New books we love in January 2022

The Queen in the Cave

Explore our pick of the best children's books in January 2022 – whether it's a scary update on Rumpelstiltskin or a wintry adventure or a guide to journalism and deciphering "fake news". 

  • A Duck Called Brian

    Author: Al Murphy
    Publisher: Scholastic
    Interest age: 2-4

    Brian the duck encounters all kinds of extraordinary ducks as he looks for his best friend Gregory. Brilliantly funny and quirky with an unexpected hit of very convenient magic, this whimsical picture book has plenty to amuse adults and children alike.

  • Anisha, Accidental Detective: Show Stoppers

    Author: Serena Patel Illustrator: Emma McCann
    Publisher: Usborne
    Interest age: 7-11
    Reading age: 8+

    When disaster threatens to ruin the school musical, Anisha is on high alert for things that are ‘not quite right’. Her detective brain will have the mystery solved in no time… with just a few wrong turns along the way. Another entertaining addition to the Accidental Detective series.

  • Barakah Beats

    Author: Maleeha Siddiqui
    Publisher: Scholastic
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    Nimra battles to understand her interpretation of Islam and whether it allows her to sing in a band or not. It is refreshing to find a book written by an author who understands the complexity of relationships between three generations from a Muslim immigrant heritage. 

  • Breaking News

    Author: Nick Sheridan Illustrator: David O’Connell
    Publisher: Simon and Schuster
    Interest age: 9-13
    Reading age: 9+

    A perfect book for a budding news hound or any child who takes an interest in the world, this fun and stimulating read by a real-life news journalist is a great guide to what news actually is and how it works. 

  • Bright Brown Baby: A Treasury

    Author: Andrea Davis Pinkney Illustrator: Brian Pinkney
    Publisher: Orchard Books
    Interest age: 0-8

    An empowering and tender collection of five different stories celebrating black and brown babies and families all over the world. 

  • Britannica’s 150 First Words

    Author: Claire Laties Davis Illustrator: Kasia Dudziuk
    Publisher: Britannica Books
    Interest age: 1-2

    With a useful and approachable foreword from Claire Laties Davis, a Speech and Language Therapist, this terrific large board book models early words and short phrases that are great to use with your child from waking to bedtime.

  • Curious About Crocodiles

    Author: Owen Davey
    Publisher: Flying Eye Books
    Interest age: 6-8
    Reading age: 6+

    The latest in Owen Davey’s amazing nature series featuring individual species, Curious About Crocodiles gives facts and curious details alongside accessible and beautiful graphic design, making a fascinating read about these sometimes misunderstood ancient creatures.

  • Death and Sparkles

    Author: Rob Justus
    Publisher: Chronicle Books
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 8+

    This colourful graphic novel about the last unicorn on Earth and a character called Death, thrown together to save the planet from climate change, is filled with quirky humour, zany characters and off-the-wall plot, as well as touching on some complex ideas.

  • Dream to Change the World: The Story of John La Rose

    Author: Ken Wilson-Max
    Publisher: George Padmore Institute
    Interest age: 5-8
    Reading age: 5+

    This charming and beautiful book for young readers tells the story of John La Rose, the pioneering black activist who set up Britain’s first black publisher and bookshop, New Beacon Books, and was also one of the founders of the George Padmore Institute.

  • Einstein the Penguin

    Author: Iona Rangeley Illustrator: David Tazzyman
    Publisher: HarperCollins
    Interest age: 6-11
    Reading age: 8+

    One day, Einstein the penguin turns up at the house of the Stewart family and they discover he is on a rescue mission. Funny, intriguing and utterly heart-warming, this wonderful chapter book will delight newly confident junior readers. 

  • Find Spot at Nursery

    Author: Eric Hill
    Publisher: Penguin
    Interest age: 1-3

    Who doesn't love Spot? Find Spot at Nursery sweet, fun and interactive, and also a very effective and gentle way to introduce the concept of nursery to children and to show that there is nothing to be frightened or wary about. 

  • Frankenstiltskin

    Author: Joseph Coelho Illustrator: Freya Hartas
    Publisher: Walker Books
    Interest age: 7-11
    Reading age: 8+

    This funny, clever and very enjoyable verse retelling of Rumpelstiltskin takes the story back to its original darkly horrifying roots and adds a smart, likeable heroine who saves the day with a story. 

