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Our Favourite Spooky Reads

This Halloween, we asked the team to share what their favourite spooky read growing up was, as well as what their favourite spooky Nosy Crow book is now. If you’re looking for some perfect reads this All Hallow’s Eve, read on for their spooktastic recommendations!

Kate Wilson, Group CEO, chose The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper and Nosy Crow’s Secrets of the Dead by Matt Ralphs & Gordy Wright

My favourite spooky book as a child was The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper, set in the days around Christmas and New Year in rural Buckinghamshire where, at least initially, “the snow lay thin and apologetic over the world”. Will, the seventh son of a seventh son, is one of the Old Ones, critical to the coming fight between supernatural powers of good and evil, but, on the eve of his eleventh birthday, he is yet to find this out. So many episodes in this beautifully written fantasy made me shiver, and I still turn to the first chapter of the book from time to time to remind myself of how the spookiness is set up. Will’s pet rabbits are afraid of him and radios crackle with white noise when he passes them. Outside, rooks noisily circle over a hunched old man who scuttles away, “like a beetle”, and the wise farmer says when he’s told about it, “The Walker is abroad… and this night will be bad, and tomorrow will be beyond imagining.” Later, after the farmer has given Will a strange symbol crafted from metal as a birthday present, which we will later learn is one of the Signs that will help to defeat evil, Will and his brother James witness the rooks attacking the Walker. James immediately starts to forget the incident while Will finds himself engulfed in “fear jumped at him for the third time like a great animal that had been waiting to spring”. It’s a classic chosen child fantasy narrative, but one of extraordinary and uncompromising depth and sadness and terror. Each year, many people read the book in a kind of ritual, starting on 21 December and reading through to 5 January. Writing this, I find myself planning to do just that this year but I know that actually, I will devour it in one sitting, as I always do.

To call Secrets of the Dead “spooky” is to trivialise its contents, but I want to write about this recently published book. It’s a book I have always wanted to create for children. I have been fascinated by the “archeology of people” – what we can find out about history from human remains – since I read, in my early twenties, The Bog People by Danish archaeologist P V Glob. It’s the book that was the hook for the book group favourite, Meet Me At The Museum. Glob (great name!) tells the story of the discovery of iron-age bodies, preserved in peat bogs – the bodies that feature in Seamus Heaney’s bog body poems in his collection, North. It is a failure of my imagination, perhaps, but I can feel no affinity to skeletons. I know that they are dead people, but they do not feel as if they are like me. Bog bodies, and other human remains that are mummified or preserved one way or another in a way that means that you can see their skin so their bones are clothed in flesh, like my own, do feel as if they are like me. To look at Tollund Man is to see something shockingly relatable. Secrets of the Dead is a book that deals respectfully and carefully, both in word and image, with bodies ranging from Tutankhamun through Ötzi, the frozen man found in the Alps and the bog bodies of Europe, to the crew of the Victorian Franklin Expedition to the Arctic. It explores what we can learn about the lives of these people from their remains – what they ate, what illnesses they suffered from, how they styled their hair, what clothes they wore, why and how they died – some because of a fatal accident, some through illness and some were sacrificed. It’s a powerful book about history, biology and our common humanity.

Take a look inside Secrets of the Dead:


Miranda Baker, Senior Editor of Picture Books, chose The Great Ghost Rescue by Eva Ibbotson and Nosy Crow’s Hubble Bubble Granny Trouble by Tracey Corderoy and Joe Berger.

In the picture book team, we talk a lot about sharing stories with children, and the spooky book I remember most fondly from my childhood is one my mum read to my sister and me: The Great Ghost Rescue by Eva Ibbotson. It’s about a friendly skeleton, Humphrey the Horrible (who really isn’t), and his truly terrifying family: his dad, the Gliding Kilt, a ghost who had his legs chopped off in battle; his mum, the Hag, who makes the most appalling smells; his sister, Wailing Winifred, and his brother George the Screaming Skull. My mum relished the funny and slightly inappropriate details (those smells, and the Hag’s long, black whiskers . . .) and her enthusiasm was infectious. It’s also a book with real heart and a fantastic plot and is one that helped instil in me a deep and enduring love of stories, of reading and of anything just a little bit subversive.

