New Children's Books Round-Up: April 2017

By Louise Lamont | 26 April, 2017

Lots of wonderful books out this month – usher in the spring with something new!

Picture Books:

The Tale Of The Castle Mice by Michael Bond and Emily Sutton (Penguin Random House)
Old MacDonald Heard A Parp by Olaf Falafel (HarperCollins)
Grandad’s Secret Giant by David Litchfield (Quarto)
Silver by Walter de la Mare and Carolina Rabbei (Faber)
Ellie’s Magic Wellies by Amy Sparkes and Nick East (Egmont)
The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson and Helen Oxenbury (Penguin Random House)
Nibbles The Book Monster by Emma Yarlett (Little Tiger Press)
Edgar and the Sausage Inspector by Jan Fearnley (Nosy Crow)


Lots: The Diversity Of Life On Earth by Nicola Davies and Emily Sutton (Walker)
Ella Queen Of Jazz by Helen Hancocks (Quarto)
Ballerina Dreams by Michaela DePrince (Faber)
Doing It: Let’s Talk About Sex… by Hannah Witton (Hachette)


Children’s Fiction:

The Bookshop Girl by Sylvia Bishop (Scholastic)
Beetle Queen by MG Leonard (Chicken House)
Evie’s Ghost by Helen Peters (Nosy Crow)

YA Fiction:

Perfect by Cecelia Ahern (HarperCollins)
The Upside Of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (PRH)
Chasing The Stars by Malorie Blackman (PRH)
Defy The Stars by Claudia Gray (Bonnier)
Always And Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han (Scholastic)
Letters To The Lost by Brigid Kemmerer (Bloomsbury)
Beyond The Wall by Tanya Landman (Walker)
Kid Got Shot by Simon Mason (DFB)
Stargazing For Beginners by Jenny McLachlan (Bloomsbury)
Geekerella by Ashley Poston (Quirk)
Generation Next: The Takeover by Oli White (Hodder)
Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner (Andersen)





Down the Rabbit Hole Live at Hay Festival

By Katherine Woodfine | 24 April, 2017

Exciting news - following our first Down the Rabbit Hole live show at Waterstones Kensington to celebrate World Book Day, we're heading to Hay Festival for our second live show!

We'll be celebrating the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal, which celebrates its 60th birthday this year, with a panel of top illustrators - Rob Biddulph, Leigh Hobbs, Emma Lewis and Britta Teckentrup - who will be telling us about their favourite books from the prize's history, and the illustrators who have inspired them. Full details below:

Wednesday 31 May 2017, 2.30pm • Venue: Starlight Stage
Rob Biddulph, Leigh Hobbs, Emma Lewis and Britta Teckentrup

The children’s radio show, Down the Rabbit Hole comes to Hay LIVE. Four top illustrators will be talking about their favourite books from the prize’s history, the illustrators who have inspired them; and the power of pictures in children’s books.

If you'd like to join us, tickets are available now on the Hay Festival site

To find out more about Hay Festival visit or follow the festival on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @hayfestival

New Children's Books Round-Up: February 2017

By Louise Lamont | 01 March, 2017

February 2017 has been a bumper month for children's publishing - with a host of new titles ranging from picture books to teen fiction. Here's our list of highlights to look out for this month.

Picture Books:

I Don’t Want Curly Hair by Laura Ellen Anderson (Bloomsbury)
The Everywhere Bear by Julia Donaldson & Rebecca Cobb (Macmillan)
Jellicle Cats by TS Eliot & Arthur Robins (Faber)
The Koala Who Could by Rachel Bright (Orchard)
The Unexpected Visitor by Jessica Courtney-Tickle (Egmont)
The Night Gardener by Eric and Terry Fan (Frances Lincoln)
Edie by Sophy Henn (Puffin)
Alfie And His Very Best Friend by Shirley Hughes (Random House)
Life Is Magic by Meg McLaren (Andersen)
A Beginner’s Guide To Bearspotting by Michelle Robinson & David Roberts (Bloomsbury)
Claude Going For Gold! by Alex T Smith (Hachette)
There’s A Tiger In The Garden by Lizzy Stewart (Frances Lincoln)

