World Book Day 2016: A few of our favourite things

We love World Book Day. We love the buzz and excitement created by authors going into schools, children dressing up as their favourite book characters, and the arrival of new titles by some of our favourite children's authors. Best of all, we love to see children coming in to bookshops - some of them for the very first time - clutching their £1 vouchers to exchange for a book - or to get £1 off any other children's book, don't forget.

(We also love the fact that, despite the name, the UK celebrates World Book Day on a totally different day from the rest of the world. How did that happen? Well, it's all a bit complicated, and some of the exact dates are disputed, but basically the Spanish started the tradition early in the 20th century to honour 'Don Quixote' author Miguel de Cervantes - who died on this day - and given the fact that Shakespeare died on this day too just seemed to make it doubly appropriate, but given that England celebrates St George's Day already, the UK decided to hold World Book Day on the first Thursday in March. All clear?)

Anyway, irrespective of how it started, who who it celebrates, World Book Day has become one of the big events in the bookselling calendar. We are involved in 11 (!) events with 17 schools (!!) over the coming two weeks - and there are thousands of events happening across the UK.

If you are lucky enough to find yourself with a World Book Day voucher, we thought you might like to know about some of the fantastic new children's book freshly arrived in the shop this week. We're excited about them - and we thought we'd share them with you!

(Mark appeared on BBC Radio Oxford on Friday to discuss these books with Alex Lester - you can listen to the interview by clicking on this link, and fast-forwarding to about 1 hour and 38 mins into the programme)

The Shadow Keeper - Abi Elphinstone
Trying to keep safe from their enemies, a group of gypsies are hiding out in seaside caves, but danger swirls out of the sky and the sea and Moll and her friends must find powerful ways to fight the terrifying magical creatures trying to hunt them. The only weapon powerful enough is an amulet and the friends set off facing certain danger to seek it out, with just their strong friendship and determination to help them.

This is thrilling, atmospheric writing, with wonderful imaginative baddies, a feisty heroine and a gripping sequel to 'The Dreamsnatcher' - one of our absolute favourite children's books of 2015. Abi Elphinstone has already become a firm favourite with children based on her storyteller heroics at schools, and this book looks set to cement her reputation as one of our most exciting new authors.

The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth - Katherine Woodfine
Another book we've been eagerly awaiting is Katherine Woodfine's follow up to her exciting mystery-adventure 'The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow'. The disappearance of a fabulous jewel sparks a thrilling investigation by Sophie and Lil - and it's another rip-roaring adventure featuring dastardly criminals, thrilling pursuits, and some extremely cunning disguises.

Stories featuring children foiling criminals among glamorous locations are doing really well at the moment - and this, a mystery set among Edwardian debutantes, will appeal to those tweens with the spirit of adventure.

The Astounding Broccoli Boy - Frank Cottrell Boyce
What can we say about Frank Cottrell Boyce. Almost unique in style, original, contemporary plots, with sophisticated humour and totally wild storytelling. His latest title has arrived in the shop fresh out in paperback, and it features killer kittens (well, not really), green children (that bit's true), superpowers (we think) and mysterious goings-on in the London capital which might just involve an alien invasion. Confused? Well, not as much as Rory Rooney and the doctors looking after him. Something's turned Rory green, but does this mean he has superpowers? One thing is for sure, his favourite book 'Don't Be Scared, Be Prepared' has given him plenty of preparation for finding out - but is the world ready for possibly its most unlikeliest superhero?

Oi Frog - Kes Grey
Here's a brilliantly witty, pitch-perfect picture book from another favourite author of ours, Kes Grey.

In 'Oi Frog' our green hero is expected to sit exactly where he's told - on a log. But Frog does not want to do this, oh no. Rhyming silliness ahoy as Frog learns that all animals have their special places to sit...

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