Books we love in October 2023

and i climbed and climbed

A collection of books we adore this October.

  • The Train of Dark Wonders

    Author: Alex Bell
    Publisher: Rock the Boat
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    A charming fantasy adventure, in which Bess travels to the Land of Halloween Sweets on a remarkable train meeting a host of peculiar people and creatures including a ghost cat, goblins, miniature mermaids with razor-sharp teeth and a tiny bat called Mish who enjoys swimming in jam.

  • Impossible Creatures

    Author: Katherine Rundell Illustrator: Tomislav Tomić
    Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
    Interest age: 12+
    Reading age: 8+

    Katherine Rundell has created an incredibly real-feeling magical world and story to rival classics like Narnia, with writing that sweeps you up and main characters who are simultaneously humanly flawed yet inherently pure and good.

  • Kicked Out

    Author: A. M. Dassu
    Publisher: Old Barn Books
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    Best mates Ali, Sami and Mark organise a fundraising football event to help pay their friend’s legal fees when his asylum claim is rejected and he faces deportation to Syria. A powerful and thought-provoking read, with hope and friendship at its heart.

  • The Walking School Bus

    Author: Aaron Friedland and Ndileka Mandela with an afterword by Julian Lennon Illustrator: Andrew Jackson Obol
    Publisher: Greystone Kids
    Interest age: 6-8

    How can Shaka and Nandi walk to school safely? Their ingenuity and hardy spirits will find a way. This gorgeous picture book will spark conversations about other countries and resilience.

  • Gina Kaminski Saves the Wolf

    Author: Craig Barr-Green Illustrator: Francis Martin
    Publisher: Little Tiger
    Interest age: 4-5
    Reading age: 6+

    Retelling of Little Red Riding Hood with a neurodivergent protagonist.

  • Electric Life

    Author: Rachel Delahaye
    Publisher: Troika
    Interest age: 12+
    Reading age: 10-12

    Set in a post-apocalyptic, sanitised world, this dystopian thriller contains many powerful elements that reflect some of the ways in which our society is already developing.

  • Ellie Engle Saves Herself

    Author: Leah Johnson
    Publisher: Scholastic
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    When twelve-year-old Ellie gains superpowers after an earthquake, her ordinary life becomes extraordinary. Can she navigate school, friendship battles and strange powers that she can’t control? Funny, moving and empowering.

  • Geoffrey Gets the Jitters

    Author: Nadia Shireen
    Publisher: Puffin
    Interest age: 4-5

    Geoffrey’s jitters are out of control! How can he get rid of them? Told with humour and great empathy, this picture book from the author-illustrator of Barbara Throws a Wobbler is both funny and helpful.

  • Live Like a Roman: Discovering the Secrets of Ancient Rome

    Author: Claire Saunders Illustrator: Ruth Hickson
    Publisher: Button Books

    A comprehensive, accessible guide to what it would have been like to live in Ancient Rome, with engaging activities and illustrations to bring the facts to life. Enjoyable reading at school or at home.

  • Stuntboy, In-Between Time

    Author: Jason Reynolds Illustrator: Raúl the Third
    Publisher: Knights Of
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    Portico spends a fun-filled day hanging out with his friends but underneath the laughter, he’s struggling to come to terms with his parents’ separation. This funny tale moves at a frantic pace and is absolutely packed with dynamic cartoon illustrations. 

  • Crossing the Stream

    Author: Elizabeth-Irene Baitie
    Publisher: Cassava Republic Press
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    An engaging mystery with real heart, set in contemporary Ghana, with themes of grief, superstitions and distinguishing truth from lies.

  • Oh Maya Gods

    Author: Maz Evans
    Publisher: Chicken House
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 8+

    Super-sporty Vesper and super-bright Aster are cousins and now reluctant partners in stopping Kizin, the Maya god of death, from killing everyone in the world. A brilliant adventure full of action and humour… and chocolate!

  • Welcome to Wild Town

    Author: AF Harrold and Dom Conlon Illustrator: Korky Paul
    Publisher: Otter-Barry Books
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    This exciting mix of funny, sinister and contemplative verse by two highly-acclaimed poets centres on all things wild, from animals and plants to weather and wild ideas. Illustrated throughout with quirky black-and-white artwork. 

  • I’m Not Scared, You Are!

    Author: Patricia Hegarty Illustrator: Thomas Elliott
    Publisher: Little Tiger
    Interest age: 4-5

    Two young children embark on a scary night-time journey in this spooky board book, which contains 24 individual sound-effects. A fabulously frightening tale, perfect for Halloween.

  • How To Spaghettify Your Dog… and other science secrets of the universe

    Author: Hiba Noor Khan Illustrator: Harry Woodgate
    Publisher: Bloomsbury
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 8+

    It could be said that physics is the science of absolutely everything: clouds to cars, time to rainbows and rain to sandwiches. But, as a subject, it can seem a bit complicated – or, can it?

  • Man Man and the Tree of Memories

    Author: Yaba Badoe Illustrator: Joelle Avelino
    Publisher: Zephyr
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 8+

    Man-man is excited for Carnival, and mistakenly summons the Queen of Revels during the parade. Can she help his mother get better? Vibrant colour illustrations bring this unusual story of family history and different Black cultures to life.

