The third book in The Uncommoners series, The Frozen Telescope will be published in the UK in July 2018 and I can now reveal the cover... Ta dah!

It looks amazing, and that is mostly due to Karl James Mountford's incredible artwork. I love the fiery colour palette he has used and the way he has captured the lively atmosphere of Nubrook. He has also managed to include one very special object in all three covers of the Uncommoners books. Can you see what it is?

Recently, Karl posted a series of images on his twitter account that show a little behind-the-scenes look at how he created the covers for The Uncommoners books. I've included them here for you to take a look at. Check them out!

To find out more about Karl's artwork, you can visit his website here.

On first reading, I completely fell in love with this picture book published by Frances Lincoln. Katie Cotton's rich, poetic text tells the story of a long journey home across a changing landscape:

Fly with me to far away,

where sun still warms the ground.

For winter's in the dying light

and in that windswept sound.

It's one of those stories that gives you a warm feeling inside and instantly calms you down - good for a sleepy bedtime read for the under 5s. Sarah Jacoby's illustrations suit it perfectly - delicate and detailed, full of atmosphere and light. Bravo Frances Lincoln for the packaging too - hardback with foil titles and a fabric spine. I'll be recommending this as a gift for sure.

I'm so happy that Bloomsbury have published this gorgeous new edition of Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin! It's a book I first read years ago, but always find myself recommending so it's great to see the publisher give it the attention it deserves with a fresh new package.

Elsewhere tells the story of Liz, a girl who is killed in a hit and run accident before her sixteenth birthday - before she's been to prom, had a proper job, fallen in love etc... She arrives in Elsewhere, an island where things are similar to real life, except that you age backwards and dogs and humans can communicate. Strange, but built with amazing details, it is an often thought-provoking place, beautifully described, As Liz navigates her new existence, she is able to experience some of the things she missed out on in life. Skillfully written, poignant and original with a powerful narrative voice.

I am a HUGE Rick Riordan fan. I love everything about the way he writes - his humour, his pace, the way he draws characters, how he re-imagines the Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Norse gods in the modern world - EVERYTHING.

Ahem, so I was very excited to read this, the first book in the Trials of Apollo series, in which Apollo - god of music, healing, the sun and poetry, among other things - has been changed into a flabby, acne-suffering human teenager as a punishment from Zeus. The story is told in first person, with Apollo's fantastically funny and annoyed narrative voice throughout.  He is teemed up with Meg, a cuticle-picking diamond in the rough, type demi-god who embarrasses him at every turn. Together they must find out why demi-gods have been disappearing from camp half-blood and what it has to do with the oracle at Delphi.

You don't have to have read the Heroes of Olympus series or the Percy Jackson series to enjoy this, but it would certainly make it more intere...

This new edition of Steinbeck's classic is published by Barrington Stoke, who specialise in printing books that encourage reluctant readers and help those with dyslexia and visual stress. The geniuses at Barrington Stoke employ all kinds of techniques to make the text easier to read including using a specially designed typeface, extra spacing and a bigger point size. They even print their books on heavier, pale-yellow paper to stop words being visible through the page and lessen contrast, helping to reduce visual stress. Of Mice & Men was a story I first read in secondary school and the heartbreaking friendship between George and Lenny has never left me. It's fantastic to see this super-readable new edition published - and with such a beautiful cover as well!

Midnight at the Zoo is the follow up to Faye Hanson's debut, The Wonder, featuring the same dazzlingly coloured pencil drawings. The animals are nowhere to be seen when Max and Mia go to the zoo but they soon find out that things change after dark. As the clock strikes midnight flouncing flamingos, prancing pandas and lemurs swinging from lanterns take part in a spectacular show! A great picture book for the very young because the story is simple and the text is full of alliteration, so great for reading aloud. The  atmospheric illustrations are packed with details to spot, making this the kind of picture book children will dream about afterwards.

With an endorsement from David Walliams ('Brilliantly original and hilarious. It's nearly as good as one of my books'), this promises to be very funny and it doesn't disappoint. King Flashypants tells the story of Edwin, the nine-year old king of Edwinland - a place of plump, merry peasants and sweetshops. When Edwin's ruling neighbour the evil Emperor Nurbison, attempts to cause a rebellion in Edwinland, a bizarre and often laugh-out-loud adventure ensues. It's Andy Riley's own illustrations that really take this book to the next level - bold, striking and full of comedy details. Great for 7+ readers who loved Alex T Smith's Claude series or Dav Pilkey's Captain Underpants and are looking for something more challenging.

Hooray for UK publisher Laurence King who have translated this fantastic new non-fiction book from the original Spanish. Animal doctors examines some of nature's most interesting animal healers, from the African elephant to the dusky-footed woodrat. Each species is showcased on an intricately designed double-page spread, full of facts, questions and answers. Did you know Blue Jays eat ants for their formic acid which acts as an antiseptic shampoo for the bird's feathers? What about the fact that domestic dog saliva is antiseptic and can kill bacteria in their wounds? Fun and beautifully produced. Great for young science lovers.

This is an immersive and lovingly assembled collection of poems and short stories by Irish writers. There are some familiar names on the list - Roddy Doyle, Derek Landy, Sarah Webb and John Connolly - but also names I didn't recognise, writers I had the privilege of discovering for the first time. Eoin Colfer's introduction talks about the importance of 'place' in a story, and why the inherent magic of Ireland is used as a setting for so many great children's tales. I've never been to Ireland unfortunately, but once I'd finished this collection I really felt like I'd been gifted a little piece of it. The contributions range from historical stories and spooky tales to laugh-out loud verse and heart-breaking literary shorts. P.J.Lynch's masterful illustrations are extraordinary as always, and help make the volume a great gift book for children aged 8+, or even for teachers doing school projects about the beautiful, magical green isle.


I love this fabulous new offering by Simon Philip and Kate Hindley. 'You Must Bring A Hat' tells the story of a boy who is invited to the 'Biggest, Bestest, Hattiest' party of all time. There's only one problem: he doesn't have the necessary hat. Thinking quickly, he finds a monkey wearing a hat and brings him along. At the party door however, security is tight and he is given a new requirement: the monkey needs a monocle to gain access! The entry rules then spin out of control in ever more bizarre and hilarious ways...

Kate Hindley's characteristic bright and quirky illustrations are so much fun to look at, with lots of added details to spot on every page. There's also a toucan in a cowboy hat and a piano-playing badger named Geoff. I mean, what's not to love?

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Text & photos © 2016-2018 Jennifer Bell All Rights Reserved

Illustrations © 2016-2018 Karl James Mountford All Rights Reserved