This Week’s Book Stack: The Latest and Greatest Kid Reads from Jonathan Ball Publishers…

This Week’s Book Stack: The Latest and Greatest Kid Reads from Jonathan Ball Publishers…

And just like that it is school holidays again… spring break for our northern friends and definitely summer turning into Autumn over here. Time to settle in and show you what we have been reading over the summer. This book stack from Jonathan Ball Publishers literally has something for everyone…


Picture Books


If I Had a Vampire Bat

by Gabby Dawnay and Alex Barrow

There are several books in this delightful series for young children… If I had a Kangaroo, If I had an Octopus, If I had a Sleepy Sloth and so many more. These books are glorious bed time tales for young animal lovers and If I had a Vampire Bat has to be my favourite. It is rhyming romp through all sorts of animal choices, and the reasons why our little hero settled on a vampire bat as a pet.


It is delightfully sweet… together they would share a breakfast a jug of “Blood Orange Juice”, just enough creepiness to be on edge and not enough to be truly scary. Clever little facts are added on each page… as the heroine and her friends guide us through the life and times of a vampire bat. It is delightful, it is funny, and if you are looking for a particularly non-scary book for the child that loves animals and halloween, then you have come to the right place. This is one of a set of seven books in the If I Had A… Series, you can take a look at them all here.



by David Walliams and illustrated by Adam Stower

This author-illustrator pair sure know how to make fun picture books for small children and their parents to enjoy reading at bedtime. Large format, bright and fantastically colourful. This book is a young palaeontologists dream. Each page has loads to look at on it… and always a glorious romp and slightly outlandish tale. In this story we have a young lad, who never wants to go to bed (like all small children, really) and he is having a sleepover at his granny’s house.

Turns out his granny is not just any granny and it turns out, she has her reasons for bedtime! He tells his granny that he bets she is as old as a dinosaur… and a rompish game has him dashing up the stairs and flying into bed. Only to discover a little later, when he creeps down stairs to see what the noise in the house is about and granny is hosting a dinosaur disco. He wasn’t wrong, after all, Granny and all her dinosaur friends are there having the most fantastic dance party!!! There is a gigantosaurus, a brachiosaurus, a plesiosaurus… EVERYONE is there, but it is only when T-Rex himself arrives at the party and flicks our lad into bed that he falls asleep. This is a young dinosaur connoisseur’s dream of a book… all the fun, all the ancient beasts, a wild party and off to sleep.


This is How We Do It

by Matt Lamothe

This is a beautiful picture book, taking a look at the daily lives of seven children from around the world. Small children love reading facts and imagining themselves in another world, and this book is a world-wide traveller. There is a child from Japan, Peru, Iran, Russia, Italy, India and Uganda.

This book is an illustration haven for virtual travellers of all ages: If you want to know how your friend goes to school in Russia, or what your friend in Uganda has for breakfast, then look no further. If you want to see inside your Indian friend’s school book or how to play “Koori Oni” in Japan, then this is the book for you. So many gorgeous double spreads of the life and times of children around the globe.

I think what we enjoyed the most about it was that the author had been to see the children and visited with them… these are true to life illustrations, and so much more than a collection of stock photo images… In the end pages of the book you get to meet the author “in person.” this is gorgeous, through and through… there is something to read, explore and look up on every page of the book.

Puzzles Galore


Planet Earth Puzzles

by Vicky Barker and Ste Johnson

From a new to me publisher, b small, comes this lovely puzzle book for the younger set. It is full of puzzles for Green Loving young environmentalists… word searches and picture puzzles, dot-to-dot, codes and quizzes.

It is lovely, durable paper that can withstand a “new to writing” youngster and their markers. It has a fun presentation with neon colours and a green theme throughout. A nice thing about this publisher is the great page of resources on their website… go and take a look!!!