  • And I Climbed and I Climbed

    Author: Stephen Lightbown Illustrator: Shih-Yu Lin
    Publisher: Troika Books
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 8+

    Eight-year-old Cosmo fell from a tree and is now disabled. He talks to the tree in free-verse poems that are punchy and accessible, honest and thought-provoking.  An important and beautifully affecting book.

  • Who Let the Words Out?

    Author: Joshua Seigal Illustrator: Chris Piascik
    Publisher: Bloomsbury Education
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 7+

    A funny and engaging poetry collection, perfect for reading aloud and for sharing.

  • A Year of Black Joy: 52 Black Voices Share Their Life Passions

    Author: Jamia Wilson Illustrator: Jade Orlando
    Publisher: Magic Cat Publishing
    Interest age: 9-11

    52 Black visionaries, creators and changemakers share what brings them joy. Inspiring and fascinating, this beautiful book also includes an activity or fact file linked to the profiled person. Gorgeous.

  • The Oak Tree

    Author: Julia Donaldson Illustrator: Victoria Sandøy
    Publisher: Alison Green Books
    Interest age: 4-5

    This is the story of an oak tree, told in Julia Donaldson’s trademark rich rhyme, with beautiful illustrations showcasing the diversity of life in and around the tree.

  • Who’s Afraid of the Light?

    Author: Anna McGregor
    Publisher: Scribble
    Interest age: 4-5

    Meet Fergus, who is a real deep-sea creature. But we can only see his eyes. What could he be? An enjoyable anarchic mash-up of fiction and non-fiction, with facts at the end, and a surprise reveal.

  • Make Tracks: Emergency

    Author: Johnny Dyrander
    Publisher: Nosy Crow
    Interest age: 2-3

    Robust, interactive board book on emergency vehicles.

  • Boom Boom

    Author: Jude Idada
    Publisher: Swift
    Interest age: 12+
    Reading age: 9-10

    A heartwarming, heartbreaking story about one Nigerian family whose life is blighted by sickle-cell anaemia and a remarkable talking dog who helps in the search for a bone marrow donor.

  • The Slug and the Snail

    Author: Oein DeBhairduin Illustrator: Olya Anima
    Publisher: Little Island
    Interest age: 4-5
    Reading age: 4+

    A story rooted in the oral tradition of the Irish Traveller community, this lyrical picture book tells the story of two slug brothers and their journey together exploring their identities.

  • What a Day: A mindful moment for bedtime

    Author: Emma Ballantine & Mark Strepan Illustrator: Harriet Hobday
    Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
    Interest age: 2-3

    Journey through the day to bedtime in this lovely, simple book, which reminds little ones that their adults love to spend time with them, and that they are always safe and loved. With useful sleep guidance at the end, too.

  • How are you feeling, Little Mouse?

    Author: Illustrator: Leonie Servini
    Publisher: Rily Publications
    Interest age: 2-3

    Join Little Mouse in a conversation about emotions. Simple, repetitive text and friendly pastel illustrations give toddlers a prompt to recognise and to talk about their feelings.

  • Suitcase S(witch)

    Author: Aisha Bushby Illustrator: Coralie Muce
    Publisher: Barrington Stoke
    Interest age: 6-8
    Reading age: 7+

    When Zahra accidentally swaps suitcases with a witch, she experiences a weekend of magical surprises, helping her to overcome her fears and form new friendships. A humorous, dyslexia-friendly chapter book, with delightful black-and-white illustrations. 

  • Monster Support Group: The Werewolf’s Tale

    Author: Laura Suarez
    Publisher: Flying Eye Books
    Interest age: 12+

    A hilarious cast of crazy characters including mummies, medusas and vampires form The Monster Support Group in this hilarious high school themed graphic novel. A howl out loud coming of age story like no other.

  • 21% Monster: Serpent Strike

    Author: P J Canning
    Publisher: Usborne
    Interest age: 12+
    Reading age: 10-12

    A breathtaking sci-fi action thriller in which the heroes are four youngsters whose DNA has been contaminated to make them part monster, part alien and part sabre-toothed polar bear.

  • The Ghost Cat Who Saved my Life

    Author: Pamela Butchart Illustrator: Monika Filipina
    Publisher: Barrington Stoke
    Interest age: 7+
    Reading age: 6-8

    When Sav and Liam hear a cat meowing in the upstairs flat, they decide it must be a ghost, so go to investigate. An engaging, heart-warming mystery, ideal for reluctant and dyslexic readers. 

  • Dreamweavers: Night of the Scary Fairies

    Author: Annabelle Sami Illustrator: Forrest Burdett
    Publisher: Little Tiger Press
    Interest age: 7-8
    Reading age: 7+

    Dreamweavers: Night of the Scary Fairies will take you on the rip-roaring journey of a lifetime! Each night under the cover of darkness Tito and his awe-inspiring new companion embark on a series of adventures, each one more thrilling than the last.

  • Poetry Prompts: All sorts of ways to start a poem

    Author: Joseph Coelho Illustrator: Georgie Birkett Grasya Oliyko Amanda Quartey and Viola Wang
    Publisher: Wide-eyed Editions
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 7+

    Everyone can be a poet! Packed with suggestions for themes and forms, with examples throughout, this is a friendly and accessible guide to having fun with words. Useful in a classroom, alongside the Poetry Prompt videos.