Books We Love in January 2024

Brave Little Bear

A few books we love this January 2024

  • Pablo and Splash

    Author: Sheena Dempsey
    Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
    Interest age: 6-8
    Reading age: 7+

    Pablo and Splash are two penguins who've accidentally time-travelled to the Cretaceous period! Can they get home to the icy Antarctic before they’re eaten by dinosaurs? A funny colour graphic novel for newly confident readers. 

  • Who Rules the Rockpool?

    Author: Matty Long
    Publisher: Oxford University Press
    Interest age: 6-8
    Reading age: 7+

    Crab boasts that he is the ruler of the rockpool, as he’s so brave and strong, but Prawn insists that there’s more to survival than just being tough. An entertaining picture book with colourful, cartoon-like illustrations and plenty of witty one-liners. 

  • Lunar

    Author: Chris Bradford Illustrator: Charlotte Grange
    Publisher: Barrington Stoke
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 7+

    With a great mix of science fiction and science fact, this nail-biting race-against-time is presented in an accessible format with black and white illustrations. 

  • The Best You

    Author: Nima Patel Illustrator: Cally Johnson-Isaacs
    Publisher: Little Tiger
    Interest age: 6-8
    Reading age: 6+

    In this gentle and uplifting picture book, the common question ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ is turned on its head. Children are often asked to think about what job they might like to do from an early age. And whilst there is nothing wrong with ambition, this question can feel difficult – after all, there is still so much to learn about the worl…

  • Beastlands

    Author: Jess French
    Publisher: Piccadilly
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    On the island of Ramoa there are three great cities separated by the Beastlands: a wild, untamed wilderness that’s home to terrifying and deadly creatures. Can three disparate young people navigate the dangers and succeed in their individual quests? 

  • Get Off, Bear!

    Author: Tony Neal
    Publisher: Oxford University Press
    Interest age: 4-5
    Reading age: 6+

    Bear wants to play on his sledge, but he’s stuck. His animal pals offer to help buy pushing and pulling but it’s no use. A fantastic introduction to the concept of forces.

  • Snail in Space

    Author: Rachel Bright Illustrator: Nadia Shireen
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster
    Interest age: 4-5
    Reading age: 7+

    Gail is a little snail with a big dream – to become the first snail in space! A hilarious story about the power of passion and persistence.

  • Wonders of the Wild

    Author: Éanna Ní Lamhna Illustrator: Brian Fitzgerald
    Publisher: The O’Brien Press
    Interest age: 6-8
    Reading age: 7+

    Discover why spiders don’t stick to their own webs, why rabbits eat their own poo and why frogs don’t drown when they hibernate at the bottom of ponds, in this fascinating, fully-illustrated nature book. 

  • Bright Stars of Black British History

    Author: JT Williams Illustrator: Angela Vives
    Publisher: Thames and Hudson
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    Engagingly told life stories of fourteen Black British people and their contributions to the world. 

  • Bhorta Bhorta Baby! A mashy squishy potato party

    Author: Jumana Rahman & Maryam Huq
    Publisher: Bok Bok Books
    Interest age: 2-3

    A baby watches an adult making bhorta, a South Asian dish of spicy mashed potatoes: potatoes go in to boil, then chillies and onion are fried up. Baby mashes the squishy potatoes: such fun! Then the oil and salt is added and the bhorta is made into little balls. Yummy! 

  • The Mightiest Bite

    Author: Howard Calvert Illustrator: Mike Moran
    Publisher: Andersen Press
    Interest age: 6-7
    Reading age: 7+

    In this fun and riotous picture book, a cast of animals – some big and some bite-sized - squabble it out over who has the mightiest bite of all... A young girl takes a chomp out of a juicy apple and wonders whether she might just have the mightiest bite in the entire world. However, it is not long before a rabbit, a dog, a piranha, a hippo, and a whole host …

  • Brave Little Bear

    Author: Steve Small
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster
    Interest age: 4-5

    Arlo the bear cub is nervous about leaving his cosy cave to travel to Spring Mountain with his sister and mum. A heartwarming picture book about courage and love, accompanied by beautifully atmospheric illustrations.  

  • Doughnuts, Thieves and Chimpanzees

    Author: Alex Wharton Illustrator: Rhi Smith
    Publisher: Firefly Press
    Interest age: 9-8
    Reading age: 7+

    A poetry collection to inspire budding writers, and to create poetry lovers. Full of fun word play and useful writing tips, from the Children’s Laureate Wales 2023-2025. 

  • The Greatest in the World! (A TaterTales Book)

    Author: Ben Clanton
    Publisher: Farshore
    Interest age: 6-8
    Reading age: 6+

    Rot the mutant potato claims that he’s the Greatest in the World, but his grumpy big brother, Snot, disagrees and challenges him to an epic contest to determine which of them is the best. This comic-strip chapter book is full of witty illustrations and quirky humour.  

