Books we love in November 2021

Animal colours

Explore our pick of the best children's books in November 2021: from owls to sharks, crime-fighting pigeons and an uplighting (!) book on climate change and what the future holds, this is your ultimate guide to buying books for babies, toddlers, children and teenagers this month.

  • A Tale of Two Dragons

    Author: Geraldine McCaughrean Illustrator: Peter Malone
    Publisher: Andersen Press
    Interest age: 4-8
    Reading age: 7+

    Two wealthy kingdoms stand back-to-back: if only the two cities shared their resources, all would be well, but the proud kings will not hear of it. This story carries a poignant message for modern times, beautifully packaged as a classic fairy tale. 

  • Animal Colours

    Author: Nikolas Ilic
    Publisher: Happy Yak
    Interest age: 1-3

    From yellow lions to blue whales, pink pigs to black panthers, and even multicoloured toucans, every single animal in Animal Colours is created in Nikolas Ilic’s bright and quirky style. Highly recommended for learning about colours in a direct but fun way.

  • Bathe the Cat

    Author: Alice B. McGinty Illustrator: David Roberts
    Publisher: Chronicle Books
    Interest age: 4-5

    This enormously entertaining tale will be a big hit with cat lovers and is sure to strike a chord with any family who has gone into frantic overdrive when tidying up for a visitor.

  • Beetles for Breakfast

    Author: Madeleine Finlay Illustrator: Jisu Choi
    Publisher: Flying Eye Books
    Interest age: 8-10
    Reading age: 8+

    Climate change and global warming is a huge problem but this utterly fabulous and uplifting book tells children all about the new inventions currently being worked on by scientists, from insects as a new food source to making fuel from fatbergs.

  • Cinderella

    Author: Nick Sharratt and Stephen Tucker
    Publisher: Pan Macmillan
    Reading age: 3-5

    Flaps to lift on every page bring the classic story of Cinderella to life in this funny and lively rhyming picture book that is full of joyful chaos and contemporary details.

  • Dogs in Disguise

    Author: Peter Bently and John Bond
    Publisher: HarperCollins
    Interest age: 3-5

    In this brilliantly funny rhyming picture book, lots of silly dogs in even sillier costumes demonstrate their wily ways, blending in (or not) to their environments like the doggy geniuses they are.

  • Elmer and the Bedtime Story

    Author: David McKee
    Publisher: Andersen Press
    Interest age: 2-5

    Elmer, everyone’s favourite patchwork elephant, is looking after young elephants Stella and Mel and deciding which story he should tell them at bedtime. With colourful illustrations and gentle humour, this charming tale is the perfect bedtime read.

  • Endgame

    Author: Malorie Blackman
    Publisher: Penguin
    Interest age: 14-17
    Reading age: 14+

    Malorie Blackman brings her iconic Noughts and Crosses series to an end with an electrifying, action-packed and emotional final instalment.

  • Everything Under the Sun

    Author: Molly Oldfield Illustrator: various
    Publisher: Ladybird Books
    Interest age: 6-8
    Reading age: 6+

    Why are dogs domesticated? Why are sweets bad for you? These, and 364 other questions (including an extra one for a leap year), were sent to Molly Oldfield for her children's podcast Everything Under The Sun, and are answered in one extremely helpful book.

  • George and His Nighttime Friends

    Author: Seng Soun Ratanavanh
    Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press
    Reading age: 4-8

    George is a lonely little boy who is afraid of the dark and finds it difficult to get to sleep at night. This wonderfully reassuring tale is sure to become a favourite bedtime read.

  • How Not To Be A Vampire Slayer

    Author: Katy Birchall
    Publisher: Scholastic
    Interest age: 9-12
    Reading age: 9+

    Maggie hopes desperately that her new house is haunted as she loves horror and scary stories. But is not at all prepared for what she finds. A hilarious adventure that is more funny than frightening.

