Books we love in October 2021

When Fishes Flew

Explore our pick of the best children's books in October 2021: from spooky ghost books to funny toilet-training tips, we have everything covered for fun reading this month.

  • Aarti and the Blue Gods

    Author: Jasbinder Bilan
    Publisher: Chicken House
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    A delicious mix of mystery, adventure and fantasy, as a girl living on a remote Scottish island with a cruel aunt begins to question what she has been told about her origins.

  • Anemone Is Not The Enemy

    Author: Anna McGregor
    Publisher: Scribble
    Interest age: 4-5

    Anemone lives in a rockpool but is rather lonely. Yet when she’s completely unaffected by a clownfish's sting, she wonders if shes's found a friend. A sweet and informative picture book that simply explains the concept of natural symbiosis for young readers. 

  • Captain Toby

    Author: Satoshi Kitamura
    Publisher: Scallywag Press
    Interest age: 4-5

    This reissue of Satoshi Kitamura’s 1987 book means that this fun, slightly surreal tale of a boy’s dream during a storm is once more available in the UK. Kitamura’s illustration is full of colour and creativity, and adults and children will adore this fun read.

  • Diary of an Accidental Witch

    Author: Perdita and Honor Cargill Illustrator: Katie Saunders
    Publisher: Little Tiger
    Interest age: 6-11
    Reading age: 8+

    Bea Black is unenthusiastic about moving to Little Spellshire and is upset when Dad accidentally enrols her at the wrong school. Full of magical mayhem, this funny tale lightheartedly explores moving home, starting a new school and dealing with bullies. 

  • Fireborn

    Author: Aisling Fowler
    Publisher: Harper Collins
    Interest age: 9-12
    Reading age: 9+

    Warrior Twelve has given everything to the Lodge of Hunters, even her name. When they are attacked, she has to live up to her pledge to defend them. A breathlessly fast-paced, gripping quest with a richly imagined world reminiscent of Tolkien’s.

  • Forever Star

    Author: Gareth Peter and Judi Abbot
    Publisher: Puffin
    Interest age: 3-5

    This sweet rhyming tale about a same-sex couple adopting a child is a lovely read for any family, but perhaps particularly ones with same-sex parents that may not always find their experience represented in picture books.

  • Ghostcloud

    Author: Michael Mann Illustrator: Chaaya Prabhat
    Publisher: Hodder
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    Kidnapped Luke shovels coal under Battersea Power station, but when he discovers he is half-ghost, he realises he has a chance to save his friends and find his family. This inventive adventure swirls elements of steampunk into a satisfying and surprising fantasy world.

  • How Was That Built?

    Author: Roma Agrawal Illustrator: Katie Hickey
    Publisher: Bloomsbury
    Interest age: 8-11
    Reading age: 8+

    Illustrated in fascinating detail by Katie Hickey, this is a truly brilliant book for any child interested in skyscrapers, big bridges and sports stadiums. There’s a good level of how-to information here as well as a handy glossary.

  • I Like the Rain

    Author: Sarah Nelson Illustrator: Rachel Oldfield
    Publisher: Barefoot Books
    Interest age: 2-4

    This book conjures up everything that is fun about rain: splashing in puddles, dancing with umbrellas, as well as staying cosy and watching it fall. A wonderful picture book for reading aloud, which combines lyrical text with handy science facts about the weather.

  • Little Horror

    Author: Daniel Peak
    Publisher: Firefly Press
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 8+

    Rita Jeffreys is only two years old but has the intellect of an adult. She tries to keep her talent under wraps but events take a sinister turn when someone discovers her secret. A hilarious tale with a madcap plot, wacky characters and plenty of twists and turns.

  • Locked Out Lily

    Author: Nick Lake Illustrator: Emily Gravett
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    Wonderfully illustrated by Emily Gravett in an appealingly gothic yet accessible style, Locked Out Lily is a heartfelt story about a child coping with serious illness and dealing with how it has changed her – and her family.

