Children's Books of the Year 2017

By Katherine Woodfine | 31 December, 2017

Following our 2017 Christmas Special, here's our list of our favourite children's books of 2017!

Illustrated Books

Melissa: Thornhill by Pam Smy

Ruth: Oi Cat by Kes Gray & Jim Field

Louise: On a Magical Do-Nothing Day by Beatrice Alemagna translated by Jill Davis

Piers: The Worm & the Bird by Coralie Bickford-Smith

Katherine: Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers


Children's fiction

Ruth: A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond illustrated by Peggy Fortnum (new gift edition)

Melissa: Mr Penguin and the Lost Treasure by Alex T Smith

Piers: A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars by Yaba Badoe

Louise and Katherine: The Explorer by Katherine Rundell


Young Adult fiction

Ruth: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Piers: The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

Melissa: Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

Louise: Piglettes by Clementine Beauvais, translated by the author herself

Katherine: A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge



Melissa and Piers: The Lost Words by Robert McFarlane and Jackie Morris

Louise: Little People, Big Dreams: Agatha Christie by Isabel
Sanchez Vegara and Elisa Munso, translated by Raquel Plitt

Ruth: Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo

Plus - here are our  favourite new discoveries (or rediscoveries!) of 2017:


I often feel it's a shame that in this country we don't read as much American children's literature as we could.
They certainly read a lot of ours. Books I wish I'd read as a child include From The Mixed up Files of Mrs Basil E.Frankweiler and A Wrinkle in Time. Now I add to that list my discovery read this year, Half Magic, the first in a series by Edward Eager. It tells the charming, enchanting tale of a family who find a magic coin on a sidewalk. It grants wishes but only *half* a wish, so you must always wish for twice as much to get what you want. Not only does this lead them into some brilliant, classic and very funny scrapes, it is also a very good rule for life.


This year I finally bit the bullet and spent the three minutes required to understand how to sign up to (and then use) Audible. The whole thing has been a bit of a life-changer and I am now fully evangelical about the magic of audiobooks. The one credit a month has been brilliant for picking up books I just know I won't get round to in print form (Sapiens anyone?) and it has meant I can "read" while cooking or doing my make-up, which to a compulsive multitasker, is very appealing. There are also Daily Deals where you can get audiobooks for a mere ninety-nine pence (Rebecca! The Ruby in the Smoke!) plus it's a new ways of discovering much-loved classics or favourite authors (The Book of Dust audiobook is really something special, read with great flair by Michael Sheen).

However, the biggest discovery of all has been that finally, after a decade of pretending to be an expert in children's literature, I have got round to Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows. It will come as a surprise to no one reading this to hear that this book is indeed excellent. The audio version I have is read by Michael Hordern and it has been great for cosying up with at bedtime this cold winter. I'm so glad to have discovered it - though have not quite had my head turned so much that I am willing to agree it is a better book than Winnie-the-Pooh, a claim made in a
national magazine recently. Bunkum!


So this was the year that I finally read Harry Potter, and all I will say is: 3, 7, 4, 6, 5, 1...............2. My other discovery of the year was Crongton Knights by Alex Wheatle: catching a group of kids just on the cusp of adulthood as they embark on a quest that will take them to uncharted territory beyond their estate where monsters lurk, this is an astonishing novel - tender, inventive, bold and snappy. It won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, but it should have won everything else too.


My team has a children's book club on a different, specific theme once a month and we had one on picture books as they'll grow into our readers. The Pirates Next Door by Jonny Duddle was one of those choices and it was universally loved. I have since given it to lots of parents and children as a gift. I love the detail in it and the fact that whatever age you are you spot something new each time you read. I love the clever rhyme and the lovely message.


One of the authors I’ve enjoyed rediscovering this year is Leon Garfield. I remember reading one or two of his books when I was growing up, but recently I stumbled on an old Puffin paperback of John Diamond in a second-hand bookshop, which proved to be a real treat. With shades of Charles Dickens and Joan Aiken, this surreal, funny and exciting adventure follows our naive young hero William through the murky streets and rooftops of 18th-century London, and even into a disreputable tavern where he gets drunk on sherry (something you’d be unlikely to find in a middle grade book published today!) Garfield’s London is a wonderfully sinister and perilous place, full of urchins on the ‘snick-and-lurk’ and mysterious gentlemen who may be either friends or foes. Next up I plan to revisit Smith - his classic tale of a pickpocket who witnesses a murder.

Listen to the 2017 Down the Rabbit Hole Christmas Special for the full discussion of our books of the year

Subscribe to Down the Rabbit Hole on Apple Podcasts so you never miss an episode

New Christmas Children's Books Round-Up: December 2017

By Katherine Woodfine | 24 December, 2017

Looking for some lovely new children's books to give as gifts, or to add to your bookshelf of festive favourites? Look no further than these newly-published titles just right for Christmas!

