Book review: Adventures old and new with OUP children’s books

Stories from England
Stories from England

Travel back in time for some old-fashioned fun and mystery with a super selection from Oxford University Press children’s books.

Young readers can unearth Britain’s rich history in four books charting traditional myths and legends, join in the amazing misadventures of a penniless 19th century orphan or laugh along when a picture book bear is put on the spot.

Age 9 plus:

Stories from England by James Reeves

Once upon a time myths and legends were a part of a nation’s oral storytelling fabric but the advent of books and now the digital age has diminished this centuries-old tradition.

So full marks to Oxford University Press for gathering together some of the favourite stories and folk tales from the four corners of the British Isles and Ireland and turning them into four beautiful, fascinating and collectable books.

The greatest stories ever told from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales combine with lesser known fables to delight readers young and old. From heroes and villains, witches and wizards to warriors and royalty, there is an exciting and time-honoured story here for everyone.

The eclectic round-up of Stories from England brings to life the very best traditional fairy tales and legends. From Johnny Gloke the giant killer and Jack Hannaford the conniving old soldier to the frog prince at the World’s End and more familiar characters like Dick Whittington and Tom Thumb, this magical collection is full of adventure and humour.

This beautifully produced Oxford Children’s Myths & Legends series opens up the past for all generations and keeps alive a magical storytelling tradition that is in danger of being buried by advances in the hi-tech industry.

(OUP, paperback, 6.99)

Age 9 plus:

The Mysterious Misadventures of Clemency Wrigglesworth by Julia Lee

If it’s fun, mystery and lashings of good old-fashioned melodrama you’re after, meet the irrepressible Clemency Wrigglesworth, the Victorian schoolgirl with a big heart and a penchant for adventure.

Calamitous Clemency is the brilliantly inventive creation of Julia Lee and her zany antics at a big, scary mansion in Victorian England are ideal for adventure-loving young readers.

Clemency is utterly penniless and entirely alone until she’s taken in by the marvellous Marvels, a madcap family completely unlike her own. But it’s a surprise to them all when she is mysteriously bundled from the house by the frightening Miss Clawe.

Worried about her fate, the Marvels set out to find Clemency. Enlisting the help of some not-quite-genuine Red Indians, the hunt soon becomes a rollercoaster, fast-paced race across the country.

But Clemency’s misadventures are more dangerous than her rescuers suspect and the big question is, will they reach her in time?

Lee uses all her wit and imagination in this thrilling adventure mystery which comes with a big-hearted heroine, an exciting brand of Victorian villainy and large dollops of skulduggery, magic and dark family secrets.

A gloriously addictive story…

Age 2 plus:

Boris Gets Spots by Carrie Weston and Tim Warnes

Boris, the lovable bear, is back for his fourth adventure and this time he’s feeling rather ‘rash.’ Boris is proving a big favourite with little ones who love hearing about adventures that reflect their own experiences in nursery school or reception class.

Poor Boris is poorly. He and his classmates have all been laid low by a bout of chicken pox. Teacher Miss Cluck has to enlist the help of local farmer Mr Gander and Buttercup the cow to take the ‘spotty’ animals home which means her day in an empty classroom is rather a sad affair. But at least she gets the chance to make some honey-oat cookies as a welcome-back treat to give to Boris and his friends when they return to school, fully recovered and ready to play.

Carrie Weston’s warm, endearing and reassuring story is brought perfectly to life by the bright and enchanting illustrations of Tim Warnes.

Cuddle up and enjoy!

(OUP, paperback, 6.99)