Continuing this theme, my top Nosy Crow picture book pick for Halloween is Hubble Bubble Granny Trouble by Tracey Corderoy and Joe Berger. Granny isn’t like other grannies – a fact her initially slightly embarrassed grandchild quickly learns to love. She wear funny hats, takes her bats to the cinema and cooks up gloopy soup for dinner. (Yes, she’s a witch.) It’s a brilliantly funny book with rhyming text that’s a pure joy to read aloud and wonderfully riotous artwork that’s full of the kinds of details kids love. And – do you know what? – Granny reminds me a little bit (just a little bit) of my mum!

Take a look inside Hubble Bubble Granny Trouble:


Kellie Balseiro, Field Sales Manager, chose Jampires by David O’Connell and Sarah McIntyre, and Nosy Crow’s The Big Book of Mysteries by Tom Adams & Yas Imamura

As a child growing up, Halloween hadn’t really become the monster that it is now. This suited me fine, as I spent Sunday afternoons behind the sofa when Doctor Who came on the television. It terrified me. Books however did not.

Roll on (many) years and I realised that Halloween was an extremely important thing to my kids, who LOVED all things gory, asking to watch Tim Burton films at the age of six “the one with the worm coming out of the eye, mum” and then we discovered Jampires, a wonderful rhyming picture flat from David O’Connell and illustrated by the wonderful Sarah McIntyre. It was loved by all three, sitting in my lap or on the floor, singing along to the story of how jam was going missing from children’s doughnuts, dark (but cute) characters swooping down once the sun had set. Sam, horrified by his dry doughnut, sets off with two little Jampires to Jampireland, a marvellous place of gingerbread towers and sugar-dusted orchards, to find out why.

This book was enjoyed by all of us, for most of October and early November, for many years.

As a child of the Seventies, and a huge fan of the supernatural comic Misty, the ten year old me would have been enthralled with The Big Book of Mysteries.

Full of tales of spontaneous combustion, disappearing crew men and lighthouse keepers, alien life forms, blood rain and silver fish falling from the skies, crop circles and sea monsters. Well-known tales as well as regional superstitions, and quirky fairy stories. Lost cities and ancient burial grounds- this book has it all and more. There’s even a glossary at the back to explain trickier words, which I found very helpful.

The book’s beautiful illustrations are accompanied by a very decent amount of information, leaving you informed but wanting to find out more.

Take a look inside The Big Book of Mysteries:


Joanna Jordan, Senior Production Controller, chose Haunted House by Jan Pienkowski and Nosy Crow’s We’re Going On A Pumpkin Hunt by Goldie Hawk and Angie Rozelaar

There’s nothing quite like the delicious thrill of a scary book at Halloween! When I was a child these were fewer and further between which made Jan Pienkowski’s Haunted House a delightfully chilling surprise. I remember being both completely terrified by and totally drawn to its surreal story (Did I really want to let myself in? What happened to the Doctor and who was in that box??). I was also obsessed with all the hidden surprises, pop ups and mechanisms to the point that they were all stuck together with Sellotape by the time I was grown. The sound of the saw on the box is still one of my favourite ever pieces of paper engineering (and I work in print production so these things appeal to me!)

These days children are much better catered to with memorable titles they want to return to again and again. One such is We’re Going On A Pumpkin Hunt (Goldie Hawk and Angie Rozelaar) which must serve its purpose because my daughter demanded ‘Again’ after I’d read it to her for the first time – always the seal of approval. Like its well known namesake, in this title you’re also drawn in by the repetitive phrasing and onomatopoeic noises (meow, flap, creak, swish), all the way to your final trick or treating pumpkin decorated destination. Plus the use of the same neon orange pantone throughout (again, a production geek!) really makes the images zing.