Children’s Fiction:

The Dragon With A Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis (Bloomsbury)
Broken Heart Club by Cathy Cassidy (Puffin)
The Bolds On Holiday by Julian Clary & David Roberts (Andersen)
Zoe’s Rescue Zoo: The Scruffy Sea Otter by Amelia Cobb (Nosy Crow)
Who Let The Gods Out? by Maz Evans (Chicken House)
Tom Gates: Super Good Skills (Almost…) by Liz Pichon (Scholastic)
King Flashypants And The Creature From Crong by Andy Riley (Hodder)
The Misadventures Of Max Crumbly: Locker Hero by Rachel Renee Russell (Simon & Schuster)
The Seriously Extraordinary Diary Of Pig by Emer Stamp (Scholastic)
Grandpa’s Great Escape by David Walliams (HarperCollins)
Rent A Bridesmaid by Jacqueline Wilson (Random House)
The Everything Machine by Ally Kennen (Scholastic)
The Young Magicians And The Thieves’ Almanac by Nick Mohammed (Puffin)
The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart (Chicken House)
The Painted Dragon by Katherine Woodfine (Egmont)

Teen Fiction:

King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard (Orion)
We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan (Bloomsbury)
The Edge Of Everything by Jeff Giles (Bloomsbury)
Traitor To The Throne by Alwyn Hamilton (Faber)
Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt (Usborne)
Dramarama by E. Lockhart (Hot Key Books)
Heartless by Marissa Meyer (Macmillan)
Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit (Penguin)
History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (Simon & Schuster)
All About Mia by Lisa Williamson (David Fickling Books)


Meet The Artist: David Hockney by Rose Blake (Tate)
Peep Inside A Fairy Tale: Beauty And The Beast by Anna Milbourne and Lorena Alvarez (Usborne)
Country House Gardens: Doll House Sticker Book by Struan Reid and Lucy Grossmith (Usborne)
Flip Flap Dogs by Nikki Dyson (Nosy Crow)


World Book Day £1 Books:

Peppa Loves World Book Day (Ladybird)
Everyone Loves Underpants by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort (Simon & Schuster Children’s Books)
Where’s Wally? The Fantastic Journey by Martin Handford (Walker Books)
Princess Mirror-Belle and Snow White by Julia Donaldson & Lydia Monks (Macmillan)
Horrid Henry: Funny Fact Files by Francesca Simon (Orion Children’s Books)
Blob by David Walliams (HarperCollins)
Good Old Timmy and Other Stories by Enid Blyton (Hodder Children’s Books)
Butterfly Beach by Jacqueline Wilson (Corgi)
Island by David Almond (Hodder Children’s Books)
Dead of Night: A Front Lines Story by Michael Grant (Egmont)


Books to help children understand world events

By Katherine Woodfine | 01 February, 2017

Following the discussion in episode 31, here's our list of books which can help children and young people to understand more about politics and world events.

This list is a work-in-progress: please let us know any additional suggestions via Twitter @dtrhradio and we will add them to this page.


Refugees and immigration

Alpha by Barroux & Bessora, translated by Sarah Ardizzone

Refugee Boy by Benjamin Zephaniah

The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon (listen to our interview with Zana in episode 30)

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

The Journey by Francesca Sanna (listen to our review of The Journey in episode 22)

Welcome to Nowhere by Elizabeth Laird

Oranges in No Man's Land by Elizabeth Laird

Kiss the Dust by Elizabeth Laird

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr

Zlata's Diary by Zlata Filipovic

After Tomorrow by Gillian Cross

Refuge by Anne Booth and Sam Usher (listen to Anne reading the story in episode 18)

Rubbish Town Hero by Nicola Davies

The Unforgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce

In the Sea there are Crocodiles by Fabio Geda

Azzi in Between by Sarah Garland

The Island by Armin Greder

The Silver Sword by Ian Serralier

Red Leaves by Sita Brahmachari

Looking at the Stars by Jo Cotterill

The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan

Boy Overboard by Morris Gleitzman

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan & Brian Conaghan

Sweet Pizza by G R Gemin

Teacup by Rebecca Young and Matt Ottley


Human rights

We are All Born Free: The Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures

Here I Stand: Stories That Speak for Freedom

Dreams of Freedom in Words and Pictures

I Have the Right to be a Child

My Little Book of Big Freedoms illustrated by Chris Riddell


Social justice and activism

A is for Activist

What's a Girl Gotta Do? by Holly Bourne (and the other books in the Spinster Club series)

It's Your World by Chelsea Clinton

The Big Lie by Julie Mayhew

I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

March: Book 1 by Nate Powell, John Lewis & Andrew Aydin (also March: Book 2, March: Book 3)

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner



Wonder by R J Palacio

My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece by Annabel Pitcher

Artichoke Hearts by Sita Brahmachari

The Kites are Flying by Michael Morpurgo and Laura Carlin

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Books by Selina Alko

Books by Sean Qualls



Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian

Once by Morris Gleitzman (also Then, Now, After)

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

The Tin-Pot Foreign General and the Old Iron Woman by Raymond Briggs

The Lantern Bearers by Rosemary Sutcliff


Child soldiers/trafficking

Chalkline by Jane Mitchell

War Brothers by Sharon McKay and Daniel Lafrance

Sold by Patricia McCormick


Coming soon - look out for these new titles in the coming months

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (April)

My Name is Not Refugee by Kate Milner (May)

A Story Like the Wind by Gill Lewis (May)

More information

Talking Politics: a list of useful resources from blogger LH Johnson

Amnesty International on children's books and human rights

BookTrust: Books about refugees and asylum seekers

CLPE Refugee Experience booklist

Little Rebels Children's Book Award: prize for children's books promoting social justice

We Need Stories More than Ever - using books to discuss Trump and all that: a blog post from Barrington Stoke

Announcing the first Down the Rabbit Hole Live!

By Katherine Woodfine | 31 January, 2017

We’re excited to announce our first ever live event! Join us for Down the Rabbit Hole Live on Thursday 2 March 2017 at 6.30pm at Waterstones Kensington, London.

We'll be celebrating World Book Day 2017 with three award-winning and bestselling children’s writers - Piers Torday, Abi Elphinstone and Cathryn Constable - who'll be talking about creativity, adventure, imagination and how stories change our view of the world.

Piers Today's award-winning stories take readers to worlds full of wonder with a dash of danger, whilst Abi Elphinstone's magical books are inspired by her love of adventure and nature, and Cathryn Constable's novels transport readers with the perfect blend of science and dreamy reality. 

Tickets are £3.00: book yours here.



Children's Books of the Year 2016: Our Picks

By Katherine Woodfine | 07 January, 2017

Following our 2016 Christmas Special, check out the full list of our favourite children's books of 2016!


Baby and Novelty Books

Steven: Nibbles the Book Monster by Emma Yarlett

Melissa: Garden Sounds by Sam Taplin and Federica Iossa

Louise: Illuminature by Rachel Williams and Carnovsky

Katherine: Usborne Slot Together Theatre by Anna Milbourne, Jamey Christoph and  Jenny Hilbourne


Picture Books

Kate: The Detective Dog by Julia Donaldson and Sara Ogilvie

Steven: Oi Dog! by Kes and Claire Grey and Jim Field, You Must Bring a Hat by Kate Hindley and Simon Philip and Odd Bods by Steven Burtler and Jarvis

Melissa: A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston

Louise: Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis

Katherine: King Baby by Kate Beaton



Melinda: The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Milwood Hargreave

Kate: Little Bits of Sky by S E Durrant and Katie Harnett

Steven and Katherine: Cogheart by Peter Bunzl

Louise: Nightlights by Lorena Alvarez Gomez

Melissa: The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd and Levi Pinfold


Young Adult

Melinda: The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner and The Graces by Laure Eve

Melissa: Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland and Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Kate: One by Sarah Crossan

Louise: Never Evers by Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison

Katherine:  The Smell of Other People's Houses by Bonnie Sue Hitchcock, The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon, Mother Tongue by Julie Mayhew and Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff



Melissa: A Poem for Every Night of the Year edited by Allie Esiri

Louise: The Wolves of Currumpaw by William Grill

Kate: The Way Things Work (new edition) by David Macaulay and Neil Ardley

Melinda: Botanicum by Kathy Willis and Katie Scott

Katherine: Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World by Kate Pankhurst


