Book reviews: Easter bunnies, ghost dogs and a broken world with Usborne

Easter is almost here and Usborne children's books have put a ray of spring sunshine into their bright array of new titles.
Easter bunnies, ghost dogs and a broken world with UsborneEaster bunnies, ghost dogs and a broken world with Usborne
Easter bunnies, ghost dogs and a broken world with Usborne

Usborne is the biggest and most successful independent children’s book publisher in the UK and its holiday time sparklers include an inventive finger painting book, a brilliant Easter activity book, a gorgeous ghostly caper and the first of a fantastic new dystopian teen trilogy.

Age 6 plus:

Fingerprint activities: Animals by Fiona Watt and Erica Harrison

Fingers at the ready!

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Hot on the heels of the phenomenal success of last year’s Fingerprint Activities book comes the fantastic follow-up… a menagerie of animals just waiting for budding artists to get their paws on them.

This beautifully illustrated book comes with its own side panel of seven bright, washable inks and is bursting with ideas for fingerprinting animals from hedgehogs and hens to crocodiles and koala bears.

Print a swarm of bees buzzing around a bear and his honey pot, add lots of eggs for nesting hen, give a leopard some more colourful spots, create a page full of wriggling worms or splash out as a whale comes up for air.

Each page features a different animal to embellish and there are plenty of step-by-step fingerprint instructions, lots of space to practise and some helpful hints and tips for adding those special finishing touches to your own creations. And a spiral binding means the book lies flat so children can create delightful pictures at home or on the go.

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No extra materials are needed to have fun with this brilliant, inspiring book… so turn the pages, let your imagination take flight and get creative!

(Usborne, hardback, £9.99)

Age 6 plus:

50 Easter Things to Make & Do by Sarah Khan

There won’t be a dull moment this Easter with a brilliant activity book which offers so many super craft ideas that you’ll be spoilt for choice!

Published in a small, handy form, 50 Easter Things to Make & Do is brimming with the cleverest but easy-to-make craft activities from making decorative Easter garlands and conjuring up fingerprint bunnies to creating a hatching chick card and enjoying the traditional art of painting eggs.

Each project comes with fully illustrated, step-by-step instructions along with hints and tips on how to get the very best results. And all you need then is paper, scissors, string, paints, crayons, glue, a willing adult helper, a good sense of fun and oodles of imagination.

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So whether you fancy making marzipan chicks, cutting out an Easter crown, designing bunny napkin rings, creating hanging eggs, painting sparkly rosettes or getting stuck into some fingerprint flowers, this is the perfect companion for rainy days and holidays.

(Usborne, paperback, £5.99)

Age 3 plus:

The Easter Story by Russell Punter and John Joven

Teach your little ones the real meaning of Easter with a charmingly illustrated picture book which sensitively tells the dramatic events of the final days of Jesus.

When Jesus rides into Jerusalem he is welcomed by cheering crowds but soon the temple priests are plotting against him and he is betrayed by those closest to him.

With beautiful illustrations by John Joven and a perfectly pitched retelling of the Easter story by Russell Punter, this is the ideal book to read together around Eastertime or for new and confident readers to enjoy alone.

(Usborne, paperback, £4.99)

Age 7 plus:

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Knitbone Pepper and the Last Circus Tiger by Claire Barker and Ross Collins

Losing a beloved pet is upsetting for any member of the family… but for children, it can be devastating.

So let them get lost in the warm, wonderful and whimsical world of Knitbone Pepper, the pet dog who has turned into a friendly ghost dog to bring joy and adventure to his owner Winnie Pepper.

Now that Winnie can see him again, Knitbone’s days whizz by in a blur of doggy joy and afterlife fun, and he can be her best friend forever.

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Naughty, loving Knitbone, and a gaggle of other ghostly pets known as the Beloveds, are the wonderfully inventive creations of author Claire Barker and illustrator Ross Collins in an enchanting series that is irresistible to all young animal lovers and children who have lost a pet.

In their new adventure, Knitbone and Winnie invite the circus to crumbling Starcross Hall, which has been home to generations of the Pepper family – both people and pets – for the last 904 years. The hall’s animal spooks are very excited about the visit but amidst the magicians, the acrobats and the clowns, Knitbone senses something beastly in the big top. Will the Beloveds be able to unite Mighty Rajah (Roojoo) with his owner… the ringmaster of the circus, the great Alberto Tombellini?

Ross Collins’ enchanting and expressive illustrations add extra sparkle to a brilliantly conceived and warm-hearted series which comes packed with laughs, licks and woofs!

Ghost stories that are funny, not frightening.

(Usborne, hardback, £9.99)

Age 14 plus:

Broken Sky by L.A. Weatherly

How can you fight back when your fate is written in the stars?

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Welcome to the first of an amazing new trilogy from exciting US writer L.A. Weatherly, creator of the bestselling Angel teen trilogy which turned the angel cult into something much more devilish.

Here the author turns her sharp intellect and terrific storytelling talents to an exhilarating and action-packed YA epic starring a young female pilot living in a breathtaking dystopian distortion of 1940s America.

Set in a so-called ‘perfect’ world where war is illegal, where harmony rules, where your date of birth determines your destiny and where the slightest sign of discordance can get you marked for life, Amity Vancour will have to fight for survival.

Eighteen-year-old Amity is a Western Seaboard Peacefighter pilot. As the name suggests, she fights for peace, just like her father did, in a world where political disputes are fought by idolised teenage fighter pilots, and birth charts get passed around like secrets, deciding the fate of individuals, cities and states. But as whispers of corruption begin to surface, and Amity’s belief in her beloved system begins to unravel, she must decide whether to take to the skies or make a stand.

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When an incident forces Amity, now dubbed the ‘Wildcat’, to go on the run, the World for Peace organisation waives its anonymity policy for Peacefighter pilots and releases her name and photograph. Now she is the most wanted, can she trust anyone… even Collie, the boyfriend she adores?

Packed with deception, heartbreak, romance and rebellion, Broken Sky imagines a highly original and insidiously dangerous world in which your destiny is determined by your astrological sign and harmony is the key to everything.

Written with Weatherly’s trademark style, suspense, creativity and energy, this is a gripping, fascinating thriller peopled with seductive characters caught up in extraordinary events and perilous times.

Expect plenty of twists and turns along the way, and try to keep karma and carry on until the second book in the Broken trilogy appears this autumn!

(Usborne, paperback, £8.99)