For the last five years or so, every year’s harvest of children’s books just seem to get better and better. Illustrations are becoming breath taking, making picture books really a first art experience for children. Teen novels, known as YA, have gotten a wider reader market with more adults reading this genre of often fast paced, adrenaline reads. So there are many many amazing books and these are only some of the ones we love at the moment. Come and visit us and we will show you more oohs and aahs.
Beautiful Books for Little Ones
Creatures by Orla Kiely
Designer, Orla Kiely has done a range of small board books for little ones and the latest edition to the series is Creatures and Shapes. They are cloth bound and adorned with her very simple but beautiful design style illustrations.
Gems for young designer babies!
Animal Sounds by Tad Carpenter
A fun lift-the-flap book with an I say, You say component. So if I say Pig, you would say Oink! The illustrations are very humorous and it will lead to loud screaming answers and a few giggles. A lovely book for adult and child to enjoy together.
The Game of Red, Yellow and Blue by Herve Tullet
He is an artist. He is a designer. He is a genius. Tullet has done a range of books for children and really holds nothing back in explaining whatever concepts it is he wishes to engage them with. In this book he explains the mix of colours so cleverly you want to give a standing ovation.
Herve Tullet has done a wide range of amazing books for children.
Welcome to the Zoo by Alison Jay
A wordless picture book in board format. It tells the story of all the things that happen at the zoo in Jay’s well-known illustration style. And best of all, you can make up your own story or simply sit with your child and find all the same animals over the pages.
There are quite a few wordless books out these days, which all lends to the telling of your own stories, great for new imaginations.
Picture Books to Adore
Ambrose Goes for Gold by Tor Freeman
An old story, it got revived this year for the Olympic Games. It tells the story of Ambrose who tries out for all the different activities at the Great Insect Games, but seems to not be really any good at anything. Just as it seems all is lost, Ambrose eats his weight in sticks and so wins the Twig Eating Competition, because everybody knows that what termites are great at, is eating! And so we all have our special talents… like cupcake eating on a Saturday!
The Great Snortle Hunt by Claire Freedman
What if there was a giant creature living in your neighbourhood and no-one has seen him? Would you not want to go out and try to get a glimpse of him? Mouse, Cat and Dog decide to go out at night to surprise the Snortle. With great rhyming text the friends fumble their way about till they are in the Snortle’s room (as you do!) and when he starts to wake up they try to run away, only to discover that things that look scary, aren’t necessary. It turns out that the Snortle is really a loveable creature, looking for friends to invite to tea. A gentle story with great illustrations by Kate Hindley.
A Flower in the Snow by Tracey Corderoy
In an icy world lives a little girl, Luna and her best friend, Bear. One day a sparkly dancing flower pops out of the snow and Bear picks it for Luna. She loves the flower, which soon wilts and dies. Bear thinks that the only way to make Luna happy again is to give her another flower, so he sets off on a search that takes him to many faraway places. Eventually he returns home with no flower and no gift. When Luna sees him, she is so happy to have her friend back. She shows him that with the seeds of the dead flower she has planted a new one and together they sow the other seeds till they have a whole sparkly garden. Sometimes the best things are right with us. Sophie Allsopp’s illustrations are really magical and dreamy.
The Princess and the Pig by Jonathan Emmett
By accident a piglet and a tiny baby princess get swopped at birth (this is only possible in a story of course!) The King blamed a bad fairy and the Farmer gave thanks to a good fairy for giving him a child, and so the two grew up.. the princess, the child of poor, but loving farmers and the pig, as a princess. The girl was loved by all and the poor piglet drove the help in the Castle crazy with all her shenanigans. The farmer realises what happened many years ago and because he is honest, he goes to the to tell him where his real daughter is. No one believes the farmer and he is send away. So the real princess marries a young shepherd and lives happily ever after. The piglet princess also gets married, but that poor prince is in for a surprise! Illustrations by Poly Bernatene will have you giggling all the way.
Boot and Shoe by Marla Frazee
Boot is a back porch kind of dog. Shoe is a front porch kind of dog, and that is perfect for both of them. Although they are from the same litter and sleep on the same pillow at night, they have their own different day time routine. Until a cheeky squirrel gets under their skin and they start chasing him all over the yard. In the end they end up looking for each other to restore the peace and just when they have given up (and lost a lot of sleep) they find each other by the tree they both like to pee on. A funny story about friendship for all dog lovers.
