By Nicci, The Kids Books Curator
My top picks selected from both new and recently published childrens chapter books (for ages 5+, 7+, 8+ & 9+).
How many of these have you read and enjoyed too?
Any you hadn't come across before?
The books are listed in recommended reading age order (not in order of preference).
by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by David Barrow
For ages 5+
🌱The ‘Little Gems’ series by dyslexia-friendly publisher Barrington Stoke are absolute winners every time. Whether you are looking for a first chapter book for your child or whether you have a child with learning difficulties or visual distress conditions, these shorter, highly illustrated and considerately printed books are simply brilliant! As I have shared many times before, they commission only the crème-de-la-crème of children’s authors and illustrators to work with them, so you’re always in for a treat!!
🌱I’ve been really looking forward to the Waterstone’s UK Children’s Laureate, Joseph Coelho’s book with these guys. I couldn’t wait to find out what he’d do with this opportunity. A book about a budgie? It is (which is so lovely), but it’s ever so much more!! Miles and his friend Chris love to climb the tree on their estate, that is until a grumpy old neighbour comes to ruin their fun yelling at them to get out of the tree!! It’s not HIS tree!! Whilst out on his bike, Miles spots a wounded budgie on then ground and takes it home to his mum. They try look after him, but he is just too sick and sadly dies. Miles is ever so upset. The budgie had filled Miles’s imagination with all sorts of wonderful adventures they could have together. Remember the grumpy old man? Well, let’s just say that he hears about the budgie, and he’s got a wonderful tale to share with Miles that helps Miles to understand a lot of things, from the dangers of playing in trees to how grief can be make life very lonely and that sharing happy memories of those we have lost with friends can make the world a much happier place to be.
🌱This story promotes a lovely sense of understanding and togetherness within a diverse community. End papers include ‘Fun Budgie Facts!’ and a spot the difference.
'Wildsmith: City of Secrets' (book 2)
by Liz Flanagan, illustrated by Joe Todd-Stanton
For ages 7+
🌱This is such a wonderful series for middle grade chapter book readers!! I love the sense of adventure, the magic and mystery, the incredible (and plentiful) illustrations by the legendary Joe Todd-Stanton (what a treat)!! Here we are with book 2 and I’m already excited to find out what happens in book 3. Such a good feeling.
🌱War is still raging and the Estrians are now in control of Rowan’s home town. Thankfully she is still staying with her mum at her Grandpa’s woodland home, not completely safe though it appears. Estrian poachers caused a lot of trouble in book 1 with their hunt for baby dragons. This time they’re back, but for a different magical creature in Rowan’s family’s care… a baby Pegasus. Yes, it’s MEGA CUTE… and being a wildsmith like her Grandpa, Rowan can communicate with it, so it is she who bonds with and protects it (and names it ‘Mouse’).
🌱Jealousy can lead to all manner of disasters, and in the end someone betrays them to the poachers. Rowan, aided by a witches protection spell, goes on the run with the Mouse… it’s a truly dangerous quest, but she’s the only one who can save him from the enemy. Exciting fantasy story filled with twists and turns, this is an engaging read. Lovely for horse-obsessed kids.
🌱Themes of coping with family-separation due to war, seeking refuge, and caring for wildlife.
'Maddy Yip's Guide to Parties'
by Sue Cheung
For ages 8+
🌱It’s the third and final book in this hilarious and endearing trilogy from hugely talented author: illustrator Sue Cheung!! Nooooooooo. I have absolutely loved this series for ages 8+. They’ve kept me giggling to myself for the last few years that’s for sure. Cheung is incredibly witty and this talent shines through both in her text and her highly engaging illustrations (doodles and comic strips).
🌱Maddy Yip is a British-Chinese school girl living in the no-so-posh town of Plunkthorpe with her Agung (Hakka Chinese for ‘grandad’), mam, dad and two brothers. Together this fabulously chaotic family provide endless eye-rolling, side splitting and familiar entertainment for readers young and old-er. Maddy is filled with a bag of nervous energy that lends itself to crazy adventures with her bestie and most glam friend, Dev. In this new story, Agung is turning 80 and the family are all hands on deck to do something special for him and it’s up to Maddy to get it all sorted! While the to-do list is ever increasing in size that includes a begging letter to Grandad’s favourite TV show ‘Strictly Ballroom Prancing’ to make a special visit, and no money… she and Dev have their work cut out for them!!
🌱Armed with her magical Chinese lucky charm necklace, oodles of fluke, and a vivid imagination, surely it’ll be alright on the night??!! I love this story, it’s incredibly fun and down to earth!! Lots of tips for outrageous party planning. Please write for the middle grade age group again soon!!!!!
by Tony Bradman, illustrated by Tania Rex
For ages 9+
🌱Whether you are looking for a shorter chapter book for your child or whether you have a child with learning difficulties or visual distress conditions, these shorter, highly illustrated and considerately printed books are simply brilliant! As I have shared many times before, they commission only the crème-de-la-crème of children’s authors and illustrators to work with them, so you’re always in for a treat!! I do love historical fiction, I must say, and the illustrations within this World War II London-based story are tip-top: sleeping on tube tracks during bombing, the small amount of food on plates due to rationing, the raw emotions displayed by the characters because life is hard. Author, Bradman is a veteran children’s author, with over 50 published titles already on bookshelves around the world!
🌱Susan and mum are together in London and Dad is a soldier fighting the Nazis overseas. It’s been a while since a letter has made its way back to the UK, and Susan and mum are ever so worried. The war is taking its toll. It’s 1942 and 3 years in, no-one knows when (or if) Hitler is going to be defeated. Despite this Susan is going to school, but just can’t stop thinking about how she might cheer her mum up somehow. Like many families they often have to go without, so Susan tells her friend Jimmy all about it. Together they come up with a very special Top Secret mission: OPERATION BANANA!! Where on earth do you get a banana in the middle of a war and rationing? When Covent Garden market comes to nothing, there’s only one more option… the (school playground) black market.
🌱Such a simple concept, so effective. Children can be so in tune with their carer’s state of wellbeing. An act of kindness can be incredibly healing. Beautiful story. Last couple of pages include an educational Historical Note’ and guide to ‘Old and New Money’.
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N.B. The tags below don't apply in entirety to each of the above books. The tags are grouped all together at the end of the post to enable readers to find relevant posts within the whole website, a bit like a search function.