The days may be getting shorter but long winter evenings hold the promise of a world of warm and wonderful reading.
So if your youngsters need some sparkling books to light up their lives, look no further than a new collection from Stripes Publishing, a ‘small-but-mighty’ company specialising in bright, bold and appealing reads for children aged six to teen.
From an enchanting snow-filled tale about a little girl’s time-travel adventure to a warrior frog on a serious mission and a wickedly funny story about a grubby little boy, Stripes have a wealth of colourful stories.
Age 6 plus:
The Winter Wolf by Holly Webb
First out of the Stripes bumper bag is a simply bewitching winter warmer from Holly Webb, one of the best and most prolific children’s authors.
A former children’s books editor, Webb has written over 70 books including the Animal Stories, My Naughty Little Puppy and the Maisie Hitchins series. Two years ago she wrote The Clever Little Kitten for World Book Day.
The Winter Wolf, which gives the eternal theme of friendship a starring role, will delight children (and their parents!) everywhere with its winning combination of beautiful story and gorgeous illustrations.
Amelia is exploring the huge old house in Scotland where her family are spending Christmas when she finds a diary hidden in the attic. It was written by a young American boy called Noah in Wisconsin in the United States in 1870.
She stays up long into the night, reading about how Noah finds a wolf cub and secretly cares for it during the long winter months. Before she knows it, Amelia is magically transported into the world of the diary and then it’s up to her to help Noah keep the wolf cub safe against winter storms. Together, can they find the little wolf’s mother out in the icy wilderness?
This timeless story, packaged here in a sumptuous hardback edition, is brimming with adventure, excitement and goodwill, and is brought to life with expressive and evocative illustrations sure to strike a chord with children of all ages.
A true classic in the making and the perfect Christmas gift…
(Stripes, hardback, £8.99)
Age 7 plus:
Maisie Hitchins: The Case of the Spilled Ink by Holly Webb
Also from Holly Webb is this quirky adventure story featuring an adorable and plucky girl detective living in Victorian London who likes nothing more than cracking difficult cases.
This pint-sized she-version of Sherlock Holmes is a wonderfully quick-thinking heroine who somehow manages to put (hardly) a foot wrong where other little angels would fear to tread.
Maisie Hitchins idolises the famous detective Gilbert Carrington and dreams of walking in his footsteps. And together with her faithful puppy Edie, she is determined to follow even the slightest scent of mystery, no matter where it takes her and even if her grandmother keeps sending her on errands.
In The Case of the Spilled Ink, Maisie’s best friend Alice has disappeared from her rather fancy new boarding school. The only clue is an inkwell spilled across Alice’s desk and a trail of suspicious paw prints. Maisie suspects there is more to the case than there seems at first and goes undercover to try to unearth the mystery. But will she be able to find her friend before she ends up in real danger?
Maisie is a magical combination of determined detective and loyal, fearless friend. Her adventures are both exciting and intriguing, and open up a child’s-eye view of life in Victorian London.
A female Dodger with a heart of gold…
(Stripes, paperback, £5.99)
Age 5 plus:
Dirty Bertie: Horror! by Alan MacDonald and David Roberts
And how about a bit of boy’s own fun? Meet Dirty Bertie (if you haven’t already made his hair-raising, foul-smelling acquaintance!)
Dirty Bertie, the cringe-making creation of writer Alan MacDonald and illustrator David Roberts, is the boy with nose-pickingly disgusting habits who just can’t help getting involved in comic chaos.
An expert in all things yukky, there’s nothing Bertie likes more than to be surrounded by worms, fleas, bogeys, burps and suspicious smells... and with ever-increasing madcap schemes and crazy capers, Bertie is a disgusting delight for his legions of (mainly male) fans who revel in his revolting ways.
In his latest horrid adventures, we join bad, bold Bertie as he sneaks into a scary film and scares himself silly, meets a bad-tempered guard dog on his paper round and ruins a priceless work of art on a school trip.
With each action-packed, fun-filled story approximately 30 pages long and split into chapters with hilarious illustrations on nearly every spread, Dirty Bertie is ideal for confident young readers to enjoy by themselves, or to share with (secretly amused) mums and dads.
Bertie, a boy with big ideas but a poor record for carrying them out, is the perfect anti-hero for any youngster who attracts trouble like a magnet and isn’t afraid to make the most of it!
Naughty but very, very nice…
(Stripes, paperback, £4.99)
Age 7 plus:
Frog the Barbarian by Guy Bass
A funny thing happened to Frog the Barbarian on his way to save the world… well a few funny things actually!
Award-winning author Guy Bass returns with the second book in a fantastic series which has leap frogged its way into the hearts and minds of boys across the wacky kingdom of Kingdomland.
An amazing mix of fairy tale, fantasy and science fiction, with a giant dollop of zany humour, The Legend of Frog series is a sure-fire warrior world winner.
Prince Frog was convinced that he was destined to rule the world until he discovered that the world has ended. Undeterred, Frog set out to claim his crown only to discover a magical kingdom filled with wild landscapes, strange creatures, and a princess sitting on his throne.
With the help of his new friend, Sheriff Explosion the sheep, Frog has saved Princess Rainbow, and probably the whole of the world, and decided that he doesn’t need to be a prince any more.
But he is still the most excellent, skilled-up outer space someone in Kingdomland and probably the entire universe, and it would be a shame to waste his talents. So when the King and Queen come under threat, there is only one royal champion for the job. Can Frog help them defeat a boastful bragon, a shamefaced shyclops and (yet another) army of alien invaders?
Man-made for adventurous boys…
(Stripes, paperback, £5.99)