  • Freddy and the New Kid

    Author: Neill Cameron
    Publisher: DFB
    Interest age: 6-11
    Reading age: 7+

    When a new girl starts at Freddy the Robot's school, Freddy is a bit worried - Aoife is brilliant at EVERYTHING and she thinks humans are better than robots. Can Freddy outshine his rival?

  • Frindleswylde

    Author: Natalia & Lauren O’Hara
    Publisher: Walker Books
    Interest age: 6-8
    Reading age: 6+

    With echoes of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tale The Snow Queen, this perilous tale of icy magic is ideal for older readers who will appreciate its complexity. 

  • Girl Power: Indian Women Who Took on the World

    Author: Neha J Hiranandani Illustrator: Aditi Kakade Beaufrand and Niloufer Wadia
    Publisher: Scholastic
    Interest age: 6-11
    Reading age: 8+

    Featuring 50 brilliant Indian women from history and the present day, Girl Power: Indian Women Who Took on the World is a truly inspirational read, with clearly laid out text and gorgeous painted portraits by Niloufer Wadia.

  • Inside the Suitcase

    Author: Clothilde Perrin Translator: Daniel Hahn
    Publisher: Gecko Press
    Interest age: 4-5

    Flap books are nothing new, but Perrin’s use of multiple flaps-inside-flaps makes this book a real immersive adventure. A perfect book for a 4 to 5 year old who will love the mystery and the magic of the illustration.

  • It’s MINE!

    Author: Emma Yarlett
    Publisher: Walker Books
    Interest age: 2-5

    A mystery thing has appeared. No one is quite sure what it is, but they each want to keep it for themselves. A funny read-aloud picture book with a surprise ending.

  • Jack and the Beanstalk

    Author: Stephen Tucker Illustrator: Nick Sharratt
    Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
    Interest age: 3-5

    Fee, Fi, Fo, Fun: children are in for a treat with another lift-the-flap fairy tale from the Stephen Tucker/Nick Sharratt duo, which is full of vivid illustration, funny rhyming text and brilliant pop-out surprises. 

  • Let’s Go For A Walk

    Author: Text developed with Terri Langan based on CBeebies’ Ranger Hamza series Illustrator: Katy Kronreif
    Publisher: Ivy Kids
    Interest age: 3-6

    Wherever you live, in a town, by the sea or in the countryside, this vividly illustrated picture book by CBeebies favourite Ranger Hamza will make any walk more interesting and exciting. 

  • Lightning Falls

    Author: Amy Wilson
    Publisher: Macmillan
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 8+

    An intense build-up of mystery and jeopardy will keep readers gripped in this fantasy thriller that crosses two worlds.

  • Moose’s Book Bus

    Author: Inga Moore
    Publisher: Walker Books
    Interest age: 4-8

    This delightful picture book, which celebrates the pleasure of sharing books, reading aloud and the importance of libraries, is sure to inspire young children to embark on their own reading journey.

  • Not If I Can Help It

    Author: Carolyn Mackler
    Publisher: Scholastic
    Interest age: 8-12

    There are certain things you cannot tell anyone, even your closest friends. At least that is the way 11-year-old Willa feels about the fact that she lives with a sensory processing disorder. An accessible, well-paced and engaging coming-of-age story with a casually inclusive cast and a perfectly loveable and perfectly flawed young protagonist.

  • Silas and the Marvellous Misfits

    Author: Tom Percival
    Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
    Interest age: 6-8
    Reading age: 7+

    This is the third book in the Dream Defenders series and would benefit from being read in sequence. The imaginative Dreamscape setting, short chapters and lively black-and-white illustrations make it an engaging tale which celebrates individualism and promotes emotional wellbeing.

  • Splash

    Author: Claire Cashmore Illustrator: Sharon Davey
    Publisher: Farshore
    Interest age: 2-6

    Based on the real-life experiences of a Paralympic gold medallist, this lively picture book is a joyful celebration of mastering a new skill by stepping out of your comfort zone.