Goldilocks and Just the One Bear by Leigh Hodgkinson
We all remember when Goldilocks made such a mess in the Three Bears’ House, they were glad when she left, but do you ever wonder what happened after that? Well, many years later, Little Bear (now a big bear himself) gets lost in the noisy city and stumbles upon a house with strange beds and interesting meals. When the owners returns they see the state of the house and discover a lone bear in the bed. The bear and the woman realises that they have met each other years ago, when she (Goldilocks) came to his house. So Goldilocks makes him a big bowl of oats and the next day helps him find his way home (with a map of course, the city is really big). A really clever sequel to a story we all know very well.
The Worst Princess by Anna Kemp
What is a princess to do when the prince just won’t show up? Just as princess Sue is about to go off the find adventure, a prince arrives and whisks her away to his castle. This is not what Sue dreamed off, and soon boredom is getting the better of her. She makes friends with a Dragon who helps her escape the castle, the twit of a prince and the two of them travel the world having great adventures. A perfect book for girls of all ages who wish to sometimes fight their own battles. Sara Ogilvie’s illustrations are bright and brave and full of mischief.
Black Dog by Levi Pinfold
This is a beautifully illustrated, wonderfully told story of confronting and overcoming fears. The Hope family is visited unexpectedly one day by a big black dog, and all the Hopes are terrified until Small Hope shows them that even when facing a seemingly overwhelmingly large and frightening thing, there is nothing to be scared of really. With a liitle hope we can all face our own black dog and get it down to a manageable size. An important and rewarding tale.
Pop-up Books to Love
How to be a Hero by Edge & Howells
Do you know how to cross a troll bridge, escape from a dungeon or survive a banshee’s wail? Learn all the skills a budding hero needs in this indispensable guide to the world of fantasy and legend. Filled with dragons, wizards, unicorns and much more, every page is packed with clever solutions to the challenges of being a hero. If you want to be a hero, this is definitely the handbook for you. Bursting with maps, bone-chilling booklets, gruesome guides and much more. Don’t start your quest without it!
Alienography Tips for Tiny Tyrants by Chris Riddell
Fancy being the leader of the whole universe? It is very easy with this fail-safe guide. Expert advice on everything from selecting a sidekick to buying the best battleship cruiser there is means that you will be able to be a butt-kicking baddy before your mother can blink. Magnificently illustrated and hugely funny, with novelty elements including a mini comic, a fold-out cross-section of the ‘Centennial Turkey’ spaceship, and a ‘Top Chumps’ card game. Chris Riddell remains a man with a dangerously sharp mind and a very funny drawing hand.
How to Make Stuff – the story behind our everyday things by Christiane Dorion
Where do our clothes come from? What’s the link between gorillas and cellphones? And you say chocolate grows on trees, come on! Find out in this hand-on guide to how we make most of the things we never think about. It is crammed with pop-ups and stuff and facts. Lots of facts (even about toiletpaper).
The Practical Princess Guide by Andy Mansfield
The essential hand-on guide for all young princesses, it is time to get practical! Work out what kind of princess you want to be, learn the pitfalls of modern princessing and discover the tricks you can use to appear as if you have always been royalty. There are many different type of princesses in the world, and they don’t all wear pink. Find out the various paths to becoming royalty, explore the Pampered Princess Emporium that sells everything a budding royal lady needs and then take the Princess Test to see if you’ve got what it takes to make it to the top!
Lorax (pop-up) by Dr Seuss
We have all read the book, loved the movie and now this ecological tale has been transformed into an elaborate pop-up edition. The text is the same as the original, but now there are things that pop and flap and hop and tabs to pull. The Lorax, the Brown Bar-ba-loots, the Truffula Trees, none of them have ever looked more alive.
For the slightly older reader who has started to read on their own
In our world, we often call these chapter books, the stories are broken up into chapters so you can read one a night and feel like a genius (which you are, as you are learning to read, which is one of the greatest skills there is, as great as being able to do somersaults).
Claude in the Country by Alex T. Smith
Have you met Claude? He’s an extraordinary dog with an extraordinary life. He’s my favourite red-beret wearing adventuresome pup. In this story Claude takes a trip to the countryside. The wild blue yonder turns out to be quite hard work when Claude becomes the stand-in farm dog for Mrs Cowpat. What with lassoing and egg collecting, herding sheep and washing pigs Claude and his best friend Sir Bobblysock are quite worn out. What a dog, what a day!
