Print page

Books we love: February 2018

Second Best Friend

Here are the books we reviewed and loved this month. Happy reading!

  • A Fun ABC

    Author: Sade Fadipe Illustrator: Shedrach Ayalomeh
    Publisher: Cassava Republic

    Simple rhyming text accompanies the full-page watercolour illustrations, and children will enjoy searching for an assortment of objects beginning with each featured letter. A fun, positive portrayal of everyday life in a Nigerian village.

  • Awkward

    Author: Svetlana Chmakova
    Publisher: Yen Press

    Awkward perfectly captures the secondary school experience – friendships, rivalries, secrets, eccentric teachers, and also what can be accomplished when everyone works together.

  • Below Zero

    Author: Dan Smith
    Publisher: Chicken House

    When Zac and his family arrive at Outpost Zero in the Antarctica, they are expecting a community in training for a mission to Mars – but they find no one. The tension and sense of dread build rapidly in this brilliantly constructed horror thriller.

  • Bizzy Bear: Racing Driver

    Author: Benji Davies
    Publisher: Nosy Crow

    Bizzy Bear is having another amazing adventure. This time, he’s a racing driver on a Formula One track. The chunky pages and thick tabs are perfect for little paws, and the text is very simple and perfect to read aloud. 

  • Blue Monster Wants It All

    Author: Jeanne Willis Illustrator: Jenni Desmond
    Publisher: Little Tiger

    Blue Monster loves new things and ventures out into the world to buy anything and everything he wants. Young readers will secretly delight in Blue Monster’s bad behaviour and recognise the underlying message.

  • Dave Pigeon (Racer!)

    Author: Swapna Haddow Illustrator: Sheena Dempsey
    Publisher: Faber & Faber

    The third book in the brilliantly funny Dave Pigeon series continues its light-hearted focus on friendship and the trials and tribulations younger children can face. In this instalment, Dave and Skipper have to face a too-cool-for-school gang of other animals.

  • Dog Man: A Tale of Two Kittens

    Author: Dav Pilkey
    Publisher: Scholastic

    Fans of this series will be delighted to see the return of the fast-paced high jinx in this graphic novel. Readers will be outraged by the evil characters, laugh out loud at the slapstick humour and be moved as new unexpected friendships are formed. 

  • Dress Up Jojo

    Author: Xavier Deneux
    Publisher: Twirl

    This bright and bold board book showcases little rabbit Jojo in a variety of costumes. Each page has a slide tab that makes Jojo move about or put on a costume. 

  • Hidden World Ocean

    Author: Libby Walden and Stephanie Fizer Coleman
    Publisher: 360 degrees

    This is a delightfully simple introduction to the creatures of the underwater world with realistic portraits and incredible facts. Readers will get a glimpse into the diversity of our ocean habitats and explore how animals use camouflage to outwit predators.

  • Life Doesn’t Frighten Me

    Author: Maya Angelou Illustrator: Jean-Michel Basquiat and Editor: Sara Jane Boyers
    Publisher: Abrams

    Maya Angelou’s seminal poem Life Doesn’t Frighten Me, about the courage inside us all (whatever age our age), is matched for the first time with paintings by artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

  • Long Way Down

    Author: Jason Reynolds Illustrator: Chris Priestley
    Publisher: Faber

    Written in verse, Long Way Down is breathtakingly gripping and spectacular. You almost read it without breathing; the action is so tense, the language so powerful. Give it to every teenager you know!

  • Mega Robo Bros 2: Mega Robo Rumble

    Author: Neill Cameron
    Publisher: David Fickling Books

    A celebration of diversity in a robot-themed comic book featuring mega robot battles – and a trip to buy school uniform.

  • Princeless

    Author: Jeremy Whitley Jung Ha Kim M Goodwin and Shawn Gabborn
    Publisher: Action Lab Comics

    Comprehensively dismantling all the features of the fairytale princess theme, from blondeness to passivity, Princeless is a fast-moving, brilliant adventure featuring a black princess.

  • Princess Arabella and the Giant Cake

    Author: Mylo Freeman Translator: Laura Watkinson
    Publisher: Cassava Republic

    Princess Arabella loved her recent birthday party so much that she wishes she could have another one. Thankfully, Grandma’s birthday is just days away. A joyful, multi-ethnic tale in the Princess Arabella series, with vibrant illustrations.

  • Second Best Friend

    Author: Non Pratt
    Publisher: Barrington Stoke

    An electric coming-of-age story, Non Pratt deftly uses a school political race to highlight other kinds of school politics: the minefield of boys and girls and friendships and relationships and how overwhelming and all-consuming these can be.