  • Sunday Fun Day: A Nature Activity for Every Weekend of the Year

    Author: Katherine Halligan Illustrator: Jesus Verona
    Publisher: Nosy Crow
    Interest age: 6-11
    Reading age: 8+

    Featuring 52 activities (one for every Sunday in the year), Sunday Fun Day is a compendium of craft, cooking, gardening and outdoor activities organised into Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Loads of useful ideas and lovely for families who love crafts. 

  • The Adventures of Team Pom: Squid Happens

    Author: Isabel Roxas
    Publisher: Flying Eye Books
    Interest age: 8-10
    Reading age: 8+

    Isabel Roxas’ super fun and readable comic about friendship, individuality and heroism is a brilliant read for 8-10 year olds looking for something highly visual and original. 

  • The Art of Protest

    Author: De Nichols
    Publisher: Big Picture Press
    Interest age: 12-16
    Reading age: 12+

    Explaining why art can be so powerful within social movements, and the different forms protest art can take, De Nichols introduces young readers to contemporary artists and young activists, with ideas for making your own protest art. A fascinating and brilliantly designed book. 

  • The Ice Whisperers

    Author: Helenka Stachera Illustrator: Marco Guadalupi
    Publisher: Puffin
    Interest age: 9-12
    Reading age: 8+

    When Bela finds a way to travel to an icy spirit world, she discovers she has a sister living there. But will the duo be able to save the world from a dangerous threat?

  • The Peculiar Tale of the Tentacle Boy

    Author: Richard Pickard
    Publisher: Chicken House
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 8+

    One night, Marina hopes to make her life as exciting as her imagination by exploring the abandoned pie where she lives. But even Marina couldn’t have dreamed up the miraculous creature she finds there... A funny, touching contemporary fairy tale about acceptance, betrayal, greed and love.

  • The Queen in the Cave

    Author: Julia Sarda
    Publisher: Walker Studio
    Interest age: 6-8
    Reading age: 6+

    Julia Sarda’s remarkable and dream-like fable about growing up – and some of the discomfort we may feel when our friends or siblings want to explore more mature experiences – is full of resplendent illustration.

  • The World of the Unknown: All About Monsters

    Author: Carey Miller Illustrator: David Jefferis
    Publisher: Usborne
    Interest age: 8-11
    Reading age: 8+

    First published in 1977, this new edition of a classic pictures book introduces a range of monster phenomena, from the Loch Ness monster to the Minotaur and Medusa of the Greek legends, and its delightfully ghoulish and vivid illustrations are just as likely to appeal to young readers now.

  • Time to Go to Bed

    Author: Penny Tassoni Illustrator: Mel Four
    Publisher: Featherstone
    Interest age: 2-3

    Ideal to share with toddlers at bedtime as part of a positive sleep routine, this lovely little picture book uses simple language to explore why sleep is essential to help stay healthy and happy, and encourages interaction by asking gentle questions.

  • Violet’s Tempest

    Author: Ian Eagleton Illustrator: Clara Anganuzzi
    Publisher: Lantana

    Violet’s class are preparing for their school play – Shakespeare’s The Tempest. While her classmates buzz with excitement, she begins to worry. Recently, Violet’s world has changed. Her voice has gone from a giggle to a whisper. She’s not sure how she can play the role of the airy and mischievous sprite Ariel, when she feels so sad and heavy.

    At home, her wo…

  • What's In the Box?

    Author: Isabel Otter Illustrator: Joaquin Camp
    Publisher: Little Tiger
    Interest age: 2-3

    A pile of boxes has arrived... Can you guess what hides inside? Fun and lively reading, What's in the Box? is brilliantly interactive and eye-catchingly designed, combining lift-the-flaps and touch-and-feel to entice young children to open a series of special boxes. 

  • When the War Came Home

    Author: Lesley Parr Illustrator: David Dean
    Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    There is a lot packed into this beautifully written historical mysery tale, which provides a fascinating insight into what life was like in the 1920s. It explores a range of topics, including the suffrage movement, workers’ rights, the education system, and the devastating after-effects of war.

  • You Will Be Okay

    Author: Julie Stokes Illustrator: Laurène Boglio
    Publisher: Wren & Rook (Hachette)
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    This gentle guide for children experiencing feelings of grief and loss is written by Julie Stokes, a clinical psychologist and founder of childhood bereavement charity Winston's Wish.