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Books we love in May 2020

Professor Astro Cat's Deep-Sea Voyage book cover

From humongous fungus to underwater adventures with astro-cats, here's our pick of the top books to read in May 2020.

  • What Stars Are Made Of

    Author: Sarah Allen
    Publisher: Penguin Books
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    12 year old Libby’s big sister is pregnant and Libby is thrilled - but also anxious, as the pregnancy isn’t going smoothly. Born with a rare condition, Libby wants no such challenges for this baby. So she makes a deal with the universe to safeguard her family’s happiness...

  • Tim Hopgood's ABC

    Author: Tim Hopgood
    Publisher: Oxford
    Interest age: 1-2

    A perfect accompaniment to days out in the pushchair for toddlers or repeated reads at home, this is an accessibly beautiful, well-made alphabet book with 1-2 year olds in mind and is a lovely place to start learning letters, animals and words.

  • My Pet T-Rex

    Author: Fabi Santiago
    Publisher: Orchard
    Interest age: 3-5

    This colourful story is about the joy and excitement of owning a pet, and, like any good book about pets, acknowledges that there is some work involved to make sure our animals are safe and happy. Combined with a delightful T-Rex, this is a fabulous picture book with a lot of cuteness and laughs thrown in. 

  • Rhinocorn Rules!

    Author: Matt Carr
    Publisher: Egmont
    Interest age: 2-5

    Ron might look the same as the other rhinos, but he's different. He doesn't want to be grumpy and grey - he wants to be bright, fun, and to show off his true colours as a Rhinocorn!

  • Ready Rabbit?

    Author: Fiona Roberton
    Publisher: Hodder
    Interest age: 2-4

    Rabbit has been invited to a party but he’s not sure that he wants to go. He’s worried that there might be a spider in the bathroom, that it might be too loud, that a kid from school he doesn’t like might be there. Slowly, the narrator of the book manages to persuade Rabbit to go the party: after all, there will be music, dancing, games, prizes, cake and car…

  • Show and Tell

    Author: Rob Biddulph
    Publisher: HarperCollins
    Interest age: 3-6

    It’s Show and Tell day and class 2L are very excited: one child begins by showing everyone a sunflower seed, but the children begin competing with each other to show a bigger, more impressive thing than the child before. When an alien appears and steals all those wonderful treasures, there’s only one thing left. Fortunately, it’s just the right thing to win …

  • Farmyard Friends: Portly Pig

    Author: Axel Scheffler
    Publisher: Nosy Crow
    Interest age: 1-3

    Portly Pig is worried about being too clean. The grass is too pristine and the flowers and trees are too neat, so he goes to find somewhere muckier. Yet when Portly finds a nice muddy puddle to roll in, grey clouds appear and Portly gets washed clean again. What’s a pig to do?

  • King of the Classroom

    Author: Derrick Barnes Illustrator: Vanessa Brantley-Newton
    Publisher: Scallywag Press
    Interest age: 3-5

    This wonderfully empowering picture book for little ones not only assuages their possible fears about starting school or nursery but models a celebratory approach to the big day with an upbeat story about being confident.

  • Anisha, Accidental Detective

    Author: Serena Patel Illustrator: Emma McCann
    Publisher: Usborne
    Interest age: 6-11
    Reading age: 6+

    Anisha's ultra-dramatic Aunty Bindi is getting married tomorrow and the groom, Uncle Tony, has been kidnapped! Can Anisha and her best friend Milo track down the culprit - and Uncle Tony - in time for his wedding?

  • Super Happy Magic Forest and the Humongous Fungus

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

    It’s the day of the Frolic Festival in the Super Happy Magic Forest and everyone’s waiting for the Rainbow Dragon to appear, but something is very wrong. It's up to five unusual heroes – including Trevor, a small talking mushroom and Blossom the burping unicorn - to investigate.

  • There's a Lion in the Library!

    Author: Dave Skinner Illustrator: Aurélie Guillerey
    Publisher: Orchard
    Interest age: 4-5

    Little Lucy Lupin loves to tell lies - and she looks so sweet and innocent that everybody believes her! Until one day, when a big fierce lion appears in the library, it looks like her lies might catch up with her after all...

  • Work It, Girl: Blast Off Into Space Like Mae Jemison

    Author: Caroline Moss Illustrator: Sinem Erkas
    Publisher: Frances Lincoln
    Interest age: 6-11
    Reading age: 8+

    A beautifully written and illustrated book about the inspiring life story of Mae Jemison, the first black woman in space, from the wonderful Work It Girl series. 

  • Professor Astro Cat’s Deep Sea Voyage

    Author: Dr Dominic Walliman Illustrator: Ben Newman
    Publisher: Flying Eye Books
    Interest age: 6-11
    Reading age: 7+

    Professor Astro Cat is back with his friends Gilbert, Martha, Felicity, Evie and Astro Mouse, setting sail on an incredible deep sea voyage in this book full of stunning retro illustrations and fascinating ocean facts.

  • Peanut Butter and Jelly (A Narwhal and Jelly Book)

    Author: Ben Clanton
    Publisher: Egmont
    Interest age: 6-8
    Reading age: 7+

    Narwhal and Jelly are the best of friends - but when Jelly persuades Narwhal to try peanut butter for the first time ever, it's a life-changing event for Narwhal as he becomes obsessed with the fabulous new flavour sensation! These quirky comic strips are perfect for younger children looking for something a bit unusul.