Whatever you choose to curl up with this Halloween I hope it’s a similarly ghoulishly good read!

Take a look inside We’re Going on a Pumpkin Hunt:


Ellie Arnfield, Sales Assistant, chose The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge, White Smoke by Tiffany D Jackson, and Nosy Crow’s Peekaboo Pumpkin by Camilla Reid & Ingela P Arrhenius

As a superfan of the supernatural, I am always recommending spooky books to anyone who will listen! Although picking a favourite was a challenge too far, so here are two!

The Twisted Tree, by Rachel Burge, is the book that first got me into horror. Think ghost story meets YA meets Norse Mythology. It’s absolutely terrifying and I would not recommend reading it on your own in the dark!

Another spooky read I will always recommend is White Smoke by Tiffany D Jackson. Mari and her family move to the small town of Cedarville for a fresh start but are literally haunted by the ghosts of their past… While investigating the mysterious happenings in her house, Mari and her friends begin to uncover the disturbing injustice and corruption gripping their town.

My favourite Nosy Crow book of all time is conveniently also a spooky read! Peekaboo Pumpkin is the perfect mix of cute and aesthetic but with all the iconic Halloween themes. It’s the kind of book that I would have been completely obsessed with as a child.

Take a look inside Peekaboo Pumpkin:

Kirsty Stansfield, Publishing Director for Fiction, chose the Point Horror series and Nosy Crow’s The House on the Edge by Alex Cotter

Early on in my career (reeeeally early on, I had practically only just left school, ahem) I worked on the Point Horror series that Scholastic UK brought in from the US. Every single title was a complete joy – the glamour of the US settings, the freedom of the teenage protagonists with their high-tops and walk-in wardrobes and the fact that they put themselves in perilous situations over and over again, and then came back for more. Have a dreadful time babysitting in a spooky house and nearly die? Sure. Fancy babysitting again next week? Sure! Point Horror was hugely popular with its 12+ readership and sniffed at by those somewhat older who saw it as slight and formulaic, but it was perfect comfort reading after a hard day at school, just the right amount of thrills and spills and everyone home safe for tea (mostly). Marvellous.

In a slightly different vein but just as excellent is The House on the Edge by Alex Cotter. No walk-in wardrobes for Faith – her house is perched on the edge of a crumbling cliff, there are sea ghosts in the basement and she’s not sure if her new best friend is dead or alive. Don’t read it too late at night but do read it if you like brilliantly told ghost stories with heft and heart.

Take a look inside The House on the Edge:


We’d love to hear some of your own spooky recommendations, too! Let us know on socials what you’ll be reading this Halloween by tagging @nosycrow.

Discover some of the team’s top picks for Mental Health Awareness Week

For Mental Health Awareness Week, we asked some of the team to share their favourite Nosy Crow book that touches on themes of mental health. Here’s what they had to say (and make sure to read to the end to hear from one very special team member!).


Kate Wilson, Managing DirectorJeremy Worried About the Wind

SO difficult to choose. OK. So … my favourite Nosy Crow picture book that touches on mental health is Jeremy Worried About The Wind by Pamela Butchart and Kate Hindley for its exploration of a certain kind of catastrophising anxiety. Jeremy is so worried about everything – too-crunchy crackers, runaway dinosaurs and spotty bananas included – that he is sort of paralysed by fear, and doesn’t really enjoy life. Exposure to Maggie, whose mantra is “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” means that he is swept up – literally – into a world of risk, and finds that the reality of risk is less overwhelming than he thought it would be. As someone who catastrophises quite a lot, I found myself empathising with Jeremy and smiling at the (double-edged) ending.

