We had a wonderful book-filled summer. Below are our favourites for older children (aged 8+) and three non-fiction goodies.
The Elephant in the Room by Holly Goldberg Sloan £6.99 Piccadilly
Sila's mum has been forced to leave their home in Oregon, USA, and go back to Turkey to get her immigration papers in order. This book combines gritty reality with a charming 'could it really happen?' world where elderly gentlemen use lottery winnings to buy a circus elephant that brings a young girl missing her mum and an autistic boy together. Delightful. Ages 8+
The Way to Impossible Island by Sophie Kirtley £6.99 Bloomsbury
If you were a fan of The Wild Way Home you will have whizzed to get this follow up but it works just as well as a stand-alone. The time-crossing fantasy - Stone Age to present day - is rooted in a moving reality thanks in no small part to the descriptions of the coastal landscape. Kirtley grew up by the sea in Northern Ireland and it rings gloriously true. An adventure about friendship, bravery and accepting who you are. Ages 8+
Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom by Sangu Mandana £7.99 Hachette
Kiki is a happy, sparky London kid but sometimes she gets anxious. She loves to draw which helps her anxiety. Things get out of hand when the contents of one of her sketchbooks - of her favourite Indian folk tale - come out of the page, quite literally. This fast-paced story feels delightfully fresh and addresses mental health issues in an uncomplicated, direct way. If you have a child who is struggling with anxiety (especially post Pandemic), this may really help. Ages 8+
The Raven Heir by Stephanie Burgis £6.99 Bloomsbury
A castle in the middle of a magical forest, powerful sorcery, wicked queens, a shape-changing heroine. There is more than a nod to the Knights of the Round Table in this brilliant new fantasy adventure from the creator of The Dragon with the Chocolate Heart trilogy. There is a strong eco feel to it too - listening to the rhythms and voices of the earth and honouring them. We LOVED it! Ages 8+.
Edie and the Box of Flits by Kate Wilkinson, illustrated by Joe Berger £6.99 Piccadilly
Flits are a bit like Borrowers, tiny creatures only visible to children. Charming story, particularly perfect for little Londoners as the Tube (including some interesting disused stations) plays a key role. Also a goodie for any Y7 newbie who is feeling a bit unsure at secondary school. And we always love Joe Berger's illustrations. Ages 8+.
Hexed: Don't Get Mad Get Powers by Julia Tuffs £7.99 Orion
Jessie has moved school - again - and this time has also relocated to her mum's childhood home, the Isle of Wight. And she has got her period. What makes Jessie's new girl at school experience a bit different is when she discovers she is a witch! There is much to engage teens in this debut YA title - a strong feminist message that will resonate following the deluge of harassment testimonies on Everyone's Invited. We were not totally sold on the witching element - though the island is, apparently, big on witches. (And it is one of our favourite places in the world. More West Wight in book 2 please!) Ages 12+.
The House on the Edge by Alex Cotter £6.99 Nosy Crow
The house perched completely on the edge of a cliff takes centre stage. It symbolises Faith’s family; existing on the very brink and how she is desperately trying to keep the show on the road. You will love Faith and her attempt to keep things running while her brother is obsessed with ghosts in the cellar, her mum won’t get out of bed and her father has mysteriously disappeared. There is a wonderful cast of characters to keep this pacey, beautifully written book fizzing with suspense right to the end. Essentially it’s about families and the tie that holds them together however bungled and messy it gets. Ages 10+.
The Summer We Turned Green by William Sutcliffe £7.99 Bloomsbury
This is refreshing and fabulous book is properly funny and perfectly observed. It’s about an awkward teenage boy whose summer holiday doesn’t quite take the shape that he thought it would when his sister moves ‘across the road’ to a community of climate rebels protesting about a planned airport expansion and everything starts to fall apart. It’s strong on eco but not in a worthy way, more in a straightforward ‘this is where we’re at’ sort of way. Great for 12+.
Adventures in Time by Dominic Sandbrook £14.99 Penguin
First up in this new series by historian Dominic Sandbrook are The Six Wives of Henry VIII and The Second World War. History is brought brilliantly to life with the first hand stories of the individuals who were actually there. If you have a child of 8+ groaning that history is b o r i n g, get one of these down them and watch them change their minds. If they are not yet free readers and you are reading to them, you may learn a few things yourself. Alexander the Great and The First World War coming soon - we can't wait!
Green Kids Cook by Jenny Chandler £14.99 Pavilion
This is aimed at kids aged between 7-14 and focuses on how to cook and eat food that’s as good for them as it is for the planet. There are over 60 recipes for fun family food and also lovely sewing projects, foraging tips and ideas on how to sprout your own pulses. It’s got great tips on how to chop up things, how to properly make use of our freezers, sweet ideas for laying the table and great instructions on how to successfully wrap a wrap.
Listified! by Andrew Pettie, illustrated by Andres Lozano £18.99 Britannica Books
These sorts of books are a huge hit in our house to dip in and out of for days on end and guaranteed to furnish you with random facts in reference to anything. It’s really for anyone who loves lists, ten of the brainiest breeds of dogs, three animals that don’t poo, ten of the shortest reigning monarchs, seven people whose acts of protest changed the world. Etc etc. The illustrations are fun, it’s satisfyingly chunky and great for reading with your cereal at breakfast.
Emily Turner and Claire Gill
1 September 2021