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 May: 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 in:

For ages 0-3 and up

A Book About Marley Bear at the Farm

Author: Melissa Crowton

Marley Bear is having a day out at the farm. There’s plenty to spot, from a wheelbarrow to a hen, and even Marley’s friend, Gus the Lion. There are plenty of good, sturdy flaps and the book is tough enough to withstand enthusiastic chewing, too.

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Kindness Rules!

Author: Eunice and Sabrina Moyle

Magic Manners, a large blue elephant with a superhero costume and cape, is here to remind us that kindness rules! This bright, cheery, rhyming board book is great for toddlers and preschoolers who are learning to share and treat others with gentleness. 

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The Flute

Author: Ken Wilson-Max and Catell Ronca

In a bright meadow full of fruit and flowers, a boy plays a flute that sounds full of magic. This poetic book is the second in a series of books for babies and toddlers about musical instruments from around the world and how they make us feel and move. 

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For ages 3-5 and up

A Mouse Called Julian

Author: Joe Todd-Stanton

Julian isn’t a very sociable mouse... until he finds an unexpected friend in a fox. Joe Todd-Stanton’s book is full of his usual stylish illustration and the book is a lovely reminder to children that it’s OK to be yourself and have the friendships that suit you.

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Doodle Cat Wears a Cape

Author: Kat Patrick and Lauren Farrell

Doodle Cat has a cape (a tea towel), which gives him some pretty cool superpowers:he can fire furballs at high speed, become invisible and grow 300 times his own size (kind of). An exuberant, zany book that is also a warm-hearted story about friendship.

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How Big is our Baby

Author: Smriti Prasadam-Halls Illustrator: Britta Teckentrup

This marvellous non-fiction book, aimed at soon-to-be siblings, charts the month-by-month development of an unborn baby in the womb. Warm, cheerful illustrations depict different genders, ethnicities and family set-ups, giving it broad appeal. 

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Kind

Author: Axel Scheffler and Alison Green with pictures by 38 artists

A delicious book by Alison Green with illustrations and a foreword by Axel Scheffler, plus pictures by 38 international illustrators, to celebrate kindness and humankind. A profound book that is quite simply a treasure trove of wisdom and beauty. 

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Princess Arabella is a Big Sister

Author: Mylo Freeman

This charming new tale in the Princess Arabella series, featuring BAME characters, is full of gentle humour about the ups and downs of sibling relationships. A fun book to share with young children, particularly those who are anticipating a new family arrival.

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Stefano the Squid: Hero of the Deep

Author: Wendy Meddour Illustrator: Duncan Beedie

Stefano the common squid feels dull and ordinary compared to the other amazing sea creatures. But when a diver is in trouble, Stefano faces his fears and races to the rescue. A charming underwater adventure about courage and self-belief. 

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The Pawed Piper

Author: Michelle Robinson Illustrator: Chinlun Lee

This feline twist of the classic tale The Piped Piper is a sweet and playful story. A great book to share with little readers that will strike a chord with anyone who has ever yearned for a cuddly cute pet. 

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For ages 5-8 and up

Fanatical About Frogs

Author: Owen Davey

The fifth in Owen Davey’s wonderful non-fiction series about animals adds frogs to the ranks of clear, fascinating reads, accompanied by truly amazing graphic illustration and just the right level of information to inspire all primary school kids. 

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Laura Norder: Sheriff of Butts Canyon

Author: Guy Bass Illustrator: Steve May

This easy-to-read story is full of brilliant cowboy slogans and Wild West atmosphere, but at heart it’s really a story about what happens when we impose too many rules on others, denying them the freedom to make decisions – and mistakes – for themselves.

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Little Frida: A Story of Frida Kahlo

Author: Anthony Browne

The masterstroke of this dreamy picture book by the former Children's Laureate is to focus on Frida Kahlo's childhood and see the little girl behind the icon. In turn, many children will relate to its themes of bullying and belonging, imagination and hope.

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Little Rabbit’s Big Surprise

Author: Swapna Haddow Illustrator: Alison Friend

Introducing a charming little rabbit character, this is an ideal story to bridge the gap between picture books and independent reading, with glossy pages and full-colour illustrations on every page.

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Run the Show Like CEO Oprah Winfrey

Author: Caroline Moss Illustrator: Sinem Erkas

Following Oprah from her beginnings as the first black news anchor in Nashville to her first break on TV, this amazing illustrated biography gives us the life of a formidable and deeply inspiring woman. 

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The Incredible Ecosystems of Planet Earth

Author: Rachel Ignotofsky

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.

