What are the best children’s books for the summer ahead? Emma Lee-Potter presents her regular roundup of the best new books for kids.
If you believe in yourself, anything is possible. That’s the uplifting message behind A T-WIT FOR A T-WOO (Orchard Books, £12.99). Written by Charlie Farley and illustrated by Layn Marlow, this enchanting rhyming book follows the adventures of a tiny owl who can only call ‘t-woo’ and not ‘t-wit’. So he sets off on a quest to find a friend to sing the other half of his song.
Textile and print designer Bella Gomez has created one of the most beautiful board books of the year. As well as being stunning to look at, 5 WILD NUMBERS (words & pictures, £9.99) helps children to count to five and introduces them to animals and their habitats. Each illustration has a sliding circular disc, enabling young readers to trace the shape of the numbers for themselves. Original and inspiring.
Five to nine
What is a friend? How do you make a friend? Do you have a friend that only you can see? THE GREAT BIG BOOK OF FRIENDS (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, £12.99) answers all these questions and more. The fifth of Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith’s best-selling Great Big Book series explores all kinds of friendship, from best friends and groups of friends to toys and pets that feel like friends. With lively illustrations and loads of good sense, this book is the perfect way to start a conversation about what makes a good friend.
Sarah Todd Taylor discovered the theatre as a teenager, appearing in more than 20 musicals and working backstage. She puts her theatrical knowledge to excellent use in MAX THE DETECTIVE CAT: THE DISAPPEARING DIVA (Nosy Crow, £6.99). When Max loses his pampered life in a posh London townhouse and takes up a job as chief mouse-hunter at the Theatre Royal he finds himself up to his whiskers in mystery. This captivating tale, with charming illustrations by Nicola Kinnear, is the first of a new series about a feline detective.
Nine to 12
Emma Carroll’s SKY CHASERS (Chicken House, £6.99) is perfect for young history buffs. Set in 18th century France, it’s the story of an impoverished orphan girl who gets caught up in the Montgolfier brothers’ quest to fly the world’s first hot-air balloon. Exciting and well-plotted, this will appeal to boys and girls alike.
GHOST BOYS (Orion Children’s Books, £6.99) is a thought-provoking and timely read for children aged 11 and up. Jewell Parker Rhodes’s story of a black schoolboy who is shot by a white police officer in Chicago jumps back and forth in time, from the day Jerome is killed to the aftermath of his death. As the author writes in the book’s afterword: ‘My hope is that parents and teachers will read Ghost Boys with their children and students and discuss racial prejudices and tensions that still haunt America.’
A new book from David Almond is always something to celebrate and THE COLOUR OF THE SUN (Hodder Children’s Books, £12.99) is no exception. The multi award-winning author of Skellig says his latest novel “explores what excites and mystifies me about the nature of being young, and dramatises the joys and excitements of growing up”. Set in a small Tyneside town, it describes a day in the life of a young boy who sets off on a walk around the area where he lives. Davie is grieving for his father and along the way he encounters a series of extraordinary characters who help him to see that amongst the darkness there is always kindness and hope.
I’m a huge fan of Emily Barr’s novels for grown-ups and now she’s turned her attention to young adult fiction. Her first YA book was The One Memory of Flora Banks and now she’s written a second. THE TRUTH AND LIES OF ELLA BLACK (Penguin, £7.99) is a dark and twisting thriller about a 17-year-old girl whose parents arrive at her school unexpectedly and whisk her off to Rio de Janeiro without explaining why. It’s only when they arrive in Brazil and she searches their belongings that she discovers that her whole life is built on a lie.
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