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Books we love in July 2021

Children of the Quicksands

Explore our pick of the best children's books in July 2021: from an empowering picture book that highlights the power of black heritage to a book full of positive affirmations from footballer Marcus Rashford.

  • A Double Detectives Medical Mystery: Diagnosis Danger

    Author: Roopa Farooki
    Publisher: Oxford
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    When their friend is viciously attacked, twin medical detectives Ali and Tulip are on the case. But can they assess the crime correctly and diagnose the villain behind it? Compelling reading that manages to combine entertaining slapstick with creepy villains.

  • Aunt Amelia’s House

    Author: Rebecca Cobb
    Publisher: Macmillan
    Interest age: 4-6

    At Aunt Amelia’s house, even the chores are done in an unusual way – from watering the garden from a hot air balloon to cleaning the windows on climbing ropes. This magical, delightful and beautiful book from Rebecca Cobb has the feel of a modern classic.

  • Ballet Bunnies: The Lost Slipper

    Author: Swapna Reddy Illustrator: Binny Talib
    Publisher: Oxford
    Interest age: 5-8
    Reading age: 6+

    When Millie loses her shoe at the theatre, just like Cinderella, a little magical input helps get them back. A charming tale of ballet, theatre and a touch of magic for newly independent readers.

  • Be Nice to Aunt Emma

    Author: Anne Fine Illustrator: Gareth Conway
    Publisher: Barrington Stoke
    Interest age: 8-11
    Reading age: 8+

    Tansy finds her Aunt Emma really annoying – and she's due another visit soon. A charming tale that explores complex family dynamics in a light-hearted way. This dyslexia-friendly book is edited to a reading age of eight. 

  • Benjamin Zephaniah’s Nature Trail

    Author: Benjamin Zephaniah Illustrator: Nila Aye
    Publisher: Orchard Books
    Interest age: 2-5

    This joyful poem within a picture book pays tribute to all the treats that nature has to offer. Packed with animals and minibeasts galore, this fun, imaginative book is perfect for reading aloud. 

  • Black Brother, Black Brother

    Author: Jewell Parker Rhodes
    Publisher: Orion
    Interest age: 10-12
    Reading age: 9+

    Donte has had enough of being treated worse than his lighter-skinned brother. He finds a way to beat the bullies by become an expert at fencing. A unique, unforgettable novel with plenty of pointers for further reading and learning.

  • Children of the Quicksands

    Author: Efua Traoré
    Publisher: Chicken House
    Interest age: 9-13
    Reading age: 9+

    A glorious mix of Yoruba myths and legends infused with the joy, adventure, culture and exuberance of Nigeria all wrapped up in a tense, magical thriller.

  • Cows Go Boo!

    Author: Steve Webb Illustrator: Fred Blunt
    Publisher: Andersen Press
    Interest age: 3-7

    Farmer George's irksome cows refuse to "moo". Instead, they play hide and seek and leap out with an almighty "BOO!" when he least expects it. With hidden cows to spot throughout, this hilarious and marvellous book is a delight to read aloud.

  • Emmy Levels Up

    Author: Helen Harvey
    Publisher: Oxford
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 8+

    Emmy lives some of the best bits of her life online and in her own head. A hard-hitting yet empowering story of bullying, friendship and finding the confidence and courage to be yourself.

  • Hey You! An empowering celebration of growing up black

    Author: Dapo Adeola Illustrator: Various
    Publisher: Puffin
    Interest age: 3-5

    A baby is born to loving parents, but as she grows up it’s hard for her to find books to read containing girls that look like her. Sometimes, as she gets older, she encounters racism, and life can be very hard. Yet, she is reminded that she stands on the shoulders of the great black community that has come before her – and that she has the power to be anythi…

  • How I Saved The World in a Week

    Author: Polly Ho-Yen Illustrator: George Ermos
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    Billy's mum is determined to teach him survival skills instead of letting him go to school. So when Billy is sent to live with his dad, everything he's learned is written off as total rubbish. But judging from the news, Billy's survival skills might come in handy very soon...