Read an extract:


Lauren Fairgrieve, Junior Editor (Non-Fiction and Activity)The House on the Edge

The House on the Edge is a phenomenal middle-grade debut from the wonderful Alex Cotter, and it’s a book that has really stayed with me as a reader. The titular house is teetering on the edge of a crumbling cliff when we first enter the story, but it’s the world of the family inside it that really threatens to come crashing down.

The reader experiences the story through the character of Faith, but it’s immediately clear that her younger brother, Noah, and their mother are also struggling. With whispered rumours around the fate of her father and seemingly no one to turn to for help, Faith decides to become the ‘adult’ and protect her family from unravelling completely. Faith’s situation is heartbreaking, but her denial of the physical and mental toll that her actions are taking on her is extremely relatable. She is infuriated with her brother’s daydreaming and belief in ghosts, and with her mother’s inability to get out of bed or deal with concerned teachers, and yet she too doesn’t understand why she has lost friends or why she becomes so furious when someone suggests her father may not return.

Each of the central characters are dealing with the fallout from the same trauma but their mental health is affected on an individual level, and there is no one solution that will allow them all to heal. However, all come to realise that by reaching out, trusting friends and asking for help they can feel more understood and less alone – and I think that is a beautiful message to share.

Read an extract:


Alice Bartosinski, Senior Commissioning Editor, Picture BooksThe Girl Who Planted Trees & Super Milly and the Super School Day

Here are TWO books that sprang immediately to mind. I couldn’t choose between them!

In The Girl Who Planted Trees, I love the resilience of the main character, who dreams of planting a forest on a bare mountain side. But it’s not just through her own drive and creativity that her dream is realised. She’s inspired by the natural world and being outdoors, and isn’t afraid to try new things. We see her fail, too, which is really important. Ultimately, the girl discovers that through sharing her aspirations and worries with others, she can achieve more than she ever thought possible.

Read an extract:


My other book choice is Super Milly and the Super School Day. The protagonist, Milly, is constantly disappointed by her total lack of superhero powers, which is just hilarious! However, in times of crisis (including when she’s taunted by a classmate) she thinks hard about the strengths she does have inside herself and realises that she doesn’t need any superpowers to help her friends.

Read an extract:


Anastasia Shubnikova, Assistant AccountantI Remember

I chose the book I Remember because this is a great story for understanding dementia.

This book is about the story of little boy George and his granny, who sometimes can’t remember even his name. But George knows that granny might not remember the little things but she always loves him.

I Remember will be released on the 4th August


Etty, Office Dog – Puppy Talk


Read an extract:

Five Nosy Crow books to read for Empathy Day 2021

Next Thursday, on June 10, we’re celebrating Empathy Day: founded in 2017, Empathy Day focuses on using books as a tool to build empathy, encouraging everyone to read, share books, and put empathy into action.

To support Empathy Day, EmpathyLab has created two Read for Empathy guides featuring empathy-boosting books for children aged 4-16. We’re thrilled that this year The Suitcase, by Chris Naylor Ballesteros, and Talking to the Moon, by S.E. Durrant, have been included in the collection!

The Suitcase is a simple yet powerful picture book about a strange animal that arrives with a suitcase. Written in response to the refugee crisis, with themes of kindness, understand and friendship, this is a brilliant empathy-building book.

Buy the book.

Talking to the Moon is a moving story of memory and family, told through the eyes of a grandchild losing a beloved grandparent to dementia. Beautifully told, this is ultimately a hopeful book.

Buy the book.

Last year, No Ballet Shoes In Syria, by Catherine Bruton, was featured in the Read for Empathy collection, and in 2019, Ella on the Outside by Cath Howe and Running on Empty by S.E. Durrant were also included.

Buy the book.

Buy the book.

You can find out more about Empathy Day and view the guides, here. Don’t forget to join us next week to celebrate and share the importance of empathy!

Christmas gift guide: the best children’s books to give as gifts!

Give the gift of reading this Christmas with these children’s books! From festive toddler books to beautiful Christmas stories and books for the whole family to share, discover the best books to give to children this Christmas.

