Children’s books roundup – the best new picture books and novels

10 months ago 158

The distant wildness of a Scottish land blended with Celtic folklore and Hindu mythology: Jasbinder Bilan’s Aarti & the Blue Gods (Chicken House) is simply a gem for readers of eight-plus. Aarti lives unsocial with her exacting, cruel aunt, chopped disconnected from the satellite and her ain past – until a lad washes up connected the beach, and she makes an bonzer discovery. Deftly interweaving the tangible and the numinous, this richly layered escapade confirms Bilan’s striking, archetypal talent.

From Scavengers writer Darren Simpson comes The Memory Thieves (Usborne), a tense sci-fi thriller. In the Elsewhere Sanctuary, young residents, including Cyan, taxable to Dr Haven’s representation modifications to flight deep-rooted trauma – but erstwhile Cyan finds a cryptic connection carved into a whale skeleton, and sees a caller accomplishment defy the regime, helium begins to rebel, too. Simpson combines fast-paced ocular storytelling with a complex, thought-provoking connection astir coming to presumption with the past.

My Beautiful Voice by Joseph Coelho.
My Beautiful Voice by Joseph Coelho. Illustration by Allison Colpoys

A philosophical standalone, Poison for Breakfast (Rock the Boat) from Daniel Handler AKA Lemony Snicket, is narrated by the author, who realises 1 greeting that helium is investigating his ain murder. Or is he? Reading this small publication feels similar opening a model to fto successful aerial and light. It’s filled with funny accusation and almighty feelings, and is humorous, sad, meditative and rapturous by turns – with ambiguous questions to beryllium mulled and savoured.

For seven-plus, Maddy Yip’s Guide to Life (Andersen) by Sue Cheung follows the eponymous heroine connected a quest to observe her talent. Everyone other has one, truthful surely she indispensable excessively … but thwarted by distressing clumsiness, disgusting cakes and defiantly fleeing guinea-pig assistants, volition Maddy ever observe her unsocial gift? A highly illustrated, often hilarious commencement to a caller series.

Written by Geoffrey Faber’s granddaughter Polly, and published, naturally, by Faber, The Book Cat is illustrated with bright-eyed charm by Clara Vulliamy. It’s the fanciful relationship of Morgan, wartime thoroughfare kitten turned purrfect publishing location feline nether the auspices of TS Eliot. Morgan past trains different kittens arsenic writers’ companions to get them retired of London – a saccharine feline twist connected the classical evacuee story.

The Book Cat by Polly Faber. Illustration by Clara Vulliamy
The Book Cat by Polly Faber. Illustration by Clara Vulliamy

A representation books for five-plus, the gorgeous My Beautiful Voice (Frances Lincoln) by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Allison Colpoys, is simply a communicative that unfurls arsenic delicately arsenic a flower, infused with Colpoys’ glowing swirls of colour. The shy narrator doesn’t talk successful people – until her teacher Miss Flotsam provides the cleanable conditions for her to constitute a poem, and past to recite it, successful her recently discovered beauteous voice.

In representation books for younger readers, 2 precise comic counting books basal out. In 10 Silly Children (Pavilion), caller endowment Jon Lander takes america joyously from sensible activities – sitting still, having a bath, cooking, gardening – to fold-out flaps successful which utmost silliness holds sway: deliberation dressed-up lions and feasts of worm pie. It’s each conveyed successful playful, free-feeling hand-drawn sweeps of colour, portion solemn injunctions not to unfastened said flaps springiness the publication a conspiratorial feel, cleanable for speechmaking aloud.

And Ten Delicious Teachers (Walker), by Ross Montgomery and Sarah Warburton, features a fistful of heedless educators who person missed the past autobus location and instrumentality a shortcut done the wood – to the delight of the hungry, brightly coloured monsters who prime them off, 1 by one. Funny and irreverent, it’s casual to ideate this 1 being a immense deed astatine schoolhouse storytime.

Also from Walker, Ergo, by Alexis Deacon and Viviane Schwarz, is the deceptively elemental communicative of a small yellowish chick discovering that she is not the world, and neither is her eggshell. Ergo’s advancement from certainty to doubt, exploration to caller discovery, is comic, engaging and profoundly thought-provoking, for readers of immoderate age.

Teenagers roundup

The Upper World Paperback – 19 Aug. 2021

The Upper World
by Femi Fadugba, Penguin, £7.99
When teenage Esso someway starts seeing glimpses of the future, helium is haunted by a imaginativeness of a slug fired successful an alley; but tin the aboriginal perchance beryllium changed? Fifteen years on, Rhia is filled with questions astir her parents and the infinitesimal that ensured she ne'er met them. Does Dr Esso person answers for her – oregon is his speech astir clip question conscionable disturbed rambling? From the streets of Peckham and Streatham to the unearthly strangeness of the Upper World, this superbly archetypal debut, written with bonzer ambition and panache, effortlessly blends theoretical physics with all-too-human tragedy.

The Climbers by Keith Gray

The Climbers
by Keith Gray, Barrington Stoke, £7.99
Sully is the champion histrion climber successful the village, until the lad who calls himself “Nottingham” appears. No 1 climbs Twisted Sister without astatine slightest 7 falls, but Nottingham succeeds connected his 2nd attempt. Angry and unsettled, Sully challenges Nottingham to a contention – beryllium the archetypal to ascent the intolerable tree, the histrion without a name. But volition 1 of them marque it to the apical without tragedy? Spare, brief, limpidly clear, this novella from a multi-award-winning writer distils the thin-skinned, achy sensitivity of teenage boys, hopeless some to basal retired and acceptable in.

The Sound of Everything by Rebecca Henry

The Sound of Everything
by Rebecca Henry, Everything With Words, £8.99
Complex, challenging Kadie has been bounced from foster location to foster home, betrayal to betrayal. But though the sound of the mundane often threatens to overwhelm her, she has a endowment for euphony – 1 that prompts her to forge an improbable confederation with Dayan, besides a talented musician. As envious girls statesman a run of online hatred against her, tin Kadie bring herself to spot Dayan and fto him in? A brilliantly assured archetypal novel, evoking each the stored-up, antiaircraft wounded of the serially rejected child.