New children's books we love

Every month, we review dozens of books for children and teenagers. Here are the ones we liked best in January: guaranteed to get your child reading... 

Whether they're a teeny toddler or a very particular teen, this is where you can find your child's next amazing book: just scroll down to find books for a range of ages. 

You can also keep track of the latest titles by looking at our past reading recommendations for:


For ages 0-3 and up

Don’t Tickle the Hippo!

Author: Sam Taplin Illustrator: Ana Larrañaga

A hilarious touch-and-feel noisy book to excite the interest of very young children. The final double-page spread will have everyone within hearing distance moving to the rhythm!

Read more about Don’t Tickle the Hippo!

Time to Eat

Author: Penny Tassoni Illustrator: Mel Four

Toddlers with ponytails and toddlers with braids enjoy all sorts of delicious snacks and meals in Time to Eat. In addition to the story, there are helpful tips for parents and carers  about how to introduce new food and encourage a healthy and balanced diet.

Read more about Time to Eat

For ages 3-5 and up

Argh! There’s a Skeleton Inside You!

Author: Idan Ben-Barak Illustrator: Julian Frost

Quog and Oort are off to Kevin’s birthday party but – oh no! – their spaceship is broken. This beautifully crafted story distils complex ideas into a fun story. Thoroughly recommended for anyone exploring the world of science with young children.

Read more about Argh! There’s a Skeleton Inside You!

Goodbye House, Hello House

Author: Margaret Wild Illustrator: Ann James

A girl is saying goodbye to everything she’ll miss when she moves house. Happily, there will be plenty of new rooms to say hello to! A wonderful book about saying goodbye to the old and hello to the new, helping children through periods of change.

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Greta and the Giants

Author: Zoë Tucker Illustrator: Zoe Persico

This story, inspired by the life of Greta Thunberg, is for very young children. Suitably for the age group, it's a tale of hope, positivity and friendship, but there are also ideas at the end for how to get more involved in campaigning.

Read more about Greta and the Giants

I Like To Put Food in My Welly

Author: Jason Korsner Illustrator: Max Low

Children will adore this brilliantly surreal book of poems, which get sillier for the longer you read them. Korsner’s word play is also ideal for helping little ones learn when short sentences are right or wrong!

Read more about I Like To Put Food in My Welly

The Boy Who Loved Everyone

Author: Jane Porter Illustrator: Maisie Paradise Shearring

Dimitri is new at nursery, and no matter how many people (and trees) he says 'I love you' to, no one says it back. Dimitri starts to get really sad. Even the guinea pig seems to want to get away!

When Mum walks him to nursery the next day, she explains that people show their feelings in different ways: the mean old man on the park bench is telling the stray …

Read more about The Boy Who Loved Everyone

The Gobbledegook Book: A Joy Cowley Anthology

Author: Joy Cowley Illustrator: Giselle Clarkson

Joy Cowley is one of New Zealand’s most popular children’s writers and this delightful volume is a perfect introduction to her poems, if you haven’t read them before. If you liked Chris Riddell and Michael Rosen’s A Great Big Cuddle, you’ll love this.

Read more about The Gobbledegook Book: A Joy Cowley Anthology

The Lost Homework

Author: Richard O’Neill Illustrator: Kirsti Beautyman

Sonny lives on a Traveller community site with his family and he’s super excited about a family wedding. This smart, charming book is written by an author of Traveller heritage and has a lovely message about informal learning opportunities being all around. 

Read more about The Lost Homework

Up and Down Mum

Author: Summer Macon

Everyone has good days and bad days, but in some cases, it is far more extreme. This powerful and moving portrayal of a parent with Bipolar Disorder is laced with hope and reassurance. An inspired picture book, created in collaboration with the Wellcome Trust.

Read more about Up and Down Mum

For ages 5-8 and up

Cornelia and the Jungle Machine

Author: Nora Brech Translator: Don Bartlett

Cornelia has moved into a big, gothic and creaky new house with her parents, and she’s not happy about it. Full of utterly amazing artwork, this masterpiece has few words and is all about the power of imagination.

Read more about Cornelia and the Jungle Machine

Dave and the Tooth Fairy

Author: Verna Wilkins Illustrator: Carl Pearce

Dave is thrilled when he finally gets his first wobbly tooth although, despite much wiggling and waggling, it seems reluctant to come out. A marvellous book with broad appeal, with a wealth of thoughtful, humorous detail.

Read more about Dave and the Tooth Fairy

Grown-Ups Never Do That

Author: Davide Cali Illustrator: Benjamin Chaud

Determined to document adults misbehaving, a gang of kids spy on the grown-ups as they go about their days, breaking all the rules that they impose on children. Absolutely delightful and tons of fun. 

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McTavish on the Move

Author: Meg Rossoff Illustrator: David Shephard (in the style of Grace Easton)

McTavish is the beloved dog of the Peachey family and this is their fourth exciting adventure. Here, the Peachey family are moving house. Betty is struggling with leaving her home, school and friends behind, but nobody has noticed –  except McTavish. 

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Sadiq and the Pet Problem

Author: Siman Nurali Illustrator: Anjan Sarkar

Sadiq is excited about getting a pet for the classroom, but which one should the class choose? Sadiq is a relatable little boy from Somalia, who has everyday experiences that children will identify with.  

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Sofia Valdez, Future Prez

Author: Andrea Beaty Illustrator: David Roberts

Sofia Valdez isn’t just a do-gooder: she’s a do-better, visiting people in her community who can’t get out much, or just stopping for a chat. Andrea Beaty’s brilliant rhyming text tells Sofia’s story flawlessly, and David Roberts' characters and imagery are stunning.