And Poetry


On the Horizon: World War II Reflections

written by Lois Lowry

illustrated by Kenard Pak

We have read more than a handful of Lois Lowry’s wonderful books over the years, but never a poetry book. This is a poetry book that gently tells a story… and was sparked by watching childhood “home movies” and a friend noticed the USS Arizona in the background of the movie… just days after the family photos were taken, the Battle of Pearl Harbour took place and the USS Arizona was lost. The book is written in three parts… in the first part you meet the people if the USS Arizona and the war from the American perspective. In part two, we read poems about Hiroshima and the bomb, and finally in part three, life in Japan for Lois Lowry as she grew up there after the war. This is a poignant read, the poems are short and filled with emotion, and the pencil illustrations at to the mood of the book. This is a lovely addition to your history studies if you are studying World War II. We really enjoyed reading these poems together and would definitely add it to our history shelf to read again and again in the future.

Chapter Books


Clarice Bean Scram!

written and illustrated by Lauren Child.

Another stunning story about the indefatigable Clarice Bean. In this story Clarice has managed to annoy her sister so much that she is no longer talking to her, in fact the entire family is looking the other way… and while they weren’t looking Clarice discovers a stray puppy has followed her home from the store. Her older sister has always, always wanted a puppy… and inadvertently Clarice manages to make friends in unusual corners, build sibling relationships, drive the neighbours insane and look after a pup all on her own. A fantastic story, Lauren Child brings Clarice to life with her amazing illustrations. I love reading Clarice stories, I love how the words hang on the page (literally)!!! And I love and adore Clarice!!!


When Things Went Wild

by Tom Mitchel

I really enjoyed this book, what’s not to love, it is all about rescuing Golden Eagles out on the Scottish Highlands. Kit, his younger brother and parents move to Scotland from a city in England… its all wild, its all great outdoors, which is fine for his very eager and enthusiastic family… but Kit would rather not be starting a new school in the middle of nowhere and he would rather have access to the internet… any access. Being a nerdy, “fly beneath the radar” kind of guy, he finds himself front and centre of the entire class on his first day of school, looming assignments and a class competition don’t make him feel any better. Let’s just say, nothing is going brilliantly for Kit… and when the police arrive on the doorstep enquiring after a Golden Eagle tracker, Kit and his brother, Jack, find themselves in the midst of a wild mystery. This is a great read, Tom Mitchell writes fast paced, action packed stories for middle grade kids that are funny but also… a little bit serious. The Golden Eagle situation is serious, and the lengths the authorities go to protect them are serious too… but if you are a middle grade school child, noone in authority is really listening to you, which means that you and a couple of friends will have to rely on yourselves to save the Golden Eagles. This is a lovely middle grade adventure, a heartwarming story about friendship and family, not to mention Golden Eagles.

Truth or Dare

This is a great tween read for environmentally conscious teenagers. It is the story of ****, who together with her brother, goes to spend the summer with their grandparents. Turns out their family are the proud owners of the local soap factory and while there have been a lot of green improvements in production there are not enough. There is a local eco-community, who are always good for a clean-up or a protest, or both. These two groups are of course at loggerheads, until **** arrives and finds herself with friends in both communities… which is fine, until it really isn’t anymore. At which stage the book gets really exciting as **** tries to make a difference.


My Heart and Other Breakables

Written by Alex Barclay

This is an emotional middle-grade to teen read. Sixteen year old Ellery’s mum has recently passed away and she has been given a bereavement journal to work her way through. Also, Ellery doesn’t know who her father is… and we follow her as she goes on a search through her mother’s past, to discover who her father could be. Every one loves reading a diary and this is a good one. As Ellery discovers who she is and where she comes from we are taken on a journey through her grief. It sounds sad, but is anything but sad… She is a curious teen on a journey of discovery, yes, she has to break a few rules and yes, she desperately needs her best friend, Meg, to stand besides her through thick and thin. This is a delightful read, it took a while to get into it, but the author was setting the scene for a fast paced second half. The characters in this book are rich and packed with personality, making it a lively read. This is a gentle, feel good book a prefect holiday or wintry weekend read.


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These books were given to us for review purposes by Jonathan Ball Publishers. This is not a sponsored post and opinions expressed are entirely our own.