Hetty Feather’s Christmas by Jacqueline Wilson and Nick Sharratt

Father Christmas’s Fake Beard by Terry Pratchett

Nadiya’s Bake Me a Festive Story by Nadiya Hussain

Pick a Pine Tree by Patricia Toht and Jarvis

Last Stop on the Reindeer Express by Maudie Powell-Tuck and Karl James Mountford

Twelve Days of Christmas by Anna Wright

One Christmas Wish by Katherine Rundell and Emily Sutton

Katinka’s Tail by Judith Kerr

The Story Orchestra: Nutcracker by Jessica Courtney-Tickle

The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig illustrated by Chris Mould

Father Christmas and Me by Matt Haig, illustrated by Chris Mould

Bah! Humbug! by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Tony Ross

Winter Magic edited by Abi Elphinstone

The Snow Angel by Lauren St John, illustrated by Catherine Hyde

Christmas Dinner of Souls by Ross Montgomery

Listen to the 2017 Down the Rabbit Hole Christmas Special for the full discussion of our books of the year

Subscribe to Down the Rabbit Hole on Apple Podcasts so you never miss an episode

New Children's Books October 2017

By Katherine Woodfine | 25 October, 2017

October is always a big month for children's publishing, but this year, it's bigger and more exciting than ever. As well as the opening of a blockbuster exhibition at the British Library, Harry Potter: A History of Magic, it's seen the arrival of a new book from US YA superstar John Green, Turtles All the Way Down, and of course, the publication of the much anticipated The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman.

Here's our round-up of what to look out for in shops this month (sharp-eyed readers may notice we've left out this months' new festive  titles - but don't worry, as usual we'll be discussing them in our DTRH Christmas Special!)

Picture Books

The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Peter Bently and Steven Lenton (adapted from Dodie Smith)

Wow! It’s Night-Time by Tim Hopgood

The Adventures of Egg Box Dragon by Richard Adams and Alex T Smith

The Wolf, the Duck and the Mouse by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

A Dog with Nice Ears by Lauren Child

Luna Loves Library Day by Joseph Coelho illustrated by Fiona Lumbers

Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai, illustrated by Kerascoet

The Wildest Cowboy by Garth Jennings and Sara Ogilvie

Dress Up with Ted by Sophy Henn

The Sacconejolys and the Great Cat Nap by the Sacconejolys, illustrated by Francesca Gambatesa

When I Grow Up by Tim Minchin, illustrated by Steve Anthony

Chapatti Moon by Pippa Goodhart and Lizzie Finlay

Hortense and the Shadow by Natalia and Lauren O’Hara


Children’s fiction

The Creakers by Tom Fletcher illustrated by Shane Devries

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (illustrated edition) by JK Rowling, Illustrated by Jim Kay

Witch Snitch by Sibeal Pounder and Lauren Ellen Andersen

Witch for a Week by Kaye Umansky, illustrated by Ashley King

Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball by Laura Ellen Andersen

The Land of Neverendings by Kate Saunders

Sky Dancer by Gill Lewis

The Sinclair's Mysteries: The Midnight Peacock by Katherine Woodfine

The Dollmaker of Krakow by R M Romero

The Girl with the Lost Smile by Miranda Hart, illustrated by Kate Hindley

Illegal by Eoin Colfer, Andrew Donkin and Giovanni Rigano

The Princess and the Suffragette by Holly Webb

Dog by Andy Mulligan

Teen and Young Adult

La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One by Philip Pullman, jacket and illustrations by Chris Wormell

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Monster by Michael Grant

It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne

The Fandom by Anna Day

My Side of the Diamond by Sally Gardner, illustrated by Nat Barlex

A Shiver of Snow and Sky by Lisa Luddeke

There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins


Dinosaurium by Lily Murray and Chris Wormell

Harry Potter: A History of Magic

Illumanatomy - by Kate Davies, illustrated by Carnovsky

Egyptomania by Emma Giuliani and Carole Saturno

Jolly Good Food: A Children's Cookbook inspired by the stories of Enid Blyton by Allegra McEvedy

The Moomins: The World of Moominvalley as created by Tove Jansson by Philip Ardagh

The Greatest Magician in the World by Matt Edmonson & Garry Parsons

My Miniature Library by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini

The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris




New Children's Books: September 2017

By Katherine Woodfine | 27 September, 2017

September brings a beautiful crop of new autumn children's books. Here's a few of our favourites:

Children's fiction

Birthday Boy by David Baddiel, illustrated by Jim Field

The Racehorse Who Disappeared by Clare Balding, illustrated by Tony Ross (catch our episode with Clare about the previous book, The Racehorse Who Couldn't Gallop)