New discovery or rediscovery

Steven: Hiding Heidi by Fiona Woodcock and Dot in the Snow by Corrinne Averiss and Fiona Woodcock

Kate: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Melinda: The Snow Spider by Jenny Nimmo

Louise: Diana Wynne Jones

Melissa: The Caravan Family by Enid Blyton

Katherine: The Serial Garden by Joan Aiken


Listen to our 2016 Christmas Special for more on all of these books or check out some top children's books editors discussing their favourite books of the year.


Children’s Books of the Year 2016: The Book I Wish I'd Published

By Katherine Woodfine | 22 December, 2016

We asked a host of top children’s books editors which books - published by a publishing house other than their own - had really grabbed their attention this year. Here are the books they told us they most admired:


Deirdre McDermott, Picture Book Publisher/Creative Director Walker Books

One great book this year was Jean Jullien’s This is Not a Book (Phaidon) – we love everything that Jean does, and this clever concept book is no exception. Jean always looks at things in a completely unique way, and we love how he reimagines the book form … it’s full of wonderful surprises.

We also love Yasmeen Ismail’s I’m a Girl! (Bloomsbury) – there’s so much joy and movement and energy in Yasmeen’s art, and you can’t help but feel empowered and uplifted by her wonderful read-aloud text… here’s to the girls in 2017!  

Jenny Broom, Editorial Director Frances Lincoln Children's Books and Wide Eyed Editions

The book that I would have loved to have published would be The Liszts by Kyo MacLear and Júlia Sardà (Andersen Press – kudos Libby Hamilton). I've been a fan of Julia's for ages and I absolutely love everything about this book, from the fantastic Art Deco-inspired cover to the Liszts's eclectic, kooky lists. As a compulsive list maker, I instantly recognised myself in the characters who blend Adams Family gothic charm with an eccentricity straight out of Cold Comfort Farm.

Ruth Bennett, Commissioning Editor Stripes

Unboxed by Non Pratt, published by Barrington Stoke. Non's writing immediately draws the reader into the lives of a group of teens on the cusp of adulthood and perfectly captures the dynamics of their friendship in this intense and beautifully formed short novel. Barrington Stoke are experts at publishing books for reluctant readers and readers with dyslexia and this is a book that balances sophisticated themes and accessible writing and features a diverse cast that feels true to life. It's wrapped up in an incredibly attractive cover, too! All in all, this is a Young Adult novel anyone should be proud to be seen reading, showing that really special books comes in all shapes and sizes, just like us.

Liz Cross, Head of Children’s Publishing OUP

I will go for… Cogheart, by Peter Bunzl, published by Usborne. The reason being: as an editor, when you miss out on acquiring a book you really love, you always worry about whether the publisher that beat you (blast them!!) will do a good enough job for the book and the author. I can be VERY critical of other publishers’ covers and marketing campaigns in cases like that. (Sour grapes? Me? Never!) But in the cases of the wonderful Cogheart, I have to say that I think Usborne have done a really great job. The cover is gorgeous and distinctive, and really sets the atmosphere for the book – and the buzz they created about the book from the start through social media was very powerful. Their sales material made it crystal clear how special they all thought the book was, and it’s all added up to a really successful and impactful launch for this fabulous book.

Lauren Fortune, Senior Commissioning Editor, Scholastic

My standout publication of the year is Stripes’ I’ll be Home for Christmas anthology. I love everything about this – the gorgeous Cath Kidston-esque cover perfect for gift purchases, the amazing line-up of contributors, the stories themselves, the support for Crisis. The marketing has been spot-on, from turning the Stripes stand at hot and stuffy YALC into an eye-catching winter grotto in July, to engaging with retailers, reviewers AND teenagers so effectively on social media, to the way it linked with so many high-profile authors and established events in the YA space, including YALC and the Bookseller YA Book Prize, to achieve coverage and cachet. It is a shining, heart-warming piece of publishing in a rotten year for the world, and I salute everyone involved and hope it sells brilliantly.

