April 2019 Books of the Month

April 2019 - Books of the Month

The Booksfortopics April Top Picks

We've picked five of our favourite new children's books this month.

No Ballet Shoes in Syria

Catherine Bruton

No Ballet Shoes in Syria is a gripping and thought-provoking story exploring the experience of an eleven-year-old girl fleeing conflict in Syria.


Having just arrived in the UK, eleven-year-old Aya attempts to help her mother and baby brother navigate their new life as asylum seekers. With the trauma of the war back home, the long and difficult journey across land and sea and the heart-wrenching separation from her father during the crossing still fresh in Aya's mind, nothing feels easy.


Aya finds joy in the discovery of a local ballet class, reminding her of her deep-seated love for dance. When the dance teacher identifies Aya's talent, she encourages Aya to apply for a scholarship at a prestigious ballet school. Not only might this application open opportunities for Aya to secure a permanent home in the UK, her audition preparation also provides means for her to process and express some of her most difficult experiences.


Aya’s tale is told with such compassion that takes the reader on a real empathy journey. The story left me with plenty to think about and I confess to shedding tears more than once while reading it! No Ballet Shoes in Syria is an important story that is beautifully told with warmth and compassion. A superb read suitable for upper KS2.

Ocean: Secrets of the Deep

Sabrina Weiss & Giulia De Amicis

A stylish non-fiction text all about the intriguing worlds to be found under the sea. Ocean: Secrets of the Deep offers the reader an insight into every aspect of ocean life in a visually stunning and informative way. From ocean environments to species evolution and from threatened ecosystems to ocean exploration, information is presented in an exciting and attractive way. The breadth of subjects covered is impressive and each one is done brilliantly.

The infographics throughout the book are bright and appealing, offering the reader bitesize chunks of information. These bursts of information are beautifully illustrated and very effectively presented, using comparisons to make the sometimes mind-blowing statistics more accessible.

This book would complement any topic about the natural world, not just oceans, and is a fantastic information book to have in the classroom as a pleasure read too. A book you can dip in and out of and learn so much from, I would recommend Ocean: Secrets of the Deep to anyone working in Key Stage 2. 

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Nicola Skinner & Flavia Sorrentino

Hilarious and truly original, here is a book with all the ingredients to take root and blossom wildly among the imaginations of young readers. 

Sorrel Fallowfield is a rule follower. Never wishing to cause trouble for her overworked Mum or to break the strict rules of a perfection-demanding headteacher, Sorrel knows that she is in with an excellent chance of winning when school announces a competition to find the most perfectly-behaved student. Even better, the prize for the winner is a family holiday - which is exactly what Sorrel thinks her Mum needs the most.

Sorrel’s luck changes when a mysterious packet of seeds appears in her garden that have the most surprising effects. Before she knows it, the power of the seeds have taken root not just in Sorrel’s life but also in her whole community. Could nature be fighting back against a town that has eradicated all of its green spaces?

Many young readers will relate to the environmental message that is conveyed imaginatively and humorously without losing impact. With recent events like the climate change protests being fresh in the minds and hearts of young people, this story hits the mark perfectly as it grapples with themes of learning to discern when and how younger members of society can take a stand against authority and make their voices heard. 


This is a stand-out story full of humour and heart. 

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Lorna Gutierrez & Polly Noakes

Dare is a picture book that urges very young children to stand up for what matters, see the goodness around them and make a difference in the world. Like many Tiny Owl books, Dare includes inspirational messages and a diverse mix of characters, this time brought to life by Polly Noakes’ vibrant and uplifting illustrations.

Lorna Gutierrez's simple-yet-meaningful rhyming text on each page repeats the idea of daring children to do something different and brave. All of the ‘dare to…’ messages encourage children to think about how they can strive to be a good person, having a positive impact on themselves, others and the world around them. Variations in font and placement of text on each page help each new message stand out from the one before it.

The illustrations mix elements of the characters’ reality and their imaginations, merging them together to form the child’s view of the world. The is cleverly reiterated by the use of some aspects of every page being line drawings that pull the emphasis towards the central, colourful illustrations.


With an important message emphasising that small actions from small people can make a big difference, this is a joyful picture book recommended for children in EYFS and KS1.

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High Rise Mystery

Sharna Jackson

A classic murder-mystery style story with a modern urban setting, High Rise Mystery is the latest release from diverse publishers Knights Of.

Nik and Norva are sisters who live on a high-rise estate. With their dad being the estate care-taker, Nik and Norva know just about everyone who lives there, and they make it their business to know everything that’s going on. In the height of the summer, a valued member of the community goes missing and the sisters begin to put together a case file containing suspects, motives and alibis. With a limited police presence, they are able to make a nuisance of themselves by asking the right questions to the right people and soon they begin to draw some conclusions. As all the evidence points to one person, the pressure is on to get to the real truth of the mystery before it is too late.

High Rise Mystery is an important book with cultural references and language that will resonate well with those that see themselves reflected in its pages. The chapters of this book are punctuated with case notes to keep track of the investigation, whilst the interaction of the characters gives a real sense of what it is like to live in this urban community. You can almost hear the sounds, taste the foods and feel your lungs burn when they have to endure 22 flights of stairs when the lift is broken in 30 degree heat.

The result is a page-turner of a book that is likely to go down a storm with readers in upper KS2 and beyond. 

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More new releases for April
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