  • My Big Mouth

    Author: Steven Camden Illustrator: Chanté Timothy
    Publisher: Macmillan
    Interest age: 11-13
    Reading age: 8+

    Jay makes up stories in an attempt to look cool and to forget about his family troubles –until the stress of keeping up his new façade becomes overwhelming. A funny and entertaining cautionary tale for anyone who has been tempted to tell a little lie.

  • Pony

    Author: R J Palacio
    Publisher: Puffin
    Interest age: 12+
    Reading age: 12+

    This unusual tale of a boy and his father, set in 1800s America, is both a brilliant adventure and a heartfelt story about love and loss. A book that feels like a classic after just a few pages.

  • Poo Poo Bum Bum Wee Wee

    Author: Steven Cowell Illustrator: Erica Salcedo
    Publisher: Penguin
    Interest age: 2-3

    Designed to take the stress out of toilet training, Poo Poo Bum Bum Wee Wee has been made with one thing in mind: SILLINESS! Your child will be using the toilet confidently in no time (and singing the book’s toilet song). 

  • Return of the Pests

    Author: Emer Stamp
    Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books
    Interest age: 6-8
    Reading age: 7+

    This hilarious tale about a surprisingly endearing collection of creatures is the second PESTS adventure and will delight independent young readers. A thoroughly entertaining read, enhanced by marvellous graphite illustrations, full of character and humour.

  • Rules for Vampires

    Author: Alex Foulkes Illustrator: Sara Ogilvie
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Books
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    Leo Von Motteberg is a vampire and must abide by a stringent set of rules. But then a hunt for his next victim goes disastrously wrong... Wonderfully ghoulish, this gruesome tale will have readers checking under their beds before they turn out the lights.

  • Run Like a Girl

    Author: Danielle Brown Illustrator: Robin Shields
    Publisher: Button Books
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 8+

    The term "run like a girl" is often perceived as a derogatory phrase, but in this wonderful anthology of real-life tales, it is used to celebrate the sporting achievements of 50 remarkable women from around the world.

  • Sona Sharma: Looking After Planet Earth

    Author: Chitra Soundar Illustrator: Jen Khatun
    Publisher: Walker Books
    Interest age: 6-8
    Reading age: 7+

    Set in India, this gentle tale is one of a series of delightful chapter books about Sona and her extended family and is peppered with interesting details about Hindu traditions, culture and food. 

  • Sorry Mrs Cake

    Author: Kate Milner
    Publisher: Tiny Owl
    Interest age: 4-5

    A simple picture book with minimal text and a message that we should listen to everyone (not just the loudest voices ), Sorry Mrs Cake! is a real treat for illustration fans. 

  • Space Detectives: Extra Weird Creatures

    Author: Mark Powers Illustrator: Dapo Adeola
    Publisher: Bloomsbury
    Interest age: 5-9
    Reading age: 7+

    Powers’ and Adeola’s second book in this illustrated series, ideal for newly independent readers, is delightfully fast paced, silly and beautifully illustrated in black and white. Expect plenty of laughs and some brilliant space-themed scene-setting.

  • Splinters of Sunshine

    Author: Patrice Lawrence
    Publisher: Hodder Children's
    Interest age: 12-16
    Reading age: 12+

    Spey receives a mysterious parcel full of torn up paper flowers from a long-lost friend - just as his ex-prisoner dad arrives back into his life. Spey can sense that his friend is in danger, but can his father help him find her?

  • Story Soup

    Author: Abie Longstaff Illustrator: Nila Aye
    Publisher: Templar
    Interest age: 3-6

    Siblings Ollie and Susie are cooking up story soup but can’t seem to agree on what should go into the pot. With each new ingredient they add, the story takes an unexpected turn. A fun celebration of imagination and a great introduction to how to create a story. 