Tom Bonnick, Business Development Manager and Commissioning Editor, Nosy Crow

I have been hugely impressed with Chicken House’s list this year. They’ve found some incredible debut voices - I loved the warmth, wit, and great characters in M.G. Leonard’s Beetle Boy, and Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s The Girl of Ink and Stars felt like the discovery of a new talent with immense promise.

They’ve had a fantastic hit-rate for the Waterstones Children’s Book of the Month slot, no doubt helped by the fact that their cover design in 2016 has been truly stand-out - with some lovely production finishes, too, like Beetle Boy’s multi-coloured sprayed edges. And I absolutely adored Natasha Farrant’s Pride and Prejudice-inspired Lydia - a very astute piece of publishing that was beautifully executed.

Looking ahead, I’ve observed Bloomsbury’s clever, imaginative commissioning for 2017 with admiration and not a little envy: I can’t wait to read Katherine Rundell’s first picture book and Jessie Burton’s feminist fairytales next year.

Venetia Gosling, Publisher 6+, Macmillan Children’s Books

There are two books that stand out for me - One by Sarah Crossan, published by Bloomsbury, which was just a brilliant and moving read, and pulled poetry and the verse novel back into the spotlight in a very modern way.

And I loved Brian Selsnick's The Marvels (Scholastic), which felt both innovative and traditional at the same time, cleverly marrying text and illustration with two separate but interconnected storylines - utterly transfixing and impressive. I realise it published in Autumn 2015, but I only read it this year (does that count?!)...

If not, can I have Time-Travelling with a Hamster (HarperCollins)? I really enjoyed this, it has a great title, the author is dry and funny, the story is poignant and silly in equal measure and the cover is simple and impactful. It works. And I was really pleased to see a funny middle grade debut on the Costa shortlist!

Chloe Sackur, Fiction Editor, Andersen Press

I’ve chosen Crongton Knights by Alex Wheatle (Atom). This book really touched me. Although it’s a story about teens with some very sobering worries – bereavement, family debt, gangs, stop and search – it balances all this with the language and worldview of its narrator, McKay. At 14, he still has some of the idealism and fantasies of a child. There’s some great invented teen slang which shares literary DNA with Nadsat in A Clockwork Orange, but a deeper metaphor runs through it too: McKay’s estate is a place of danger and adventure, where his flat is a castle, complete with drawbridge front door, and his mates are his fellow knights, setting out on a chivalrous quest to seek a girl’s stolen iPhone. It’s an inspired way of demonstrating the push and pull of adolescence and growing up. There are some nice touches about the book itself, too – this series’ covers are bright and eye-catching and stylish, ideal for today’s design-savvy teens (they’re by Jack Smyth). At the back, Atom have thoughtfully included a list of helplines for organisations that deal with some of the issues raised in the story, and, best of all, a couple of McKay’s favourite recipes.

Ali Dougal, Publishing Director, Egmont UK

I’ve admired Nosy Crow’s publishing of Pamela Butchart this year. Pamela was already a fast-rising star, but with the publication of two books in the Baby Aliens series, three books in the Pugly series and a new Wigglesbottom Primary installment, her position is cemented as one of the most dominant new writers for young readers. Strong momentum and packaging, presence on the events scene and, of course, a fresh and genuinely funny voice have made this a terrific year for her.

Tune into Down the Rabbit Hole's hour-long Christmas Special on 25 December at 4.00pm on Resonance 104.4FM to hear more books of the year!


New Children’s Books Round-Up: November 2016

By Melissa Cox | 30 November, 2016


According to Meg March, November is the most disagreeable month in the whole year. I was reminded of this quote by today’s Google doodle celebrating Louisa May Alcott being born 184 years ago this very day and I have to agree with it. November is a pretty dull month and on the whole, it’s very quiet for new children’s books.

This November doesn’t have a huge amount of new titles in terms of variety but the landscape is instead dominated by arguably the three biggest children’s books of the year, plus the Wizarding World juggernaut continues with the release of the Fantastic Beasts screenplay.