  • How To Be Cooler Than Cool

    Author: Sean Taylor Illustrator: Jean Jullien
    Publisher: Walker Books
    Interest age: 3-5

    Chick suggests to their super-duper cool friends that they have fun without expecting to be cool – and everyone has a great time. Taylor and Jullien’s joyful, zingy and high-colour picture book has a lovely message and is brilliant fun for reading together.

  • Is That You, Little Chick?

    Author: Rob Hodgson
    Publisher: Ladybird Books
    Interest age: 0-2

    Rob Hodgson’s four-page board book is a classic seek-and-find story for toddlers, who can look for Little Chick in a number of farm locations. Full of delightful detail and lovely illustration. 

  • It’s Her Story: Rosa Parks

    Author: Lauren Burke Illustrator: Shane Clester
    Publisher: Sunbird Books
    Interest age: 6-8
    Reading age: 6+

    Rosa Park’s story is brought to life for a young audience in this wonderfully accessible picture book, with comic-style illustrations.

  • Kate on the Case

    Author: Hannah Peck
    Publisher: Piccadilly
    Interest age: 8-10
    Reading age: 8+

    Kate, an aspiring investigative journalist, stumbles across an intriguing case on a trip with her father to the North Pole. Hannah Peck’s super-creative joy of a book has mystery, humour, brilliant illustrations and a smorgasbord of puns and wordplay.

  • Kitty Quest

    Author: Phil Corbett
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster
    Interest age: 7-9
    Reading age: 7+

    Kittens Woolfrik and Perigold set up a monster-hunting stall, although business is slow, as there appear to be no monsters on the islands of Pawdor. This hilarious comic-strip tale is quirky, colourful and fun, with plenty of riotous action.

  • Magic Windows: Weather

    Author: Ladybird Illustrator: Libby Burns
    Publisher: Ladybird Books
    Interest age: 1-3

    The weather is just one area of everyday life that children come to understand at a young age, and this useful and rather beautiful board book from Libby Burns is just the thing to start to explain the causes for some common weather. 

  • Love Me Not: The Valentines Book 3

    Author: Holly Smale
    Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books
    Interest age: 10-12
    Reading age: 9+

    The Valentines are a glamorous showbiz family who seem to have it all – except they are coming to terms with a family tragedy. Insightful, poignant and witty.

  • Mammoth

    Author: Anna Kemp Illustrator: Adam Beer
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster
    Interest age: 4-7

    A woolly mammoth wakes up after a long sleep and can't find any friends or family. He searches for somewhere he can fit in and, finally, finds a new herd. A fantastic and well-told picture book, with a subtle message about feeling lost and finding your people. 

  • Mindi and the Goose No One Else Could See

    Author: Sam McBratney Illustrator: Linda Ólafsdóttir
    Publisher: Walker Books
    Interest age: 3-5

    This beautiful story about a girl afraid of a big goose, who learns to let go of her fears, feels like an instant classic. A lovely, calm book to read to little ones, full of the simple magic of early childhood and the warm comfort of family.

  • Moonchild: City of the Sun

    Author: Aisha Bushby Illustrator: Rachael Dean
    Publisher: Farshore
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 8+

    This exciting sequel to Moonchild: Voyage of the Lost and Found celebrates the magic of storytelling, set in a universe where moonchildren Farah and Amira have a magical animal companion, known as a jinni, who is linked to their emotions. 

  • No More Babies

    Author: Madeleine Cook Illustrator: Erika Meza
    Publisher: Oxford
    Interest age: 3-5

    This funny, reassuring book deals with the potential worries around waiting for a new baby in the family and reminds children of the special relationship between siblings.

  • Rainbow Grey

    Author: Laura Ellen Anderson
    Publisher: HarperCollins
    Interest age: 7-10
    Reading age: 7+

    Ray Grey doesn't have any weather magic, unlike everyone else in the Weatherlands, high up in the sky. Until a trip to Earth changes Ray's life forever...  A rollercoaster adventure that's full of secret reveals, zany silliness and joyful illustrations.