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What Do Machines Do All Day?

Author: Jo Nelson Illustrator: Aleksandar Savić

This fully illustrated book features more than 100 machines and things that go. It's perfect for children who like to ask "why?" or have a fascination with how things work and slot together. It's also great for young ones who just love to watch trucks or trains!

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For ages 9-12 and up

High-Rise Mystery

Author: Sharna Jackson

When teacher Hugo is murdered on the council estate block, sisters Nik and Norva are determined to solve the case. This mystery is fast-paced, hilarious and exciting, and Nik and Norva are totally lovable detectives to root for. A great new middle grade series. 

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How to Bake a Sausage Dog

Author: Kirsten Reinhardt Illustrator: David Roberts Translator: Siobhán Parkinson

It’s no surprise that this book won the Oldenburger Prize for Children’s Books. Reindhart has created an irresistible world of surrealism. The quirky details, alluring mystery and wonderful characterisation are what make this a must-read.

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Malamander

Author: Thomas Taylor

Why did the mermonkey give Violet a book about the local legend of the monster Malamander? Who is the Boathook man? Does Sebastian Eels know more than he lets on? A gripping seaside adventure, full of weird twists and turns and a classic feel. 

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Mo, Lottie and the Junkers

Author: Jennifer Killick Illustrator: Gareth Conway

Mo and Lottie are a mismatched pair, but they must join forces to beat the murderous Junkers and find out the truth about Mo’s missing father. A great book for readers who are looking for their next laugh-out-loud fantasy.

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Mutant Zombies Cursed my School Trip!

Author: Matt Brown Illustrator: Paco Sordo

Children will laugh their heads off at this zombie adventure. Full of gooey fun, the story is a rollercoaster ride with monsters, close calls and a sweet friendship, too.

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No Ballet Shoes in Syria

Author: Catherine Bruton

Aya is a Syrian asylum seeker, looking after her mother and baby brother in the cold, unfamiliar city of Manchester – but she is also a talented ballet dancer. Children who love stories of performance and friendship will enjoy this book. 

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Song for a Whale

Author: Lynne Kelly

A baleen whale's unique 55-hertz frequency means he cannot communicate with other whales, and 12-year-old Iris is determined to help him. A pacy story told with a tender touch, which also offers examples of common frustrations experienced by deaf children. 

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Starfell: Willow Moss and the Lost Day

Author: Dominque Valente Illustrator: Sarah Warburton

Willow's witch family have always looked down on her mundane magical speciality of finding lost things. But last Tuesday is now missing: can she help locate the missing day? Starfell is a fun adventure, with themes of friendship, family and being different.

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The Dentist of Darkness

Author: David O’Connell Illustrator: Claire Powell

Funny and fast-paced, this entertaining story is bursting with mystery, sweets and ancient magic. The enthralling plot, wacky characters and larger-than-life villains are brought to life by witty black-and-white illustrations. 

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The Dog Runner

Author: Bren MacDibble

After Australia is decimated by a killer fungus which wipes out the grass - and the food supplies - Ella and her brother Emery must travel across a treacherous landscape with their dogs in an attempt to find safety. A tense, thrilling adventure with a lot of heart.

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The Great Animal Escapade

Author: Jane Kerr

With an intriguing plot, shadowy characters and a collection of marvellously exotic animals, this exciting Victorian escapade – set in a zoo – is a compelling read. 

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Veronica Twitch the Fabulous Witch: in Double-Bubble Girl-Band Trouble!

Author: Erica-Jane Waters

A light-hearted adventure for newly independent and middle grade readers, packed with spells, magical gadgetry and witch-related witticisms.

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Wildspark

Author: Vashti Hardy

In a world where the spirits of dead people can be harnessed and given new life in mechanical animals, Prue takes on her late brother's apprenticeship in an effort to bring him back. A riotously enjoyable tale mixing fantasy, school stories, science fiction and big questions about life and death.

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For teens (12+)

Extraordinary Birds

Author: Sandy Stark-McGinnis

December needs her wings so she can fly away and be with her real mum but in the meantime she must keep her true nature a secret. A stunning, painfully poignant story about foster care, family and friendship that is, in the end, uplifting and hopeful.

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To Be Perfectly Honest

Author: Jess Vallance

When Gracie takes a pledge to be totally honest for 50 days, whatever the consequences, she isn’t quite prepared for either the hilarious, or the hurtful, results. An ideal book for teens and young adults looking for a lighthearted yet worthwhile read.

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