First out of the blocks with latest instalment in the hugely popular Wimpy Kid series is Jeff Kinney with Double Down. This is the 11th adventure for Greg and this time he’s going a bit Dawson Leery and planning to direct a Michael Bay inspired scary movie. I noticed too that Waterstones have some signed copies available on their website – what a brilliant Christmas present!

Next up is David Walliams’ The Midnight Gang which I’d confidently say is the children’s book most likely to appear on letters to Father Christmas this year. There’s no doubting Walliams’ genius for picking stories and creating characters that connect brilliantly with young readers and his latest is a humorous and heart-warming tale of a gang of kids on the children’s ward. Full of Walliams’ characteristic pantomime villains and plucky kids, and with illustrations by Tony Ross, I think it’s a shoo-in for Christmas number one.

Another hotly anticipated book is Zoe Sugg’s Girl Online: Going Solo which was published a couple of weeks ago – these books are great for the younger end of the teen market and continue to be hugely popular with Zoella’s legions of fans.

My personal favourite new book for November is a gorgeous illustrated book called The Liszts by Kyo Maclear and Julia Sarda, published by Andersen Press. It’s a highly playful story of a list-making family and sumptuously produced – a beautiful gift for children and adults alike.

Stay tuned for our pick of the beautiful new Christmas and winter themed books that have been published over the last few months, coming very soon.

What We're Reading: November 2016

By Katherine Woodfine | 28 November, 2016

Ahead of this month's show, find out what the DTRH team have been reading this month!


This month I’ve been reading When the Astors Owned New York by Justin Kaplan which is giving me a delightful insight into the wealth and privilege of one of Manhattan’s most prominent families – as a fan of Edith Wharton this sort of thing is very much up my street. I’ve also been dipping into Black and British: A Forgotten History by David Olusoga and am hoping to catch up with the TV programme too.

I was also quite poorly earlier on in the month and managed to re-read three Enid Blyton books and The House at Pooh Corner; the only books I could tolerate that week and highly recommended as a panacea.


Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton. Post-election, my colleague and I formed an exclusive HRC book club to read her two memoirs and then lament her defeat all over again. I decided to read Living History first, which covers her life up until she WINS THE ELECTION (as senator, but if you read that as a misprint for ‘president’, it just feels right). The woman is a saint. I wish her nothing but happiness in the wild woods and assorted bookstores of Chappaqua.

Personal History by Katharine Graham. Yes, this month’s reading has a theme... Personal History, not to be confused with Living History although both authors feature in both, is a double-decker of a memoir by the woman who, much to her own surprise, ran the Washington Post through the (second?) most turbulent era in modern American politics. Graham came from an incredibly wealthy family, and I will never tire of reading about incredibly wealthy families in turn-of-the-century America; her dazzling husband committed suicide, leaving her to step into his shoes and forge a career she never expected to have; and then came Watergate.


My hands-down favourite read this month was The Serial Garden by Joan Aiken - a complete collection of her brilliant Armitage family stories. I’m a huge Aiken fan so I don’t know why I’ve never read this book before, but it’s a delight. Spilling over with unicorns, dragons and ‘old fairy ladies’, it is weird, witty and wonderful. The title story may also be one of the saddest things I’ve ever read.

I’ve been enjoying dipping in and out of Reflections by Diana Wynne Jones - an intriguing collection of her essays touching on her life, her writing and her views on fantasy and literature. The chapter on school visits makes a particularly entertaining read for children's authors!

New Children's Books Round-Up: October 2016

By Melissa Cox | 26 October, 2016


Happy October everyone! We’ve rounded up some of the best new children’s books published this month but don’t worry if you notice that certain Christmassy books are missing; we’re going to do a special round up just for those - keep your eyes peeled!

First up, we’ve got some big hitters publishing new books this month; an annual tradition for many of them and right in time for half term and a bit of Christmas wishlist planning… It wouldn’t be October without a new Jacqueline Wilson of course, and Clover Moon is likely to be popular with fans of her other historical stories as the eponymous heroine is a plucky Victorian orphan. There is also a new Magnus Chase adventure from Rick Riordan and Tom Gates is trying to get the band together in a hotly anticipated new tale from Liz Pichon called DogZombies Rule (for Now).

