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Great Books Guide: for 8 to 9 year olds

Mr Penguin and the Fortress of Secrets

Here's a round-up of new children's books from the last year (2019), which we think any child aged 8 to 9 will love. We definitely do!

Check out the full Great Books Guide

  • The Lost Diary of Sami Star

    Author: Karen McCombie
    Publisher: Barrington Stoke
    Interest age: 8-12
    Reading age: 8+

    Hannah’s parents seem to have forgotten her, preoccupied by current quarrels with her older sister. School isn’t much better – Hannah’s noticing a rift with her two so-called best friends, who seem wholly concerned with boys and whether other people are wearing the 'right' jeans. Then she finds a journal in the park. Hannah is fascinated by its creator, Sami…

  • Cookie (and the Most Annoying Boy in the World)

    Author: Konnie Huq
    Publisher: Piccadilly Press (Bonnier)
    Interest age: 6-11
    Reading age: 7+

    Funny, ambitious Cookie wants to go on Brainbusters and get a pet, but the most annoying boy in the world keeps upsetting her plans. Can they ever be friends? Funny, loud, opinionated and sometimes thoughtless, Cookie is a relatable character.

  • Mega Robo Bros 3: Mega Robo Revenge

    Author: Neill Cameron
    Publisher: David Fickling Books
    Interest age: 9+
    Reading age: 9+

    Third instalment of the graphic novel series about sentient robot brothers Alex and Freddy, in which we learn more about the boys’ origins and a monster from the past returns to get revenge on their mother. Funny and full of fabulous artwork. 

  • Everest

    Author: Sangma Francis & Lisk Feng
    Publisher: Flying Eye Books
    Interest age: 7-10
    Reading age: 8+

    Children will love this beautiful and fascinating introduction to Everest, and it’s a particularly useful resource for primary schools who are looking at international features such as mountains in Key Stage 1 and 2.

  • BOOT: Small Robot Big Adventure

    Author: Shane Hegarty Illustrator: Ben Mantle
    Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books
    Interest age: 6-11
    Reading age: 7+

    The heartwarming story of Boot, a junkyard toy, will hook readers from page one. Shane Hegarty has a magic touch with words and has crafted a story that is a true delight to read and will linger long after the book finishes.

  • Mr Penguin and the Fortress of Secrets

    Author: Alex T Smith
    Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books
    Interest age: 6-11
    Reading age: 7+

    Alex T Smith’s second book in the hilarious Mr Penguin series is a plunging plane-ride of action and excitement with a very British sensibility that will delight fans of funny illustrated books. A cross between Poirot and Indiana Jones for younger ones!

  • Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet

    Author: Zanib Mian Illustrator: Nasaya Mafaridik
    Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
    Interest age: 8-11
    Reading age: 8-11

    Planet Omar has all of the everyday life family drama and silly humour of Tom Gates and Sam Wu, and it's wonderful to read a funny book for kids featuring a Muslim family.

  • The Incredible Ecosystems of Planet Earth

    Author: Rachel Ignotofsky
    Publisher: Wren & Rook
    Interest age: 6-11
    Reading age: 7+

    This huge world we live in, with its infinitely varied regions, countries and communities, is – so we learn in Rachel Ignotofsky’s amazing new book – actually an interconnected series ecosystems, working together to make the best of our planet’s limited resources.

  • Hubert Horatio: How to Raise Your Grown-Ups

    Author: Lauren Child
    Publisher: HarperCollins
    Interest age: 7-11
    Reading age: 7+

    This is the fabulous story of the millionaire family The Bobton-Trents, and how their only child Hubert becomes a responsible and sensible child due to his woefully irresponsible and senseless parents! A great first chapter book that's a fun and witty read.

  • Young Heroes: Inspirational Children from Around the World

    Author: Lula Bridgeport Illustrator: Federica Frenna / Isabel Munoz / Julianna Swaney
    Publisher: Stripes
    Interest age: 6-11
    Reading age: 7+

    This collection of remarkable young people’s achievements is truly inspirational. With a gentle guide to being a hero yourself at the back of the book, and a look back at great children of the past, these amazing young people give us all hope for the future.