Read more about Sofia Valdez, Future Prez

Sophie Takes to the Sky

Author: Katherine Woodfine Illustrator: Briony May Smith

Sophie is scared of everything. Can she overcome her fears to attend the crowded, noisy fair to see the hot-air balloon? This charming tale, about real-life 18th-century balloonist Sophie Blanchard, will inspire young people to follow their dreams.

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Unbelievable Football: The Most Incredible True Football Stories (You Never Knew)

Author: Matt Oldfield Illustrator: Ollie Mann

This collection of true football stories demonstrates that sport can unite, inspire and amaze in equal measure. Readers can entertain their friends and family with a multitude of interesting, amusing and bizarre soccer stories from around the world. 

Read more about Unbelievable Football: The Most Incredible True Football Stories (You Never Knew)

Under the Great Plum Tree

Author: Sufiya Ahmed Illustrator: Reza Dalvand

Set in the jungles of India, this is a marvellous retelling of a traditional tale from the Panchatantra, an ancient collection of Indian animal fables, which date from 300 BCE. A moving tale with striking, vibrant artwork. 

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For ages 9-12 and up

A Postcard to Ollis

Author: Ingunn Thon Illustrator: Nora Brech

Ollis’s mum has a new boyfriend and now she has a new baby brother. She feels lonely but luckily her best friend lives next door and they know each other inside out. Or do they? A charming and quirky illustrated story about the importance of family. 

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A Girl, A Raccoon and the Midnight Moon

Author: Karen Romano Young Illustrator: Jessixa Bagley

When the statue at her beloved library is vandalised, Pearl is determined to find the culprit - but she'll discover a lot more along the way, too. A highly inventive, satisfying read.

Read more about A Girl, A Raccoon and the Midnight Moon

Alien Superstar

Author: Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver Illustrator: Ethan Nicolle

What better place for an alien to go unnoticed than the backlot of Universal Studios? Full of humour and with an appealing plot, this book shows that, human or alien, we all need kindness and understanding to achieve our dreams and flourish. 

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Earth Shattering Events: Volcanoes, Earthquakes, Cyclones, Tsunamis and Other Natural Disasters

Author: Robin Jacobs Illustrator: Sophie Williams

In any given year, there may be hundreds of large-scale geological or meteorological disasters on earth – and they’re becoming more frequent because of climate change. This colourful and fascinating guide explains why they happen. 

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In the Key of Code

Author: Aimee Lucido

Emmy is in a new city and new school and has just discovered computer coding. But why are people in class keeping secrets? This verse novel brilliantly combines poetry, music and coding with a coming-of-age story and a celebration of girls in STEM. 

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Katherine Johnson: A Life Story

Author: Leila Rasheed Illustrator: Sarah Papworth

An accessible, compelling and inspiring biography of Katherine Johnson: a brilliant, black, female mathematician who helped make NASA’s space programme and moon landing possible.

Read more about Katherine Johnson: A Life Story

Look Both Ways

Author: Jason Reynolds Illustrator: Selom Sunu

Ten short stories about that strange time when school finishes and children of a certain age (usually around ten years old) get to walk home without adult supervision. Jason Reynolds' writing is gripping, direct, exciting and incredibly readable. 

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Nothing Ever Happens Here

Author: Sarah Hagger-Holt

Nothing ever happens in Littlehaven... at least, that is, until Izzy's Dad comes out as trans. A gentle, timely and warm story about identity, friendship and standing up for what's right.

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Scoop McLaren: Detective Editor

Author: Helen Castles

Who’s publishing bad news before it happens? Scoop McLaren is determined to find out, before the town of Higgity Harbour is destroyed forever. Pitched somewhere between Nancy Drew and Scooby Doo, this is a light-hearted and fast-paced adventure mystery. 

Read more about Scoop McLaren: Detective Editor

The Girl Who Stole an Elephant

Author: Nizrana Farook

Against the backdrop of a stunning South Asian landscape, three youngsters are on the run from the King’s guards – on an elephant! With themes of morality, friendship, teamwork and loyalty, this exciting adventure book also has lots of tension and jeopardy.

Read more about The Girl Who Stole an Elephant

The Land of Roar

Author: Jenny McLachlan Illustrator: Ben Mantle

Is the Land of Roar real or imaginary? You’ll have to make up your own mind in this exciting and tense coming-of-age adventure that has echoes of Jumanji and Peter Pan.

Read more about The Land of Roar

The Missing: The True Story of My Family in World War II

Author: Michael Rosen

A fascinating family memoir and a very personal story about terrible loss, The Missing describes the impact of the Holocaust on one family, which provides a relatable pathway into this overwhelming event for young readers.

Read more about The Missing: The True Story of My Family in World War II

The Pearl in the Ice

Author: Cathryn Constable

Marina can’t bear being sent to boarding school, so she stows away on her father’s ship instead. But her father has dangerous secrets. With evocative, powerful writing and a great sense of building suspense, this is an entrancing read. 

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What is Masculinity? Why Does it Matter? And Other Big Questions

Author: Jeffrey Boakye and Darren Chetty with artwork by Oli Frape (Design by Rocket Design [East Anglia])

This timely and excellent book explores what it means to be a man in today’s society. It poses thought-provoking questions to develop readers' critical thinking skills, and will give them the confidence to question conventions and stereotypes. 

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For teens (12+)

A Throne of Swans

Author: Katharine & Elizabeth Corr

If you love Melinda Salisbury’s royal politics and treacherous courts, you’ll love this brilliant Game of Thrones-esque fantasy. Tons of intrigue, mystery, family drama, glamorous gowns and hidden swords.

Read more about A Throne of Swans

Thank you!

A big thank you to everyone who donated to the BookTrust appeal. With your amazing support, we have sent surprise book gifts to over 12,250 vulnerable children to bring joy and brighten their Christmas.

Help support BookTrust in 2020 and get books to more children

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