Fans of JK Rowling’s Wizarding World continue to be spoilt for choice this year as in addition to lots of new books surrounding the Fantastic Beasts film to look forward to later in the year, Bloomsbury have published a new edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets with illustrations from Kate Greenaway medal winner, Jim Kay. Equally exciting is the new picture book collaboration, There’s a Snake in my School from bestselling duo, David Walliams and Tony Ross (who has been very busy having illustrated Clare Balding’s The Racehorse Who Wouldn’t Gallop featured on DTRH September).

October is a great time of year for new gift books; sumptuous hardbacks with beautiful artwork to admire. I particularly love HarperCollins’ Complete Frog and Toad Collection. Arnold Lobel’s tales of friendship have an enduring appeal and I love re-reading them, particularly at this time of year as the palette is so autumnal. You don’t have to take my word for it though as the new collection has in introductory endorsement from none other than Julia Donaldson herself…

Also in the gift book vein is a gorgeously creepy new edition of the Costa Book Award winning The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge. Who could be better to provide evocative artwork for this than Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell? It’s a real treat of a book – perhaps even more satisfying if you’re buying it for yourself and reading on a damp and dark Sunday afternoon from the comfort of the sofa…

Worth a mention is Egmont’s new collection of Winnie-the-Pooh stories by some of the nation’s favourite children’s writers such as Kate Saunders and Jeane Willis. The Best Bear in all the World features illustrations that closely resemble Shepard’s originals (these are by Mark Burgess) and while I’ve not seen a copy yet, as a firm believer in the power of Winnie-the-Pooh to improve lives I am keen to check it out.

Lots of lovely new hardback fiction is also out this month, starting with Simon Sebag Montefiore and Santa Montefiore’s charming new book The Royal Rabbits of London with illustrations by Kate Hindley. There’s also a new Philip Reeve book, Black Light Express, which is following last year’s Railhead. Also of note is the latest book in Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom series; fans will be hot-footing it down to the bookshop to pick up Goldenhand, and already receiving rave reviews, Saint Death by Marcus Sedgwick is a 'timely thriller about migrants, drug lords and gang warfare set on the US/Mexican border'.

On the paperback side there are lots of goodies to be had too, including The Hypnotist by Laurence Anholt, an ambitious book that explores race and identity, and Holding Up the Universe by All the Bright Places author, Jennifer Niven.  I am very keen to read Word Nerd by Susin Nielsen having LOVED We Are All Made of Molecules last year. I’d also highly recommend The War Next Door by Phil Earle, with illustrations by Sara Ogilvie, which is the latest instalment in Earle’s Storey Street series and a great book for young readers who want to build their confidence find a love of stories. Fans of Emma Carroll style chillers or Tom’s Midnight Garden will enjoy debut The Secret of the Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange too – October is the perfect month for a book like this.

Last but not least, we are spoilt for choice with illustrated books this month in both fiction and non-fiction. Illuminature is a typically ambitious project from the team at Wide Eyed Editions – this one really does need to be appreciated in the flesh so look out for it in your local bookshop. Also worth checking out from the Wide Eyed chaps is Ben Handicott and Ken Pak’s brilliant HELLO ATLAS .  On the traditional picture storybook I’m definitely playing favourites with the very, very funny Duck Gets a Job by Sonny Ross and everyone is always excited to see a new Jon Klassen hat book, so I’ll be buying myself a copy of We Found a Hat this weekend. Most intriguing looking book of the month is likely to go to Flying Eye’s Land of Nod, by Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert Hunter; the cover is breath-taking. And most unexpectedly brilliant collaboration of the month has to go to Lydia Monks and Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, for their Queen Munch and Queen Nibble – this is a an illustrated story book and twice the length of a standard picture book but I hope to see more from these two.

A special mention goes to a timely new edition of Coming to England by Floella Benjamin with illustrations by Michael Frith. It is the 20th anniversary of this inspiring memoir of the West Indian immigrant experience, told from the perspective of a young Floella who joins her parents from Trinidad in a London that is colder than her home of Trinidad in more ways than one. I read and loved this book as a child of immigrants myself, so I’m thrilled to see it has been reissued with a new foreword and hope it will inspire both compassion and companionship in those who need it most.