  • Sky Chasers

    Author: Emma Carroll
    Publisher: Chicken House

    Based on historical events, the story follows a young thief, Magpie, who is caught up in the Montgolfier brothers’ attempt to be the first people to fly. This engaging story is full of heart and adventure.

  • Sky Song

    Author: Abi Elphinstone
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster

    Abi Elphinstone's magical adventure is full of close calls, fantastical creatures and deliciously evil villains to savour in a tale that already feels like a children's classic.

  • Star by Star

    Author: Sheena Wilkinson
    Publisher: Little Island

    When her mum dies in the 1918 flu epidemic, 15-year-old Stella returns to Northern Ireland to live with an aunt she has never met. The war has ended and women (over the age of 30 with property) are about to vote for the first time. Fascinating and inspiring. 

  • The Atlas of Monsters: Mythical Creatures from Around the World

    Author: Stuart Hill and Sandra Lawrence
    Publisher: Big Picture Press

    The Atlas of Monsters takes the interesting angle of looking at each continent from the point of view of its traditional mythology, and also introduces the book itself as a mysterious source object to be investigated inside a story of strange discovery.

  • The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole

    Author: Michelle Cuevas
    Publisher: Simon and Schuster

    When 11-year-old space mad Stella visits NASA, the last thing she expects is for a black hole to follow her and live in her house as a pet. A heartwarming, sensitively funny and uplifting illustrated story of one girl's journey in confronting her grief.

  • The Chinese Emperor’s New Clothes

    Author: Ying Chang Compestine Illustrator: David Roberts
    Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers

    This retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s classic fairy tale incorporates Compestine’s experiences of growing up in the Chinese Cultural Revolution to provide a thoughtful tale about corruption and poverty. 

  • The Day That Aliens Nearly Ate Our Brains

    Author: Tom McLaughlin
    Publisher: Walker Books

    Freddy and Sal just wanted to watch Wrestlegeddon Smackdown when they tried to hijack next-door’s satellite dish. How were they to know it would pinpoint the exact location of Planet Earth to Alan, the grumpiest alien in the universe?

  • The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac

    Author: Christopher Corr
    Publisher: Quarto

    The Great Race gently introduces and celebrates Chinese culture in a fun and vibrant way. This read-aloud story also provides a great stepping stone for introducing other cultural ideas to young children.

  • The Hidden Star

    Author: K Sello Duiker
    Publisher: Cassava Republic Press

    Part mystery, part quest, this book uses magic realism to tell an absorbing story about friendship and courage, which is filled with talking dogs, renegades who occupy the space between good and bad, and evil night riders that must be defeated.

  • The Secret of the Purple Lake

    Author: Yaba Badoe Illustrator: Gbolahan Adams
    Publisher: Cassava Republic

    This collection of interlinked folk tales has a truly global feel, with stories reaching from Africa to the Orkney Islands, by way of Spain and Norway.

  • The Travels of Ermine: Trouble in New York

    Author: Jennifer Gray Illustrator: Elisa Paganelli
    Publisher: Usborne

    Starring a resourceful and spirited young stoat, a friendly megabucks millionaire and his young son, two not-so-bright escaped jewellery thieves, a luggage mix-up, and an enormous, missing diamond, Trouble in New York is a fun, fast-paced adventure.

  • The Weaver

    Author: Qian Shi
    Publisher: Andersen Press

    Stanley the spider is an imaginative creature who loves collecting things to incorporate into his beautifully woven web. This stunning book is sure to captivate young readers with an interest in wildlife and creativity.

  • Things That Make Me Happy

    Author: Amy Schwartz
    Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

    This simple board book pairs rhyming items on each spread: ‘red socks – building blocks’. Illustrations are clearly presented on a clean white page for even the youngest readers to see. 

  • Twister

    Author: Juliette Forrest
    Publisher: Scholastic

    Twister's father has gone missing. Her mother is depressed, and people are accusing her father of starting a fatal fire. Even school is horrible now, despite Twister's love for learning, and other than her Aunt Honey and her dog Point she feels that everyone is now against her. Then one day Twister finds a magic necklace with transformative powers. Will this…

  • Young, Gifted and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present

    Author: Jamia Wilson Illustrator: Andrea Pippins
    Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

    This beautiful and eye-catching hardback celebrates a selection of black icons from history and the present day to inspire all children to discover what they can achieve.