Wit, wis­dom and nump­ti­head­ed­ness

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - BOOKS -

them­selves in the un­usual po­si­tion of be­ing snowed in at school. The “Beast from the East” is rag­ing across the school­yard, cut­ting them off from their far more invit­ing homes. Izzy is known for hav­ing a wild imag­i­na­tion. Her mum thinks so any­way, and is con­stantly telling her off for ex­ag­ger­at­ing about how dan­ger­ous her school is (pre­vi­ous Izzy ad­ven­tures in­clude fend­ing off De­mon Din­ner Ladies and a Phan­tom Lol­lipop Man). But Izzy – who speaks in CAP­I­TAL LET­TERS to em­pha­sise just how COM­PLETELY OP­PO­SITE OF FINE life at her school can be – is ab­so­lutely cer­tain that the metaphor­i­cal beast rag­ing out­side the win­dows has phys­i­cal sub­stance, and, with the help of her friends – sur­vival ex­pert, Jodi, the un­flap­pable Zach, and cot­ton­wool-wrapped, Maisie – she is de­ter­mined to prove it. Butchart’s comic flair and dy­namic plot of­fers a quick page-turner for newly con­fi­dent read­ers, with Thomas Flintham’s scat­tered il­lus­tra­tion and in­no­va­tive page de­sign pro­vid­ing wel­come pause for vis­ual re­flec­tion.

Life­o­faprincess Royal Rebel

Lily, the hero­ine of by Ca­rina Axelsson (Us­bourne, £6.99, 10+) can only dream of such mad­cap ad­ven­tures. She has the mis­for­tune to be born a princess, which wouldn’t be so bad if she didn’t al­ways have to do what she was told, ie what’s good for the queen­dom. The book opens as Lily is about to start Princess Class un­der the watch­ful eye of Alice, Mis­tress of the Robes. In six months, on her 14th birth­day, she will of­fi­cially come of age and as­sume her royal du­ties. How­ever, while Lily is learn­ing to curt­sey and make po­lite small talk with vis­it­ing dig­ni­taries, in the pri­vacy of her own bed­room suite she has been mak­ing Vlogs with her beloved dog Coco, un­der the pseu­do­nym Tiara Girl.

The in­ter­net is the per­fect place to hide if you are a princess who wants to be a reg­u­lar girl. Un­til, of course, it isn’t. With a sparkly cover, some tween ap­pro­pri­ate so­cial-me­dia net­work­ing and tips on wear­ing your hair and tiara just so, Royal Rebel is the per­fect read for pre-teens who thinks books are, like, so bor­ing.

Na­ture poems

Fi­nally, why not be­gin the year with Joseph Coelho’s (Wide Eyed, £11.99, all ages), which opens with a poem ded­i­cated to the leg­end of star­lings war­ring in “the Jan­uary nip” of a Cork city sky in the 1600s. With a poem for each month of the year, Coelho finds won­der in the nat­u­ral world, from Fe­bru­ary’s “frog baby creche” to the “newly emerged stub­ble” of bud­ding grass in May. Kelly Louise Judd’s il­lus­tra­tions lend a win­some wrap­around vi­sion of the chang­ing sea­sons, from spring’s first awak­en­ing to De­cem­ber’s gently fall­ing snow.

A Year of Na­ture Poems

One of Sarah Horne’s lively il­lus­tra­tions from Sam Copeland’s de­but novel Char­lie Changes Into a Chicken

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