PICTURE the scene: it’s quiet, the wind is playing with your hair, the birds are tweeting and you’re on your second margarita. This is not you and your partner alone on holiday: no, it’s the whole family sitting in peaceful, engrossed silence devouring your respective books.
If this scene appeals, here are some suggestions for the kids that should take their minds off their mobiles and getting as much sand as possible in your bag. From seven onwards, anyone with intellectual curiosity should enjoy Thirty Days Has September: Cool Ways to Remember Stuff by Chris Stevens. It’s full of “secret” tricks to help remember things like times tables, weird punctuation, notoriously difficult spellings and, better still, historical facts, interesting statistics and more. Expect a lot of: “Dad, guess how many...” and “Mum, did you know that...?”
Room On the Broom, by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler is a charming, engrossing read. A good natured witch flies about with her contented, purring cat, picking up animal friends as they go. Disaster strikes in the form on the broom snapping and the witch becoming separated from her friends – oh, and the risk that a large red dragon will take her for his lunch (“witch and chips for my tea”). The illustrations are the main draw, however. A top choice for your tot.
Ed Vere’s well-reviwed Bedtime for Monsters will also delight ages 3-5. A taster from the publisher: “What if a monster were looking for a bedtime snack? And what if that snack just happened to be you? GULP! He’s getting closer and closer and his tummy is rumbling REALLY loudly. But all this monster actually wants is a lovely monster-sized goodnight kiss.”
For the same age group, This Book Belongs to Aye-Aye by Richard Byrne is also nice: it concerns a little-known Madagascan creature, the aye-aye. Miss Deer is holding a competition to find the most helpful animal in her class, and there’s a prize for the winner...but someone isn’t playing fair. Guess who saves the day? The fluffy aye-aye.
For slightly older kids, you can’t go wrong with Bones author Kathy Reichs’ first foray into teen fiction, Virals, in which the niece of famous forensic scientist Temperance Brennan stumbles on a mystery at prep school.
The Devil Walks by Anne Fine is also a gripping story, narrated by a boy brought up an invalid by a mother who appears to have Munchausen’s. A great Gothic thriller that could keep you turning pages to the end too, if you so much as open it. Prepare for a fight, then.