Operation Bunny by Sally Gardner
When Emily Vole inherits an abandoned shop, she discovers a magical world she did not know existed. With the help of a talking cat (of course!0 and a fairy detective called Buster, Emily tries to solve the mystery of Operation Bunny. This is the Fairy Detective Agency’s first case and with David Roberts’s hilarious illustrations, we are hoping for many more adventures.
Did we mention that there are bunnies all over this book?
I’m Dougal Trump and It’s Not My Fault by D. Trump
Diary of a Wimpy Kid has definitely unleashed the concept of handwritten books that tell us what is happening inside the heads of our characters, and Dougal Trump is a great example of this. He lives in fear of being eaten by the thing in their shed and can’t help by being annoyed by his sister, Sibble.
A funny look at the life of a boy who just wants to play football and not do homework and has no idea why everyone always thinks it is all his fault!
The Factory Made Boy by Christine Nostlinger
Imagine receiving a parcel in the post that contains a boy, perfect in every way. If you can, you could understand Mrs Bartolotti’s surprise when she opened the box to find a 7-year old boy, Conrad, made in a factory. They soon grow fond of each other, but when the factory realises its mistake of delivering the parcel to the wrong address, the two have to come up with a brilliant plan to stick together forever.
A funny look at what makes up a family.
Alien in My Belly Button by Jimmy Mars
Who would get the biggest surprise, Pete – when an alien crash lands in his belly button, or the alien, Binko, when realising what his soft landing spot actually is! Binko is on a mission and soon he realises that he will need Pete’s help.
If you like cheese and often say “Pufflefarts!”, this is definitely the book for you.
Agatha Parrot and the Zombie Bird by Kjartan Poskitt
We have become big fans of Agatha Parrot. She is one crazy girl who is not afraid of adventures. In her latest book, there is a magic battle on at the school and it turns out that the Zombie Bird is not what everyone thought it was (a bird maybe?) Reading this book will not turn you into a rabbit, but it will reveal the secret behind how the Pen of Destiny works. How can you not want to read it?
Mr Poskitt could be a cousin of Andy Stanton as they have the same kind of humour, so if you are a Mr Gum fan, it’s time you meet Agatha.
The Winter Sleepwalker and other stories by Joan Aiken & Quentin Blake
Fairy tales are definitely popular again and when two book geniuses join forces, it leads to magic. Joan Aiken has teamed up with Quentin Blake in this telling of modern fairy tales. Yes there are kings and witches in this collection, but also singing blue shoes and a very pink snake and of course space football (maybe even you can finally score a goal).
This is a great gift book that will stay on your shelf till you are old and you wear your slippers to the shop.
Getting into reading
The Windvale Sprites by MacKenzie Crook
After a huge storm, Asa Brown find something strange in the garden pond. At first he thinks it is a huge dragonfly, but when he starts to investigate he can’t believe his eyes; it is a small winged creature that looks a lot like a fairy. Do fairies really exist? Asa embarks on a mission to find out. A mission that leads him to the lost journals of local eccentric Benjamin Tooth who, two hundred years earlier, claimed to have discovered the existence of fairies.
What Asa reads in those journals takes him on a secret trip to Windvale Moor, where he discovers much more than he’d hoped to.
Sword of Light (Pendragon Legacy Book 1) by Katherine Roberts
Katherine Roberts has written lots of children’s novels, but we haven’t heard from her for a while. So I was happy to see this new page-turning adventure with knights, dragons and magical horses, emerge this year. After the Death of King Arthur, the path to the throne is now open to his evil nephew, Mordred. No one wants this to happen in Camelot, but what else could happen.
Then someone with a better claim to the throne steps forward, Rhianna Pendragon, the secret daughter of Arthur, and really Camelot’s only hope.
Mr McCool by Jonathan Tulloch
Currently Mr McCool is a polar bear at the zoo, but he has plans. Plans to escape and the travel back to his true home, the North Pole. With a human boy and a furry sidekick for company, Mr McCool eventually sets sail, but the waters hold secrets and dangers.
The story takes the author along on the journey and soon you see that friendships can be formed in the most unlikeliest places between the most unlikeliest of companions.
Small Change for Stuart by Lizza Evans
So if your surname was Horten and by ten years of age you were still really small, would you not also be upset if you parents called you Stuart, because on all your school books it will then say S.Horten (shorten) which will make everyone in class laugh at you. Things are going from bad to worse for poor Stuart, as they move to a new town and he has to leave his few friends behind. But the town of Beeton seems to have some surprises up its sleeve. Once Stuart finds his great-uncle’s lost workshop, he realises it is full of magic and trickery. What starts out as fun exploring soon becomes dangerous when Stuart realises he will have to get help to see it through.