The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell

The Huntress: Sky by Sarah Driver

Kick by Mitch Johnson

The Five Realms: The Gift of Dark Hollow by Kieran Larwood illustrated by David Wyatt

Tom Gates: Dog Zombies Rule (For Now) by Liz Pichon

Goth Girl: The Sinister Symphony by Chris Riddell

Mr Penguin and the Lost Treasure by Alex T Smith


Picture books and non-fiction

The Grotlyn by Benji Davies

Franklin's Flying Bookshop by Jen Campbell, illustrated by Katie Harnett

The Ugly Five by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Oh No, Where Did Walter Go? by Joanna Boyle

Little People, Big Dreams: Emmeline Pankhurst by Lisbeth Kaiser and Ana Sanfelippo

Little People, Big Dreams: Rosa Parks by Lisbeth Kaiser and Marta Antelo

Little People, Big Dreams: Audrey Hepburn by Isabel Sanchez Vegara and Amaia Arrazola

Nibbles: The Dinosaur Guide by Emma Yarlett

A Poem for Every Day of the Year ed by Allie Esiri


Young adult fiction

Moonrise by Sarah Crossan

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

Alex and Eliza by Melissa De La Cruz

Lockwood & Co: The Empty Grave by Jonathan Stroud

Genuine Fraud by E Lockhart

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera





New Children's Books Round-Up: August 2017

By Katherine Woodfine | 31 August, 2017

Here are a few of the new treats to be found in bookshops this month:


Children's fiction

A Place Called Perfect by Helena Duggan

Simply the Quest by Maz Evans

The Secret Cooking Club: Confetti and Cake by Laurel Remington

The Secret of Supernatural Creek by Lauren St John

The Guggenheim Mystery by Robin Stevens

You Can’t Make Me Go to Witch School by Em Lynas, illustrated by Jamie Littler

The Explorer by Katherine Rundell, illustrated by Hannah Horn.


Picture books

Giraffe and Frog by Zehra Hicks

Goodnight Everyone by Chris Haughton

Ten Little Superheroes by Mike Brownlow and Simon Rickerty

Thank You Mr Panda by Steve Anthony

Cat Learns to Listen at Moonlight School by Simon Puttock and Ali Pye

First Day at Skeleton School by Sam Lloyd


Teen and young adult

STAGS by M A Bennett

Editing Emma by Chloe Seager

The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord 

Girl Online: Going Solo by Zoe Sugg

It’s All in Your Head by Rae Earl and Dr. Radha Modgil illustrated by Jo Harrison

Freshers by Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison



New Children's Books: July 2017

By Katherine Woodfine | 26 July, 2017

July is a quieter month for children's publishing, but there's still plenty of new books to keep young readers entertained during the summer holidays. Here are a few of our favourites:

Picture Books and Baby Books

Peep Inside A Fairy: Tale Sleeping Beauty by Anna Milbourne, illustrated by Karl James Mountford

That's Not My Unicorn by Fiona Watt, illustrated by Rachel Wells (the 50th book in the That's Not My... series!)

There Is No Dragon In This Story by Lou Carter, illustrated by Deborah Allwright

The Further Adventures of the Owl and the Pussy-cat by Julia Donaldson illustrated by Charlotte Voake

Charlie the Choo-Choo: From the world of The Dark Tower by Beryl Evans (aka Stephen King) illustrated by Ned Dameron

The Curious Case of the Missing Mammoth by Ellie Hattie, illustrated by Karl James Mountford

I like Bees, I don't like Honey! by Fiona Lumbers and Sam Bishop

Have You Seen My Giraffe? by Michelle Robinson, illustrated by Claire Powell

Danny McGee Drinks the Sea by Andy Stanton illustrated by Neal Layton

Troll Stroll by Elli Woollard illustrated by David Barrow


Children's fiction

The Bolds on Holiday by Julian Clary and David Roberts

Go Mo Go: Monster Mountain Chase! by Mo Farah and Kes Gray

Dragon Rider: The Griffin's Feather by Cornelia Funke

The Matilda Effect by Ellie Irving and illustrated by Matthew Jones

Kid Normal by Greg James & Chris Smith

New editions of The Hodgeheg and The Sheep-pig by Dick King-Smith

Welcome to Nowhere by Elizabeth Laird

The Adventures of Dog Man by Dav Pilkey



Travels with my Sketchbook by Chris Riddell

Sticker Dolly Dressing Horse Show by Lucy Bowman and Jessica Secheret

Young Adult Fiction

Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy

No Filter by Orlagh Collins

The Ones That Disappeared by Zana Fraillon

The Diabolic by S. J. Kincaid

Dare to Fall by Estelle Maskame

Nemesis by Brendan Reichs

Songs About Us by Chris Russell


CLiPPA 2017: An Interview with winner Kate Wakeling

By Katherine Woodfine | 26 July, 2017

For this month's show, Louise went along to the announcement of the CLiPPA (Centre for Literacy in Primary Poetry Award) which took place at the Poetry Show at the Olivier, National Theatre.

