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 December: 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:

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For ages 0-3 and up

How About A Night Out?

Author: Sam Williams Illustrator: Matt Hunt

This rhyming book about what cats do at night hits all the right notes – the rhyme is bouncy, quirky and original and the cats’ expressions are priceless. A thoroughly entertaining read, with lots of opportunity for pulling feline faces!

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Tiny and Teeny

Author: Chris Judge

At the edge of Glengadget, the incredibly helpful Tiny lives with her pet fox Teeny. The colourful imagery in this wonderful picture book is deeply appealing, and there's a gentle message about the good things that happen when we do nice things for others.

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Winter Sleep: A Hibernation Story

Author: Sean Taylor and Alex Morss Illustrator: Cinyee Chiu

This beautifully illustrated, large-format picture book perfectly blends a sweet story with fascinating facts about animals sleeping through winter. As it’s all about being cosy and sleepy, it makes a lovely bedtime book, but would also work well for schools. 

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For ages 3-5 and up

My Monster and Me

Author: Nadiya Hussain and Ella Bailey

A boy introduces both himself and his monster, who has been with him for as long as he can remember. An all-round perfect picture book for entertaining and reassuring any child that though anxiety may be a part of life, it does not define us and can be managed. 

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Perfectly Polite Penguins

Author: Georgiana Deutsch Illustrator: Ekaterina Trukhan

Most penguins are perfectly polite. But then there is Polly. This silly, chilly story will have little ones laughing out loud at naughty little Polly, while also aborbing the message that we can’t always do what we want, when we want.

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Sulwe

Author: Lupita Nyong’o Illustrator: Vashti Harrison

Sulwe is anxious: why is her skin so dark, and why is she bullied? But a visit from a star reassures her that she is beautiful exactly as she is. This gorgeous book demonstrates the gloriously diverse spectrum of colour within "blackness".

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The Blanket Bears

Author: Samuel Langley-Swain Illustrator: Ashlee Spink

Alone in the snow, two little bears are cold, scared and missing much of their fur. Thankfully, help arrives in the form of Tilly, who hopes them to find another home. A gentle and heartfelt story that shows the adoption process in an honest, reassuring way.

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What I Like Most

Author: Mary Murphy Illustrator: Zhu Cheng-Liang

A little girl ponders the everyday wonders she likes most – friends, pencils, staring out of windows – and the person who remains her favourite thing in the world. Mary Murphy excels at writing cosy, sweet books which have a hug at their heart. 

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For ages 5-8 and up

Angel on the Roof

Author: Shirley Hughes

When Lewis finds an angel living on the roof of his house, they form a quick friendship. Soon, the people living under the angel feel the effect of its goodness in their lives. An atmospheric and timeless story, full of Shirley Hughes' trademark warmth. 

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Bad Nana: That’s Snow Business

Author: Sophy Henn

What happens when Bad Nana gets involved with the Winter Wonderland Variety Show? The third book in Sophy Henn’s young middle grade series is brilliant, and and the final message about having fun is pitch perfect. 

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Cyborg Cat and the Night Spider

Author: Ade Adepitan Illustrator: Carl Pearce

Ade gets mysterious messages from the Night Spider – is he really in danger, and is he a superhero? Ade is a bright, active, positive, exciting character who drives a thrilling plot. The book also shows that there's no reason why a superhero can't use a wheelchair.

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How to be Extraordinary

Author: Rashmi Sirdeshpande Illustrator: Annabel Tempest

This inspirational non-fiction picture book introduces children to extraordinary people from across the world and throughout history. Selected from a range of disciplines, the 15 featured individuals are united by common themes of hard work and perseverance.

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Isadora Moon Puts on a Show

Author: Harriet Muncaster

Isadora Moon is unique: she has a vampire father and a fairy mother. So what kind of show will she put on at the annual vampire ball? This charming, funny chapter book celebrates individuality and explores issues like overcoming fears and wanting to fit in. 

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Kai and the Monkey King

Author: Joe Todd-Stanton

Professor Brownston recounts the story of two ancestors, whose quest to observe and document mythical phenomena leads them across ancient China. A compelling picture book, sure to captivate young readers who enjoy fantasy adventure tales.

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Level Up! Block and Roll

Author: Tom Nicoll Illustrator: Anjan Sarkar

Best friends Max and Flo find themselves trapped inside Max’s favourite construction video game, Blocktopia. How will they leave? This accessible science fiction adventure series is funny, fast-paced and ideal for those who enjoy gaming.

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Madame Badobedah

Author: Sophie Dahl Illustrator: Lauren O'Hara

This beautiful and poignant picture book – made extra special and lush with Lauren O-Hara's dreamy, charming illustrations – is all about the unlikely friendship that eventually blossoms between adventurer Mabel and Madame Badobedah.