Jump to a section:
Christmas gift ideas for babies and toddlers
Christmas gift ideas for children aged 2-5
Christmas gift ideas for children aged 5-9
Christmas gift ideas for children aged 9-12
Christmas gift ideas for the whole family

Christmas gift ideas for babies and toddlers

Christmas gift ideas for babies and toddlers - Where's Santa Claus by Ingela P Arrhenius, Jingle Bells by Nicola Slater, Pip and Posy: The Christmas Tree by Axel Scheffler

Jingle Bells, by Nicola Slater:

This festive sound button book is the perfect gift for toddlers this Christmas! Follow the band on their journey to the concert and join in with the big band version of Jingle Bells at the end. With five beautifully illustrated spreads, and buttons to press on every spread, this is a wonderful book to share with little ones.

Buy the book.

Where’s Santa Claus, by Ingela P Arrhenius:

From our bestselling series, this Christmas board book with easy-to-grab felt flaps, is great for sharing with babies and toddlers this festive season. Find all the Christmas characters and then spot yourself in the mirror at the end!

Buy the book.

Pip and Posy: The Christmas Tree, by Axel Scheffler:

It’s Christmas time and Pip and Posy are decorating the tree with candy sticks, biscuits and a beautiful sugar star. But every time Posy goes out of the room, she returns to find decorations missing from the tree. Eventually there are no decorations left at all, oh dear! Could Pip have something to do with it?

Buy the book.

Christmas gift ideas for children aged 2-5

Christmas gift ideas for children aged 2-5 - A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes by Frann Preston-Gannon, What Are Little Girls Made of by Jeanne Willis and Isabelle Follath, and A House for Christmas Mouse by Rebecca Harry

What Are Little Girls Made of?, by Jeanne Willis and Isabelle Follath:

Think you know your favourite nursery rhymes? In this witty collection of rhymes with a feminist twist, Georgie Porgie doesn’t dare make the girls cry, Little Bo-Peep’s sheep are all present and correct, and it’s the queen, of course, who fixes Humpty Dumpty.

Wonderfully funny and beautifully illustrated, these reworked rhymes prove that girls can be the hero of any story. This is a wonderful gift for daughters and granddaughters this Christmas.

Buy the book.

A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes and Poems, by Frann Preston-Gannon:

Give them a book to treasure this Christmas with this enchanting collection of 101 nursery rhymes, poems and songs. Filled with familiar favourites, from Humpty Dumpty to Little Miss Muffet, the Owl and the Pussycat to the Animal Fair, this is a charming anthology that will delight the whole family and be enjoyed for years to come.

With a clothbound cover, foiled jacket, ribbon marker and luxurious paper, this is a beautiful book to behold. If you’re looking for a truly special gift this Christmas, this is the book for you.

Buy the book.

A House for Christmas Mouse, by Rebecca Harry:

Mouse is very excited for Christmas, but first she needs to find a home to spend it in. On her way through the forest, she meets Fox, Bunny, and Bear, all in need of a little help – which she gladly offers – but as the sun sets, it looks like she won’t have anywhere cosy to spend Christmas.

This touching tale about a little mouse with a big heart is a wonderful gift to curl up with this festive season.

Buy the book.

Christmas gift ideas for children aged 5-9

Christmas gift ideas for children aged 5-9 - A Donkey Called Mistletoe by Helen Peters, 2021 Nature Month-By-Month: A Children's Almanac by Anna Wilson and Elly Jahnz, Magnificent Mabel and the Christmas Elf by Ruth Quayle and Julia Christians

A Donkey Called Mistletoe, by Helen Peters:

When Jasmine learns that Mr Hobson has grown too old to take care of his pet donkey, Mistletoe, she is determined that they won’t be parted. Of course, this means Mistletoe will have to come and live with her. With Christmas coming, can she convince her parents to give her this most unusual present?