  • It’s Up To Us: A Children’s Terra Carta for Nature, People and Planet

    Author: Christopher Lloyd with a foreword by HRH The Prince of Wales Illustrator: various
    Publisher: What on Earth Books in partnership with The Prince’s Foundation
    Interest age: 6-8
    Reading age: 6+

    Based on HRH The Prince of Wales and his Sustainable Markets Initiative Terra Carta, It’s Up To Us highlights the things that organisations need to do to slow down climate change and create a better future for everyone. A beautiful, poignant and important book.

  • Julia and the Shark

    Author: Kiran Millwood Hargrave Illustrator: Tom De Freston
    Publisher: Orion
    Interest age: 9-11

    Julia and her family are spending the summer at a remote lighthouse - her dad to work, and her mum to study the elusive Greenland shark which lives in the waters nearby. But as the summer reaches its height, her mother's obsession with the shark threatens to engulf them all.

  • Midnight Magic

    Author: Michelle Harrison Illustrator: Elissa Elwick
    Publisher: Little Tiger
    Interest age: 5-8
    Reading age: 6+

    A fabulous and fully illustrated rhyming story about a magical kitten and the family who adopt her. Ideal for newly independent readers or as shared reading with younger children.

  • My Big Fantastic Family

    Author: Adam and Charlotte Guilain Illustrator: Ali Pye
    Publisher: Nosy Crow
    Interest age: 3-6

    A positive and encouraging story about a young girl coping with the separation of her parents. Families come in all shapes and sizes and this cheerful picture book celebrates that wonderfully.

  • Once Upon a Tune: Stories from the Orchestra

    Author: James Mayhew
    Publisher: Otter-Barry Books
    Interest age: 6-8
    Reading age: 6+

    Classical music often tells a story, and James Mayhew has retold and illustrated six of the most exciting ones in this wonderful volume. A really gorgeous book, which would be a wonderful gift or addition to your bookshelf.

  • Paradise On Fire

    Author: Jewell Parker Rhodes Illustrator: Serena Malyon
    Publisher: Orion
    Interest age: 10-12
    Reading age: 9+

    On a wilderness holiday in California, Addy and her friends are caught in a forest fire. Addy guides her friends to safety while dealing with the memories of a terrible fire that killed her parents. A lyrical and important story. 

  • Piece by Piece: The Story of Nisrin’s Hijab

    Author: Priya Huq
    Publisher: Amulet Books
    Interest age: 12+
    Reading age: 8+

    Set in Oregon, USA in 2002, this powerful graphic novel tells the story of a distressing event in the lives of two girls, Nisrin and Firuzeh, when they experience a violent racist attack. A powerful, thought-provoking and, at times, uncomfortable read.

  • Playsongs: Grand Day Out

    Author: Compiled by Sheena Roberts Illustrator: Rachel Fuller
    Publisher: Playsongs Publications
    Interest age: 0-3

    Playsongs: Grand Day Out is a really lovely concept: a picture book full of songs and rhymes that is created for grandparents to enjoy with their grandchildren.

  • Polly Bee Makes Honey

    Author: Deborah Chancellor Illustrator: Julia Groves
    Publisher: Scallywag Press
    Interest age: 4-5

    This colourful picture book fuses factual information and fictional narrative to present a day in the life of Polly, a worker bee. This is one of a series of books that aims to teach children where their food comes from. 

  • Real Pigeons: Eat Danger

    Author: Andrew McDonald Illustrator: Ben Wood
    Publisher: Farshore
    Interest age: 8-11
    Reading age: 8+

    Can the Real Pigeons solve the mystery of the bird-bottler, catch up with a criminal ostrich, and foil the evil plans of Mr Pie, who wants to do unspeakable things to baby blackbirds? A great book if you like solving mysteries, defeating baddies, and massive food fights.

  • Red Lorry, Yellow Lorry

    Author: Michelle Robinson Illustrator: Jez Tuya
    Publisher: Andersen Press
    Interest age: 2-5

    This colourful picture book features a fabulous array of vehicles, from a forklift truck to a cement mixer, all of which are driven by dogs. An entertaining book with enduring appeal.