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Mr Penguin and the Catastrophic Cruise

Author: Alex T Smith

Mr Penguin is setting sail on the Saucy Sandra cruise ship for a well-earned holiday. But is everything what it seems? The third in Alex T Smith’s brilliant Mr Penguin series is as full of brilliant illustration, cosy details and delightful puns as the others. 

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The Golden Unicorn: Secrets and Legends

Author: Selwyn E Phipps Illustrator: Aitch Oana Befort and Rae Ritchie

The first book in The Magical Unicorn Society series was immensely popular, and this attractive follow-up volume is perfect for any unicorn-hungry child desperate to delve deeper into the myths and stories associated with these most elusive creatures.

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For ages 9-12 and up

A Most Peculiar Toy Factory

Author: Alex Bell Illustrator: Nan Lawson

Hoggle’s Happy Toys is a creepy toy factory that has been closed for five years, ever since the toys came to life and started to attack children. This darkly humorous tale will appeal to children who enjoy spine-tingling adventures with a macabre edge.

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Earth Heroes: Twenty Inspiring Stories of People Saving Our World

Author: Lily Dyu Illustrator: Jackie Lay

When faced with climate change, the biggest threat that our planet has ever confronted, it's easy to feel as if there is nothing you can do. Luckily, Lily Dyu's Earth Heroes is here to tell us different. It's erfect for young activists in the making, aged 8 and up. 

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Football School Season 4: Where Football Explains the World

Author: Alex Bellos and Ben Lyttleton Illustrator: Spike Gerrell

Coaches Alex and Ben are back for a fourth season of the brilliantly informative Football School. A brilliant present for fact and football fans – these books should be in every school library.

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Hidden Planet

Author: Ben Rothery

A self-confessed wildlife obsessive, Rothery’s book isn’t just a collection of his gorgeous illustration but rather a study of the hidden connections between species. Fascinating and beautiful.

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Invisible in a Bright Light

Author: Sally Gardner

A mysterious and riveting fantasy thriller, with elements of horror, that will especially appeal to readers who enjoy puzzles and problem-solving. It will keep you pinned to your seat for hours. 

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Nevertell

Author: Katharine Orton

After a daring escape, Lina and her best friend Bogdan find themselves on a quest to reach Moscow and find Lina’s grandmother. Many dangers lie ahead: including an angry ice witch and her spirit wolves. A magical, snowy adventure perfect for winter nights.

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The Christmasaurus and the Winter Witch

Author: Tom Fletcher Illustrator: Shane Devries

The much-adored Christmasaurus is back for more magical adventures in this feel-good sequel to The Christmasaurus. The storybook brings together all the joy of Christmas: warmth, happiness and family squabbles. 

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The Fowl Twins

Author: Eoin Colfer

The Fowl twins are completely unlike each other, but they make the perfect team when the evil ACRONYM attacks them. Readers will find a well-developed fantasy world with a plot that is full of clever, satisfying twists and turns. 

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The Frozen Sea

Author: Piers Torday

This brilliant sequel to The Lost Magician is a nail-biting adventure of twists and turns from award-winning author Piers Torday. Readers will flit between hiding under the covers during battle scenes to laughing hysterically at the antics of Jewel's hamster, Fizz. 

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The Somerset Tsunami

Author: Emma Carroll

This is another glorious example of historical fiction from Emma Carroll: a feisty, female-led adventure based on the real-life events of witch trials and floods in 17th-century Somerset, which also encourages girls to have faith in themselves.

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Unseen Worlds

Author: Hélène Rajcak Illustrator: Damien Laverdunt

Meet the microscopic creatures living in your mattress and the miniature mites that are feasting on your skin in this extraordinary glimpse into the unseen worlds around us. This well-designed book makes a yucky topic quite lovely and interesting! 

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We Are the Beaker Girls

Author: Jacqueline Wilson Illustrator: Nick Sharratt

The sequel to My Mum Tracy Beaker is another Jacqueline Wilson classic, handling serious issues in a humorous, accessible and thoughtful way. Even many years after Jacqueline Wilson started writing like this, somehow it still feels trailblazing. 

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White Fox

Author: Chen Jiatong Translator: Jennifer Feeley Illustrator: Viola Wang

After tragedy strikes, white fox cub Dilah sets out on an epic quest to become human. A classic animal adventure with themes of friendship, conservation and nature.

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For teens (12+)

Deeplight

Author: Frances Hardinge

Hark and his best friend Jelt spend their days on a strange island hunting for magical "godware". But everything is about to change for them in this breathtaking, richly imagined story, full of heart and soul and incredible world-building. 

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The Weird Friends Fan Club

Author: Catherine Wilkins

Grace micro-manages her life and friends to make sure her online identity is super-attractive and super-cool (#blessed). Written as diary entries, emails and texts, Grace and Erin’s story is unpredictable, revealing and very funny. 

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White Eagles

Author: Elizabeth Wein

It’s the summer of 1939. Germany’s troops have gathered near Poland’s borders and their air force is making increasingly daring forays into Polish air space. Inspired by a real Polish pilot, this is a war story with a difference. 

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