  • A Kid in my Class

    Author: Rachel Rooney Illustrator: Chris Riddell
    Publisher: Otter-Barry Books
    Interest age: 8-11
    Reading age: 9+

    This brilliant and imaginatively illustrated book is the perfect addition to any classroom library; a book of clever poems picking out some of the many personalities that pupils will find sitting next to them in assemblies, lunch queues and in playgrounds.

  • The Girl with the Shark’s Teeth

    Author: Cerrie Burnell
    Publisher: Oxford University Press
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    When mysterious men kidnap her mother, Minnow has to set sail alone for the magical, dangerous and beautiful Wild Deep. This book is full of lyrical, breathless prose and Burnell’s imagination is marvellous.

  • Charlie Changes into a Chicken

    Author: Sam Copeland Illustrator: Sarah Horne
    Publisher: Puffin
    Interest age: 6-11
    Reading age: 6+

    Something strange happens to Charlie at random times for no apparent reason: he changes into animals. This book cleverly portrays ways of dealing with stress and anxiety, and provides some sound advice throughout. Brilliant and positive. 

  • Maps of the United Kingdom

    Author: Rachel Dixon Illustrator: Livi Gosling
    Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions
    Interest age: 6-11
    Reading age: 7+

    This comprehensive hardback guide to the UK is full of illustrated maps, facts and historical titbits. A great way to get children excited about exploring – or perhaps whet their interest about any planned holidays or day trips.

  • The Colours of History

    Author: Clive Gifford Illustrator: Marc-Etienne Peintre
    Publisher: QED Publishing
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    Full of fascinating facts about colour, this book focuses on a topic that is not often covered in children’s books. It offers a wide range of opportunities and new ideas for parents and schools, working across the curriculum through art, history and beyond.

  • Myth Atlas: Maps and Monsters, Heroes and Gods from Twelve Mythological Worlds

    Author: Thiago de Moraes
    Publisher: Alison Green Books
    Interest age: 6-10
    Reading age: 7+

    The mythological worlds of 12 cultures from Ireland to Japan, Polynesia to the mythos of the Hindu world are explored here in a beautiful collection, which helps children to celebrate and respect the wonderful differences in the way people see the world.

  • Dog Man: Brawl of the Wild

    Author: Dav Pilkey
    Publisher: Scholastic
    Interest age: 6-8
    Reading age: 7+

    In the sixth of the phenomenally successful Dog Man series, three rather naughty characters use a shrink ray gun to miniaturise an abandoned robot belonging to evil genius and Dog Man nemesis, Petey the cat.

  • Ninja Kid

    Author: Anh Do Illustrator: Jeremy Ley
    Publisher: Scholastic Children’s Books
    Interest age: 6-11
    Reading age: 7+

    Nelson Kane wakes up on his tenth birthday to discover that he has developed ninja powers. He puts his newfound skills to the test when a cluster of gigantic spiders attack the town. A light-hearted chapter book that's fast paced and funny. 


  • Flights of Fancy: Stories, Pictures and Inspiration from Ten Children’s Laureates

    Author: Quentin Blake Anne Fine Michael Morpurgo Jacqueline Wilson Michael Rosen Julia Donaldson Anthony Browne Malorie Blackman Chris Riddell and Lauren Child
    Publisher: Walker Books
    Interest age: 6-11
    Reading age: 6+

    To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Waterstones Children’s Laureate, the incredible authors and illustrators who have held the title have come together to make one magical anthology, full of inspiration to help children’s imaginations soar.

  • Muck and Magic

    Author: Michael Morpurgo Illustrator: Olivia Lomenech Gill
    Publisher: Walker Books
    Interest age: 6-11
    Reading age: 7+

    Bonny sees three magnificent horses in the Dales. Mesmerised by their beauty, she is delighted when she gets a Saturday job in the stables. This touching tale about an intergenerational friendship unfolds at a gentle pace, with exquisite drawings.