Pirate Nell’s Tale To Tell
by Helen Docherty & Thomas Docherty

The day Nell becomes a pirate she thinks that all her dreams have come true, but her curmudgeonly Captain brings her crashing down to earth with a bang. Nell loves to read swashbuckling stories but Captain Gnash says there’s no time for reading on his ship. He takes one look at her most treasured possession – The Pirate’s Almanac – and he laughs in her face. He doesn’t believe in all this book nonsense!

Nell decides to keep out of the nasty Captain’s way so she spends her days scrubbing the ship clean and regaling the other pirates with fabulous tales of buried chests and daring rescues. But then one day she finds a treasure map sealed in a little bottle bobbing on the waves and she realises that adventure is just over the horizon.

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Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
by Peter Bently & Steve Antony

This gorgeous adaptation of Ian Fleming’s original Chitty Chitty Bang Bang story has made me super nostalgic. I loved the movie as a kid so it has been wonderful watching Ivy absorb the story then wing her way around the house pretending to fly, yelling ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ as she goes!

Fortunately there is no evil childcatcher here to give her nightmares as the movie strayed considerably from the original story.

Jeremy and Jemima Pott live in a rundown house with their mum and dad. They don’t have much money until one day their dad invents ‘Toot Sweets’ which become an overnight sensation. Now considerably richer, they set off to buy a car and  are all drawn to a sad-looking racing vehicle which is rusting in the corner of the garage.

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How To Drive A Roman Chariot
by Caryl Hart & Ed Eaves

Albie is an ordinary boy who has some extraordinary adventures! The first Albie book was released 10 years ago and we have amassed quite a few of them of late. Ivy really enjoys the way he is whipped away to different time or location whilst doing normal everyday things.

In this latest installment, Albie’s mum takes him to see some horses in a field. Whilst they’re there it starts to rain so the little boy shelters in a nearby barn – but inside he discovers a girl wearing a dress from Roman times.

Albie soon finds himself roaring through the backstreets of Ancient Rome as he and his new friend Julia try to stop a runaway chariot from crashing into the crowds of people at the market. The girl successfuly grabs the reins and takes control of the horses but they accidentally turn in to an arch at the side of a very large building.

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The Tower Bridge Cat
by Tee Dobinson & Steve Cox

Bella is a Bridge Master’s cat who lives at a very famous location – Tower Bridge! Today she is very excited as it’s the Queen’s birthday and the Royal Barge will be passing through. Everyone around her is preparing for a big celebration and it’s Bella’s job to make sure everything is on track.

As she visits each member of the team we get a lovely insight in to the inner workings of the bridge. We meet Stan the Stoker, Eddy the Engineer, Olly the Oiler and Hannah the Cook, each of whom has a special role to play in the festivities.

Finally everything is ready and Bella sits down to watch for the Royal Barge. As the Queen nears the bridge the bascules start to rise but Bella spots a problem. The traffic lights are green and there’s a double decker bus heading right towards the big gap at the centre of the bridge!

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Paris Cat by Dianne Hofmeyr & Piet Grobler

Cat lives with her large, noisy family in a smelly alleyway behind a fishmonger’s shop in Paris. Surrounded by fish bones and squabbling cousins, she finds herself dreaming of a bigger life. She wants to see more of this fabulous city and find out what it has to offer.

One night she slinks in to a crowded cafe where she sees Edith Piaf singing to a sophisticated crowd. Filled with confidence,  Cat joins in but is quickly ejected for caterwauling. She finds herself outside in the rain so she climbs a fire escape and sneaks into a nice warm room to sleep.

When she awakens Cat realises she is in an atelier surrounded by busy seamstresses, taffeta, velvet and racks of beautiful dresses. She watches carefully and by the time the workers leave for the day she has formulated a plan. She gathers up scraps of fabric and using her new found knowledge she creates herself an outfit befitting of a high-society cat.

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The Three Billy Goats Fluff
by Rachael Mortimer & Liz Pichon

Ivy really enjoys traditional fairy tales so I love it when we discover alternate versions with interesting twists! This new take on ‘The Three Billy Goats Gruff’ had her giggling from start to finish.

When Mr Troll moves in to a brand new pad he’s looking forward to some luxury living, but instead he finds himself under a bridge frequented by a very noisy family of goats – the eponymous Billy Goats Fluff. The trip-trapping of their hooves keeps him awake 24/7, leaving him sleep-deprived and very, very grumpy.

He puts up a carefully worded sign but this doesn’t work so he soon finds himself shouting at the goats and threatening to eat them unless they stop waking him up. The three little billy goats are scared so they head home to tell their mum all about the nasty old troll.

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Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam: The Spooky School by Tracey Corderoy & Steven Lenton

We are massive fans of the Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam picture books so we were very excited to discover that there are chapter books too!

Shifty and Sam are two loveable dogs who used to live a life of crime. These days they are reformed characters who have swapped robbing banks for baking cakes and catching bad guys. In ‘The Spooky School’ they use their skills to solve a series of wacky mysteries.

Each of the books is divided in to three stories and each story has four short chapters which makes them perfect for bedtime reading. We’ll usually read two chapters per night but if Ivy is particularly tired we’ll drop this down to just one.

The stories in this volume are:

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I Will Be Fierce
by Bea Birdsong & Nidhi Chanani

I love picture books where the words and illustrations work in opposition and ‘I Will Be Fierce!’ is the best example I have seen.

The pictures show a young girl moving through an ordinary day at school but the words are those of a fierce knight going in to battle, determined to make the world a better place. The result is a powerful narrative which teaches children that they can be the hero of their own story.

At the start of the day we see the protagonist don her armour (a stripy jumper), fill her treasure chest (a rucksack of books)  and head out in to the world. On her way to school she fearlessly faces monsters (dogs), giants (older children) and a dragon (the school bus). The day continues in this wonderful manner as we encounter more mythical beasts (like the Guardian of Wisdom – the school librarian) and battle against doubt and injustice.

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The Pirates Are Coming!
by John Condon & Matt Hunt

Little Tom spends his days watching for pirates from atop a hill next to the village where he lives. When he spots a boat he shouts ‘THE PIRATES ARE COMING!’ and all the villagers quickly hide. However it soon becomes apparent that it’s just a little fishing boat, and not a pirate ship at all.

Undeterred, Tom climbs back up the hill and continues to watch the horizon. Each time he spots a boat he yells down to the village and everyone hides – but it’s always a false alarm.

But then one day he spots a very large ship with a pirate flag! He yells ‘THE PIRATES ARE COMING!’ but everyone ignores him. Tom is never right about the boats so they don’t think there’s any point hiding. How wrong they are! The ship docks and a motley crew of pirates disembark. The villagers soon realise their mistake and scramble to their hiding places…

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The Bedtime Book
by S Marendaz & Carly Gledhill

This lovely book about friendship is the perfect snuggly bedtime read!

Mouse has lost her favourite bedtime book and is feeling very sad. She enlists the help of her friend Frank the sausage dog and the two head out in to the night to try and track it down.

Frank’s clever nose sniffs out a trail and soon they have their first clue. The book was found by Bella the cat, who popped it near the flowerbeds so that it could be easily found by its owner. Excited, they head to the correct spot only to discover that Owl has already moved it and given it to Baby Hedgehog as a gift!

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