jane’s mother. The dark, noisy night streets are not safe for a lone 16-year-old girl. But the dashing Captain Thomas Williams comes to her rescue. Mrs Austen responds to Jenny’s letter and whisks the two girls home. Jenny, an orphan, unwanted by her brother and his wife, is happy there. The era of frantic husband-hunting by steely-eyed mammas seeking wealthy matches for their daughters, the whisperings at house parties, and the interaction between shy Jenny and headstrong Jane provide much excitement. Will the masterful Captain Thomas cross lovesick Jenny’s path again? Harrison’s research into Jane Austen’s life gives credibility to this entertaining read.
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