The adventures of Claude, created by York author Alex T Smith, are "funny and engaging"
As York launches this summer’s Big Read event, Tim Curtis of the popular Little Apple Bookshop recommends his pick of children’s books

There are some brilliant children’s books around so it wasn’t easy picking six favourites.

It is just a coincidence that three people from York feature in my half dozen. We are lucky to have some real talent on our doorstep in this particular field.

So here they are, in no particular order. Enjoy!

Claude At The Circus by Alex T Smith

Hodder Books £4.99
Age 5+

The continuing tales of the beret-wearing dog Claude and his sock sidekick Sir Bobblysock. This is a funny, engaging tale for early readers, full of adventure, mishaps and re-assuring familiarity (Claude and Sir Bobblysock like to stop for frequent cups of tea and a nice sit down, while the latter is particularly concerned about his hay fever in the park, the brilliantly-named Lovely Park).
There is sometimes a decline in the quality of illustrations when children graduate from picture flap books to early readers, which is a great shame. York based Alex T Smith certainly redresses that here, with his bright, lively, and very slightly crazed Gorey-esque red, black and pink-based drawings. This is a must for any early reader in your house.
Also available – Claude on Holiday, Claude in the City

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Bloomsbury £6.99
Age 10+

This is the story of a boy called Bod. Bod is brought up in a graveyard after his family are killed by “the man Jack” in this dark and delightful tale. Befriended and educated (in period manner) by ghouls, vampires, witches and werewolves, Bod inhabits a nether world growing up somewhere between a boy and ghost. As a resident of the graveyard, he is a person of great strangeness to those in the real world (his human friend Scarlett and the school he attempts to attend), but as a living person, he also never truly belongs in the sprawling graveyard.
Neil Gaiman‘s book is a stand-alone classic, and very funny in places in spite of the bleak premise and sinister undertones. Not new, but often overlooked, and this is why we continue to recommend it at The Little Apple Bookshop!

Agatha Parrot and the Zombie Bird by Kjartan Poskitt

Egmont Books £5.99
Age 7+

This is the third book in the Agatha Parrot series written by York-based livewire Kjartan Poskitt, of Murderous Maths fame. This is a fast-paced tale of mayhem, magic and sandwiches featuring Agatha, her four friends and a supporting cast of parents and teachers from Odd Street Primary School. Full of CAPITAL LETTERS, wordplay, sound effects a-plenty and zany drawings from Mr Gum illustrator David Tazzyman, this book positively zips along, fun and frolics flying off the page. Unputdownable.
Also available – Agatha Parrot and the Floating Head, Agatha Parrot and the Mushroom Boy

A First Book of Nature by Nicola Davies illustrated by Mark Hearld

Walker Books £14.99
All ages

It is hard to put into words how wonderful this book is. It is essentially an illustrated celebration of the seasons unfolding and every page (and there are over 100) is a stunning visual treat, and a work of art in its own right. Whether it be flower, frog, or migrating bird, each page presents us with a wonderful sensory reminder of the beauty of the natural world. York-based Mark Hearld has excelled even his own high standards with his rich, colourful artwork and paper collage, all complimented perfectly by Nicola Davies’ evocative poetry, text and recipes. A joy!

Ottoline at Sea by Chris Riddell

PanMacmillan £9.99
Age 7+

In which our stripy-tighted heroine Ottoline sets off for Norway in her neighbour’s nephew’s green submarine, accompanied by a large bear she meets in the laundry, in search of her hairy friend Mr Munroe, who has gone on a quest to look for Quite Big Foot. The Ottoline books are wonderful works of imagination populated by talking creatures and characters with names like Minty Woodvine and Cecily Forbes-Lawrence the Third. With intricate, hilarious illustrations by the author on every page, this is a unique quirky read for both boys and girls.
Also available – Ottoline Goes to School, Ottoline and the Yellow Cat

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

Amulet Books £5.99
Age 9+

When an origami finger puppet of Yoda (made by schoolboy Dwight) starts to predict the future with startling accuracy, Dwight’s classmates queue up with questions. One of them, Tom, decides to investigate why Dwight’s finger puppet is so much more wise than Dwight (is the finger puppet tapping in to the Force?). This book is Tom’s story, a light but very funny read with illustrations that look like doodling or defacement and suitable for kids who aren’t necessarily Star Wars or Origami fans too. As a bonus, the book contains instructions on how to make your own Origami Yoda. What more could you want?
Also available – Darth Paper Strikes Back



  • The Little Apple Bookshop , at 13 High Petergate, York, stocks a wide range of kids and adult books, including signed copies, and stationery. Phone: 01904 676103
  • Do you have a favourite children’s book or author not mentioned by Tim? Join in by adding a comment below

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