Best new Children's books: summer 2016 reading list
School's out and reading's in! From tots to teens: best new books for kids to enjoy over the summer
Best new pictures books
Super Happy Magic Forest, Matty Long
Feed imaginations and set the scene for magical dreams with this fantastical tale of unicorns, gnomes and Super Magic crystals. The gleefully surreal story pops with silly cartoons and reads more like a comic than a fairy-tale – plus references to Lord of the Rings will tickle certain mummies and daddies.
The Detective Dog, Julia Donaldson and Sarah Ogilvie
Lion of children's literature Julia Donaldson returns with a characteristically charming and engaging new picture book. The Detective Dog is a tale about super sleuth Nell and her owner Peter, told in jaunty rhyming couplets with plenty of quirky illustrations by Sarah Ogilvie. Any parents and tots who loved The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom will be just as amused by this cute canine's adventures.
What Do Grown-Ups do All Day? Virginie Morgand
Bright retro illustrations and fifteen busy workplace scenes resolve an issue that still baffles many of the titular grown ups: just what do people actually do all day at work? More than 100 jobs feature in this fun and surprisingly informative picture book that might just inspire the next generation of worker bees. Tiny tots will love the pictures and the detailed index will tickle the professional ambitions of independent readers
Rabbit’s Bad Habits (Rabbit & Bear), Julian Gough and Jim Field
If the standard, saccharin stories about insipid woodland creatures leave you nauseous, meet your new favourite anti-hero. Rabbit’s Bad Habits has fast become a family favourite, leaving a toddler, an eight-year-old and their and granny giggling simultaneously. Rabbit eats, poos (sometimes he eats poo) and steals. Yet the friendship he strikes with patient, kindly bear is a heart-warming lesson in the joy of being yourself. And Julian Gough’s eccentric, irreverent story is matched brilliantly by Jim Field’s lively illustrations.
Best new books for children ages 6+
My Brother is a Superhero, David Solomans
Anyone with a sibling will relate to the toe-curling frustration of an undeserving brother having all the fun. Poor Luke misses out on a superpower-bequeathing alien because of a weak bladder. His brother Zack doesn’t even like superheroes, but now has magic powers — just because he was in the right place at the right time. And so begins a warm, zany adventure that will have kids between the ages of eight to 12 laughing long past bedtime.
It Aint So Awful, Falafel, Firoozeh Dumas
11-year-old Zomorod Yousefzadeh is used to being the new kid. But this time, her family have moved to California and she's determined to be a cool kid. But renaming herself Cindy and stocking up on mood rings won't help distract from the anti-Iran sentiments saturating America. Writer Firoozeh Dumas offers an illuminating perspective on growing up as an outsider in the late 70s, as adults who enjoyed her memoir Funny in Farsi will know. But it's the spirit and humour that really make this story shine.
Bird, Crystal Chan
Children who favour heart-wrenching realism (R. J. Palacio’s Wonder, Jacqueline Wilson’s books) over hare-brained comedies will love this tender, touching tale. 12-year-old heroine Jewel was born on the day her brother died. She never knew the boy everyone nicknamed Bird, yet her childhood has been shaped his absence. Writer Crystal Chan draws out the web of complex emotions with intricate, gentle prose. Just make sure you have tissues at hand.
The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow, Katherine Woodfine
Capturing the rip-roaring spirit of Enid Blyton's traditional adventure stories, without too much twee period detail, this Edwardian mystery story is alive with wonder and suspense. Miss Sophie Taylor and Miss Lilian Rose tackle the most dastardly criminals in London, and still find time to feast on iced buns. This debut novel has fast become a best seller, and is already a firm favourite with our ten-year-old reviewer.
Best new Young Adult Books for teens, ages 13+
The Otherlife, Julia Gray
Fantasy and norse mythology cut through the all too relatable themes of academic pressure and pushy parents in this mesmerising debut novel. The Otherlife follows two boys through the gruelling process of a school entry exams. Ben needs a scholarship; rich arrogant Hobie just needs to pass. But as the pressures mount, studying gives way to fantasy. Ben is fixated by Norse mythology, convinced he can see the ancient gods. Hobie, who has always had everything he wanted, is desperately jealous of this gift.
One, Sarah Crossan
As parents and teachers cajoling teens through syllabus reading will know, poetry does not quite have the same lure as an Instagram feed. Yet Sarah Crossan had adolescents hypnotised by blank verse in her extraordinary book One. Telling the story of conjoined twins, it has all the tenderness, drama and intrigue of a winning Young Adult book (indeed, it won a host of awards). And while Tippi and Grace’s experience at starting High School is indeed gripping, it’s the poetry that makes One a really special read.
Blame, Simon Mayo
Adults will know Simon Mayo as a radio presenter, children will know him as author of bestselling action books the Itchcraft series. Now Mayo is winning over the teenagers too with this taut thriller. Tackling the subject of inherited blame, the book has all the intrigue of any adult bestseller (indeed we enojoyed it just as much as the teens). Ant and her little sister Mattie are imprisoned for their parents' crime. The story hurtles along in short, fast-paced chapters, bringing the tensions of the London prison to life and
Love Song, Sophia Bennett
Teenage romance and the hottest boy band on the planet may sound like bad One Direction fan fiction, but thanks to the warm, funny prose of Sophia Bennett, Love Song captures the rollercoaster of first love deftly, and with plenty of heart. 16-year-old Nina's sensible like is a thrown into array when she becomes caught up with a global heartthrob. It's just the kind of readable escapism teens will long for on holiday, without sacrificing the quality of the writing.