  • Saving Mr Hoot

    Author: Helen Stephens
    Publisher: Alison Green Books
    Interest age: 2-6

    A funny and heartwarming story about a young boy’s mission to protect an owl and old beech tree. Children – and adults – will love the surprise ending and joining in with the hooting.

  • Sindhu and Jeet’s Detective Agency

    Author: Chitra Soundar Illustrator: Amberin Huq
    Publisher: Bloomsbury
    Interest age: 6-9
    Reading age: 8+

    A funny and exciting compilation of three stories following junior detectives Sindhu and Jeet from Chennai airport to Tower Bridge and the Natural History Museum, as they put their investigative skills to the test.

  • Sticky McStickStick

    Author: Michael Rosen
    Publisher: Walker Books
    Interest age: 4-8

    In March 2020, Michael Rosen became ill with Covid-19 and was admitted to hospital. In Sticky McStickStick he manages to tell the honest story of what happened to him accessibly for children, using his trademark directness and sense of humour.

  • The Accidental Diary of B.U.G: Basically Famous

    Author: Jen Carney
    Publisher: Puffin
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 8+

    Stardom beckons at Billie, aka B.U.G.’s school when a fancy TV company wants to make an advert about school uniforms – but can Billie be the biggest star of them all? More madcap fun from Billie and her doodle-filled diary.

  • The Beast of Harwood Forest

    Author: Dan Smith Illustrator: Chris King
    Publisher: Barrington Stoke
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 8+

    Pete, Krish and Nancy are excited about their Year 8 geography field trip. However, an exciting adventure quickly becomes a terrifying ordeal. This creepy, dyslexia-friendly tale is the follow-up to The Invasion of Crooked Oak, but can be enjoyed as a standalone novel. 

  • The Best Diwali Ever

    Author: Sonali Shah Illustrator: Chaaya Prabhat
    Publisher: Scholastic
    Interest age: 3-6

    Ariana is super excited for Diwali – she’s looking forward to yummy sweets, playing with her cousins, and wearing a lovely outfit – and staying up late to watch fireworks, of course! A gorgeous and relatable book. 

  • The Dragon with the Blazing Bottom: A Very Fiery Fairy Tale

    Author: Beach
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster
    Interest age: 3-5

    A delightfully silly rhyming fairy tale story, The Dragon With the Blazing Bottom has plenty of laughs and zany illustrations, with an adorable dragon and his loyal adversary who is absolutely dedicated to helping out his friend. 

  • The Great Dream Robbery

    Author: Greg James and Chris Smith Illustrator: Amy Nguyen
    Publisher: Puffin
    Interest age: 9-12
    Reading age: 9+

    An exciting comedy thriller that celebrates imagination and the power of dreams, as well as banana-loving llamas and a unicorn singing show tunes.

  • The Lion Above the Door

    Author: Onjali Q Raúf
    Publisher: Orion
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    Leo and his best friend often feel like the odd ones out at school and in the small village they live in, where everyone else is white. Another sensitive, thoughtful book from Onjali Q Rauf that highlights racism and bullying in children’s lives today.

  • Two Can Play

    Author: Margaret Sturton
    Publisher: Andersen Press
    Reading age: 4-5

    This is a charming, funny portrayal of a feline sibling relationship. The distinctive, colourful artwork is full of humour and observant children will spot Puss in each picture, checking out Cat’s progress and secretly wishing she was involved. 

  • Utterly Dark and the Face of the Deep

    Author: Philip Reeve
    Publisher: David Fickling Books
    Interest age: 9-13
    Reading age: 10+

    A tense and exciting supernatural thriller set on an island where the beaches are dangerous and the water harbours secrets and unspeakable monsters.

  • Zeki Loves Daddy

    Author: Anna McQuinn Illustrator: Ruth Hearson
    Publisher: Alanna Max

    An ideal gentle step-up from a board book, this sweet story about daily life with Daddy and Zeki is filled with love, play and snuggles. Fun rhyming text makes this an ideal book for shared reading time.