Penguins on board
MEET AT the Ark at Eight, Noah’s dove tells the two penguins. But they can’t abandon t hei r friend, penguin number three. So these anarchic little creatures — deceptively cute i n Jorg Muhle’s illustrations — knock their pal unconscious and smuggle him on board. And suddenly they are having a theological debate. Does God exist? If so, why did He make penguins look like birds but s mell l i k e f i s h? Does He forgive our sins — and is an accident still a sin? And does He like cheesecake? Ulrich Hub’s astonishing book (Pushkin, £6.99) is one of a kind. Ages five to adult, Soon (Penguin, £6.99) is the latest in Morris Gleitzman’s series about Holocaust survivor Felix, this time set in post-war Poland. Would-be doctor Felix, 13, is already informally practising medicine, while struggling with a new responsibility — a baby, thrust upon him by a desperate mother. A qualified medic might help, suggests his new friend, Anya, who happens to know one. But what did this “doctor” do during the war? History, urinous slapstick and wry humour, for age 12 up. Why Is This Night Different From All Other Nights? by Lemony Snicket (Egmont, £12.99) is nothing to do with Passover but is still aptly named, being the last of four books in the All the Wrong Questions series, in which a boy detective (also named Snicket) pursues the villainous Hangfire. This night is different because it is spent on a train, investigating a murder. Naturally, multiple twists occur before the culprit is unmasked. But the plot is never really the point with Snicket; the entertainment is in the language. We learn, for instance, that “the truthislikeadoorknob.Youcanstumble aroundinthedark,andwhenyoufinally grasp it, you may end up someplace terrifying.” Age 10 up. Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein (Electric Monkey, £7.99) sends Em and Teo — children of pioneering female stunt pilots, one American, one Ethiopian — on a daring mission, as Mussolini prepares to invade Ethiopia. Wein combines imaginary and real events and figures (including a close encounter with Emperor Haile Selassie and the rescue of the “Ark of the Covenant”). RefreshingtoreadaYAnovel set at an unfamiliar moment in history and in an unfamiliar country, which Wein knows down to the last detail. Age 12 up.