Children's books: Hard of herring


Becky’s mum has died and her dad is thinking of marrying a horrible woman who smells of herring and cooks leathery cholent. No Buts, Becky by José Patterson (Matador, £6.99) is set in Rothschild Buildings, Brick Lane, in 1908, complete with shabbes goy, shadchan, bagel woman and oy-veying bubbe. Becky is hoping for a scholarship to grammar school, but if Herring Woman takes over, she will put her to work in the shop. So Becky plans to disrupt the match. Feisty Becky will appeal to Jacqueline Wilson fans age seven to 12.

The Cats on Ben Yehuda Street (Kar Ben, £5.99) are a nuisance, thinks Mr Modiano. He is forever shooing them away from the Tel Aviv Fish Palace. But his neighbour, Mrs Spiegel, loves cats. She is fond of Mr Modiano, too, but he always says “lo” (no) when she invites him for tea. Then, one day, Mrs Spiegel’s own cat goes missing — and that changes everything. Ann Redisch Stampler’s story is simply but sweetly told, with colourful curvy cat illustrations by Francesca Carabelli. Ages three to six.

A badger goes in search of food in The Disgusting Sandwich, by Gareth Edwards and Hannah Shaw (Alison Green Books, £6.99). He spots a beautiful sarnie in the playground, but is beaten to the prize by a squirrel.
The badger continues to track the repeatedly dropped sandwich as it passes from animal to animal, suffering more misadventures — under-fives will delight in its cumulative grubbiness. There is some gloriously gloopy vocabulary and the drawings are bristling with detail.

Sesame Street’s furry blue monster Grover explains the meaning of tikkun olam (repairing the world) in It’s a Mitzvah, Grover, by Tilda Balsley and Ellen Fischer (Kar Ben, £4.99). He and his friends renovate a playground, teaching the under-fives about colour at the same time.

Grimmer monsters appear in Light by Michael Grant (Electric Monkey, £12.99), the conclusion of the Gone saga, in which teenagers with supernatural powers are trapped in a mysterious dome that adults cannot penetrate. With much severing of body parts and some graphic cannibalism, they fight their Last Battle — and face a final, unexpected horror. Age 12 up.

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