Four young poetry-lovers from one of the schools shadowing the award, Benedict Primary School in Merton, joined her to interview poet Kate Wakeling about her winning book MOON JUICE.












Turning the tables on her young interviewers, Kate also asked them to tell us a bit about what they like best about poetry, before the children went on to perform some of her poems at the award ceremony - see below.  Listen to the interview in our July show


We at Down the Rabbit Hole are big fans of CLiPPA, which is the only award for published poetry for children, helping to draw attention to an important area of children's literature.

Catch a previous behind-the-scenes visit in episode 15 or tune into our Poetry Special from 2016, in which we discuss what makes poetry for children so special with guests Joseph Coelho and Sarah Crossan - both previous winners of the CLiPPA.

Visit the CLiPPA website to find out about all the shortlisted books for this year's award, as well as resources for teachers to use in the classroom with children from Early Years through to Year 7. You can also find out how schools can sign up to shadow the award.


New Children's Books Round-Up: June 2017

By Katherine Woodfine | 28 June, 2017

There's a bumper crop of new children's and YA fiction published this month - perfect for summer holiday reading!

Picture books

How to Look After Your Dinosaur by Jason Cockcroft

The Cow Who Fell to Earth by Nadia Shireen

Flip-flap Ocean by Axel Scheffler



National Trust Go Wild in the Woods by Goldie Hawk, illustrated by Rachael Saunders

See Inside World Religions by Alex Frith


Children's fiction

The Adventures of John Blake: The Mystery of the Ghost Ship by Philip Pullman, illustrated by Fred Fordham

The Uncommoners: The Smoking Hourglass by Jennifer Bell

Wigglesbottom Primary: Super Dog! by Pamela Butchart, illustrated by Becka Moor

Running on the Roof of the World by Jess Butterworth

Letters from the Lighthouse by Emma Carroll

Alex Rider: Never Say Die by Anthony Horowitz

The Fox and the Ghost King by Michael Morpurgo

Timmy Failure: The Book You're Not Supposed to Have by Stephan Pastis

Bad Mermaids by Sibeal Pounder, illustrated by Jason Cockroft

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling - new 20th anniversary Hogwarts House editions


YA fiction

Who Runs the World? by Virginia Bergin

Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle

After the Fire by Will Hill

Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index by Julie Israel

Skulduggery Pleasant: Resurrection by Derek Landy

The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Goldenhand by Garth Nix

Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Summer Romances ed. by Stephanie Perkins

Truth or Dare by Non Pratt

Geek Girl Special: Sunny Side Up by Holly Smale




New Children's Books Round-Up: May 2017

By Louise Lamont | 30 May, 2017

Summer is here, and with the sunshine comes an array of reading delights!

Picture Books

Scoot! by Katie Blackburn and Jim Smith (Faber)
Old Hat by Emily Gravett (Two Hoots)
Grumpy Frog by Ed Vere (Penguin Random House)
My Name Is Not Refugee by Kate Milner (The Bucket List)


British Museum: ABC (Nosy Crow)
Spot The Mistake – Lands Of Long Ago by Amanda Wood and Mike Jolley, illustrated by Frances Castle (Wide Eyed)
My Book Of Birds by Geraldo Valério (Hachette)


Children’s Fiction

The Tale Of Angelino Brown by David Almond and Alex T Smith (Walker)
Beyond The Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk (Penguin Random House)
Llama United by Scott Allen illustrated by Sarah Horne (Macmillan)
Journey To Dragon Island by Clare Fayers (Macmillan)
Where The World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean (Usborne)
King Coo by Adam Stower (David Fickling Books)
The Boy, The Bird and The Coffin Maker by Matilda Woods (Scholastic)
Moonlocket by Peter Bunzl (Usborne)
There’s A Werewolf In My Tent! by Pamela Butchart (Nosy Crow)
Poppy Pym And The Smuggler’s Secret by Laura Wood (Scholastic)


YA Fiction

Noah Can’t Even by Simon James Green (Scholastic)
Countless by Karen Gregory (Bloomsbury)
928 Miles From Home by Kim Slater (Macmillan)
The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein (Bloomsbury)
Release by Patrick Ness (Walker)
Encounters by Jason Wallace (Andersen)
One Silver Summer by Rachel Hickman (Old Barn Books)
Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell (Hot Key)
One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton (Hot Key)


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)