Books we love this month

Every month, we review dozens of children's books. Here are the ones we liked best of all for February 2018. 

Whether they're a teeny toddler or a particular teen, here's where you can find your child's next amazing read from among the very latest books. 

For ages 0-4

Bizzy Bear: Racing Driver

Author: Benji Davies

Bizzy Bear is having another amazing adventure. This time, he’s a racing driver on a Formula One track. The chunky pages and thick tabs are perfect for little paws, and the text is very simple and perfect to read aloud. 

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Blue Monster Wants It All

Author: Jeanne Willis Illustrator: Jenni Desmond

Blue Monster loves new things and ventures out into the world to buy anything and everything he wants. Young readers will secretly delight in Blue Monster’s bad behaviour and recognise the underlying message.

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Dress Up Jojo

Author: Xavier Deneux

This bright and bold board book showcases little rabbit Jojo in a variety of costumes. Each page has a slide tab that makes Jojo move about or put on a costume. 

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A Fun ABC

Author: Sade Fadipe Illustrator: Shedrach Ayalomeh

Simple rhyming text accompanies the full-page watercolour illustrations, and children will enjoy searching for an assortment of objects beginning with each featured letter. A fun, positive portrayal of everyday life in a Nigerian village.

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Hidden World Ocean

Author: Libby Walden and Stephanie Fizer Coleman

This is a delightfully simple introduction to the creatures of the underwater world with realistic portraits and incredible facts. Readers will get a glimpse into the diversity of our ocean habitats and explore how animals use camouflage to outwit predators.

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Princess Arabella and the Giant Cake

Author: Mylo Freeman Translator: Laura Watkinson

Princess Arabella loved her recent birthday party so much that she wishes she could have another one. Thankfully, Grandma’s birthday is just days away. A joyful, multi-ethnic tale in the Princess Arabella series, with vibrant illustrations.

Read more about Princess Arabella and the Giant Cake

The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac

Author: Christopher Corr

The Great Race gently introduces and celebrates Chinese culture in a fun and vibrant way. This read-aloud story also provides a great stepping stone for introducing other cultural ideas to young children.

Read more about The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac

The Weaver

Author: Qian Shi

Stanley the spider is an imaginative creature who loves collecting things to incorporate into his beautifully woven web. This stunning book is sure to captivate young readers with an interest in wildlife and creativity.

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Things That Make Me Happy

Author: Amy Schwartz

This simple board book pairs rhyming items on each spread: ‘red socks – building blocks’. Illustrations are clearly presented on a clean white page for even the youngest readers to see. 

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For ages 5-12

Below Zero

Author: Dan Smith

When Zac and his family arrive at Outpost Zero in the Antarctica, they are expecting a community in training for a mission to Mars – but they find no one. The tension and sense of dread build rapidly in this brilliantly constructed horror thriller.

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Dave Pigeon (Racer!)

Author: Swapna Haddow Illustrator: Sheena Dempsey

The third book in the brilliantly funny Dave Pigeon series continues its light-hearted focus on friendship and the trials and tribulations younger children can face. In this instalment, Dave and Skipper have to face a too-cool-for-school gang of other animals.

Read more about Dave Pigeon (Racer!)

Dog Man: A Tale of Two Kittens

Author: Dav Pilkey

Fans of this series will be delighted to see the return of the fast-paced high jinx in this graphic novel. Readers will be outraged by the evil characters, laugh out loud at the slapstick humour and be moved as new unexpected friendships are formed. 

Read more about Dog Man: A Tale of Two Kittens

Life Doesn’t Frighten Me

Author: Maya Angelou Illustrator: Jean-Michel Basquiat and Editor: Sara Jane Boyers

Maya Angelou’s seminal poem Life Doesn’t Frighten Me, about the courage inside us all (whatever age our age), is matched for the first time with paintings by artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Read more about Life Doesn’t Frighten Me

Mega Robo Bros 2: Mega Robo Rumble

Author: Neill Cameron

A celebration of diversity in a robot-themed comic book featuring mega robot battles – and a trip to buy school uniform.

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Princeless

Author: Jeremy Whitley Jung Ha Kim M Goodwin and Shawn Gabborn

Comprehensively dismantling all the features of the fairytale princess theme, from blondeness to passivity, Princeless is a fast-moving, brilliant adventure featuring a black princess.