  • The Bewitching of Aveline Jones

    Author: Phil Hickes Illustrator: Keith Robinson
    Publisher: Usborne
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    Aveline loves all things spooky, so is delighted when her mother rents a holiday cottage that overlooks an ancient stone circle, until a mysterious girl appears and strange things start to happen. Convincing characters, an intriguing plot and spine-tingling chills.

  • The Carbon-Neutral Adventures of the Indefatigable Enviroteens

    Author: First Dog On the Moon
    Publisher: Allen&Unwin
    Interest age: 9-13
    Reading age: 10+

    A hilarious graphic novel that manages to be entertaining, informative and utterly bonkers while tackling the very serious issue of global warming and climate change.

  • The Primrose Railway Children

    Author: Jacqueline Wilson Illustrator: Rachel Dean
    Publisher: Puffin
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 8+

    A compelling, engrossing story about the complexities of family and the joy of railways, loosely based on E Nesbit's classic The Railway Children. Jacqueline Wilson at her storytelling best.

  • The Red Gloves and other stories

    Author: Catherine Fisher
    Publisher: Firefly
    Interest age: 10-14
    Reading age: 9+

    A creepy collection of nine short stories with a strange, supernatural edge inspired by myth, legend and ancient tales. 

  • There's A Ghost In This House

    Author: Oliver Jeffers
    Publisher: HarperCollins
    Interest age: 3-5

    A little blue-faced girl welcomes you to her grand old house, which she’s heard is haunted. Yet, try as she might, she can’t find the ghosts anywhere. Where can they be?

  • Tweet! A Slide-and-See Book!

    Author: Maria Jose Ferrada Illustrator: Magdalena Perez
    Publisher: Barefoot Books
    Interest age: 1-2

    In this lovely slide-and-see book, a mystery panel slides open to reveal a picture of a bird on the turn of a page, and a riddle-type text follows so that everyone can guess the bird. Interactive fun with a lovely level of "playability" too. 

  • When Cucumber Lost His Cool

    Author: Michelle Robinson Illustrator: Tom Knight
    Publisher: Scholastic
    Interest age: 3-6

    A super-chilled cucumber hands out confidence tips to his foody friends, but when he starts to feel left out, he totally loses his cool. Exploring anxiety and jealousy, this laugh-out-loud story is a super fun way for children to think about emotions. 

  • When Fishes Flew: The Story of Elena’s War

    Author: Michael Morpurgo Illustrator: George Butler
    Publisher: Harper Collins
    Interest age: 9-12
    Reading age: 10+

    In a story that is part fantasy, part family history, Nandi discovers the lost story of her great Aunty Ellie’s wartime heroics. The multi-generational elements will resonate with readers lucky enough to have older relatives with stories to tell about their younger days.

  • Where’s Mrs Car?

    Author: Ingela P Arrhenius
    Publisher: Nosy Crow
    Interest age: 0-1

    Introducing babies and young toddlers to the names of a small selection of transport types, Where’s Mrs Car? follows the same winning format as the rest of the Where’s Mr/Mrs series by the fabulous Ingela P Arrhenius.

  • Will You Help Doug Find his Dog?

    Author: Jane Caston Illustrator: Carmen Saldana
    Publisher: Barefoot Books
    Interest age: 2-5

    A fun and interactive search for Doug's lost dog. Can you call all the scruffy dogs on the page? Can you pat all the spotted dogs and tickle the small ones? Great for reluctant readers or those who tend to fidget a lot during storytime.

  • Wishes

    Author: Mượn Thị Văn Illustrator: Victo Ngai
    Publisher: Scholastic
    Interest age: 4-5

    A story expressed in muted colour and with a wonderful focus on the small details of this Vietnamese family’s life as they prepare for a perilous journey, Wishes is a deeply moving story told with very minimal text about a child’s experience of being a refugee. 

  • You Can!

    Author: Alexandra Strick and Steve Antony
    Publisher: Otter-Barry Books

    Based on real children's own voices and messages (including young disabled people), You Can! is a fabulously inclusive picture book that reminds all children that they are valued individuals with a bright future.