  • Secrets of a Schoolyard Millionaire

    Author: Nat Amoore
    Publisher: Rock the Boat
    Interest age: 7-11
    Reading age: 8+

    What you would do if you found a million dollars in your backyard? Secrets of a Schoolyard Millionaire was a big hit in Australia, and it’s not hard to see why. The book is fresh, fast and truly laugh-out-loud funny. 

  • Sports Legends

    Author: Rick Broadbent Illustrator: James Davies
    Publisher: Walker Books
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 8+

    This fascinating book with an easy-to-read format and fun illustrations features the profiles of 50 sporting heroes, from Jesse Owens to Serena Williams - covering the secrets to their successes (and failures.)

  • The Best Worst Day Ever

    Author: Sophy Henn
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster
    Interest age: 3-5

    Sophy Henn’s sweet, fun book about tantrums and how we might best work them out is a real winner. There’s a nod to Where The Wild Things Are, as the story accepts Arthur’s wildness and allows a safe space for him to huff it all out.

  • The Cat and the Rat and the Hat

    Author: Em Lynas Illustrator: Matt Hunt
    Publisher: Nosy Crow
    Interest age: 2-5

    A raucous, rhyming tale with a fun tongue-twister text, bright neon artwork and  hilarious animal antics.

  • The Exploding Life of Scarlett Fife

    Author: Maz Evans Illustrator: Chris Jevons
    Publisher: Hodder
    Interest age: 7-11
    Reading age: 8+

    A smart, perceptive and utterly hilarious story of one girl’s BIG FEELINGS and the explosive outcome when she tries to keep them inside.

  • The Incredible Record Smashers

    Author: Jenny Pearson Illustrator: Erica Salcedo
    Publisher: Usborne
    Interest age: 8-11
    Reading age: 8+

    Featuring an encounter with a pair of escaped robbers, some sparkly, gold catsuits and a lot of squashed kumquats, this is a book that really does have something for everyone.

  • The Nightsilver Promise

    Author: Annaliese Avery
    Publisher: Scholastic
    Interest age: 9-12
    Reading age: 9+

    This compelling fantasy novel, the first in a trilogy, is set in an imaginative world that fuses magic and science. An exciting tale of trust and courage that explores the concept of free will.

  • The Summer We Turned Green

    Author: William Sutcliffe
    Publisher: Bloomsbury
    Interest age: 12+
    Reading age: 10+

    When Luke’s dad joins climate protestors squatting in the house opposite, it rocks their family’s foundations. Funny and moving, with convincing characters.

  • This Poison Heart

    Author: Kalynn Bayron
    Publisher: Bloomsbury
    Interest age: 13-18
    Reading age: 12+

    When Briseis inherits a house from her birth family, she feels like it's the perfect chance for a fresh start - but she's about to discover a dark and sinister secret. A magical, inclusive and thrilling fantasy tale.

  • What are Unicorns Made Of?

    Author: Amelia Hepworth Illustrator: Louise Anglicas
    Publisher: Little Tiger
    Interest age: 2-3

    Have you ever wondered what unicorns are made of? In this sweet board book, we learn that their manes are made of marshmallow and ice cream and their tails from rainbows, among many other "facts". Perfect for fans of all things glitzy and sparkling.

  • Will Jakeman’s Marvellous Mechanimals

    Author: Nick Ward
    Publisher: Guppy Books
    Interest age: 7-10
    Reading age: 7+

    Nick Ward’s utterly brilliant, highly illustrated story about a boy inventor is in an absolute class of its own. Highly recommended.

  • You are a Champion

    Author: Marcus Rashford and Carl Anka
    Publisher: Macmillan
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 8+

    England footballer Marcus Rashford shares tips and advice that he's learned on his journey from being a football-mad kid in Manchester to a sports megastar and political activist, as well as how to handle issues of confidence and anxiety.