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Sky Chasers

Author: Emma Carroll

Based on historical events, the story follows a young thief, Magpie, who is caught up in the Montgolfier brothers’ attempt to be the first people to fly. This engaging story is full of heart and adventure.

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Sky Song

Author: Abi Elphinstone

Abi Elphinstone's magical adventure is full of close calls, fantastical creatures and deliciously evil villains to savour in a tale that already feels like a children's classic.

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The Atlas of Monsters: Mythical Creatures from Around the World

Author: Stuart Hill and Sandra Lawrence

The Atlas of Monsters takes the interesting angle of looking at each continent from the point of view of its traditional mythology, and also introduces the book itself as a mysterious source object to be investigated inside a story of strange discovery.

Read more about The Atlas of Monsters: Mythical Creatures from Around the World

The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole

Author: Michelle Cuevas

When 11-year-old space mad Stella visits NASA, the last thing she expects is for a black hole to follow her and live in her house as a pet. A heartwarming, sensitively funny and uplifting illustrated story of one girl's journey in confronting her grief.

Read more about The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole

The Chinese Emperor’s New Clothes

Author: Ying Chang Compestine Illustrator: David Roberts

This retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s classic fairy tale incorporates Compestine’s experiences of growing up in the Chinese Cultural Revolution to provide a thoughtful tale about corruption and poverty. 

Read more about The Chinese Emperor’s New Clothes

The Day That Aliens Nearly Ate Our Brains

Author: Tom McLaughlin

Freddy and Sal just wanted to watch Wrestlegeddon Smackdown when they tried to hijack next-door’s satellite dish. How were they to know it would pinpoint the exact location of Planet Earth to Alan, the grumpiest alien in the universe?

Read more about The Day That Aliens Nearly Ate Our Brains

The Hidden Star

Author: K Sello Duiker

Part mystery, part quest, this book uses magic realism to tell an absorbing story about friendship and courage, which is filled with talking dogs, renegades who occupy the space between good and bad, and evil night riders that must be defeated.

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The Secret of the Purple Lake

Author: Yaba Badoe Illustrator: Gbolahan Adams

This collection of interlinked folk tales has a truly global feel, with stories reaching from Africa to the Orkney Islands, by way of Spain and Norway.

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The Travels of Ermine: Trouble in New York

Author: Jennifer Gray Illustrator: Elisa Paganelli

Starring a resourceful and spirited young stoat, a friendly megabucks millionaire and his young son, two not-so-bright escaped jewellery thieves, a luggage mix-up, and an enormous, missing diamond, Trouble in New York is a fun, fast-paced adventure.

Read more about The Travels of Ermine: Trouble in New York

Twister

Author: Juliette Forrest

Twister's father has gone missing. Her mother is depressed, and people are accusing her father of starting a fatal fire. Even school is horrible now, despite Twister's love for learning, and other than her Aunt Honey and her dog Point she feels that everyone is now against her. Then one day Twister finds a magic necklace with transformative powers. Will this…

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Young, Gifted and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present

Author: Jamia Wilson Illustrator: Andrea Pippins

This beautiful and eye-catching hardback celebrates a selection of black icons from history and the present day to inspire all children to discover what they can achieve. 

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For ages 12+

Awkward

Author: Svetlana Chmakova

Awkward perfectly captures the secondary school experience – friendships, rivalries, secrets, eccentric teachers, and also what can be accomplished when everyone works together.

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Long Way Down

Author: Jason Reynolds Illustrator: Chris Priestley

Written in verse, Long Way Down is breathtakingly gripping and spectacular. You almost read it without breathing; the action is so tense, the language so powerful. Give it to every teenager you know!

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Second Best Friend

Author: Non Pratt

An electric coming-of-age story, Non Pratt deftly uses a school political race to highlight other kinds of school politics: the minefield of boys and girls and friendships and relationships and how overwhelming and all-consuming these can be.

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Star by Star

Author: Sheena Wilkinson

When her mum dies in the 1918 flu epidemic, 15-year-old Stella returns to Northern Ireland to live with an aunt she has never met. The war has ended and women (over the age of 30 with property) are about to vote for the first time. Fascinating and inspiring. 

Read more about Star by Star

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