Mystery of the Missing Everything by Ben H. Winters
When the school’s sacred trophy is stolen, Principal van Vreeland is threatening to cancel the Grade 8 school trip, unless the trophy is found. Self-appointed sleuth, Bethesda Fielding is confident that she will be able to track down the culprit and save the class trip. With her tendency to find the right clues but jump to the wrong conclusions, Bethesda is a sort of lovable bumbler who does, in fact, eventually get her man, but not without insulting most of the eighth-grade class and nearly losing her best pal in the process. The book is full of great school humour, a bit of mystery and makes for an excellent holiday read.
Cordelia Codd Not Just the Blues by Claire O’Brien
Cordelia Codd wants to be glamorous, but mostly she is trapped in misadventures and a very uncool school with two mean ex-best friends and problems at home. A very very look at our quirky families and how we deal with life’s everyday curve balls, when all we actually want to do is have a small absurd-looking dog and manicures every Wednesday! It reads as if Jacqueline Wilson swallowed a whoopee cushion.
The second Cordelia Codd adventure will be out early next year.
For older readers (old enough to have an opinion, but not a driver’s license)
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler (with art work by Maira Kalman)
Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for. This exposé begins at the end and flashes forward through meeting and falling for Ed, and realizing that the course of true love rarely follows a Hollywood script. The characters are vivid and talk about their feelings, experiences, and images in a run-on fashion for the story ultimately to come together. It is a beautiful, bittersweet love story and with the art work in between the text, it really is a special keepsake book.
Gods and Warriors by Michelle Paver
Hylas is barely making a life for himself in the mountains when he is attacked by mysterious warriors, covered in armour with bronze spears and their faces smeared with ash, they are unlike any other beings he has encountered. The black warriors want Hylas dead, not that he knows why. All he knows is that he needs try and escape and find his sister. So begins Hylas’s quest along land and sea. Partnered with Pirra, the rebellious daughter of a High Priestess and a dilpine called Spirit, he tries to stay alive. Michelle Paver brought us the great Wolfbrother series, and once again she has done her research well. Gods and Warriors is set in the Greek Bronze Age, a time of chieftains, chariots and ancient magic.
The Killables by Gemma Malley
Evil has been destroyed, and the City has been established. All citizens can only live there once the “evil” part of their brains, have been removed. Your everyday activities are tracked and you are catalogued according to how good you are, or act. Should signs of evil re-emerge, you will be labelled as Killable and disappear from the City, never to be seen again. We meet Evie who is living in this environment, but in her dreams she longs for something more. She is supposed to marry Raphael, but secretly would rather be with his brother, Lucas. A great dystopian read, it really makes us ask ourselves whether our identity is with our society and the environment we grow up in or whether we ourselves have to break away from the norm and discover our own identity. This is/was definitely the year for dystopian reads and there are some great ones out in the market.
Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna
What if we had doubles? People who were breed to look like us, who are told to study everything we do, to eat like us, to talk like us and love like us. The Weavers have the ability to make copies, echos of people and if you should die, you will be replaced by your echo. Eva’s life is not her own. She is a creation, an echo, made to replace a girl named Amarra, her ‘other’, if she ever died. Eva studies everything Amarra does, so when Amarra is killed in a car crash, Eva should be ready. But fifteen years of studying never prepared her for this. Eva has to move to India to convince the world that Amarra is still alive and she has to give up what she know to be home, the guardians who raised her, the boy she has fallen in love with, all the things that make her Eva, whom she is not supposed to be. Such a great concept and such an amazing read.
Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr
In a city where diamons and witches no longer are allowed to live together after the Big War, the class lines are clearly drawn. In the heart of the city is the Carnival of Souls where, once in a generation, anyone can fight for their chance to join the city’s elite. Kaleb is from the lowest caste, Aya again from the highest, but she’s a girl, so she has no future, other than to have children. They both enter the fight trying to make their lives better. Kaleb is also going to the human world to look for Mallory, who does not know the city but her heritage to this other world is stronger than she could have imagined. Although her adopted father is trying to protect her, in the end it would be up to Kaleb to protect her from the dangers and mysteries of the Carnival of Souls, as she tries to claim what is rightfully hers. The book has excellent fight scenes in and a great dose of old-school magick.