This seasonal story is a wonderful gift for children who love animals, with beautiful black-and-white illustrations to encourage young readers.

Buy the book.

National Trust: 2021 Nature Month-By-Month: A Children’s Almanac, by Anna Wilson and Elly Jahnz:

For children who love nature and exploring, this 2021 Children’s Almanac is the perfect gift this Christmas. Packed with brilliant things to see, make, and do throughout the year – from nature spotter guides to craft activity ideas, seasonal recipes to tips for budding gardeners.

A wonderful gift to treasure and explore over the coming year, this gorgeous almanac, which has been updated with one-third of new material, will encourage children to connect with nature.

Buy the book.

Magnificent Mabel and the Christmas Elf, by Ruth Quayle and Julia Christians:

Sometimes life isn’t fair for Mabel Chase. Like for instance a naughty Christmas Elf gets her into LOTS of trouble. And the new boy in her class at school REFUSES to be her friend. And no-one lets her look after her little cousin, even though she is BRILLIANT with toddlers. But none of that matters in the end… because Mabel is still MAGNIFICENT.

Join Mabel in this hilarious new book of festive short stories – the second book in this highly illustrated new series for young readers and the ideal gift for children who love to laugh.

Buy the book.

Christmas gift ideas for children aged 9-12

Christmas gift ideas for children aged 9-12 - A Christmas in Time by Sally Nicholls, Another Twist in the Tale by Catherine Bruton, YouthQuake by Tom Adams and Sarah Walsh, and Earth Heroes by Lily Dyu and Amy Blackwell

YouthQuake: 50 Children and Young People Who Shook the World, by Tom Adams and Sarah Walsh:

Gorgeously illustrated and written, this collection contains fifty inspiring stories of incredible young people who have shaped the world we live in. With wise words from each person, fascinating facts, beautiful photographs, and beautiful artwork through, this fantastic book will engage, entertain, and inspire young people everywhere.

This is a wonderful gift for children to enjoy, parents to pour over, and the whole family to treasure.

Buy the book.

Earth Heroes, by Lily Dyu and Amy Blackwell:

For young climate activists, this stunning new edition of Earth Heroes, fully illustrated by Amy Blackwell, is the ultimate gift this Christmas. From Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough to Isatou Ceesay and Yin Yuzhen, each tale is a beacon of hope in our fight for the future of the planet.

Buy the book.

Another Twist in the Tale, by Catherine Bruton:

You have heard, no doubt, the tale of Master Oliver Twist – the rags-to-riches boy; the parish orphan who became heir to the Brownlow fortune. But what few know is that there was a second Twist – a girl, brought into this world moments ahead of her brother.

Rediscover the Artful Dodger, Fagin, and Oliver Twist himself, alongside a host of fantastic new heroes and villains, in this brilliantly-imagined, rip-roaring sequel to Dickens’ much-loved classic.

Buy the book.

A Christmas In Time, by Sally Nicholls, with artwork by Rachael Dean and Isabelle Follath:

Alex and Ruby have time-travelled through their aunt’s magic mirror into a Victorian Christmas! But all the candles and carols can’t cheer little Edith up – she’s being sent away to a horrible boarding school on Boxing Day. Can Alex and Ruby find another future for Edith under the Christmas tree?

This festive time-travel story is the ideal gift for young readers who love fast-paced, action-packed adventures!

Buy the book.

Christmas gift ideas for the whole family

Christmas gift ideas for kids of all ages – Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright by Fiona Waters and Britta Teckentrup

Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright, collated by Fiona Waters and illustrated by Britta Teckentrup:

Introduce children to poetry with this gorgeous collection of 366 animal poems, one for every day of the year, and complemented by breathtaking artwork by Britta Teckentrup. From well-known classics to new gems, this is a beautiful collection for the whole family to enjoy this Christmas – and throughout the year.

Buy the book.

We hope this Christmas gift guide has given you some inspiration! What books are on your wishlist this year?