  • Femi and the Mindfulness Machine

    Author: Flo Fielding Illustrator: Sawyer Cloud
    Publisher: Doring Kindersley in association with Woke Babies
    Interest age: 4-5

    Femi’s wind machine for Science Day doesn’t always work. Gran has some useful advice – but what will happen at school when it matters? With techniques to calm anxiety, and gorgeous illustrations, this picture book will stimulate conversations about feelings. 

  • ULTRAWILD: An Audacious Plan to Rewild Every City on Earth

    Author: Steve Mushin
    Publisher: Allen & Unwin
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 12+

    Steve Mushin is an industrial designer and inventor. This means that he spends his time inventing machines that transform cities into ecosystems: he’s made high-tech city farms, solar thermal ovens and even a 17-metre-long soil-making mechanical millipede. 

  • The Wonderful World of Water: From Dams to Deserts

    Author: Sarah Garré and Marijke Huysmans Illustrator: Wendy Panders
    Publisher: Prestel
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    Humans would not survive on Earth without water. But what is it exactly, and how do planet Earth’s weather and environments cycle water around so that we always have it? How does urine get cleaned up and put back into rivers and oceans? How do plants take water out of the ground, how do dams work, and what is the future of water in the world? 

  • Someone Just Like You

    Author: Helen Docherty Illustrator: David Roberts
    Publisher: Simon and Schuster
    Interest age: 6-8
    Reading age: 5+

    Picture book exploring how whoever you are and wherever you live there is someone in this world just like you. Joyful. 

  • Rajiv’s Starry Feelings

    Author: Niall Moorjani Illustrator: Nanette Regan
    Publisher: Lantana
    Interest age: 4-5

    Rajiv doesn’t know why he’s thrown his toy against the wall, so his dad shows him a way to identify his feelings. Gentle and beautiful, this could spark conversations about emotions with pre-schoolers. 

  • Unseen Jungle: The Microbes that Secretly Control Our World

    Author: Eleanor Spicer Rice PhD Illustrator: Rob Wilson
    Publisher: mit Kids Press
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 12+

    In this fun and informative guide to all things microbial, aimed at Year 6-8 aged children, Dr Rice explains how microbes work in a number of contexts: in our homes, gardens and outside spaces, in food, and in our bodies.

  • Meet the Wildlings

    Author: Gwen Millward
    Publisher: Templar Books
    Interest age: 4-5

    Max and Poppy have turned into rampaging Wildlings! But to go to the park, they need to be children again. Can they work together to turn back into kids? A useful tool for discussing emotions and sharing. 

  • Have You Seen Mikki Olsen?

    Author: Alex Macdonald
    Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
    Interest age: 4-5

    Penguin sits on his beloved teddy Mikki Olsen and then can’t find him. Can you spot the teddy? A funny, interactive book that should make toddlers giggle with delight. 

  • Was That Your Bottom, Dinosaur?

    Author: Sam Taplin Illustrator: Ana Larrañaga designed by Anna Gould sounds by Anthony Marks
    Publisher: Usborne
    Interest age: 2-3

    A board book with five spreads that combines the enduring love of little ones for dinosaurs and farts, this board book – with sound – is one that older babies and toddlers will love, but parents might (in the very nicest of ways) want to periodically hide under a sofa cushion.  

  • The Boy Who Fell from the Sky

    Author: Benjamin Dean
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 8+

    Zed’s dad is the First Hunter of Demons. But when Zed meets a Demon, he discovers that they’renot as terrifying as the myths say. Exciting and full of heart.  

  • Lunar New Year

    Author: Natasha Yim Illustrator: Jingting Wang
    Publisher: words and pictures
    Interest age: 6-8
    Reading age: 6+

    Join Ling and her family as they celebrate Lunar New Year. This is a charming, beautifully illustrated read that includes details about the traditions of this festival, and suggests fun activities at the back.  

  • Officer Clawsome: Lobster Cop

    Author: Brian ‘Smitty’ Smith Illustrator: Chris Giarrusso
    Publisher: Farshore
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 7+

    Can Officer Clawsome and his sidekick Stariana the starfish catch the criminal stealing their kelpcakes? Action-packed, with plenty of humour, this fast-paced graphic novel is lots of fun. 

  • Northern Soul

    Author: Phil Earle
    Publisher: Barrington Stoke
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 8+

    Marv is desperate to make an impression on the girl of his dreams but with no idea quite how to do it he takes advice from a long-dead soul singer. Cue hilarious consequences and some truly awful song lyrics. 

  • Salat in Secret

    Author: Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow Illustrator: Hatem Aly
    Publisher: Andersen Press
    Interest age: 6-8

    Muhammad is delighted when he receives his very own salat prayer rug for his seventh birthday, but can he find the courage to pray in public? An engaging and touching picture book, with joyful illustrations.  

  • Drew, Moo and Bunny, Too

    Author: Owen Sheers Illustrator: Helen Stephens
    Publisher: Walker Books
    Interest age: 6-8
    Reading age: 7+

    With soft yet dramatic illustrations, and a rollicking rhythm and rhyme to the words, this is a delight to read aloud. It would be suitable for pre-schoolers, but also even up to 8 year olds, with lots to discuss and the sound of the words to enjoy.