  • Real-Life Disasters: Investigate What Really Happened!

    Author: Susan Martineau and Vicky Barker
    Publisher: b small publishing
    Interest age: 6-11
    Reading age: 7+

    In this engaging dossier-style book, children explore a number of real life disasters such as the sinking of the Titanic, the Bermuda Triangle and the Black Death as well as investigating what happens when volcanoes, wild weather and earthquakes happen.

  • Clean Getaway

    Author: Nic Stone
    Publisher: Knights Of
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 8+

    One day, Scoob's Grandma turns up at his house and invites him on a road trip - retracing the steps of a trip she took with his late grandpa. This is a satisfying, timeless read about a family’s history which intersects with the American civil rights movement, and reminds readers of the impact of racism and intolerance.

  • Saving Winslow

    Author: Sharon Creech
    Publisher: Guppy Books
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 8+

    Louie takes on the challenge of saving Winslow the baby donkey, but can he let Winslow go when the time is right?

  • Mic Drop: A High Rise Mystery

    Author: Sharna Jackson
    Publisher: Knights Of
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    The second in Sharna Jackson’s High Rise Mystery books sees Nik and Norva return with another crime to solve on their home turf. 

  • The List of Things That Will Not Change

    Author: Rebecca Stead
    Publisher: Andersen Press
    Interest age: 12+
    Reading age: 11+

    Bea’s dad is gay and he’s marrying his boyfriend Jesse, who Bea loves. Bea lives half of her week with mum, half of the week with dad. When Sonia, Jesse’s daughter, comes to stay, Bea is really excited about the prospect of a new sister, but it all feels strange to Sonia. Will Bea get the sister she’s always wanted?

  • Super Cats v Maximus Fang

    Author: Gwyneth Rees Illustrator: Becka Moor
    Publisher: Bloomsbury
    Interest age: 6-8
    Reading age: 7+

    The Super Cast are an elite team of crime-fighting felines - and the biggest baddie of them all, Gory Gus, is about to break his old pal Maximus Fang out of prison and wreak havoc on the world. Can new recruits Tagg and Sugarfoot infiltrate his gang and stop the breakout before it's too late?

  • Sticky Pines: The Bigwoof Conspiracy

    Author: Dashe Roberts
    Publisher: Nosy Crow
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    Strange things are happening in the town of Sticky Pines: odd lights in the sky, people disappearing, and now a huge, hairy creature is hanging out in the woods. Can Lucy and Milo unravel the mystery of Bigwoof? Written with wit and humour, Roberts has created a fun new series reminiscent of the X-Files and pitched perfectly for 9-12 year-olds.

  • Talking to the Moon

    Author: S.E. Durrant
    Publisher: Nosy Crow
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 8+

    Iris’ grandmother is losing her memory. While protecting her, Iris tracks down the secret behind a bracelet and develops a tentative friendship with the boy next door.

  • The Longest Strongest Thread

    Author: Inbal Leitner
    Publisher: Scallywag Press
    Interest age: 4-8

    A little girl is moving with her family to a cold country and leaving her grandmother behind; it’s too cold for her where they’re going, so she’s going to stay at home. A touching, gentle story about saying goodbye to our loved ones - and being distanced from them.

  • Roxy & Jones: The Great Fairytale Cover Up

    Author: Angela Woolfe
    Publisher: Walker Books
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    An exciting, witty adventure thriller for anyone who has fond memories of the traditional fairy tales and would not be surprised to find out that they are all entirely true.

  • Wilde

    Author: Eloise Williams
    Publisher: Firefly Press
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 10+

    In the midst of an intense heatwave in the small Welsh village of Witches Point, mysterious notes claiming to be curses from a legendary witch cause a ‘blame game’ which seems certain to wreck at least one life.

  • Old Enough to Save the Planet

    Author: Loll Kirby Illustrator: Aledina Lirius
    Publisher: Magic Cat Publishing
    Interest age: 6-11
    Reading age: 7+

    Telling the stories of twelve young activists inspiring change in their communities and around the world, this is a book to treasure and so too are the young people whose stories it contains. Celebrating young activists, in style, it will inform and inspire many more.

  • Robin Hood

    Author: Robert Muchamore
    Publisher: Hot Key Books
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    In this contemporary retelling of the legend of Robin Hood, 12 year old Robin - armed with his trademark bow and arrow, but also some impressive parkour skills - is on a mission to defeat brutal underworld boss Guy Gisborne and clear his father's name. Violent and exhilarating with flashes of humour, this is well-suited to older children.

  • Dust Road

    Author: Tom Huddleston
    Publisher: Nosy Crow
    Interest age: 9+
    Reading age: 9+

    In a post-apocalyptic future, war between tribes seems inevitable but there is just a chance that siblings Kara and Joe might be able to stop it.

  • The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling

    Author: Wai Chim
    Publisher: Allen & Unwin
    Interest age: 12+
    Reading age: 12+

    Anna's Ma hasn't got out of bed for weeks and it's up to Anna to take care of her family. But when Ma finally leaves her room, things don't exactly go as Anna had planned. This beautiful book takes a nuanced and sensitive approach to a loved one experiencing a mental health problem, and highlights the importance of our own emotional wellbeing.